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Sure, it’s early, but Vancouver Canucks face crucial test in Vegas

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LAS VEGAS – Will it be a statement or a confession tonight for the Vancouver Canucks?

Fourteen games into their National Hockey League season, the answer to this question seems as difficult to predict as red or black on the roulette wheel after the Canucks were alarmingly bad in Thursday’s 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

They play the Vegas Golden Knights Saturday night not so much needing to win, but required to answer some uncomfortable questions about their leadership, their appetite for battle, their willingness to play for coach Travis Green, and about the team general manager Jim Benning constructed and expects to be in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Yes, that’s a lot packed into one game – Game 15 of an 82-game schedule – but the Canucks appear to be already at a crossroads after obliterating on Thursday what they had built little by little over the previous couple of weeks.

Is another season starting to swirl down the drain or are these Canucks really different from the team that was the worst in Canada last season?

“If you have games like that, you’ve got to respond,” veteran winger J.T. Miller said after the morning skate. “I mean, that shows the identity of the team, it helps with your character and what kind of focus we have as a group. I think we’re all excited to play. This is a perfect game for us right now – for a test. I think it’s going to show a lot about our team identity and character.”

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Centre Jason Dickinson, one of Benning’s summer acquisitions to add experience and two-way grit to the team, said: “We’ve got to come out in the first five or 10 minutes and be the hardest team to play against. They’re not going to get an inch from us, and then carry that through for the rest of the 60 minutes. But the first five or 10 minutes is going to be where we determine our character and our ability to respond to tough situations.”

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Those are strong statements from Miller and Dickinson. Now the Canucks need to back it up against a Golden Knights team that, like the high-powered Avalanche, have been a sleeping giant so far amid key injuries.

Colorado outshot Vancouver 9-0 in the first 10 minutes and 17-3 in the first 25, and had the game won when struggling Canuck star Elias Pettersson’s careless turnover allowed the Avalanche to make it 3-0 halfway through the first period.

And the score wasn’t the worst thing for the Canucks: it was their lack of engagement and pushback, their unconditional surrender against a faster, better team.

They simply did not compete.

“It felt like we were trending (positively) and when something like that happens, you just sit there and you wonder what went wrong,” Dickinson said. “It’s pretty clear we just didn’t win enough battles and didn’t come up with enough pucks. And is that an accumulation of starting to feel good (about our game) and then getting complacent and not pushing to get more? It’s possible. You hope that’s not the case. This is only going to be Game 15 tonight. You’ve got to keep pushing, keep pushing because our record is below .500 right now, and we’re not going to fix that if we’re complacent about where we are.

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“It’s up to each and every guy to get themselves ready to play. I don’t think it’s fair to put any onus on anybody but yourself. You have to be willing to take responsibility for when things don’t go right because you’re going to take responsibility when things do go right. (Thursday) was unacceptable. And until you take responsibility, it’s not going to change.”

The Canucks, 5-7-2 for the season and 2-5-1 since opening with a solid six-game road trip, scrambled their lines for the Knights, Stanley Cup contenders who are 7-2 since losing four of their first five games.

Dickinson moves to left wing and will partner Brock Boeser and Pettersson, who has only three even-strength points, all assists, this season. Miller will play centre between Tanner Pearson and Nils Hoglander, while Bo Horvat centres wingers Conor Garland and Vasily Podkolzin.

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The defence has also been remade, partly due to a two-game suspension to Tucker Poolman for clubbing Avalanche forward Kiefer Sherwood on Thursday.

The Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Tyler Myers pairing has been split up, with Myers moving alongside Quinn Hughes. Ekman-Larsson partners with Kyle Burroughs, while minor-league callup Madison Bowey plays with Brad Hunt.

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Canuck Thatcher Demko is expected to face Robin Lehner in goal.

Vegas has been playing without key injured forwards Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson, and newest Knight Jack Eichel just underwent neck surgery and will be out at least three months.

“It’s simple things, right?” Miller said. “Like competing, skating, win your puck battles and then offensively the ice should open up. We need to be more competitive in this game, and I think this is a perfect opportunity against a team like this in a building like this. This is going to be a fun game.”

It’s Vegas, baby. Place your bets.



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AS Roma Serie A 2022-23 season preview, predictions: Jose Mourinho adds top talent as expectations rise

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It was one of the most exciting summers for AS Roma of the last decade as Giallorossi won their first UEFA trophy in May when they lifted the UEFA Conference League. It was a moment of change for the club’s history, as it was also followed by very intriguing summer transfer business when the club signed players such as Nemanja Matic, Gini Wijnaldum and most importantly free agent Paulo Dybala. The excitement among the fans is unbelievable and put more pressure on the team and the coach, who are now called to create something special during the season. AS Roma have all the cards now to become one of the main clubs to watch out this season. 

Here’s what to know about them ahead of the season kicking off this weekend:

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Summer transfer business

Dybala to AS Roma was probably the most unexpected and interesting transfer of the summer. The 28-year-old came to grips with his decision late in the summer after he failed to agree to terms on a contract extension with Juventus and despite his agent previously holding talks with Inter Milan. The Nerazzurri moved in another direction as soon as Romelu Lukaku became available for a reunion via loan from Chelsea. And from that moment on, there were no further talks with Dybala’s camp. The veteran striker waited for several weeks, hoping that the club could squeeze him in by way of several other players potentially leaving the club. But things didn’t change at all and AS Roma jumped in the race to sign the striker.  

“The days that have led up to me signing this contract have been filled with so many emotions,” Dybala said after officially joining Roma. “The speed and determination with which Roma demonstrated just how much they wanted me made all the difference. I am joining a team that is on the up, a club that continues to put in place strong foundations for the future, and a coach, Jose Mourinho, that it will be a privilege to work with. As an opponent I have always admired the atmosphere created by the Roma fans – I now cannot wait for the chance to salute them while wearing this shirt”. 

Dybala was unveiled in front of more than ten thousand fans in Rome and all the Giallorossi crowd is eager to see him playing for their beloved club. 

Apart from Dybala, AS Roma managed to sign free agent Matic, who is a player that Jose Mourinho knows really well from his past experiences at Chelsea and Manchester United. The club also signed right back Zeki Celik from Lille, goalkeeper Mile Svilar and Wijnaldum on loan from Paris Saint Germain. Also, there were no real exits, as AC Milan permanently signed Alessandro Florenzi and Olympique Marseille signed Jordan Veretout, both of which were expected. Key player Nicolò Zaniolo, who was in talks with Juventus during the summer, is now expected to stay at the club despite the fact that his contract is expiring in the summer of 2024 and talks have stalled in the past months. 

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What to expect from AS Roma  

There is a lot of attention and expectations around the club this season after a very solid transfer window and the UEFA Conference League’s victory of the last season. Jose Mourinho needs to improve the performances in the domestic league and AS Roma’s main target has to be to arrive in the top four and qualify for the UEFA Champions League’s group stage. “The Special One” is always looking to win more trophies and Giallorossi can be considered as one of the favorites for the Coppa Italia alongside the other top teams. At the European level, the UEFA Europa League won’t be an easy one considering the level of the competitors, but the fact that Roma won the first edition of the UEFA Conference League has to be taken into account. 

Three players to watch out

Paulo Dybala: The Argentinian striker will have all the eyes on him and there are a lot of expectations around his potential impact on the squad. His performances will be key to understand how the team will perform during the season. 

Gianluca Mancini: Last year he had a very solid season. We talked a lot about strikers and midfielders but his performances will tell us a lot about how well this side can do this year as they look for stability. 

Nicolò Zaniolo: He’s now set to stay at the club. Last season was quite disappointing and there are way more expectations this season, especially after the arrival of Dybala. If Zaniolo performs better, the whole team will benefit from it. It will be on Mourinho’s shoulders to find a way to find a space in this team for him. 

AS Roma predictions

  • Serie A finish: 4th 
  • Top scorer: Tammy Abraham 
  • Player of the season: Dybala 
  • Something unexpected: AS Roma will bring back Francesco Totti to the club’s board. 



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Barcelona activate fourth ‘lever’ with €100 million sale of stake in club’s media arm

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Barcelona have sold a 24.5 percent stake in their media arm, activating the fourth of the so-called “economic levers” that they need to fulfil La Liga’s financial regulations and potentially register their new signings.

Orpheus Media, owned by Jaume Roures, have acquired their share in Barça Studios for the sum of €100 million with Barcelona having made the same deal with fan token platform Socios earlier this month. The club had also sold stakes in their television rights to Sixth Street in June and July as they bid to raise the cash that will ease their finances and allow them to incorporate new players into Xavi’s squad.

Barcelona have embarked on an ambitious overhaul of their playing staff this summer despite the crippling debts that president Joan Laporta estimated to be €1.3billion last year. Six new signings were made but the club headed into this weekend’s season opener against Rayo Vallecano unable to register those players, as well as the re-signed Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembele, due to La Liga regulations.

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The club did not confirm that this fourth lever would allow them to register every new recruit with La Liga, though this cash injection will naturally make it easier for some new players to formally be available for selection.

A club statement said: “FC Barcelona announces the sale of 24.5% of Barça Studios to the company Orpheus Media, managed by Mr. Jaume Roures, an audiovisual production company with a long history of producing content, for €100 million. The agreement complements the one signed on 29 July with Socios.com and will help to accelerate the growth of the club’s digital, NFT and Web 3 strategy.

“The sale was conducted under authorization of the General Assembly of FC Barcelona Members last October 23. With this investment the strategic partners in Barça Studios show confidence in the value of the project and the future of digital content in the world of sport.”

Want to hear more from Barca’s president? Listen to an exclusive interview below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.

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A further sale of the Studios had been widely expected but in recent days it had been reported that it would be GDA Luma, run by the president of Cirque du Soleil, Gabriel de Alba, that would be stumping up the nine figure sum. Instead it is Roures, owner of Mediapro, who has taken the stake. The Catalan media mogul reportedly provided the guarantees Laporta needed for his successful bid for the Barcelona presidency in 2021.

A statement on the Medium page of Socios said that, following the sale, Barça Studios would be renamed Barça Digital and Entertainment “to reflect its focus on accelerating the growth of the club’s NFTs and metaverse projects.” Socios added: “The addition of experience of growing global entertainment brands will allow FC Barcelona to accelerate its blockchain and Web3 strategies to provider greater connectivity with its global fan base and continue to grow the club’s network of fan communities and produce revenue streams in new geographies.”

In the more immediate term it could also allow Barcelona to sign Marcos Alonso. The veteran Chelsea left back would join the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde and Franck Kessie after a summer in which Laporta has committed to new signings worth over €150 million. The club would also like to sign Bernardo Silva from Manchester City while their own midfielder Frenkie De Jong is a target for Chelsea and Manchester United.

Speaking to CBS Sports earlier this month, Laporta insisted that selling off long term stakes in the club to facilitate an overhaul of the first team was the right thing to do. “The players we have signed this summer are investments not expenses. And our existing players understand this perfectly. The new signings adjust their salaries to the new structure that we have created and all we ask is the current squad, where possible, do the same.

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“People outside the club don’t have all the information. We have to act this way or the club will probably disappear. We are not risking the club. On the contrary. I love Barcelona. So you can imagine, I don’t take any decisions that risk the future of the club and our 122 years of history.”



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Three Stars from Day 3 of WJC: Canada’s McTavish joins elite company – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada and the U.S. dominated in their second game of the tournament while Czechia and Finland went toe-to-toe and needed a shootout to determine a winner on Day 3 of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadian team rebounded from a sluggish performance with an 11-1 win over Slovakia, a game in which captain Mason McTavish added his name to the country’s record books.

Against Switzerland, the United States took their game to another gear that their opponent could not match as they cruised to a 7-1 victory to improve to 2-0 at the tournament.

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Finland dropped a crucial point as they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit but were able to pick up the shootout win over their rival Czechia.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 3 of the world juniors.

3rd Star: Luke Hughes, USA

Coming from a great hockey family, Luke Hughes is making most of his opportunity as one of the top defencemen for the U.S. 

The younger brother of Quinn and Jack displayed his mobility and vision against Switzerland with a three-point effort. He now has five points in his first two games of the tournament — more than either of his brothers ever achieved at this event in fewer games.

Hughes leads all defenceman in scoring so far in the tournament and is tied for fourth overall.

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The 18-year-old played 21:18 against the Swiss to lead the U.S. in ice time playing on the top pairing with Brock Faber. His play from this point will be a crucial part of his team’s success given the creativity he displayed, especially on Matt Coronato’s goal in the second period.

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He made another top-notch set up on Thomas Bordeleau’s power-play goal in the third period as he delayed enough to get the defenders to pull towards his side of the ice.

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2nd Star: Carter Mazur, USA

Coming into the tournament, Carter Mazur is looking to build off an impressive season at the University of Denver. 

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While he was in a scoring slump in his first NCAA season, the Detroit Red Wings prospect made a call to his NHL team’s assistant director of player development, Daniel Cleary. After that, he would go on to finish with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games.

Those tips have now turned Mazur into a scoring machine as he accounted for two of the team’s seven goals and was also named the player of the game as the top line of Mazur, Landon Slaggert, and Thomas Bordeleau had an impressive performance against Switzerland

After a scoreless first period, Mazur wasn’t going to make any mistake on a point-blank chance in front of the net with Mackie Samoskevich making a great pass from behind the net.

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With the Americans looking to add to their lead, Mazur was once again the beneficiary of a great pass from Slaggert as he made no mistake from the front of the net.

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He added another assist on Slaggert’s goal later in the period for his third point of the game. Through his first two games at the world juniors, Mazur has four points and is tied for sixth in scoring.

1st Star: Mason McTavish, Canada

On a night where Canada dominated from start to finish, Mason McTavish joined some elite company with a night he’ll certainly remember for a long time.

The 19-year-old joined Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard as the only players to score four goals in a single world junior game for Canada. The tournament record for goals in a single game is held by Sweden’s Ola Rosander who had six back in 1987.

With his performance against Slovakia in a dominant win for Canada, McTavish now sits atop the scoring lead with eight points in two games after registering six points in this game.

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McTavish scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway — with Canada already leading 5-0 midway through the second — making no mistake to beat Tomas Bolo, who came into the game after starter Simon Latkoczy was pulled going into the second period.

His second goal came off a great play by Joshua Roy who flipped the puck in the air to Brennan Othmann who then set up McTavish as he finished with a backhander to put Canada up 7-1. McTavish would complete the second-period hat trick, a day after Alexander Blank did the same for Germany, after a selfless pass from Roy on a 2-on-0 break.

Canada would capitalize on a turnover on McTavish’s fourth goal as Othmann set him up alone in front of the net and he made no mistake.

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There was some doubt about whether McTavish would suit up for Canada after playing a fair amount of hockey last season. Making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, the third overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft played in a total of 72 games between the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup and the Olympics.

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Instead, McTavish decided to join the team in Edmonton and take on the role as captain where he has excelled centring Canada’s top line with Bedard and and a rotation of Roy and Othmann.

Canada will now look forward to a matchup against Czechia with a chance to improve to 3-0.

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