Talbot helps rescue Alabama-Huntsville hockey program

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Calgary Flames netminder and Alabama-Huntsville alumnus Cam Talbot helped rescue the school's hockey program after it recently announced it could no longer continue due to financial constraints caused by COVID-19.

Talbot played at Alabama-Huntsville for three seasons from 2007 to 2010. He led a GoFundMe page that contributed $521,887 after the school said it'd reconsider the decision to cut the program if $750,000 was raised.

"I'm extremely excited that the program will continue on," Talbot told William Douglas of NHL.com. "Don't get us wrong, there's still a lot of work to be done. But this was the first hurdle and we couldn't be more ecstatic from the support we've gotten."

Alabama-Huntsville won two Division II national championship in 1996 and 1998 before it moved to Division I. It would have been the first D-I hockey program to fold since Wayne State in 2008.

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Talbot helps rescue Alabama-Huntsville hockey program

Find out the latest on COVID-19's impact on the sports world and when sports are returning by subscribing to Breaking News push notifications in the Sports and COVID-19 section.

Calgary Flames netminder and Alabama-Huntsville alumnus Cam Talbot helped rescue the school's hockey program after it recently announced it could no longer continue due to financial constraints caused by COVID-19.

Talbot played at Alabama-Huntsville for three seasons from 2007 to 2010. He led a GoFundMe page that contributed $521,887 after the school said it'd reconsider the decision to cut the program if $750,000 was raised.

"I'm extremely excited that the program will continue on," Talbot told William Douglas of NHL.com. "Don't get us wrong, there's still a lot of work to be done. But this was the first hurdle and we couldn't be more ecstatic from the support we've gotten."

Alabama-Huntsville won two Division II national championship in 1996 and 1998 before it moved to Division I. It would have been the first D-I hockey program to fold since Wayne State in 2008.

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Rangers’ Quinn responds to format critics: Keep the word ‘fair’ in perspective

Find out the latest on COVID-19's impact on the sports world and when sports are returning by subscribing to Breaking News push notifications in the Sports and COVID-19 section.

While many pundits and fans alike have questioned the integrity of the NHL's planned 24-team playoff format, New York Rangers head coach David Quinn doesn't believe fairness is what people should be worrying about when it comes to playing sports in the midst of a pandemic.

"I think we all have to be very careful when we're talking about 'fair,'" Quinn said in an interview shared by the Rangers. "When I think about 'fair' right now, I think about the 100,000 people that have lost their lives and the loved ones that have been affected by it.

"I think about the first responders that have been exposed to this terrible disease, mentally and physically. I think about the 30 million, 40 million people that have filed for unemployment. I think about the small and big businesses that have been shut down. I think about the seniors that are in high school and college that will never experience one of life's great moments.

"I think we all have to be very sensitive to the word 'fair.' We've been very fortunate that we continue to play a game that we love, and coach a game that we love. I understand fairness in the small context of our sport, but I think we all have to keep the word 'fair' in perspective."

The Rangers were granted a spot in the expanded playoff format after finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference by points percentage through 70 regular-season games.

New York had already rocketed into the traditional playoff conversation before the pause. The Rangers rode an 11-5-1 surge to enter the shutdown just two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes - the Blueshirts' play-in opponents who sat fourth in the Metropolitan Division and occupied a wild-card position when the league halted play.

The Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning were the only two NHL teams to vote against the 24-team playoff proposal. Carolina forward Jordan Martinook said it hurts the club's odds of winning a championship, while head coach Rod Brind'Amour claimed the team felt the format eliminated the value of the regular-season games that had already been played.

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Landeskog backs MacKinnon: ‘He should be winning the Hart’

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog believes teammate Nathan MacKinnon deserves to be named league MVP after another dominant showing for the 2019-20 regular season.

"I think he should be winning the Hart (Trophy) and I think he should have a couple years ago as well when he was up," Landeskog told Sportsnet's "Good Show" on Friday. "I know Taylor Hall had a great season, and he kind of willed his way for the Devils to go to the playoffs, but so did Nate with our group."

MacKinnon was nominated for the Hart in 2017-18 and finished second to Hall. This year, the Avs speedster has a strong chance to be a finalist again after posting 93 points in 69 games, good for fifth in the league.

Most impressively, MacKinnon was able to put up gaudy stats despite numerous injuries to key Colorado players - Landeskog included - throughout the season. MacKinnon was by far the Avs' most productive player, finishing 43 points clear of the team's second-leading scorer, rookie defenseman Cale Makar.

"If you watch Nate play, he's a difference-maker every single night," Landeskog said. "If we're looking for that goal, he's usually the guy that gives it to us."

The Avalanche managed a 42-20-8 record before the season went on pause, earning the second seed in the Western Conference and a bye in the NHL's play-in round.

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QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the worst teams in sports history

For every title-winning team and dynasty, the sports world seems to offer up equally terrible franchises. Call it a balancing act. But amid the losses, unwanted records, and overall futility, there are plenty of interesting facts to be found. How much do you know about some of the truly awful teams throughout sports history? Find out by taking the quiz below.

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Canucks to part ways with amateur scouting director

The Vancouver Canucks and amateur scouting director Judd Brackett have failed to reach a new agreement and will part ways at the end of his current contract, the club announced Friday.

The team made no further changes and said final draft decisions will still be general manager Jim Benning's responsibility.

Brackett was offered a two-year pact but rejected it, Benning said Friday. The scouting executive's current deal reportedly expires June 30.

He was at the helm of the club's amateur scouting department for the selections of Elias Pettersson (2017) and Quinn Hughes (2018), among others.

Brackett has served in the role since 2015 and worked with the Canucks' amateur scouting staff for 12 years.

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Sharks’ Kane: Athletes like Crosby, Brady need to denounce injustice

Evander Kane is calling on more white athletes to decry the unjust treatment of black people in the aftermath of incidents like the death of George Floyd.

"We need so many more athletes that don't look like me speaking out about this, having the same amount of outrage that I have inside, and using that to voice their opinion, to voice their frustration, because that's the only way it's going to change," the San Jose Sharks forward said on ESPN's "First Take" on Friday.

"We've been outraged for hundreds of years and nothing's changed," Kane continued. "It's time for guys like Tom Brady, and Sidney Crosby, and those type(s) of figures to speak up about what is right and, clearly in this case, what is unbelievably wrong. Because that's the only way we're going to actually create that unified anger to create that necessary change, especially when you talk about systematic racism."

Kane reiterated what he said in early May about hockey culture preventing many players from speaking out.

"I'm one of the anomalies when it comes to NHL players in doing that, and that's another part of our problem is guys being scared to really speak their mind and stand up for what is right, and this example - one of many, unfortunately - (has) continued (the trend) for the last number of years and ever since I've been alive," Kane said.

The Sharks winger also pointed out how the notion of inclusivity in sports - and hockey specifically - could be more practically applied.

"In hockey, it's a majority white league by far. It's not even close," he said. "So, we need to continue to come together. And we talk about it all the time, we talk about how sports is for everybody ... (and about how) it's an inclusive thing. But when we talk about our own personal battles outside of sports, there's a lot of people that are silent on issues and they're important issues. They're issues that have been going on for hundreds of years, and we need that same type of team mentality to be brought to issues outside of our sport."

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who's white, wrote Thursday night that "the institutional racism in this country breaks my heart and needs to stop." Shortly after Kane made his comments Friday, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow - who's also white - weighed in, writing "the black community needs our help" and "they have been unheard for far too long."

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, died Monday after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes while Floyd was handcuffed. The incident was recorded and shared widely on social media, leading to protests and ultimately riots in the city.

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Blackhawks sign Czech forward Chalupa to 2-year deal

The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to terms with Matej Chalupa on a two-year contract beginning in 2020-21, the team announced Friday.

Chalupa's deal carries an average annual value of $925,000.

The 21-year-old undrafted winger out of the Czech Republic posted seven goals and 24 points for local club Hradec Kralove this season.

It was his second campaign with the team after he spent as many years with Plzen, where he was a teammate of current Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik.

Chalupa was also a teammate of Radek Smolenak in 2019-20. Smolenak played one of his seven NHL games for the Blackhawks in 2009-10.

Chicago center David Kampf also hails from the Czech Republic. The Blackhawks signed him out of Pirati Chomutov, another team from that nation, in 2017.

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NHL podcast: Return-to-play plan, qualifying-round matchups, and Jack Eichel

Welcome to Puck Pursuit, an interview-style podcast hosted by John Matisz, theScore's national hockey writer.

Subscribe to the show on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Michael Traikos, national hockey writer for Postmedia, joins the show to discuss a variety of topics, including:

  • Takeaways from Gary Bettman's press conference
  • Upcoming hurdles in the NHL's return-to-play plan
  • Are expanded playoff formats a long-term fit?
  • Early thoughts on qualification-round matchups
  • Jack Eichel's end-of-season media availability

... and more!

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Remember, we are all Canucks!