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When former Cape Breton Eagle Evgeny Svechnikov was drafted in the first-round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2015, Detroit Red Wings fans had high expectations.
The Russian had made the transition to North America and finished his two-year major junior career with 64 goals and 157 points in Cape Breton.
Since leaving Sydney, the 24-year-old has had nothing but bad luck with injuries and it continued this month.
Svechnikov suffered an arm injury during the Red Wings first scrimmage game last week and missed the majority of the training camp. He returned for the final day and was placed on waivers Monday.
The forward cleared waivers on Tuesday and was reassigned to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
There’s no question Svechnikov is a talented player and should have an opportunity at the NHL level, but it’s a matter of staying healthy and until that happens, don’t expect to see him on television any time soon.
There’s been lots of talk around the Vegas Golden Knights goaltending controversy with Robin Lehner and former Cape Breton Eagle Marc-Andre Fleury.
In 2017, the Golden Knights selected Fleury in the expansion draft from the Pittsburgh Penguins with the idea he’d be the face of the franchise both on and off the ice.
Fleury led the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup final against the Washington Capitals in 2018 and has continued to prove his capability of being a No. 1 netminder in the NHL.
After Fleury struggled a bit last season, Vegas acquired Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks and later signed him to a five-year contract worth $25 million.
As the 2020-21 season approached, there was speculation Vegas might consider trying to trade Fleury and his $7-million annual average salary, but in the end the Golden Knights decided to keep the Sorel, Que., native.
Like him or not, even at 36 years old Fleury has fuel in the tank and is no slouch, he can win you games.
In a short 56-game season, having experienced goaltenders in Lehner and Fleury may very well be an advantage for Vegas, knowing either can rise to the challenge when needed.
DUBOIS REQUESTS TRADE
We’re not even a week into the new NHL season and already there’s drama on the trade front.
Former Cape Breton Eagle Pierre-Luc Dubois has requested a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets after signing a two-year deal worth $10 million.
It’s been rumoured for weeks that the 22-year-old requested a trade, however, it was confirmed on Wednesday when head coach John Tortorella came straight out and said it.
“Yeah, he wants out,” said Tortorella in an interview on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus.
What’s the issue? Maybe it’s the hard-nosed Tortorella who’s running people out the door?
In recent years, the Blue Jackets have seen star players like Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky leave the organization through free agency. None have said it was because of “Torts” but they haven’t said it wasn’t either.
As of press time, Dubois was still a Blue Jacket.
Turning to local headlines, although the Cape Breton Capers women’s basketball team won’t play a game this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club is still getting recognition.
Canletes Sports, a Canadian-based university basketball website, recently released its top 10 U Sports women’s teams of the decade for the 2010s.
The Capers were ranked No. 10 on the list after posting an overall 163-122 record during the decade. The team had a 134-87 record in the Atlantic University Sport during the 2010s.
Individual highlights for the decade included Alison Keough’s U Sports rookie of the year award in 2013-14. Team-wise, the club won a national bronze medal in 2011 and earned a sport in the nationals in 2017 as the AUS champions.
Not bad for a small school in Cape Breton, folks.
ROZICKI CALLED OUT
A United States boxer didn’t back down from throwing a punch at Sydney Forks’ Ryan Rozicki during a recent interview.
Alabama-born Deon Nicholson and Rozicki were being interviewed on the Boxing Voice radio show when the 30-year-old Nicholson called Rozicki out.
Although we can’t print the exact quote from Nicholson given some of the language used, Nicholson essentially told Rozicki he’d beat him in a bout if the 25-year-old Rozicki would go to the U.S.
Rozicki responded “Maybe, or I might knock you out.”
Like Rozicki, Nicholson currently has an undefeated record of 14-0-0 along with 13 knockouts. In total, Nicholson has 33 professional rounds.
As for Rozicki, he currently has a 12-0-0 record with all 12 victories coming by way of knockout. Rozicki has 24 professional rounds.
There’s only one thing left to do and that’s for Three Lions Promotions, which represents Rozicki, to make this bout happen … when the pandemic slows down and travel restrictions ease.
TOP ACADEMIC ATHLETES
U Sports recently announced its Academic All-Canadians for 2019-20 and Cape Breton University athletes were recognized for their efforts in the classroom.
In total, CBU had 38 recipients out of 77 student-athletes, meaning 49.4 per cent of student-athletes at the university were honoured with Academic All-Canadians for the year.
Overall, 4,908 student-athletes across the country were honoured by U Sports. In the AUS, 39.1 per cent of student-athletes were recognized.
CBU has four varsity teams including two basketball clubs and two soccer clubs.
Since 1988, U Sports student-athletes achieve Academic All-Canadian status having maintained an average of 80 per cent or better over the academic year while competing for one or more of their university’s U Sports varsity teams.
Liam Kidney was recently named the Cape Breton Eagles recipient of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s scholastic player of the month award for December.
The 19-year-old Enfield native is enrolled in the business program at Cape Breton University while playing for the Eagles this season.
He has appeared in 15 games and has six goals and 11 points.
Former Eagle Xavier Bouchard (Rouyn-Noranda) and former Cape Breton draft pick Antoine Rochon (Baie-Comeau) were also named scholastic players of the month for their respective teams.
In preparation for the NHL season, three Cape Breton connections were reassigned by their respective teams for the start of the season.
Former Eagle defenceman Leon Gawanke returned to Canada on Thursday after starting the season with Eisbären Berlin in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
Gawanke, a Winnipeg Jets prospect, has since been reassigned to the Manitoba Moose. He will not be part of the Jets’ taxi squad.
Former Eagle forward Mathias Laferrière was reassigned to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on Thursday after attending the St. Louis Blues training camp.
The 20-year-old, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Blues in 2019, was traded to the Armada from Cape Breton on Oct. 17 for a third-round pick in 2021.
During his two-and-a-half seasons with the Eagles, Laferrière recorded 174 points. In six games with the Armada this season, he has two goals and seven points.
Meanwhile, former Eagle goaltender Francois Brassard was released by the Ottawa Senators without a contract on Wednesday.
Here are this week’s Cape Breton high school sports championship anniversaries for 2021. Watch for more in next week’s edition.
40th Anniversary (1981):
• Isle Madame District High School girls ‘AA’ softball provincial championship
• Sydney Academy girls ‘AAA’ volleyball provincial championship
• Isle Madame District High School girls ‘AA’ volleyball provincial championship
• Inverness Consolidated High School girls ‘A’ volleyball provincial championship
35th Anniversary (1986):
• Inverness Consolidated High School boys ‘A’ hockey provincial championship
• Cabot High School boys Intermediate wrestling provincial championship
• Mabou High School girls ‘A’ softball provincial championship.
Have a note of interest you would like to see appear in this weekly column? Send it to Jeremy at [email protected] along with a name and phone number for contact purposes.
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