TORONTO – When the International Olympic Committee opened the doors of the Winter Games to National Hockey League players in 1998 picking a Team Canada was so simple everyone could do it. And they did.
From bar stools in Corner Brook, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia armchair coaches and general managers assembled their gold medal squads as thoughtfully and meticulously as those sitting around the table in the Hockey Canada war room.
Every four years the entire exercise became a fun-filled fantasy league national obsession.
With a Hall of Fame talent pool filled with names more familiar to hockey mad Canadians than Prime Ministers and pop stars it was a failsafe process.
After all, it did not take a hockey genius IQ to fill up a roster card with names like Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby, the only debate spinning around fourth line wingers and backup netminders.
Once the official Team Canada selections were made they were revealed to rapturous fanfare on prime time national television and everyone compared notes.
But with the NHL having decided it would no longer be part of the Olympics, at least not in South Korea, the unveiling of Canada’s men’s team for the Pyeongchang Winter Games on Jan. 10 was greeted with a collective shrug.
There was no breathless anticipation of the moment and no glitzy production as in the past, only a low key midday announcement conducted at Hockey Canada headquarters in Calgary where a mostly unknown collection of NHL castoffs cobbled together from far flung leagues and countries were tasked with bringing home a third consecutive Olympic gold medal.
A few of the names like Chris Kelly, who played in 833 NHL games and won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, and Derek Roy, who suited up for 738 NHL contests and once scored 32 goals for the Buffalo Sabres, may have had a ring of familiarity for Canadian hockey fans.
But most are forgotten names playing in remote hockey outposts like Gilbert Brule, taken with the sixth overall selection in the 2005 NHL draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who now earns a living with Kunlun Red Star, the China-based team in KHL.
Some like Chris Lee and Chay Genoway, who between them have one combined game of NHL experience, have found jobs in Russia with Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Lada Togliatti respectively.
It is a hand-crafted team constructed from spare parts unlike the top shelf products Canada has iced since 1998.
”It’s not been done this way before,“ national team general manager Sean Burke told Reuters. ”There are some similarities to teams we had before the NHL was going but it really hasn’t been put together this way before so it is a challenge.
”If you are sending the NHL to the Olympics you are sending the best of the best.
”You know who the top players are.
“This time around you really have to watch players in different leagues, project guys that are playing against different competition and try and build a team that way with older guys, younger guys, guys with some international experience, guys with none.”
Before the NHL decided in 1998 that Olympic participation was a good thing Canada constructed its Winter Games squad around the national team concept.
Both Burke and Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney were part of that process with players and coaches centralizing in one location, living together and barnstorming the world playing tournaments and exhibition games culminating with the Olympics.
The last time the Olympic ice hockey tournament was played without NHL players was at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games where Canada lost to Sweden in the final.
Without NHLers Canada struggled to find the top of the Olympic podium, enduring a 50-year gold medal drought before finally reclaiming the crown at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
With professionals Canada restored its status as the sport’s global superpower taking gold in 2002, 2010 and 2014.
But even with names like Gretzky and Crosby, gold was not a given as Canada’s best produced a couple of Olympic failures, coming home empty-handed in 1998 and 2006.
All stars or castoffs, Renney believes the Olympic tournament should not be devalued.
“I think the tournament is going to be great,” Renney, coach of Canada’s silver medal-winning team in Lillehammer told Reuters.
”That fact is this is the Olympic Games and it will draw out the very best in every single athlete. That is the spirit of the Olympic Games.
“I think people will watch it, I think people should there will be 25 players, 25 phenomenal stories that will help people embrace the team and the event and be proud Canadians doing it.”
Drought-hit Cape Town Dreads Day Zero When Taps Will Run Dry
CAPE TOWN – A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have given South Africa’s main tourist hub welcome respite from a severe drought and helped push back a dreaded “Day Zero” when Cape Town’s taps are expected to run dry.
On Tuesday, the city of four million moved its estimate for “Day Zero” to July 9 from June 4 due to a decline in water usage, and after the Groenland farmers association also released 10 billion liters of water from their private reservoirs into the Steenbras storage dam.
South Africa has declared a national disaster over the drought afflicted southern and western regions, including Cape Town, which means the government could spend more money and resources to deal with the crisis.
Cape Town, which attracts about two million visitors each year, wants to become more resilient as the effects of climate change are felt, similar to other dry cities including Melbourne and California.
“We know that while we are going through a challenging time, we are building a world-class green economy that will be a beacon of hope for many places around,” said Tim Harris, chief executive for Wesgro, a regional trade and tourism agency.
A dried out wicket is seen at a cricket pitch in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11, 2018. Without water, the wickets are considered dangerous to players. All club and school cricket matches has been cancelled as the city attempts to avert a major water crisis. REUTERS/Mike HutchingsThe chronic drought is hurting visitor numbers and knocking a rare economic bright spot, officials said previously.
According to the South African Weather Service, two of the driest seasons ever recorded for the city since observations started in 1921 happened in the last three years: In 2015 when 549 mm (21 inches) fell and last year – the driest year on record – when annual rainfall totaled 499 mm.
Slideshow (13 Images)But, faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town have cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years, as the city targets a daily consumption rate of no more than 450 million liters.
At the moment, restrictions make it compulsory for residents to use no more than 50 liters per person per day, as city officials look to see out the hot summer months into winter, when Cape Town usually gets rain.
“We must all keep doing absolutely everything in our power to reach the target set by the national department to reduce our urban usage by 45 percent,” said Ian Neilson, the deputy mayor.
Already hundreds of Cape Town residents are being forced to line up overnight to stock up on water in South Africa’s second largest economic hub and tourism attraction.
However, several desalination plants are planned and together with underground water reserves, are expected to help augment water sources well into the future.
Reporting by Wendell Roelf;
Chloe Ayling’s ‘kidnapper’ Tells Court She Helped Write Her Own Ransom Notes Claiming Brit Model Was Snatched By ‘black Death Killer’
GLAMOUR model Chloe Ayling helped write a ransom note sent by her “kidnapper”, a court has heard.
Lucasz Herba, 30, made the claim as he gave evidence at his trial for the first time.
Peter Jordan – The Sun Luckasz Herba, 30, in court in Milan today. He claims Chloe Ayling helped write her own ransom note
Instagram Chloe claims she was drugged and kidnapped after turning up to a fake photoshoot
Mum-of-one Chloe, 20, claims she was drugged, bundled into the back of a car and held hostage for six days after turning up for a bogus photoshoot in Milan, Italy.
Polish-born Herba allegedly snatched her to sell her on the dark web as part of a human trafficking group known as Black Death.
She was released five days later but critics pointed to footage of her shopping with Herba as evidence the kidnap was a publicity stunt — a claim she has always denied.
Today giving evidence in Polish, Herba told the court: “The kidnap was planned but it’s complicated and not as the girl says.”
Peter Jordan – The Sun Herba enters court in Milan. The 30-year-old is accused of snatching Brit model Chloe last July
Herba arrived in court in Milan today flanked by two armed prison guards wearing the same blue fleece and jeans as he has since the trial started.
Prosecutor Paolo Storari asked him about an email ransom note sent to her agent Phil Green in which he described himself as a “medium-high level killer with Black Death”.
Softly spoken Herba sensationally told the packed courtroom: “That was written with the girl.”
The court also heard that after he was arrested last July Herba told cops and investigating magistrates he had kidnapped Chloe for a Romanian gang.
Ohrangutang Ayling allegedly shared a bed with kidnapper Lukasz Herba
He also said he had been diagnosed with leukaemia and needed the money for treatment and that was why he planned the snatch, it was claimed.
He had initially said Chloe was going to be auctioned as a sex slave for the Black Death group.
But under questioning from Mr Storari he denied everything he has told investigators during his interrogation.
Herba said: “It was all invented. I don’t have leukaemia. There were no Romanians and there was no Black Death group.”
When asked why he had described himself as a “CIA operative who had worked for Special Forces, private military agencies in Iraq, Afghanistan”, Herba told the court:”It was all prepared for Chloe.
“Chloe knows how things went. It’s not at all as she describes.”
Footage of Chloe Ayling showing police the isolated farmhouse at Liemme near Turin where was she kept during her kidnap was shown in court
The Mega Agency Glamour model Chloe claims she was bundled into the back of a car when she turned up for a bogus photoshoot in Milan
Earlier the court heard Herba had asked his brother to buy a gun and a large bag — telling him: “You know why we are going to use it”.
Emails recovered from his computer revealed the chilling message in the run-up to Chloe’s alleged abduction, the Daily Mail reported.
Analysis of Herba’s laptop also showed he bought two balaclavas that were sent to his home in the Midlands.
In a message to brother Michal, he added: “Buy a big travel bag. You know what you need, therefore it must be great.” Michal replied: “Okay”.
According to police expert Angelo Maria D’Archangeli, giving evidence in the Milan court, another message mentioned a semi-automatic weapon — although none were found by police.
Earlier, video shown to jurors captured Chloe returning to the bed she claims she shared with her alleged abductor in an isolated Italian farmhouse.
Chloe is pictured holding hands with alleged kidnapper Lukasz Herba the day before she was released. She denies the alleged kidnap was a publicity stunt British glamour model Chloe Ayling shows Italian prosecutors the ‘photography studio’ in Milan where she claims Lukasz Herba kidnapped her
Chilling footage sees 20-year-old Ayling, dressed in short jeans and a grey strappy top, walking detectives through the supposed hideout near Turin.
“This is where I slept with Lucasz,” Chloe says pointing to a double bed in the footage. “He was on one side and I was on the other.”
Gianluca Simontacchi of the Milan flying squad, said Chloe was “distressed” when asked to return to the farmhouse where she endured “physical and psychological violence”.
He added: “She was a little nervous and distressed to go back but she returned with her lawyer so we could film.”
Chloe is seen pointing out to cops where she shared a bed with her alleged kidnapper
Instagram Brit model Chloe was allegedly kidnapped as part of a £250,000 ransom plot
At the farmhouse Chloe described how she had been bound by her hands and feet with handcuffs.
Forensic toxicologist Angela Napolitano had said a urine sample for ketamine came back negative but a hair sample showed evidence of the drug.
Prosecutors say she was injected with the horse tranquilliser after she was snatched and a needle mark was found on her wrist.
During cross-examination, Ms Napolitano said it was not possible to establish when exactly the ketamine had been taken as it can stay in hair samples for up to eight weeks.
Brit Tourist Gored By Buffalo In Horrific Cambodia Jungle Attack After It Escaped From A Farm
A BRITISH holidaymaker has been left seriously injured after being gored by a buffalo in a terrifying attack in a Cambodian forest.
These horrific photographs show Fiona Childs covered in blood as she’s stretchered into an ambulance after being helped by villagers.
Viral Press Medics bandage Fiona Child’s wounds she suffered after the buffalo gored her legs
The 47-year-old came face to face with the giant water buffalo while walking to a beach on the island of Koh Rong Samloem.
The animal butted her and is believed to have gored her legs as she kicked out to protect herself while screaming on the ground.
Fiona was left with serious injuries to her legs following the attack and was rushed to hospital.
The animal was later tracked down by army and police officers, who said it had escaped from a nearby farm.
Viral Press This Facebook photo shows Fiona. far left, before the horrific attack
Viral Press Villagers and medics stretcher Fiona Childs into an ambulance after she was attacked by a water buffalo in the Cambodian jungle
Viral Press Fiona was left covered in blood and was rushed to hospital
Viral Press A path through the Cambodian jungle leading to a beach on Koh Rong Samloem
Alamy Fiona was attacked by a water buffalo, which are said to be placid
The buffalo’s owner apparently offered to let soldiers “kill, kill, kill” the beast while also agreeing to cover Fiona’s medical expenses.
Fiona, originally from Crawley, West Sussex, arrived in the capital Phnom Penh on Saturday, according to visa documents shown to reporters.
She then made the four-hour car journey to the coast before moving to the idyllic island.
She was walking through a jungle towards a beach when she was attacked on a footpath at around 10.20am on Monday.
She suffered injuries to both her shins and her thighs which police believe were sustained as she lay on the ground and tried to fend off the animal.
She was taken to hospital in Sihanoukville, a coastal city on the mainland.
Viral Press Fiona was taken to hospital in Sihanoukville, a coastal city on the mainland
Viral Press This is the idyllic island where the tourist was attacked by the beast
According to expats in the region, the animal was a male water buffalo that had been wandering around the jungle and beach for some two weeks and it had charged at locals ten days ago.
While normally placid, water buffalo can become incredibly aggressive if provoked or if they are protecting their young.
Pol Phosda, chief of Sihanoukville Police, said: ”Military forces found and caught the buffalo. It’s hard to punish the owner because it was unintentional and out of his control.
“Now he’s responsible for paying for the victim’s medical expenses and he’s also willing to let the forces put the animal down if necessary.
“It’s hard to blame the owner because raising animals is part of their livelihood.”
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