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Kyle Lowry: A story of courage, hope, and change...

On a typical day, the preteen Lowry would wake up and run a couple of miles, find his way to a gym to get up shots, go to school and then go to practice, before heading to another gym to find a game. Lowry lived in North Philadelphia with his mother, grandmother and older brother, Lonnie, in a 130-year-old row house on North 20th Street, directly across from where Shibe Park, the Phillies’ old stadium, once stood before it was torn down in the ’70s. By the late ’80s and early ’90s, when Lowry was growing up, the neighbourhood was considered one of the most dangerous in America—a casualty of the era’s crack cocaine epidemic. “It was absolutely lawless,” says Clancy, who runs a food-and-beverage distribution company. “People dropping like flies here.” Clancy says he knew 24 store clerks who were murdered in 1988 alone.

Though Lowry’s father, Lonnie Sr., lived only 10 minutes away, he never showed an interest in raising his son. “I just can’t understand how somebody couldn’t love kids,” Lowry, a proud father of two, says. “I love my kids; everything I do is for them.”

Lonnie Jr. tried to fill the void as best he could. He brought his younger brother with him whenever he left the house, often heading to local courts. Lowry fell in love with the game from the opening tip; as early as he can remember, he wanted nothing more out of life than to play ball.

The kid who’d later spend more than a decade trying to shed the label “uncoachable” was the most eager pupil Clancy ever saw. “What stood out immediately was his IQ and his capacity to learn,” Clancy says.

“We all heard it: He was impossible to coach. He wasn’t reachable. It’s why he was always somebody’s second or third choice, never first.”

The worst smear came when Lowry, knowing he didn’t want to go to a traditional college powerhouse, refused to entertain an offer from a particular major Div. I program—one he’d still prefer to keep nameless. Out for revenge, a member of the program’s coaching staff spread the rumour that Lowry was a drug dealer. “It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard,” says Distel. “Kyle was the most introverted kid...."


“The label can be what it was. I was never [uncoachable],” he says. “It was unfair. Because of how competitive I am as a basketball player, people misinterpreted it for something else. I may not have always handled things the right way, but that’s life. You live, you learn, you grow.”

...he had to improve his relationship with head coach Dwane Casey, whose idea of what a point guard should be didn’t mesh with Lowry’s on-court style. “The two of us have learned to adapt to each other,” Lowry says. “We’re always going to have disagreements, but there’s a mutual respect.”

Through time, trials and maturation, Lowry has learned to appreciate what it took to reach his goals. “As you get older, you begin to understand the responsibilities you have,” he says. “If you want to be the guy, your responsibilities change—you have to be front and centre.”

only one who believes he can be the guy. Empowered by the trust of his coaches and teammates, and by an unprecedented amount of love from Toronto’s fan base, he’s found a new comfort level. Now he’s free to focus on the only goal he ever truly cared about: “I think about LeBron’s slogan, ‘Strive For Greatness.’ That’s really what it’s about,” Lowry says. “I want to be a great player, to win championships. I want to be f–king great.”

All Sports But Hockey / Re: The Official NBA/Basketball Thread
« on: Yesterday at 03:52:17 AM »
How this happened?  Well, it just did:

OKC 118   Golden State  94.    Thunder lead series 3 games to 1.

Read on:'

Pittsburgh  5   Tampa Bay  2.   Series tied 3 games to 3.

Before Game 6,  Pittsburgh forward Evgeny Malkin let it be known that the Penguins were going back home for a Game 7.  Malkin was adamant in his conviction, and the Penguins proved him correct as Pittsburgh staved off elimination in forcing a Game 7.

The Penguins were dominant from the get-go building up a 3-0 lead by the second period.  Though the Lightning tried a comeback, Pittsburgh stood it's ground and scored to put the game out of reach.  Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby led the way with a solid game.  Matthew Murray, who started instead of Marc-Andre Fleury (the losing goaltender in Game 6), backstopped the win.

Game 7 goes Thursday in Pittsburgh.


Matthews, definitely.  He comes across as a well-rounded player who knows his game and seems dedicated to his profession (attitude, conditioning/nutrition/fitness/etc.).  He's certainly a guy that will show up to play every night. 

Also, he being a centre, and considering the Maple Leafs' deep need at that position, the logical choice is Matthews, for the simple fact that he plays the position well.

While I admire Laine's skills, and I still see that Sundin-esque sniping shot there, and while he would be worthy addition to the Leafs, I still am in favour of Matthews.  Like I said, for reasons of need and scarcity.

San Jose  6   St. Louis  3.   Sharks lead series 3 games to 2.

Game story:

Fleury didn't play too badly in the early going, but since it was his first game in between the pipes in  awhile, one can't help to shake off the 'rust' of not having played.

Looks like it's back to Murray for the must-win Game 6 in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
That's a link for the 2nd round against the Caps.

Yeah, you're right.  My mistake.

Guess we won't know who starts 'till  game day.

Biyombo's huge block on Lebron:

<a href="" target="_blank"></a>

Guess who's apologizing now:

<a href="" target="_blank"></a>

Fleury didn't play too badly in the early going, but since it was his first game in between the pipes in  awhile, one can't help to shake off the 'rust' of not having played.

Looks like it's back to Murray for the must-win Game 6 in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

General NHL News & Views / Re: World Championships thread
« on: May 23, 2016, 02:57:26 PM »
History in the making:

Team Canada's Corey Perry joins the exclusive "Triple Club", having won the Olympic Gold (Vancouver 2010; Sochi 2014, World Championship 2016). 

Canada has ten TGC members, followed by Sweden (9), Russia (6), and Czech Republic (2).

Also, Canada's Connor McDavid became the youngest player ever to win all three golds -- WJHC (U18; U20, World Championship 2016).

Source:  IIHF 2016 Worlds

General NHL News & Views / Re: World Championships thread
« on: May 23, 2016, 02:35:08 PM »
Final power rankings:

1.        Canada:              It's a Canadian team WINNING in May!
2.        Finland:              Who was that, Connor Kharlamov?
3.        Russia:               Moscow bronze: a cherished tradition
4.        United States:    We just got taken to the Bolshoi Ballet
5.        Czech Republic:   The Shootout by Franz Kafka
6.        Sweden:             As a team, we're good-looking and mild-mannered
7.        Germany:           Cologne. For teams that don't want to stink.
8.        Denmark:           In the Hans Christian Andersen version, we win gold
9.        Slovakia:            It's Peter Stastny's fault for not being 25
10.      Norway:             Roy, thank you for teaching polar bears how to behave
11.      Switzerland:       We're in the "Big Eleven"
12.      Belarus:             Kool & The Gang wrote "Celebration" about Stepanov
13.      Latvia:               What, no beaver jokes this year?
14.      France:               Paris. Well, duh...because it's Paris!
15.       Hungary:           Our newest wine is the 2017 Division I Tokay
16.       Kazakhstan:      We want a new format where we're always on the PP

Source:  IIHF 2016 Worlds

General NHL News & Views / Re: World Championships thread
« on: May 23, 2016, 02:23:36 PM »
Way to go, Canada!!  Back-to-back World Champions!

Canada played excellent and were the top offensive team in the tournament, backed by the sharp goaltending of Cam Talbot.

"I think you just saw how well we managed the puck," McDavid noted. "We didn't really feed into their transition and didn't really give them any chance to get anything going off the rush or in zone."

"In these tournaments where you don't have a chance to play very long together," Morgan Rielly said. "You have to learn from your mistakes and get better every game. You can only afford to lose one or maybe two games. You do that, you learn from your mistakes, you get better, and that's what we were able to do tonight. Credit goes to the coaching staff. We knew exactly what they were going to do. We knew how we had to play and we went out there and did it and won."

"The first game we played against Finland we felt pretty good about ourselves in the first period but tonight we did it for sixty minutes," said Derick Brassard, Canada's leading scorer with eleven points. "Tonight we were all over them. Finland is a really smart them that waits for you to make mistakes and go the other way to score. Tonight we didn’t give them anything. They really pushed us to be a better team."

We knew what we were up against," Mark Scheifele said. "Finland's a very good team. They have good goaltending, good defence, and great forwards. They shut it down pretty good and they don't give us a whole lot of opportunity in the offensive zone. We knew we had to take advantage of what we could, and we did a great job of that today."

"They forechecked hard, and we couldn't get the puck to the other end," admitted Antti Pihlstrom. "They played really strong on defence. We just couldn't get the offence going."

"They played one of their best games of the tournament, and we weren't at our best," Jussi Jokinen agreed. "It's tough to say why, but they deserved to win tonight. I've not often seen Canada play like that. It was a really smart game plan from them."

We're #1!!  Congratulations Team Canada!

Game story:

St.Louis 6  San Jose 3.  Series tied at 2 games apiece.

St.Louis coach Ken Hitchcock knew he had to do something to shore up his shaky team after their loss in Game 3.  It started with a goaltending change, as in Jake Allen replacing beleaguered netminder Brian Elliott.  Albiet not a major change, since Elliott has been nothing short of brilliant in these playoffs, yet for the Blues, the result was a turnaround from their previous outing at the SAP Center (aka the Shark tank).

The Blues, with Allen behind net, solidified their defence and got goals from clutch performers in Troy Brouwer and Kyle Brodziak and went on to even the series all up.

The Sharks netminder Martin Jones, himself a stellar performer in these playoffs for San Jose, suffered the same fate that befell Elliott for the losing cause, and was replaced by backup James Reimer with the score out of reach. 

Strange as it may seem that both teams' top goalkeepers have had subpar performances.  As for James Reimer, he being a former Toronto Maple Leaf, (before being traded to San Jose), the LeafsNation may be interested to know that he allowed one goal thereafter in relief of Jones on seven shots.

Game 5 is in St.Louis Monday.

Source:   CBC Sports

Comparing and putting into perspective Laine's & Matthews' points production at the 2016 Men's Worlds:

Laine’s eye-popping numbers could be inflated by who he is playing with, and against. Through nine games, he has seven goals and 12 points and his 1.33 points per game average is the third-highest production rate for an under-19 skater at the World Championship ever, trailing only Sidney Crosby's 1.78 and Anze Kopitar's 1.50, which were both registered in 2005-   06.

                         Year   GP   G   Pts  Pts/GP       L1              L2
Sidney Crosby   2006   9   8   16   1.78   P. Bergeron      B. Boyes
Anze Kopitar      2006   6   3   9   1.5   T. Razingar          M. Sotlar (D)
Patrik Laine       2016   9   7   12   1.33    A. Barkov          Jokinen
Steven Stamkos   2009   9   7   11   1.22   M. St. Louis    S. Doan
Magnus Paajarvi   2010   9   5   9   1          R. Wallin         M. Weinhandl
Auston Matthews   2016   9   6   9   1        D. Larkin         N. Foligno
Matt Duchene        2010   7   4   7   1        J. Tavares         R. Whitney
Mikael Granlund   2011   9   2   9   1           J. Immonen     J. Pesonen
Connor McDavid   2016   9   0   8   0.88     B. Marchand      M. Duchene
Jeff Skinner         2011   7   3   6   0.86      C. Stewart         J. Tavares
Jonathan Toews   2007   9   2   7   0.78      R. Nash             S. Doan
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins   2012   8   4  6  0.75   P. Sharp        J. Benn
Jack Eichel          2015   10   2    7    0.7          J. Vesey       T. Lewis

Laine's main linemates this year have been Jussi Jokinen and Aleksander Barkov, both of whom produced more than 50 points in the NHL this season. He has also spent time on the power play with Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund who are top-line forwards for the Minnesota Wild.

Matthews has been lining up with the Dylan Larkin and Nick Foligno in recent games, but spent the early portion of the tournament playing with a mix of Brock Nelson, Patrick Maroon, Jordan Schroeder and top Boston Bruins prospect Frank Vatrano.

American rosters are under the age of 24, with the US actually sending across four skaters who are under the age of 20, which is the largest under-20 contingent in the tournament.

This year’s event has the second-highest number of U20 skaters in the past 15 years, comparable to spikes that occurred in 2010, 2006 and 2003. The massive wave of U20 talent in the 2010 tournament featured future elite NHLers such as Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, Nino Niederreiter, Evander Kane, Roman Josi, Sami Vantanen, Jordan Eberle, Tomas Tatar, and Chris Kreider. The wave of 2006 included Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Nicklas Backstrom. The 2003 bump featured Ilya Kovalchuk, Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Semin, Frans Nielsen, and Jiri Hudler.

The amazingly high proportion of under-20 skaters at this year's World Championship -- and their excellent production against some of the best hockey players on the planet -- bodes well for the game. If the names from previous spikes in U20 participation are any indication of what we can expect out of this year's crop of prospects at the Worlds, it looks like McDavid, Laine, Matthews, Larkin, Ehlers, Mikko Rantanen, David Pastarnak and Noah Hanifin will be regular all-stars, winning individual awards and leading their teams to playoff success in the very near future.

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