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Nylander’s Leaf return fulfils offer Tavares couldn’t refuse

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John Tavares was talking about planning towards a charitable foundation, and the Toronto Maple Leafs centre said he would approach it the way he approaches everything else. He will take it seriously.

“When you do something like that, you want to do it right,” said Tavares before scoring his 18th goal in Toronto’s 5-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, with winger William Nylander back in the fold after his two-month holdout. “And you want to take your time and be thorough and diligent and make sure you have a good grasp on what you’re doing.”

That’s how the 28-year-old Tavares approached free agency last summer: His agency, CAA Sports, prepared a 77-page booklet on the candidate teams — rosters, salary caps, depth charts, organizational talent, cities — and he pored over it. And he chose Toronto.

Thursday night, with William Nylander returning to the lineup and Auston Matthews healthy, Toronto got its first glimpse of what Tavares chose. The Leafs looked sluggish at times, and disjointed at others. The goaltending from backup Garret Sparks was below the Frederik Andersen standard. Nylander wasn’t ready to be himself, and was really only in because a bus breakdown cancelled practice Wednesday. It was 4-1 Detroit through two.

“It was just too good,” said Tavares of his summer decision. “It was hard to not think this was the perfect timing, the perfect fit. It was just so hard to say no, (even) with how much I invested in New York, how much I cared about that organization and that place … But considering where I’m at in my career, and where these guys are, the core of this group and how young they are, the potential in the immediate and really through the whole length of my contract, which was a big deal for me.

“Looking at the facts, everything that was in front of me, and that feeling, that instinctive feeling. It was the right fit, and there would be no other time like this again. I couldn’t say no.”

And then Nylander held out, and there was a real chance he wasn’t going to sign. But he secured a promise that he would not be traded from general manager Kyle Dubas — which Nylander made sure to make public when he spoke to the media about the deal — and with Matthews back too, this was the first time the full, post-Tavares Leafs were all in one place.

“I think we’ll see a good team that was already playing well and got a good player,” said Andersen. “I mean, all respect to Willie, but it’s not him or nothing; it’s like we add another great player to this program and this team, and it’s another marginal gain to get a player back or get extra depth. That’s really what it is. You can’t guarantee anything by adding one player — we’ve seen that multiple times in trade deadline deals, where you think: this team’s going to win the Cup for sure now. How often does that happen?

“But good thing for us, he’s been here for a few years already … there are players who are higher threats to score, and I would say Willie is in that category. You add another player for teams to keep track of. He might be the one scoring, or it might open up space for other guys. You can’t match against all four lines unless you’re a really good team, and if you’re really deep on good defensive players. And even then, it’s another wave that keeps coming at you. Anyway, that’s how I see Willie coming back.”

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Andersen added, “winning covers a lot of things … it’s really a matter of just staying the course and doing the right things. That’s when sometimes something special comes about, and it’s the habits that create those wins.”

So now it’s habits, health — Andersen tops that list — and the vision that the franchise sold to Tavares when he left Long Island. The Leafs sold Tavares on playing with the 21-year-old Mitch Marner, who entered Thursday on a 114-point pace and got an assist on a slightly off night; they sold him on Matthews, who scored 15 goals in his first 14 games and got an assist, too; and Morgan Rielly, who set up Tavares to get to 31 points in 29 games, after last year’s career-best 52. And they sold Nylander.

“I mean, nobody’s going to play 25 minutes up front,” said coach Mike Babcock. “If that’s what they want, they have to play on a team with way less players. But in the end we all want the same thing: we want to win and have a lot of success long term. We’re going to find a way to make it go.”

Everyone’s here now, and it won’t be seamless. Hell, they could chase a Cup and lose in the first round. But now the Leafs get to find out what they really are. And starting now, Tavares, the biggest hockey free agent in years, will find out just how right he was.

Bruce Arthur is a Toronto-based sports columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @bruce_arthur



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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