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Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens’ road trip stalls with 4-1 loss to St. Louis – Montreal

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The Montreal Canadiens had a date in St. Louis on Thursday night, stop two of a short, mid-week road trip. The Habs won the first game in Detroit when they gutted it out against a hungry Red Wings team.

With a 4-1 loss to the Blues, though, any hopes of repeating that win were dashed.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens top the Detroit Red Wings 3-2

Wilde Horses 

After a game like this, it’s clearly charitable to fill this section with much.

It was difficult to find anyone who deserved praise, but if you had to name any, name the fourth line. They worked hard and created chances. Nicolas Deslauriers had a breakaway in the first period, but could not convert. Kenny Agostino and Michael Chaput also worked hard for their space and had some offensive zone pressure. It was likely Deslauriers’ best game of the season.

WATCH: Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens shut out the Vancouver Canucks






Brendan Gallagher was intending to pass to Paul Byron, but took a deflection for a fluke. Every player is just happy to have one of those added to the total, and that total for Gallagher is impressive. That’s a team-leading 17 goals on the season for Gallagher.

He led the team with 31 last season, and he is on his way to the milestone mark again this year.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Minnesota Wild shut out Montreal Canadiens

Victor Mete continues to play well since returning from Laval. He’s joining the rush much more and it looks good on him. He has the speed, so of course he should join the rush. The entire point of the game is to use your own advantages to be the best player that you can be.

The advantage that Mete has is that he’s probably the second-fastest player on the team behind Byron. In fact, it would be enjoyable to see how a 100-foot race between the two would go. Mete joined the rush in the third period on a two-on-one with Max Domi. The young centre did everything right, delaying his speed to change the angle on the defender to ensure that Mete got a great pass. Mete, looking for his first NHL goal, almost counted — he took the shot quickly, as he is supposed to, but he didn’t get the shot off the ice.

These are the little things that a player learns as he gets more experienced and he changes frustration into joy.

It’s a long journey to be your best in this league, and Mete will keep improving. He has so much more to contribute than he is now, and he’s doing well in his second season already.

WATCH: What to look forward to in the New Year for the Montreal Canadiens






Wilde Goats 

I’m not sure if there’s some amazing night life on a Wednesday night in Missouri, but the Habs certainly played like it.

Right from the opening moments, the Habs were horrible against a team that had won only two of their last seven games at home, giving up an embarrassing amount of odd man rushes. Not only were there many two-on-one rushes allowed, the Blues didn’t have to worry that any Habs player was going to catch them. All the Habs were doing was coasting and enjoying the view.

The first period ended with the Habs trailing 2-0, but it was the worst period for Montreal since they were crushed in Minnesota. If it were a better team they were against, it would have been a five-spot on the board against Montreal. The face-off spot was also a mess for Montreal, as led by Ryan O’Reilly being 11 for 12, the Blues won 19 of 23 faceoffs in the first period.

In the second period, the Blues scored on yet another two-on-one. The Habs love to engage their defence and they have the speed to do it, but when the legs are tired and the forwards aren’t interested in helping out, the strategy can obviously look very bad. You must have attentive players who are ready to cover for the pinching defenders.

The Habs’ forwards, though, weren’t attentive at all when the blue liners pinched.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde  Montreal Canadiens shut out the Vancouver Canucks

The Habs have what it takes for a good power play. They have a player who has good vision in Jesperi Kotkaniemi. They have a player who doesn’t mind putting his body in front of the net to get punished in Brendan Gallagher. They have a shooter in Jonathan Drouin. They have the best slap shot in the entire NHL in Shea Weber. They have a great skater and a solid setup man in Jeff Petry.

It’s not like this team is without talent. Max Domi has some vision, too; Tomas Tatar can set up and score. So with all that in mind, why are the Habs 31st and last in the NHL on the power play?

Well, there are many reasons. They don’t work hard; they don’t set up Weber; they don’t enter the zone well. They’re static when they do finally enter the zone, and then they don’t shoot enough. When they have a draw, they don’t win. They have their best players at the power play split up on the two units.

Is there anything left? Is there anything that they do well?

Nope.

READ MORE: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price to skip NHL All-Star Game due to injury

Karl Alzner was back in the lineup for the first time in a couple of months after a stint in Laval. His name wasn’t called much, which is as exactly as Alzner should like it. However, then his name was called as he and Jeff Petry let Sammy Blais skate right between them. Alzner was beaten for speed so badly, he didn’t even have time to get turnstiled. He didn’t even turn.

It’s stunning how slow he was on the play, but Petry didn’t look much better. That was the 4-1 goal — the one to guarantee there was going to be no comeback in one of the dullest games in hockey memory.

Wilde Cards

The battle is on for the Ontario Hockey League title and a chance for the Memorial Cup, and it impacts one of the Habs’ best prospects.

Nick Suzuki was traded from the Owen Sound Attack to the Guelph Storm this week. He is now expected to make a big difference as the Storm tries to win the title, but what’s interesting is there are two teams loading up this year in hopes of winning it all.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens edge the Arizona Coyotes 2-1

One team in the west and one team in the east will likely collide in the OHL finals. The Niagara Ice Dogs and the Storm have made a ton of moves that make them a powerhouse now, but likely horrible in the coming years. The Storm have traded 19 draft picks and three players to load up. The Ice Dogs have traded 17 draft picks and three players to also load up. The pattern  of loading up often repeats in junior hockey, but this season it is bordering on ridiculous. As fate would have it, the two clubs faced each other in Suzuki’s first game with his new team. It went to overtime, with the Storm tying it at 5 in the last minute.

In the three-on-three extra session, it was Suzuki who went on an end to end rush, took it around the net, still held on to it, then wired a shot upstairs for the winner. That’s a pretty good first game. It should be fun to watch Suzuki play in a lot of big games this spring, perhaps looking for a national title.

WATCH: Call of the Wilde: Wins and Losses





© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Personal Injury firm to pay an estimated $4 million to settle class-action with former clients

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A personal injury law firm has agreed to pay an estimated $4 million to settle claims that the firm double-dipped from the settlements of nearly 1,800 accident victims it represented.

The settlement between Neinstein & Associates LLP, a prominent personal injury law firm, and its clients was approved Wednesday by Justice Paul Perell.

Cassie Hodge, one of nearly 1,800 accident victims who joined a class-action lawsuit against Neinstein & Associates LLP. The firm has agreed to pay an estimated $4 million to settle the claims.
Cassie Hodge, one of nearly 1,800 accident victims who joined a class-action lawsuit against Neinstein & Associates LLP. The firm has agreed to pay an estimated $4 million to settle the claims.  (Andrew Lahodynskyj / Toronto Star)

Perell’s sign-off on the settlement effectively ends a class-action lawsuit that was certified in June 2017 but never made it to trial.

At the time the class-action commenced, lawyers working on contingency — “you don’t pay unless we win” — were not allowed to take a sum of money called “costs” in addition to a percentage of the settlement, according to the Solicitor’s Act governing lawyers.

In 2012, the roughly 1,800 class members alleged that Gary Neinstein and the law firm breached provincial law and their “fiduciary duties because they charged an amount for costs” in addition to the fee spelled out in their contingency fee agreement, according to Perell’s settlement approval decision. The firm denied the allegations.

Jeff Neinstein, managing partner of Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers, told the Star in an email his firm is “pleased that this issue has been resolved.”

“We appreciate the trust and confidence that our clients have continued to place in us and we remain dedicated to providing compassionate legal representation for all victims across Ontario.”

During a brief hearing in a second-floor courtroom at downtown Toronto’s Osgoode Hall, Perell additionally approved $1 million in legal fees and assorted charges incurred during the litigation for plaintiff lawyers Peter Waldmann and Andrew Stein, plus a $10,000 honorarium to accident victim Cassie Hodge, the 46-year-old mother of two at the heart of the case.

Waldmann, who represented Hodge and the other class members, said the settlement is “a compromise,” but he is pleased the accident victims are getting some remedy.

A Star investigation that began in 2016 found personal injury lawyers in Ontario had routinely taken their fees then also taken the “costs,” which a Divisional Court judge had called “double dipping.” As a result, the Star story said, many Ontario residents had been overcharged thousands of dollars and likely did not know it.

On the heels of the Star’s findings, the Law Society of Ontario decided to make changes to the way personal injury lawyers can advertise their services, bill their clients and charge and collect referral fees.

“When this issue was first raised, it became clear that there was confusion regarding the interpretation of the Solicitors Act,” Jeff Neinstein said Wednesday. “We took these concerns very seriously. We worked collaboratively to ensure that these issues were responsibly addressed. We are proud of the work that we do and continue to promote access to justice.”

In his settlement approval order, Justice Perell said negotiations between both sides were “intensive.” He said the settlement is “a good result for the class particularly having regard to the litigation risks and the long litigation road that would await them.”

As part of the settlement, a class member could get 30 per cent of what Neinstein referred to on his accounts as costs, the court said, provided she or he signed or amended a contingency fee agreement with the firm after October 1, 2004 and paid their fees before December 9, 2015.

Their cases must also have settled for at least $40,000 and their bills included at least $15,000 for an amount the firm called “party and party costs,” “partial indemnity costs” or another term using equivalent language.

Perell said that he awarded Hodge the honorarium to pay her personal expenses during the case and “to acknowledge her extraordinary contribution.”

Hodge’s battle against Neinstein began in 2010 after the law firm settled her car accident case for $150,000, sending her a final account that included charges for “legal fees” of $30,326 and “costs” of $30,000. She was also charged for $48,924 of “disbursements,” charges incurred by the lawyer in the course of litigation, which included $4,008 for photocopies, $2,791 for “laser copies,” and $1,372 for “interest recovery,” according to an earlier appeal court ruling that upheld the certification of the class.

Hodge alleges she was left with a fraction of her settlement.

Hodge had retained the Neinstein firm after a 2002 accident that left her with a concussion, whiplash, a retinal tear, soft tissue injures and chronic pain.

“Justice is served,” Hodge said outside the courtroom after the hearing. “Now people are aware of what was happening at law firms, and they know that they do have recourse.”

Michele Henry is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @michelehenry

Kenyon Wallace is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @KenyonWallace or reach him via email: kwallace@thestar.ca



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Westmount Park Elementary School students to be temporarily relocated to 2 separate buildings – Montreal

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A contentious plan to split Westmount Park Elementary School students up during a two-year renovation blitz is officially moving forward.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) announced at a special meeting on Wednesday that students will be temporarily transferred to two different buildings for the duration of the project.

READ MORE: English Montreal School Board parents weigh in on disputed school moves

Students will be relocated to Marymount Academy in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and the former St. John Bosco Elementary School in Ville Émard for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.

Both locations will house kindergarten to Grade 6 students in order not to split up siblings, according to the school board.

The $12.5-million overhaul of the elementary school, which was built in 1913, will fix major structural issues.

READ MORE: Parents voice concerns over relocation of students at Westmount Park School

The plan has been met with both praise and concern from parents at school board meetings. Some said they were worried about where their kids will be transferred and separated from their friends.

At a consultation meeting last week, parents of Marymount students also voiced concerns over taking in hundreds of Westmount Park students.

WATCH: Westmount Park Elementary School students will have to move out of their school for two years






New French immersion school delayed

After announcing last October it would open a new French immersion school in NDG in September 2019, the school board says those plans have now been pushed back.

The elementary school was slated to open at 4850 Coronation Ave. — but now that building could instead house students from three other EMSB schools that are currently overcrowded.

READ MORE: English Montreal School Board plans to open new French immersion school in NDG

The EMSB says it is considering its options and that it will consult with the schools and their committees.

A decision is expected to be made by the school board’s council of commissioners on Feb. 20.

— With files from Global’s Elysia Bryan Baynes

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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RCMP seek help finding Canadian actress and nephew ‘considered missing’ from Kamloops since Sunday

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Kamloops RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance locating a six-year-old boy and his 28-year-old aunt, actress Roseanne Supernault

RCMP say they received a report on Sunday to check on the well-being of Nikaeo Supernault who was being looked after by his aunt.

They say the boy and his aunt have not been in contact with the boy’s mother since Jan. 13, and the pair is « considered missing. »

Police say they believe the boy is with his aunt.

Roseanne Supernault, a Métis/Cree actress, has starred in several TV series, including Blackstone, Strange Empire and The Drive, as well as the independent film, Neither Wolf Nor Dog.

Metis/Cree actress Rosanne Supernault in the film Neither Wolf nor Dog that played in select theatres across Canada in 2017. (InYo Entertainment)

Police describe six-year-old Nikaeo as three feet six inches tall, 45 pounds with light brown hair, brown eyes and wearing a blue jacket, black pants and tan boots.

His aunt, Roseanne, is five feet seven inches tall, 190 pounds, dyed blonde hair, brown eyes, wearing a black jacket with white fur on the hood, jeans and black boots.

The Kamloops RCMP is asking anyone with information on their whereabouts to contact them at 1-250-828-3000 or make an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.



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