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p curve and a splendid changeup. A

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    September 13, 2017 7:28 AM +0430

    TORONTO – They were making Morgan Rielly hold the shopping bags as they strolled through Eaton Centre during a rare day off the ice. . Nazem Kadri was there and so was the 24-year-old walking backwards and documenting the light mocking of his junior teammate with a cell phone camera. Then he tripped over a garbage can. Things just aren’t going Jake Gardiner’s way these days. Gardiner has been a healthy scratch in each of the past two games, an odd show of faith to a player who signed for five years and more than $20 million in late July. The Maple Leafs, though, have consistently taken a tough love kind of approach to the former Ducks first round pick. The results mostly indicate that such an approach has failed to reap much in the way of reward, Gardiner struggling to find consistent form in each of the past two seasons – some of that, no doubt, the growing pains of a young defenceman. In question is whether such an approach is beneficial to the long-term development of a talent the organization is clearly high on, but also someone whom the head coach, Randy Carlyle, has prodded most often. Tough love from a coach can have its benefits, say various players in the Toronto room, but only if the personality in question is right for that type of motivation. Some respond to old-school types, benefiting from constant barks in the ear. Dion Phaneuf, for example, recalls his time under hard-edged former Flames coach, Mike Keenan, fondly. Others need that positive voice. Nazem Kadri would probably fall more under the latter. He took his share of prodding over his early Toronto years from the likes of Dallas Eakins and Ron Wilson. And while he hated it, he also was the fiery type to respond to it. “It sucks,” said Kadri. “I don’t like it all. But I’m not going to let it ruin my confidence or my self-esteem as a player because at the end of the day I know what I can do and I believe in myself. “I don’t want to say it works because then they’ll just keep giving me tough love,” he continued. “[But] I think I respond well to it. It doesn’t really bother me. I’m a pretty thick-skinned kid, even going back to minor hockey; I’ve had some pretty tough coaches. I don’t like it so much and sometimes I’m not so patient with it, but I think I react well. It doesn’t really bother me. It’s not like I go into a shell after I get ripped out or reamed out, I just continue playing my game.” Gardiner isn’t really that fiery type. And the odd seat in the press-box or even down to the Marlies hasn’t done much to affect his performance positively. When the lockout ended in Jan. 2013, Gardiner was first healthy scratched and then sent to the American League, where he lingered unhappily for weeks. He finally returned to the NHL in March – amid the ranting of fans, media and his agent at the time – played a couple games, and then was sent back to the press box for the final days of the regular season and even Game 1 of the playoffs. Gardiner flourished when the Leafs turned to him for the rest of that playoff series with Boston, but promptly struggled again the following fall – drawing another prominent healthy scratch in late November. Is this the best way, then, to motivate Gardiner? A player, mind you, who questioned his security with the Leafs before – amid ongoing trade rumours – only to believe he was done with all that when the team sprung for a five-year deal in the summer. There’s nothing wrong with scratching a player from time to time despite media and fan protests, but to do so three games in the season – given the history of disconnect between player and team, the splashy new deal, and fact that said player hadn’t played so poorly – seems off the mark. Gardiner has ultimately been pushed out of the lineup by rookie Stuart Percy, an early revelation in a top-four role. But is removing Gardiner, who was by far the Leafs top possession player a year ago and leading defensive point-getter at even-strength, best for the team and best for his development as a young player? That’s unlikely, especially given the predictable early season struggles of Stephane Robidas. Carlyle, speaking generally, says his motivational tactics are dependent on the individual. “I think a lot of that is feel and a lot of it is personality,” he said. “Some people take coaching as criticism and other people take criticism as personal. Those things are things that you to weigh and have to measure when you’re applying it.” Carlyle admits to making mistakes in how he’s handled things in the past, though not specifically with Gardiner. Sometimes, he says, it might be the wrong time or the wrong setting for certain tactics. “We’re all human,” he said. “We all make mistakes. Those are things that you have to gauge with experience. I think those are learning curves for a coach.” Communication can make all the difference. And to Carlyle’s credit, he has been up front with Gardiner about why he’s not playing – though not anymore so than usual. He’s told the Minnesota native that his play hasn’t been up to the level that they expect. Today’s players, Carlyle says, want more of that. They want answers and responsibility. And despite his old-school leanings, it’s apparent that Carlyle has tried to adapt. There was a point last year before a game in Philadelphia that saw him bring Gardiner onto the visitors’ bench at Wells Fargo Center, pull out the iPad and show him a few video clips on what needed improvement. More of that might be helpful. And through some film dissection this fall, Gardiner has been told that he needs to contain the opposition more effectively in the defensive zone and move the puck quicker. Cody Franson wasn’t afforded such treatment by the team’s previous head coach, Ron Wilson, during his first training camp in Toronto. Franson found out he’d be the seventh defenceman to start the regular season not from the coach himself, but from an online video of the coach speaking to media. The worst part about it, he says, was leaving the rink every day uncertain of why he wasn’t playing and when he’d get back in. “When I went through it it wasn’t the best thing for me,” Franson said. “But every guy’s a little different. Some guys need stuff like that. Some guys just need to be talked to. It all depends on the individual.” “It always helps when you get some words of encouragement,” Kadri observed. The leash for Gardiner, however, has seemed short at times and especially now. He seemed to say as much in his exit meeting with Carlyle last spring – revelations that went beyond the imagination of the head coach. All that being said, Carlyle did doll out more even-strength minutes to Gardiner than any other player on the team last season, an indication of trust if there was ever was one. “We feel that we have a quality hockey player that can play to a higher level and he agrees with that,” said Carlyle earlier this week. “So to me that’s end of story.” Asked what Gardiner could do to impress once he earned another opportunity, Carlyle responded bluntly, “Play better.” Time will tell if he does and Carlyles tough-love approach is worth pursuing. Adidas Superstar Ireland . The attacking midfielder arrives on a free transfer from Spains Malaga. The 28-year-old joins Scottish striker Kenny Miller and Argentine midfielder Matias Laba as designated players on the Whitecaps roster. . Thats what he did over the past 2 1/2 years with the Washington Wizards. Wittmans approach helped turn the Wizards from pushover to playoff winners. DENVER -- The Arizona Diamondbacks finally gave Paul Goldschmidt a night off, and recent call-up Nick Evans filled in quite nicely for the first baseman. Evans and Chris Owings hit back-to-back homers, rookie Chase Anderson won his fourth straight start and the Diamondbacks beat the slumping Colorado Rockies 4-2 on Tuesday. The solo shot by Evans in the fourth was his first homer since Sept. 3, 2011, when he was with the New York Mets. He wasnt sure if a moment like this would ever arrive again, especially after missing most of 2012 with a broken hand and not having a job last season until the Diamondbacks called a few days before the season -- with only a spot open at Double-A Mobile. The veteran still jumped at the chance. "You start to question," said Evans, who was recalled from Triple-A Reno last week. "Its not easy to get here. ... This is definitely satisfying." Evans was in the lineup because manager Kirk Gibson decided it was a good time to rest Goldschmidt. It was the sluggers first day off of the season after 59 straight games, one shy of the club record of 60 set by Travis Lee in 1998. Maybe another break for Goldschmidt on Wednesday? "Yeah, I wouldnt count on that," Evans said. "If I was a betting man, Id count on him being in there." Anderson (4-0) was hardly intimidated by hitter friendly Coors Field or one of the top lineups in the league. He didnt overpower the Rockies so much as keep them guessing, throwing six effective innings in his longest outing since he was recalled from Reno on May 6. He becomes the fifth rookie since 1998 to win his opening four starts. The right-hander allowed four hits and one run -- a homer by D.J. LeMahieu -- to help the Diamondbacks stop a three-game skid. "I tried to stick with my game plan, pitch off that," Anderson said. "If you try to pitch to the park, sometimes youre not very successful." Jorge De La Rosa (6-4) settled down after a shaky start, giving up three runs in seven innings. The hard-throwing lefty didnt have a strikeout forr the first time this season, and his six-game winning streak came to an end. . Evans homer came on a fastball, and then four pitches later Owings hit a cutter into the stands. "I didnt have my best stuff," De La Rosa said. "I just kept trying to work my way through and go as far as I can. I think I did a good job." The Rockies opened a 10-game homestand with their fifth straight loss. The best-hitting team in baseball just finished a dismal road swing in which it went 2-7 and averaged less than three runs a game. If this bad stretch wasnt bad enough, the Rockies could be losing one of their top players. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was removed in the sixth after irritating his left index finger. He just might be headed for the disabled list in order to give a finger thats nagged him most of the season a chance to heal. "Were at a point where weve got to make a decision on this and see whats best for him and whats best for our club," manager Walt Weiss said. Colorado struggled against Anderson, who mixed a fastball that barely crept into the 90s with a sharp curve and a splendid changeup. Anderson also benefited from an overturned call at the plate in the second that kept the game scoreless. Wilin Rosario was ruled safe by umpire Jerry Layne after sliding past the tag of catcher Miguel Montero. As Montero protested, Gibson trotted out of the dugout to challenge the play. The call was reversed when replays showed Montero tagged Rosario on the back before touching home. "That was awesome," Anderson said. "I saw that Miggy did tag him, but I wasnt sure if it was in time. Luckily, it was in time." NOTES: Arizona recalled INF Didi Gregorius from Triple-A Reno and placed INF Cliff Pennington (sprained left thumb) on the disabled list. Gibson said Pennington will undergo surgery. ... It was the third time this season the Diamondbacks have hit back-to-back homers. ... Owings also added an RBI double and finished a single shy of the cycle. ... The umpires used replay to check the count in the fourth. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '