WHL teams start trimming 2001-born players . . . Oil Kings add d-man . . . ‘Quick lube guy’ doesn’t make Blazers’ short list

Milkyway2


The Tri-City Americans have released three 2001-born players, turning F AmericansBooker Daniel, F Edge Lambert and D Bryan McAndrews into free agents. . . . Daniel, from Vanderhoof, B.C., had four goals and five assists in 19 games this season. In 69 games over three seasons, he has 11 goals and 11 assists. . . . Lambert, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was a seventh-round selection by the Prince George Cougars in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He had two goals and five assists in 18 games with the Americans this season. In 77 games over two seasons with Tri-City, he put up 19 goals and 14 assists. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews, from Edmonton, was picked by Tri-City in the fifth round of the 2016 bantam draft. In 117 games over three seasons with the Americans, he had two goals and four assists. This season, he had one assist in 11 games. . . . The Americans still have five 2001-born players on the roster with which they finished this season — D Mitchell Brown, F Connor Bouchard, F Samuel Huo, F Sasha Mutala and Slovakian D Andrej Golian. . . .

Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars have released F Brendan Boyle, another PG2001-born skater. . . . From Lake Country, B.C., Boyle had one assist in 12 games with the Cougars this season. In 132 games over four seasons, he totalled three goals and four assists. . . . Boyle’s departure leaves the Cougars with six 2001-born players on their roster — F Connor Bowie, F Ethan Browne, G Taylor Gauthier, F Jonny Hooker, D Majid Kaddoura and F Tyson Upper. . . .

And the Saskatoon Blades have released 2001-born F Alex Morozoff. . . . From BladesSaskatoon, he started his WHL career with the Red Deer Rebels. After 94 games with the Rebels, he played 22 with the Seattle Thunderbirds before finishing up with his hometown Blades. . . . In 172 regular-season games, he put up 27 goals and 18 assists. . . . Saskatoon still has five 2001-born players on its roster — G Nolan Maier, F Evan Patrician, D Rhett Rhinehart, F Tristen Robins and F Blake Stevenson.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired D Carson Golder (2002) from the EdmontonVictoria Royals for a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 prospects draft. . . . The pick originally belonged to the Saskatoon Blades, who surrendered it when they acquired D Wyatt McLeod from Edmonton on Jan. 25. . . . Golder, from Smithers, B.C., had two assists in 50 games with the Royals in 2019-20. This season, he was with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters, putting up two goals and one assist in 15 games.


After Matt Bardsley announced that he was leaving his job as general manager Kamloopsof the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, did you think about applying for the position? . . . No. . . . Why not? . . . Don Moores, the team’s president, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he has received “some really good resumes from the outside. We’ve had lots of great resumes.” Moores also allowed that “we’ve had some unusual resumes.” . . . He added: “I did have a guy from Brampton, Ont., who works for quick lube who felt he would be perfect for the position.” . . . As Seitz reported: “The Blazers have short-listed five, according to Moores, and the quick lube guy isn’t one of them.”

Meanwhile, Moores told Jon Keen, the Blazers’ play-by-play voice, that Swedish F Viktor Persson is “committed to the organization.” Persson was a seventh-round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2020 draft. If not for the pandemic, it’s believed he would have been in Kamloops for the 2020-21 season. Persson, who turns 20 on Nov. 7, will be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — with the Blazers. . . . Swiss D Inako Baragano, the Blazers’ lone import this season, won’t be returning. Baragano, another 2001-born skater, has signed with the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers of Switzerland’s National League.


Children


Kevin Draper, writing in The New York Times:

“N.F.L. players who aren’t vaccinated will face severe restrictions next football season. The league has made vaccinations mandatory for coaches and other essential team personnel, but cannot do so for players. Still, teams can make the trade-off quite clear.”

Draper quoted Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, as saying: “If you get vaccinated, you can go back to 2019 rules. If you don’t, you’ll have to follow 2020 protocols,” a strict regimen of testing, masking and social distancing guidance.


If you have been following the NBA playoffs, you will be aware that injuries to star players are turning into a huge story. . . . On top of that guard Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns now has tested positive. He was a key performer as the Suns ousted the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers and then the Denver Nuggets, but now will miss the start of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz. . . . Apparently, Paul has received at least one vaccination. . . . The Suns aren’t expected to update his situation before Saturday.

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Meanwhile, the number of positive tests involving people who are connect with the Copa America soccer tournament in Brazil has reached at least 65, up from 53 on Wednesday. . . . Of those 65, 19 are players and 46 are staff members or officials. . . . Teams from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia — that’s half the field — have confirmed positive tests. . . . Brazil, one of the world’s COVID-19 hotspots, stepped is as the tournament host only a short time before the games were to begin.


Germany has replaced Canada in the schedule for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Aug. 2-7 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . Canada cancelled its U18 selection camp for pandemic-released reasons so has bowed out of this year’s tournament. The 2020 event, you will recall, was to have been held in Edmonton and Red Deer but was cancelled due to the pandemic. . . . There is a news release that includes a schedule right here.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Ron Robison, the WHL’s commissioner for 21 seasons, has been given a three-year contract running through 2023-24 by the board of governors. Robison, 66, took over the position prior to the 2000-01 season. In a news release, Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board, said the governors “voted unanimously to extend” Robison’s contract. . . . The WHL also announced Yvonne Bergmann’s retirement. The vice-president, business, Bergmann has been in the WHL office for 20 years. The league has hired Marco De Iaco as vice-president, business development. He had been president and CEO of JMI Sport & Entertainment Projects in Calgary. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels have signed Mike Egener as an assistant coach to work alongside recently signed head coach Steve Konowalchuk. Egener played four seasons (2000-04) as a defenceman with the Calgary Hitmen. He retired from playing in 2015 after spending three seasons with the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League. He has been coaching at the OHA Academy since 2017. With the Rebels, he fills the spot left when the Rebels chose not to renew Brad Flynn’s contract. . . .

Former WHLer James Henry has signed on as the first head coach in the history of the Federal Prospects Hockey League’s Binghamton Black Bears. Most recently, he was an assistant coach with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Fayetteville Marksmen. Henry, 30, is from Winnipeg. He played five seasons (2007-12) in the WHL, getting into 281 games with the Vancouver Giants and 28 with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He finished with 72 goals and 142 assists, adding 15 goals and 22 assists in 59 playoff games. . . .

According to Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff), there won’t be a Young Stars exhibition tournament in Penticton in 2021. Paterson tweeted that the Vancouver Canucks “have confirmed no Young Stars in Penticton this season due to scheduling uncertainty. Team is working with city and South Okanagan Events Centre on long-term plan to ensure prospect tournament returns.”


Eyes

CHL, teams settle minimum-wage lawsuit for $30 million . . . Next up: Concussion-related action . . . Gaglardi: It all comes down to testing

Six years later . . . if you were hoping for a clear-cut winner and loser, well, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

The CHL and its leagues have agreed to pay $30 million to settle three class-action CHLminimum wage-related lawsuits that were filed six years ago.

The suits were filed by former players against the three major junior leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — that operate under the CHL umbrella. They later were certified as class action.

“This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs,” the CHL said in a statement. “It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.” 

Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, who was the lead for the plaintiffs, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The lawsuits were filed in 2014, with players claiming that the major junior teams are businesses and that players, as employees, should be eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay. The players also requested back pay.

While the lawsuits were before the court, the major junior leagues, which are of the belief that the players are student-athletes, lobbied various governments and were successful in gaining exemptions from minimum-wage laws.

As TSN’s Rick Westhead said in an on-air interview: “Over the last few years, the CHL has been very diligent about going to provinces and U.S. states where there are CHL teams and trying to successfully have minimum-wage laws amended so that players are exempt from minimum-wage legislation.”

In the west, governments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Washington state all amended labour codes to provide exemptions. Oregon politicians chose not to provide an exemption.

According to the CHL and the plaintiffs, they agreed on a settlement in February with the help of a mediator.

“Earlier this year we met with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and agreed on a settlement that would see the end of the court case and an award of $30 million which will cover their lawyer’s fees, funder’s fees and other legal costs,” the CHL said in its statement. “The remainder will be distributed to players in the class. We did this because cases like these are very expensive and are a distraction to the league and as we had publicly disclosed, we had $30 million in insurance for these lawsuits.”

Lawyers are expected to get about $10 million off the top, with the remainder to be split among players. There are believed to be about 4,000 players who played from 2010-19 eligible to share in the money — players who have signed NHL contracts aren’t eligible — but it’s unlikely that all will apply.

It is believed that the CHL and its teams will pay half of the agreed-upon sum, with the CHL’s insurance paying the other half. Interestingly, the CHL purchases its insurance through Hockey Canada, which means that insurance premiums for the governing body of minor hockey in Canada are likely to rise. Those costs could be passed on to minor hockey players throughout the country.

If all 60 CHL teams are on the hook for a share of the payout, each will pay $250,000. But there are seven Americans teams involved, five of them in the WHL. If the American teams, which were exempted from the class action, aren’t required to pay, each of the remaining 52 teams would pay more than $288,000.

One of the five players who was in on the lawsuit from the beginning, Samuel Berg (Niagara IceDogs, OHL), is to receive a $20,000 honorarium. Each of the other four — Travis McEvoy (Saskatoon Blades, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, WHL), Kyle O’Connor  (Kootenay Ice, WHL), Thomas Gobeil (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) and Lukas Walter (Tri-City Americans, WHL; Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) — is to get $10,000.

As Westhead reported, with the amendments having been made to minimum-wage laws in various provinces and states, “This does not open the door to future claims like this. . . . it’s unlikely the CHL is going to have to worry about a case like this down the road.”

Unless, of course, there are changes in governments and new faces choose to rewrite the employment standards legislation that includes the exemptions from minimum-wage requirements.

“There was a belief the provincial changes showed the CHL to be on the right side of the law,” Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote, “but legal advice indicated the case could continue for up to another decade. That would cost millions in fees and, according to sources, the insurance fund topped out at $30 million. Clearly, that was a major factor in deciding to settle the case.”

What’s next? According to a tweet from Westhead: “After a settlement approval hearing (likely Aug/Sept), eligible players will need to file claims with a court-appointed administrator to get a payout.”

So, as the lawyers like to say on TV, in summation . . . the winners and losers.

Well, the only winners would appear to be the lawyers.

Yes, I would suggest that everyone else loses.

The CHL teams lost because financial filings necessitated by the lawsuit allowed people on the outside to learn just how much money some of these franchises make. Yes, major junior hockey no long is a mom-and-pop operation. It is a big business.

Players, past and present, certainly didn’t win. Yesterday’s players aren’t likely to get more than a few thousand dollars out of this settlement and, as far as today’s players are concerned, nothing is going to change in terms of what they are paid.

Perhaps the biggest winners, aside from the lawyers, of course, are WHL fans in whlcities that won’t lose their teams.

Three years ago, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, issued a statement  after the lawsuit was certified as a class-action. In that statement, Robison said: “If WHL clubs were required to provide minimum wage, in addition to the benefits the players currently receive, the majority of our teams would not be in a position to continue operating.”

That is a position that he repeated more than once or twice over the past three years. Presumably those unnamed franchises won’t cease operations now. Although considering the uncertainties presented by the pandemic-related situation in which all teams now find themselves, you wonder how they will handle getting a bill for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

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“Well, major junior hockey operators in Canada got rid of one of the biggest headaches they’ve had in their history and all it cost them was $30 million, much of it paid by insurance, and a ton of negative headlines. Now they’re free to go back to paying their ‘student athletes’ less than minimum wage,” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

“Sounds like a pretty good deal for them. Because essentially what has happened when the CHL minimum-wage lawsuit was settled to the tune of $30 million is that the former players who bravely and persistently fought for this chunk of money were able to win in court for themselves and the roughly 3,600 other players in the lawsuit. But in the bigger picture, the Canadian Hockey League won in the far more important political arena by convincing each province to consider its players student athletes, which exempts it from annoying employment standards legislation. Once they managed to do that, they were happy to settle. It’s believed it cost each team about $250,000.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.

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It should be pointed out that what came to be known as the minimum-wage lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with another class-action lawsuit facing the CHL, its three leagues and Hockey Canada. . . . James McEwan, a former WHL player, filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada in January 2019. The lawsuit later was refiled with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include the OHL and QMJHL. . . . Preliminary discussions regarding the certification of the lawsuit as class action were to have been held in Vancouver in March. If the pandemic didn’t play havoc with that, all parties involved will be awaiting Madam Justice Neena Sharma’s ruling. . . . McEwan played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting his time between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.


Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, says the league is Kamloops1“trying to figure out what the season’s going to look like . . . when it’s going to start.”

Appearing on TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Gaglardi chatted with Jeff Paterson and The Moj (aka Bob Marjanovich) on Friday.

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, frequently mentioned the importance of testing in terms of getting the economy rolling again.

Even for the WHL, he said, “it really all comes down to . . . testing.”

“There’s now a swab,” he said, “that you can get that you can swab your mouth and it tells you in 30 seconds whether you’ve got the virus. If this is something that we can get out into the mainstream market, how far are we from having fans in arenas?

“We’re really waiting for something . . . it may not be a vaccine . . . I’m certainly not counting on a vaccine in 2020. But I do think we’re going to have better testing soon, more access to testing, and somewhere we’re going to get some drug that’s therapeutic that will mean a 65- or 70-year- old guy can go to a hockey game and not worry about dying, and if he comes down with a virus then we can treat him and he’s going to be OK. We need to get to there to get this economy back going.

“At some point I think we’ll get there, with a combination of testing, tracing and hopefully something’s that therapeutic that allows people to feel safe to go to events like hockey.”

Asked about playing WHL games without fans in the building, Gaglardi replied: “The WHL is a gate-driven league. Without people in the buildings, it’s hard to see how we can operate for a great length of time.”

The WHL, according to Gaglardi, has got “contingency plans like every league there is. The Western Hockey League’s not the only league in that position . . . we’ll look at all kinds of scenarios.

“At the same time, too, we’ve got an obligation . . . to develop young hockey players, so if our league starts up a little late . . . we’ve got contingency plans to get the kids into Kamloops and to develop them. We’ve got all kinds of schemes of games and day games and things we might do . . . we take that obligation seriously.”

The complete interview is right here.

Gaglardi’s appearance on the Vancouver radio station came one day after his NHL and AHL organizations were hit with more furloughs, these ones to run through July 3.

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News reported that the latest cuts included “most of the remaining front office,” but excluded anyone who is a vice-president or higher.

“The Stars’ hockey operations department was not affected by the furloughs, but management, coaches and scouts took 20% pay cuts,” DeFranks wrote.

His complete story is right here.


The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League will have an expansion franchise in 2020-21 — the Chilliwack Jets. That begins the number of teams in the league to 13. . . . Clayton Robinson, the majority owner, will be the general manager and head coach. . . . The Jets will play out of the Sardis Sports Complex.



Honda Indy Toronto, which had been scheduled for July 10-12, has been cancelled. The move came after the City of Toronto cancelled event permits for major events for July and August. . . .

Organizers for what was to have been Ironman Canada’s return to Penticton, B.C., announced Friday that the event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Aug. 30. The Ironman last was held in Penticton in 2012, ending a run that began in 1983. . . .

The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. The 41st running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 11. Last year’s race drew more than 8,000 participants. . . .


Nominate1


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


The U.S. national junior team has filled out its coaching staff by adding four assistants — Ted Donato (Harvard), Theresa Feaster (Providence), Kris Mayotte (U of Michigan) and Steve Miller (Ohio State). All will work alongside head coach Nate Leaman of Providence College. . . . Feaster, the director of men’s hockey operations at Providence, is the first woman named to the coaching staff. She will be Team USA’s video coach. . . . She is the daughter of Jay Feaster, a former NHL general manager with the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He now is the Lightning’s vice-president of community hockey development. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


Nominate2

Scattershooting on a Friday night while pondering which leftovers to feast on . . .

Scattershooting

Headline at TheOnion.com: 4-year-old convinced father a moron after 45th consecutive hide-and-seek victory.


Shots fired . . . If you’re on Twitter, check the thread . . . 


If you are Canadian and a sports fan, I hope you took advantage of the opportunity to watch RB Chuba Hubbard and his Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Texas Bowl on Friday. Hubbard, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., ran for 149 yards as the Cowboys lost, 24-21, to the Texas A&M Aggies. He finished with 2,094 yards rushing this season, the 18th-best total in NCAA history. He also is just the 32nd player in FBS history to run for at least 2,000 yards in a season. Among those who were quick to offer congratulations to Hubbard, a first-team All-American and Big 12 offensive player of the year, was former NFL great Barry Sanders, who also played at OSU. . . . Hubbard, who completed his sophomore year, has yet to announce whether he will enter the 2020 NFL draft. . . . Oh, he also is the first player in Big 12 history to have 12 100-yard rushing games in a season.


The NCAA football semifinals are to be played today (Saturday); the final is scheduled for Jan. 13. Of the 16 days between dates, Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, notes: “Players have so much time off they might even have to go to class.”


Affair


If you happen to be in the Kamloops area between now and Jan. 5, you really should consider stopping by the BC Wildlife Park and partaking in its 22nd annual Wildlights Festival. . . . It runs through Jan. 5, with the doors opening at 5 p.m., and the last admission at 8:30. . . . It includes thousands and thousands of lights, and you will want to ride the Wildlife Express miniature train. . . . More info is available right here.


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Hear about the New York fan who found a magic lamp last summer and got his greatest wish for the Knicks granted? Well, sort of. Guess he should’ve told the genie something besides ‘we want to be neck-and-neck with the Warriors next season.’ ”

Earlier this month, Perry marked the 20th anniversary of his writing Sideline Chatter for the Times. He calculated that he has produced almost 3,900 episodes. Great stuff!


Myles Mattila, the founder of MindRight for Athletes Society, continues to do some amazing work when it comes to athletes and their mental health. These days, Mattila, 20, plays for the junior B Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League while studying business at Okanagan College. The other day, MindRight and HeadCheck Health announced a partnership aimed at advancing “athlete health and wellness by making MindRight’s resources and peer-to-peer support available through HeadCheck’s mobile app and web-based software platform.” . . . “I believe we have helpful resources available for youth and need to support them to get help if they need it,” Mattila said in a news release. . . . For more on the partnership, click right here.


Fishing2.jpg



I used to work with a sports columnist who often referred to the Excited States of America. After all the nonsense of Thursday, when Trump and Co. went berserk over CBC-TV having edited him out of that classic movie Home Alone 2, I’m thinking the late Bob Hughes was ahead of his time. . . . I mean, sheesh, at what point does the so-called base realize that the rest of the world is laughing at them and not with them? . . . Do they even get Home Alone 2 in Russia?



Dept. of pet peeves: There isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” . . . The first one is the “inaugural tournament.” . . . The second one is the “second annual.”


You may have heard that the Jacksonville Jaguars have fired Tom Coughlin, their vice-president of football operations whose management style seems to involve having everyone under one of this thumbs. As old friend Jack Finarelli (sportscurmudgeon.com) points out: “Anyone who thinks Coughlin is overbearing likely would curl up into the fetal position if they had to live under Vince Lombardi.”


TreeFalls


CLEANING UP: If you’re a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, do you have that sinking feeling yet again? . . . ICYMI, hockey vagabond Troy Mick’s next stop will be in Philadelphia where he will be the general manager of the Philadelphia Hockey Club’s junior A program and head coach of the U-16 teams. Mick, who was spotted playing shinny at Silver Star Mountain near Vernon, B.C., on Friday, is a former WHL player and coach. He is to start work in Philly in January. . . . F Matt Savoie, 15, played in his 11th game of the season with the Winnipeg Ice on Friday night in Brandon. When will the WHL get around to announcing that its rosters now are open to 15-year-olds as full-time players? . . .

The best part of the World Junior Championship is listening to Dennis Beyak handle play-by-play of some games. I hope fans of the Winnipeg Jets realize how fortunate they are to hear him on a regular basis. . . . You are a real WHL fan if you are able to remember when Beyak was the general manager of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. You also are old. . . . Might the Memorial Cup-host Kelowna Rockets trade for a veteran goaltender between now and the WHL’s trade deadline of Jan. 10? . . . Have to think Kelowna’s Memorial Cup-organizing committee is hoping for the Kamloops Blazers to win the WHL title, if the Rockets don’t, that is. . . . The worst part of Christmas? Knowing that family is coming for a few days, the time moves so slowly before the arrival. A few days later, you awaken and realize it’s all over. Where did those four days go?

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