Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All Things Hockey; Insanity Edition

Montreal has lost it's damn mind.

First things first, I took care of the deadline nonsense here, so if you want to know what I thought about all of that (and you know that you TOTALLY do), check that out.  We are going to steer away from it right now, though.  Instead, we are going to keep it on the rink, and go around the league to other areas because holy hell, has there been a lot to get to since last time. 

The Trial of Zedeno Chara

There was actually some hockey news that doesn’t have anything to do with insane people this week, although it seems to have brought out quite a bit of insanity from hockey’s media and fans.  By that I refer to the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty that created a truly scary situation in Montreal, and became one of the more polarizing plays in the NHL this season.  If you didn’t see it (you probably aren’t reading this, but…) Chara rode Pacioretty into the divider, where Pacioretty slammed his head.  The blow knocked him unconscious and had him on the ice for about 7 minutes before he was carted off, with the remaining 15 seconds being run off of the second period.  Video is here.  Gnarly stuff, to say the least. 

First and foremost, the obvious: It doesn’t matter if you are a Habs fan, a Bruins or Maple Leafs fan, or anywhere in between.  I’m sure I join just about everyone in hoping that my fellow prep-schooler Pacioretty is back on the ice soon, and without lasting consequence. 

Having said that, I can’t put too much blame on Chara.  I have no problem with him grabbing a 5 minute major, simply based on the outcome of the hit, but there is no reason that he should be suspended, and the seams severe if you look only at what Chara did, and not the outcome. 

Now, there are a number of things that Chara did here.  The first is something that he is at fault for.  The play is clearly interference.  He was flagrantly obstructing Pacioretty’s path to the puck, and for that he clearly deserved a 2 minute penalty. 

The second thing that Chara did was more of a gray area.  From what I have seen from the hit (‘my two cents’ seems to be the term that every single hockey writer is using in assessing Chara’s intent), his intentions were clear.  Chara had every intention of trying to flip Pacioretty over the boards and into the bench.  It is a play that goes beyond a simple rub out, but isn’t dirty or illegal.  In fact, it happens on pretty much every hit along the benches.  The difference on this one was that Pacioretty was doing what he was supposed to, and keeping his feet moving to try to get through the check.  From there, it turned freaky, and led to the horrific injury.

Finally, Chara made two mistakes long before the hit that will hurt him in the scrutiny of the play, even if they didn’t lead to suspension.  The first was being 6’9”.  It is a lot easier to assume that he was out to go after him, to make Chara look like a bully, than it would be if, say, Dan Boyle makes that play.  Chara’s height probably didn’t lead directly to the hit, but I definitely think that it made it look a lot worse.  The big goon picking on the smaller kid.  The second, irreconcilable mistake was playing for the Bruins. 

This hurt him in the eye of public perception, first when people looked for a so called history.  They found one, but it was, frankly malarkey.  Guess what?  The Bruins had played the Habs the week before.  There were 182 PIMs.  It was probably the game of the year (or was it…more on that in a sec).  You want a history between two players on those two times?  Just look. You’ll be able to find it.  BUT ZOMG HE SLASHED HIM IN FRONT OF THE NET!!!! THAT NEVER HAPPENS! Yeah.  You get my point. 

Anyways, I’m done trying to get inside Chara’s head.  What I’m more interested in at this point is that following the lack of a suspension, the hockey world, especially the French speaking part, lost its damn mind. 
Pacioretti said the hit was dirty.  The Molson family released a letter.  Air Canada was taking a stand!  They won’t stand for violence in hockey. THE FREAKING AUTHORITIES GOT INVOLVED! Protests were organized on facebook (because what starts in Cairo inevitably finds its way to the NHL). To them, I say this:
Please.  This got so absurd, so fast.  I could show you 50 hits in the last month that were dirtier than the one on Pacioretty.  None of them were protested.  Pacioretty was the distributer in a couple of them.  No sponsorships were pulled.  Montreal: you are a proud and great hockey city.  The passion is what makes the town great.  But be reasonable.  
It was a hockey play gone horribly wrong.  No one wants to see the sort of thing that happened to Pacioretty. Yes, Chara didn’t really need to finish the hit the way he did.  But let’s not exploit this injury in such a partisan way.  It is an unfortunate situation and a regrettable play, but we need to stop making it more than it is.

Trevor Gillies Can Go to Hell

Whether we would like to admit it or not, the fact is that there will always be a certain level of goonary in the game of hockey.  It is a sport in which physically punishing an opponent is, in most situations, encouraged.  It is a sport in which intensity is without a doubt a virtue.  It is a sport that preaches sticking up for teammates.  It is a sport that holds toughness up with savvy and athleticism as a core virtue.  All of those things can easily spill over into something that hockey players and fans would rather not see. 

The key concept there is that it can spill over.  That is acceptable, even if it is discouraged, and would be best to be avoided.  There is a key difference between a spill over and a pattern of behavior.  With Gillies, it is the latter. 

On its own, the things that Trevor Gillies are certainly repulsive.  His was a clear attempt to hurt Clutterbuck, after a clear attempt to decapitate and subsequently speedbag Eric Tangradi (who has a knack for getting involved in incidents that, uh, fire me up, shall we say- HOW ABOUT MENTIONING THAT THE CANADIANS WERE GOING DOWN THE AMERICAN’S BENCH TAUNTING THEM PIERRE.  HEY CANUCKS? TWEN-TY-TEN! TWEN-TY-TEN! Yes, I am still bitter).  His antics have been ugly, without a doubt, as you would expect with anyone who has been suspended for double digit games without reaching double digits in ice time.   It is the fact that Gillies has made it this far, and that he has been given the opportunity to bring his tomfoolery this far in professional hockey that upsets me though. 

Gillies is on the Islanders roster for one reason, and one reason alone.  To goon it up.  He isn’t a hockey player.  He is a sideshow.  He is a disgrace.  There are plenty of goons in the NHL, and most of them I have no problem with.  Most of them, though, have a semblance of hockey talent.  Not Gillies.  Gillies played 156 games across 3 seasons in the OHL.  In that time span, his production added up to a meager 22 points (by way of contrast, fellow enforcers’ Jody Shelly’s Q career saw 98 points in 181 games, Cam Janssen managed 59 in 174 games in the O, and Paul Bissonnette notched 66 in 197, as a defenseman).  Gillies was a sideshow in Junior, and yet he was able to move on.

His production was no more impressive in minor pro.  His career high was 7 points in the ECHL.  He had 7 goals across a decade in the AHL.  He isn’t a prospect.  This dude was undrafted and has been bouncing around the minors forever.  And yet, here he is, playing in the NHL.  The Islanders don’t even need him to protect youngsters like Jonathan Tavares or Kyle Okposo.  Zenon Konopka fills that role just fine. 

Obviously, it isn’t the place of the NHL to tell Garth Snow that he can’t employ Gillies in the NHL ranks if he so chooses.  That isn’t to say that it wouldn’t be nice if they did.  A player like Gillies fills no role of consequence other than one that needs to be removed.   I’m all for fighting, but if you can’t get on board with the way that 99% of the guys in the league do it, there is no place for that sort of stuff.

The Wisdom of Sheen

For the most part, I try to steer clear of tabloid type celebrity news.  While I am usually successful, I have completely failed to miss the whole Charlie Sheen circus, and I have been entirely sucked in by it.  Frankly, sheen is just so perfectly crazy.  He has mastered the art of insanity.  That is especially impressive, considering it wasn’t even an art before.  He turned losing your mind into an art, and then instantly perfected that art. 

The problem is, as great as his quotes have been, and they have been really freaking great, he actually plagerized most of those interviews.  Most of what he said, amazingly, was taken directly from things that have been said by, or about NHL players.  It’s true.  It doesn’t make the interviews less…outstanding, but it needs to be known.  Here are a few examples.

”I am on a drug.  It is called Charlie Sheen.  If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over you exploded body.”

This was said by Doug Murray.  It needs almost no explanation.  When asked if he was on PEDs, this is what Murray responded with, replacing ‘Charlie Sheen’ with his own name.  No one quite knew what to make of the quote, but three things allowed them to go with it.  First was that Doug Murray is the seventeenth smartest professional athlete in America, and so they just assumed that they couldn’t comprehend the wisdom of his words.  Given this, the more philosophical reporters went to ponder the meaning of the quote.  Second is that ‘Douglas Murray’ kind of sounds like a PED that Douglas Murray had invented, and anyone who has seen Douglas Murray would believe that he could be on a PED, because of his size.  This is not the case, but the more gullible reporters left satiated, assuming that Murray was on an undetectable PED.  The remaining reporters had no idea what Murray was talking about, but understood that when a 260 pound Swede who looks like he could play an ax murderer in a horror movie tells you that he is on something that will cause your face to melt, you get the hell out of his vicinity.  So the remaining cowardly reporters left Murray in fear.

“I don't have time for their judgment and their stupidity and you know they lay down with their ugly wives in front of their ugly children and look at their loser lives and then they look at me and they say, 'I can't process it' well, no, you never will stop trying, just sit back and enjoy the show. You know?”

Oddly enough, this was said by mediocre Swedish defenseman Nicklas Grossman.  It was in response to a question about failing to clear the puck in the second period of a November loss to the Ducks.  No one was quite sure what he meant by it, or why he was so condescending.  It was quite out of character, but Grossman did fire Adam Burrish as his translator the next day.  It is unknown if the incidents are related. 

“I'm sorry, man, but I've got magic. I've got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time - and this includes naps - I'm an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordinance to the ground.”

This was said by chronic danglitis victim Pavel Datsyuk.  Sheen changed this too.  Datsyuk referenced the Russian AN-24, but Sheen Americanized it.  In fairness, Datsyuk does, indeed, have poetry in his fingertips (a poorly translated Russian expression for ‘wet mitts’).

“I’m tired of pretending I’m not a totally bitchin rock star from Mars”

Said by Corey Perry.  He was mistaken about the totally bitchin rockstar part, but being from Mars does explain his appearance. 

Calm before the Bore-m

As I write this on March 8th, there are 115 days between now and the start of free agency on July 1st.  Between now and then, we have the playoff push, the playoffs, the finals, the NHL awards and the NHL Draft.  All of that is between us and free agency.

And yet, just thinking about it, I am already bored.  What’s that?  You thought that the trade deadline was bad?  You have no idea.  Get ready.  This year’s free agency is going to make this year’s trade deadline look effing EPIC by comparison.  It will make Boyes for a second round pick look like Lindros for Forsberg. 
This is, without question, the worst free agency class that I can remember. Brad Richards is the prize.  Not bad.  What is the second highest contract coming off the books after that at center, though?  Micahel Nylander baby!  Anyone want a washed up second/third line center?  Set your google alerts now!

/(falls asleep for 15 minutes from sheer boredom)

/coming to…

Holy crap.  The Tour d’France better be good this year.  That or we will need some sort of early baseball intrigue.  Otherwise July is going to brutal.  The league needs to mandate that Ryan Kessler’s and Mike Richards’s contracts expire at the end of the season just so that people don’t forget that hockey freaking exists. (It is for the good of the league, Flyers and Canucks fans!  Don’t you care about the game?)
Thankfully, that is about four months away, and there will be plenty excitement between now and then, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you. 


Reebok’s deal with the AHL, in which they players are required to use Reebok sticks, may in fact be one of the worst contracts in sports.  It is certainly one of the most pointless corporate partnerships. 

This was made obvious a second ago, when you read that sentence, and likely said something along the lines of ‘wait, AHLers have to use Reebok sticks?’  Yes, yes they do. 

Now, it may not seem like bad marketing, getting your product in the hands of every player in the league.  The AHL may not attract too many millions of viewers, but it isn’t an inconsequential number, either.  The problem is, of the people who watch the AHL, I would guess that almost none of them notice that Reebok seems to be the stick of choice. 

Just as bad as that, is the fact that those who have taken note likely know about the contract.  If people know that there is a deal in place, that makes it go from nearly pointless to entirely pointless.  After all, what do I care if my favorite Peoria Rivermen forward (it’s totally Graham Mink) or if my favorite Toronto Marlies defenseman (either Jeff Finger or Korbinian Holzer) is rocking the 9K danglerod if I know that it is league mandated.  It isn't an endorsement of the stick, just a league rule.  Like wearing a Reebok jersey. 

It is a lose-lose, too.  The players can’t be particularly happy about being told what stick they have to use.  Don’t get me wrong, free is free.  But most of these guys have been getting free twigs from their junior and college teams for years.  It makes no difference to them if the team is buing the sticks or if the company is providing them as an endorsement.  Luckily, these days is right at the edge of the curve (PUN INTENDED! PUN INTENDED!), but a couple of years ago, when the Stealth CNT came out, I for one wouldn’t have been particularly pleased about having to use a 9k instead.

Presumably, the league doesn’t do this for nothing.  Reebok is almost definitely paying something, at least in the form of products, in order to entice the league to honor the agreement.  I couldn’t find out what it is exactly, but I know one thing.  Whatever it is, it is too much, because the deal is a no win situation.

What People Would Say if they Cared About the Sharks

Peter King

1. Gamer, Patrick Marleau, you are one. 
2. That overtime goal the other night, my that was a thing of beauty.
a. Marleau beat the Preds to force a 2-1, then went
b. bar down to beat Rinne and give the Sharks the win.
i. What a player. 

Drew Magary

I had to give up free Sharks tickets the other night.  And for school.  It was AGONY.  May have been the hardest thing that I have had to do in a while (although that is mostly because my life is ridiculously easy).  My buddy has four season tickets, and he offered them to me for the Predators game last week.  I immediately accepted and started trying to find people to go with. Unfortionately,  it was the week before finals, and everyone was busy. This reminded me that I, too, had a massive group paper due the next day, and that it would be extremely irresponsible to blow it off for an NHL game.  Normally, I would have said screw it, and gone to the game, cramming late night to get the school work done (what I did two days later after the Vancouver game), but having no one to go with, in addition to the group commitment,  decided against it, and ended up refusing the tickets.  It was the right thing to do, but I died a little bit inside when I had to say no.

(upcoming games)

San Jose - Minnesota

I also missed the second half of the Chicago game because I had an exam.  It isn’t like I would have wanted to see that portion anyways, but in principle, I’m pissed.  My point? Never go to college.  ASHER ROTH IS FULL OF SHIT. Sure, you will make way less money, be less educated, and probably miss out on some of the best times of your life, but you will have way more time to watch regular season hockey.

San Jose – St. Louis

So far, the Johnson-Stewart trade is looking pretty good for both sides.  You know, as good as it can be for two teams that had virtually no chance of making the post-season. Since I have nothing more to add about the Blues, this seems like a good time to mention that I am taking a cruel pleasure in the NBA and NFL labor situations.  YOU LAUGHED AT US. NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.  HOW DOES IT FEEL? NOT LAUGING NOW, EH?  Seriously, though, I’m going to miss football.

San Jose – Calgary

I’m the least productive library-goer ever.  I go for 3 hours and study for maybe 90 minutes.  Facebook, TFM, Deadspin, whatever.  If it can be used for procrastination, I’m on it.  It is pathetic.  Must be how Jay Boewmeister with his 15 points in 25 minutes a game feels BOOM. ROASTED.

Don Cherry

I don’t know how many times I have said it.  Look at the kid Vlasic’s stick.  You watch the game, and the announcers say it over and over.  Pass broken up by Vlasic.  Good stick by Vlasic.  It is always moving,  It is always in a lane.  One of the best. In. The. League. In that area. Watch the video (video of Vlasic skating that has almost nothing to do with the point). That’s the wrong one.  Do we have the other Vlasic video? (Condescending look at Ron McLean). Oh well. ATTA BOY MARC.

Me (One note I couldn’t make into an impression)

The best thing about going to Santa Clara University is unquestionably the fact that it is located less than 5 miles from HP Pavilion, the home of the Sharks.  While that isn’t actually true, because the best part is actually the girls (not kidding about that.  It is insane.  I have a buddy with whom I refer to this place as 8.5 U.  It is a miracle that anything ever gets done here, every other girl I see would be top 5 in my high school, but I digress), it is pretty sweet being able to hit up Sharks games pretty much whenever I want to buy tickets. 

That point was driven home last Thursday when I made it to the Vancouver-San Jose barn burner.  My brother was in town, and so was the number one team in the NHL.  Translation?  Drop what you are doing.  Throw down whatever is necessary on stubhub. 

It could not have been more worth it.  The energy in the building was insane.  It built up across the entire third as the Sharks controlled play trying to even the game at 3.  By the time Mitchell scored his beauty to tie it, the fans were cheering loudly for every San Jose rush.  The roof came off when he tucked it, and again when Clowe tied the game. 

On the ice, it could have been the game of the year.  The level of play was crazy.  The two hottest, and maybe the two best teams in the league going at it. I went through it the next morning, and thought that everyone in the Sharks lineup had at least a solid game, and they lost.  The arc of the game was great as well.  Sharks battle back from 2-0.  Sharks tie it late, then seemingly blow it.  Tie it up again.  Save of the year (maybe) by Schneider in OT.  Normally, I love the shootout, but that night I was actually disappointed to see it come.  I wished the teams could keep going. 

I had to come back and go to the library until 2 in the morning, a little buzzed, to make up for the time I had spent in the Pavilion, but it was well worth it for perhaps the best hockey game I have been able to see in person. 

Music Rant of the Week

I am borrowing this from the football column because I miss ranting semi-unintelligibly about music every week, and because we need to lengthen these posts up (Google friendly!). 

Hey, alt-rock?  IT IS ABOUT GD TIME.  The last exciting alternative rock/post grunge style album was, what, 3 years ago?  Obviously, I am exaggerating, but racking my brain, the last truly worthwhile (Foo Fighters, Rise Against style) alt-rock album could well have been Appeal to Reason (Rise Against).  That was released in 2008.  I know that there has been a recession, but Jesus.  That is like 3 years ago.  Granted, that isn't exactly scientific evidence, but any fan of the genre would have to admit that it has been a fairly severe lull. 

My hopes are up though, because it could be over.  Rise Against’s Endgame came out this week.  The Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light is coming in April.  Dreaming in Black and White by Trust Company dropped last Tuesday.  Even Sum 41 has a new album out.  I’m not even mad that the Foo Fighters’ single, Rope, was a piece of shit.  I’m still pumped. 

Here’s the thing: my $12 or whatever on iTunes is super available.  I am very much down to pay for a good album.  But I have been using Mediafire a LOT lately.  Why?  There has been nothing that I can justify paying for.  Please, blow my bank account.  It is about time.

Shorter Hockey Thoughts

- Poor job by choosing the top shootout goals.  To include the Bouchard and the Blake spinning goals, and not the Grabovski full spin (way more badass) was dumb.  The spin is run of the mill.  Anyone in the league could do it.  Grabo’s was wet, going all the way around and still getting the puck up.

 - Last time, I wrote that I thought Taylor Hall might be starting to figure out his game in the NHL.  I no longer think this.  I am completely sure of it. 

- Wrote the above the day before Hall was shut down for the year, or Strasburged, as I call it.  Damn. 

- The NHL Center Ice commercials are stupid (although I like the fact that I get to go'hey, I was at that game' to anyone within earshot when they show the Parise goal). Why would I stand on my feet in Los Angles for Luongo? Luongo played the Kings in the playoffs like 2 years ago.  Am I standing in anger?  That would make a little more sense. If so, they should specify.  No I'm not cheering for Crosby in Denver.  I'm cheering for Duchene.  That's a dumb question.  Those make no sense.  

- Wow.  I guess the Ducks like Luca Sbisa…

- I think that Eric Johnson may be the kind of guy that needs to be seen in person to be appreciated.  He had never stood out on TV, but I saw the Aves play the Sharks at HP a couple of days after the trade and he really stood out.  Everything that you want from a number 1 D-man.  Rock solid in his own end.  Unending ice time.  Always starting the rush (on TV, you watch the puck and notice the forwards entering the zone whereas in person the guy who makes the first pass stands out more). A really impressive player.

(And now from the ‘complete and utter BS’ file)

- The University of British Columbia is trying to gain admittance to the NWC.  That would make them a Division II NCAA school. To that I say this:  AH, HELL NO!  This is a full scale invasion of the Pacific Northwest by a hostile Canadian entity and should be treated with the utmost urgency.  By that I mean military action.  I think that a proportional response from the United States government would be to seize all of Vancouver Island until they drop their demands.  We can’t let these Canadian extremists have their way.

- In all seriousness, I would actually be in favor of UBC coming to the NCAA.  If for no other reason than…why not?

- My frat has a JI named Mac.  He is easily my favorite JI to greet, mainly because it allows me to do my impression of Rizzo in the bar scene of Miracle.  My point?  Uh…Miracle is sick?  I guess? Also, said bar scene?  Not on YouTube.  Get on that internet.

- I want to go on record, and say that I understand , Logan Couture.  If I were a professional athlete and people, you know, gave a shit, I would absolutely tweet  Drake lyrics all day.  I am dead serious.  I would do this CONSTANTLY.  Why?  BECAUSE DRAKE GOT HIM FIRE ASS RHYMES FOR DAYS, SON.  That’s why. 

- You were wondering what my first Drake tweet would be, weren’t you?  You totally were.  You’re in luck too.  My first Drake tweet would definitely be from ‘Thank Me Know.’ It would be ‘I can relate to kids going straight to the league when they recognize you got what it takes to succeed’ ‘and that’s about the time that your idols become your rivals, you make friends with mike but gotta AI him for your survival.’ It would be a two parter.  Well worth it.  RHYMES FOR DAYS.

- My buddy says I look like a goon wearing a wife beater to the library.  I say the joke is on him.  It isn’t like I’m morbidly obese or anyting, and it is like 125 degrees in there during finals.  Even if it does look dumb, I would rather look like a goon than break a literal sweat (as opposed to a mental one) trying to learn about managerial economics.

- Finals week beard? Finals week beard.


Retweet of the Week

Kevin Wildes, @KevinWildes, of BS Report fame (fame used loosely of course): “Also breaking- Brett Favre has changed his name to "Tiki Barber" RT@AdamSchefter Tiki Barber filed papers to come out of retirement.”

Goal of the Week

Tori Mitchell goes coast to coast to tie up the game of the year, for my money, not that I’m bias or anything but I WAS TOTALLY THERE!

I couldn’t snub Torrey on that one.  That goal was legitimately nasty.  Having said that, Chris Stewart’s OT winner was better.  Here it is.

Save of the Week

The afformentioned Schneider stab.  Unreal.

Pass of the Week

Gotta go with Ryan Callahan’s no looker to Eric Christensen. 

Hit of the Week

In light of the recent concussion issues that the Natonal Hockey League has been attempting to remedy, I think that it would only be appropriate to discontinue the ‘Hit of the Week’ feature on All Things Hockey.  Such a feature encourages reckless and violent play. No one wins when a hit goes beyond gently separating the puck from the carrier.  Even that should be done with the utmost caution.  The defender should ask politely first, and only resort to physical contact if absolutely necessary. 

BAH! I’mkiddingimkiddingimkidding.  Jesus, can you imagine? That would make me such a blowhard.  And a bitch. I had you till ‘should ask politely first, though, didn’t I?  Here’s Colby Armstrong putting his shoulder through Micheal Haley’s skull.

Fight of the Weeks
This Cam Janssen – Jordin Tootoo marathon was an absolute brawl.  Good stuff.

Top 8 Bottom Eight

On the Down

23. St. Louis – John Davidson needs to decide what his core is and blow up the rest of this ship.
24. Florida – I have literally nothing to say about the Panthers.  Sorry.
25. New York Islanders – Looked frisky for a couple of weeks, but they haven’t made much headway in the east.
26. Atlanta - Dustin Byfugdlein would make a savvy investor.  Talk about cashing in your chips.
27. Columbus - They are way higher than 27th in the standings (20th) but they get negative bonus points for being a painfully boring team if you take away Rick Nash.
28. Ottawa - Why would you get better and older by adding Craig Anderson at the same time you firebombed your roster?
29. Edmonton - Screw it, another high draft pick can’t be that bad of a thing, can it?
30.  Colorado – Last year was premature.  They’ll be back soon enough.

On the Up

8. Los Angeles- Back in this thing after a couple of months where they appeared to be struggling.
7. Boston – Got way better at the deadline.
6. Pittsburgh – Impressive run, but they are going nowhere without Crosby and Malkin.
5. Detroit – Wait, Lidstrom ranks where in D scoring?
4. San Jose – Would have been 1 about a week ago.  Still, exciting the way they are coming together.
3. Philadelphia – Depth is so scarry.
2. Washington – Don’t look now, but 8 is heating up.
1. Vancouver – Scary good. The team to beat.

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