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Devils Face Potentially Harsh Penalties In Grievance Case

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

With the NHLPA officially filing a grievance today against the NHL on behalf of Ilya Kovalchuk, the league and players’ union will now battle out whether the 17-year, $102 million dollar contract is legitimate. If the NHLPA wins, the Devils get their player. But if the arbitrator rules in favor of the NHL, the Devils could face harsh penalties.

Ilya Kovalchuk 3

After reading several reports about what exactly comes next, I wanted to outline the following steps. Big credit to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record for the information.

With the NHLPA filing their grievance, both sides will look to find a “systems” arbitrator. The neutral arbitrator will conduct a full hearing with witnesses, oral arguments and written briefs presented to the arbitrator. Both sides, however, can choose not to have the formal hearing.

The arbitrator can call anyone involved in the process as a witness. Kovalchuk, his agent Jay Grossman, Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek and general manager Lou Lamoriello can all be called on for the case. The Los Angeles Kings, who Grossman and Kovalchuk negotiated with, can also be called in. The site of the hearing would be up to the NHLPA and NHL to decide. After the hearing, the arbitrator will have 48 hours to issue a ruling.

If the Arbitrator Rules In Favor of the Contract…

If the arbitrator rules that the NHL was wrong to reject the offer, the NHL will have to immediately approve and register the contract. It’s that simple.

If the Arbitrator Rules In Favor of the NHL…

If the arbitrator upholds the NHL’s rejection of the contract, then the deal would be dead and Kovalchuk would become an unrestricted free agent. Kovalchuk could then re-negotiate a deal with the Devils or sign with another team. But it’s not that simple.

The arbitrator also decides whether or not the Devils attempted to circumvent the cap. If the arbitrator believes the team attempted circumvention, commissioner Gary Bettman can then impose hefty fines against the club.

According to Article 26.13 of the collective bargaining agreement:

if the system arbitrator finds that a circumvention has been committed by the club, the commissioner has the power to impose of fine of up to $5 million in cases of circumvention of the salary cap. It also says “if such a fine is assessed against a club, that club’s payroll room shall also be reduced by such amount for the following league year.”

The Devils, who would have $3.5 million this season in cap space, would then have to shed salary to accommodate the fine. Bettman can also take draft picks of any position and any year away from the team.

Kovalchuk could also face penalties. Bettman can fine him between $250,000 and $1 million for circumvention, and the arbitrator can recommend suspension of Kovalchuk if it’s found that he tried to circumvent the cap.

I don’t think the NHL will take a hard-line stance, but the Devils, who are bystanders in the process, can potentially lose out on more than Kovalchuk if the arbitrator rules in favor of the NHL.

Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

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Source: Lamoriello Knew Kovalchuk Contract Would Be Rejected

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

According to multiple reports, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello knew the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk would be rejected before yesterday’s press conference.

The Devils were apparently notified Monday night, but felt comfortable going ahead with the press conference.

Lamoriello did not respond to the report, but believed the NHL was wrong for rejecting the contract.

“We are extremely disappointed that the NHL has decided to reject the contract of Ilya Kovalchuk,” Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team.  ”The contract complies with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. We will have no further comment until the process outlined in the CBA is complete.”

The news coming from this situation continues to pour out. It’s a little odd to think that Lamoriello would go ahead with a press conference knowing the contract would be rejected the very next day. Apparently, according to these reports, that seems to be the case.

Where do the Devils go from here? Supposedly, the NHLPA is interviewing all parties involved in putting the contract together in order to determine whether to bring the case to arbitration. If the NHLPA decides to bring the case to arbitration, both the players association and the NHL would have to wait for an independent arbitrator to be hired and approved by both sides. That can possibly draw out the process.

Any way you slice it, I would bet the deal would be restructured to more closely match those of Marian HossaHenrik Zetterberg and Chris Pronger. That would probably mean a larger cap hit per season and possibly a decrease in years. Either way, it seemed like Kovalchuk only wants to be a Devil, and the Devils seem more than willing to make any potential deal work.

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BREAKING NEWS: NHL Rejects Kovalchuk's Contract

Written by RWTD Staff on .

The NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk's 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils on the grounds that it circumvents the NHL's salary cap. Stayed tuned because this saga is going to get very interesting now. AJ and I will certainly keep you updated right here...

Update 10:28PM - It is believed the NHL rejected  the deal because the NHL doesn't believe either the player or the Devils expected he would be playing near end of deal. If the NHLPA grieves the leagues decision, the contract remains dead until an arbitrator decides otherwise

Under CBA, Player's Association has 5 days to file grievance, then arbitrator will decide

Update 10:07AM - NHL's official statement.  National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly today issued the following statement regarding the free agent contract forward Ilya Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils: "The contract has been rejected by the League as a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Under the CBA, the contract rejection triggers a number of possible next steps that may be elected by any or each of the NHLPA, the Player and/or the Club. In the interim, the player is not entitled to play under the contract, nor is he entitled to any of the rights and benefits that are provided for thereunder. The League will have no further comment on this matter pending further developments."

Basically the Devils have a few options. The could restructure the entire deal and refile with the league to see it is accepted. If the Devils feel they have a good case moving forward with the current deal, they can file a grievance against the league's decision, something they have 5 days to do. Should it go to an arbiter, I believe they have a good case because there are enough examples of guys playing into their 40's. If this does go to an arbiter and  he rules in favor of NJ, then the contract stands and the league MUST accept it but it the arbiter rules in favor of the league, the contract is voided and Kovalchuk becomes a UFA once again. If that happens, I guess we'll find out how much he really does want to play in NJ.

Like I said last night, this whole situation has gotten very interesting. I am trying to look at it from a hockey fan's point of view and not a Devils fan because looking at it as a Devils fan, I might get accused of being a graduate of the Michael Kay Homer School.

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A Few Things Happening With The Devils Today

Written by RWTD Staff on .

It's been a little quiet around here, mostly because the league seems to be waiting on Kovalchuk to make a decision. The Devils have prospects playing this week and Volchenkov made an appearence this morning so it give us something to talk about!!

Kovalchuk Still Out There

Two weeks ago the free agents took to the open market and started signing with new teams, old teams or the same teams but two weeks in and we still don't know the fate of Ilya Kovalchuk. Two thoughts to go along with my
Kovalchuk rant from last week.

A) Good for him for not rushing into the first contract that came his way. I want to think that what drives this guy is the want and need to hoist that Cup over his head and not the money that appears in his bank account. Taking his time to find the right team can lead me to believe that, although, at times it looks like he's trying to get the most money he can out of LA. Honestly though,  if he was in it for the money then wouldn't he have jumped at Atlanta's offer last season?

B) ) I am done mentioning his name on this blog until he signs a contract. ANY CONTRACT!!

Fun little fact brought to you by Down Goes Brown: The Ilya Kovalchuk Sweepstakes has lasted longer than any post-season Kovalchuk has ever experienced!! Doesn't that make you just a little sad??


The A-Train arrives in Newark.

So apparently Anton Volchenkov showed up at the Prudential Center this morning and was quoted saying "I would have liked to stay in Ottawa. My next choice was to find a good place for me." Honestly, I don't have a problem with that at all. Some might read into that he doesn't really want to be here but he signed a pretty long contract for that to be true. He spent 8 years in Ottawa so I can understand wanting to stay, especially with having a family but in the end they didn't offer him what he wanted.  He gives NJ something we haven't had in a long time and as fans we should be really excited about that. Some people might not really know much about him so I took this off the Senators site to introduce people to him. He's certainly a guy that isn't afraid to hit.




Devils Prospect Camp

Devils are holding their prospect camp this week. What stands out to me the most after looking at the guys playing is that the Devils are certainly very deep when it comes to defenseman. Sure, the question is can they play at the NHL level yet?

Of the guys there this week, I don't think Corrente's a lock to make the team this year although some do. I wouldn't be shocked if he started in Albany and finds his way back to the Devils midyear. I am looking forward to see what Tedenby,Josefson,Urbom and Palmieri can do with the time this week. Of that group though, I'd say Urbom has the best shot while the other three have a little more than an outside shot. Tyler Eckford's a weird one for me because he is constantly touted and he has the instincts, but he's already 25.

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A Word On The Devils' Free Agent Plans

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

At noon tomorrow, the NHL will engage in their own “silly season.” By now, you’ve already been inundated with coverage of the NBA free-agency pool. While the NHL can’t boast the star power, the excitement and anticipation still hangs in the air for every single team. It’s through free agency that several teams will try and find that missing piece to bring them to the playoffs or even hoist the Stanley Cup.

But with a weaker free agent class this year, many teams might not find those players to lead their teams to victory. And, when looking at the Devils, I’d expect the team to take a wait-and-see approach to fill their free agent holes.

Paul Martin 2The Devils have two of the biggest unrestricted free agent names coming off the books tomorrow. Both Paul Martin and Ilya Kovalchuk will become unrestricted free agents tonight, and the Devils haven’t made significant headway with either player. As reported yesterday by Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger, Martin’s agent doesn’t believe the two sides will come to an agreement before tonight.

“I’ve spoken to Lou (Lamoriello) on a few different occasions,” said former Devils player Ben Hankinson, who represents Martin. “It’s obviously been a very frustrating year for Paulie and the Devils. There will probably be some more changes. Time will tell if he ends up back in  New Jersey.”

While it’s not the most reassuring quote, it sums up the potential of watching two big free agents leave the team. We as fans have been through this before. Scott Gomez left to sign a huge contract with the Rangers, as did Bobby Holik a few years before him. One of the most heartbreaking signings was when Brian Rafalski left to join the Red Wings. In each of these scenarios, the team lost players because of fiscal concerns. And, during this free agency period, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the two unrestricted free agents leave.

Remember, the Devils never usually make a huge splash in free agency. And, given whatIlya Kovalchuk Game 1 Picture 2both Kovalchuk and Martin would want in dollars, the Devils probably won’t retain both of them. While the Devils have made some big signings in the past few years, the latest being Brian Rolston (four years, $20 million). But usually Lamoriello looks to make smaller moves to improve the team. That’s when guys like Yann DanisDean McAmmond and Rob Niedermayer get signed. These players provide depth and experience to the organization, and they usually are “trademark Lou” moves.

Continue reading to see what I believe the Devils will ultimately focus on come noon tomorrow.

 

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Devils Tap Adam Oates As Assistant Coach

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

The Devils completed their coaching staff today, naming former Lighting assistant Adam Oates to the same position with the organization.

Oates will fall under the role of “offensive assistant” that new coach John MacLean spoke about during his introductory press conference. With the Lightning, Oates helped improve the power play, something the Devils desperately need to improve.

General manager Lou Lamoriello had nothing but praise for the assistant coach.

“Throughout his career, Adam was without question one of the top playmaking centers, particularly on the power play, and was considered one of the top face-off players in the game,”   Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. “These attributes bring a different dimension to our coaching staff and both John and I are delighted that Adam is joining our organization.”

Oates, 47, played in 1,337 NHL games, registering 341 goals and 1,079 assists for 1,420 points and 415 penalty minutes. The former center played for Detroit, St. Louis (where he was teammates with Scott Stevens in 1990-91), Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton. Oates played in five NHL All-Star games, and reached the 100 point mark on four occasions. He ranks sixth all-time in assists. Oates retired from playing on April 3, 2004, and took his first NHL assistant job last season with the Lightning.

Oates joins Larry Robinson and Chris Terreri on MacLean’s staff.

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I think Oates could do well with the Devils this season. Clearly, the power play needs help. If he can do something to get solid production night in and night out, then I’ll be happy. Too many times over the past few years we’ve watched the Devils look really sharp with the man advantage on night and unorganized the next. The team needs stability, and it seems Oates can bring this to the organization.

I also think his influence will be good for the young centers on this team, especially a guy like Travis Zajac. We all saw Zajac take a step forward last season, and Oates may be able to continue to improve Zajac’s overall play. Oates’ assist numbers are stellar, and I’m sure he can help Zajac to develop better on-ice vision and playmaking skills. While Zajac is one of the better centers in the league, I’m sure he’ll benefit from some time with Oates.

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Evaluating The Devils Draft - Scott Wedgewood and Maxime Clermont

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

It’s been over two days since the Devils selected five players in the 2010 NHL Entry-Level draft. With no first round pick in the mix, it’s doubtful that we’ll see any of the 2010 draftees in Newark this season (except for prospect camp, which begins July 11). Many of the prospects are young, and they all have something to prove over the next few years. While it’s still too early to predict whether they will be a legend or bust, there is time to reflect on the picks. In this post, I’ll look at the two goalie selections the Devils made.

Coming into this year’s draft, the Devils organization had a huge hole it needed to fill – goaltending. After Martin Brodeur, the organization’s depth and skill took a sharp dive. The Devils hadn’t drafted a goalie since 2005, when the team selected Jeff Frazee. Since then, Frazee has played average hockey in the minors (14-16-0, 2.80 goals-against average, .910 save percentage), and the disparity between Brodeur and the rest grew larger. To address that need, the Devils selected two goaltenders – Scott Wedgewood (third round, 84th overall) and Maxime Clermont (sixth round, 174th overall). While both players won’t be expected to immediately produce, they will need to provide some depth at the goalie position in the organization.

Scott Wedgewood

Both Wedgewood and Clermont weren’t big name draft targets. Wedgewood, taken in the third round, didn’t even start for Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League this season. Wedgewood, ranked number 19 of 30 North American goalies, only played in 18 games this season. He put together a 5-9-0 record, posting a 3.26 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. The 17-year old also played in four postseason games, going 1-0-1 with a 2.07 GAA and a .956 save percentage. During that overtime loss, Wedgewood made 70 saves. While Wedgewood was drafted higher, Clermont certainly could match his potential.

Clermont became the second goalie drafted by the Devils in the sixth round, 174th overall. The Montreal native was ranked one spot better than Wedgewood, checking in at 18 out of 30 North American goalies. Clermont appeared in 66 games for the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL, compiling a 2.81 GAA and .897 save percentage. The goalie only went 24-31-0, but was invited to participate on Team Cherry in the 2010 CHL Top Prospect game. Hockey’s Future describes Clermont as

"A solid goaltender, Clermont plays the angles well and shows a willingness to aggressively challenge opposing shooters. Controlling rebounds well and having a good glove, Clermont’s game will benefit as he gets quicker in the crease. Possessing good size, he has struggled at times tracking the puck, especially through traffic, another thing that he’ll need to improve upon."

Both goalies seem to be promising prospects. They will both need significant time to improve, but they’re both pretty young players. With Brodeur looking like he can play past the age of 40, Wedgewood and Clermont should get the time they need to improve. I don’t know if they’ll ever be big stars in net, but the preliminary analysis seems bright for the Devils’ new young goalies.

Wedgewood Photo Credit: Walt Democh

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Recapping The Devils' 2010 NHL Draft Picks

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

Without a first round pick in this year’s draft, the Devils didn’t begin their draft until today. With six picks today, the team drafted two goaltenders and addressed some other holes within the organization. Here’s a recap on the Devils six picks from the 2010 NHL draft.

Second Round (38th Overall) – D Jon Merrill (U.S. National Team Developmental Program)

The Devils selected Merrill, a 6’3″ defenseman, with their first pick in the draft. Merrill is described as a smooth skater with good puck movement. Merrill had one goal and eight assists with the USNTP’s Under-18 team in 2009-2010.

When asked by Tom Gulitti what his strengths are, the defender said “Just being real responsible defensively, being consistent, making reliable, simple plays, but also contribute offensively and run the power play and things like that.”

Merrill, who was expected to be drafted in the first round, may have fallen to the Devils because of disciplinary issues. The defenseman was suspended for two weeks during the 2009-2010 season for an off-ice incident, where Merrill allegedly “harassed” a group of girls at his high school.

He also reportedly interviewed poorly during the combine.

Merrill will attend the University of Michigan next year, where he committed to when he was 14. The defenseman would like to play at least one year for the school.

Third Round (84th Overall) – G Scott Wedgewood (Plymouth, OHL)

With their third round pick, the Devils drafted 17-year-old goaltender Scott Wedgewood from Etobicoke, Ontario.

Wedgewood is the first goalie drafted by the Devils’ since the team selected Jeff Frazee 38th overall in 2005.

Wedgewood was ranked 19th out of 30 North American goalies. He served as a backup for Plymouth this season, going 5-9-0 with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 18 OHL games. He appeared in four playoff games, going 1-0-1 with a 2.57 GAA and a .956 save percentage. The goalie caught the eye of scouts and general managers alike with a 71-save performance in a 3-2 overtime loss to Windsor during the playoffs. Wedgewood was forced into action because of the suspension of Plymouth starter Matt Hackett.

Fourth Round (114th Overall) – D Joe Faust (Bloomington-Jefferson, USHS)

With the 114th selection, the Devils drafted defenseman Joe Faust from Bloomington-Jefferson High School in Minnesota.

Faust, a 5’11″, 190 pound defenseman, originally committed to playing for Princeton this upcoming season. Faust, however, de-committed, and rumors are he is looking to join a Western Collegiate Hockey Association school closer to home.

Faust, an offensive-defenseman with a right-handed shot, scored 13 goals and totaled 27 assists in 25 games for Bloomington-Jefferson this season.

The Minnesota defenseman was ranked the 118th North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Department.

Read after the jump for the profiles of the Devils’ sixth and seventh round draftees.

 

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Devils Release 2010-2011 Schedule

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

Today was a mid-year Christmas for most NHL fans. All 30 NHL teams released their schedules today, giving fans the opportunity to salivate over potential matchups and plan out what night they’re going to see their team.

The Devils will open their season October 8 at home against the Dallas Stars. It’s a bit of an interesting decision, matching a Western Conference opponent against an Eastern Conference opponent. I’d much rather see the team open against a division rival, or at least an Eastern Conference opponent. But those are the breaks. It’ll be the first game with John MacLean as the head coach, and Jason Arnott will re-introduce himself to Devils fans.

The Devils opening weekend continues October 9 against Ovie and the Washington Capitals in Washington.

The Devils longest homestand of the season will be four games, beginning on Dec. 23 against the Islanders. They then play the Maple Leafs (Dec. 26) and the Rangers (Dec. 29) before finishing on New Years Eve against the Thrashers.

The Devils longest road trip is six games, beginning against the Rangers on Oct. 24. The team then heads west, facing off against the Sharks (Oct. 27), Ducks (Oct. 29), Kings (Oct. 30) and the Canucks (Nov. 1). The trip concludes with a trip to face the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 3.

The Devils will not play a St. Patrick’s Day game at home this season. General manager Lou Lamoriello and principal owner Jeff Vanderbeek wanted to rotate in the infamous Devils’ retro jerseys, and this past season allowed them to make it holiday-appropriate. The two want the Devils to go retro once a season, but without a St. Patrick’s Day game, the team will have to find another game to wear it.

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Here are some other schedule highlights:

Monday, October 11, 2010 – Penguins vs. Devils (1 p.m.)

In one of three afternoon games the Devils will play in 2010 – 2011, they face-off in a Columbus Day matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils swept the season series against the former champs, helping propel the Devils to yet another Atlantic Division title. Many of these games were close last season, so I’d expect much of the same this season as well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010 – Devils vs. Rangers (7 p.m.)

The Devils and Rangers tied their season series, 3-3, and will renew their bad blood on a Sunday night. It’s always a fun time when these two get together, and I’m sure their first meeting of the season will be nothing new. Expect physical play and a low-scoring game.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 – Flames vs. Devils (7:30 p.m.)

The Devils welcome back ex-coach Brent Sutter to the Rock in their game Nov. 24. Sutter left the Devils after the 2008-2009 season, citing his desire to be closer to his family. Shortly after, he took the open coaching position with the Flames. On March 6, Calgary defeated the Devils, 5-3, at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary.

Saturday, November 27, 2010 – Flyers at Devils (1 p.m.)

The Flyers and the Devils face off for the first time on Nov. 27. Last year, the Flyers won five of six regular season games against the Devils. Then the playoffs happened and, well…there’s no reason to bring up the past. Hopefully the Devils can beat the Flyers a few more times this season.

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So that’s my take on the Devils 2010-2011 schedule. For a full schedule, click here.

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Tidbits from MacLean's Press Conference

Written by AJ Manderichio on .

Here are some stories from today’s press conference:

Zach Parise vs. Pittsburgh PenguinsParise Excited To Play For MacLean

Add Zach Parise to the list of players excited to be playing for new head coach John MacLean.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Parise said to Tom Gulliti. “Hopefully, he’ll bring some new ideas, something fresh for all of us, because we need that.”

As the Devils all-time goals leader (347), the expectation is the team will become more offensive minded under MacLean. Parise believes MacLean will bring the team’s offensive game up to speed.

“Hopefully, we’ll be a lot more offensive minded and play more of a puck-possession game,” Parise said, “because that’s the way these teams that are winning now play.”

But it doesn’t all come down to offense. What matters is whether or not the players will respect the coach. Parise, who experienced MacLean running the bench during Lou Lamoriello’s two stints as coach. While he wasn’t the actual coach, Parise believed MacLean did a solid job.

“I really liked him then when he was doing that,” Parise said. “And when guys were called up from Lowell this year we’d always ask them how Mac was doing there and they all liked playing for him.”

So far, Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner have come to the support of MacLean. Hopefully, his hiring is this well received throughout the locker room.

Langenbrunner Will Remain Captain

Both Lamoriello and MacLean strongly supported Langenbrunner’s current captaincy, telling the media that there would be no change in captain this season.

“I think Jamie is a great leader,” MacLean said. “I actually played with him briefly (in Dallas in 2001) and, having coached him, I think he’s good for what we’re going to try to do here in the future. He’s been tremendous with the young guys and himself being a veteran he’ll be able to help everybody with the transition.”

Well, that ends any speculation from our point of view. Even though I wrote this piece about how Langenbrunner needed to go as captain, we won’t see that this year.

Robinson, Terreri To Remain With Staff

Both Larry Robinson and Chris Terreri will return to the Devils staff next season.

Robinson will return as MacLean’s top assistant, while Terreri will be back as the goaltending coach.

Scott Stevens will also remain with the organization as a “roving coach,” working in New Jersey, Albany and Trenton. Stevens requested to remain in that role during last season.

Tommy Albelin will also remain in the organization, but his position is to be determined. Albelin, who was an assistant for the past three years, wanted to gain bench experience. He may end up as an assistant with Albany.

Lamoriello and MacLean will pick one more assistant together. MacLean would prefer the assistant to be offensive minded, because Robinson can focus on defensive issues, but it’s not mandatory.

Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

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