More than €63K for underage alcohol and drug programme in Donegal

first_imgA grant of €63,506 has been awarded to the North West Alcohol Forum for the 11 month ‘Donegal Reach’ Project.The project is working with up to twelve 14-16 year-olds across Donegal affected by parental alcohol or other drug use.The overall aim of the project is to build up young people’s self-esteem, promote positive relationships, help them to become more resilient and improve their future prospects. The grant is part of an International Fund for Ireland pledge of €2,805,315 to provide further intervention and support for marginalised communities.The latest funding allocation will support 23 projects in their peace and reconciliation work across the southern border counties and Northern Ireland.A significant proportion of funding will focus on the Fund’s Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP).Launched in 2015, the programme works with 16-25 year olds who have faced a range of complex issues including; poor mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, difficult family backgrounds and been in or close to the criminal justice system. Commenting on the latest funding package, IFI Chairman, Paddy Harte said he IFI’s work is more relevant than ever.He said “The continued lack of political leadership alongside an increase in hard line opinions on Brexit and dissident activity means that many communities feel more isolated and entrenched with little support on the ground to deliver positive outcomes.“The IFI is delivering interventions and prepared to go where other agencies cannot to offer better pathways for engagement and growth. Our PYDP programme in particular is like no other youth initiative. It is tailored to the individual, develops much needed life skills, instils confidence and prepares young people for positive life choices and employment.”The IFI’s Personal Youth Development Programme has engaged with over 1800 young people with 3278 accreditations received, 528 progressing into education and training with 390 securing employment.North West Alcohol Forum based in Letterkenny has received €63,506 for its ‘Donegal Reach’ Project, working with 14-16 year olds across Donegal affected by parental alcohol or other drug use. It aims to build up young people’s self-esteem, promote positive relationships, help them to become more resilient and improve their future prospects.Mr Harte adds: “Young people today face more challenges than ever and they often feel that society has let them down.“Growing tensions within communities alongside high levels of social and economic deprivation all work hand in hand to spur on those opposed to the Peace Process who continue to try and radicalise young people through paramilitary recruitment.“We will continue to engage with those who have benefited little from the Good Friday Agreement and help young people to transform and become positive role models within their local communities.” The Chairman took the opportunity to thank the international donors to the Fund – the European Union and the Governments of the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – for their support.More than €63K for underage alcohol and drug programme in Donegal was last modified: December 9th, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:alcoholdrugsgrantIFIpaddy hartelast_img read more

David Forst spends first day of winter meetings laying out A’s plan of attack

first_imgLAS VEGAS — The A’s know they have plenty of work to do in order to construct a roster that can continue the success from last season’s improbable playoff run, but their first day at Major League Baseball’s winter meetings was more of a feeling-out process.Aside from internal discussions about free agents and trades they would like to pursue, A’s general manager David Forst didn’t get very far on any potential deals after arriving at the Mandalay Bay hotel Monday afternoon.“We just got here,” …last_img read more

Antarctic team did it for children

first_imgExhausted but elated, the team arrived atthe South Pole on 21 January and proudlyhoisted the South African flag. Celebrating the best day of his life,19-year old Nzuzo Mnikathi clutches themirror beacon, the official marker forthe South Pole.(Images: The Unlimited)MEDIA CONTACTS • Aletta LouwThe Unlimited+27 31 716 9600 or +27 83 410 3000RELATED ARTICLES• SA prioritises quality education• Sibusiso Vilane’s trek to the top• Tackling SA education challenges• First Polaris climate centre for Cape Town• Preserving memories of AntarcticaEmily van RijswijckA group of South Africans reached the South Pole on 21 January as part of an expedition to create awareness for The Unlimited Child, a project aimed at improving the learning environment at early childhood development centres and crèches.The eight-member team, of whom six were South Africans, traversed the snow-covered Antarctica over 111 kilometres on skis, and took 14 days to reach their final destination.Among the adventurers was 19-year-old Nzuzo Mnikathi, the youngest black person to reach the Antarctic.Also with the team was South African explorer Sean Wisedale, the first African to achieve the Seven Summits title – earned by reaching the summit of the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.Based in Durban, The Unlimited Child highlights the importance of child development and stimulation in the formative years of a child’s life – from birth to 6 years – and has touched the lives of over 13 500 children in 228 crèches since 2008.The project aims to reach 1.25-million children by 2016.No child’s play Crossing the Antarctic snow desert is a gruelling journey in anyone’s books, but one which the young, inexperienced Mnikathi took in his stride. He joined the expedition as ambassador for Unlimited Child, hoping to raise funds.“I want to use this opportunity to show the world that all things are possible, that difficulties can be overcome with determination and the right attitude,” he said before the group set out.“Yes, this is about setting a new record as the youngest black person to reach the South Pole, but more importantly, it’s about the challenge of trying to achieve something of value against the backdrop of an unpredictable and unforgiving environment.”Suffering from frostbite to his toes, fingers and nose, Mnikathi’s dream almost ended when, early into the excursion, team doctor Peter Berning decided that Mnikathi could not risk skiing, for fear that it would aggravate his condition.Fortunately the young adventurer was able to join the back-up team to rest his feet, and on the final day got back on his skis to complete the stretch to the destination point. He later said it was the best day of his life.Skills needed just to surviveNo stranger to life’s hard punches, this KwaZulu-Natal resident lost both his parents at the age of nine. With understated simplicity he related a typical day during the excursion:“I want to say that down here, you need a whole new set of skills just to survive. It is cold, really cold – and everything you do has to be done with this in mind.”Skiing for seven to eight hours a day and pulling a 40kg sled in conditions which can drop to -30 degrees in summer, depending on the wind chill factor, is a tough challenge. The team did on average about 20km per day.Mnikathi’s journey is even more remarkable if one considers that previously he hardly set foot outside his home province, had never camped before, and didn’t know how to ski. He took his first plane trip in October 2011 when he was flown to Johannesburg to be interviewed on television.But no amount of training with truck tyres and sitting in cold-rooms could quite prepare him for this adventure, he admitted. His sleeping bag kept him warm enough for just two layers of clothes, but normal daily activities required five layers.All clothes had to be kept inside the sleeping bag, otherwise they would become so cold and stiff as to be unusable. And trying to stuff a puffy sleeping bag into its bag while wearing five layers of gloves was certainly not something Mnikathi ever practised while growing up with his grandmother.Unlimited founder and director Iain Buchan also made the tough journey and had high praise for the youngster.“Nzuzo is a living example that people have unlimited potential,” he said. “Here is a young man who has had a tough life, but is changing his future and has taken up our challenge to be an ambassador for The Unlimited Child and to become the youngest black person to ever walk to the South Pole”Mnikathi also received the blessing and support of Unlimited patron Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.The team described their experiences in a daily blog – sometimes the temperature dropped to -36 degrees. Wisedale’s “brutally cold” could hardly describe conditions which sometimes allowed a pace of less than two kilometres per hour.This is Wisedale’s second successful Arctic expedition after completing the first in 2010.Securing children’s futureWhile Buchan has been fascinated by the South Pole all his life, the end destination was more about giving all of South Africa’s 6-million children under the age of seven a chance.The idea for the project first came to him after a casual conversation with his domestic worker, who mentioned that her grandchild had just failed Grade 2, and he realised then the importance of early childhood development and its influence on a child’s future.More importantly, he became aware of the important role that early childhood development centres play in providing the right environment and stimulation for young minds.Toys that many children take for granted, which teach the important but basic skills of colours and shapes, are not always available at crèches in South Africa’s less affluent areas. It is believed that this situation can have a severe impact on the child’s brain going into the future.So far,TheUnlimited Child is involved in 228 crèches in KwaZulu-Natal, providing educational toys specifically designed to develop cognitive and fine motor skills in pre-school children. At the same time, care-givers are taught how to use the toys effectively and to create a stimulating environment.Antarctic TreatySouth Africa is a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, an agreement signed in December 1959 to ensure that the frozen continent will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and in the pursuit of scientific discovery.Thirty-seven countries have acceded to the treaty. South Africa became a consultative member in 1961, a status that allows the country to embark on substantial research activities here.last_img read more

Why No Love for the Universal Inbox?

first_imgTags:#Digital Lifestyle#NYT#Trends#web Socializing as an Inbox Layer A better solution to the merging of messaging and social is, interestingly enough, exactly what Google has just launched with Buzz. Sure, that service has gotten off to a rough start with bugs, missing features and of course, the privacy issues, but the concept is solid. In Buzz, social networking becomes an additional layer to your inbox – one click and the display changes to a stream of social activity; click again and you’re back to your email. Important “social” messages (those you created, commented on or liked in Buzz) grab your attention by re-appearing in your inbox proper. Other companies have similar ideas about socializing email. Xobni, for example, offers a plugin for Outlook that extracts social information about your contacts (among many other things). Microsoft, too, is just now launching its social layer for Outlook – the Social Connector which optionally lets you integrate LinkedIn and soon Facebook and MySpace into your inbox. These programs all have a better shot at unifying the inbox to create a truly universal email application. They provide you with your “real” inbox and all its features while layering it with a social element. You don’t have to migrate to a new service entirely. Meanwhile the standalone universal inbox applications available today probably won’t last. They would be better off developing their service into a plugin or add-on for the webmail and desktop programs that people use now instead of trying to convince people to start checking their email elsewhere. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… sarah perez A couple of years ago, the new launch from Webwalks, a universal inbox, news aggregator, password manager and kitchen sink-type application would have caught my eye. I’d rush out to try it, merging my multiple accounts under its one roof then wait to see how well my life improved, how much time I saved. But today, I’m more ambivalent about these sorts of applications. The concept of a universal inbox for tracking everything under the sun now leaves me cold. That’s not to say that merging of social networks with the inbox in and of itself is a bad idea – Google Buzz, Xobni, and Outlook’s new social connector all offer innovative ways to augment the inbox experience. But there’s a key difference between these apps and those promising a “universal inbox” – they come to you, in the inbox you already know and love. The Sad State of the Universal InboxThe idea of a universal inbox is smart. On paper, that is. In our “information overloaded” modern age, messages come at us left and right from multiple email accounts, instant messaging programs, SMS on our mobile phones and from social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And yet, none of the “universal inbox” applications have ever really taken off. We’ve seen some worthy contenders though. Fuser, NutshellMail and Inbox2, for example, all merge messages from multiple platforms into one unified service. The more clever of these programs provide a way to make Facebook the interface you use to check your mail instead of forcing you into some new web service. However, even that option hasn’t attracted a large following. Inbox2’s Facebook app “emailstream” only has 245 active users. NutshellMail’s does a little better with just over 5400 users. But when you think of the hundreds of millions of registered users on Facebook (400 million at the last count), these numbers aren’t even a drop in a bucket – they’re more like a grain of sand on a long stretch of beach. The sites’ web destinations do a little better, but only a service called OtherInbox is doing well, with 67,000+ visitors last month. NutshellMail seems to be hanging in there, too – even growing its traffic a bit lately – and yet it attracted just under 24,000 uniques last month (according to Compete – not always the best source of statistics but good enough for this quick glance). An article on Digg’s homepage often get more hits than that! And it’s an understatement to say these numbers fall short of the millions who routinely log into online email accounts from Gmail, Hotmail and the like. So what’s wrong? Why aren’t these services more popular? People Want to Use Their Own Inbox, Not Some 3rd-Party ServiceThe answer to that question has its roots in what people expect from an email application. Email services from Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and yes, even AOL, among others are designed from the ground-up to provide that company’s vision of the best messaging experience. The applications are feature-rich with advanced options like POP3 and IMAP support, forwarding, filters, labels, auto-replies, vacation responders, spam filters and more. Third-party aggregation-type applications don’t always have the same feature set. Plus, they typically have their own very un-email like interface – the applications tend to treat your email like activity streams on a social network, not critical messages that need to be filed, forwarded, replied to, or turned into tasks and calendar appointments. The exception here seems to be OtherInbox – they offer a real inbox complete with calendar tie-ins, stars for saving messages, spam filters and other typical email features. Not surprisingly, they’re the one doing the best out of all the other inbox applications listed here. However, they’re not actually a “universal” inbox. They don’t claim to merge all your messaging services into one – they simply help you better sort and organize your mail. So, really, they don’t count. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts last_img read more

The History of Memoji Videos and How to Make One Yourself

first_imgMash-up Music VideosUpon viewing the clips, it’s evident that these videos offer a lot more flare than what you can obtain using memoji tools. There are excellent compositing and motion graphics included within the ads. However, over the last year, we haven’t seen any official releases from artists, only mashup music videos like this one:This user has built an entire channel by taking popular music and creating memoji music videos. With 165 thousand subscribers in less than 12 months, this is no easy task.“Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X Featuring Billie Ray CyrusThe song, whether you’re a fan or not, has continued to break streaming record after streaming record. Which is why, up until now, it’s been surprising that there hasn’t been an official music video. The original track was released with an accompanying video of Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay, and the remix was released with just a static picture of two horses. The artist has since tweeted that fans are to expect an official music video next week. But, before that release, fans were treated to this:A memoji video of “Old Town Road.” Yes, it’s as bonkers as that sentence was to read. Unlike the grandeur of Apple’s ads, this Memoji music video just features the two animated artists, along with an abundance of relatable emojis. I’ve perhaps never seen a more primitive music video, and yet it works so well. It capitalizes on popular culture with how the majority of online users communicate using iconography, without sacrificing the playfulness of the track.More importantly, I think this video highlights the simplicity of creativity in an age where everyone is trying to do more and go bigger. With just a set of precomposed icons, the team was able to reel in millions of views and thousands of positive comments. Of course, we can’t discount the popularity of the song influencing these numbers. But as several fans have stated on Twitter: “If this is the official music video, I’m ok with that.”I think it’s easy to scoff at such a basic premise, especially when the video may appear inherently childish due to the animated characters. Regardless, the video is undoubtedly a living example of how creativity has no limits. What was conceived as a tool to share memes or to call your auntie as an animated blue character has instead turned into a viable means to make low-budget music videos with nothing more than an iPhone.How long until we see the first memoji film created by an online content creator?Create Your Caricature: A Tutorial Learn the origins of memoji music videos and check out our favorite viral hits. Bonus: we show you how to make one of your own.In 2018, with the release of iOS 12, iOS devices that had Face ID gained a new feature called Memoji. If you have been entirely oblivious to this new feature, or the online content it’s spurred, it’s Apple’s tool to create an animated emoji character based on your facial movement.As you can fully customize the appearance of your memoji, the feature became an instant online hit. Users can create Memojis with the appearance of characters in movies and viral videos, then copy the dialogue of a scene to later replace it with the film’s audio. These short fun videos are good snippets of entertainment to pass the time while you wait for the train.As someone who admittedly doesn’t like to appear on camera for tutorials, I thought about using a memoji as an on-screen avatar to give my tutorials a face. But it was a fleeting thought, and besides, my iPhone couldn’t support this feature.Then, earlier this year, Apple started to release ads for their Apple music Grammy campaign, using Memojis to create short music videos for the current leading pop stars.“7 Rings” by Ariana Grande “Simple” by Florida Georgia Line “Talk” by Khalid Top image via Lil Nas.Want more filmmaking tips? Check out these articles:Lighting in a Pinch: Five Tricks Using Your Mobile PhoneSet Tone and Atmosphere by Mastering the Establishing Shot7 Things Clients Look For in a Video Production CompanyFirst-Time Filmmakers: How Do You Build a Cast Without a Budget?Four Reasons You Should Use (and Love) Your Camera’s Stock Lenslast_img read more

Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party leader found dead in Amethi

first_imgA leader of the Shivpal Singh Yadav-led Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) was found dead near the Amethi railway station on Friday, police said.Thirty-three-year-old Rohit Agrahari was the state unit secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Ayodhya.His body was found in an orchard along the railway tracks on the morning of July 12, Deputy Superintendent of Police Piyush Kant Rai said.Mr. Rai said it appeared that his body was dumped after he was killed.The body has been sent for post-mortem.Agrahari was a native of Keshav Nagar in Amethi.last_img read more

Bureaucrats: Life begins at 60

first_imgAshok Mohan ChakrabortyIAS officer Ashok Mohan Chakraborty retired as chief secretary of West Bengal on April 30, 2010. Soon after, he sought permission from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the cadre controlling authority for the IAS, to join the Essar Group. After taking the advice of the state,Ashok Mohan ChakrabortyIAS officer Ashok Mohan Chakraborty retired as chief secretary of West Bengal on April 30, 2010. Soon after, he sought permission from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the cadre controlling authority for the IAS, to join the Essar Group. After taking the advice of the state government and other agencies concerned, the DoPT gave him approval to join as resident director on October 7, 2010. Chakraborty rules out any impropriety. “There is no question of any conflict of interest since the government, before giving permission to any officer, looks in to all these factors. I had to wait for five months to join Essar,” says Chakraborty.Click here to EnlargeAccording to DoPT sources, there is a queue of officers who have sought permission to join private companies after retirement without completing the mandatory cooling-off period from the date of retirement. Using Right to Information Act, India Today has accessed a list of around 100 such bureaucrats who, since 2001, have sought permission to join private sector jobs. Until January 1, 2007, the mandatory cooling-off period was two years from the date of retirement. It was reduced to one year after hectic lobbying by IAS officers.According to the All India Service Rules, “A pensioner shall not accept any commercial employment before the expiry of one year from the date of his retirement, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government.” There is no need to seek permission from the DoPT after the cooling-off period is over or if an officer resigns from the service.advertisementP.V. BhideClick here to EnlargeTake the case of P.V. Bhide who retired as revenue secretary only on January 31, 2010. The DoPT has given him permission to join five companies – NOCIL Ltd, Heidelberg Cement India Ltd, Tube Investment India Ltd, L&T Finance Ltd and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Some more applications are under consideration. Bhide believes there is nothing improper about joining the private sector soon after retiring. “Why should there be conflict of interest? There is no conflict unless we share government secrets,” he says. “I have run a fertiliser company while I was in the public sector. The private sector will now utilise my experience.” Bhide adds, “I can still work but the government does not need my services. Therefore, I chose to join the private sector.”Naresh DayalClick here to EnlargeNaresh Dayal, who held the post of secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, retired on September 30, 2009. Soon after that, he filed an application for permission to join GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health-care as a non-official director. He got permission on May 21, 2010. “I have handled every government assignment efficiently. Here in the private sector, I will do the same,” says Dayal.Other officers who joined private companies before the end of their mandatory cooling off period include 1973 batch Uttar Pradesh cadre officer Ajay Shankar who, after retiring as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on December 31, 2009, joined Tata Tea as a director. The DoPT gave him approval for the job on May 25, 2010. Anil Baijal, a 1969 batch Union Territory cadre officer retired as secretary, Union Ministry of Urban Development on October 31, 2006. He was given permission to join the Infrastructure Development Finance Company as advisor and chairman of its PPP initiative on June 22, 2007.While some officers join private sector after retirement, others choose to join after taking voluntary retirement. Ashok Kumar Khurana, a 1976 batch Uttar Pradesh cadre officer, took voluntary retirement in November 2007 while serving as additional secretary in the Union Ministry of Power. He was granted approval to join JPSK Sports as vice-chairman in April 2008. O.P. Arya, a 1975 batch officer of Uttarakhand cadre, took voluntary retirement in May 2008. He joined the JP Ganga Infrastructure Corporation Ltd as its CEO after getting permission from the DoPT in January 2009. These officers are getting salary between Rs 10,000 per sitting as director and Rs 1.70 crore per annum.The list would be even longer if it were to include officers who have taken permission only from state governments for post-retirement jobs. Officers below the rank of secretary who have been working continuously for three years in a state government are only required to take permission from the state government concerned, not the Central government.At the Centre, the DoPT, which reports directly to the prime minister, has been liberal in granting such permissions. According to sources, only four officers have been denied permission since 2005.Not all former IAS officers are pleased with this new wave of post-retirement jobs in the private sector. Says N. Gopalaswami, a retired IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre and former chief election commissioner, “This one-year cooling-off period is not enough. This should be at least three years or even five years. These officers must not be allowed to join companies whose work has been related to the government job of that particular officer.”advertisementThe reality, as this exhaustive list shows, is quite the opposite.last_img read more

a month agoLiverpool fullback Robertson quits Twitter after Napoli backlash

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Liverpool fullback Robertson quits Twitter after Napoli backlashby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool left-back Andrew Robertson may have deactivated his Twitter account.The decision could be connected to the Reds’ 2-0 defeat at Napoli on Tuesday.The Scot gave away a late penalty when he was adjudged to have fouled Jose Callejon in the box, with Dries Mertens slotting home from the spot.Fernando Llorente then nipped in ahead of Robertson to seal victory for the home side in stoppage time.Reds boss Jurgen Klopp hit out at the decision to award the the penalty – and the failure to overturn it through VAR – after the game, although former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has claimed it was the right decision.The Mirror reports a search for his Twitter account ‘@andrewrobertso5’ shows up no results, although his Instagram account is still online at the time of writing. last_img read more

Roger Federer admits he faces real battle against Medvedev

first_imgMiami: Roger Federer admits he faces a real battle to land the 101st title of his career with the in-form Daniil Medvedev next up after Serbian Filip Krajinovic was dispatched 7-5 6-3 on Monday at the ATP and WTA Miami Open. The Swiss superstar produced an excellent all-round performance despite being tested by the world number 103 who belied his lowly ranking by producing some excellent tennis during an exciting first set. Federer, however, stylishly weathered the storm to seal the win – the 52nd of his career in Miami – and set up an intriguing last eight match with the highly-rated Medvedev. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe Russian, who is at a career high ranking of 15, saw off American Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7/5) 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/0), and has won four ATP hard-court titles, including three since last August. Federer beat him twice last year but is already a fan. “He’s clever how he plays the court because he can play it up and down, and he’s unusual when he plays from back,” said the Swiss, who hit 14 aces and won an impressive 74% of points on his first serve. “It’s a bit of a different approach.Thankfully I played him last year twice in Basel and Shanghai and I’m very impressed about his progress. I must say the last year has been unbelievable for him.” Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterKrajinovic struggled with injury last year as problems with his ankle, left foot and hand restricted him to just seven tournaments in the first seven months of 2018. Yet some fierce hitting from the back of the court surprised the predictably pro-Federer crowd and a brilliant run and flick over the net handed him an early break for 3-2. Keeping the pressure on, however, was a different matter as Federer broke straight back before pocketing the opening set. The second set wasn’t as competitive, Federer easing home and finishing with 35 winners compared to the Serbian’s 18. Elsewhere, number 24 seed Grigor Dimitrov was beaten by world number 77 Jordan Thompson in straight sets ensuring the Australian will meet 2018 Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson who beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 7-6 (8/6). Simona Halep, meanwhile, got the better of Venus Williams once again as the Romanian made light work of the 38-year-old American to book a place in the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-3 win. “I was pretty strong with my serve and knew where to bother her,” said the reigning French Open champion who will meet China’s Wang Qiang in the last eight. “When I saw I can win easy games with my serve, it gave me great confidence,” she added. Bianca Andreescu, the 18-year-old Canadian sensation who won the title in Indian Wells, was forced to withdraw in the second set of her fourth round match with Anett Kontaveit. Andreescu was 1-6 0-2 down before a shoulder injury ruined her chances of another run to the finals. The Estonian will meet Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei who continued her excellent form with a 6-3, 6-7 (0/7), 6-2 win over Caroline Wozniacki. Petra Kvitova, the world number 3, booked her place in the last eight, beating Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3 in a match which was held up for one hour and 40 minutes because of rain in South Florida. Kvitova plays Australian Ashleigh Barty for a place in the semi-finals.last_img read more

The Dream of the 90s is Alive in New York And Montreal

The Dream of the 90s is Alive in New York And Montreal

Two of hockey’s Original Six are alive and well in the Eastern Conference finals, which began Saturday with the New York Rangers’ 7-2 rout of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1.1The Chicago Blackhawks, another Original Six team, are also leading the Western Conference finals 1-0. The series is an interesting case study in the rebuilding of once-great clubs. No matter which of the two historic franchises prevails, the victor will have made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since it won hockey’s ultimate prize roughly two decades ago.2The Rangers haven’t been back to the Final since winning the Cup in 1994; the Canadiens haven’t been back since winning it in 1993. Their long road back saw 19 different head coaches between them,3A tally that includes Alain Vigneault, who has coached both teams. payrolls both desiccated and bloated, and years of mediocrity that flouted expectations. But their twin decades in the wilderness taught them the value of drafting well and committing to smart spending.North of the border, Les Habitants play the central role in Canada’s ongoing, agonizing Stanley Cup drought. The Canadiens are unaccustomed to going this long without a championship, and that’s putting it mildly. Over the course of the 77 postseasons between 1916 and 1993, Montreal hoisted the Cup once every 3.2 seasons on average. They won 24 titles; to this day, no other NHL team has won more than 13.4The Toronto Maple Leafs own that second-place distinction, despite not having won any Cups themselves since 1967.The 1992-93 Canadiens won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1985-86.5At the time, Montreal fans would have considered that seven-year gap — and the seven-season void before that —  an alarming dry spell. That championship team was good — and lucky. According to estimates of score-close Fenwick percentage (a team-possession stat), the 1992-93 Canadiens were the NHL’s eighth-best team at controlling possession, and they finished sixth in save percentage thanks to Patrick Roy, one of the rare goalies who could truly be said to possess consistently elite puck-stopping skills. Their luck often came in overtime, when the Canadiens won the majority of their playoff games; they went an incredible 10-1 in overtime during the 1993 postseason,6Setting the record for most overtime wins in a single playoff year. including victories in Games 2, 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Historically, there’s essentially no correlation between how a team does from one overtime playoff game to the next, so Montreal’s overtime record undoubtedly meant the Canadiens were the beneficiary of good fortune during their ‘93 Cup run.)The 1992-93 Canadiens were the fifth-youngest Cup-winners since the dawn of the Original Six era in 1943.7As weighted by the Modified Point Shares of each player on the roster. Modified Point Shares is an offshoot of Hockey-Reference’s Point Shares re-scaled to give forwards 60 percent of the league’s total value, defensemen 30 percent and goalies 10 percent, per research I conducted for analytics guru Tom Tango last summer. Despite carrying over much of the same core of players into subsequent seasons, Montreal declined sharply, soon missing the playoffs for the first time in a quarter-century. Habs GM Serge Savard wasn’t able to wheel and deal his way to a new championship-caliber group,8To the contrary — he dealt away Roy in one of the most one-sided trades in NHL history. and aside from the 1987 and 1993 drafts9The latter of which yielded Saku Koivu. the team did not restock well. According to a measurement of picking efficiency similar to one I used to evaluate NFL teams’ performances in the draft,10Using Modified Point Shares. the Canadiens were the league’s fourth-worst drafting team from 1988 to 1995.11And its fifth-worst over the larger 1988-2001 period.Making matters worse, the Canadiens were facing a weak national currency at a time before the salary cap. Because Montreal had to offer more money than U.S. teams did in order to get the same amount of talent, they found themselves at a competitive disadvantage. The Habs fell out of the league’s top 10 in payroll spending for the 1994-95 season,12According to Rodney Fort’s archived NHL payroll data, which spans the 1989-90 through 2011-12 seasons (save for missing data on the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons). dropping to 16th out of 26 teams that season and 17th in each of the next two years. Unable to compete financially (they’d been a top-five payroll team as recently as five years earlier) and having strung together a series of mostly poor drafts, the Canadiens fired Savard in 199513Although they didn’t do much better under Rejean Houle, either. and spent the next decade mired in mediocrity.Meanwhile in Manhattan, the Rangers were suffering much the same fate. Their 1993-94 Stanley Cup championship team had broken the Curse of 1940 and given Rangers fans their long-awaited redemption. The team was an incredible collection of talent, posting the fourth-best record and fifth-best estimated Fenwick close of any pre-2008 Cup winner,14Going back to the 1987-88 season, the first year of Hockey-Reference’s game log data. but also had the fifth-oldest roster in the league15Weighted by the Modified Point Shares of each player on the roster. and was the 23rd-oldest Cup winner since 1943.Instead of seeking out younger players, New York GM Neil Smith put the league’s oldest squad on the ice over the next three seasons (even recruiting a 36-year-old Wayne Gretzky to join a 36-year-old Mark Messier in the summer of 1996). While the Canadiens were struggling to contend with the NHL’s new financial realities, the Rangers had no such issues; their $44 million payroll in 1997-98 was the highest in NHL history at the time. But they were also committed to an old, overpaid roster that wasn’t producing — and, like Montreal, New York had compounded matters by drafting poorly over the previous decade.16The Rangers were the league’s third-worst drafting team from 1992 to 1999.A number of key players on the Rangers’ 1993-94 championship squad had been acquired in the draft during the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Sergei Zubov, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Nemchinov and Tony Amonte. But the subsequent batch of Rangers drafts produced first-round busts like Jeff Brown (No. 22 overall in 1996), Stefan Cherneski (No. 19 in 1997) and Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark (No. 4 and No. 9, respectively, in 1999).The lack of decent prospects made it difficult for New York to avoid extending its aging stars’ contracts or overpaying for veterans on the free-agent market. From 1997-98 to 2003-04, the Rangers never fell outside the NHL’s top four teams in payroll dollars spent, yet never had a season with a winning record. Smith was fired after a disappointing 1999-2000 campaign that saw New York finish 12 points out of the playoffs, but his successor, Glen Sather, didn’t fare better, missing the postseason himself in each of the next four seasons.Both the Canadiens and Rangers were afterthoughts in the 2000s. But both teams began to turn their fortunes around after a lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 schedule and radically shifted the game’s economic landscape.Under the league’s new salary-cap system (and with the loonie gaining strength), Montreal steadily began to spend more on payroll, cracking the top 10 once more in 2006-07, and the top five in 2008-09. And while the Rangers initially spent huge sums of money on their players,17They led the league in payroll during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. Sather began reducing the team’s payroll in 2010 — dropping out of the top five for the first time in at least 20 years, followed by a 14th-place payroll ranking in 2011-12 and a 19th-place ranking this year.The Rangers’ sudden, unprecedented reduction in payroll coincided with a newfound commitment to youth. After ranking among the league’s oldest teams each season going back to the early 1990s, New York transitioned to become one of the youngest squads in 2008-09, jettisoning aging stars like Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and Martin Straka. This year, the Rangers’ only major contributors over 3018According to Modified Point Shares. are Henrik Lundqvist, 31, and Brad Richards, 33. And the team’s recent draft classes have supplied the Rangers with a host of talented youngsters such as Derek Stepan, Michael Del Zotto, Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin. (Undrafted free-agent gems like Mats Zuccarello help, too.)In a similar vein, one of the biggest ingredients of Montreal’s turnaround has been a successful series of drafts by general managers Andre Savard, Bob Gainey and Pierre Gauthier, beginning in 200219Hey, Chris Higgins was a solid No. 14 pick. and cresting with strong hauls in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Under their stewardship, the team made a number of shrewd selections, like P.K. Subban at No. 43, Max Pacioretty at No. 22, Brendan Gallagher at No. 147 and Carey Price at No. 5. (Other 2013-14 Habs key players procured via the draft include Andrei Markov — a relic of the Houle era — and Tomas Plekanec.) All those players’ careers have exceeded what could reasonably have been expected from their draft positions.Those picks may have been plain old luck — the year-to-year correlation for teams’ per-pick draft efficiency is very nearly zero, suggesting drafting skill is largely random in hockey, just as it is in football. Regardless, Montreal and New York still brought themselves back into relevance.None of this guarantees a Stanley Cup this year. The winner of the Eastern Conference finals will face either the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, or the Los Angeles Kings, who are the best possession team in hockey. Neither the Canadiens nor the Rangers has looked especially dominant in the playoffs thus far, aside from the Rangers’ pasting of the Canadiens in Game 1. Both teams needed Game 7s to squeak past their opponents in the conference semifinals, and the Rangers needed that many to top the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, too. During the regular season, the Canadiens were not a strong possession team, still a major leading indicator of future team success.Despite all of those caveats, it’s notable that one of these two teams is guaranteed a place in the final. Each lost its way during the previous decade, but by successfully rebuilding through the draft and not throwing good money after bad, they’ve provided a road map for once-proud franchises to get back on the path to the Stanley Cup. read more