Welcome Connor McDavid – from an Edmonton Oilers Fan


Connor McDavid – #97 for the Edmonton Oilers

On Saturday afternoon I turned on the TV to watch some NHL Playoff hockey forgetting that the NHL was conducting their Lottery Draft on this day.  I was like cool; this year’s draft is slated to be one of the best in recent memory so I wanted to check it out.  Prior to the lottery draft starting I mentioned to my wife about all of the hype around Connor McDavid and that he would most likely be going to either the Buffalo Sabres or Arizona Coyotes.  I happen to be a lifelong fan of the Edmonton Oilers (and it has been a difficult past decade to say the least).  I told my wife that I would cry if the Oilers won the draft lottery.  So then NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly came on and they start the draft process… “Boston retains the 14th overall selection; Los Angeles will retain their 13th selection in the NHL draft…”  The entire process played out as expected as Mr. Daly announced that the Carolina Hurricanes would retain their fifth overall selection.  Then something inside me went, “the Oilers are going to do it, they are going to get the first overall pick”.  The next few seconds seemed like an out of body experience, when Bill Daly announced that that the Edmonton Oilers have been awarded the first overall pick in this June’s draft I was like “holy F**k, they did it, they actually did it.”  I can honestly say that I was totally shocked.  Unbelievable.  I could not believe it.  I was shocked, angry, excited, dumbfounded and relieved all at the same time.  Shocked just because this was entirely unexpected, angry because as a long-time Oiler fan to see how management has run this team into the ground and to be rewarded a “generational hockey talent” and another number one pick just didn’t seem right, excited because this is a highly touted, perhaps once in a lifetime pick that we are talking about, dumbfounded as to how the NHL could let this happen and relieved because a part of me felt that teams that purposely tanked (see Buffalo and Arizona) did not get rewarded for throwing the towel in.  Of course once it was announced that the Oilers had won the first overall pick a social media firestorm started.

FACT #1: The Edmonton Oilers won the NHL draft lottery on Saturday, giving them the opportunity to pick OHL phenom Connor McDavid in June.  This marks the fourth time in six years that the also-ran Oilers will receive the top pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

FACT #2: Hockey fans can be a fickle bunch.  If you go any hockey message board you will see hockey debating who is the better team, who is the better player and which trades they would make if they were the General Manager of their favorite teams.  While you see a lot of debate, you can also see a lot of ignorance.  As Taylor Swift said, “the haters are going to hate, hate, hate.”  Some of the commentary that I was hearing or reading was quite brutal to be honest.  People are talking about conspiracy theories and about how the draft lottery needs to be changed (and you get bet that they will change it again).  Noted hockey blogger Greg Wyshynski (aka Puck Daddy) over at Yahoo Sports had some unimpressive things to say about the event:

  • The horrific looks that hung on the faces of Gary Bettman and Bill Daly told us everything, after it was revealed that the League’s next can’t-miss superstar will be crushed under an avalanche of poor management, apathy for the market and sub-zero temperatures for the next 15 years.  – I’ll give you the poor management thing but apathy for the market?
  • Edmonton was, without much debate, the last place the NHL wanted Connor McDavid. – Really how do you know that for a fact? Body language?  Yeah the kid wanted to play in either Buffalo or Toronto.  However are we forgetting that this is a draft?  “Pulling a Lindros” aside, players do not get to pick where they get drafted.  The whole Lindros vs, Quebec thing was bad for hockey then and it’s bad for hockey now.
  • So while much like Connor McDavid himself, we would do anything in our power to take the top pick away from the Edmonton Oilers, this “conspiracy theory” or ineptitude isn’t enough to have forced a redraw. – Really? Connor McDavid would like to take the top pick away from the Edmonton Oilers?  Sorry Greg, I didn’t see the interview where he communicated this?

 

Or how about this post entitled “Connor McDavid Loses 2015 NHL Draft Lottery” where the author states “The much-hailed franchise player is the big loser in today’s NHL Draft Lottery festivities, being exiled to the moribund Edmonton Oilers.”  Comments from the post such as “While there is still a tiny flicker of hope that the Oilers will screw this pick up” or “… A guy like McDavid, you could really build a flawed, perennially-underachieving team around him for the next 10 years” illustrate the “hate” for the Oilers. Yes we know that the Oilers franchise has been mismanaged for years but let’s remember three key things:

  1. If the Leafs won the lottery, McDavid would be going to a team that has not won the Stanley Cup since 1967. That was before the first man walked on the moon.
  2. If the Sabres won the lottery, McDavid would be going to a team that has NEVER won the Stanley Cup. Not once since their inception in the NHL in 1970.
  3. If Arizona won the draft lottery, Connor McDavid would be going to a team that in all fairness will most likely be relocated within a matter of years.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers JerseyAs poorly managed as the Oilers are (and let’s be honest, if Lowe and Mac T screw this up their days have to be numbered in the NHL) the Oilers have in fact acquired some great young talent at the forward position.  The trouble is that they need to improve at the defense and goaltending positions.  Regardless you can despise the Oilers all you want, you can hate the draft lottery process all you want, but Connor McDavid if he comes as advertised may in fact take the Oilers to the Promise land and another Stanley Cup.  Kids dream of playing in the NHL and winning the Stanley Cup.  Yes Connor was probably initially disappointed and perhaps shocked that the Oilers would be picking first overall in the June draft, but give it a couple of years he just might be hoisting The Holy Grail, Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head in the NHL’s most northern hockey market.

In an article from the Edmonton Sun, Sherry Bassin, current owner and GM of the Erie Otters (McDavid’s current junior team) who in a strange twist of fate is “currently embroiled in a $4.5 million lawsuit involving a $5 million loan to the junior franchise from Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz that is currently before the courts.”  Had these things to say:

“He (McDavid) was just quoted saying the last three years in Erie have been the best three years of his life. I expect him to say the same thing about Edmonton for the next 15 years.”

“I don’t know how you measure winning this lottery that they won. You put that new building they got coming and now Connor McDavid coming, too? What a combination that’s going to be.”

“Everybody knows how good of a hockey player he is. He’s a better person than he is a hockey player.”NHL Draft 2015

That last statement by Bassen suggests to me that Connor McDavid will not pull an Eric Lindros when the Oilers call his name at the draft in Florida in June.  The media has hyped this kid.  To be honest I have only seen a few highlight clips so I’m not even sure about how good he is, but when Wayne Gretzky says that Connor McDavid is the best prospect to come along in 30 years, you have to believe that this is one special player.

So no doubt Connor McDavid is a special player but to hear people slam the Edmonton Oilers for winning the draft lottery is just down right annoying.  I, as a long time Oilers fan, do not feel that the poor management team of the Oilers namely Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish deserve the riches of a generational player like McDavid, but the Edmonton Oilers won the draft lottery.  So to hear hockey writers such as Steve Simmons who stated “There is a reason that he looked unhappy, it’s because he was unhappy. He did the stiff upper lip, ‘I’m not going to say anything and I’m not going to come out and say what’s on my mind.’ This isn’t where Connor McDavid wanted to be drafted to.” and Michael Farber who stated, “He just looked so unhappy, he couldn’t even fake being happy about the Oilers.” is just disappointing.

For me as a hockey fan and a fan of the Edmonton Oilers I feel I deserve this.  The Oilers have been a cursed team since June 2006 when Chris Pronger wanted out of Edmonton mere days after losing game seven of the Stanley Cup finals to the Carolina Hurricanes.  I joke with my wife that I still lose sleep over that.  But now it seems as though the curse is finally over.  The Hockey Gods are starting to look favorably at the Edmonton Oilers.  And while the vast majority of you may not be happy with the Oilers winning the first overall selection (and you have to think that includes some NHL brass who are seeing McDavid potential go to a small market Canadian team in the West) my faith has been restored in a team that has honestly sucked the life out of me for the past nine years.  I am happy for guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.  I’m happy for other Oilers’ fans who have had to endure what we have over the past decade.  I’m happy for Connor McDavid and his family as the young men prepares for a life of professional hockey in the greatest League in the world.

In case you missed it, hee is a clip of the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery:

More about Connor McDavid, the NHL Draft Lottery and the Edmonton Oilers

2015 NHL Draft Lottery Odds – http://www.tsn.ca/2015-nhl-draft-lottery-odds-1.235943 

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2015/04/20/dont-expert-connor-mcdavid-to-pull-a-lindros-and-refuse-to-report-to-the-edmonton-oilers-tsns-mckenzie-has-reported/

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2015/04/19/national-sports-network-decries-connor-mcdavid-going-to-a-smaller-canadian-market-outside-the-mainstream-of-the-league/

http://www.tsn.ca/2015-nhl-draft-lottery-odds-1.235943

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/will-oilers-break-through-with-connor-mcdavid/

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/juniors/gretzky-agrees-mcdavid-is-better-than-crosby/

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/nhl-should-have-thrown-the-maple-leafs-a-mcbone/ http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/oilers-strike-it-rich-in-2015-nhl-lottery-draft/ http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/mcdavid-talks-about-the-honour-of-potentially-becoming-an-oiler/

Connor McDavid Erie Otters

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2015 NHL Playoff Predictions


The 2015 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin today and as we do every year, the Hockey Fanatic is pleased to make our predictions for which team will win the Stanley Cup.  With the help of NHL.com’s bracket challenge, here is a look at who we think will win the 2015 Stanley Cup.

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Predictions

While I really would like a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, I am predicting an Original Six Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers.  The Hawks will capture another championship.  Now there are a few teams in the West who may have something to say about this namely the St.Louis Blues and the Winnipeg Jets who for me could be the dark horse of this year`s Playoffs.  On the East Side, Montreal, Tampa Bay and for some reason I feel the Ottawa Senators all have a great chance of getting to the Finals.

My dream matchup for the Stanley Cup Finals?  Probably the Winnipeg Jets vs. Ottawa Senators, or the Jets vs. Montreal Canadiens or the Jets vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.  It begins tonight, like many hockey fans we cannot wait.  Good luck to all of the sixteen teams who qualified for the post season.
2015 Stanley Cup Predictions

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Hockey Fanatic 2014-2015 Year-End NHL Awards


Well as another NHL regular season has come to an end, we thought that it would be fun to give out The Hockey Fanatics awards for performance based on efforts from the 2014-2015 NHL regular season.  Normally the hockey writers focus on activity from out East, but we have selected the top performers and a few underachievers from the past season.

2014-15 NHL Awards

The Martin Brodeur Award – Top Goalie

Western Conference:  Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild
Eastern Conference: Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens

The Bob Gainey Award – Top Defensive Forward

Western Conference:  Johnathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference: Max Pacioretty – Montreal Canadiens

The Paul Coffey Award – Top Offensive Defenseman

Western Conference:  Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
Eastern Conference: Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators

The Teemu Selanne Award – Most Exciting Player

Western Conference:  Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
Eastern Conference: John Tavares – New York Islanders

The Mark Messier Award – Top Captain Leadership Award

Western Conference:  Johnathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference: Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals

The Cam Neely Award – Top Power Forward

Western Conference:  Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks
Eastern Conference: Chris Kreider – New York Rangers

The Wayne Gretzky Award – Most Points

Western Conference:  Jamie Benn – Dallas Stars
Eastern Conference: John Taveres – New York Islanders

The Marty St. Louis Award – Most Surprising Player

Western Conference:  Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild
Eastern Conference: Scott Hartnell – Columbus Blue Jackets

The Edmonton Oilers of the Eighties Award – Most Exciting Team to Watch

Western Conference:  Winnipeg Jets
Eastern Conference: Ottawa Senators

The Toronto Maple Leafs Post 1967 Award – Most Disappointing Team to Watch

Western Conference:  Edmonton Oilers
Eastern Conference: Toronto Maple Leafs

The Patrick Stefan Award – Most Disappointing Effort

Western Conference:  Dustin Brown – Los Angeles Kings / Ben Scrivens – Edmonton Oilers (tie)
Eastern Conference: Vincent Lecavalier – Philadelphia Flyers

The Charlie Huddy Award – Unsung Hero

Western Conference:  Joe Thornton – San Jose Sharks
Eastern Conference: Kyle Turris – Ottawa Senators

The Alexander Daigle Award – Most Overrated Player

Western Conference:  Dustin Brown – Los Angeles Kings
Eastern Conference: Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins

The Scotty Bowman Award – Top Coach

Western Conference:  Paul Maurice – Winnipeg Jets
Eastern Conference: Alain Vigneault – New York Rangers

The Bryan Murray Award – Top GM

Western Conference:  Kevin Cheveldayoff – Winnipeg Jets / Brad Treliving – Calgary Flames (tie)
Eastern Conference: Bryan Murray – Ottawa Senators

The Bob Probert Award – Toughest Player

Western Conference:  Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
Eastern Conference: Scott Hartnell – Columbus Blue Jackets

The Broad Street Bullies Award – Toughest Team to Play Against

Western Conference:  Winnipeg Jets
Eastern Conference: New York Rangers

The Joe Sakic Award – Most Gentlemanly Player

Western Conference:  Daniel Sedin – Vancouver Canucks
Eastern Conference: Mark Stone – Ottawa Senators

The Trevor Linden Award – Most Popular Player

Western Conference:  Johnathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference: Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens

The Grant Fuhr Award – Most Exciting Goalie Award

Western Conference:  Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild
Eastern Conference: Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens

The Luc Robitaille Award – Most Underrated Player

Western Conference:  Jiri Hudler – Calgary Flames
Eastern Conference: Roberto Luongo – Florida Panthers

The Comeback Award – Most improved Player

Western Conference:  Ryan Nugent Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers / Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild (tie)
Eastern Conference: Nick Foligno – Columbus Blue Jackets

The Ray Bourque Award – Top Rookie

Western Conference:  Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
Eastern Conference: Mark Stone – Ottawa Senators

The Golden Brett Award – Top Goal Scorer

Western Conference:  Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
Eastern Conference: Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals

The Bobby Orr Award – Top Defensemen Award

Western Conference:  Dennis Wideman – Calgary Flames
Eastern Conference: Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators

The Jean Beliveau Award – All-Around Effort

Western Conference:  Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild
Eastern Conference: John Tavares – New York Islanders

The Gordie Howe Award – Top Overall Player

Western Conference:  Jamie Benn – Dallas Stars
Eastern Conference: Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens Team to Beat Award – Most Likely to Win the Stanley Cup

Western Conference:  Chicago Blackhawks
Eastern Conference: New York Rangers

We will have our Stanley Cup Playoff predictions for you coming up shortly.

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Top NHL Headlines of the Week


As the NHL trade deadline approaches, we examine some of the top NHL headlines leading up to what we feel may be a quiet trade deadline this season.  Let’s hope some NHL GMs prove us wrong and make a few old fashioned hockey trades.

  1. Canadian NHL teams are not a preferred destination for many NHLer’s – ok tell us something we didn’t know. This is unfortunate and a reason why the Canadian teams have not been able to be regular Cup contenders in recent years.  Definite impact on potential trades for teams like the Oilers, Jets, Sens and Leafs.  According to an interesting report from ESPN’s Craig Custance, four of the top five teams on NHL players’ no-trade list are located in Canada.
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins showing the wrong kind of fight – the Pens have struggled a little as of late.  As Sportsnet reported, “Frustrated and fed up, Sidney Crosby encouraged Brandon Dubinsky to drop the gloves. The Columbus Blue Jackets centre and frequent tormentor of the Pittsburgh Penguins star eagerly obliged. The fight was a draw. The game was not. Dubinsky’s stick – and not his fists – provided the technical knockout.”
  3. Edmonton Oilers win epic shootout to earn first win vs Bruins since 2001 – twenty four shooters and only one goal.  Oilers defencemen Martin Marincin was the only goal scorer in a 12-round shootout between Edmonton and the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.  The Oilers first win over the Bruins in 13 games.
  4. The NHL added advanced stats on its website – I’m an online marketing guy so I look at analytics daily so I wasn’t surprised upon hearing news that the NHL has finally added advanced stats on their flagship web property.  The league announced Friday it is overhauling the statistics on its website to include advanced metrics. The multiyear partnership with software and database company SAP eventually will include searchable statistics dating to the league’s inaugural season in 1917-18. There will be 45 enhanced statistics that have grown increasingly popular in recent years by those in search of advanced metrics to measure possession and other facets of the game beyond goals and assists. The overhaul will be done in four phases, a process that started Friday with the addition of advanced statistics to the league’s website.
  5. Rookie goalie nets first career win vs. Habs – Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond to talk about earning his first career NHL win against the Montreal Canadiens.  Andrew Hammond made 42 saves in his first NHL start and led the Ottawa Senators to a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night.

A big weekend with the NHL Stadium series continuing with the Los Angeles Kings taking on the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

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Top 14 Hockey Stories of 2014


Today is the final day of 2014 and what a year it was.  As we enter 2015 hockey tournaments are in fill force throughout the world, the NHL has resumed after their Christmas break and the NHL’s Winter Classic is amongst us.  We’ve seen epic comebacks, trials and tribulations and in some cases we have seen epic failure (read: Edmonton Oilers).  Regardless 2014 was an exciting year to be a hockey fan.  Here is a look back at some of the top stories from 2014.

Top 14 Hockey Stories of 2014

  1. The Passing of Jean Beliveau – famed Montreal Canadien Jean Beliveau passed away on December 2, 2014.  Tributes and memories of one of the games greatest players continue to pour in.  Jean Believeau was rated #10 in out top hockey players of all-time perhaps he should be higher on the list for his contributions to the game of hockey.  A winner of 10 Stanley Cup trophies, Mr. Beliveau was an even greater gentleman than he was a hockey player.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a hockey historian himself, issued a statement and offered his condolences. “Mr. Béliveau will be remembered as a hockey giant who inspired a nation with his outstanding skill, humility and pure love of the game… His legacy lives on in the records he set, the legions of hockey players that he inspired, and the deep love he shared with his home province of Quebec.”  A true gentleman of the game on and off of the ice.  CBC Tribute.
  2. Canada wins Double Olympic Gold in Sochi, Russia – both the men’s and women’s team won Olympic Gold at the Winter Olympics in Russia in February.  The Women’s team did in in very impressive manner as they beat the favored team from the US. Canada's Women Hockey Gold
  3. The Los Angeles Kings win their second Stanley Cup in three years – The Kings came back down three games to zero in the first round vs. the San Jose Sharks and never looked back.  They needed two more Game 7 wins (against Anaheim in the second round and Chicago in the Western Conference Final) before moving on to the Stanley Cup Final where they won their second Stanley Cup in a three-year stretch in 2014 when they defeated the New York Rangers on an Alec Martinez Game 5 overtime goal.
  4. The utter collapse of the Edmonton Oilers – since losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup finals in 2006, the Oilers have missed the post season for 8 straight years and with only 8 wins this season will miss the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season.  This team is in disarray having fired yet another coach in Dallas Eakins.  There is a lot of talent being trained to lose.  What is wrong with the Edmonton Oilers?  Too many things to mention as we evaluated hereOilers Jersey on Ice
  5. NHL Broadcasts in Canada switch to Rogers – in a move that made many hockey fans cringe, Rogers Sportnet basically owns hockey viewership in Canada after Rogers acquired rights to all NHL hockey broadcasts in Canada. In November 2013 the League announced a landmark 12-year, $5.2-billion national broadcast rights and multimedia agreement in Canada with Rogers Communications. The deal includes all national rights to NHL games on all platforms in all languages, marking the first time in history a North American professional sports league has granted all of its national rights to one company long-term.  Hockey Night in Canada remains a shell of its former self.  It’s just not fan coming from this hockey fan.
  6. The Retirement of Teemu Selanne – The Finnish Flash finished his last NHL season in 2014.  Teemu Selanne retired sitting 15th with 1,457 points and 11th with 684 goals.
  7. Ex-NHLers continue lawsuit against NHL over concussions – what started in 2014 continued this past year as ten former National Hockey League players, including All-Star forward Gary Leeman, claimed in a class-action lawsuit that the league hasn’t done enough to protect players from concussions.
  8. The retirement of Saku Koivu – sad to see a player of this calibre retire as Saku Koivu retired this past season after 18 years in the NHL.
  9. The Retirement of Ryan Smyth – I must admit a few tears were shed over this one as Edmonton Oiler great Ryan Smyth announced his retirement from the game.  Oilers management did not do much to make Smyth’s last games memorable as the Oilers woes continued in 2014.  Possibly the greatest Edmonton Oiler of all time.
  10. Finland wins 2014 WJHC – Finland defeated host team Sweden in the final 3–2 in overtime and won their first gold medal since 1998.
  11. Vancouver ends their goaltending debacle – Remember when the Vancouver Canucks had themselves a goaltending problem with too much good goaltending in Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo? What a botched job Mike Gillis had on his hands.  Gillis then pulled off a shocker at the 2013 NHL Draft by trading Cory Schneider, not Roberto Luongo, to the New Jersey Devils. Luongo and his seemingly unmoveable contract was set to play out the rest of his career with the Canucks.  Luongo even stated that his “contract sucks”.  Gillis would shock the hockey world once again at the 2014 trade deadline by trading Luongo (and Steven Anthony) to the Florida Panthers for forward Shawn Matthias and goaltender Jacob Markstrom.  Then via free agency the Canucks picked up Ryan Miller who has performed remarkably for the Canucks this season.
  12. The issue of diving gets more attention – The Nashville Predators’ James Neal was the first NHL player to be fined and publicly named for diving — but there’s a good chance he won’t be the last.  In an effort to eliminate diving from hockey, the league revised its protocol when it comes to punishment. As per the recently revised rule, players will receive a warning along with a $1,000 fine for their first diving offence. Any further cases will be met with a $2,000 fine as well as the player’s name being released.  Diving is big news.  NHL Diving
  13. Mumps Outbreak in the NHL – a number of players including the Penguins Sidney Crosby have contacted the mumps in an early season outbreak.
  14. The Edmonton Oil Kings win the Memorial Cup – well at least there was some hockey supremacy in Edmonton this season.  The Edmonton Oil Kings win their first Memorial Cup in modern franchise history with a dramatic 6-3 win over Guelph.  Edmonton was playing two days after winning the longest game in Memorial Cup history, needing three overtimes to beat the Val-d’Or Foreurs in the semifinal Friday.  Guelph led 2-1 after one period, but Edmonton scored three times in the second to take a 4-2 lead and won 6-3 over the OHL representative.

As a bonus here is a look at some of the Gross Moments from the NHL courtesy of Sportsnet.  Check this out for some memorable moments.

Some great moments and some truly sad moments made 2014 a year to remember in the hockey world.

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