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NHL, news: Nathan Walker, Washington Capitals, Ice Hockey Classic

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THINGS must seem strangely normal for Nathan Walker right now.

Playing for the Hershey Bears, chasing his NHL dream, just like he has since he was a boy.

As a 13 year-old Aussie boy, lying in bed in a strange Czech town, he probably dreamt about scoring a goal in the big show.

Maybe Nate imagined a ‘triple deke’ (like Charlie Conway in any of the three awesome Mighty Ducks movies) followed by a backhander top shelf past the goaltender.

He probably never envisaged scoring his first NHL goal off his backside.

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Gritty: The story behind sports’ greatest mascot, Philadelphia Flyers’ nightmare fuel creation

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The new Flyers mascot had just destroyed the set of the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Within seconds of being unleashed, he headed straight for Questlove’s drum set and started tossing his sticks across the room. As Fallon and Ricky Gervais attempted to dance to Boyz II Men, the bizarre, orange, bearded, googly eyed creature cut in and started an all-out brawl with the two comedians.

Later, as he left 30 Rock in full costume and headed to his chartered helicopter — yes, a mascot for a hockey team had his own helicopter waiting for him — the all-seeing eyes of TMZ had caught wind of his location. They chased him down the street, screaming his name:

“Gritty! Gritty!”

Within three days of his creation, Gritty had become a sensation. But where did he come from? And what the hell is he?

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NHL expansion, Seattle NHL team, 32nd franchise, NHL realignment, SuperSonics

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Seattle is getting a National Hockey League team. It will just have to wait a little bit longer to drop the puck.

The NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved adding Seattle as the league’s 32nd franchise on Tuesday, with play set to begin in 2021 instead of 2020 to allow enough time for arena renovations.

The as-yet unnamed franchise will be the Emerald City’s first major winter sports team since the NBA’s SuperSonics left town in 2008.

“Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

“Expanding to Seattle makes the National Hockey League more balanced, even more whole and even more vibrant. A team in Seattle evens the number of teams in our two conferences, brings our geographic footprint into greater equilibrium and creates instant new rivalries out west, particularly between Seattle and Vancouver.”

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Stanley Cup: Washington Capitals defeat Las Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 to win first title

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AFTER 43 seasons, the Washington Capitals are finally sitting on top of hockey.

Lars Eller broke a tie with 7:37 to play, and the Capitals raised the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history after a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 on Thursday night.

Devante Smith-Pelly tied it with a full-stretch goal midway through the final period of the Capitals’ fourth consecutive victory over the Golden Knights, whose incredible expansion season finally ended in the desert.

So did the Capitals’ agonizing wait for their first championship since the franchise’s debut in 1974. After so many years of postseason flops and crushing disappointment, these Capitals won their fourth consecutive closeout game with a tenacious third-period comeback.

Captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored an early power-play goal and was the playoff MVP, and his teammates are Washington’s first championship hockey team – and the city’s first champion in a major pro sport since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in early 1992.

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