Flames sign T.J. Brodie to 5-year extension (The Associated Press)

October 20 2014 01:37PM

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- The Calgary Flames have signed defenseman T.J. Brodie to a five-year contract extension.

Calgary Flames sign defenceman T.J. Brodie to five-year contract extension

October 20 2014 01:05PM

CALGARY - The Calgary Flames have signed defenceman T.J. Brodie to a five-year contract extension.

Brodie is in the final year of a two-year deal signed in 2013 which paid him an average annual salary of $2.1 million.

The 24-year-old from ...

T.J. Brodie to sign 5-year deal with Flames (Puck Daddy)

October 19 2014 08:53PM

T.J. Brodie’s going to get paid, and rightfully so. Elliotte Friedman reports that Brodie, 24, is going to ink a 5-year, $23.25-million contract extension with the Calgary Flames. He had six points in his first six games for the Flames this season, after getting 31 in 81 games in 2013-14. He averaged 24:04 last season on average, up nearly four minutes per game over the previous lockout-shortened season.  That $4.65 million cap beginning in 2015-16 slots him right below Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers ($4.7 million). Hopefully he buys Mark Giordano a steak dinner or something, considering that veteran’s impact on Brodie, who was second to Gio in Corsi relative to quality of competition last season.

U.S.-led strike on Islamic State-held gas facility in eastern Syria kills 8

October 18 2014 11:03AM


MUSITPINAR, TURKEY—A U.S.-led coalition airstrike on a gas distribution facility in an eastern Syrian stronghold of the Islamic State group set off a series of secondary explosions and killed at least eight people, activists said Saturday.

The airstrike targeted a distribution station in the town of Khasham in the oil-rich province of Deir el-Zour late Friday, Deir el-Zour Free Radio, an activist collective, said on its Facebook page. The collective named four of those killed and said another four charred bodies were placed in a nearby mosque. It said the slain men were mostly fuel tanker drivers.

Another activist group, the Deir el-Zour Network, described “long tongues of flames” from the strike. The incident was also reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition has aggressively targeted Islamic State-held oil facilities in Syria, which provide a key source of income for the militants. But such strikes also endanger civilians, which could undermine long-term efforts to destroy the group.

Other airstrikes late Friday targeted oil wells in the Deir el-Zour province, the activists said.

There was no immediate comment by the U.S. military.

The U.S.-led coalition began a bombing campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria in late September after striking at the extremists in neighbouring Iraq, where they also hold swaths of territory.

In recent days, much of the coalition’s strikes have focused around the Syrian border town of Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, which militants have been trying to seize since mid-September.

On Saturday, a coalition airstrike on the town sent a huge plume of black smoke into the sky. Gun and mortar fire in the town echoed across the border in Turkey.

Idriss Nassan, a senior Kobani official, said the airstrikes had helped halt the advance of the militants. But he said the Kurdish fighters defending Kobani would need more weapons and ammunition to save the town.

“Airstrikes are not enough,” said Nassan. “It’s reduced ISIS, but it’s not enough to defeat them,” he said, using another acronym for the Islamic State.

The Kurdish forces’ efforts to rearm have been stymied by Turkey, which has long viewed the main Kurdish fighting force in Kobani — the People’s Protection Units, or YPG — with suspicion over its links to the Kurdish PKK insurgent group operating in Turkey. Turkey has also demanded that the coalition widen its campaign against the Islamic State group by providing greater aid to Syrian rebels, who are battling both the extremist group and President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Syrian government airstrikes on a rebel-held town near Damascus killed at least 16 people, activists said Saturday, as part of intensified efforts by government forces to secure approaches to the capital.

At least five strikes targeted the town of Douma on Friday evening, said local activist Hassan Taqulden and the Britain-based Observatory. The bombs killed at least three children and one woman, said the Observatory.

“There are people under the rubble and we can’t help them,” Taqulden said. An online video purportedly showing the aftermath of the strikes showed a bloodied little girl with a bandage around her head and a toddler on a hospital cot. The video appeared genuine and was consistent with Associated Press reporting.

Syrian state media said late Friday that government forces had attacked “terrorists” in Douma. The government routinely refers to rebels as terrorists, and does not acknowledge civilian casualties.

Syria’s air force stepped up its bombing of Douma over the past three months as part of a broader battle to assert government control around Damascus and prevent rebels from staging attacks from the city’s outskirts. Rebel attacks have also killed scores of civilians.

Activists say Syria’s three-year civil war has killed more than 200,000 people.

Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets hold off Flames 3-2 (The Associated Press)

October 17 2014 08:04PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Jack Skille, Ryan Johansen and Matt Calvert scored goals and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 shots to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Friday night.

Sergei Bobrovsky has 29 saves, helps Blue Jackets hold off Flames 3-2

October 17 2014 07:55PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Jack Skille, Ryan Johansen and Matt Calvert scored goals and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 shots to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Friday night.

Calgary trailed 3-0 when Mason Raymond broke up the...

Canada’s inflation rate falls, as furniture, digital equipment get cheaper

October 17 2014 06:46AM

OTTAWA—Canada’s annual inflation rate was 2.0 per cent in September, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The country’s cost of living had been up 2.1 per cent in the months of August and in July, according to the federal agency’s consumer price index.

The report says prices rose in all consumer categories it looks at in the 12 months leading up to September, with higher housing and food prices leading the way.

The inflation rate for September matched the consensus expectations of economists, according to Thomson Reuters.

Statistics Canada says shelter costs climbed 2.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis, an increase led by a 16.2 per cent gain in natural gas prices. Food prices also went up 2.7 per cent in September, which followed an increase of 2.2 per cent in August.

Contributors to the year-over-year increase included meat at 11.5 per cent, cigarettes at 11.4 per cent and telephone services at 7.6 per cent.

Prices increased in all provinces, with Ontario and Alberta seeing the biggest gains of 2.6 per cent each.

***

Here’s what happened in the provinces and territories. (Previous month in brackets):

Newfoundland and Labrador 2.0 (2.5)

Prince Edward Island 1.2 (1.2)

Nova Scotia 1.7 (1.9)

New Brunswick 1.4 (1.5)

Quebec 1.6 (1.6)

Ontario 2.6 (2.5)

Manitoba 1.5 (1.5)

Saskatchewan 2.2 (2.7)

Alberta 2.6 (2.6)

British Columbia 1.2 (1.4)

Whitehorse, Yukon 0.7 (0.8)

Yellowknife, N.W.T., 1.8 (1.9)

Iqaluit, Nunavut 1.1 (1.3)

The agency also released rates for major cities but cautioned that figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples:

St. John’s, N.L., 1.9 (2.5)

Charlottetown-Summerside, 1.1 (1.3)

Halifax, 1.7 (2.0)

Saint John, N.B., 1.3 (1.5)

Quebec, 1.6 (1.6)

Montreal, 1.9 (1.8)

Ottawa, 2.3 (2.2)

Toronto, 2.7 (2.6)

Thunder Bay, 2.5 (2.4)

Winnipeg, 1.5 (1.5)

Regina, 2.2 (2.7)

Saskatoon, 2.1 (2.6)

Edmonton, 2.2 (2.2)

Calgary, 3.2 (3.2)

Vancouver, 1.3 (1.4)

Victoria, 1.2 (1.3)

***

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada found price drops on goods such as furniture at 4.1 per cent, digital computing equipment and devices at 5.9 per cent, and video equipment at 7.4 per cent.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Canada’s cost of living was up 0.2 per cent in September after increasing 0.1 per cent in August.

Core inflation, a figure that excludes some items from the volatile food and energy categories, was 2.1 per cent in September.

In August, core inflation, which is followed closely by the Bank of Canada, was also 2.1 per cent.

Country music star George Canyon named anthem singer for Calgary Flames

October 16 2014 02:15PM

CALGARY - Country music artist George Canyon will sing the Canadian anthem at Calgary Flames games this season.

Canyon, a Juno and Canadian Country Music Association Award winner, replaces Heather Liscano. She recently announced she would be ...

Flames-Blue Jackets Preview (The Associated Press)

October 16 2014 10:50AM

Calgary Flames goaltenders have been mostly up to the task while facing plenty of shots.

Flames-Blue Jackets Preview (The Associated Press)

October 16 2014 10:50AM

Calgary Flames goaltenders have been mostly up to the task while facing plenty of shots.

Why Canada’s energy sector is getting nervous

October 16 2014 09:40AM


Talisman Energy Inc. and Arcan Resources Ltd. are among Canadian energy producers seen by analysts most vulnerable to energy prices sinking near a four-year low as they use debt to embark on new projects.

Companies turning to debt because they don’t have enough cash to fund drilling may have to cut back on expansion plans, analysts and investors said. The S&P/TSX Energy Index has slid 13 per cent this month through yesterday and Brent crude has plummeted 27 per cent from a June 19 high. Oil futures in New York fell below $80 a barrel Thursday for the first time since June 2012.

“You’re in trouble unless you have the cash-flow base like the big guys,” said Sameer Uplenchwar, an analyst at Ghs Securities Canada Ltd. in Calgary. “New projects are more expensive than expanding existing ones.”

Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude prices have fallen as global growth has slowed and supplies have surged in the U.S., helped by new drilling technology. Alberta’s oil-sands and Duvernay shale are among the highest-cost areas in the world to produce. About a quarter of oil-sands projects are at risk as prices fall, the International Energy Agency said Oct. 14.

The oil and natural gas industry is a cornerstone in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s economic policy that he aims to leverage in order to stoke the economy in the years to come. The value of exports of crude oil derived from bitumen has almost doubled to $81.7 billion in 2013 from $42.8 billion in 2009, according to Statistics Canada data.

“The velocity of the downturn has led to profound shell shock,” Eric Nuttall, a portfolio manager at Sprott Asset Management LP in Toronto, said in a phone interview. “If one believes that a prolonged oil price of $80 is sustainable, the most susceptible to further downside are service companies or high-cost oil sands.”

Talisman has the highest projected ratio of debt to cash flow for 2015 among large Canadian producers relative to their global peers, Greg Pardy, a Toronto-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in an Oct. 14 note. Among smaller Canadian energy explorers, Arcan, Argent Energy Trust and Parallel Energy Trust, all based in Calgary, have the highest multiples, he said.

Talisman has sunk 25 per cent in Toronto trading this month through Wednesday, while Arcan has lost 24 per cent and Parallel Energy has shed 18 per cent.

The cost to ensure Talisman’s debt against default has risen 30 basis points in the last week to 222 basis points, the highest in Bloomberg records dating back to 2009 and the most among Canadian energy companies.

“It’s too early to tell what the impact of prices will be on our capital program,” Brent Anderson, a spokesman for Calgary-based Talisman, said in a phone interview. “We’re watching prices, but our 2015 capital plan hasn’t been approved yet.”

Talisman, whose operations span six continents, has been seeking to sell assets to rein in debt after posting losses in three of the past four quarters.

Arcan has protected itself for an oil-price slump with hedging contracts through 2016 and expects oil prices to rise to $130 a barrel within 18 months, President Doug Penner said in a phone interview.

“We are definitely carrying our fair share of debt,” Penner said.

Argent is less affected by the crude price decline than people might think because it has plenty of room left on its credit facility and has 65 per cent of its revenues from oil and gas production secured by fixed hedging contracts, Sean Bovingdon, chief financial officer at Argent, said in a phone interview.

Richard Alexander, president of Parallel Energy, wasn’t available to comment.

Other companies with high levels of debt to cash flow include MEG Energy Corp. and Paramount Resources Ltd., data compiled by Bloomberg show. MEG’s shares have sunk 21 per cent this month through yesterday, while Paramount is down 24 per cent.

Paramount Resources President Jim Riddell wasn’t available to comment. Brad Bellows, a spokesman for MEG Energy, wasn’t available to comment.

Suncor Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc. and other large oil-sands producers have enough production and cash flow that their new projects don’t require as much debt and don’t make up as high a percentage of capital spending, Ghs Securities’ Uplenchwar said. They may even benefit from lower costs if smaller competitors halt projects, reducing demand for equipment and services, he said.

“Suncor is an integrated model and this serves us well under current market conditions,” Michael Lawrence, a company spokesman, said by phone.

To develop the Blackrod oil-sands project using steam technology, Blackpearl Resources Inc. estimates it will spend $37,000 to $42,000 per flowing barrel – a measure of total output over the lifespan of the mine relative to average daily production rates. That compares with about $35,000 for some new Cenovus expansion projects.

Cenovus can operate with WTI at $35 to $65 a barrel and still make a 10 per cent return, according to Reg Curren, a company spokesman.

“The smaller producers are likely to make cuts in areas that are not material or in plays that are less developed,” Guy Baber, an analyst at Simmons & Co. International, said in a phone interview.

While some oil-sands projects are among the most expensive source of crude in the world, the reserves also last for decades and take years to develop, RBC Dominion’s Pardy said in a note to investors yesterday. The likely reaction among Canadian oil- sands operators would be slower development, he said.

“Oil-sands producers, mindful of their financial positions and large capital outlays associated with developments, would likely adopt a more measured and patient approach when it comes to embarking on new projects still in the queue,” he said.

The Canadian dollar is also helping. Canadian energy companies are at an advantage over U.S. peers as the falling price of the nation’s currency boosts the value of exports, Nuttall said.

For the smaller producers, it’s a matter of how long the rout will last.

“The question is: how transitory is this slump in price?” Simmons & Co.’s Baber said. “Prices are now below levels we need to stimulate growth in supply.”

With assistance from Ari Altstedter in Toronto.

Here are the cases for and against fighting in the NHL (NBC on Yahoo Sports)

October 16 2014 09:19AM

During the first intermission of Wednesday’s rivalry night game between the Red Wings and Bruins on NBCSN, studio analysts Mike Milbury and Bob McKenzie had an in-depth and interesting discussion about fighting’s future in the NHL. Watch the video above, or for a different perspective, here’s veteran — and currently unemployed — enforcer Kevin Westgarth, discussing the reduced fisticuffs ( per the Globe and Mail ): Westgarth, a Princeton graduate who played for the Calgary Flames last season and had originally planned to be an orthopedic surgeon before fighting his way up through the minor leagues, says he isn’t willing to pin it down to any one thing. But he believes the trend that saw more than 70 per cent of NHL games go fight-less last season – for only the second time in the past 35 years – is a permanent one. While a few remain, the heavyweights are disappearing. “It most likely will continue,” Westgarth said. “These things have ebbed and flowed in cycles. They’ve been harping on the death of fighting – that’s been 10 years going back, it seems – but this year I’d say with some of the more noteworthy enforcers not finding jobs this year it’s finally happening. “I think we’re all kind of a little in disbelief … Everybody was waiting for that first domino to fall: One team picks up a big guy and then there’s something akin to an arms race. It seems like that first domino never fell this year. “And here we are.” -- Mike Halford, ProHockeyTalk.com

Silence from Nepal is agony for Canadian families

October 16 2014 09:08AM


MONTREAL—The anxiety of two Canadian families waiting for word of loved ones unreachable after a devastating avalanche in the mountains of Nepal came to an end early Thursday morning in the simplest of fashions—a Facebook message.

“Thank you to everyone for all the kind words and prayers, we are safe,” wrote Virginia Schwartz, a 37-year-old trekker from Pontiac, Que., who had been travelling in the region with her 32-year-old friend, Ottawa’s Jane Van Criekingen.

Out of contact since Tuesday’s storm dropped massive amounts of snow and kicked off an unseasonable avalanche, the two women had provided the sign of life that nearly three dozen other Canadian families are now awaiting, according to a list compiled by the Star.

They are from Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and a host of smaller cities that dot the Canadian landscape. Some are young and travelling with friends from around the world. Some are on organized tours. Others are married and have anxious children waiting for a sign of life.

Not getting word yet from hikers believed to have been in the vicinity when the storm hit could be as meaningless as a sign that Internet connections 3,000 metres in the sky are still shaky or that surviving trekkers have scrambled along their routes in search of lodging rather than rush to the nearest Internet cafe.

Schwartz explained in her Facebook post that she and Van Criekingen were trekking out of what is considered to be the avalanche danger zone and taking a different route that should have them reach the town of Pokhara in several days.

Word also came that Montrealer Charles de Courval, who had been travelling with two other men in hardest-hit area, are also safe.

“The group took refuge in a little village. They’re safe and sound, but the route was destroyed,” one of de Courval’s friends, Annie Rodrigue wrote on Facebook. Word came at about 1 a.m. Thursday.

“They are in the village of Koto for those who want to see where that is,” wrote Mathieu Chiasson, another friend. “It’s in an area that was hit hard.”

The Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, which is coordinating rescue efforts in the districts affected by the avalanche, reported Thursday 117 stranded trekkers from the Manang and Mustang districts of the Annapurna region have been rescued.

Among the 77 people rescued from the Nar-Phu and Tilicho Lake were three Canadians who had been touring with the Nepal Hidden Treks and Expedition company. The Canadians were the only ones not to be identified by name or passport number, according to a list published by the rescue coordinators Thursday morning,

But there have also been additional dead bodies discovered in the avalanche zone, meaning that for those without word of family or friends from Nepal, the silence can only amplify the fears.

The Nepalese rescue agency said that the additional dead bodies that have been discovered, include those of at least six foreign travellers, one Nepalese individual and others that have not yet been identified.

Montreal’s La Presse reports that a Canadian tour guide, Sylvie Marois, of Montreal, is among those who have been killed in the avalanche.

There is also concern about the whereabouts of 33-year-old Genevieve Adam from Quebec City. Radio-Canada, speaking to Adam’s uncle, said that the young woman’s group was taking shelter in a tent when the avalanche hit and there is dwindling hope that she will be found alive.

Flames' Jooris recalled; Jones to IR

October 16 2014 09:02AM

CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames announced today that they have recalled forward Josh Jooris from the Adirondack Flames of the American Hockey League.

Jooris, a 24-year-old native of Burlington, Ontario has played both of Adirondack's games th...

Sports Briefing | Hockey: Flames Edge Blackhawks

October 15 2014 11:35PM

Jonas Hiller made 49 saves, and Mikael Backlund scored at 4 minutes 35 seconds of overtime, lifting the Calgary Flames to a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks in Chicago.