Canucks reflect on disappointing season

VANCOUVER – This disappointment feels different to Henrik Sedin.

As the Vancouver Canucks met the media on Monday to reflect on a second spring in three years without playoff hockey, their captain tried to point to the positives of what was a frustrating campaign.

Sedin, who along with twin brother Daniel will be 36 when the puck drops next season, made it clear he remains committed to club’s plan to rebuild by infusing youth into the lineup.

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“We all realize we need to get younger before we get better,” said Henrik Sedin. “The difference this year from maybe two years ago is now we’re on the way up again. Two years ago … I thought as a team we were on the way down. Now we’ve got pieces.”

READ MORE: Better luck next year: Canucks fans wonder if supporting team is worth the price

Those pieces include rookie forwards Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann, first-year defenceman Ben Hutton and second-year centre Bo Horvat. They saw significant ice time, especially when injuries started to decimate the lineup.

But Sedin also cautioned that those young players need veteran support, and that making the playoffs should remain the goal moving forward.

“It’s dangerous to just keep going year after year and thinking about getting a high draft pick,” he said. “We’ve seen other teams not being successful doing that. We have pieces, but now we have to surround them with good players.”

Brandon Sutter, Dan Hamhuis, Alexander Edler and Luca Sbisa — just to name a few — all went down with injuries for a team that wound up finishing 28th in the overall standings with a record of 31-38-13.

“We knew it was going to be tough before the season started,” said Daniel Sedin. “With the injuries it got even tougher, but we saw improvement in the young guys.

“It was exciting to watch.”

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Like his captain, Sutter said the season wasn’t a total loss for the franchise.

“We’re a team that has a good core of players that have been around a while that can play … we’re still in a good spot,” said Sutter, who played just 20 games in his first season with the club thanks to a sports hernia and a broken jaw. “It was a tough year, you can’t really hide that. A year that nobody planned for, nobody wanted, but there were some positives to take out of it.”

With just 75 points — 26 fewer than 2015-16 — the Canucks had their worst season since 1998-99 when they earned just 58 points.

“We had a pretty good season last year,” said No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller, who will turn 36 in July and is entering the final year of his contract. “We were hoping to carry it forward this year. It was a pretty big shock for us to not be as competitive as we had hoped.”

Meanwhile, Henrik Sedin said that head coach Willie Desjardins was “absolutely” the right person to lead the club next season. Both Desjardins and general manager Jim Benning will address the media on Tuesday.

“There’s never been a question about that from this team,” said Sedin. “He’s really good to work with.”

The Canucks enter the off-season with a number of questions marks, including the futures of Hamhuis and Alexandre Burrows.

Hamhuis, 33, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Burrows, who turned 35 on Monday, is a candidate to have the final year of his contract bought out.

“I’d love to be back. Love this city, love this team,” said Burrows. “They want to establish a younger core, but I still feel like I can be an asset and help these guys out.”

Sedin reiterated numerous times on Monday he believes in management’s plan, adding the improvement he saw this year — despite the tumble down the standings — gives him hope.

“It’s hard to lose, no question about that,” he said. “I’m totally confident we’re going to be in a better spot next year. Before we’re done I’m confident we’re going to have another run at it. That’s the way we look at it.”

Note: The Canucks have five players heading to the world hockey championships in Russia. Hutton and fellow defenceman Christopher Tanev will suit up for Canada, while goalie Jacob Markstrom (Sweden), defenceman Yannick Weber (Switzerland) and forward Jannik Hansen (Denmark) have committed to play for their countries.

Enderby high school reopening Tuesday after arson

ENDERBY – School was cancelled for around 230 Enderby high school students Monday after a fire extensively damaged a women’s bathroom at their school on Friday.

Restoration crews worked through the weekend to clean up the damage and A.L. Fortune Secondary is expected to open its doors again Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the police investigation into the fire continues and the RCMP say they have identified a suspect.

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Fire officials were called in just after noon on Friday. When they arrived the fire had been extinguished by the sprinkler system but the washroom was full of smoke.

“There were three kids that were walking down the hallways and could smell smoke and hear a crackling noise,” said Enderby fire chief Kevin Alstad. “They informed one of the teachers who came out and pulled the fire alarm right away.”

The fire chief says there was extensive damage to the washroom, which remained behind plastic sheeting today.

The fire involved a burning toilet paper dispenser in a washroom stall.

“The site of the fire had to be gutted and we had to remove the ceiling tiles and anything that we thought might be smoke-affected,” said school principal Gene Doray.

The cleanup headaches didn’t stop there, the fire and water damage also meant building material with asbestos in it was no longer “encapsulated.”

“In some of the mud for the drywall they found some asbestos and so that is in the process of being removed. We wouldn’t allow people to return unless we were given the thumbs up, said Doray on Monday. “ We are confident tomorrow that we will be returning our students and staff to a safe building.”

When students do go back to class Tuesday, it won’t completely be business as unusual.

The wing of the school where the fire took place will remain closed as cleanup work continues.

The principal says when he talks about the fire with students on Tuesday he’ll have a positive message.

“On a day like tomorrow [I’ll talk] about how to be supportive of one another and what can we do if somebody is struggling,” said Doray.

RCMP say they are still investigating what took place at the school on Friday.

Police have a suspect but aren’t confirming whether he or she is a student at the school and no one is in custody.

RCMP say they still have more interviews to conduct about this case.

The far wall of this classroom received water damage.

Megan Turcato / Global News

When students do go back to class Tuesday, it won’t completely be business as unusual.
This wing of the school, where the fire took place, will remain closed as cleanup work continues.

Megan Turcato / Global News

The fire chief says there was extensive damage to the washroom, which remained behind plastic sheeting today.

The fire involved a burning toilet paper dispenser in a washroom stall.

Megan Turcato / Global News

Accused killer maintains she was not part of any plan to kill Ryan Lane

Sheena Cuthill has spent two full days on the stand, testifying in her own defence. The 30-year-old maintains she was not a part of any plan to kill Ryan Lane.

Cuthill admits there was plan, but says it was simply “to make Ryan walk away.”

She is charged with the kidnapping and first-degree murder of Lane, along with her husband Tim Rempel and his brother Will Rempel.

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    On Monday, Cuthill spent most of the day under cross examination. The Crown didn’t mince words – at one point telling Cuthill not to be cute and to answer the questions.

    She admitted she didn’t want Lane in their daughter’s life and that the little girl already had Tim as her father.

    Cuthill told court the plan was to have her husband approach Lane and intimidate him.

    Cuthill testified she didn’t believe Lane would be hurt.

    “I expected there to be a little rough-housing,” she said. “I was assuming there was going to be some fighting.”

    She also admitted she was in charge of giving the OK for that encounter but didn’t know any further details.

    “That’s all my part was, to say yes,” Cuthill explained.

    “You want us to believe you said yes to something you didn’t know about?” the Crown asked.

    Cuthill replied saying, “You are giving my ‘yes’ more power and authority than it had.”

    READ MORE: Prosecution finishes presenting evidence in Ryan Lane murder trial 

    The Crown kept pushing.

    “You already knew what they were going to do.”

    “No,” Cuthill replied.

    “I suggest you knew they were going to kill Ryan Lane, ” the Crown said to Cuthill.

    “No,” she answered.

    The prosecution also implied she lied when she told Lane’s mother and police she had no idea where Lane was days after he disappeared.

    “I did not know where Ryan was,” Cuthill said.

    The Crown continued.

    “But you had an idea who she [Lane’s mom] could ask?”

    “Yes,” Cuthill replied.

    “That she could ask Tim?” the Crown continued.

    “Yes,” Cuthill answered.

    READ MORE: ‘Can I trust Will to have this done’ – texts between co-accused in Ryan Lane murder trial

    Tim Rempel will testify in his defence beginning Tuesday morning.

American Navy officer accused of espionage; now being held in brig

WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has charged a Taiwan-born Navy officer with espionage for allegedly passing military secrets to China or Taiwan, U.S. defence officials said Monday.

A Navy document that describes multiple charges against Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin accuses him of failing to report foreign contacts and says that on multiple occasions he gave or attempted to give secret national defence information to representatives of a foreign government. Lin is being held in pre-trial confinement in a Navy brig in Virginia.

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Uncensored portions of the charge sheet do not identify the accused, but multiple officials said it is Lin. The document does not reveal whom he is accused of spying for, but officials said the country involved is China or Taiwan, and possibly both. The officials were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

A military hearing was held in Norfolk, Virginia, last Friday. A decision on whether there is enough evidence against Lin to pursue a court-martial, or military trial, will be made by Adm. Philip S. Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command at Norfolk.

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The charges against Lin were first reported Sunday by USNI News, which said he served on some of the Navy’s most sensitive intelligence-gathering aircraft. It said he was a signals intelligence specialist on the Navy’s EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance planes.

The list of charges, a copy of which was provided to The Associated Press, cites two counts of espionage and three of attempted espionage. It says Lin provided or attempted to provide secret national defence information to a representative of a foreign government “with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the advantage of a foreign nation.”

He also is accused of knowingly providing false official statements related to his foreign travel.

An attorney for Lin was not identified.

An official list of Lin’s Navy assignments says he joined the service in December 1999 as an enlisted sailor and attended Navy nuclear training at Charleston, South Carolina, from 2000 to 2002. He then attended Officer Candidate School and gained his commission in May 2002.

READ MORE: China accuses Canadian Kevin Garratt of carrying out spying missions

He served with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 1, based at Whidbey Island, Washington, from 2004 to 2007. Among his other assignments, he attended the Navy War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and served for nearly two years in Washington on the staff of the assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management and comptroller.

His official Navy biography says he was assigned to the Special Projects Patrol Squadron at Kaneohe, Hawaii, from Feb. 15, 2014, to March 25, 2016.

A Navy press release about Lin’s attendance at his naturalization ceremony in Hawaii in December 2008 said he was 14 when he and his family left Taiwan.

“I always dreamt about coming to America, the ‘promised land,”‘ Lin was quoted as saying. “I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland.”

$367 million investment to repair Quebec’s schools

MONTREAL – Quebec Education Minister Sébastien Proulx has announced a $367 million investment destined for school repairs.

It’s much needed money for some – especially Montreal’s biggest French board, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal, which insists it needs about $1.3 billion for repairs.

“We can’t tolerate schools that are in a state of disrepair or are closed, it’s unacceptable,” said Proulx.

“It’s why our government, in agreement with school boards, will multiply its efforts to prevent, detect and correct problems in learning centres.”

According to a spokesperson for the Education ministry, most of Montreal’s school infrastructure is over 50 years old.

Lester B. Pearson School Board Chairperson Suanne Stein Day told Global News the money will go to fixing windows, doors and replace bathrooms, as well as take care of mould and other general maintenance issues.

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    The school boards apply for grants to get funding for infrastructure maintenance every fall.

    Stein Day said the amount her board is receiving is about the same as last year’s grant.

    Nevertheless, she is very happy about the news.

    “Obviously we’re very pleased, this is an annual process, so we’ve been waiting to hear the final numbers,” she said.

    “Each year in the fall, we prioritize our projects, we send them into the Ministry of Education and around this time of the year we get an answer so that we start planning.”

    “A lot of the work is done over the summer, when children are not in the schools.”

    Here is a breakdown of the investment:

    School Boards

    Investments

    Number of projects

    CS de Montréal

    $79.1 M

    118

    CS de la Pointe-de-l’Île

    $10.2 M

    36

    CS Marguerite-Bourgeoys

    $21.6 M

    92

    CS English-Montréal

    $9.1 M

    36

    CS Lester-B.-Pearson

    $7.2 M

    11