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Ovechkin first Russian to carry Olympic torch

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WASHINGTON -- The 2014 Winter Olympics are Alex Ovechkin's showcase, and he'll be the first Russian to carry the torch toward Sochi.

Ovechkin will travel to Greece this weekend and take the torch after it's ignited in Olympia. He's set to return to Washington on Sunday and then practise with the Capitals on Monday.

They travel to Chicago later Monday and open the season Tuesday against the Blackhawks.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and something I will never forget," Ovechkin said in a statement released by the team.

 

Spezza says back fine

OTTAWA -- Jason Spezza says there's no reason to worry about his back.

The Senators star centre didn't play in Thursday's pre-season game against Montreal due to a minor strain, but says it has nothing to do with the back injury that forced him to miss most of last season and undergo surgery for a herniated disc.

"I'm just kind of dealing with a little bit of a strain and just want to make sure we deal with it so it doesn't become something that lingers," said Spezza. "I think I should be OK, that's why we are taking the precautions now. As much as I'd like to be playing in these ones and getting ready, the ones in October mean a lot more."

 

Famous photog dies

MONTREAL -- Denis Brodeur, the father of star goalie Martin Brodeur who enjoyed a lengthy career as one of Canada's most successful sports photographers, has died at age 82.

He shot the Montreal Canadiens for several decades, first as a newspaper man and then as the team's official photographer.

Brodeur was one of two photographers to capture the iconic image of Paul Henderson celebrating the winning goal of the 1972 Canada-Soviet summit series. In 2006, he sold his archive of 110,000 photos to the NHL for US$350,000.

 

Rangers sign Stepan

NEW YORK -- Derek Stepan is back in the fold with the New York Rangers, agreeing to a two-year contract that should have him back on ice in time for the season opener.

Negotiations had been tense in recent days as the sides worked on a deal to get the restricted free-agent forward signed and into training camp. A contract was finally worked out Thursday, one week before the Rangers start the regular season at Phoenix.

The 23-year-old Stepan had been seeking $3.5 million per season, while the club was offering around $3 million. The new deal is for a total of $6.15 million -- $2.3 million this season and $3.85 million in 2014-15.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 27, 2013 C5

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