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Weekend Flurries: Varlamov on the ice and Wickenheiser in the front office

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Semyon Varlamov’s presence on the ice is a good sign that his lower body is back to normal

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 13 - Canada v United States Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

For Colorado Avalanche fans, the same recurring question pops up at the start of every NHL season: will Semyon Varlamov, the team’s starter since getting dealt from the Washington Capitals in 2011, make it through the season without significant injury?

Last season was a step forward in comparison to the 2016-17 campaign, to be certain. The Russian-born goaltender spent a few runs out with injury - most notably including the postseason in its entirety - but didn’t get shut down in January, as he had the previous year.

The questions still remain, but for now we can, at the very least, appreciate that he’s out there skating:

For those excited about the team’s upcoming training camp, by the way, here are all the details. [Mile High Hockey]

There’s also another fun event to look forward to, if you’re planning on spending time watching the AHL Eagles this year. The club’s new minor league affiliate will be hosting a meet and greet with new head coach Greg Cronin, which will include a jersey unveiling. [MHH]

Finally, the team hopes that yet another undrafted camp invitee will shine this fall. [MHH]

Around the NHL, there’s some pretty incredible news to announce:

The Toronto Maple Leafs made history when Canadian hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser was named Assistant Director of Player Development, following her guest appearance on the ice with the team earlier this past year in a development coach capacity.

Wickenheiser is one of the most decorated players in hockey’s history, both on the men’s and women’s sides. She’s won a staggering four Olympic gold medals, seven World Championships golds (and six Worlds silvers to go with an Olympic silver, as well), and four league championships throughout her career. She was a part of the Finnish division III team that earned a promotion to their second-tier league in the 2002-03 season, skating out again with the club the following year, and has a career spanning over 20 years out on the ice.

While there was certainly some social media pushback to a woman being hired in such an esteemed position with an NHL club, it’s about time—-and there are few women who are more deserving of the position than she is.

To keep up with the empowerment of women this week in celebration of Wickenheiser, here’s a look at Cassie Campbell’s speech at the University of Guelph for the Gryphons this past week:

And then, we have to give a nod to this incredible clapback from Nike, following a controversial clothing style ban at the French Open:

The simple but hauntingly effective ad responds to the French Open announcing that the ‘Wakanda-inspired’ black bodysuit worn by tennis legend Serena Williams at the event this year will not be permitted again in coming tournaments.

The tournament implied that there needed to be some respect for the game, paid via dress code.

The Black Panther-esque outfit certainly polarized viewers when Serena donned it for the majors appearance this past year, but it was more than just eye-catching. After a storied history of blood clots, Williams—-who remains one of the most decorated athletes of all time, in any sport, male or female—-had a near-death experience related to a pulmonary embolism following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia.

Nike, who have dressed Williams for years, helped her by providing the catsuit-esque tournament apparel. The full-body compression outfit promoted blood circulation, which served as a health precaution for the icon.

Williams has come out and confirmed that she wasn’t planning to wear the suit again anyways, as she and Nike worked together to create flesh-colored compression leggings that serve a similar purpose ahead of the heavily-dress-regulated Wimbledon tournament this summer. She was able to return to wearing tennis skirts and dresses, wearing the compression tights underneath her outfit.

Still, the announcement has faced considerable backlash, so it’s worth awaiting a reaction at the tournament next year to see where the story goes.

Last but not least, some food for thought:

The Athletic Toronto detailed the convoluted relationship between MLS superfan groups and toxic fandom in this piece published last week.

The background? Here you go:

The long and short of it is that Toronto FC has permanently banned the team’s supporter group, the Inebriatti, from serving in a ‘supporter group’ capacity.

These megafan groups are popular in the MLS, taking up sections of stadium seating and getting loud during the soccer matches.

As the Inebriatti have proven, though, things can get downright ugly—-and it’s worth considering what that means in terms of how supporter groups can negatively influence the rest of a fanbase if their behaviours start to take things to the extreme.