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Let’s be honest: this isn’t exactly how anyone thought Mark Jankowski’s 2019-20 season would go. The 25 year old centre played in a career high 79 games, set career high’s in assists (18), points (32) and he led the NHL in SHG with 5 in 2018-19 and things were looking up. Janko is in the final year of a two year contract and things aren’t going so well. He’s found himself a healthy scratch. He has no goals. He has no assists. Zero.Point.Zero. No bueno Mr. Jankowski.

Janko has always been fairly streaky, especially when you look at last season. He had three streaks of 12+ games without a goal, but this is pretty crazy. He’s now gone 26 games without ANYTHING to show for his efforts. And part of it is shots. Through 26 games last season Jankowski had 31 SOG, leading to four goals and ten assists. So far this season he has 14 SOG leading to a big ole donut.

So, we want to know: will he ever score again? Vote in our poll below!

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The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets each had a glaring need and were able to help each other when Seth Jones and Ryan Johansen were traded for one another. From Columbus’ perspective, Johansen was not a favorite of coach John Tortorella and already had a lengthy contract dispute. Nashville had an abundance of talent on the blueline and needed to find a top line centerman. When a trade of this magnitude happens, one team usually regrets the move but, in this situation, both teams were left quite pleased.

It takes a lot of extenuating circumstances for two teams in the thick of a playoff race to trade their captains, but in 2014, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning completed the transaction. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman created a dispute with Martin St. Louis when he left the future Hall-Of-Famer off Team Canada’s original roster for the Sochi Olympics. In return, St. Louis requested a trade and the Lightning ended up honoring the request. On the other side, Glen Sather wrapped up contract extensions with Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi but struggled to find common ground with Callahan. Even though the Lightning had very little leverage in the negotiations, Yzerman still found a way to pry two first-round picks from New York in the process. The Rangers went on to lose in the 2014 Cup Final and fell in the 2015 Conference Finals to the Lightning in a seven-game series. Neither team won a championship because of this move, but both clubs settled a problem with this transaction.

A few maneuvers were significant when Los Angeles won two Stanley Cups early in the decade, but the Kings paid a steep price to acquire Mike Richards in June 2011. Coincidentally, another big piece, Jeff Carter, was traded that day to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was eventually sent to Los Angeles at the 2012 trade deadline where he became a key cog for the Kings. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown were already in place, but the acquisition of Richards and Carter were a huge reason why Los Angeles was very successful in the first half of the decade.

On the flip side, the Flyers were looking to change the culture around the club that offseason and landed Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn in the Richards deal, while acquiring Jakub Voracek in the Carter trade. Philadelphia did not win a Stanley Cup, but they were not ripped off in either deal when trading legitimate NHL stars.

It was a blockbuster trade in June of 2018 that helped both the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames. Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox were sent to Carolina in exchange for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. If one was to define a hockey trade, this would be a great place to start.

There are always overreactions after losing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but the way the Boston Bruins reacted to losing the 2013 Stanley Cup Final was clearly a mistake. The Bruins front office decided to trade Tyler Seguin, a star in the making, to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson and several other pieces. The Bruins did not make matters worse by handing Eriksson a lucrative contract extension in the summer of 2016, but they did lose a player that averaged 77 points per season since the trade.

This deal is easy to judge knowing how each player performed since the trade. However, in April of 2013 the move did make some sense for both teams. The Ottawa Senators had a crowded crease with Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Bishop while Conacher was off to a strong start with the Tampa Bay Lightning, recording 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in the first 35 games of the season. The undersized forward instantly became the Senators’ leading scorer upon his arrival but would never become the lethal scorer Ottawa hoped for. On the other hand, Bishop has become a well-rounded NHL goaltender.

There probably could be a category for several of the moves Peter Chiarelli made but trading two premium draft picks for Griffin Reinhart is at the top of the list. It doesn’t help when one of those picks turned into Mathew Barzal, but the Oilers general manager hoped Reinhart would solve Edmonton’s defensive issues. Former Islanders general manager Garth Snow is probably still confused how he pulled this one off.

Hall helped the New Jersey Devils return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and captured the 2018 Hart trophy, while Edmonton picked up a middle-pairing defenseman.

Why the Ottawa Senators were interested in trading a young center with Zibanejad’s potential is still a bit mind-boggling. The Swedish forward has turned into one of the more underrated centers in the NHL while Brassard has bounced around the NHL the past couple of seasons.

The Minnesota Wild received Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round draft pick, but Burns has been one of the most dynamic defensemen in the entire NHL throughout the decade. There are very few assets that could have lived up to the value Burns has provided on the ice.

For those who understand the salary cap recapture penalties, the Nashville Predators took a significant gamble when sending Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban. If Weber were to retire before his deal runs out, they will be forced to operate with a lot of dead money on their books.

Subban did help the Predators reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 but has since been shipped off to the New Jersey Devils.

The 2019 Conn Smythe winner was an integral member of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup run last season. Doug Armstrong gave up a lot at the time including a top prospect, two premium picks and two roster players, but the Buffalo Sabres miscalculated in their evaluation. Without the the O’Reilly acquisition, the song ‘Gloria’ is probably not a huge hit in the St. Louis area.

It wasn’t always a smooth ride in Pittsburgh, but Kessel averaged 75 points per season and played a major part in back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.

The Washington Capitals have been one of the most successful teams over the last decade but didn’t get over the hump until the spring of 2018. T.J. Oshie was not the main piece during the championship run, but he has provided secondary scoring and strong two-way play since his acquisition in the summer of 2015.

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Throughout December, the NHL is spotlighting players and alumni of indigenous descent. We asked these men and women to reflect on how their indigenous heritage has influenced their identity within hockey.

Today, Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic, who is of Metis descent, discusses how he and his wife were inspired by Gord Downie, the lead singer of The Tragically Hip who died in 2017, to start The Northern Project.

Like millions of Canadians, I have always been a fan of Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip.

Their songs have been staples in locker rooms and arenas all across our great nation for decades and the band has been able to give their fans a unique sense of Canadian pride thanks to their incredible songwriting and passion for our country.

However, being Metis, it was the work Gord did in his final few years that really resonated with me.

He dedicated himself to working alongside the Canadian indigenous community, using his platform to give a voice and bring awareness to issues he felt were important for Canadians to understand.

That work inspired me and my wife Stephanie to start the Northern Project. It is an initiative that provides indigenous children from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon the opportunity to come to Calgary, go behind the scenes with me in the ‘Saddledome, and take in a game. We started the program with the hopes of reaching and connecting with communities in the North and putting a program in place that can unite all Canadians.

Working in partnership with Hockey North, coaches, volunteers and teachers are encouraged to nominate children who they feel are deserving of this experience. Stephanie and I then work with the Flames Foundation to select recipients and get to work, getting them airfare, hotels, and spending money so they can have a stress-free weekend and truly enjoy the city.

Being able to bring these children and their families to Calgary is an absolute joy for my family and we hope it provides them with light and hope for the future.

Hockey is important — I’ve been blessed to be able to play it for a living and I take that opportunity very seriously — but life is a lot bigger than hockey. Being able to give back to my community and help others who may be going through tough times puts so much into perspective. I’m a firm believer that you get so you can give, and The Northern Project is a way for my family to give back to our roots.

I am so proud of my Metis heritage and my family, and I look forward to continuing The Northern Project throughout my career.

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It feels like a great time to be a defenceman in the NHL.

The position has evolved a lot in the past 10 years, following the league’s trend towards faster, shiftier puck-movers while also very much still valuing the traditional big body on the blue line.

Some of the best leaders can be found on defence — take Shea Weber, who has captained two different teams this decade — as can the most underrated (we finally see you, Mark Giordano). Playmakers like Kris Letang, P.K. Subban, Victor Hedman and, more recently, John Carlson, have played important roles in the evolution of the defensive skillset, and evidence of that can be seen in some of the young stars emerging today.

Putting this list together was… difficult… but in a good way — we’ve seen so many elite defenders this decade, each bringing their own style to the game (and we’re not just talking about Brent Burns’s arena-arrival outfits).

The biggest question while looking at the long list of contenders kept coming back to this: What do you value in a good defenceman?

Is it the ability to drive offence from the blue line or quarterback a power play? The steady stay-at-home presence that allows forwards to go forward with confidence? The lock-down, shut-down, take-you-down grinder that will have offences thinking twice about entering enemy territory, or the shifty puck-mover that will pick your pocket and skate circles around you while exiting the zone?

All of the qualities above are represented in this list of the top five rearguards of the past decade.
1. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators/San Jose Sharks

In addition to being the best defencemen, Karlsson is also one of the best NHLers of the past decade, period.

From his smooth skating and elite passing to his smart playmaking and sound defending, the 29-year-old is a perfect representation of the term “offensive defenceman.” He leads his blue-line peers in assists (452) and points (583) this decade and sits third in goals (131). That points total puts him in the conversation with some of the league’s most productive forwards, tied with Patrice Bergeron and sitting at No. 22 among all skaters’ point totals in the past 10 years.

He’s also proven himself to be a strong playoff performer, leading all defencemen in points per game (0.79). His best playoff performance was in 2017-18 when he captained the Ottawa Senators to within a single win of the Stanley Cup Final — and did so with a fractured foot.

He’s got two Norris Trophies to his name (2011-12 and 2014-15) and is in the conversation almost every awards season. Though injuries have taken a bit of a toll of late, Chapter Two of Karlsson’s career promises several more Norris nods to come next decade.
2. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Though he’s fallen out of elite conversations in the past few seasons, Keith was atop the league for much of the past 10 years. He was the steady, gritty presence on the Chicago Blackhawks’ blue line, logging marathon-like minutes to propel the team to three Stanley Cups.

His dominance started when the decade was still new, winning his first Norris Trophy in 2010 — the same year Chicago’s dominance began, which is certainly no coincidence. He also won Olympic gold with Team Canada that year, a feat he’d repeat in 2014. (He won the Norris Trophy again that year, too.)

Keith’s 426 points over the past decade rank him 10th among all NHL defencemen in the regular season, but it’s his playoff resume that really sets him apart — he leads all rearguards in average post-season ice time (28:45), assists (57) and points (75) and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts when the Blackhawks hoisted their third Cup of the decade in 2015.
3. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

Doughty is a dream for those who love to watch — and read about… and write about — hockey: He talks the talk, with many a great soundbite coming from his mouth on any given night, and he backs it up by walking the walk, too.

Through his honest comments in the media — whether about rivalries, how to contend, or knowing your worth on the open market — Doughty has become one of the biggest voices in the game, and one of the strongest forces on the ice.

He’s won just about everything there was to win this decade: Olympic gold (times two), the Stanley Cup (times two) and the Norris Trophy — and it could easily be argued there should’ve been another “times two” beside that one, too.

He has proven himself incredibly durable, completing seven full seasons of the last ten and missing just 15 games through the other three and has built a reputation as one of the league’s best endurance athletes — his average ice time of 26:39 over the decade ranks second among all players.
4. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

Burns’s brief stints as a forward earlier in his career are evident in how he plays the game as a defenceman, unafraid to jump into offensive zones — that’s what sets him apart from his blue-line peers, and why he’s on this list. While his risk-taking style can come back to bite the Sharks at times, his offensive skill-set puts him among the elite players of the game regardless of where you line up at puck drop.

Burns leads all defencemen in goals (166) over the past 10 years and sits second in points (544) behind his teammate, Karlsson. His incredible 83-point campaign in 2018-19 was the best season of any d-man this decade, and his 67 assists ranked him fifth across all skaters in the category. He’s a weapon on offence and a true force on his own zone — that take-you-down style mentioned in the introduction can definitely be applied to the six-foot-five, 230-pound powerhouse.

His contributions to the game extend beyond his one-ice accomplishments, as one of the most notable personalities in hockey — and that’s a victory for the growth of the game, too.
5. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins

Is he the dominant force now like he was at the beginning of the decade? No, but when you look at the past 10 years overall he’s still very much been one of best blue liners in the game. His game isn’t comparable to the others on this list in terms of production, but that’s never been his M.O. In a game quickly being handed over to fast puck-movers and dynamic playmakers, Chara is a grand example of the value of a big body, a long reach, a little sandpaper and the traditional laser-beam slapshot from the blue line.

Longevity alone makes him worthy of a spot on this list, but while much of today’s commentary on Chara is centred around how the 42-year-old is able to continue playing at the level he is — we’re talking Tom Brady-like stuff here — what he’s doing on the ice is still incredibly impressive regardless of age.

He opened the decade fresh off a Norris Trophy win (2008-09) and though he didn’t win another in the 2010s, he landed several nominations thanks to his sound, lock-down defence.

Chara led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011 and is a major reason why the club has returned to challenge for Lord Stanley’s chalice almost every year this decade, including two more trips all the way to the Final. The NHL’s longest-tenured captain leads all defencemen this decade in playoff appearances (119), and ranks eighth in average ice time (26:15) during that time.

The most astounding number on Chara’s stat sheet, though, is his plus/minus rating: he’s plus-207. Compare that to the others on this list and, well, there really is no comparison at all.

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The Battle of Alberta finally gets underway for the 2019-20 season, and both teams are hungry for a win.

The Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers reignite their decades-old rivalry in Edmonton on Friday, after each entered the short Christmas break with a loss on the road. The Flames were shut out 3-0 by the Minnesota Wild on Monday, while the Oilers dropped a 4-2 decision to the Canucks in Vancouver.

Both teams are struggling to find the consistency they need to inch up the Western Conference standings.

Oilers head coach Dave Tippett had some harsh words for his crew following Monday’s loss.

“It’s the details of winning,” he said. “If you’re not willing to do them enough, you’re going to lose some games, and that’s what happened tonight.”

The Oilers held a 2-1 lead going into the third period with goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom, but gave up three unanswered goals to hand the victory to the Canucks.

It was Edmonton’s 13th game in 24 days, and Connor McDavid, the league’s top point-getter who was held to one assist in Monday’s affair, was looking forward to the few days off for Christmas.

“It’s been a tough stretch of games, honestly,” McDavid said. “Guys are tired, and this break comes at a good time.”

The Flames also needed the break, dropping four of their last five overall and finishing the stretch to the holiday with two games in two days on the road. They beat the Dallas Stars 5-1 on Sunday, but couldn’t muster a single goal against the Wild.

Flames forward Derek Ryan got the puck behind Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, but video review determined he kicked it into the net.

“Everyone plays back-to-backs,” said Cam Talbot, the Flames goaltender who faced 33 shots overall and saw his record drop to 3-7-0 in 11 games this season. “If you’re not feeling it, try to make the easy play, the smart play and get it deep.”

But the Flames aren’t getting consistent production from some of their top guys, like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Gaudreau and Monahan combined for 181 points last season but are on pace for 124 this season.

“We were trying to generate offense,” defenseman and team captain Mark Giordano said. “It seemed like (the Wild’s) back pressure was really good, and we couldn’t get pucks through like we should. So we’ve got to work on that, generate more at their net. We’ll take our break here and go from there.”

The NHL’s best power play will be facing one of the top penalty kills.

The Oilers are 29.8 percent effective on the man advantage, while the Flames rank third at 84.8 percent in killing penalties. The Oilers aren’t too far behind on the PK at 83 percent, while the Flames are in the middle of the pack on the power play at 19.7 percent.

Special teams will only get you so far, though.

When asked recently about his team’s success on the power play, Klefbom told the Edmonton Journal the Oilers have to be better at even strength.

“Obviously our power play has been really effective, but you can’t expect to score every game that way,” Klefbom said. “It’s been our strength … we’re in the top (seven) in PP and PK, but to be a consistent playoff team, going against a heavy team like a St. Louis, Boston, they’re so good five-on-five.”

Klefbom and the Oilers will have the fans behind them on Friday. The Canadian provincial rivals split the season series last year, 2-2, and Calgary holds the all-time regular-season edge at 119-101-18.

–Field Level Media

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-Where You Been?: It’s been a rough start to 2019-20 for Michael Frolik, but he’s been turning it up as of late. The Flames forward scored one goal in his first 29 games of the season. Since then he has scored in three straight games.

-15 And Counting: On the other side of the ledger it’s been a struggle for Mikael Backlund. The veteran hasn’t found the back of the net in 15 straight games and it’s not for the lack of trying. He’s had 27 SOG with many of those being quality chances.

-Loves The Flames: Mitchell Marner scored last night giving him points in 6 of the 8 games he’s played against the Flames.

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CALGARY — Dillon Dube was bracing for the onslaught.

Alas, his reputation caught up with him.

When the Montreal Canadiens and their accompanying media blow into towns around the NHL, it’s not uncommon for the Francophone broadcasters and scribes to search out French names for new angles.

Dube is definitely French.

Dillon definitely isn’t.

“When we went to the Memorial Cup my 16-year-old year every day I got a whole bunch of media scrumming around me,” said the former Kelowna Rockets star, smiling about his 2014-15 experience in Quebec City.

“They were like, ‘So, do you speak French?’ I’m like, ‘No.’

They’re like, ‘Okay…’ and I swear every media guy left. There were like 15 of them… gone. It was like that every day – they all thought I spoke French because of my name.”

There was no such gathering around Dube from the Montreal media after morning skate Thursday, which is fine with the Cochrane kid who grew up in Golden, B.C., where there was no French immersion offered.

What the 21-year-old has brought to the table since his AHL call-up a month ago has been so integral to the team’s recent turnaround that the club sent a powerful message of support to him Wednesday.

As the only forward on the Flames’ roster who doesn’t require waivers to make room for returning players like Sam Bennett and Austin Czarnik, Dube was well aware a return to Stockton was a possibility.

Alas, Zac Rinaldo was demoted Wednesday and the Flames risked putting Czarnik through waivers, which he cleared Thursday morning. Czarnik was subsequently assigned to Stockton, while Rinaldo was recalled to Calgary on Thursday.

“It gives me confidence not just to stick around but to play some of my best hockey to help this team win,” Dube said of the vote of confidence.

“My mindset changes a bit because I’m not as worried and I can relax a little because you didn’t know what was going to happen. At the same time, I cannot at all let myself go to that stage where I’m comfortable.”

He’s certainly looked that way since his promotion, picking up seven points in 14 games on a line with Derek Ryan and Milan Lucic that has been the team’s most consistent the past month.

“My whole career, point production has been a big thing, but I’ve had a lot of my best games of my career with no points,” said Dube, whose focus in Stockton was learning to play away from the puck, along the wall and focusing on his defensive game.

“If you can go out there and make the guys you’re playing with better and bring something to the table, that’s the most important thing. A couple games with Looch and Doc (Ryan) we had at the start I didn’t have any points, but those were some of my best games. We all got going from playing the right way.”

Lucic has since scored all three of his goals this season, Ryan is flourishing as he did late last year and the Flames have one of the most potent third lines in the league.

It will be a crucial unit against a Canadiens club that enters Thursday’s game at the Saddledome as winners in five of seven and feeling good about themselves.

Much like Calgary, a team with just one goal on its two-game losing string despite piecing together its two best first periods of the season.

“For us, it’s sticking with it,” said Dube, a second round draft pick who captained Canada to World Junior gold in 2018.

“We need a complete 60 – if we can come out again and have a good first period, we can’t let frustration set in when you don’t score.”

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A week ago, Austin Czarnik capped a three-game conditioning stint in the minors with an end-to-end rush and a glove-side snipe for an overtime winner.

His next action will also come with the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat … unless he is snatched by another organization.

Czarnik was available Wednesday on the NHL waiver-wire, a necessary step for the 27-year-old right-winger — recently returned after a six-week layoff due to a high-ankle sprain — to be demoted to the farm club.

“He’s now ready to play and needs to play, that’s really it,” said Flames general manager Brad Treliving. “We made the decision here to put him on (waivers) and if he goes through, he’ll go down and play some games, which he needs to. He’s been off an awful long time. Those are difficult injuries to come back from.

“Quite frankly, we had a couple last year and they’re long and frustrating. So he needs to get back up to speed.”

One way or another, Czarnik will be on an outbound flight shortly after Thursday’s 10 a.m. MT waiver deadline.

There were reportedly 20-some teams showing interest when he signed with the Flames as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he was claimed by another club. His contract comes with a salary-cap hit of US$1.25-million.

The brass at the Saddledome would probably prefer to keep Czarnik, but he’s been leapfrogged by others on the forward depth chart. Interim head coach Geoff Ward confirmed as much prior to Tuesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, telling reporters he had a meeting with No. 27 and explained, “he just has to be better than one of the 12 that are in.”

It’s certainly a good sign for the Flames, who cap a four-game homestand with Thursday’s matchup with the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan), that there isn’t an obvious candidate to come out of their lineup.

Dillon Dube has made the most of this latest call-up, looking like a guy who is now in the big leagues to stay.

Michael Frolik just finished a three-game goal-scoring spurt, while fellow fourth-liners Mark Jankowski — scratched against the Penguins — and Tobias Rieder are valuable pieces on the penalty-kill.

Zac Rinaldo was reassigned Wednesday to the Heat, although Treliving hinted he could be back very soon.

Czarnik’s most recent outing in the Flaming C was back on Oct. 24 — he scored that evening, stretching his point-spree to three straight games.

After Tuesday’s morning skate, not quite 24 hours before he learned he had been placed on waivers, the undersized speedster admitted he was frustrated by his spare-part status but vowed to continue to push for another opportunity.

“I have to take every day and just work my hardest,” said Czarnik, who has three points — two goals and one helper — in eight appearances with the Flames this season and posted the same number in his hat-trick of twirls with the Heat during his conditioning stint. “I obviously wanted more when I came back but I’m just trying to be positive and do the right things every day. And when my time is called, I’m going to try to make the most of it. For now, I’m just getting good hard work in and making myself ready for whenever they need me.

“It’s just a waiting game now. All I can do is prepare the way I can and hopefully it sets me up to be successful whenever I’m back in.”

That waiting game could continue in Stockton.

Unless, that is, another club claims him instead.

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Two weeks after collapsing on the ice during practice, Calgary Flames defenceman T.J. Brodie is back on the ice, capping his heroic return to hockey with a goal on Wednesday night.

Against the Buffalo Sabres — his second game since making his return — Brodie absolutely clapped one to open the scoring.

The 29-year-old suffered an apparent seizure on the ice and had to be taken off on a stretcher before being transported to hospital on November 14.

He managed to make a full recovery, allowing him to return to the ice and score his first goal of the season.

The Chatham, Ontario, native now has a goal to add to his eight assists through 23 games in 2019-20.

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Sam Bennett‘s long-running saga of swapping Bora-Hansgrohe for Deceuninck-Quick-Step finally concludes, with a happy plot twist. Shane Archbold also moves across from Bora-Hansgrohe to the Belgium outfit, both on two-year deals.

Bennett was linked to a move to Quick-Step, but was caught up in a contract tussle that took months to resolve. With favored lead-out man Archbold also part of the package, Bennett said he’s motivated to move to the top Belgium squad.

“It is a daunting task to race for this team, but it is motivating and a challenge, having been with my previous team for so long and I feel refreshed,” Bennett said Tuesday. “It is fantastic to be having Shane here, too. I am delighted for him as he had a few years where he wasn’t getting opportunities, so for us to both be here is special. To have a friend and a work colleague with him, it makes the job easier.”

Bennett 29, was one of the top sprinters in 2019, winning 12 races across the calendar, including stages at Paris-Nice, Critérium du Dauphiné and Vuelta a España, as well as winning the Irish national title. His career victory haul stands at 42, and he’ll be under pressure to replace the likes of Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Fernando Gaviria, who left in 2018 for UAE-Emirates.

Bennett was forced to wrangle free of a tentative deal to stay with Bora-Hansgrohe in order to sign with Quick-Step. The contract dispute was eventually settled, clearing the way for the Irishman to join team boss Patrick Lefevere.

“The protracted nature of Sam’s move has been well documented but I am delighted to have him on board,” Lefevere said. “His palmares alone speaks volumes about his talent and determination, but he is also a great character and another leader to have around the team. We all cannot wait to start working with him.”

Archbold was also part of the deal. Close friends with Bennett, Archbold has emerged as the Irishman’s favored lead-out man. With ace lead-out man Max Richeze heading to UAE-Emirates, Archbold and Bennett will likely pair up throughout the season.

“It has been an up and down few years for me and to be able to join them is great for me and I am looking forward to being able to improve and race with what is regarded as the world’s best team,” Archbold said. “Obviously, me and Sam have had a good relationship since 2013 and it will be great to continue that. We have grown as a pair since then and to be able to be part of the progress of a great friend is an honor.”

Archbold and Bennett were teammates at An Post-Chain Reaction as well as for three seasons at Bora before Archbold left to join the ill-fated Aqua Blue team. After the team collapsed in 2018, Archbold returned to Bora early in 2019, helping Bennett take some of his biggest wins.

Even though Quick-Step already has some top lead-out men, including Iljo Keisse and Michael Morkov, Lefevere found room on the roster for Archbold as well.

“We know how important it is for a sprinter to have a lead-out man that he fully understands and has faith in,” Lefevere said. “While we have several excellent lead-out guys already here, when it became clear that we could add Shane to our squad to help Sam, it made complete sense. He is extremely skillful at what he does and is rightly regarded as one of the best in the world.”