Bruins, Jacobs Announce Plan To Compensate TD Garden Employees During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Photo: (Jim Michaud / MediaNews Group / Boston Herald)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Saturday morning, the Boston Bruins and the Jacobs Family announced a plan to compensate part-time gameday TD Garden employees due to the NHL’s current hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is based around a fund of $1.5 million, should the remaining six games on Boston’s schedule go unplayed.

The NHL announced 10 days ago on Thursday, March 12, that the 2019-20 season was  suspended until further notice to try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), following the lead of the NBA. The suspension of the season left part-time arena employees, especially those who may depend on their hourly wages, in the dark.

Over the last week or so, the remaining 30 NHL franchises and other professional sports organizations announced plans to compensate employees who would be affected, or at least made statements regarding the situation, leaving the Bruins as the only organization to contribute their voice to the matter. The lack of action on the Jacobs’ part over the last 10 days led to backlash and pressure from Bruins fans and members of the media.

Jeremy Jacobs, 88, and his family, most notably his son Charlie, have owned the Bruins since purchasing the team for a mere $10 million (by today’s standards) in 1975. Since, under his control, the Bruins brought the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011, and made six other trips to the Stanley Cup Final (1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2013, and 2019). Jacobs, who is also the chairman of Delaware North, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 under the builder category. In September, prior to Boston’s season, Jacobs announced his plans to confer ownership of the franchise to his children.

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Bruins G Prospect Jeremy Swayman Named Hockey East Player Of The Year

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Photo: University of Maine Athletics

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins goaltending prospect Jeremy Swayman was named Hockey East Player of the Year per a league announcement on Thursday morning. Swayman signed his entry-level contract with Boston on Tuesday, forgoing his senior year at the University of Maine.

The now former Black Bears standout posted one of the best seasons by any goaltender in college hockey, totaling 1,099 saves, the most of in Division I. Swayman’s 782 conference saves, the most by a Hockey East netminder since the 2010-11 season, and .932 conference save percentage led the league.

The Anchorage, AK, native’s .939 overall save percentage was good enough for second in the nation. The junior also carried an overall record of 18-11-5 (12-9-3 Hockey East), posting 25 games with at least 30 saves and five contests with at least 40 stops. With the strong campaign, Swayman is firmly in the conversation to receive the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the goaltender voted to be the most outstanding in Division I.

The Player of the Year honor comes as yet another distinction for Boston’s fourth round pick (111th-overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as he was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star, and part of the All-USCHO Second Team. The 21-year-old was a also named the recipient of the Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college hockey player in New England, and as a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the nation’s top college hockey player.

Upon signing his pro deal earlier this week, Swayman joins a cast of goaltenders, including Dan Vladar and Kyle Keyser, vying to become the successor to Bruins netminders Tuukka Rask, 33, and Jaroslav Halak, 35.

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Breaking: Jeremy Swayman Signs Deal With Boston Bruins

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(Photo Courtesy of University of Maine Hockey)

By: Tim A. Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Amidst the uncertainty of the NHL season, the Boston Bruins have some news. Goalie Jeremy Swayman has signed a deal with the club. The details of the contract have not yet been released; however, news of the signing came to us via the University of Maine Hockey Twitter page.

Jeremy Swayman is coming off an excellent Junior season at the University of Maine. He would go 18-11-5 and was able to grab a 2.07 goals-against average with a .939 save percentage in 34 games. The Anchorage, Alaska native, was one of the main reasons why the Black Bears were nationally ranked 15th.

Jeremy Swayman was a fourth-round pick (111th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The former Black Bear is joining an already young impressive goalie prospect pool with the Bruins. That prospect pool includes Dan Vladar, who just had an excellent season with Providence and Kyle Keyser, who had an injury-plagued season.

Being a Maine native myself, I may be a little bit biased, but Swayman is my favorite Bruins goalie prospect. My biggest reason for this is the amount shots Swayman saw this season. In 34 games, he had 1170 shots fired his way. That’s 34.4 shots a game. Getting as many pucks shot at you as possible is vital for young netminders. The Alaska native had that at the University of Maine. I would expect to see Swayman in Providence next season. Get excited Bruins fans, this is awesome.

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AHL Suspends Season, Halts Providence Bruins Impressive 2nd Half

(Photo Courtesy of Providence Bruins / Flickr)

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Unfortunately, the spread of the Covid-19 virus has taken a toll on the North American sports scene as many amateur, minor-pro, and professional leagues shut down operations to appropriately contain this global pandemic. BNG Senior Writer Max Mainville updated Bruins Nation shortly after hearing the official National Hockey League press release of the 2019-2 being suspended (Seen Here), well shortly after the  American Hockey League followed suit as seen below.

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This egregious effort to cancel large gatherings is a no-brainer, in my opinion, but it does put a serious wrench in the gears of beloved sports fans and what goes on in day-to-day lives. As many Boston Bruins fans know, the team is in first place in the NHL. With a six-point lead over last year’s Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues, they pause their 2019-20 campaign as a favorite to return and hopefully capture the organization’s seventh league championship. The NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins have also reached impressive milestones this season with an outstanding second-half marching their way up the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with playoff-type games leading up to the recent halt of the regular season.

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The AHL team from the smallest state in the Union (United States) started a better part of the 2019-20 season in the middle of the Atlantic, but in the second half, the Providence club has really put the pressure on teams leading the way. A team such as the Hartford Wolf Pack, who ruled the early season, have taken a plunge since their parent NHL club the New York Rangers recalled phenom goaltender Igor Shesterkin. AHL Clubs like the Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins took advantage of the Wolf Packs downward spiral to be the new leaders of the Atlantic. If you follow the AHL on the regular, the Eastern Conference postseason outlook has been tight since the beginning of January, so you could already see organizations jockeying for Calder Cup Playoff positioning.

Before this sudden pause in the Providence regular season, the B’s were on a season-high 12 game point streak, which contributed to the recent successful rise up the AHL league standings but also a season-high 11 game winning streak. Another high point of the second half of this 2019-20 Providence Bruins season is the way the affiliate of the NHL B’s has played at home in front of the La Salle Square faithful. Before the recent consecutive winning success, the Providence club was a franchise dipping above and below the .500 mark for a better part of this season at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

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The Providence Bruins started the season off with a subpar home record of 7-8-0-1, but since the turn of the calendar year, have picked it up in front of the Providence faithful to produce a very respectable 10-3-2-1 record at the Dunk since the beginning of January 2020. Everything has been clicking nicely until today’s announcement, and as a media member under the credentials of the Providence organization, it’s going to be tough to see this what this minor-pro club has done this season to just stop and figure it out later. A huge chemistry speed bump, in my opinion, for everybody on this mission of a Calder Cup playoff run that I thought was coming this Spring.

The last time the AHL Providence franchise won season-ending bragging rights was in the 1998-99 campaign capturing a Regular-Season Title, Division Championship, Conference Championship, and raising the Calder Cup after beating the Rochester Americans in a seven-game series 4-1. I thought after watching this team and with the way goaltending from the backend was the catalyst to build on early on with the free-agent addition of Max Lagace. The 27-year-old Quebec, Canada native, was amongst the AHL league leaders when it came to highly ranked goaltenders. Lagace has been a solid depth netminder for the Bruins organization and might be Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney’s ace in the hole for another year of backup sustainability while on a cap-friendly contract.

Another member of the crease core in Providence is Dan Vladar, who I’ve always spoken high of has really turned his game around in the last season of his current three-year, entry-level contract. The former 2015 third-round draft pick is having his best pro season posting a 14-7-1 record with league-leading 1.79 goals-against-average, and .936 save percentage. The 22-year-old Czech Republic native is currently on a seven-game winning streak and, in that timeline producing an unbelievable 1.54 GAA and .940 Save%.

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Providence stands as the Eastern Conferences best team with a 38-18-3-3 record and 82 points and tied for second place league-wide with the Iowa Wild eight points behind  AHL leading Milwaukee Admirals who’re leading the league in its 84th year of operation as the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL. After how this team came together orchestrated by bench boss Jay Leach who many fans wanted to see fired every start of regular seasons unable to wait for the mid-season ramp up. Yes, in previous years, the Providence club would struggle severely due to the fact that the NHL Bruins were recalling players ripping apart any youthful chemistry facilitating the higher up parent club. In recent years the new calendar year has been a turning point for Leach and staff to get healthy players back in the lineup and have a stronger competitive season.

Regardless of my displeasure of this whole situation and where this Bruins minor club was going, I hope that all of our readers do the right thing for your families and friends to help the cause. We need our sport back, but we also have to get our healthy life cycle back in order so we can go to these awesome spectator sports venues in the near future. It’s unfortunate that I had to cancel planned trips to Providence to cover this team as a media member via the Providence franchise for our production team, but it’s also a great little city to hang out in. I will miss my regular visits to the Trinity Brew House for a Rueben Sandwich and cold Rhode Island IPA, and Murphy’s Providence for an interesting Irish menu feast. Be safe everyone and the Bruins prospect talk from our BNG team will continue to keep the interest going through tough times.

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Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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COVID-19: Bruins Games On Hold As NHL Suspends 2019-20 Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JOHN MINCHILLO/ASSOCIATED PRESS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

On Thursday, March 12th, 2020, the National Hockey League officially announced that they have suspended the 2019-2020 regular-season for an indefinite amount of time due to the recent COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The news is not as much of a surprise as last night, March 11th, a National Basketball Association (NBA) game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Rudy Gobert was determined to have tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the game. A few days earlier, Gobert jokingly touched all of the reporter’s microphones and recorders following a press conference and as a result, the NBA made the decision to suspend their season as self-quarantines were recommended to numerous teams.

On Thursday, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that they would suspend spring training and potentially the beginning of the regular-season. High-profile tournaments and other sporting leagues also followed the path of the NBA and MLB and suspended their operations, leaving the NHL with a big decision to make and to the eyes of many, they made the correct choice suspending the league.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made it clear that the league plans to eventually continue with the season, stating “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup.”, in the official statement included above. Other reports earlier in the day suggested that arenas were asked to keep availability into July if the games are able to continue.

Due to this unique nature, the consequences are not yet known. At this point, the situation is ongoing and more details are being revealed to the public by the minute. Details on what this means for the salary cap, potential shortened season, or full-on cancellation is not yet known, but the hope is that the outbreak settles and comes to an eventual end.

For the Boston Bruins, a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup winning Bruins team that was scheduled for March 24th has been postponed until the 2020-21 season. An official new date will be updated at a later time.

As of March 12th at 2:17 EST, COVID-19 has infected over 133,086 people worldwide, taking the lives of 4,949. In the United States, there are 1,412 cases with 40 total deaths while Canada has 122 cases and one death, with numbers continuing to rise daily. As of now, the hardest hit nations are China, Italy and Iran who have a combined 105,984 cases and 4,614 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “pandemic” on March 11th.

Updates on the situation and the consequences are as mentioned, being updated daily. For up-to-the-minute news, make sure to follow me on Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj), as well as on the blackngoldhockey.com website for anything Boston Bruins related. We at Black N’ Gold send our well wishes to those affected and remind everyone to stay safe during this pandemic.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 169 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Report: Boston Bruins Trade Danton Heinen To Anaheim

( Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

From Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Boston Bruins have sent forward Danton Heinen to the anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Nick Ritchie. Heinen a 2014 fourth-round draft pick has played 220 games in the NHL and produced 34-69-103 numbers.

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Ritchie a former 2014 first-round selection of the Ducks (10th Overall) has appeared in 287 career NHL games while producing 43-66-109 numbers offensively. Nick is a left shooting winger that’s listed as a pure left-wing that seems a little odd from this Boston club that still needs to address the right-wing position a hole that’s been next to David Krejci for some time now.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 167 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Boston Bruins Acquire F Ondrej Kase From Anaheim

Boston Bruins v Anaheim Ducks

PHOTO CREDITS: (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

With the NHL Trade Deadline only days away, the Boston Bruins have made their first deal, sending forward David Backes, defenseman Axel Andersson and a 1st-round pick in the upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Ondrej Kase.

In addition to the deal, the Bruins are also retaining twenty-five percent of Backes’ $6 million salary. Backes, 35, has only played in 16 games for the Bruins this season, scoring one goal and two assists. Backes was sent down to the Providence Bruins but failed to play a game for the AHL club. With other players on the roster performing better than the veteran, the Bruins organization felt it was time to move on from Backes and send him back to the Western Conference where he began his NHL career.

Boston is also sending defenseman Axel Andersson to the Ducks as a piece of this deal. Andersson, 20, was drafted 57th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Bruins and has played the 2019-20 campaign in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Moncton Wildcats where he has 2-20-22 numbers in 41 games.

So, what do the Bruins get in return? Ondrej Kase is a 24-year-old right-winger that was drafted in the seventh-round (207th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks. Since his draft, the 5-foot-11, 186-pound forward has played in 198 regular-season games, scoring 43 goals and 53 assists for 96 points.

This season, Kase has 7-16-23 numbers in 49 games with the struggling Ducks, averaging a career-high 16:47 of ice-time per game. Contract wise, Kase will save the Bruins a lot of money especially considering the departure of David Backes in the move. The Kadan, Czech Republic native has a cap hit of $2.6 million until the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season. The newfound cap space may be used to reel in another trade target or opens up a window to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug as well as the other expiring contracts throughout the roster.

As of right now, Kase fits perfectly on Boston’s second-line alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci and would likely be a solid upgrade from Karson Kuhlman who currently holds that position. The trade still leaves some opening for another acquisition before Monday’s deadline if General Manager Don Sweeney still has something under his sleeve, but regardless, it appears the Bruins are winners in this one.

As the days and the hours count down until the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline, make sure to stay locked on blackngoldhockey.com for the latest Boston Bruins news as the race for the postseason gets hotter and hotter. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj) and everyone else on the site for up-to-date information and news.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 166 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Sign D Jeremy Lauzon To Two-Year Extension

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(Photo: Brian Fluharty / USA TODAY Sports)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

On Friday afternoon, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced that the team has signed defenseman Jeremy Lauzon to a two-year contract extension an worth an average annual value of $850,000, beginning with the 2020-21 season. Lauzon’s current deal, his entry-level contract, expires this offseason.

In seven games with Boston this season, Lauzon has one goal on 10 shots to go along with a plus-two rating and 16 penalty minutes. The left-shot defender is coming off the heels of a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Derek Stepan of the Arizona Coyotes.

Before making his season debut for the big club on Dec. 31, Lauzon posted one goal and 12 assists for 13 points in addition to a plus-22 rating in 45 games with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL affiliate, this season.

In the previous two seasons with Providence, the 22-year-old posted 2-12-14 totals in 81 AHL contests. Last year, Lauzon made his NHL debut on Oct. 25, 2018, against the Philadelphia Flyers before scoring his first career goal against the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 11.

The Bruins selected the Val D’or, Quebec native with the 52nd-overall pick in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. During his junior hockey career, Lauzon skated in 200 games over four seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL, notching 35 goals and 95 assists 130 career points in addition to a plus-81 rating and 282 penalty minutes.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 165 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Recall D Urho Vaakanainen, Place F Joakim Nordstrom on IR

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Photo: Winslow Townson / Associated Press

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

This morning, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced the team recalled defense prospect Urho Vaakanainen on an emergency basis from the Providence Bruins, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate. The move was first reported by Mark Divver, saying the move appeared in the AHL’s transaction log.

 

Sweeney also announced that forward Joakim Nordstrom has been placed on injured reserve. Nordstrom has 4-3-7 totals through 39 contests with Boston this season, including aa minus-seven rating. During his first season with the Bruins last year, the Swede had 7-5-12 numbers in 70 games before adding three goals and five assists in the playoffs.

This season Vaakanainen has four goals and eight assists for 12 points through 42 AHL contests to go along with a plus-14 rating and 16 penalty minutes. In 72 career AHL games, the Joensuu, Finland, native holds 8-18-26 totals in addition to a plus-16 rating.

Vaakanainen has appeared in five NHL games with Boston this season, registering two shots on goal and a plus-two rating. Last season , Vaakanainen appeared in two games with the Bruins last season before going down with a concussion, notching two shots and a rating of minus-one.

General manager Don Sweeney and the Bruins selected Vaakanainen with the 18th-overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL entry draft. Vaakanainen played three seasons in the Finnish Elite League from 2015 to 2018, skating in 109 total games and recording 7-16-23 numbers.

During the 2018-19 season, the 21-year-old served as an assistant captain on Team Finland during the World Junior Championships, helping the team to a gold medal with four assists in seven games. Vaakanainen’s father, Harri, coached Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in Finland.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 164 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins Issue Statement On David Backes

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(Photo: Steve Babineau / NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Bruins forward David Backes will not play for the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL-affiliate, according to the team. Boston placed Backes on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence on Jan. 17. The 35-year-old went unclaimed and cleared waivers on Jan. 18.

This morning, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney issued the following statement on Backes’ future:

“After speaking with David, we have agreed that it is in the best interest of David and the Bruins for him not to play in Providence at this time. David is fit and able to play, but in order to preserve all potential options for both David and the Bruins moving forward, we have decided this is the best course of action.”

Backes skated in 16 games for the Bruins this season, notching a goal and an assist to go along with a minus-two rating and 16 penalty minutes. The former St. Louis Blues captain is currently in the second-to-last year of a six-year contract with a $6-million cap hit. In 944 career NHL contests, Backes has 245-309-554 totals, a plus-67 rating, and 1,138 penalty minutes.

Sweeney offered no comment in reference to Backes’ long-term future or the organization’s plans for the forward, which leaves plenty of room for speculation. In any case, it seems to me as a perfect storm of an unfortunate set of circumstances.

For starters, through no fault of his own, Backes is vastly overpaid for what he brings to the table, which is something we already know and has been hashed out at length for several seasons, so there really is no need to dive back into that conversation. Making matters worse, Backes’ concussion history and overall decline due to age has led to the game passing him by, in a sense.

In my opinion, Backes could be evaluating the next steps for himself and his family, whether that is retirement or returning to hockey down the road. For the Bruins, Sweeney and co. could be looking at all possible options, whether it’s a buyout this offseason, figuring out how to fit Backes and his contract into a trade, or simply giving Backes space and time to sort out his future. Again, all of this is pure speculation on my part.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 162 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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