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Keeler: Bo Byram hurt Marc-Andre Fleury’s feelings on Avs’ opening night. And it was glorious.

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Keeler: Bo Byram hurt Marc-Andre Fleury’s feelings on Avs’ opening night. And it was glorious.

Did you see The Flower wilt?

Four months too late, but whatever. Ten minutes into the season opener, there was Marc-Andre Fleury, shaking his head, spanked by a 20-year-old, trailing 3-0 at Ball Arena and looking for the reset button on the PlayStation.

Bo Byram made The Flower feel bad.

Man, did that feel gooooood.

“Obviously, it’s something you dream about for a long time,” Byram said with a grin late Wednesday night after firing the third goal, his first in an Avs sweater, during a 4-2 win over Chicago in the season opener. “And (it’s) also nice to get it out of the way. Get the pressure off.”

The pressure on the Avs to settle old scores, meanwhile, has only just begun. Wednesday made for a nice start, though, as the hosts put three early past Fleury, who was making his Blackhawks regular-season debut after years of bedeviling the Avalanche as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.

“It’s always special to beat him,” new Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper said of his counterpart in the other crease.

Byram later added an assist on a Nazem Kadri tap-in, finishing with a plus-2 in just 17:23 on the ice. Cale Makar stuff.

Even the old guys were impressed. Avs defenseman Jack Johnson, a greybeard who’d landed a 1-year contract just this past Sunday, was in the rotation for the opener as cover for the injured Devon Toews.

Now he’s the answer to a trivia question, scoring the first of what will be many, many, many, many, many Avs goals this season on a gorgeous breakaway backhand less than five minutes into the tilt.

“Age is just a number,” The 34-year-old Johnson cracked later. “I’m young at heart.”

Byram, meanwhile, is just … young. According to the gang at TSN, at 20 years and 122 days old, the Avs’ defenseman became the third youngest defenseman in Colorado/Nordiques history to produce a game-winning goal.

“I was thrilled for him,” Johnson said of Byram. “Whenever I see a guy score his first goal in the NHL, it’s something you remember for the rest of your life.”

Something old.

Something new.

Something borrowed.

Something blue.

As in black and blue.

Whenever the Blackhawks wanted to dance, the Avs were game. Logan O’Connor got chippy toward the end of the first period. With 3:34 left in the third, captain Gabe Landeskog plowed a kneeling Kirby Dach into the boards, a questionable barge at game speed that looked even worse on replay. All heck broke loose, with Mikko Rantanen and Blackhawks defender Calvin de Haan adding spice to the undercard.

“I think it was a fun game,” Byram said. “And we did a pretty good job out there.”

Super Joe Sakic knows a tiger shark when he sees one. A half-dozen Avs are 24 or younger. Maybe Johnson is the sort of random, out-of-left-field veteran signing that helps to push the kids through the marathons to come.

“I mean it’s the NHL, it’s a hard league to play in,” Byram continued. “I think I did a decent job last year, but this year, I really want to take a step and assert myself. This was a good step in the right direction. But I’ve still got a long way to go.”

So does the narrative. But if more nights land like this, the journey might wind up becoming almost as fun as the destination. Almost.

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Fatal overnight shooting in Aurora believed to be connected to crash

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Colorado Springs police involved in fatal shooting, crash overnight

A man was shot at 16th Avenue and Lansing Street in Aurora late Tuesday night, dying hours later at the hospital.

Police do not have suspect descriptions and have limited info on the incident.They are investigating area surveillance footage and witnesses. But authorities do believe a two-vehicle crash at the nearby intersection of Montview Boulevard and Peoria Street was caused by the people involved in the shooting. Those people fled the scene of the shooting and collision.

The Aurora Police Department is asking for those with any information to call 303-627-3100.

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Biden to give away 400 million N95 masks starting next week

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Biden to give away 400 million N95 masks starting next week

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings.

The White House announced Wednesday that the masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They will begin shipping this week for distribution starting late next week, the White House said.

This will be the largest distribution of free masks by the federal government to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In early 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration considered and then shelved plans to send masks to all American at their homes. President Joe Biden embraced the initiative after facing mounting criticism this month over the inaccessibility — both in supply and cost — of N95 masks as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept across the country.

After facing similar criticism over a winter shortage of COVID-19 at-home test kits, Biden this week launched a website for Americans to order four rapid tests to be shipped to their homes for free, with the first tests to ship later this month.

The White House said the masks will be made available at pharmacies and community health centers that have partnered with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its guidance on face coverings to more clearly state that properly fitted N95 and KN95 masks offer the most protection against COVID-19. Still, it didn’t formally recommend N95s over cloth masks.

The best mask “is the one that you will wear and the one you can keep on all day long, that you can tolerate in public indoor settings,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week.

Details were not immediately available on the specifics of the program, including the sort of masks to be provided, whether kid-size ones will be available and whether the masks could be reworn.

The White House said that “to ensure broad access for all Americans, there will be three masks available per person.”

N95 or KN95 masks are more widely available now than at any other time during the pandemic, though they are often more costly than less-protective surgical masks or cloth masks.

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

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Vail Resorts is threatening immigration status of foreign investors in Mount Snow project, Vermont regulators allege

Vermont regulators this month issued a cease-and-desist order to Vail Resorts, alleging that the Colorado-based ski giant is reneging on an agreement with roughly 30 immigrant investors that could lead to their deportation.

These foreign investors came to the United States under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program — created by Congress in 1990 to facilitate economic development in exchange for the chance to receive a green card, or permanent U.S. residency status.

In 2014, more than 100 people invested $500,000 with Peak Resorts — which Vail Resorts bought in 2019 — for the purposes of building an improved ski lodge and upgraded snowmaking facility at Mount Snow in southern Vermont. In return for their capital and job creation, the investors received temporary residency, with the ability to become permanent U.S. residents in the future.

But Vermont regulators, in their Jan. 7 order, said Vail Resorts is trying to return money to dozens of investors involved in the Mount Snow project before their immigration petitions have been processed by the federal government — which, the state argued, would violate Vermont security laws and could result in investors losing their legal status to remain in the country.

“If your application hasn’t been decided yet and you get refunded, you’re out of possibilities to get your permanent green card,” said Michael S. Pieciak, a commissioner with Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, which filed the cease-and-desist order. “That’s a very serious outcome for these investors.”

Quinn Kelsey, a Vail Resorts spokesperson, said in a statement that the company is “evaluating our legal recourse” but that it is “confident our practices are fully compliant.”

“Since the Mount Snow EB-5 Project’s formation in 2014, our communications with investors have been transparent, clear and compliant with securities laws,” Kelsey said.

Vail Resorts did not respond when asked why it was refunding the Mount Snow investors.

These investments are primarily an avenue for people to get a coveted green card, rather than make a significant return on investment, Pieciak said.

The state became aware of the refunds in late November and early December when investors told them they had been contacted by Vail Resorts, asking them to complete a form with bank wire transfer instructions.

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