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Bruins notebook: Jake DeBrusk ready to go



Bruins notebook: Jake DeBrusk ready to go

Jake DeBrusk declared at the start of training camp that he was “clean-slatin’ it” this year. Whatever happened in the past didn’t matter. And throughout the preseason, it appeared to be an approach that worked, as he settled in on a new line with center Erik Haula and left wing Nick Foligno and looked a lot more like the promising young NHLer he was once considered by a large swath of the Bruin fan base, as oppose to the object of ire for the “trade-him-for-a-bag-of-pucks” crowd that got increasingly vociferous last year.

Now the real test begins with the start of the B’s regular season on Saturday against Dallas. DeBrusk looks and sounds ready and eager for it.

“I’m feeling good and I feel like I did what I wanted, technically, in preseason to get ready for the season. I’m feeling confident and excited to play,” said DeBrusk on Thursday. “It’s kind of weird having a 10-day stretch in between games. But I’m getting excited with hockey back on, I’m watching some games and getting ready for the Garden.”

DeBrusk should be in a very good position to have a productive season. For much of his young career, he had been the second line left wing with David Krejci behind Brad Marchand. Now he’s on the third line behind both Marchand and Taylor Hall. Undoubtedly, he and his linemates will see more favorable matchups with third defensive pairings.

But there are even more advantageous aspects of his current situation, said DeBrusk.

“It’s a good opportunity in a sense because pretty much my whole career, I’ve been in that top six, behind an all-time caliber player in Marchie, and now behind him and Hallsy. Two elite players and something I’m taking more notice of now. I’m 24 and been in the league, this is my fifth season, and to learn off those guys…everyone in this room has heard about Marchie, but Hallsy is a different player in his own right,” said DeBrusk. “I’m trying to take things that they do well and also try and understand why they’ve been so successful for so long, whether it’s habits or stuff on the ice, how to attack, and pick their brain about it. I think that’s something you always have to be doing, always trying to find ways to get better.

“Matchup-wise, I’m not looking too far into that. I hope we’re a reliable line. That’s our number one goal for us three. We want to be good defensively obviously, but I think we can do some damage, too. We’re kind of getting a little underrated here. It’s nice.”

It will be interesting to see how this third line meshes. The unit has three left sticks, and DeBrusk said there’s room to grow in the chemistry department. But it already seems like the two new veterans have started to pick up on DeBrusk’s persona of everyone’s little brother, at least by the way DeBrusk jokingly describes some of the line’s dynamic.

“I like to ask questions,” said DeBrusk. “The biggest thing from Day One is (Foligno) wanted to talk a lot, so we’ve been talking a lot. He’s probably getting sick of me. Same with Erik. Erik’s kind of turning on me a little bit. He’s making alliances already. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.”

The B’s are now in a position to keep DeBrusk on his natural left side. That was not the case last year, when under-performance led to him being shifted to the right side and eventually off the Krejci line. But he didn’t want to chalk up his problems last year — a season that saw him produce 5-9-14 totals in 41 games — to playing his off wing.

“I think it was a lot of things just kind of added up and that’s why the results were what they were,” said DeBrusk. “You look back at things like and try and figure it out in the summer. I did, and it’s a fresh start. But I’m back on the left side, back where I’m comfortable and it seems that things have gone well. Obviously preseason’s done. We’re looking at Game One here, but I’m really excited to get going, no matter where I play on this team.”

Much of the discussion of DeBrusk’s struggles last year has centered around him dealing with the tight Covid restrictions, the mental challenges of which were only exacerbated by him being single and thus even more isolated. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying some of newly regained freedoms like simply hanging out with teammates, watching football.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I missed getting chirped as much as I am again,” said DeBrusk.

Through his struggles, and examination of why they happened, he’s also regained an appreciation of the game itself.

“You work your whole life to play in this league and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do it,” said DeBrusk. “There’s a lot of little learning experiences that make you tick. It really makes you grateful when things are going well.”

This and that

Count Bruce Cassidy as a fan of the new national broadcasts on ESPN and TNT.

“I like Charles Barkley. I think he’s entertaining no matter what he’s talking about,” said the B’s coach. “But to have those old hockey minds (Wayne Gretzky, Rick Tocchet on TNT; Mark Messier, Chris Chelios on ESPN), and I grew up idolizing those guys, and some I played with, so it’s kind of neat just hearing them telling stories on hockey. Because not every fan wants to hear everyone’s role on a neutral zone forecheck. So you can break the game down and have analysts who are good at that, and other times it’s good just to have guys who were really outstanding hockey players just talking hockey and maybe telling a few stories.”…

Cassidy held off announcing his starting goaltender till Friday. If you have a pot of gold, we suggest you bet on it being Jeremy Swayman.

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Protestors depart from Michelle Wu’s house — and end up at Ed Flynn’s



Protestors depart from Michelle Wu’s house — and end up at Ed Flynn’s

There’s been some peace and quiet for a couple of days outside Mayor Michelle Wu’s Roslindale home — because the protestors who’ve been screaming at her about the vaccine mandate trekked across town and began doing so outside Council President Ed Flynn’s house.

Flynn, of South Boston, is now the target of the anti-vaxxers’ ire after a couple of different statements over the weekend in which he decried the tone the demonstrators were taking with Wu outside her house over the mayor’s vaccine mandates.

“A person’s home should be a safe place,” Flynn said in a statement on Tuesday. “Here in Boston and across the country, we are seeing behavior that is crossing the line with the potential to escalate to violence. We need to treat each other with respect and dignity.”

Video shot Tuesday morning, the second in a row in which people have been outside his house, features a woman yelling at the top of her lungs that Flynn, who’s a Navy veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, is a “communist” and a “traitor.”

This is similar rhetoric that the protestors used with Wu outside her Roslindale home as most days dawned over the past couple of weeks — calling her a communist and, on the morning of her 37th birthday last week, chanting “Happy birthday, Hitler.”

Wu, speaking on the radio on GBH on Tuesday, called these types of chants “hateful language” that’s “quite scary in some ways,” and said protestors had seized on “national right-wing talking points.”

The protestors are taking issue with her vaccine mandate for city workers and the requirement that many Boston venues have to require proof of vaccination. Both of those prongs of the mandate went into effect this week, and the city will begin to place non-compliant city workers on leave next week.

Flynn, whose district includes Southie and Chinatown, on Saturday had been responding to a question about whether his father, the former mayor Raymond Flynn, ever had protestors outside of his house. Yes, Flynn had told reporters, but he said this is a “different level of intensity” and, he added, “I honestly believe some of it is related to an anti-Asian sentiment in this country.”

The protestors hadn’t totally forgotten about Wu, though — a couple of people did show up at her press conference on Tuesday to shout questions about what they characterized as “discrimination” against them and other unvaccinated people over the city’s implementation of vaccine mandates and passports.

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Ricardo Arroyo ‘considering’ bid for Suffolk County District Attorney



Ricardo Arroyo ‘considering’ bid for Suffolk County District Attorney

Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo is the latest name floated to be in the running for the open Suffolk County District Attorney seat.

The former public defender confirmed he’s fielding calls and “considering” a bid but was otherwise tight-lipped about his aspirations for higher office.

Arroyo is fresh off his reelection to his second term representing District 5.

Sources close to the city councilor say he’s motivated to ensure former Suffolk County District Attorney turned U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ criminal justice reform movement carries on in her absence. Politico first reported Arroyo’s interest in the seat.

Rollins was sworn in as the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts under President Biden on Jan. 10, becoming the first Black woman to hold the role.

Arroyo was born in Hyde Park — the district he now represents — to parents Felix D. Arroyo, a former Boston city councilor and the current register of probate for Suffolk County and Elsa Montano, a retired Boston Public Schools teacher.

Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Sex Offender Registry Board Chair Kevin Hayden to serve out the rest of Rollins’ term as Suffolk district attorney. He formerly served as an assistant district attorney in the county he now serves as district attorney. Hayden hasn’t yet said if he plans to run for a full term in the upcoming November election.

No one has formally jumped into the 2022 Suffolk district attorney’s race yet, but it’s expected to draw multiple hopefuls.

Fellow councilor Michael Flaherty has been rumored as another potential candidate.

Flaherty, an attorney, also once served as an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The Boston native has spent a collective 16 years as a city councilor.

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Microsoft buys game maker Activision Blizzard for about $70B



Microsoft buys game maker Activision Blizzard for about $70B


Microsoft is paying the enormous sum of nearly $70 billion for Activision Blizzard, the maker of Candy Crush and Call of Duty, a deal that would immediately make it a larger video-game company than Nintendo while raising questions about the deal’s possible anti-competitive effects.

The all-cash $68.7 billion deal will turn Microsoft, maker of the Xbox gaming system, into one of the world’s largest video game companies. It will also help it compete with tech rivals such as Meta, formerly Facebook, in creating immersive virtual worlds for both work and play.

If the deal survives scrutiny from U.S. and European regulators in the coming months, it could be one of the biggest tech acquisitions in history. Dell bought data-storage company EMC in 2016 for around $60 billion.

Activision has been buffeted for months by allegations of misconduct and unequal pay. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed the issue Tuesday in a conference call with investors.

“The culture of our organization is my No. 1 priority,” Nadella said, adding that ”it’s critical for Activision Blizzard to drive forward” on its commitments to improve its workplace culture.

Activision disclosed last year it was being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over complaints of workplace discrimination and in September settled claims brought by U.S. workforce discrimination regulators. California’s civil rights agency sued the Santa Monica-based company in July, citing a “frat boy” culture that had become a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.”

Wall Street saw the acquisition as a big win for Activision Blizzard Inc. and its shares soared 25% in trading Tuesday, making up for losses over the past six months since California’s discrimination lawsuit was filed. Shares of Microsoft slipped about 2%.

Last year, Microsoft spent $7.5 billion to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of video game publisher Bethesda Softworks, which is behind popular video games The Elder Scrolls, Doom and Fallout. Microsoft’s properties also include the hit game Minecraft after it bought Swedish game studio Mojang for $2.5 billion in 2014.

The Redmond, Washington, tech giant said the latest acquisitions will help beef up its Xbox Game Pass game subscription service while also accelerating its ambitions for the metaverse, a collection of virtual worlds envisioned as a next generation of the internet. While Xbox already has its own game-making studio, the prospect of Microsoft controlling so much game content raised questions about whether the company could restrict Activision games from competing consoles, although Nadella promised the deal would help people play games “wherever, whenever and however they want.”

The acquisition would push Microsoft past Nintendo as the third-largest video game company by global revenue, behind Playstation-maker Sony and Chinese tech giant Tencent, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.

“Microsoft needed to do an aggressive deal given their streaming ambitions and metaverse strategy,” Ives said. ”They’re the only game in town that can do a deal of this size with the other tech stalwarts under massive tech scrutiny.”

Meta, Google, Amazon and Apple have all attracted increasing attention from antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe, but the Activision deal is so big that it will also likely put Microsoft into the regulatory spotlight, Ives said. Microsoft is already facing delays in its planned $16 billion acquisition of Massachusetts speech recognition company Nuance because of an investigation by British antitrust regulators.

Microsoft is able to make such a big all-cash purchase of Activision because of its success as a cloud computing provider. But after years of focusing on shoring up its business clients and products such as the Office suite of email and other work tools, Ives said Microsoft’s failed 2020 attempt to acquire social media platform TikTok may have “really whet the appetite for Nadella to do a big consumer acquisition.”

Pushback against the deal was immediate from consumer advocacy groups.

“No way should the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice permit this merger to proceed,” said a statement from Alex Harman, competition policy advocate for Public Citizen. “If Microsoft wants to bet on the ‘metaverse,’ it should invest in new technology, not swallow up a competitor.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had no comment on Microsoft’s announcement at her briefing Tuesday, but emphasized the Biden administration’s recent moves to strengthen enforcement against illegal and anticompetitive mergers.

Started in 1979 by former Atari Inc. employees, Activision has created or acquired many of the most popular video games, from Pitfall in the 1980s to Guitar Hero and the World of Warcraft franchise. Bobby Kotick, 59, has been CEO since 1991.

Microsoft said it expects the deal to close in its 2023 fiscal year, which starts in July. It said Kotick will continue to serve as CEO. After the deal closes, the Activision business unit would then report to Phil Spencer, who has led Microsoft’s Xbox division and will now serve as CEO of Microsoft Gaming.

Kotick survived a number of executive shakeups at Activision last year after a series of controversies stemming from allegations of a toxic workplace culture. A shareholder lawsuit in August said the company failed to disclose to investors that it was being investigated in California and that it had workplace culture issues that could result in legal problems.

Activision reached a deal in September with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to settle claims that followed a nearly three-year investigation. The agency said Activision failed to take effective action after employees complained about sexual harassment, discriminated against pregnant employees and retaliated against employees who spoke out, including by firing them.

Microsoft has also been investigating its own practices toward sexual harassment and gender discrimination, opening an inquiry last week sought by investors at its annual shareholders meeting in November. The company committed to publishing a report later this year on how it handles harassment claims, including past allegations involving senior leaders such as co-founder Bill Gates.

AP writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

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