Mike Babcock Rightfully Out in Columbus; But What Precedent Does This Set? Chris “Jong” Drury Talks to His State Media; Riveting Commentary on Panarin, Ranger Rookies Sweep Flyers; Early Prospect Impressions, NYR Camp Opens Wednesday & More

Following what’s been a busy week in the NHL, or at least in Columbus – the New York Rangers will open training camp this Wednesday. Come Sunday, September 24th, the team will then play their first of six exhibition/preseason games in Boston, MA.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. I told you all summer that the season (and the off-season too) quickly flies by, and now, as I write these words in the middle of September – the Rangers are all back in the New York Metro area and gearing up for day one of training camp.

But before getting into the Rangers tonight; of course, the current state of affairs in Columbus, OH.

When I last left you (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/91423/ ), I talked about what Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney, of “The Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast, had to say about Blue Jackets’ bench boss, Mike Babcock. At this time, a refresher:

Following CBJ’s team-issued statement, both Biz and Whitney have accused Babcock of “bullshit.”

In other words, the former-players-turned-podcasters are sticking to their guns – and they are now also releasing text messages (with the senders’ names edited out of these screen shots) as proof of what they reported.

In my eyes, all of this tells me the following:

1) Babcock is hated. If he wasn’t, then the players wouldn’t be running to both Biz and Whitney, who many look to as both the voice of reason and advocates of the players.

2) I don’t think that Biz and Whitney are lying. They haven’t before and they have no incentive to risk their reputations by making up a story out of thin air.

3) Columbus needed this story like a cannon-sized hole in their heads.

4) It will be interesting to see how the NHLPA, the weakest union in sports, views this. After all, if both Biz and Whitney are 100% proven true, then what Babcock did is a violation of the workplace – and a fireable offense too.

Hello Gerard Gallant?

I originally wrote the words featured above on Thursday, September 14th. Three days later, on Sunday, September 17th, and in a story that you are all probably aware of too by now – Mike Babcock “officially” resigned from the club, where in his statement, he cited that he didn’t want to be come a distraction.

I put the word “officially” in quotes, because it is thought that had Babcock not resigned, then he would’ve been fired.

For the record, here is what Babcock said, where if you notice, an apology or admission of guilt was not rendered:

“Upon reflection, it has become clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction. While I’m disappointed to not have had the opportunity to continue the work we’ve begun, I know it’s in the best interest of the organization for me to step away at this time. I wish everyone in the organization well in the upcoming season.”

As you may suspect, Babcock’s resignation, so close to the start of the 2023-24 season, opens up a ton of questions – and a bunch of dirty worms covered in the filthiest of mud too – especially for the brain-trust in Cannon Land, Team President John Davidson and General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen – where many are championing for team owner, John P. McConnell, one of the most laissez-faire owners in the league, to give the pink slip to his front office too.

The official (no quote marks needed this time!) website of the Columbus Blue Jackets, which must be receiving a record amount of web traffic these days, posted the following statement from McConnell, a statement written after Babcock stepped down – and again – “allegedly” on his own accord:

Photo Credit: CBJ

I thought McConnell’s final paragraph was most telling, when he said:

“We had candid conversations with our leadership after last season about our goals and expectations for growth and progress on the ice in 2023-24. Those expectations are still in place and can still be achieved, so we do not anticipate further changes to our hockey leadership team at this time. Additional disruptions would be detrimental to our players and coaches as they prepare for the opening of training camp in two days. We will continue to have regular communications with our hockey leadership and are looking forward to an exciting season.”

In other words, both Davidson and Kekalainen are safe for now, just because the season is about to start and the organization doesn’t want anymore disruptions/headaches/issues to deal with.

Put it this way: Had this phone incident taken place in June or July, then I believe that both Davidson and Kekalainen would be unemployed right now too.


Both Davidson, who despite his status as a beloved hero in Rangerstown, USA, hasn’t exactly been a success during his 17-years as a front office executive, and Kekalainen, one of the longest tenured general managers in the league, and with only five playoff appearances in ten-years to show for it (four first-round exits, one second-round ousting) – neither man will be firing off any cannons in Ohio come the 2024-25 campaign.

Could a JD return to the M$GN announce booth, with his good old chum Sam Rosen, be on the way?

To quote the late and great Gorilla Monsoon, “I find that highly doubtful!”

Another prediction?

This mess in Columbus doesn’t bode well for both head coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman either – two men who just last week, were formally reintroduced to all 32 front offices in the league in a spearheaded by Gary Bettman “get the feet wet for a return” campaign.

After all, and following this fiasco – the league’s 32 franchises are going to be very leery of anyone with a checkered past.

At the very least, should things play out as predicted here, and both Davidson and Kekalainen are axed in Columbus – I don’t see Bowman taking over the Blue Jackets’ front office.

And should the new head coach hire, the twice-passed-over, third-time-is-a-charm, Pascal Vincent, aka Babcock’s replacement, not fare well – then I don’t see Coach Q., should he ever return to the NHL, landing with CBJ.

Babock’s reaction after scrolling through my phone and wondering why I have 97867896796796976 memes of this guy! I kid, I kid – or am I?!?!?

As stated, there’s a lot of fallout and consequences from this story – and perhaps some new precedents set too.

When I first wrote about this story on this site last week, and in all of my tweets that followed on Elon Musk’s “X” app, I defended both Whitney and Bissonnette. I believed every word that they said from the jump, because after all, they are what they say they are – “a players for players podcast.”

Furthermore, while I do think that Biz’s language isn’t what’s best for the NHL’s television rights partner, TNT (he’s said far worse things than Mike Milbury ever did, a broadcaster who was fired during the height of the COVID/Cancel Culture era – and Milbury never made a rape joke in the NHL’s post Kyle Beach era either); at the same time, the colorful on-air personality is not going to open himself up for any slander or libel lawsuit.

In other words, he’s not inventing a story for site traffic/views/listens. There was meat on this bone, and as we found out – a whole lot of meat.

In my final disclaimer/qualifying statement before getting into what I’m about to say next; I also believe what Babcock did was a fireable offense – and as I said on Thursday night.

What he did was illegal – and just think – would you want your boss to have open access to your phone, where today, our phones are our most prized and personal possessions?

That all said, I do wonder what kind of precedent this sets too, and I must give my buddy, Mike The Esquire (@_EsqofSportsFSU on Twitter/X), an assist here too for first putting this thought into my head.

Moving forward, what happens if other players, whether fairly disgruntled or not, decide to run to hockey podcasters and media as a way to anonymously vent their gripes with a head coach or front office executive?

While players have moaned-and-groaned to media members since the origination of this league (hello Conn Smythe and the Rangers); this is a different world than it was in 1926 (when “Tex’s Rangers” were founded) – and there were no prominent podcasts back then either – and yes – “Spittin’ Chiclets” is the most prominent NHL podcast out there today – and with all due respect to “32 Thoughts.”

After all, and as we’ve seen with the Rangers twice in a span of only three years – the players have all of the power.

If the players want a coach fired, then more times than not, that’s what will happen today.

As said many times on this site before, players have guaranteed contracts – another ugly ramification of the hard-salary cap – while coaches and front office executives aren’t afforded this same luxury.

You can’t fire the players, but you can fire coaches.

But let me be clear – this Babcock situation is unique to itself. He deserved to be fired. What he did was wrong. There’s no arguing otherwise.

However, and let’s use John Tortorella as an example here, as he’s another fiery coach and now with a young club – what happens if the players on the Flyers complain about Torts and his style? Will he meet the same fate?

Again, while I understand that there are different parameters and levels to this; at the same time, the players now know if they don’t like something, then there is a good chance that if they unite, then perhaps they can get their boss fired.

One of the weakest unions in North America today, the NHLPA. Photo Credit: NHLPA

Another thing to consider in light of this story is that the NHLPA, the players’ union, known for being as strong as a piece of paper soaked in a bathtub, came out as a winner.

Under new leadership, Executive Director Marty Walsh, and his assistant, Ron Hainsey, this duo, along with their legal team, conducted a swift and thorough investigation, where in just three days – BOOM – see ya Babcock.

Perhaps it’s just too bad that Walsh and company weren’t around in 2004.

In any event, the forced resignation of Babcock wasn’t only a major win for both “Spittin’ Chiclets” and all detractors of the head coach – but it was the best win yet of Walsh’s young regime.

Up next for Walsh’s crew?

Trying to figure out a balance and a way to reinstall the middle class in the NHL – a topic that I talked about during my last blog.

Making things crazier in Columbus was that on Monday, September 18th, the team held their annual media luncheon on YouTube – an event that was scheduled before this Babcock story first broke. Photo Credit: CBJ

I know that this site is dedicated to the Blueshirts – and not the Blue Jackets – but some closing remarks.

(But hey – the Blue Jackets are a Rangers’ rival, so in a way, their current state of disarray is Blueshirts’ news too!)

In more evidence to support a firing of the current front office in Ohio; on Monday, John Davidson admitted that the hiring of Babcock, controversial before the ink even dried on his contract, was wrong.

And as you’d imagine, his general manager backed him up, while also trying to look ahead to the future.

If anyone besides the players in Columbus comes out as a winner here, then it’s new head coach Pascal Vincent, now coaching under unorthodox circumstances. In theory, Vincent, who signed a two-year deal in the Babcock aftermath, should at least get a free pass in Year 1.

It’s also a shame that this Babcock story is stealing headlines from the hopeful new star in Columbus (then a Ranger in 8-10 years after that – see Nash, Rick and Panarin, Artemi), Adam Fantilli, as the third-overall pick of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft scored a hat trick this weekend in one of the Blue Jackets’ Traverse City Tournament prospect games.

It should also be noted that no financial terms were disclosed following this resignation, but following his departure in Toronto – Babcock, historically, may be the highest paid coach in history to sit at home.

Babcock, who was paid $25,000,000 in total ($6,250,000 annually) by the Leafs to NOT coach the team; the Cup-winning bench boss had signed a two-year deal worth $8,000,000 in total with Columbus in July – and of course – right after his four-years of sitting at home on the Leafs’ many dimes had expired.

Again, no information has spilled out just yet; but I’d have to think that Babcock will get some sort of compensation here for “doing the right thing” – stepping down from his post.

Had Columbus fired him outright, then Babcock would’ve been entitled to his entire salary.

So why did Babcock walk away from $8M?

My deduction and speculation?

In the back of his mind, he still thinks he has one more shot at bagging a prominent coaching job somewhere, whether it be in the NHL, overseas or at the collegiate level. By being agreeable to resign here, it allows him to try to find another job while giving the appearance of being a good employee.

And for Babcock, now at the age of 60-years-old – time is running out for a man looking to restore his once pristine reputation.

Fortunately for him, he’s already a member of the Triple Crown/Gold Club – but also unfortunately for him – his legacy may never be restored.

The only way I can ever envision Babcock returning to an NHL post is should he have success elsewhere – and where most likely – that success will have to come with a young team, whether it’s in Europe, Russia or on the college circuit.

But of course – what hockey front office executive, outside of a minor league team desperately needing a draw/press, would be willing to give the beleaguered bench boss chance #3?

I’ve had enough of this story for one week, so moving on – our beloved Blueshirts.

(However, if you haven’t had enough of “Babcock Mania,” then check out the league’s official report on the story, one that I found to be fair and balanced, over at: https://www.nhl.com/news/blue-jackets-john-davidson-says-mike-babcock-hire-was-mistake )

While I have no faith in the Rangers’ chances to win the Stanley Cup this season, nor am as I excited for the commencement of this campaign as I have been in years’ past; it is good to finally have hockey back.

As previously discussed on this site; over the weekend, the Blueshirts and the Broad Street Bullies played in a pair of exhibition games featuring each organization’s rookies and prospects. And as always, in one of my most redundant and perhaps now boring gripes – the Rangers couldn’t be bothered to broadcast these games – aka “THE RANGERS’ WAY!”

(And none of the beat reporters could be bothered to cover it either, as the worst crop of reporters in team history had better things to do, such as posting pictures on social media of what they ate.)

As opposed to last year, when the Flyers swept the Rangers in these two games, this time around, the Blueshirts, with Kris Knoblauch behind the bench, busted out the brooms, following their 4-2 Game 1 (Friday) and 3-1 Game 2 (Saturday) victories.

(Of note: Peter Laviolette was in-attendance, but like anything else that the Rangers do that is minor-league related, it was the Hartford head coach manning the bench with his staff.)

I was able to watch the Friday night game – and with a major kudos to the Flyers too – as they streamed the game on their website. I did not see the Saturday game, as due to their local television rights deal with their NBC affiliate, the Flyers weren’t able to stream the second contest.

Apparently, “The Pizza Man,” the king of Colony Pizza in Connecticut, Rangers’ Team President Chris Drury, had no interest in sharing these games with his fans. After all, M$G sells out for every game, so he doesn’t have to do anything extra for Blueshirt backers.

Conversely, the Flyers, who have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to sharing every piece of team information and exhibition games with their fans, and win-or-lose at that too; do need to fill seats in the Wells Fargo Arena this season.

As you already know, my forte is Rangers’ history – and not prospects.

After all, it’s much easier to discuss what happened than trying to predict what’s going to happen next.

However, just a few thoughts about what I saw on Friday as someone who is not too overly familiar with most of these players:

— For a group that really has no experience playing with each other (and this goes for every line, defensive pairing and the team in general), I thought the top line of Adam Sykora, Karl Henriksson and Brennan Othmann looked alright.

— Othmann, who must be wiser than Alexis Lafreniere, played on his off-wing, the right wing. While there are no stats/box scores from these games; Othmann did drive a lot of the offense and put up a healthy amount of shots on goal too, particularly on the power-play.

— Goaltender Dylan Garand, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, also made a few game-changing saves, including on two breakaways. For the 21-year-old puck-stopper, who had an up-and-down season in Hartford last year, this performance was encouraging. After all, it’s my prediction that he gets called-up this year – following Jonathan Quick going down the Marty Biron (retired and replaced by Cam Talbot in 2013-14) and Ondrej Pavelec (retired and replaced by Alexandar Georgiev in 2017-18) route.

— If there was anything “alarming” about the two goals that Garand gave up, one on a Flyers’ power-play that he had no chance on; then it was the fact that “THE RANGERS’ WAY” was on full display – as both Philly goals took place with just under a minute remaining in regulation (first and second periods).

— If anyone truly impressed me, and since I’m a caveman, then it was the third-line right-winger Matt Rempe:

#73, Matt Rempe. Photo Credit: Ira Schwartz

As you can see from the clip above, Matt Rempe, nicknamed as “REMPESTEIN” by the good folks over at “The Blueshirt Underground Show,” made short work of the Flyers’ Zayde Wisdom, where HAR-HAR-HAR – the orange-and-black skater wasn’t too wise when picking a fight with the near seven-footer (on skates).

Like others, including Othmann, who would have the best-odds, Rempe most likely won’t start the season in New York. But as a call-up when injuries occur and when a spark of life is needed? Then I believe that Rempe did a good job of at least putting that thought into the mind of his organization.

After all, I think he has more upside than a man formerly in his position, Tim Gettinger (now with the Red Wings).

Since the Rangers completely ignored that these games ever happened (not one word about them on their website), here are the detailed recaps from the games, courtesy of the Flyers/Bill Meltzer:

Game One: https://www.nhl.com/flyers/news/rookie-game-1-recap-flyers-fall-4-2

Game 2: https://www.nhl.com/flyers/news/rookie-game-2-recap-flyers-drop-3-1-decision

And yes, I know – thanking and praising the Flyers feels dirty – but what’s fair is fair!

Furthermore, to see all the Ranger goals, check out the Twitter/X account of user @DaveyUpper, who gets all of these replays up in nanoseconds. How he does it I do not know!

As far as anything else, the short-in-stature Bobby Trivigno, listed at 5’8″ but who may stand at less than that, had a strong showing on Saturday with two goals.

While there have been plenty of cases of smaller players having success (hello Martin St. Louis); I just don’t see how he fits into the Rangers’ mix – at least not at the varsity level.

Need evidence to support this theory? Then look no further to defenseman Zac Jones, who most likely spends the bulk of the 2023-24 campaign in Hartford (if not traded in-season), despite his several previous short stays in New York.

Chris “ZOOM ZOOM” Drury had another closed-doors session with his state media – where at times – these beat “reporters” may as well have asked him, “would you like to win games this season Mr. Drury Jong Un?”

On Thursday, September 14th, one day prior to the prospect games in Allentown, PA; Rangers’ Team President and General Manager, Chris Jong Drury, spoke to the media.

I’m only bringing this up because I guess it’s a story – as a Drury sighting is like seeing a groundhog in February.

Here’s one of the quotes that the Rangers shared from Drury’s chat with his state-controlled minions:

Photo Credit: NYR

What a riveting inside look! You need to play well in all three zones! What a visionary!

If there was anything else, basically white noise, then it was Drury saying that while his new head coach hire, Peter Laviolette, will have the final say on both the roster and minutes doled out; both Alexis Lafreniere and Brennan Othmann are expected to see some time at the right wing this preseason, due to the team’s current logjam at left-wing – and where both Lafreniere and Othmann are most comfortable.

Speaking of Othmann, and in news that will get Joe Micheletti rock-hard as if he just swallowed a bottle of Viagra – Drury said that Othmann had gained ten pounds of muscle this off-season. We’ll probably hear this fact no less than 9767898686896879679678969 times during the Rangers’ six preseason games.

Drury also said that due to the dozen fourth-liners that he signed this off-season (my summary – and not what he said verbatim), that he won’t be signing any veteran players to PTO contracts. (So much for an Eric Staal reunion!)

And oh, the last piece of incredible insight from the Rangers’ Supreme Leader?

Drury thinks that Artemi Panarin wants to play better in the playoffs.

You don’t say!

If you cut the cord and live out of market, then legally, it will cost you $30 a month to watch the Rangers next season. After all, someone has to pony up the bucks for James Dolan’s $2 billion over-budget $phere in La$ Vega$! Photo Credit: M$GN

The Rangers return to camp (Tarrytown, NY) this Wednesday, where it will be day full of medicals and promotional materials being filmed.

A day later, Thursday, this 2023-24 team will hit the ice for the first time, and come Sunday, a late matinee in Beantown.

I should be back sometime before the Rangers and Bruins rekindle their rivalry.

As is the case every preseason, while I’ll give you some thoughts on all six exhibition games – I don’t do my patented style of GAME REVIEWS for them. After all, it’s the preseason and that’s when coaches and players experiment and try new things.

In other words, and much like the prospect games, you can’t really judge a team at this time of year.

And really, and I feel like I should put this on a t-shirt too because I’ve only said it 987676976976 times this summer – I’m not vested in the Rangers’ 82 regular season games either.

This team will only be judged by whatever they do in the postseason – no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Everything else is a slow six-month exercise to when the games really matter.

Drop the puck.

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

On Monday, September 18th, our buddies over at “2 Guys 1 Cup” ended their two-month hiatus with a return episode.

To check it out, click this link: https://www.facebook.com/100003992272173/videos/850665726466486/

On Thursday, September 21st, at 7:00PM, our other friends, “The Blueshirt Underground Show,” will end their one-month vacation with a new episode.

You can watch/listen to the show live here: https://www.youtube.com/@theblueshirtundergroundshow/streams

My fourth title and tenth book is now available for preorder!

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for preorder.

For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/

The hardcover version of my first book, available now at Amazon.com

My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:


For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.

My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/

To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”

The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!

“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.

All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.

To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com

To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:

Is the Current State of NYC Driving Away Potential Free Agents? Tyler Motte Signs with Tampa; The NHL’s “Middle Class” Being Phased Away, Alice Cooper, TNT’s Paul Bissonnette Suggests a Violent Crime Against Mike Babcock; Why The NHL is Ignoring It, NYR Rookies, Phil Watson’s 1940 Cup Ring, Lundqvist Reunites with Hagelin; Who Says No to a Swedish M$GN Broadcast & More

A Complete Preview of the 2023-24 NHL Season: Detailed Profiles on all 32 NHL Teams; Departures & Arrivals, Division Rankings, Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions, What to Watch, The Rangers’ Chances & More

“Once a Ranger, Always a Ranger”: Former Blueshirt Carl Hagelin Announces His Retirement; A Career Retrospective, Ranger Alumni Update: Phil Watson, Tex Rickard and Pete Stemkowski, Patrick Kane Ready For Return, 2023-24 NHL Preview & More

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my recently released four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”

If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com

For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Thanks for reading.


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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3 thoughts on “Mike Babcock Rightfully Out in Columbus; But What Precedent Does This Set? Chris “Jong” Drury Talks to His State Media; Riveting Commentary on Panarin, Ranger Rookies Sweep Flyers; Early Prospect Impressions, NYR Camp Opens Wednesday & More

  1. Like you, I don’t think that this lineup is a Stanley Cup favorite. Unlike you, I had the same thought last year. I really think this team is better than last year’s.

    The only thing that they could really change was the coach and the bottom six. I think that they upgraded both. They are still probably third in the Metro.

    I haven’t cut the cord, but I watch all non-nationally televised games on ESPN+. It is a pain in the ass to scroll past all of the soccer, women’s basketball, etc to get to the hockey, but it is there. Plus, I can choose which broadcast to watch. I do not listen to Salmon Joe very often.

    ESPN+ is $9.99 per month. It is not perfect, but it is another option.

    1. Hey Tom—

      No Tarasenko and Kane and you think they are better? Do you think KK and AL improve?

      I’m a day one subscriber of ESPN+ (still get the “godfather rate” of $4.99 for whatever reason without solicitation) because of UFC, and I think it’s a great app, especially the docs.

      I feel like I have to listen and Sam & Joe for this site lol


      1. If I remember correctly, which is a giant leap, you were saying “Stanley Cup” long before those trades. Ya, Kane and Tarasenko helped a little, but at this stage of their careers, it seemed like more of what we already had.

        I am just a casual observer though. Yes, I think that KK and AL will improve. At their ages and experience level, it is almost a given. Year 5 and age 25 is the about time for their prime.

        Have I seen glimpses of greatness? I think so out of KK. AL hopefully this year.

        I am an eternal optimist.

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