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help Italy reach the final of the 2012

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    January 7, 2020 6:02 AM MSK

    Marian Gaborik could be staying with the defending Stanley Cup champions next season and beyond. Vernon Maxwell Jersey . While nothing is done yet, TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports that the Los Angeles Kings and the pending unrestricted free agent are close on a new contract that could get done over the next 48 hours. The Kings acquired Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline and the veteran winger was instrumental in the teams Stanley Cup win. In 41 games with the Blue Jackets and Kings, Gaborik scored 11 goals and 19 assists. He missed 17 games with a sprained knee and 22 games with a broken collarbone last season. Gaborik, a native of Slovakia, was drafted by Minnestota in the first round, third overall, in 2000. He spent the first eight years of his career with Minnesota followed by a four-year stint with the New York Rangers. Gaborik was dealt to Columbus at the 2013 trade deadline. Gaborik is coming off a five-year contract that paid him an average annual value of $7.5 million per season. The 32-year-old has 347 goals and 357 assists for 704 points over 810 career games in the NHL. He has represented Slovakia numerous times on the international stage, including the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Games. Kevin Kunnert Jersey . The Red Sox maintained a share of the AL wild-card lead Tuesday night, using four home runs to beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-7 and set up a dramatic conclusion to the regular season. The skidding Red Sox were 6-19 this month before rebounding to edge the last-place Orioles. Tyson Chandler Jersey . FIFA said in a statement Friday that "several racist and discriminatory incidents were apparently perpetrated by local supporters during the match, in particular by displaying neo-Nazi banners and by making monkey noises and gestures as well as Nazi salutes.MANGARATIBA, Brazil - A hard rain was falling when Gianluigi Buffon paused for a moment during an Italy training session Tuesday. Leaning forward with both hands on his knees, Buffon appeared to be resting or somehow trying to withstand the rain. Or perhaps the 36-year-old goalkeeper and Italy captain was reflecting on this: He is only the third player in history to be part of five World Cup squads, along with Germany great Lothar Matthaus and former Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal. Buffon first went to the World Cup back in 1998, although he didnt play a second-choice option behind Gianluca Pagliuca. He then took over the starting position from 2002 onward. "A fifth World Cup is a nice milestone but that doesnt mean Im satisfied," Buffon said before departing for Brazil. "Both individually and as a squad were preparing to surprise people." Buffon, of course, doesnt need to prove anything at this point in his career. He was one of the driving forces behind Italys run to the 2006 World Cup title, when he didnt concede a single goal to opponents during normal play over the course of seven matches — letting in only an own goal from Cristian Zaccardo and a penalty from Zinedine Zidane in the final won over France. He helped Parma to the UEFA Cup title way back in 1999 and has since won five Serie A titles with Juventus — including the last three. "As the years go by, Gigi still has the same amount of desire," said midfielder Claudio Marchisio, who plays with Buffon with both Italy and Juventus. "Hes a great professional, a great friend, and a top-level player. Hes a player who is able to give his all in every moment and always offer the right words of encouragement. "There are players here who are at their first big tournament and hes always there offering the right words of advice," Marchisio added Tuesday. Now that Buffon is setting records for longevity, its worth remembering what an early start he had. Born to members of Italys national teams in athletics (his mother) and weightlifting (father), Buffons distant relative Lorenzo Buffon was also Italys goalkeeper in the 1950s. Having played in midfield as a kid, Buffon decided he wanted to be a goalkeeper after seeing Thomas NKono defend Cameroons goal during the 1990 World Cup in Italy — when Buffon was 12 — and years later Buffon named his first son Louis Thomas after NKono. In 1991 when Buffon was just 13, Parma purchased his rights and put him in their youth system. Nene Jersey. At 17, Buffon made his Serie A debut with Parma, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against AC Milan. At 19, Buffon made a memorable Italy debut on a snowy pitch in Moscow during a playoff with Russia for a spot in the 1998 World Cup. Coming off a frigid bench as an injury replacement for Pagliuca, Buffon first raised eyebrows by wearing shorts in the arctic-like conditions then made a series of impressive saves in a 1-1 draw. Fast forward to 2006, when Buffon was one of the few key players to stay with Juventus when the Turin club was relegated to Serie B due to a match-fixing scandal — meaning that a month after guiding Italy to the World Cup title, he was playing in small second-division stadiums. Then at the 2010 World Cup, Buffon struggled with back pain. He played only a portion of Italys opening match and the Azzurri were promptly eliminated after the first round. But he was back in place to help Italy reach the final of the 2012 European Championship. And last October, Buffon surpassed Fabio Cannavaro with an Italy-record 137th appearance. So how does Buffon keep going? "Motivation is the key," he said in a recent interview with Italian daily La Repubblica. "Reflexes diminish. At my age you dont improve anymore, so its better to reduce training and take better care of injury prevention, nutrition and gym work." Buffon has often recounted how he fell into depression about 10 years ago, then resuscitated himself by turning to literature. He has also been the subject of a couple betting scandals. In 2011, he married Czech model Alena Seredova but Buffon announced last month when Italy gathered to begin training that they had separated. In announcing their split, Buffon thanked Seredova publicly for not making things too difficult for him, and said that he hopes she will bring their two boys to watch him play in Brazil. Whether Seredova and the boys come is yet to be seen. Either way, Buffon has already inscribed his name in the World Cup record books. And who knows, maybe Buffon will continue playing and go back to Russia and the site of his Italy debut for the 2018 World Cup, when hell be 40 — the same age that one of his idols, Dino Zoff, was when he helped Italy to the 1982 World Cup title. "Ill keep playing as long as I dont become a reserve," Buffon said. "Once the day comes that I get benched, thats when Ill hang my boots up." ___ Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/asdampf ' ' '