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Ben Kuzma: Rocky Mountains video adds levity to NHL hub-city competition – The Province



Vancouver doesn’t need a promotional video to trump its NHL hub readiness.

Gerry Kahrmann / PNG files

In a 64-second promotional video, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney used the majestic Rocky Mountains to help champion Edmonton as an NHL hub city for resumption of league play

Can a little levity go a long way?

Despite all the seriousness of proposed NHL hub-city concepts in Vancouver and Edmonton — especially stringent testing and cohort quarantine bubbles to ease novel coronavirus outbreak concerns — came a lighter moment courtesy of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

In a 64-second promotional video rolled out Monday, Kenney used the majestic Rocky Mountains to help champion the Alberta capital as one of two cities that could be named this week to host a restart of the NHL season that was paused March 12 by COVID-19.

Edmonton only appears in a few seconds of the family tourism video.

“It’s the obvious choice to bring the NHL to Edmonton,” said Kenney, knowing a successful bid would help stimulate a sagging economy.

If we concede Las Vegas as a preferred hub — and the league’s zest to name a Canadian city that has crushed the COVID-19 curve — then this Vancouver versus Edmonton thing has reached another level. Toronto, Chicago and Los Angeles are other contenders.

In the Alberta video, the following titles pop up: ‘Playoffs in Edmonton’, ‘Play in the Rockies’, ‘Room to Breathe’, ‘Kind’. ‘Considerate’. ‘Consider It Done’. Segments show lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, tours, fishing, horseback riding, golf and everyone embracing the splendour and superlative accommodations.

The pitch has nothing to do with Edmonton’s favourable arena and hotel infrastructure, but everything to do with the hope that when playoffs reach the final two rounds, there may be an adjusted quarantine concept so families can be in proximity to players.

That seems like a real reach because of current quarantine edicts.

The NHL Players’ Association has a say in where its members play, but families entering Canada from abroad are still subject to the additional 14-day quarantine period. How do you sell that to a player? How does his family enjoy the great outdoors from a hotel room after a four-hour drive from Edmonton to Jasper?

In the Vancouver hub proposal, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stressed players and staff must remain in 50-person cohort quarantine bubbles through duration of the post-season. No interaction with the public and no family contact — even though B.C. Premier John Horgan broached that possibility two weeks ago.

In the pitch, Horgan hoped families would stay in the same Vancouver hotel as their team and board private buses to practices, meals and other events organized by the club. They would also receive regular COVID-19 testing at the expense of the team.

“We’re promoting the family element of what B.C. provides and how that fits in the quarantine will be up to the teams to figure out,” Horgan told Postmedia News at the time. “It could be a family unit where the team takes up to three floors of a hotel and there’s no co-mingling with residents.”

On the surface it sounded good, but in reality of the new normal and tight bubbles and restricted movements, it wasn’t going to work. Maybe in three months, but not now. And if the courting card game comes to that, Vancouver can raise the family fun ante by offering up Whistler, boating and whale watching.

B.C. Tourism Minister Lisa Beare reiterated provincial health concerns on Tuesday to confirm that the modified quarantine would only “allow players to quarantine themselves as a unit.”

In the interim, there’s much to suggest that Vancouver is a serious hub contender. The infrastructure at UBC as a practice facility has gone well past the curiosity stage and the abundance of five-star hotels in the downtown core is not lost on the league and its players.

The JW Marriott, for example, is a short walk from Rogers Arena and was the host hotel for the 2019 NHL entry draft.

In the end, these boxes must be checked for a successful bid:


B.C. and Alberta have been champions of flattening the COVID-19 curve. 

Edmonton has experienced little U.S. border traffic and has had aggressive testing. Still, the number of active cases increased in the last 10 days and five restaurants closed temporarily this week after staff and customers tested positive.


This is the kicker.

Containing games, practices and accommodations in proximity was Job No. 1 for bidders. Vancouver has the UBC options, but that comes with transportation challenges and multiple buses and drivers to ensure physical distancing. And are drivers included in that 50-person bubble? 

The cavernous Rogers Place in Edmonton has a practice facility attached to it and the 346-room JW Marriott hotel is across the street and accessed by an overhead pedestrian walkway. That’s a big plus, but Vancouver’s broader base of five-star downtown hotels is a big boon.

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NASCAR, Wallace respond to Presidents tweet – Yahoo Canada Shine On



President Trump on Monday asked on Twitter if an apology was forthcoming from NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace for his alleged role in what he termed a “hoax” two weeks ago at Talladega Superspeedway, adding that the sanctioning body’s decision to ban the confederate flag has hurt television ratings for its events.

None of these claims are true.

Wallace, the lone Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, embraced a widespread show of support from the stock-car racing industry and his fellow drivers two weeks ago after the discovery of a noose at his team’s assigned stall at Talladega Superspeedway. The rest of the Cup Series driver roster stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with Wallace on Talladega’s pit road after a crew member for his Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 team reported the noose’s presence to NASCAR officials that weekend.

The Birmingham office of the FBI launched an investigation, later determining that no hate crime had been committed against Wallace and that the garage pull had been tied into a noose since last fall’s events at the Alabama track. That prompted conspiracy theories and other allegations of wrongdoing on social media accusing NASCAR and/or Wallace of falsifying the timeline of events.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed those charges at a press conference June 25, stating: “Bubba Wallace and the 43 team had nothing to do with this.”

Wallace responded later Monday with his own statement, encouraging his followers to “keep your head held high” and saying in part that “always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE! Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS. Love wins.”

Trump’s mention of the “Flag decision” refers to NASCAR’s June 10 decision to ban the confederate flag from its events and properties. That resolution came days after Wallace advocated for its removal and days after NASCAR drivers banded together for a video message speaking out for social justice in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others in the Black community.

Trump’s claim of “lowest ratings EVER” is false, unsupported by the facts of recent TV ratings data. NBC Sports on Monday said the NASCAR Cup Series’ Sunday event averaged a total audience of 4.37 million viewers, a 46 percent increase from last year’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway race and a 32 percent rise over the Daytona event held on the same weekend last year. Michael Mulvihill, FOX Sports executive vice president in charge of research and Nielsen ratings analysis, said his network’s ratings were up 8 percent since NASCAR racing resumed in May after the coronavirus outbreak.

NASCAR released its own statement Monday afternoon, saying “We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership. NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.”

A spokesperson also reiterated the stance made by NASCAR President Steve Phelps on June 25: “Bubba has done nothing but represent this sport with courage, class and dignity and he stood tall for what he believes in.”

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Decade Deals: How other 10-year NFL contracts panned out – theScore



The Kansas City Chiefs are locking up Patrick Mahomes for the next decade, as the parties agreed Monday to a 10-year extension worth up to $503 million.

While such instances are rare, Mahomes isn’t the first recipient of a contract spanning 10-plus years. Here’s how the other decade-long deals panned out:

March 2001: Brett Favre gets 10 years, $100M from Packers

Favre didn’t anticipate playing beyond 2006 but took a 10-year deal at 31 to help Green Bay massage the salary cap. Though his best days were behind him, Favre still led the NFL in passing touchdowns once and gave the Packers four Pro Bowl seasons after signing the deal. The club made the playoffs five times over the next seven years, and Favre broke the NFL career passing touchdowns record in a Packers uniform.

Favre didn’t finish the contract in Green Bay, though, as he was traded to the New York Jets in 2008 after ending a brief retirement. The Jets released him in 2009 after he retired again, and he signed a fresh contract when he made a second comeback as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

March 2001: Drew Bledsoe gets 10 years, $103M from Patriots

Bledsoe was already regarded as the greatest quarterback in Patriots history by the time he signed his deal. And at 29, it appeared he was signing up to spend the rest of his career in New England. But Bledsoe played only two more games for the Patriots, as an injury in Week 2 of the 2001 season spelled the beginning of the Tom Brady era.

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Bledsoe helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl that year after relieving an injured Brady in the AFC Championship Game and collected a ring as Brady’s backup. Bill Belichick and Co. traded him to the Buffalo Bills that offseason with nine years left on his contract. While Bledsoe got off to a hot start with his new team, he fizzled the following season and was released after the 2004 campaign.

September 2002: Donovan McNabb gets 12 years, $115M from Eagles

McNabb owns the record for the longest contract in NFL history. At 26, he agreed to a 12-year pact with Philadelphia. The deal quickly paid dividends, as McNabb led the Eagles to a Super Bowl berth two years after signing. The Eagles were perennial contenders with McNabb, though they never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy or returned to the Big Game after the 2004 season.

Shockingly, the Eagles traded him to the Washington Redskins in 2010 with four years remaining on his contract. Though only 34, McNabb’s game fell off quickly in Washington, which made the five-year extension he received midway through the 2010 campaign a head-scratcher. He was relegated to third-string duties late in the season and was traded to the Vikings in July 2011. McNabb spent less than one miserable season in Minnesota before he was released, and he retired soon after.

May 2003: Daunte Culpepper gets 10 years, $102M from Vikings

One of the most exciting young quarterbacks in football at the time, Culpepper was 26 when he inked his extension. He immediately rewarded the Vikings with two of his best seasons. In 2004, Culpepper established a new NFL record for total yards by a quarterback, racking up 5,123. He led the league in passing that year with over 4,700 yards.

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty

But he got off to a horrid start in 2005, and in late October, he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. The Vikings shipped him to the Miami Dolphins, who were more encouraged by his injury outlook than that of Drew Brees. Culpepper struggled with the Dolphins and was released after one year, with six seasons remaining on his contract. The three-time Pro Bowler had forgettable stints with the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions before exiting the NFL for good.

December 2004: Michael Vick gets 10 years, $130M from Falcons

Atlanta gave a 24-year-old Vick, perhaps the most electrifying quarterback the NFL had ever seen, the richest contract in league history. Vick steered the Falcons to the NFC divisional round that year and appeared to be ascending, but he plateaued. While he became the first quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season in 2006, his lack of progress as a passer kept him from joining the top echelon of quarterbacks and the Falcons from becoming a Super Bowl threat.

Everything came crashing down in the summer of 2007, as Vick was arrested for his role in a dogfighting ring and spent most of the next two years in prison. The Falcons recovered nearly $20 million in arbitration, and the signal-caller signed with the Eagles upon returning to professional football.

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Blue Jays’ 60-game schedule for the abbreviated 2020 MLB regular season – Bluebird Banter



Major League Baseball chose to unveil their 2020 schedule on MLB Network with MLB Tonight: Schedule Release by Camping World®. For some reason, that show conveniently skipped over the Blue Jays’ schedules (along with others) even though they had a lot of talking. That left us to try to piece together the schedule from other teams’ releases until the Blue Jays finally made their own announcement.

Blue Jays baseball is scheduled to return at 6:40 pm on July 24 against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

It is still unclear where these games will be held, but the Blue Jays will open their home schedule on July 29 against the Washington Nationals as a second half of a home-and-home. The Jays then host the Phillies then the Marlins—meaning the first American League team to visit will be the Rays on the weekend of August 14.

If they do get to play in Toronto, the only place to see live baseball games will likely be in one of the field-view suites at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, which is attached to the Rogers Centre. While rooms are available to be booked, it is not clear whether fans will actually be permitted to occupy them as both Blue Jays and visiting personnel are to be set up in there.

The Blue Jays will not be playing on the August 3 Civic Holiday but will be at home hosting the Yankees on Labour Day. The 2020 regular season will end with a seven-game homestand against the Yankees and Orioles. Actually, the Blue Jays will play their entire 10-game schedule against the Yankees in September.

September 27 is the final day of the regular season, and all games, including the Baltimore-Toronto tilt is scheduled to begin at around 3 pm ET.

All home games Monday through Saturday are scheduled to start at 6:37 pm, with Sunday games starting at 3:07 pm.he only exception is the game on Monday, August 31 against Baltimore, when first pitch will be at 2:07 pm. Toronto will not have an off day between August 21 and September 9, playing 20 games in 20 days.

You can explore the schedule in detail at

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