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Blue Jackets out to win Stanley Cup, not No. 1 pick, Foligno says – NHL.com

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The Columbus Blue Jackets are confident they can defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in their best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifier series, and the players are not thinking about the possibility of Columbus winning the No. 1 pick in the Second Phase of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, captain Nick Foligno said.

“That one doesn’t fly for me. We play to win the Stanley Cup regardless,” Foligno, a forward, told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio on Sunday. “[The No. 1 pick is] where management’s job comes into play; you want to make their job hard on them, and I don’t think any of us are looking to play for the first overall pick. Being in that position where my team is drafting first overall is not a position I ever want to be in during my career. If we’re coming back, we’re coming back to win.”

The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft was assigned to a placeholder team, one of the eight that will be eliminated from the qualifiers, in the First Phase of the lottery Friday. Each of the eight will have a 12.5 percent chance at winning the top pick in a second drawing to be held before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It’s crazy how that ended up playing out, but I’m not looking at any other circumstance than winning a Cup,” Foligno said. “I feel this way about our team that with the way our season went, it’s a great chance for us to be healthy, to have a chance to make a run, and it could be anyone’s game because of the situation. You don’t get many cracks at the Cup, so you’re giving everything you can for that opportunity.”

The No. 1 pick is likely to be forward Alexis Lafreniere, a two-time Canadian Hockey League player of the year who was No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters.

Columbus, which was 33-22-15 (.579 points percentage) before the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns about the coronavirus, is the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference Qualifiers. Toronto (36-25-9, .579) is the No. 8 seed.

Foligno said it’s imperative for the Blue Jackets that they control the tempo against the Maple Leafs, who scored 57 more goals than them in the regular season (237-180). Columbus allowed 39 fewer goals than Toronto (222-183).

“They’re a very dangerous offensive team, and when they get feeling good about themselves, they can really make you pay,” he said. “For us, it’s understanding who we are and playing to that. When we do that, we rival anyone in the League. It’s not so much about them, it’s about us. Respect them for sure, but also respect our own game and knowing that when we play a hard forechecking, disciplined style of game, we can give fits to anyone.”

A start date and hub cities — one for the 12 Eastern teams, one for the 12 Western teams — for the 24-team tournament in the NHL Return to Play Plan have not been announced.

The Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs are among the 16 teams that will play in the qualifier series and have a chance to get the No. 1 pick, including the Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.

The top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin to determine playoff seeding.

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Rockets' Westbrook tests positive – TSN

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Houston’s Russell Westbrook hasn’t made it to the NBA restart yet.

The coronavirus did — but health protocols seemed to work as the league and its players hoped they would.

On a day of troubling news for the league — Westbrook revealing that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and two other players facing 10-day quarantines for leaving the league campus perimeter at Walt Disney World — it was also announced that two players tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Central Florida last week.

But neither player made it out of quarantine, so neither entered the so-called bubble and could mingle freely with other players, coaches and staff. The NBA said both players, neither of whom were identified, “have since left the Campus to isolate at home or in isolation housing.”

“Our protocols are unbelievable,” Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “I think our protocols and our health and safety measures have been top-notch. I think this thing will work perfectly. … We’re doing everything that we can possibly do to make sure that we’re healthy, we’re safe and we’re in an environment where we can be successful and do our jobs at a high level.”

It’s unclear when Westbrook will arrive. As recently as Sunday, the Rockets believed that Westbrook and James Harden — neither of whom travelled with the team to Walt Disney World near Orlando last week — would be with the team in the next few days.

In Westbrook’s case, that now seems most unlikely.

“I tested positive for covid-19 prior to my teams departure to Orlando,” Westbrook wrote on his social media channels. “I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared.”

Westbrook is averaging 27.5 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game for the Rockets this season. Houston has clinched a playoff spot and resumes its season with the first of eight seeding games on July 31 against Dallas.

“I’m praying for his safety and the same for his family,” Phoenix guard Devin Booker said. “Hopefully he can get healthy and get down here as soon as possible.”

The league also said Monday that 19 players newly tested positive since July 1 during in-market testing, meaning tests done before teams began arriving at Disney on July 7. Upon arrival at Disney, 322 players were tested with the two positives.

“All we can do is try to stay optimistic about it and positive, and hopefully we can finish this season,” said Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, the reigning NBA Finals MVP.

Inside the NBA bubble, however, optimism that the rules established by the league and the players will work — even though some Disney parks reopened to visitors over the weekend and the MLS restart, also at the campus, has seen two teams leave after a spate of positive tests.

“It’s a condition, a virus, that does not discriminate,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “And we’re trying to do everything we can to keep our guys safe.”

Those protocols that Lowry spoke of were designed to be taken seriously, and at least two players inside the NBA bubble have already paid a steep price for violating quarantine upon their teams’ respective arrivals last week.

Sacramento’s Richaun Holmes revealed Monday that he “briefly and accidentally” crossed the NBA campus line to pick up a food delivery. Under the NBA’s rules of the restart, he now has to spend 10 days in quarantine.

Holmes said he had eight days left in quarantine.

“I apologize for my actions and look forward to rejoining my teammates for our playoff push,” Holmes wrote.

Also Monday, a person with knowledge of the situation said that Houston’s Bruno Caboclo was also serving a 10-day quarantine for crossing the campus line. Like Holmes, Caboclo also had eight days remaining Monday, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Rockets have not announced the sanction.

Monday’s developments came on a day where more than 12,000 new cases were confirmed in Florida, now perhaps the hottest of virus hotspots in the U.S. And officials in Houston also called for that city to lock back down as area hospitals strain to accommodate patients sick with the coronavirus

Westbrook also offered a word of caution.

“Please take this virus seriously,” Westbrook wrote. “Be safe. Mask up!”

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Little not on roster as Jets begin training camp for return to play – Winnipeg Sun

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Veteran centre Bryan Little, who was severely injured when he was hit by a slap shot in the ear on Nov. 5, 2019, will not take part in the Winnipeg Jets summer training camp, which starts Monday.

Little was proclaimed to be out for the season in mid-February, when the team announced he would undergo a procedure to repair a perforated eardrum.

His recovery from that and a severe concussion lasted well into the spring, and though he resumed skating before the pandemic paused the NHL season, he will not be on the ice as the Jets prepare to return to play with a best-of-five series against the Calgary Flames, starting on Aug. 1.

The Jets released their roster of 30 skaters and three goaltenders for their training camp, which will be held at the IcePlex in Winnipeg.

It includes thee goaltenders — Connor Hellebuyck, Laurent Brossoit and Eric Comrie — 12 defencemen and 18 forwards.

Centre Mark Letestu, who missed most of the 2019-20 season due to a heart virus, is on the roster.

Also making the roster are a few Manitoba Moose regulars, including defencemen Nelson Nogier and Logan Stanley and forwards David Gustafsson, Jansen Harkins, C.J. Suess and Logan Shaw.

Three players who are on the overall 30-skater list are not on the roster for Monday’s two practice sessions — Stanley, Nogier and veteran defenceman Anthony Bitetto.

Under NHL return to play rules, the Jets do not have to disclose why any players are absent from practices.

The players have all gone through multiple tests for COVID-19 and must have four negative tests before they will be allowed on the ice.

It’s possible those players haven’t had all their testing, are still in quarantine because they arrived late, are injured or have tested positive for COVID-19.

WINNIPEG JETS ROSTER

GOALTENDERS (3)

Connor Hellebuyck

Laurent Brossoit

Eric Comrie

DEFENCEMEN (12)

Anthony Bitetto

Tucker Poolman

Neal Pionk

Luca Sbisa

Dmitry Kulikov

Sami Niku

Dylan DeMelo

Carl Dahlstrom

Josh Morrissey

Nelson Nogier

Logan Stanley

Nathan Beaulieu

FORWARDS (18)

Andrew Copp

Adam Lowry

David Gustafsson

Cody Eakin

Nick Shore

Mark Letestu

Blake Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers

Jack Roslovic

Patrik Laine

Logan Shaw

Mark Scheifele

Gabriel Bourque

Jansen Harkins

C.J. Suess

Kyle Connor

Mason Appleton

Mathieu Perreault

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Canadiens lines at training camp: Suzuki replaces Domi at centre – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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The Montreal Canadiens opened training camp on Monday, like the other 23 teams in the NHL’s return to play qualification format.

This comes less than 24 hours after The Athletic reported that multiple players tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday night.

Missing from practice were Max Domi, who is waiting to confirm his presence into the team’s training camp as well as Alexander Romanov, who is making his way to Montreal and will then undergo a quarantine period where he needs four negative tests before taking to the ice. Xavier Ouellet, Josh Brook, and Brett Kulak were also out.

At forward, it does look to be a pretty standard lineup without Domi, with Jesperi Kotkaniemi taking a regular spot at centre, along with Jake Evans. For now, Ryan Poehling, Charles Hudon, Laurent Dauphin, and Alex Belzile are on the outside looking in.

On defence, with the bodies who are out, a little bit of a mix up, especially on the bottom two pairings. Noah Juulsen is on the left side as there is a shortage of left-shot defencemen in the current lineup.

It is still early days, but this gives you a good indication of how the team expects to line up against the Pittsburgh Penguins on August 1.

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