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Blues alumni in spotlight at NHL All-Star Skills – NHL.com

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ST. LOUIS — Al MacInnis grabbed one of his old wooden sticks and wound up for a slap shot.

Another former St. Louis Blues great, Bernie Federko, took the ice and passed a few pucks to Alex Pietrangelo.

Blues center Ryan O’Reilly stepped aside to give Brett Hull a chance to show off his wrist shot again. And former Blues forward Keith Tkachuk had a moment in the spotlight to take a shot too.

The Blues alumni’s close involvement with the current team was on full display during the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills presented by New Amsterdam Vodka at Enterprise Center on Friday as part of the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, with the festivities being held here for the first time since 1988.

[RELATED: NHL All-Star Skills resultsComplete 2020 NHL All-Star Game coverage]

Even Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, a St. Louis center for all of 31 games (including the Stanley Cup Playoffs) during the 1995-96 season, was on hand. Before the skills events began, he called St. Louis one of the greatest cities in the world.

And with the hockey world’s eyes on St. Louis, the former Blues players did their best to help make the weekend a memorable one for area fans.

“It’s incredible,” said MacInnis, the senior adviser to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. “It couldn’t happen to a better group of hockey fans. I love it. I’ve been here for 25 years. I know what it means to these people. I know what it means to the hockey fans. Lots of credit’s got to go to (Blues chairman) Tom Stillman, (president and CEO of business operations) Chris Zimmerman and their group banging the League’s door down to host these events because we know what St. Louis is all about.

“… Listen, the All-Star Game is in St. Louis, I work for the Blues, we just won the [Stanley] Cup. We were all trying to help out growing the game. Hullie participated, Gretzky, Tkachuk, Bernie Federko. How do you say no to that?”

MacInnis, a defenseman who played the final 10 seasons (1994-95 to 2003-04) of his 23-season NHL career with the Blues, took a 100.4 mph slap shot prior to the Enterprise NHL Hardest Shot after having participated in many such competitions as a player.

Federko, a forward who played 13 of his 14 NHL seasons with St. Louis (1976-77 to 1988-89) and played the most games (927) in its history, appeared with Pietrangelo before the captain took part in the Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting.

Hull, a forward who played 11 seasons in St. Louis (1987-88 to 1997-98) and holds the Blues goals record (527), stepped in to take a shot during O’Reilly’s turn in the Shooting Stars (it didn’t count). Tkachuk, who played nine seasons in St. Louis (2000-2010), also stepped onstage and took a shot before his sons, Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk and Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk, took part in that event.

Video: MacInnis, Tkachuk, Hull appear at Skills Competition

Current NHL players were impressed with the showing by the Blues alumni.

“I thought that was really cool, a really cool touch and I think the fans like it,” Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid said. “Some obviously special players have played for St. Louis, and it’s cool to see them come back and be recognized.”

The Blues Alumni Association, established in 1988, has helped forge a bond between current St. Louis players and those from the past.

“The boys love having them around and seeing them,” said Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, the winner of the Bud Light NHL Save Streak. “It just goes to show how special the city of St. Louis is with the alumni coming back and enjoying themselves. It’s good for the fans to see them back on the ice. Overall, it was well done.”

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CFL to return in August

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The Canadian Football League (CFL), which saw its entire 2020 campaign wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, said on Monday its board of governors voted unanimously to kick off a shortened 14-game season in August.

The CFL, whose biggest source of revenue comes from ticket sales rather than TV deals like those enjoyed by larger U.S.-based leagues, also said fans will be able to return to the stands in line with provincial guidelines.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release.

“I want to thank our fans, players, coaches, and partners for their incredible support and patience as we’ve worked together towards this day.”

The season will begin Aug. 5 while the Grey Cup championship game will be played Dec. 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The full schedule will be released on Tuesday along with each of the league’s nine team’s plan for distributing tickets to season ticket holders and, where government restrictions on stadium capacity allow, ticket sales to the general public.

After first delaying its 2020 season, the CFL decided to scrap it entirely following a last-ditch effort to secure financing from the Canadian government to stage a shortened campaign that would have been held entirely in Manitoba was turned down.

The CFL had previously said it would only move forward with a 2021 season if it could secure the government approvals for its plans to keep players and coaches safe and the green light to allow a “significant” number of fans to attend games.

“We are on track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals, thanks to our tireless medical advisers and staff, and the dedicated government officials who have been working with them,” said Ambrosie.

“And while the outlook for fans in the stands varies from province to province, we are confident that process is also on the right track.”

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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