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Bruins' Zdeno Chara says teams didn't have time to mull not playing – ESPN



Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning players said they found out about the NBA and other sports leagues’ postponing games only when they got to the rink in Toronto on Wednesday night. By that point, they said they didn’t have sufficient time to discuss following suit.

“It was so close to our game that we were just getting ready,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “After our pregame meal, we took naps and then we were on the bus, so I don’t think any of us were watching the TV until we got to the rink. And at that point, obviously, it was too close to the game to start any discussions or try to move the games to different dates. We were basically following the schedule the NHL provided to us.”

Chara, however, voiced support for his peers across other sports who decided to sit out Wednesday in protest of ongoing racial injustices, including the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Games were postponed Wednesday across the NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB.

“We support fighting against racism and injustice,” Chara said. “There’s different ways to express that fight. NBA players expressed their opinions about it by boycotting the games today. We support NBA players and all the leagues that showed that support.”

The NHL drew criticism from two prominent players in the recently formed Hockey Diversity Alliance, including San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, who said the league’s “lack of action” was “incredibly insulting.”

Meanwhile, in an appearance on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said the NHL “is always late to the party on these topics.”

“It’s kind of sad and disheartening for me and for members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance — and I’m sure for other guys across the league,” Dumba said. “But if no one stands up and does anything, then it’s the same thing: that silence. You’re just outside looking in on actually being leaders and evoking real change when you have such an opportunity to do so.”

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he would have been “100 percent behind” his players if they had decided to sit out Wednesday.

Tampa Bay players also said they didn’t have serious conversations about boycotting Wednesday’s game because they found out about the NBA boycotts very close to puck drop.

“I think the world has changed in just this short time that we were at the rink,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “When I got here at 4:30, I think what’s happening now at 11:15 is much different than what was happening at 4:30. At the time … those weren’t things being discussed with our group. We were preparing to play the Boston Bruins.”

Before Game 3 of the Bruins and Lightning’s second-round series — which the Lightning won 7-1 — the NHL held a “moment of reflection” during which the words “end racism” appeared on the video board. The NHL, however, did not hold a similar pregame ceremony for its second game of the night, the Colorado AvalancheDallas Stars match in the Edmonton, Alberta, bubble.

For the late tilt, a pregame moment of reflection was scheduled to be held but didn’t take place. It wasn’t immediately known why. Stars players said after their 6-4 Game 3 loss that they were unaware the moment of reflection had been scheduled nor did they know one had been held earlier in the evening in Toronto.

Neither team had a discussion about boycotting the game.

Dallas coach Rick Bowness said he spoke with forward Jason Dickinson, the Stars’ NHLPA rep, before the game to see if “everything was OK.” Dickinson indicated that the players wanted to play. Colorado coach Jared Bednar said none of his players indicated to him that it was being considered.

“If our players, even one player, had come to me and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think we should play,’ then we would have addressed it as a team. But I never got word from anyone in the room,” Bendar said. “It’s obviously an important topic. It’s something that we need to think long and hard about as a country. But I just think that tonight maybe wasn’t the time and place for us.”

Colorado forward Nazem Kadri, a member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, said that a boycott “crosses your mind when you see other leagues doing something like that” and he applauded the NBA players for their decision.

“The [anti-racism] signs are great, but eventually words get stale,” Kadri said. “It’s about action and making a difference.”

Stars forwards Tyler Seguin and Dickinson took a knee during the American and Canadian national anthems during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights in the round-robin tournament. Neither one said there was any considerable discussion about taking action on Wednesday night.

“It wasn’t a big serious conversation. Just a couple of us talking. To be honest, I woke up from my nap and I didn’t even realize what the NBA was doing until I got to the rink,” Seguin said. “I support the movement. Hockey needs to do more. But we can all show our actions in different ways.”

Dickinson said there are different ways players can show support for the movement but acknowledged that “it’s hard for some guys to have this hit home” because many of the league’s players aren’t American.

“I don’t want to say anybody’s blind to it or ignorant, but we are a league of a lot of Canadians, a lot of Europeans,” he said. “It’s hard when something like this doesn’t hit home. You look at the MLB. You look at the NBA. They’re primarily American players. It’s easy to hit home for them. It’s easy for them to take a stand against something. [Seguin] and I take a knee, and we get backlash that we’re not Americans, that we shouldn’t be speaking on something like that. But we believe that we’re close enough as Canadians where we have a right to say something.

“In Canada, we’ve seen similar things. So it’s difficult to appreciate things as outsiders to America. But we try to give our two cents when we can. And tonight, it just didn’t seem like it was the right call to do.”

ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.

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Lightning’s Steven Stamkos ruled out for remainder of Stanley Cup Final –



EDMONTON — The only way we’ll see Steven Stamkos return to the Stanley Cup Final is if the Tampa Bay Lightning are able to finish the job without him.

The hard-luck captain was officially ruled out of the series by the Lightning on Sunday morning, but could still be called on to accept the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“Hopefully the next time we see him on the ice is during a trophy presentation,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

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No team has won the Stanley Cup without its captain in the lineup since the 1936-37 Detroit Red Wings, who were without Doug Young. The Boston Bruins did not have a designated captain in 1970 and 1972, but Johnny Bucyk accepted the trophy both years and played in the clinching game.

Stamkos has been battling an undisclosed injury throughout these playoffs. He made an emotional return for Game 3 of the Cup Final against the Dallas Stars and scored a beautiful goal, but was unable to play after the first period that night.

The 30-year-old saw a total of five shifts while spending nine weeks inside the NHL bubble rehabbing.

“He gamed it out,” said Cooper. “To be honest I didn’t think he was playing at all in these playoffs. I don’t think any of us did. So he gave us 2:47 of brilliant hockey, that’s a phenomenal story.

“He scored a huge goal for us in a win.”

The Lightning hold a 3-2 series lead over Dallas entering Game 6 on Monday.

Stamkos is the longest-tenured member of the organization and has endured a difficult run of injuries throughout his career. A broken leg saw him miss the chance to play for Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and blood clots forced him out of all but one game of Tampa’s 2016 run to the Eastern Conference Final.

He had a 15-game points streak going when he got injured on Feb. 25 this season. That was followed by core muscle surgery on March 2. Stamkos appeared to be on the mend while participating in training camp following the COVID-19 pause, but he suffered some kind of setback that kept him out until the brief, memorable appearance in this Stanley Cup Final.

“He did everything he could to get back, and he did get back, and unfortunately he couldn’t go any further,” said Cooper.

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

It’s been a difficult journey.

Stamkos was clearly moved after being called out to join Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Alex Killorn in accepting the Prince of Wales Trophy last round and sounded emotional after scoring against Dallas in the Game 3 win.

He remained on the bench throughout that game, and tested his skating stride during a couple television timeouts, but didn’t play for the final 46 minutes. He gave everything he could.

“I’ve watched these guys be so committed to what our end goal is, and to be part of it tonight, it was a dream come true and I’m so proud of these guys,” Stamkos said that night. “And to be able to share that moment with them and just even be on the bench and watch how well we played tonight, I have told these guys before: It’s inspiring.

“It was great to be part of.”

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Dana White reveals who’s next for Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz – MMA Fighting



Israel Adesanya was dazzling in his title defense and Jan Blachowicz cemented himself as the new light heavyweight champion as the UFC 253 main and co-main events both ended in dramatic fashion.

While Adesanya and Blachowicz will undoubtedly enjoy their victories with a well-deserved post-fight celebration, it didn’t take long for the subject of their next fight to be raised on Saturday night.

In fact, it was Adesanya himself who made the call about the top contender in the middleweight division. He immediately turned his attention to Jared Cannonier, who’s been on his radar for the past year.

Cannonier is currently preparing for a showdown with former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 in October. If he’s victorious, Cannonier should expect his next fight to come against Adesanya with the middleweight title up for grabs.

“That’s the fight if Cannonier wins,” UFC president Dana White confirmed at the UFC 253 post fight press conference. “And I love that about Israel. He’s ready for who’s next, who else thinks they can beat me. The kid is an absolute stud.”

Adesanya will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on Cannonier’s fight in just a few weeks to see if his next opponent is secured or not.

Things aren’t quite as clear cut at light heavyweight, but there are only a few options that make sense for Blachowicz after he dispatched Dominick Reyes in impressive fashion to claim the vacant title.

The Polish veteran made it clear just after the belt was wrapped around his waist that he would like to cement his championship status by facing Jon Jones, who vacated the belt just recently with the intention of moving up to the heavyweight division.

Jones even went as far as hinting on Twitter that perhaps he could return to 205 pounds now that a challenger like Blachowicz exists for him but obviously nothing is set in stone at this point.

The other fight that could determine the next contender for the light heavyweight title will take place on Nov. 7 when Thiago Santos goes to battle with Glover Teixeira.

White confirmed the winner of that fight would earn the next crack at the new 205-pound champion unless Jones really did decide he wanted to return to his old stomping grounds.

“Those are the guys that are fighting for the next shot,” White said about Santos vs. Teixeira. “But obviously if Jon Jones wanted that fight, we wouldn’t deny Jon Jones the opportunity.”

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Stamkos out for remainder of playoffs – TSN



Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said forward Steven Stamkos will not return in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “Hopefully next time we see him on the ice is during the trophy presentation,” Cooper said.

The 30-year-old returned to the Lightning lineup for the first time since February in Game 3 and scored a goal, but only had five shifts, playing just 2:47.

Stamkos skated off gingerly at the end of his final shift in the first period and was not on the bench for the start of the second. He returned to the bench and took a few twirls to test out the injury but did not return and was deemed “unfit to play” for Game 4.

Stamkos, who last played Feb. 25, had surgery in early March and aggravated the injury at least once over the summer.

Tampa Bay leads the series 3-2.

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