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Buccaneers soar, Patriots dip on Super Bowl 55 odds –



The signing of free agent quarterback Tom Brady has paid immediate dividends for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After inking the six-time Super Bowl winner to a two-year deal that will reportedly pay him $50 million, the Buccaneers rocketed up the Super Bowl odds, joining the favourites as a +1200 wager on those futures at sportsbooks monitored by

With sporting odds as long as +5800 on the Super Bowl 55 betting lines at the end of last season, the Buccaneers have struggled to return to contention since claiming their first and only Super Bowl victory back in 2003. Tampa Bay has failed to post a victory in just two playoff appearances since then, and finished last in the NFC South in eight of the past 11 seasons.

However, Tampa Bay provided promising glimpses during the 2019 campaign, which they closed out on a solid 5-3 run, with each of their defeats coming by just a single score. In addition, Brady inherits an offence that averaged a third-ranked 28.6 points per game in 2019.

While the Buccaneers have soared, the New England Patriots took a step back on the Super Bowl 55 odds at sports betting sites following Brady’s departure. Listed at a respectable +1100 in the wake of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 31-20 win over San Francisco in Super Bowl 54, the Patriots have made a speedy drop to their current position, at +2000 odds.

The Patriots are coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign, which opened on a promising 8-0 run but ended with a stunning loss to the Tennessee Titans on Wild Card Weekend. And while it remains far from clear as to who will replace Brady under centre in New England, the Patriots continue to sit third on the odds to win the AFC championship, trailing only the Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens as a +850 wager.

The Chiefs continue to lead the way on the Super Bowl 55 odds as +600 favourites, just ahead of the Ravens, at +750, while the 49ers round out the front of the pack at +850. Kansas City is set to return with their Super Bowl-winning core largely intact, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who sits as a +600 favourite to claim NFL MVP honours, just ahead of Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, who sits second at +650.

Despite re-signing Drew Brees to a two-year contract and strengthening their receiving corps with the addition of free agent Emmanuel Sanders, the New Orleans Saints find themselves deadlocked with the Buccaneers at +1200 on the Super Bowl 55 odds. Further down those NFL odds, the Seattle Seahawks trail at +1600, just ahead of the Green Bay Packers at +1800, while the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers join the Patriots at +2000.

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Second Avalanche player tests positive for COVID-19 –



The Colorado Avalanche announced on Saturday that a second player on the team has tested positive for COVID-19.

The news comes less than 48 hours after the Avalanche announced a first player had tested positive for the virus, but had since recovered.

Below is the full statement from the Avalanche:

The Colorado Avalanche were advised late last night that a second player has tested positive for COVID-19. The player is in self-isolation. All other Avalanche players, staff and others who might have had close contact with the player have been informed and remain isolated as per prior League direction and are monitoring their health and will be in touch with Club medical staff as necessary. No other Avalanche player or staff member has shown symptoms at this time.

The latest positive COVID-19 test is the fourth known among NHL players: two from the Avalanche and two from the Ottawa Senators, who announced last week that a pair of players had contracted the novel coronavirus.

The NHL put the 2019-20 season on pause on March 12 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since then the league has postponed the upcoming draft, combine and awards show, and told players and staff to extend their period of self-quarantine by another 10 days to April 6.

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Connor McDavid says NHL ‘can't just step into the playoffs’ – TSN



Connor McDavid may skate like an otherworldly wizard, but he hasn’t discovered any new-found passion or hobby during the NHL’s self-isolation period, which hit Day 15 on Friday.

McDavid isn’t a super chef or a prodigious video gamer, and he certainly isn’t building a chicken coop, like the one Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf revealed he’s working on in Anaheim.

“I haven’t been doing much at all,” McDavid said. “I don’t have any hidden talents.”

McDavid is a hockey player.

And the player considered by many to be the best in the world believes that if the NHL does return to the ice to close out the 2019-20 season, it would be a mistake to jump right into playoff intensity without regular season or exhibition games played first.

“I don’t think we can just step into the playoffs,” McDavid said in a video conference call with three other Pacific Division players on Friday. “Game 1, it’s Calgary coming to Edmonton and guys are running around trying to kill each other that haven’t played for two months.

“It’ll end up the [AHL] Stockton Heat versus the Bakersfield Condors if that’s the case. We want to keep the guys healthy. A fair season is a full season. If we can do that, that’s what we’d obviously prefer.”

With his Edmonton Oilers on the verge of returning to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons, McDavid said the NHL’s pause in play was more disappointing than frustrating.

Under coach Dave Tippett, the Oilers had already eclipsed their point totals from each of the past two seasons with 11 games still to play, had first place in the Pacific in their sights, and had forward Leon Draisaitl running away with the scoring title on his way to a potential Hart Trophy.

“It’s just disappointing when the team’s having a good year and in the playoff hunt and lots of good stuff going on,” McDavid said. “The health and safety and everyone is what’s important. Hockey can go on hold for a little bit. It’s important that everyone does what they have to do and takes care of each other so that we can get this thing over with so we can get back to playing hockey.”

Whenever that is, McDavid echoed Metropolitan Division stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin from a day earlier ­– firmly in playoff position, his vote was for the standings to remain as is.

That didn’t sit well with Canucks captain Bo Horvat, whose Vancouver team is in based on points percentage, but currently outside the usual 16-team tournament format based on points.

“It better go by points percentage or play more regular-season games,” Horvat said, laughing.

Flames captain Mark Giordano said he preferred 24 teams, eight more than normal, to qualify for the postseason, with 12 in each conference making it.

“I’ve thought a lot about this,” Giordano said. “More teams get in this year, a couple byes are the top, and then play it out.”

In a points or points percentage world, the Oilers and Flames would be scheduled to meet in the first round. That would add serious juice to an already dripping Battle of Alberta this season.

McDavid, who dealt with a quad injury earlier this season and a knee issue last year, said he is 100 per cent healthy. He said he’s been running throughout Edmonton with teammate Darnell Nurse and working out in his new home’s full gym.

That health is why Giordano said this could be the best playoffs ever.

“I think if we could ever get back to playing, I think this is going to be one of the best playoffs ever because every team is going to have all of their guys healthy,” Giordano said. “It’s truly going to be the best version of every team, I think. We’ll be in for some pretty good hockey if we can ever get past this and into the playoffs.”

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli

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Tokyo 2020 is postponed—now what? Olympic hopefuls tell their stories – Toronto Life



Earlier this week, when the Canadian Olympic Committee decided to pull our athletes from Tokyo 2020, it felt like a no-brainer. As Covid-19 upends the global order, there are few things more precarious than planning the world’s largest athletic competition. Soon after, the International Olympic Committee deferred the Games until 2021. But for the athletes who’ve been tirelessly preparing for these Olympics, the news was heartbreaking. Some will be able to compete in 2021. Others are watching their Olympic window slam shut. We chatted with local hopefuls about how Covid-19 has put their athletic dreams in limbo.

Sam Schachter, 29, Richmond Hill

Beach volleyball

The reality just set in and it’s extremely disappointing. At the same time, it was also a bit of a relief. Like a lot of athletes, I was worried about my health when it came to travelling. There are lives at stake, not just athletes’ desire to compete. I’m lucky, I went to the Olympics in 2016, but Tokyo 2020 was my chance to get a medal. Whatever happens, I think I have another four years in me—I should be able to stick around and make another run at it. I’ve started looking into doing a coaching certificate or a master’s program in high-performance coaching. We all have plans for after sport: maybe it’s time to accelerate those.

Kia Nurse, 24, Hamilton


It was heartbreaking to hear that my Olympic dream was taken away. I’ve been preparing every day for the last four years. It’s particularly tough because I think I’m coming into my prime. Recently, I’ve felt a positive momentum that’s different from anything I’ve felt in my career so far. But postponing the games was the right thing to do. Right now, the best thing we can do is not be around each other. It would have been really weird to go to the Games this summer and not be able to talk, to meet people, to go out. The Olympics only happen once every four years, and the scary thing about being an athlete is that you never know how long your career is going to last—which game, which practice is going to be the last one ever.

Allysha Chapman, 31, Oshawa


I’m just happy they’re taking these measures so athletes and support staff can stay healthy. We don’t know what the virus is going to look like in the summer, and making the decision now so everyone can prepare for 2021 is definitely the right move. It will be nice if everyone can get together next year and say, “We kicked this virus.” I’m frustrated at not being able to train and being stuck inside. I’ve been trying to find fields to do individual training, but I’ve been kicked off a few because they’re closed. I’ve started fostering dogs since we went into quarantine. That’s one of my coping solutions. This week, I have a three-year-old catahoula named Logan. The dogs are definitely keeping my mind occupied.

Kayla Sanchez, 18, Scarborough


I’ve had my eye on Tokyo since my good friends Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Rose competed in Rio 2016. I moulded my life from that point to be successful in 2020. So it’s been a challenging couple of weeks. It’s something that pushes me and makes me want the glory of the Olympics even more. At the same time, it’s comforting to know that the Games have been postponed. I don’t have to worry about my physical performance right now, I just have to worry about my friends and my family. My mom is a nurse at Scarborough General, so she’s helped me understand how serious the virus is. She’s handling it well, and I’m really proud of her and all the doctors and nurses who are working tirelessly while we’re at home. I’m still waiting to see what happens with qualification. Nobody’s been nominated for the team yet, so I think the process is going to have to start over again. But I’m still young. For a while now, Penny has been telling me to set my sights on 2024 because female swimmers peak around 24 or 25 years old. So the postponement might even be good for me.

Justin Parina, 20, Mississauga


I really wanted to compete. The Pan-American Games in Toronto in 2015 was when I started taking boxing seriously. I’ve been visualizing myself competing at the Olympics ever since. But it was a relief when they postponed it, and it’ll be an advantage for me. I’ve only been on the international circuit for two years, so now I’ll have a chance to get more experience. Now that the summer is wide open, I could potentially pursue my academic goals. I put my bachelor of nursing on hold after my first semester: I nearly failed because I was juggling boxing and school. I was doing five courses while I was on the national team. I’ve got a few options after Tokyo: I could go pro and start making money, maintain my amateur status and wait for Paris 2024, or start my nursing career. It’s like a video game, I’ve got three paths to choose from.

Katherine Uchida, 20, Toronto

Rhythmic gymnastics

When I first heard the news, it didn’t feel real. I’ve been preparing for the Olympics for as long as I’ve been doing gymnastics—13 years. But I knew a postponement was possible, and ultimately I’m relieved. The virus needs to be taken seriously. It would have been way too risky to go ahead. I’m just trying to focus on the things that I can control. I do a lot of visualization to keep the stress levels down. Physically, I’m doing yoga in the morning. I’m also trying to keep up with school. I’m taking a bachelor’s in sociology and international studies at U of T, and all of our classes are online now.

Crystal Emmanuel, 28, Scarborough

Sprint and relay

This will be my third Olympics, so it was a real shocker. But I’m high-risk because I have asthma, so I’d rather be safe. For me, making that decision was smart. I had friends and family who were going to Tokyo as well, so I wanted them to be safe too. I’d rather have an amazing Games next year than a mediocre one this year that puts lives at risk. And we’ll have something to look forward to after all the downtime. I’m an overthinker, so it’s been a rough road. I’m going over a lot of technical stuff, a lot of reading, knowing my technique and my form, where my hand positions are. Just visual learning: thinking about what I want to look like in a race. I will be going in 2021 for sure.

Jason Ho-Shue, 21, Markham


I’ve been preparing for the Olympics my whole life. My father used to play badminton and he was my first coach. He died of heart failure while playing badminton in 2011. I thought about giving it up, but I realized that wouldn’t have made my dad happy. Now when I play I feel a connection with him. There’s a bit of uncertainty about what happens with qualification now, which is stressful. But at least postponing gives us lots of time to prepare. When I wake up, I do 20 minutes of ab exercises and 100 push-ups. In the afternoon, I run outside and do some cardio exercises. I also smack the bird against the wall at home, just to keep the feeling of hitting. The time off is going to affect everyone’s skill level a little, and it might take some time to get back to peak performance. I’ve been playing really well since January, so I have to stay positive and hope I can return to that form.

Keegan Pereira, 28, Toronto

Field hockey

I’ve been preparing for this since Rio 2016, my first Olympics. The initial feeling when Canada pulled out was “What am I going to do with my life?” But we also kind of knew that the IOC would be forced to do something. I really hope they happen in 2021 and we can leave this all behind us. Mentally, it probably affects individual sport athletes more than teams. In our group chat, everyone is trying to keep each other upbeat. That interaction keeps you social and keeps you going. Physically, it’s super hard. All the gyms are closed in Toronto. Even my condo gym is closed. All I can do is work out at home with my 10-pound dumbbells or go for a run. It’s not enough to maintain peak physical condition. I know that for a lot of guys on our team, Tokyo was going to be their last Olympics, their last opportunity to play for Canada. So this is going to extend the careers of quite a few people, because I don’t think anyone wants to drop out. Personally, I’m not sure if I’ll be playing past Tokyo. But I’ll definitely make it to 2021.

Haley Smith, 26, Uxbridge

Mountain biking

If I’m being honest, I expected the Games to be postponed. It was the correct decision, and I’m proud that Canada had the guts to pull out. At the end of the day, I’m racing my bike in a circle, and as much as it’s important to me, it’s not important compared to public health and safety. I’ve been hoping to qualify since 2016, when I got a letter saying that I failed to qualify for Rio. I’m lucky that I live with my fiancée, who’s also a cyclist chasing the dream. We can train together because we’re self-isolating together. We’re doing less challenging trails and not pushing it too hard, because we don’t want to risk ending up in the hospital and putting undue strain on the health care system. Our wedding was supposed to be in August and I’m not sure if that will happen, either. Right now we’re in British Columbia, and I’m hoping we’ll be back in Ontario with my family this summer. We’re going to avoid air travel altogether, but we’ll get there somehow, even if we have to buy a car and drive.

These interviews were edited and condensed for clarity.

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