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Chicago Blackhawks may not be able to use secret weapon on defence against Edmonton Oilers – Edmonton Journal

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“I can tell you that as of right now, our position, and this is something we’re going to have to ultimately resolve with the NHL Players’ Association like so many other contractual issues, but our position, the League’s position right now, and our position with our clubs since the start of the pause, is no club is entitled to sign a current‑year contract,” NHL vice-president Bill Daly said during a Zoom call with reporters. “They are free to sign future‑year contracts, so for the 2020‑21 season and beyond, perfectly fair game.

“But it would be our position, particularly given the advanced date and given the fact it could affect a lot of the players who might now be able to play the balance of the season, it may be unfair to let them play the balance of the season. We’ve progressed past the trade deadline. Each team has kind of set its roster. Its roster reflects — and everybody will come back healthy, which is a benefit to the teams — its roster really reflects its efforts in the 2019‑20 season. And to add a couple of, for lack of a better term, ‘ringers’ when you’re going into the playoffs is not the best way for sports to proceed in our view.”

The Hawks will also likely be missing veteran Brent Seabrook on defence, with Calvin de Haan coming back from his second should surgery in one year. Seabook had multiple surgeries in December and January, while de Haan had his last surgery in December. He may be ready to play.

If you go buy regular season time-on-ice, the Blackhawks defence will be led by Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy, with de Haan, Olli Maata, Slater Koekkoek and Adam Boqvist on the second and third pairings. Mitchell, a right shot d-man, would likely bolster the group significantly.

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Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari never offered a contract! – F1i.com

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Sebastian Vettel revealed that his eviction from Ferrari came as a total surprise, insisting an offer was never tabled by the team.

The unexpected announcement back in May of Vettel’s departure from Maranello alluded to a separation by mutual consent and came after Scuderia boss Mattia Binotto had publicly stated earlier in the year that the four-time world champion remained the team’s first choice as teammate to Charles Leclerc.

But speaking in Austria ahead of this weekend’s opening round of the 2020 season, Vettel set the record straight on his exit from the Italian outfit.

“It was obviously a surprise to me when I got the call from Mattia, when he told me that there was no further intention for the team to continue [with me],” explained Vettel.

“We never got into any discussions, there was never an offer on the table and therefore there was no sticking point.”

Speculation is rife about Vettel’s next move with most insiders projecting a retirement or a year on the sidelines for the 32-year-old. But Vettel insists he’s motivated to remain on the grid in 2021, under certain conditions.

“Obviously I want to make sure I make the right decision for myself and my future,” he said.

“I think I have a very competitive nature, I have achieved a lot in the sport, I’m motivated and willing to achieve more.

“To do so I need the right package and the right people around me so that’s what I’m looking out for at the moment, if the right opportunity should arise then it is quite clear.

“If that’s not the case then I’ll probably have to look out for something else.

“I am of the conviction that if you are prepared to let’s say, shut the door, then you should be prepared to shut that door and not shut it and expect it to open again.

“You have to be aware of the decision you are making at the time and that’s also why I’m not rushing into anything, the next weeks and months will be probably bringing some more clarity.”

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

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Hamilton fastest in the 1st practice for Austrian Grand Prix – TSN

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time on Friday in the first practice for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.

The British driver was .356 seconds ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on the 4.3-kilometre (2.7-mile) Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg nestled at the foot of the Styrian mountains in southern Austria.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who has won the past two races here, was third quickest and .602 behind Hamilton in damp and overcast conditions.

Lance Stroll was the top Canadian, finishing with a top lap of 1:06.074 a little more than a second behind Hamilton. Stroll’s Racing Point teammate Sergio Perez finished the session fifth, with a top lap time of 1:05.512.

Nicholas Latifi finished 18th in his first practice session his rookie year, lass than a half second behind his impressive Williams teammate George Russell, who clocked a 1:06.495 top lap. 

Both Ferrari drivers struggled for speed, with Charles Leclerc 10th quickest and Sebastian Vettel only 12th. Ferrari is racing with the same car it used in preseason testing in February and has not made any upgrades, while Mercedes and other teams have.

There is a second practice later Friday.

Austria is hosting back-to-back races as part of an eight-race European swing, after the season was postponed for four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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F1 facing "smash and grab" season, says Horner – Motorsport.com

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The delayed 2020 season is set to get underway with the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend, but so far only eight European races – including double headers at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone – have confirmed with slots back on the rearranged calendar.

As the coronavirus lockdowns swept away the expected 2020 schedule after the aborted Australian GP, the car updates that teams had planned to introduce in the early races are now being implemented differently across the grid.

The upgrade limits for 2021 are also an important consideration for the teams as the current designs will largely be carried over, with two tweaks allowed under a token system supervised by the FIA.

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Red Bull, which will run an upgraded Honda engine in Austria is one of several teams introducing major upgrades for the new season opener – while its ‘Class A’ rival Ferrari is waiting until the third round, which will take place in Hungary.

“I think we had a good pre-season,” Red Bull team boss Horner told Motorsport.com.

“It felt like Mercedes still are a sniff ahead. But it’s all going to come down to the rate of development. And obviously Honda’s evolution as well.

“I’m sure the top teams will all be bringing updates that would have normally been either [added on] in the early European season and it’s going to be [about] ‘how much is that worth?’ Who’s going to be putting on the most performance onto their cars?

“And of course we’ve got a unique situation where we’ve effectively got a year-and-a-half to get out of these cars.

“So it’s going to be a smash-and-grab kind of season this year, with prolonged development that goes through with this car carried over into next year.”

Horner also outlined how Red Bull had altered its plans for the adding its normal early-2020 updates to the RB16 in light of the spring factory shutdowns that resulted from the lockdowns.

“The normal development process has continued because obviously a lot of the development was in the pipeline following the testing, which would have normally been introduced in Zandvoort – or updates that would have also happened in Vietnam,” he said.

“So they all get rolled up and packaged into what will appear on the car in Austria.

“It’s going to be important to get up to speed quickly. Red Bull Ring is tricky – it’s a unique kind of circuit.

“I don’t think you’re going to get a really a pattern of things [over the two Austrian races] – even Budapest is a unique circuit.

“So it’s only really going to be by the time we get to Silverstone that you start to get a clear picture.”

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