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Daly doesn’t expect many more postponements due to Canadian attendance concerns – Sportsnet.ca

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With each of its seven Canadian franchise’s buildings sitting empty to start the new year, the NHL isn’t expecting many more games north of the border to be postponed due to attendance issues, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said during an interview with Sportsnet 590 The FAN on Monday, as the league is running out of time to make up the games already postponed.

“I wouldn’t say we’re at that point definitively yet, but I think that we’re basically there,” Daly told The FAN Drive Time’s Ben Ennis and Stephen Brunt. “I think what we’ve done for the Canadian franchises, to this point, it contemplates postponements out through kind of the middle of January. That’s about as far as we can go. I don’t expect to see a lot of Canadian home dates further moved — I think we’re pretty much there.”

The NHL has postponed more than 90 games so far this season due to COVID-19 concerns. As all seven teams in Canada are playing under various levels of attendance restrictions imposed by provincial governments — from as low as zero per cent in Quebec to as high as 50 per cent in Alberta — the league has postponed a number of Canadian team games with hopes of rescheduling said games at a later date when more fans will be allowed back in the building.

However, two games hosted by the Toronto Maple Leafs — on Jan. 1 against Ottawa and Jan. 5 against Edmonton — remain on the schedule, as the NHL gave the Maple Leafs a choice as to whether those games would go ahead, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported.

Daly outlined the process undertaken by the league to reorganize the schedule in an effort to allow Canadian franchises to host more fans, a process that’s become far more complicated as the situation has grown from one involving only the Montreal Canadiens and the Maple Leafs to one affecting every Canadian club.

“Certainly the intention is that these games we’re postponing, we’re going to reschedule and hopefully be able to play in front of more fans. Which probably is good for the fans, good for the clubs and good for the players. But you know, once you’re dealing with seven clubs who all of a sudden have issues with respect to welcoming fans in person, it becomes a much tougher issue than it was with one team having those restrictions. So you have to balance and you have to try to be fair to everyone and take really a lot of different factors into account in deciding how you go about doing that,” Daly said.

“I got a lot of questions over the weekend with respect to Ottawa’s trip out west to Western Canada and playing Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary in succession in buildings that will largely be empty, if not totally empty. The fact of the matter is, because of Ottawa’s COVID situation earlier in the year, they don’t really have a lot of room left on their schedule for us to build in West Coast swings. So those are games they really have to play if we want to complete the season in any semblance of the current timeframe.”

As the league moves through another wave of postponed games, many have wondered about that particular issue — whether a full 82-game season is still possible, or whether we’re staring down another shortened campaign and altered post-season format.

According to Daly, the league currently has enough room built into its schedule to complete a full season.

“We have places in the calendar for all 82 games, for all 32 teams,” he told Ennis and Brunt. “And we probably have a little bit of cushion remaining. Not a whole lot — we certainly can’t have more weeks like we’ve had the last two weeks in succession, because that will create a problem for us. But yes, we have good ideas of where these games will be rescheduled.”

While the NHL seems on track to play out its 2021-22 season as normally as possible, questions remain about how the league’s future finances will be affected by the recent postponements. In early December, commissioner Gary Bettman said he expected the league’s salary cap would continue to rise by $1 million each year moving forward and would spike again a few seasons after this current one.

Daly said Monday that he believes it’s too early to predict how the slate of postponements that have occurred since Bettman’s early-December statement could impact the situation down the line.

“I think it’s a little bit early to project that,” he said. “I mean, obviously at the board meeting, which was the second week of December, we were projecting league-wide revenues that would have exceeded our last full season, which was 2018-19, and would have exceeded also projections for the 2019-20 season before the pandemic hit. Obviously those projections are affected by what’s going on in Canada, and by having already played in empty buildings. There’s no doubt about that.

“But as we indicated before, certainly the hope is that a lot of these games will be rescheduled in better circumstances where fans can be in the building.”

Listen to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly’s full interview with Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Ben Ennis and Stephen Brunt via the audio clip embedded within this post.

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TRAIKOS: The NHL apparently wants McDavid and the Oilers to miss the playoffs – Toronto Sun

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Edmonton’s playoff hopes took a serious hit on Thursday, with the 13th-place team losing 6-0 to Florida. It was the Oilers’ seventh straight loss — and their 13th loss in the past 15 games — and it put them six points back of San Jose for the final Wild Card spot in the West.

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The team needs Evander Kane more than ever, as well as an upgrade in net and possibly a new voice behind the bench.

Based on what lies ahead, it could also use a ventilator.

On Wednesday, the league released its revised schedule for all the games that had been postponed due to COVID-19. Mostly, the NHL’s schedule makers just crammed a bunch of games (95 in total) during the three-week window that was originally blocked off for the Olympic break.

Now, there is no break. And for the Oilers, who play their final 46 games over 98 days — roughly a game every other day for the next three months — there’s little chance to take even the slightest of breaths.

Seriously, what did Connor McDavid ever do to Gary Bettman to get him so angry? Edmonton’s path to the post-season is not just an uphill climb — it’s now also littered with potholes, as well as several back-to-backs and a couple of insane stretches where they will play three games in four nights.

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Even if they manage to survive this gauntlet and sneak into the playoffs, what’s the point if they won’t have anything left in the tank?

Of course, it’s not just Edmonton that will be challenged in the weeks ahead.

Every team got a bunch of games dumped on their lap next month. Winnipeg now has 10 games in 17 days, while Montreal will play eight games in 15 days.

All it means is that February, which typically represented the dog days of the calendar might now be the most pivotal month on the schedule.

Depth is going to be tested like never before. You better have a backup goalie, because you’re going to need him. And you better have a fourth line that plays more than six minutes a night.

For Edmonton, this could be just a little problematic.

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The Oilers don’t have a backup goalie. These days, they don’t even have a No. 1 that they trust. As for spreading the minutes around, Oilers’ defenceman Darnell Nurse is averaging the second-most ice time of any player in the NHL, while Leon Draisaitl and McDavid are logging more minutes than any other forward.

With the team chasing the pack — and playing from behind in most games — there’s little chance that their ice time will be decreased. If anything, it’s probably going to be going up, especially if Dave Tippett is still coaching.

After all, the Oilers can’t afford to have another losing month. They can barely afford to have another losing week.

With so many games scheduled in so few days, the playoff picture is coming into focus faster than ever. By the end of the month, we should have a clear indication of where teams stand heading into the March 21 trade deadline.

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That is, if any teams are left standing by then.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

*****

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Record: 24-10-3, 51 points (3rd in Atlantic)

Games rescheduled: 9

The result: From Jan. 31 to Feb. 27, Toronto plays 12 games in 29 days. But that is still less than the 14 games they played in the month of November.

What it means: The Leafs got off real easy. They now have two back-to-backs scheduled, but one is a home-and-home against Devils — meaning both teams will be at a disadvantage — and the other features the 10th-place Blue Jackets and the last-place Canadiens If anything, this could be Toronto’s chance to put points in the bank.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Record: 11-20-2, 24 points (9th in Atlantic)

Games rescheduled: 15

The result: The Senators’ schedule looks completely different. They now have 10 new games in February — including two that were originally scheduled for April and got moved up. Too bad fans won’t be allowed in the building for most of those games.

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What it means: Though Ottawa is probably not going to make the playoffs, there had been talk that the Senators would be playing games in May. That didn’t happen. But there are 16 games in April, at a time when the 31st overall team could be playing meaningless hockey.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Record: 8-25-6, 22 points (10th in Atlantic)

Games rescheduled: 12

The result: During a three-week span in February, Montreal will play eight games in 15 days. All but one of those games is at home, which might not be a good thing based on how the team has been playing.

What it means: Not a whole lot. It’s a pity the NHL even bothered to reschedule Montreal’s games. All it does is delay the inevitable.

CALGARY FLAMES

Record: 18-11-6, 42 points (5th in Pacific)

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Games rescheduled: 10

The result: The revised schedule includes three back-to-backs in February and increases the number of games they’ll play in the month from four to 11. But Calgary also gets seven straight games at home.

What it means: Compared to the teams they’re jockeying with for playoff positions, the Flames got off relatively easy. Their toughest stretch is a back-to-back against Vegas and Toronto. But they are book-ended with games against Arizona and the New York Islanders, which should allow Calgary to breathe while others might be running out of breath.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Record: 18-18-3, 39 points (6th in Pacific)

Games rescheduled: 7

The result: Vancouver will play six of the seven rescheduled games during what was supposed to be the Olympic break (Feb. 7 to 22). All but one of those games are at home. Consider it payback for what the league put the Canucks through a year ago.

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What it means: If you were hoping the Canucks had a shot at grabbing a wild card spot, you’re probably feeling optimistic right now. Sure, they still have to win those games. But considering that the team is 10-3-1 since Bruce Boudreau stepped behind the bench, would it surprise anyone if Vancouver ends up with the most points out of the Canadian teams out West?

EDMONTON OILERS

Record: 18-16-2, 38 points (7th in Pacific)

Games rescheduled: 9

The result: Someone in the league office does not appear to be an Oilers fan. How else do you explain that Edmonton now comes out of the All-Star Game (in which Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both attending) and immediately plays eight games in 13 days? Or that the team twice plays three games in four nights?

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What it means: Kiss those playoffs goodbye! Seriously, this schedule is going to reveal what the Oilers are made of. This has already been a difficult season for McDavid and Draisaitl, who are feeling the pressure like never before. Now, they have to chase a playoff spot while running on fumes, with the team staring down a five-game road swing at the end of February against Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina, Philadelphia and Chicago.

WINNIPEG JETS

Record: 17-13-6, 40 points (5th in Central)

Games rescheduled: 9

The result: From Feb. 11 to Feb. 21, Winnipeg plays seven games in 11 days.

What it means: After playing six times in the past four weeks, the Jets are going to be busy in February. There are now 12 games scheduled, with 11 of them coming in the final three weeks of the month. The team will pretty much be playing every other night — or every night, considering there are three back-to-backs also scheduled. And because six of those games are against divisional rivals, this should be a make-or-break month for Winnipeg.

mtraikos@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Michael_Trakos

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Bombers sign All-Star OT Bryant – TSN

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The two-time defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers re-signed another cornerstone player on Friday, inking All-Star offensive tackle Stanley Bryant to a one-year contract. 

The 35-year-old was selected as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman for a third time in his career this season in addition to being named to his sixth All-Star team.

The Bombers also signed All-Star linebacker Adam Bighill as well as starting quarterback and Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros to extensions this week. 

Bryant had played in 103 consecutive games for the Bombers since arriving in Winnipeg in 2015 before that streak came to an end in November. 

The East Carolina product also won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014. 

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Soccer-Brazil to stop unvaccinated footballers playing in top leagues

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The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said on Friday players must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to take part in this year’s league championship,

The CBF said it was in constant contact with health bodies and had sent an updated list of requirements to member clubs.

“One of these is the obligation to present a full vaccination certificate against COVID-19 to the CBF’s Medical Commission,” it said in a statement.

The top four national divisions kick off in the second week of April.

Brazil coach Tite has said he was not selecting Atletico Madrid defender Renan Lodi for his squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers because he was not fully vaccinated.

The issue of athletes’ stance on vaccines has dominated sports headlines recently after tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was deported ahead of the Australian Open.

 

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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