Get used to the concept of pods and pucks if the NHL is going to have any chance of completing its season, with the most likely scenarios calling for games in empty, air-conditioned arenas during the dog days of summer.
What is emerging as the leading plan involves bringing teams back in a few empty NHL buildings to complete some, if not all, of the remaining regular-season games before opening the playoffs and awarding the Stanley Cup for the 125th time in the past 127 years.
The most aggressive timetable would have players returning to their home rinks as early as May 15, followed by a training camp and possible exhibition games in June, a person familiar with discussions told The Associated Press.
The regular season would then resume in July, with the Cup awarded in September, the person said Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because plans haven’t been finalized.
Commissioner Gary Bettman emphasized no decisions have been made and noted that government and medical officials will ultimately make the call on when sports can return. Still, the league and NHL Players’ Association have formed a joint committee to determine a path forward that could get games back on the ice sometime in July without fans in attendance.
WATCH | NHL outlines possible return scenario:
The joint committee released statement Wednesday night echoing Bettman, saying they “have not made any decisions or set a timeline for possible return to play scenarios.” However, they added they believed there was a possibility to return to small group activities at team facilities in mid to late May.
“When we feel that players are safe and we have enough testing and we have enough ways to get back on the ice for us, it’s probably going to be contained at playing at like four or five neutral sites,” Florida Panthers president Matthew Caldwell said. “My guess is that we would start with either limited fans or empty arenas, so just the teams and their associated staffs.”
One scenario calls for teams playing each other at four NHL rinks around North America. Each would play about a dozen regular-season games to even out the standings and determine playoff seedings. Play was postponed with 189 total games remaining for the 31 teams.
‘Fairest season is a full season,’ says McDavid
Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, who is on the NHL/NHLPA committee that meets weekly, believes “the fairest season is a full season” but that might not be possible. Players must approve any plan to return.
“Guys are preparing to possibly having to play in the summer,” McDavid said, “and guys just want to play.”
That likely means playing in empty NHL buildings. The minimum league requirements call for arenas having at least four NHL-caliber locker rooms, a nearby practice facility and hotel infrastructure. They also cannot be located in a COVID-19 hot spot, though that definition is not clear.
“Among the scenarios we’re looking at is potentially as many as four [cities] because we need a lot of ice,” Bettman said on Sportsnet last week.
WATCH | Flames captain Mark Giordano hopeful for NHL’s return:
Bettman alluded to playing as many as three games a day, which would provide much-needed live entertainment on NBC Sports and other networks, many of whom have time to fill following the postponement of the Summer Olympics.
No fans would be in attendance and even broadcasters might be limited to calling games remotely. Mike “Doc” Emrick, the voice of hockey in the U.S. for NBC Sports, has done it a few times for games staged overseas or outdoors.
“It was an interesting concept,” Emrick said. “It’s not impossible because of high-definition now and because of the precision that you get with the cameras.”
The league is still exploring sites, though Bettman’s criteria puts places like Edmonton, Alberta, and Columbus, Ohio, on the list because practice rinks and hotels are all nearby. Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said Toronto was in the running, and Bettman spoke to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney last week about Edmonton being one of the sites.
“We would obviously expect the league to prepare a very detailed plan to mitigate risk,” Kenney said. “I gather the NHL is looking at finishing the season in arenas for television purposes without large crowds. Whether or not we could accommodate that, we do not yet know.”
League could lose up to $1 billion US
Some projections suggest the NHL could lose up to $1 billion US in revenue if the season is not completed. The financial hit would affect both owners and players based on the league’s revenue-sharing agreement.
There are still plenty of unknowns, ranging from when teams can re-open facilities and getting players back from Europe.
Still, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis noted that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, has already suggested a way for sports to return: without fans and with players quarantined and tested often.
“On paper, this could definitely work if all of the athletes, coaches, medical staff and service workers around them are isolated for 14 days and test negative prior to coming together,” said Dr. Patrick Mularoni, medical director of sports medicine at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “You would need 100 per cent strict adherence to staying away from anyone outside of the `bubble’ or the oasis and the virus wouldn’t get in.”
One concern among players is how much time they might have to spend playing in relative self-isolation and without their family for what could amount to months. There’s also the risk of infection, with hockey being a contact sport.
“Player safety’s been something that keeps coming up when I talk to guys around the league or guys on my team,” said defenceman Torey Krug, the Boston Bruins’ alternate NHLPA representative. “Frequent testing is something that would probably help, but we’ve got to make sure that it’s really safe to even get to that point where we can even talk about it.”
UFC star Jon Jones confronts vandals during George Floyd protest in Albuquerque – GIVEMESPORT
UFC star Jon Jones took to the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday night to confront vandals at a Black Lives Matter protest.
Jones has made news in the UFC world recently by vacating the light heavyweight belt but turned his attentions to more pressing matters at the weekend.
The 32-year-old shared footage on his Instagram account that shows him approaching vandals who were spray painting the city.
The protests were sparked by the death of American George Floyd while in police custody last week.
The clip of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes shocked the world and has led to people challenging the injustice towards black people.
But Jones was eager for the protests to be peaceful and he was seen asking the vandals to hand over their spray cans.
He added a caption that read: “Is this s*** even about George Floyd anymore?!? Why the f*** are you punk ass teenagers destroying our cities!??
“As a young black man trust me I’m frustrated as well but this is not the way, we are starting to make a bad situation worse.
“If you really got love for your city (505), protect your s***. All you old heads need to speak up, call your young family members and tell them to come home tonight.”
Several sports stars have paid tribute to Floyd, with Bundesliga football players making gestures in support of the American at the weekend.
On Saturday, Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie wore a ‘Justice for George armband’.
And on Sunday, both Marcus Thuram and Jadon Sancho honoured Floyd after scoring for Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
MLS players boycott training in apparent labour impasse – TSN
Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecap players boycotted training Monday in an apparent labour impasse between the MLS and the MLS Players Association.
It appears players in “multiple markets” also stayed home amidst reports they faced a threatened lockout by the league.
The training sessions are voluntary but players had been taking advantage of them, with Toronto, Atlanta, Inter Miami and Sporting Kansas City among those slated to progress from individual to small group training sessions Monday.
“Players made a CHOICE to focus their time and energy on an important decision which includes the threat of a lockout instead of volunteering to attend on-field training for a tournament we already agreed to attend,” tweeted Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay, a member of the MLSPA’s executive board. “Refuse is not the word I would use.”
With the season on hold since March 12 due to the pandemic, the two sides have been bargaining about concessions and pay.
On Sunday night, the Players Association announced its membership had approved a package for the 2020 season included player salary reductions and additional concessions. It did not provide specifics although the proposal included participating in a summer tournament in Orlando.
“While a difficult vote in incredibly challenging times, it was taken collectively to ensure that players can return to competition as soon as they are safely able to do so,” the PA said in a statement. “The package has been formally submitted to the league for a decision by the owners.”
The league declined comment Sunday night but reports soon emerged that it wanted more concessions.
Complicating matters is the fact that while the league and PA agreed on a new collectively bargaining agreement in February, it has yet to be ratified.
The players’ proposal included adding a year to the CBA.
The labour negotiations come against a backdrop of unrest in the U.S. in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“I can’t sleep some of these nights!,” tweeted Mark-Anthony Kaye, a Canadian international who plays for Los Angeles FC. “My mind just races and goes on and on at the amount of possible scenarios in where I lose my life or I’m harmed by a police officer who took an oath to protect us. The police force has lost its credibility, the CHANGE needs to start internally!”
The league released a statement Monday saying the “entire Major League Soccer family is deeply saddened and horrified by the senseless murder of George Floyd.
“We stand united with the black community throughout our country and share in the pain, anger and frustration. We hear you. We see you. We support you. We are committed to use our voices and the platform of our league, our clubs and our players to continue to champion equality and social justice.”
Prior to the league release, Toronto defender Justin Morrow wondered what was taking so long.
“How long must we wait to hear from you regarding what’s going on across the country?” he tweeted. “Can’t you see that your players are speaking up and it matters to them? Your silence is deafening. Please support us.”
The MLSPA issued its statement Sunday.
“Like our players, we are deeply sickened by the continued inequality and violence around the country. We stand with all of those who have been subjected to unfair and unequal treatment because of the colour of their skin. We must commit as a society to end this horrible cycle.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.
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Dykstra's libel suit dismissed: Reputation 'so tarnished that it cannot be further injured' – theScore
Dykstra’s “reputation for unsportsmanlike conduct and bigotry is already so tarnished that it cannot be further injured,” the ruling stated.
The lawsuit stemmed from Darling’s 2019 memoir, “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game.” In the book, Darling wrote that Dykstra directed racist taunts toward Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd during the 1986 World Series.
Darling petitioned to have the lawsuit dismissed by citing Dykstra’s past legal problems as well as comments made in Dykstra’s autobiography, “House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge.” Judge Kalish cited these documents as a contributing factor to the dismissal.
“Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation – largely due to his autobiography – of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires,” Kalish wrote.
The 57-year-old Dykstra played 12 major-league seasons between the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. He’s made headlines in his post-playing career for various legal issues, including a 2018 arrest for drug possession and uttering terroristic threats. He served six-and-a-half months in prison after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, and money laundering in 2012.
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