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Four NHL cities that could host a summer restart – TSN

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday the league been busy “modelling” different scenarios for a potential summer restart to the 2019-20 season.
 
That includes the possibility of resuming play in two to four centralized locations, likely without fans, and the idea of a draft held in June before the season is completed.
 
“All of this is contingent, nothing has been decided,” Bettman said in an interview with Sportsnet. “The decision ultimately will be made by medical people and people who run governments at all different levels. We’re not going to try to do anything that flies in the face of what we’re being told is appropriate.”
 
Bettman said there is the possibility of multiple games being played per day in two or “as many as four” NHL cities, with the league never having seriously considered play at non-NHL venues.

The plan could include regular-season play, a traditional 16-team playoff, or even an “expanded” playoff.
 
Teams might be grouped by division, but not necessarily, Bettman said. Sources indicated that the NHL could have teams playing at sites outside of their usual geographic area, such as two groups of eight teams at two sites in the West – circumstances that would be dictated by which localities have eased restrictions.
 
“We’re just constantly trying to figure out what our alternatives will be,” Bettman said.
 
Bettman’s stated requirements for host sites are:
 
– “The location could be anywhere besides a [COVID-19] hot spot.”
 
– “We need a lot of ice. There does need to be practice facilities.”
 
– “We need four NHL-calibre locker rooms. Because if you’re going to play three games in one day, you’ve got to be moving things around, and you’ve got to make sure that we’re taking the proper sanitizing procedures.”
 
Sources indicate the league is keeping a running list of up to 10 NHL cities that could suitably host in the event of a centralized restart.
 
Locations such as St. Paul, Minn., and Raleigh, N.C., have been reported as possibilities. But construction of the Hurricanes’ practice facility is running behind schedule now due to the coronavirus and their current facility is not fit to host teams.
 
The Arizona Coyotes have reportedly expressed a desire to host. Columbus could make a ton of sense with its state-of-the-art practice facility attached to Nationwide Arena.
 
Here are four additional cities where the NHL could host centralized summer hockey:

 
EDMONTON
 
COVID-19 data: The Edmonton area accounts for just 13 per cent (451) of Alberta’s total positive cases (3,401), compared to more than 70 per cent in Calgary. Alberta is one most heavily tested provinces/states per capita on the continent. (Source: CTV News)
 
Edmonton’s case: Edmonton’s ICE District checks all of the NHL’s boxes. It’s a completely self-contained area, with the sparkling new arena, a spacious community ice rink, and a luxury JW Marriott hotel all connected – allowing for players and officials to never step outside. The 322-room hotel with 24 suites, which is owned by Oilers owner Daryl Katz, could house up to seven teams, and is equipped with two restaurants, more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space, plus a gym and pool. Add in the fact that Edmonton is in the second-least infected city in the NHL, it figures to be on any short list. Alberta premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday he received a call from Bettman.
 
“There was a very general conversation,” Kenney said in his briefing. “We have not received a proposal of any kind. I underscored that if a proposal were forthcoming, we would obviously expect the league to prepare a very detailed plan to mitigate risk.”

 
TORONTO
 
COVID-19 data: Toronto Public Health reported Wednesday that 4,069 positive cases have been confirmed in the city, which accounts for one-third of Ontario’s reported 12,245 positive cases. (Source: Toronto Public Health)
 
Toronto’s case: Scotiabank Arena’s proximity to a number of rinks and arenas, walking distance to hotels, as well as experience hosting NHL tentpole events, makes Toronto a top candidate. The 2016 World Cup of Hockey proved the arena could house eight teams and their equipment under one roof. During that tournament, Coca-Cola Coliseum – home of the AHL’s Marlies – was used as a practice facility. The Maple Leafs are the only NHL team that has a four-sheet practice hub, the Ford Performance Centre in suburban Etobicoke. Additionally, the old Maple Leaf Gardens – now named Mattamy Athletic Centre – is located downtown. The NHL also has bodies on the ground with one of its league offices connected to Scotiabank Arena, plus it could provide the easiest logistics for the league’s Canadian national broadcast partner. Given all of the ice and infrastructure, Toronto could feasibly host all 16 teams for a Stanley Cup playoff. But for one of the NHL’s most densely populated cities, it might all come down to medical data and risk factors presented.

 
PITTSBURGH
 
COVID-19 data: Pennsylvania has been a hotspot, but Allegheny County – home of the Penguins – accounts for just 1,088 of the state’s 35,684 positive cases. That’s three per cent of the cases in a county that accounts for 10 per cent of the state’s population. (Source: PA Dept. of Health)
 
Pittsburgh’s case: The city’s downtown PPG Paints Arena has hosted some of the NHL’s biggest games over the last decade and there is a suitable Marriott hotel located directly across the street. But the Steel City’s biggest selling point for hosting an NHL restart may actually be its top-rated UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex practice facility, located 20 minutes away in quiet Cranberry, Pa. The two-pad complex has seating for more than 1,500 in its main arena, where the Pens practice, plus the partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center provides sports medicine and medical care at one of the best hospitals in the country.

 
DALLAS
 
COVID-19 data: Texas has only the 12th-most positive cases in the United States despite being the second-most populous state. There have been 4,790 positive cases in the four county Dallas-Fort Worth metro area as of Wednesday, which is proportionate to its population among 29 million Texas residents. (Source: Texas Department of State Health Services)
 
Dallas’ case: Dallas may have a leg up because Texas could be among the first states to ease restrictions related to COVID-19. Retail stores that have been closed since mid-March will soon begin to open for curbside pickups. Plus, the city has a robust case on its own merit, and likely a willingness to host with a little Texan hospitality. American Airlines Center is a modern facility that would provide significant space. Outside, across Dirk Nowitzki Way, there is a stylish ‘W’ Hotel with 220 rooms and 32 suites – which could serve as home to nearly five teams. The Stars’ practice facility, Comerica Center, is 25 minutes away in Frisco, plus the team owns seven other rinks in the DFW metro area. One of the only mitigating factors might be the Texas heat and humidity in July or August, but Bettman said recently that is one of the league’s least concerns.
 
No matter where, no matter when, one thing is clear: the NHL is working on a list of options to resume the season if it is at all feasible.
 
“With a lot of timing options, we have a great deal of flexibility,” Bettman said. “We’re not going to rush anything, we’re not going to do anything that’s crazy. We’re going to do something under the circumstances at the time that is sensible.”
 
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli

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Ovechkin of Capitals, Pastrnak of Bruins win Richard Trophy – NHL.com

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Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins won the Rocket Richard Trophy, awarded to the top goal scorer in the NHL, for the 2019-20 season.

Each forward scored 48 goals (Ovechkin in 68 games, Pastrnak in 70) before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The League, in its Return to Play Plan announcement Tuesday, said there would be no more regular-season games, and instead would restart with eight teams in each conference playing a Qualifying Round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and a Seeding Round Robin featuring the top four teams in each conference.

It’s the ninth time Ovechkin has led the League in goals, including each of the past three seasons; he scored 51 goals in 2018-19 and 49 in 2017-18. Ovechkin also led the League in 2007-08 (65), 2008-09 (56), 2012-13 (32), 2013-14 (51), 2014-15 (53) and 2015-16 (50).

The No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Ovechkin (34 years and 178 days old at time of season pause) is the third-oldest player to lead the NHL in goals, behind Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings in 1962-63 (34 years, 358 days) and Bill Cook of the New York Rangers in 1932-33 (36 years, 165 days).

Ovechkin, who became the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700 goals when he scored against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 22, began the season in 13th place on the NHL all-time goals list with 658 and finished it eighth with 706, passing Luc Robitaille (668 goals), Teemu Selanne (684), Mario Lemieux (690), Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694). Ovechkin is two goals behind Mike Gartner (708) for seventh.

Ovechkin has 11 seasons of at least 45 goals and was two from reaching 50 for the ninth time in his 15-season NHL career.

Named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian in 2017, Ovechkin has won the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) three times, the Art Ross Trophy (NHL scoring champion) once, and was the Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie of the year in 2005-06. He is the only player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP), Calder Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award (voted best player) and the Rocket Richard Trophy.

It is the first time Pastrnak, who turned 24 on May 25, has won the Rocket Richard Trophy. He set an NHL career high in goals this season and has increased his total in each of his past five seasons. He has scored at least 34 goals in each of the past four seasons, and his 155 since 2016-17 are third in the NHL behind Ovechkin (181) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (158).

Pastrnak led the League with 20 power-play goals and tied for third in points (95) for the Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in the regular season.

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Agent Scott Boras to clients in memo: Don’t bail out baseball owners – Sportsnet.ca

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NEW YORK — Agent Scott Boras recommends his clients refuse Major League Baseball’s attempt to cut salaries during negotiations with the players’ association, claiming team financial issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic have their origin in management debt financing.

In an email obtained by The Associated Press, Boras wrote that players should not alter terms of the March 26 agreement between MLB and the union that called for players to reduce their salaries to a prorated rate based on a shortened season. MLB on Tuesday proposed a series of tiered reductions that would cause top stars to receive the biggest cuts.

“Remember, games cannot be played without you,” Boras wrote. “Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.”

Boras is baseball’s best-known agent and represented 71 players on active rosters and injured lists as of Aug. 31, the most among player representative firms. His Newport Beach, California-based company negotiated more than $1.2 billion in contracts during the off-season.

Salaries were set to range from $563,500 for players at the major league minimum to $36 million for Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole, the latter a Boras client. Under the March agreement, the range would be cut to roughly $285,000 to $18 million for the 82-game regular season MLB has proposed. Under the economic proposal made by MLB this week, the range would be reduced to about $262,000 to $8 million, including shares of a bonus all players would receive if the post-season is played.

“Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made,” Boras said. “If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners’ current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations.”

“Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout,” he added. “They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred has said 40% of MLB’s revenue is related to the gate. Teams told the union on May 12 that MLB would lose $640,000 for each game played in empty ballparks without fans. MLB claimed that playing with prorated salaries in empty ballparks would cause a $4 billion loss and give major league players 89% of revenue.

Washington pitcher Max Scherzer, among three Boras clients on the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee, issued a statement late Wednesday night saying “there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions.”

Boras cited the purchase of the Chicago Cubs by the Ricketts family and the redevelopment of Wrigley Field. Debt financing was key to both, he said.

“Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans,” he wrote. “However, the end result is that the Ricketts will own improved assets that significantly increases the value of the Cubs — value that is not shared with the players.”

Boras asked clients to “please share this concept with your teammates and fellow players when MLB request further concessions or deferral of salaries.”

“Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision,” Boras wrote. “But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.”

He added salaries have been flat for several years. The opening day average has been in the $4.4 million rang e since 2016.

Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer addressed Boras on Wednesday on Twitter.

“Hearing a LOT of rumours about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs,” Bauer tweeted. “If true — and at this point, these are only rumours — I have one thing to say … Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”

Boras declined to comment on Bauer’s remarks.

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Sources: Players want more games, no more salary cuts – TSN

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NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players appeared likely to propose more regular-season games this year while holding to their demand for full prorated salaries, people familiar with their deliberations told The Associated Press.

Washington pitcher Max Scherzer, among eight players on the union’s executive subcommittee, issued a statement late Wednesday night calling management’s proposal for more salary cuts a non-starter.

A day after Major League Baseball proposed a sliding scale of salary slashing for a pandemic-delayed season with an 82-game schedule in ballparks without fans, the union held a conference call Wednesday that included its executive board, player representatives and alternate player representatives, the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.

Scherzer, among the sport’s highest-paid players, confirmed the call without divulging who was on it.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter. “We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received.”

“I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint,” he added, “and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

It was unclear when the union will respond to MLB’s plan, the people said.

Stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole would lose the most under MLB’s plan, about 77% of the $36 million each they were set to be paid this season. In all, there are 133 players whose contracts call for salaries of $10 million or more, not including shares of signing bonuses.

A big leaguer earning $1 million or less would keep at least 43% of his salary under the six-tier scale. That includes a share of $200 million earmarked for players that is contingent on the postseason being completed. About 460 of approximately 900 players on rosters and injured lists when spring training was stopped in mid-March due to the new coronavirus make $1 million or less.

Trout and Cole would be cut to about $8 million each. Colorado’s Nolan Arenado would drop from $35 million to $7.84 million.

“Interesting strategy of making the best most marketable players potentially look like the bad guys,” Milwaukee pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted.

The players’ association called the proposal “extremely disappointing.” The union has argued players already accepted a cut to prorated shares of their salaries in a March 26 agreement and should not have to bargain again.

MLB would like to start the season around the Fourth of July in empty ballparks and proposed an 82-game regular season. It claims teams would lose billions of dollars by playing with no ticket money and gate-related revenue.

“This season is not looking promising,” New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted. “Keeping the mind and body ready regardless.”

Union head Tony Clark has not commented publicly on MLB’s proposal and has said very little publicly since late March. Agent Scott Boras has repeatedly criticized MLB for proposing more salary reductions and has questioned the accuracy of management’s financial claims.

“Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs,” Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted Wednesday. “If true — and at this point, these are only rumors — I have one thing to say… Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.”

Boras declined to comment on Bauer’s remarks.

“Working together to manage the public health issue has brought great solidarity among the players,” Boras said earlier in the day. “They are a strong united front and resolute in their support of the MLBPA.”

A season with more than 82 games would lead to players earning a higher percentage of their original salaries. MLB says that without fans each additional game would result in a $640,000 loss.

Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio told the Greater Milwaukee Committee on Tuesday “the be-careful-what-you-wish-for part is hours every day.”

“It’s got to come together very quickly or we won’t be able to, we will just run out of time,” he said. “To pay players at a full contract rate, pretty much 90% of that would go to pay them and wouldn’t cover any other costs.”

Details of the plan have been disclosed to the AP by several people familiar with the proposal. They spoke on condition of anonymity because details had not been announced.

MLB’s proposal says that within 48 hours of the ratification of an agreement for player compensation terms and health and safety protocols, the commissioner’s office would announce a proposed timeline for the resumption of the season.

The resumption would include a training period of at least 21 days, and each team would be allowed a maximum of three exhibition games, all in the final seven days of the training period.

Opening day would be in early July, and the final scheduled regular-season game would be no later than Sept. 27 — the same as in the original 2020 schedule.

Issues such as roster size, trade deadlines, series length and treatment of the luxury tax would be delegated to a subcommittee.

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