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Gate-driven NHL has plan to deal with potentially enormous lost revenues

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An incomplete season — one without playoffs — will cost the National Hockey League more than $500 million in gate revenue.

That would mean the cancellation of the 189 games that remain on the regular-season schedule. And that would mean no Stanley Cup playoffs of any kind would be played: In most years there are between 85-90 playoff games.

That’s a huge hit financially for the gate-driven NHL, which has already put in place a provision with the Players’ Association for dealing with the severe drop in hockey-related revenue, and how it would affect the upcoming season’s salary cap.

Under regular circumstances, the size of the cap is determined by a set economic formula. If the formula was applied in a season with so much revenue lost, the cap would drop significantly. The NHL, realizing how troublesome that would be for so many franchises, has taken a strong position here and the players would have no reason to quarrel over this.

Of course, there is no way of knowing if or when the season will be resumed. All of that is controlled by those making the coronavirus determinations.

This is not a hockey decision, nor should it be.

But under these difficult circumstances, facing potentially significant financial losses, the NHL has done well to prevent a hockey fear of sorts over what could have been a dropping cap. The cap has gone up six consecutive seasons and was thought to be going as high as $88 million for the coming season. That was before the season was put on hold.

THIS AND THAT

NHL players will be paid for the final 15% of the season, whether it’s played or not. I’m told that NBA players won’t be paid for the rest of the regular season if games are not played … The sports media seems consumed with whether arena workers will be paid or who will pay them during this stoppage? That’s nice. It’s small, big picture. I’m more concerned about businesses that employ people that are temporarily or permanently shutting down and all those Canadians concerned about their employment and their professions. This is an uncertain time for a lot more than arena workers … The Winnipeg Jets are owned by Canada’s wealthiest man, David Thomson. What an embarrassment it would be if he doesn’t take care of his arena workers throughout this period …The new March Madness: grocery store shopping … Buffalo Sabres had the second pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. They selected Sam Reinhart. They passed on Leon Draisaitl. Imagine a Sabres team now with Draisaitl and Jack Eichel? That would be a modern-day version of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin … I don’t know what’s worse? No games to watch or nothing but a virus to talk about … Sheldon Keefe has a 27-15-5 record record in his first NHL season since taking over as Leafs coach. That’s 102-point pace, the seventh best record in the Eastern Conference, 10th best in the NHL … Having lived the minor hockey life for years, I’m so sad for the kids who won’t complete their seasons. You don’t get that precious time back.

HEAR AND THERE

I’m no doctor but when I saw sweaty Raptors players hugging sweaty Utah players at the end of their game on Monday night, in light of the world circumstances, I said right away, that’s not good. Unrelated from the hugs, right after that Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus and passes it on to teammate Donovan Mitchell … If there is still an NBA season or playoffs to be played, one thing that might be nice for the Raptors: player rest. All season long they’ve been forcing a roster of whomever was available and dealing with so many injuries. Now, Norm Powell can get healthy, Fred Van Vleet can get healthy, Marc Gasol can get ready, Kyle Lowry can get rest. If they do have playoffs and the Raptors are complete, they’re going to be a dangerous team. They’re a dangerous team without everybody healthy. What happens when everybody is well enough to play? … Some people are hoarding toilet paper and hand wipes. I’m hoarding Diet Dr. Pepper … We’ve never really seen an athlete like Pascal Siakam before — going from 4.2 points a game, to 7.3 to 16.9 to 23.6 in his four NBA seasons. And still with places to go. Rebounding has grown from 3.1 to 4.5 to 6.9 to 7.5 in his career. Rarely is this kind of steady and annual improvement seen at the professional level of any sport.

SCENE AND HEARD

Sometimes, it’s how you sound, not what you are saying. Commissioners Adam Silver and Gary Bettman can say the exact same thing and it comes out completely differently. When Mark Shapiro talked about the Blue Jays cancellation being “more focused on our community and broader mankind and we’re all dealing with the uncertainty that lies ahead and doing the best we can to navigate through this challenge,” he sounds like a textbook I hated reading in university … Some guys aren’t this fortunate. The just returning Morgan Rielly gets to spend his time away with girlfriend, Tessa Virtue. Is this like the nicest couple ever, nice kid hockey player and the nicest of all-time women figure skaters … Rielly on what he saw of the Leafs during his time out with injury: “I’m a bad scout.” … Leafs pick Nick Robertson’s season in Peterborough was halted at 55 goals in 46 games. Can he score in the NHL? Similarly sized Alex DeBrincat, a little smaller than Robertson, had 28 and 41 goals in his first two NHL seasons directly out of junior hockey … Centres faster than Brayden Point in the NHL: Connor McDavid. Nathan MacKinnon. Then who? … Jon Cooper figures Washington”s John Carlson wins the Norris Trophy. “Look at his numbers,” said Cooper. “He’s elite.” His general manager, Julien BriseBois, doesn’t agree. If he was voting, he’d pick with his own defenceman, Victor Hedman. It’s an easy top three with Roman Josi of Nashville. The question is, which order do you place them? And do you actually have awards in a season that doesn’t necessarily end?

AND ANOTHER THING

What I’d like to see again on television in a world without games: The entire 1993 World Series; The final series of the 1987 Canada Cup; All six games of last year’s NBA Finals; Any of the Muhammad Ali fights with Joe Frazier and all eight minutes of Marvin Hagler fighting Thomas Hearns; Oilers-Flames hockey from the 80s; The batflip game; The men’s gold medal hockey game from Vancouver, the women’s gold medal hockey game from Sochi; Donovan Bailey’s gold-medal races; New Year’s Eve 1975 — Montreal Canadiens against the Soviet Red Army team; Lanny McDonald’s overtime goal to beat the Islanders; The 1989 Grey Cup and the 1996 Grey Cup in the snow in Hamilton with Doug Flutie. And that’s just a start … Word is, former CFL mainstay Chris Jones is staying with the Cleveland Browns in a personnel role. He wasn’t fired when head coach Freddie Kitchens was let go. He was moved from a coaching job to more of a scouting position … My new best friend: Netflix … It’s the tree fall in the forrest thing. If the XFL stopped playing, how would anybody know? … Give the Columbus Blue Jackets credit. Whoever came up with the Torts 2020 election T-shirts has a mind for commerce … Kind of a shame that the goal-scoring championship in the NHL might not be settled, with David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin at 48 and Auston Matthews at 47. There hadn’t been three 50-goal scorers in a season since 2010. That was Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos … Not sure how playing a golf tournament with players, caddies and no fans is a health hazard to anyone … When they were talking about playing games without fans in the stands, I kept thinking of the Atlanta Thrashers games I’d been to, when the arena wasn’t completely empty but seemed that way … Happy birthday to Darcy Tucker (45), James Reimer (32), Steph Curry (32), Anthony Bennett (27), DeVier Posey (30), The Iron Sheik (78), Mark Scheifele (27), Dave McKay (70) and Wes Unseld (74) … And hey, whatever became of Bob Goodenow?

BEST GOALIE? THERE’S NO OBVIOUS ANSWER

Who’s the best goalie in the NHL? For the first time in a long time, there is no obvious answer.

There is no Patrick Roy. There is no Dominik Hasek. There is no Martin Brodeur, maybe not an Ed Belfour.

The last six years there have been six different Vezina Trophy winners. In the last 10 years, there have been nine different Vezina Trophy winners. For a moment in time, maybe longer, it appeared as though Carey Price would be that guy, the game changer, the difference maker, but through injuries and team difficulty and inconsistency he is there sometimes, not there other times.

Most eras in hockey can be defined by great goatlending. The 1960s had Glenn Hall, Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk and Jacques Plante.

The ’70s had Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito and Bernie Parent. The ’80s had Grant Fuhr, Billy Smith, and later Roy. The ’90s were stacked with Roy, Hasek, Belfour and Brodeur, who carried on for the next decade as well. All those goalies Hall of Famers.

So now, who? Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy won the Vezina last year, but won’t win it this year. Price isn’t even a candidate. Tuukka Rask and Connor Hellebuyck have the best statistics this year, but neither goalie is what you’d call generational. This is a new decade and there’s time for someone to step forward.

RAPTORS LOVE HAS GROWN

The crazy celebrations of last June, connecting so many Canadians suddenly engaged with the success of the Toronto Raptors, will never be forgotten. There was a sporting excitement in the country we’d rarely known before.

And this season, with Kawhi Leonard leaving after one year, with the apparent championship hangover looming, it was easy to expect a challenging season for the Raptors.

But if you loved the team last June, maybe you love them just a little bit more right now.

Last year was a once-in-a-lifetime run for the Raptors, ending with eight victories in 10 games against the Milwaukee Bucks and what was left of the Golden State Warriors. This year has been mountain climb after mountain climb, victory after victory, a season before interruption of shake your head wins and shake your head lineups: There has been, before coronavirus, no championship hangover of any kind.

This Raptors season has been a miracle all its own, completely different from the championship run, the bouncing ball, or last spring. Not hitting expectations but exceeding them. Career seasons from Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, O.G. Anunoby, Norm Powell, when healthy Fred VanVleet. All at once. A season later to appreciate the value of coach Nick Nurse.

I don’t necessarily care whether any seasons in any sport come back in the short term with health and safety my greatest concern, but I do care to see a conclusion to this Raptors season.

MATTHEWS WON’T GET NEAR VAIVE

Rick Vaive’s record is safe.

Auston Matthews won’t be scoring 54 goals this season for the Maple Leafs. And if the regular season is called off, which seems rather likely, then he ends the season with 47 and with 10 games eliminated from the schedule.

The number will be a dangle for Matthews in the future, and from a season in which his game has grown and when he’s on — which he still isn’t on too many nights — he’s become more than just a goal scorer. He’s carried the puck more. He’s holding the puck longer. He’s impacting the game more.

There was talk, before the season was halted, that maybe Matthews can grow into a Hart Trophy candidate and Selke Trophy candidate in the future. So far, in four years in the NHL, he received very few Hart votes and none after his rookie year. This season, with Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak, Jack Eichel, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin all legitimate Hart candidates, it’s hard to see where Matthews would get many votes this time around.

He won’t get many Selke votes either if people are watching closely (he could win Lady Byng). He still has to work to do on the defensive side of his game. He can still be sloppy with the puck in his own end.

Next year is Year 5 for Matthews. He’s not a kid anymore.

By Year 5, Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews had all won Stanley Cups.

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Joe Rogan praises “monster” Justin Gaethje ahead of Tony Ferguson fight – BJPENN.COM

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Joe Rogan has nothing but praise for Justin Gaethje ahead of his UFC 249 fight against Tony Ferguson.

Gaethje will be stepping up on short notice against Ferguson for the interim lightweight title. For Rogan, he knows “The Highlight” could pose some problems for Ferguson given his insane power and knockout ability.

“Justin Gaethje’s a monster. He’s a monster. He’s a terrifying individual. He is, I mean, in a sport that’s violent, it’s an inherently violent sport, he stands out, as the most violent,” Joe Rogan said on his podcast. “I mean, you watch his knockout of Edson Barboza, you watch how that motherf****r attacks people. There’s a reckless abandon to his calculated wildness. It’s terrifying. He’s something special and he’s better all the time.

“The question is, how much has he been training? He’s taking a fight on very short notice,” he continued. “He’s taking the fight on essentially two weeks’ notice.”

Joe Rogan believes Justin Gaethje could do what Nate Diaz did back at UFC 196, where he stepped up on short notice and beat Conor McGregor to shock the world.

The UFC commentator says Gaethje has a legitimate chance to win this fight but it all depends on how conditioned “The Highlight“ is. For Rogan, he speculates Gaethje has been training this entire time as he knew Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov weren’t going to fight.

“For Justin Gaethje, it really depends entirely on how much time he’s been spending in the gym. Now, he’s a man with a plan, right? He’s trying to be the UFC lightweight champion, so he’s probably not getting too out of shape,” Rogan explained. “And, he probably knew that in this case there is a potential that one of those guys could drop out because they’ve already made that fight four f*****g times and it fell apart. So this is the fifth time it’s fallen apart. Which is nuts. So it might be that Justin Gaethje knew that this was a possibility that he could be called in as a replacement. He might be in full camp mode. We really don’t know. We’d have to talk to him.”

It is no doubt a fascinating fight that goes down in 10 days on Tribal Land in California.

Do you think Justin Gaethje will beat Tony Ferguson at UFC 249? Sound off in the comment section, PENN Nation!

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/8/2020.

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Senators who tested positive for coronavirus have recovered, coach says – NHL.com

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The six members of the Ottawa Senators organization who tested positive for the coronavirus, including two players, have recovered, according to coach D.J. Smith.

“Everyone’s doing good,” he said Wednesday. “The good thing is that everyone that had [the coronavirus] didn’t have horrible symptoms, you know, what we’re seeing on TV and in some of the people that have really struggled. Some guys didn’t feel well. But being athletes, they all got through it.

“And they’re all on the other side of it now. … I think it’s important that you see this disease doesn’t spare anyone … actors and actresses, rich, poor, you’ve got to make sure that you stay safe, and I’m really glad that everyone that was involved in our organization and on that plane (during a three-game trip through California from March 7-11) is now doing well.

“But certainly, a scary time. … It hit us, but at the same point, probably saved a lot of us too. … We probably got a little bit of a jump on this.”

The Senators played in the last NHL game before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, a 3-2 loss at the Los Angeles Kings on March 11.

“Guys were aware that an NBA player tested positive that afternoon, or right around 5:00, but us being out on the West [Coast], we were ahead of it,” said Smith, who is in his first season as an NHL coach. “And there was some question whether we were going to play. … It certainly was a different atmosphere than any other game I’ve been a part of. We just waited for direction from the League.”

The Senators are 25-34-12 and in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, but Smith said he’s optimistic they will finish strong if the season resumes and go into the offseason feeling good about themselves, especially off their play at Canadian Tire Centre, where Ottawa is 18-13-6.

“I’m hopeful that we can get out of the house and get back to work and get joking with the guys,” Smith said. “We want to finish on the right note and finish with the message of how we’re going to work right to the very end, to the very last buzzer, and give the fans what they deserve. I think this season at home, they got to see how hard we played, and we wanted to play right to the end tough. So certainly, I want to get back.

“But we’ll just listen to the guidance from the NHL. We’re going to play hockey at some point, it’s just a matter of when.”

The Senators have not identified the players who tested positive for coronavirus.

Smith said he’s looking forward to watching players like 20-year-old forward Brady Tkachuk, 23-year-old defenseman Thomas Chabot and 23-year-old center Colin White continue to develop when Ottawa begins playing again.

The Senators will have to return with a positive mindset, he said, in order to improve and get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs; they have not qualified for the postseason since 2016-17, when they lost to the eventual champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

“Our mentality has to change,” Smith said. “It’s time for us to take a step, and how big a step that is, we’re going to find out. But we want to take a step, certainly mentally, and that’s with the Tkachuks and Chabots and Whites and these guys, so that when you watch the best teams in the League, the Washington Capitals, the Boston Bruins, when they come to the arena they expect to win every night.

“There’s a difference between expecting and knowing that you can win every night, and in time with as many good young players that we have and all the draft picks we have, we’re going to be one of those teams. Everyone wants it to be sooner than later.”

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Tom Brady goes there with Howard Stern, re Belichick – Toronto Sun

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Now former Patriots QB dishes for more than two hours

Tom Brady guested for more than two hours Wednesday on Howard Stern’s unsensored SiriusXM Radio show.

And, yes, the no-holds-barred host went far down every audacious and raunchy road with his questions for the star NFL quarterback — from how often he has sex with his supermodel wife Giselle Bundchen (enough, Brady said) to whether he has suffered concussions in football (multiple, Brady said).

Mostly, though, Stern kept drilling deep down into the relationship the new Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting passer had with his now former head coach in New England, Bill Belichick.

Brady — who revealed he had been a huge fan of Stern for years — obliged throughout with thoughtful, revealing answers to almost every one of Stern’s questions, no matter how probing, playful or crass.

The 42-year-old granted Stern a level of access and on-the-record frankness every NFL reporter this century has dreamed of.

Among Brady’s top revelations about his departure from Foxboro:

On whether he ever asked Belichick to pull a lazy or failing receiver out of the lineup:

“I (could) definitely express my opinion to say, ‘If you put him out there, I’m not going to throw him the ball because the whole team is trusting me to do what’s right by the team. So you can’t put someone out there that I don’t believe in — because if I don’t believe in him, then it’s worthless for the team.’

“Fortunately for me, coach Belichick always saw it the same way as me, which is why I think we have such a great connection … I think that’s why I was a great fit for that system, because we saw the process of winning very much the same way.

“Rarely did I ever need to go up to a guy and say, ‘Listen, you’re f—ing the team.’ He would know that from someone else before I would ever need to get to him.”

On whether he sensed Belichick was ever resentful that his successes in New England always were seen as joint successes with Brady — and whether he thought, “F— Belichick. I’m the reason for our success here”:

“I think it’s a pretty s–tty argument, actually, that people would say that.”

Brady said he would not have been as successful in New England if Belichick weren’t his head coach.

“But I feel the same in, in vice versa as well. To have him allowed me to be the best that I could be. So I’m grateful for that. And very much believe that he feels the same about me, because we have expressed that to each other.”

On whether Brady resents Belichick for not making him a Patriot for life:

“No. Absolutely not.”

Because moving on to Tampa Bay is a chance, he said, “to experience something that’s very different. There are ways for me to grow and evolve in a different way that I haven’t had the opportunity to do — that aren’t right or wrong, but just right for me.”

On whether not retiring as a Patriot might affect his legacy:

“I never cared about legacy. I couldn’t give a s–t about it … It was because it was just time (to leave) … I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization, and an incredible group of people. And that will never change, and no one can take that away from me … or us.”

On rumours Belichick wanted to bring in a new quarterback in recent years, perhaps, in part, to prove he could continue the Patriots’ winning ways without Brady — and whether Brady viewed that as disloyalty to him, and whether it influenced his decision to leave:

“I think he has a lot of loyalty. He and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody has ever been privy to, and nor should they be. So many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship, or about how he felt about me. I know genuinely how he feels about me. Now I’m not going to respond to every rumour or assumption that’s made, other than what his responsibility as coach is to try to get the best player for the team not only in the short term but in the long-term as well. So what I could control is trying to be the best I could be in both of those situations also. So I got into unchartered territory as an athlete because I started to break the mould of what so many other athletes had experienced. I got to the point where I was an old — or an older athlete — and he’s starting to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is. And I don’t fault him for that. That’s what he should be doing. That’s what every coach should be doing … I recognized that. We talked about it.”

On when he decided when he wanted to move on from New England:

“I don’t think there was every a final, final decision. But I would say I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year. And I knew that our time was coming to an end.”

On saying goodbye to Patriots owner Robert Kraft in person a few weeks ago and together calling Belichick to likewise inform him:

“Yeah, I was crying. I’m a very emotional person.”

On why he didn’t have more in-depth talks with the Las Vegas Raiders:

They could probably speak to that more than me … There were probably a lot of different teams that were interested in me, I would say.”

He would not elaborate on how many teams, or which others.

JoKryk@postmedia.com

@JohnKryk

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