Health concerns and travel bans closing international borders stemming from the new coronavirus pandemic left the International Ice Hockey Federation with no choice but to cancel the men’s world hockey championships.
The decision to cancel the 16-team tournament to be held in Switzerland in May was formally announced Saturday, and essentially wipes out the IIHF’s entire spring calendar of world championship of events.
The governing body previously cancelled the women’s world hockey championships set to be held in Canada and the men’s Under-18 championship to be played in Michigan next month.
“This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept,” IIHF President Rene Fasel said in released statement.
“The coronavirus is a global problem and requires major efforts by government to combat its spread,” he added. “The IIHF must do all it can to support this fight. We have to set sport aside for now.”
Due to the pandemic’s global scale, the council ruled there was no possibility of relocating the championship to another country.
The two-week tournament was set to start May 8 with games to be played in Zurich and Lausanne.
World championship general secretary Gian Gilli referred to the decision as a “huge disappointment” but one that must be accepted.
“It is an exceptional situation for all concerned and it is now a question of resolving all the outstanding issues,” Gilli said.
The IIHF was already bracing for a cancellation after Fasel on Tuesday told The Associated Press it was “a question of when,” following an executive committee conference call.
Before making the decision official, Fasel said the IIHF had to first consult with its host and marketing partners and insurance carrier to determine what contractual obligations had to be met.
Fasel cited numerous challenges facing officials, ranging from health directives in place limiting attendance to travel bans making it difficult for nations to send their teams. Another issue was players lacking practice time, with most of the world’s pro hockey leagues having either indefinitely suspended or cancelled their seasons.
Rosters are made up of mostly professional players, including NHLers, whose teams have either missed the playoffs or been eliminated in the early rounds.
On Monday, the NHL announced it will wait 45 days before it can provide guidance on when teams can potential reopen practice.
“It’s really scary,” Fasel told The AP on Tuesday by phone from his native Switzerland. “Europe is just collapsed. It’s really a strange feeling. Our neighbours yesterday, the federal counsel decided to close all the restaurants and everything. It’s like war.”
With championship host sites already determined through 2025, the IIHF has yet to determine whether it will consider altering its schedule and allow Switzerland to host next year’s championship.
Belarus and Latvia were selected to co-host the tournament next year.
The IIHF council also voted to postpone its annual congress set to take place in Zurich, Switzerland in May.
Ex-Saints K Dempsey dies from coronavirus – TSN
NEW ORLEANS — Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey, who played in the NFL despite being born without toes on his kicking foot and made a record 63-yard field goal, died late Saturday while struggling with complications from the new coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 73 years old.
The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate first reported Dempsey’s death. Ashley Dempsey said Sunday that her father, who has resided in an assisted living home for several years after being diagnosed with dementia, tested positive for the coronavirus a little more than a week ago.
The Orleans Parish coroner has yet to release an official cause of death.
Dempsey’s game-winning field goal against Detroit on Nov. 8, 1970, stood as an NFL record for 43 years until the Broncos’ Matt Prater broke it with a 64-yarder in Denver in 2013.
Dempsey spent 11 seasons in the NFL: His first two seasons were with New Orleans (1969-70), the next four with Philadelphia, then two with the Los Angeles Rams, one with the Houston Oilers and the final two with Buffalo. He retired after the 1979 season.
“Tom’s life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humour.”
Dempsey was born in Milwaukee without four fingers on his right hand and without toes on his right foot. He kicked straight on with a flat-front shoe that drew protests from some who saw the specially made kicking shoe as an unfair advantage. Former Dallas Cowboys President Tex Schramm compared the shoe to “the head of a golf club.”
But Dempsey would counter that by saying he was merely doing the best he could to use the foot with which he was born, and for the most part, NFL officials, including then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle, agreed. Still, in 1977, the NFL passed what is widely known as the “The Dempsey Rule,” mandating that shoes worn by players with “an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe.”
Dempsey returned to New Orleans after retiring from the league. About seven years ago, he was diagnosed with dementia and later moved to an assisted living home, where he contracted the coronavirus in March during the pandemic that has hit the city — and nursing home — particularly hard. He is survived by wife Carlene, three children, a sister and grandchildren.
His kick has remained part of Saints lore and for a long time stood as one of the greatest moments in the history of a franchise that didn’t make the playoffs until its 21st season in 1987, and didn’t win a playoff game until the 2000 season.
At the time of the kick, the Superdome had yet to be build and the Saints played home games in the old Tulane Stadium, which was demolished in 1979.
The Lions led 17-16 after a short field goal with 11 seconds left.
With no timeouts, the Saints managed to move the ball to their own 45 with 2 seconds left after Billy Kilmer completed a pass to Al Dodd along the sideline.
According to a media reports, special teams coach Don Heinrich was heard barking, “Tell Stumpy to get ready to go in and kick a long one.”
At that time, goalposts were on the goal line, not behind the end zone. The spot of the kick was the Saints 37.
“I was more concerned about kicking it straight because I felt I could handle the distance,” Dempsey told the Times-Picayune. “I knew I was going to get a perfect snap from Jackie Burkett and a perfect hold from Joe Scarpati. It was all up to me. I hit it sweet.”
Kilmer told the Times-Picayune he remembers standing on the sideline seeing Lions players across the field laughing as Dempsey lined up for the momentous kick.
“They thought Tom had no chance,” Kilmer said.
But Dempsey ended up carried off the field on the shoulders of teammates and recalled spending all night at a Bourbon Street bar, celebrating.
“We were there, with all the guys, until the wee hours,” he said. “From what I can recall, I had a great time.”
Both the shoe with which Dempsey kicked the 63-yarder and the ball are in the Saints Hall of Fame in New Orleans, into which Dempsey was inducted in 1989. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has another of Dempsey’s specially made kicking shoes, but Dempsey wanted the mementos of the record-breaking kick to remain in New Orleans.
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Potential Compliance Buy-Out Situation a Windfall for the Toronto Maple Leafs – Editor In Leaf
The Toronto Maple Leafs season has been postponed.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have not played since they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on March the 10th.
Who knows when the NHL will resume, or in what form it will resume in when it does.
Before the break, it was announced that the salary cap would be going up.
This would have greatly benefited the Toronto Maple Leafs. The fact is, however, that with the season paused and potentially even canceled, the revenue based salary cap may not go up as expected.
Toronto Maple Leafs and the Salary Cap
Some people are speculating that if the NHL is forced to maintain or even lower their salary cap, that they might allow teams to have a compliance buy-out.
In essence, this would mean that each team gets a mulligan on their worst deal.
The Leafs do not have a single contract it would make sense to buy out. They only had one bad contract on the roster – Cody Ceci’s $4.5 million – and it expires when the season ends.
All of the other contracts the Leafs have are either short term and reasonable, or they are long-term deals handed out to elite players.
This would be a major windfall for the Leafs because while they don’t have any contracts to get rig of, they are the NHL’s richest team.
Therefore if there is a situation where they can buy players out, the Leafs will get paid.
Here is an example of how the situation would work: The dirt poor Florida Panthers (who recently announced plans to slash payroll) would trade the Leafs Sergei Bobrovsky (just for example) and the Leafs would buy out the remaining six years on his $10 million dollar a year deal.
In order to get out of over $60 million dollars owed, the Panthers would pony up a first round pick or a top prospect.
Obviously the best case scenario for the Toronto Maple Leafs is if the cap goes up as reported, and they can then target someone like Alex Pietrangelo to try and put them over the top.
But if the cap does go down, and buy-outs are allowed, the Leafs would have the potential to cash in big time.
It is sort of ironic, since people in the media constantly say the Leafs are in “Cap Hell” despite the fact that with no bad long-term contracts, they are in perhaps the most enviable cap situation in the NHL.
It’s not bad to have spent money, if you’ve spent it well, and the Leafs unquestionably have.
Report: NFL teams preparing for virtual draft – TSN
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on across the world, NFL teams are reportedly beginning to prepare for this year’s draft to be virtual.
High-level officials from multiple NFL teams are now preparing to do the April 23-25 draft virtually, from home, away from their team facilities, league sources tell ESPN. Awaiting final decision from NFL on an unprecedented draft.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2020
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, high-level officials from multiple NFL teams are now preparing to do the April 23-25 draft virtually from home. The NFL previously said the draft will proceed as scheduled, it has yet to make a final decision regarding how the event will be conducted, per Schefter.
Teams seemingly have to draft from home because the league officially ordered teams to close their respective farcicalities as of March 25. Additionally, like many countries around the world right now, the United States has urged its citizens to practise social distancing.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s draft was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas.
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