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Insider Trading: Play-in format and its fairness remains a hot topic – TSN

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TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun and Bob McKenzie joined host James Duthie via videoconference to discuss the play-in format, the border closures and why they shouldn’t impact any return to play scenarios and why there is still lots of uncertainty when it comes to the draft.


It seems this 24-team tournament, widdled down to a 16-team playoff, is the favourite format right now. But Dregs, how concerned is the NHL right now about fairness? That one of these teams at the bottom that just gets in may be able to pull off an upset in a short series?

Dreger: Well it’s an important issue, no doubt about that. The NHL knows this. So does the NHL Players’ Association. Perhaps (it’s) more contentious if you’re an NHL general manager and you’re a general manager on a better club. You wouldn’t want equal footing across the 24-team format. So part of what has been a daunting task with the return-to-play committee, the PA and the NHL is trying to determine appropriate value from where a club was sitting in regular season play and then transferring that into the field of 24. If you look at what some of the NHL matchups might look like, Montreal, a non-playoff team by regular season standards, faces the Pittsburgh Penguins, a pretty good team in the Eastern Conference. Should they be at an equal position starting at the play-in of the 24-team format? Or Edmonton, or Chicago for that matter. I’ll tell ya there’s been a ton of discussion on this. As I said, an important issue. And before they sign off on a return-to-play scenario, this is going to have to be resolved.

LeBrun: Well, in the meantime news from the Canadian government that the border will remain closed for non-essential travel right to June 21. Of course, immediately in our world, you think about how that impacts pro sports. And in particular, the National Hockey League in its efforts to reopen at some point. What we’re told, without any real specifics, is that neither the NHL or the NHLPA feels that that will impact what they are working on right now in terms of return-to-play protocol. There’s a couple of reasons for that.

  • Of course, they don’t think they’re going to be playing actual games until mid-to-late July at the earliest.
  • Phase 2, which is small group workouts is voluntary. The players don’t have to come back for Phase 2. Obviously, a lot of them are going to want to so they can finally skate. But, it is voluntary.

Bob, you reported last week that this idea that the early-June draft before play resumes is not dead, but close to dead. As we move on here, why haven’t they just announced that it’s not happening?

McKenzie: Well, if you came looking for clarity in terms of when the draft is going to be, you came to the wrong place. I talked to a number of NHL general managers this morning. And they said, no clue. They’ve not heard anything about the draft. We don’t know anything about the draft. Your guess is as good as ours. And right now there’s still a very strong sense that it’s less likely prior to the resumption of [the] 2019-20 season. But it’s not completely kyboshed just yet. And it seems to me that the entire focus for the NHL and the NHLPA is on these return-to-play protocols, figuring out what the format for return to play would look like, and then figuring out whether to slot the draft before or after. The decision doesn’t need to be made now. It won’t be made anytime soon.

Pierre, the players’ final paycheque issued over a month ago, but they still haven’t decided what they want to do with it?

LeBrun: That’s right. You remember it was due on April 15 and they decided at the time to defer and continue to debate right into May 15 what to do with that final paycheque. Well, they voted over the weekend to further defer again to the end of May. And we’re talking about $120 million at play here, overall for all the paycheques. And there is no good answer. Either the players don’t collect this paycheque and decide to start paying on some of the escrow payments that they’re going to owe bigtime over the next year or two. But there’s also a faction that says ‘hey, take the cash now and figure out the rest later. You can see both sides of this argument. But certainly, I think part of this is waiting to see is there clarity on return to play. Is there some hints on what a new CBA will look like before the players made a decision on the last paycheque.

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FIFA calls on organizers not to sanction in-game gestures supporting George Floyd – CBC.ca

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FIFA urged soccer competition organizers on Monday to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players for solidarity with George Floyd during matches.

The recognition of the “depth of sentiment” over Floyd’s death came in a rare statement by FIFA telling the global game to show flexibility and not enforce laws of soccer it helps to set.

Players used weekend games in Germany to reveal messages demanding justice for Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after he pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck in Minneapolis.

Germany’s soccer federation announced earlier Monday that it was assessing whether to sanction the players for breaking laws of the game that prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.

WATCH | German league players show support for George Floyd:

During Sunday’s Bundesliga action, Marcus Thuram takes a knee and Jadon Sancho unveils a shirt that says ‘Justice For George Floyd’. 0:40

“FIFA fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case,” the governing body said in a statement.

“The application of the laws of the game approved by the IFAB is left for the competitions’ organisers, which should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”

FIFA controls half of the eight votes on the International Football Association Board, with the other four held by England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. A law change in 2014 — proposed by England — led to players being banned from revealing personal statements on undergarments.

England winger Jadon Sancho was booked while playing for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for removing his jersey — a yellow-card offence — only so he could reveal a T-shirt with a “Justice for George Floyd” message.

WATCH | Canadian athletes speak against racism:

Canadian athletes have been speaking out against racism and for change, including tennis youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, basketball legend Steve Nash, and Olympians Kia Nurse, Karina LeBlanc and Perdita Felicien 2:38

Borussia Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi displayed the same message on a T-shirt after scoring in the same game on Sunday but was not booked because he did not lift his jersey over his head.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck. Three other officers were also at the scene. Chauvin has been charged with murder and all four were fired.

In the Bundesliga on Saturday, American midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband over his Schalke jersey with the handwritten message “Justice for George,” and Borussia Mönchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram took a knee after scoring for Borussia Mönchengladbach in another game.

On Monday, after the Deutscher Fussball-Bund said it was assessing the players’ actions, Cologne forward Anthony Modeste became the latest to make a gesture after scoring against Leipzig. He stood briefly with his right palm facing out and his left palm facing in to display the darker skin on the back of his hand.

Cologne said it was “a clear signal” against racism from Modeste.

WATCH | ESPN’s Howard Bryant reflects on Kaepernick’s preaceful protest:

ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant on the death of George Floyd and the resulting civil unrest. 4:19

DFB president Fritz Keller on Monday showed his respect and understanding for McKennie, Thuram, Sancho and Hakimi’s gestures.

“If people are discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, it is unbearable. If they die because of their skin colour, then I am deeply distraught,” Keller said in a DFB statement. “The victims of racism need all of us to show solidarity.”

The expressions of protest are being investigated by the German soccer federation’s control body.

“As is the case internationally,” federation vice-president Rainer Koch said, “the game itself should remain free of political statements or messages of any kind.”

FIFA’s awareness of the depth of feeling over the racial inequalities highlighted by Floyd’s death comes amid ongoing criticism soccer is not doing enough to eradicate or punish racism.

“FIFA had repeatedly expressed itself to be resolutely against racism and discrimination of any kind and recently strengthened its own disciplinary rules with a view to helping to eradicate such behaviours,” the Zurich-based governing body said. “FIFA itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices.”

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UFC star Jon Jones confronts vandals during George Floyd protest in Albuquerque – GIVEMESPORT

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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.

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MLS players boycott training in apparent labour impasse – TSN

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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.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

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