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Lafreniere believes he did enough to be first pick of 2020 NHL Draft –



Alexis Lafreniere said he believes he did everything possible this season to convince NHL teams that he should be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Lafreniere’s season with Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League ended Monday when the Canadian Hockey League announced the cancellation of the playoffs for the QMJHL, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, and the Memorial Cup, due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The 6-foot-1, 196-pound left wing led the QMJHL with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games, and led CHL players with an average of 2.15 points per game. He had 30 multipoint games, including seven points (one goal, six assists) against Quebec on Feb. 16. He’s No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list of North American skaters eligible for the 2020 draft.

“I tried to do my best to play as good as I could in every game I was in, and for sure there’s some really good players around the world, so you never know who’s going to go No. 1,” he said Wednesday. “But I tried my best to play as good as I could.”

Lafreniere said he’s been keeping busy at home, working out two hours a day and spending time with his family in St. Eustache, Quebec. He said no one in his family has experienced any symptoms of the virus.

“I didn’t have much time to spend with my family this year with everything going on and while living in the billet (home), but it’s good for us to spend time and talk,” he said. “We play a couple games, but we just talk, watch TV together, watch movies and share dinner together, just little things like this. It’s not fun right now with the coronavirus, but it’s easier for sure that I’m with them. I’m home and I can stay here until everything (is back to normal).”

The 18-year-old also dominated against older competition, with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in five games to help Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. He missed two games during preliminary-round play with an injury to his left knee but returned for the medal round, had six points (three goals, three assists) in three games, and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. 

“The World Juniors was a really big moment for me,” Lafreniere said. “Growing up you dream about it and we didn’t get the result we wanted (at the 2019 WJC), so to come back this year and to be able to win that was a big moment in my career so far.”

Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said Lafreniere’s performance at the WJC left little doubt who the top player eligible for the 2020 draft was.

“While the top prospects of this draft class continue to distinguish themselves, Lafreniere has actually elevated his level of play to separate himself as the top prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft,” Marr said after the WJC. “Injuries are part of the game and, thankfully, this one was not as serious as it looked.

“The two outstanding qualities for him are his quickness and his poise. Every part of the game he’s composed, he’s smart about it, but he’s quick and he has speed so he can execute plays. He sees the ice, reads the play. Everything he does is at a high tempo.”

Rimouski (38-18-8) finished fourth in the QMJHL with 84 points.

“I think we had a great team this year and we believed that we could do something special; I had a lot of fun playing in Rimouski,” Lafreniere said. “It’s a little bit sad that the season came to an end quickly like this, but like I said, everyone has to stay healthy and that’s the important thing.”

Lafreniere said he isn’t concerned about the future or when the 2020 draft might take place.

“I really live it day by day and try to control what I can control, and the most important thing is that everyone stays healthy and we try to come back as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s still an honor to get drafted and by an NHL team, it’s really special for sure. We’re living day by day right now, so we’ll see what happens. 

“I’m staying at home and working as hard as I can, trying to gain some strength, so when it’s time to come back I’m going to be ready.”

Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class

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Report: MLB mulling hub city playoff format – TSN



When Major League Baseball announced its plan to play the 2020 regular season at teams’ home ballparks, many were skeptical this could be done without large-scale setbacks due to COVID-19. Given what’s happened with the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins recently, it looks like the league could reverse course come playoff time.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the MLB has held preliminary discussions about holding its postseason in bubble-type format out of fear that a similar situation with the Cardinals and Marlins could happen in the playoffs.

Passan reports that a full bubble like the NBA’s campus environment at Disney World in Orlando would be difficult for MLB, but a hub city structure similar to the format the NHL has adopted in Edmonton and Toronto is gaining traction.

Passan adds MLB would need at least three potential hub cities because of their decision to expand the playoffs to 16 teams beginning this season. This would be reduced to two and eventually one as the playoffs progress. Remaining in a select number of cities would reduce air travel for teams and would also limit different hotel stays.

Given their status as two-team cities, Passan reports Los Angeles, Chicago and New York “would make the most sense” due to stadium availability. A regional setup including multiple cities such as a Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington combination is also a possibility. He adds that Los Angeles would be the logical choice to host the latter part of the postseason out of cold-weather concern in many eastern or Midwest marks in mid to late October, although no favourite has emerged because of the preliminary nature of discussions.

Knock on wood, but it’s been so far so good for the NBA and NHL returning to play in bubble format. Neither league has announced a positive test in multiple weeks and not one single game has been disrupted by COVID-19. The same can’t be said for baseball.

The Cardinals have not played since July 29 and sit just 2-3 on the season. By comparison, the division-rival Cincinnati Reds have played 16 games. As of now, the Cards are scheduled to resume their season in Chicago on Friday. Earlier on, the Marlins were forced out of action for eight days because of multiple coronavirus cases.

Passan writes MLB did consider a bubble environment in April but did not go far in the planning stages. With the league projected to take in north of $1 billion in playoff television revenue, MLB is highly motivated to avoid a disruption or cancellation to the postseason.

The playoffs are currently schedule to begin on Sept. 27.

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Toronto Maple Leafs news, NHL Playoffs schedule, daily hockey chat for August 10 – Pension Plan Puppets



Well that’s it for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They lost their qualifying series, they lost the draft lottery, they lost their first round draft pick.

The Leafs are have no more scheduled events until the October where the 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled to take place on October 9th and 10th.

They could do plenty of things in the meantime however. They could trade a player, they could fire a coach, they could fire a GM. They have a hole in their coaching staff to fill with Paul McFarland now officially leaving the Leafs for the Kingston Frontenacs.

Should they do anything drastic? Yesterday Omar thought aloud about the future of the Leafs:

I don’t feel like anyone is going to be fired. Keefe just got here, Dubas is two seasons in and Paul McFarland has already chosen his next destination as head coach of the Kingston Frontenacs.

The Leafs don’t need to follow the Florida Panthers path considering the long track record Dale Tallon has behind him. But I can understand the rationale of thinking they need something to give.

I just don’t know what that is exactly.

So what do we do now, after that exciting one week of hockey?

It’s still August, so there’s some beautiful weather out there to enjoy (even if it’s a bit hot). There are lots of hobbies out there to pick up, though I wouldn’t recommend hockey blogging right now.

Speaking of hockey, if you’re still interested there are some games today as the first round of the playoffs begin:

NHL Schedule Tuesday August 11th, 2020:

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets – 3:00PM
Series tied 0-0 – Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBC Sports, Subn, FS=O

Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars – 5:30PM
Series tied 0-0 – CBC, Sportsnet, NBC Sports, TVA Sports, FS-SW+

Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins – 8:00PM
Series tied 0-0 – CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBC Sports, NESN, FS-CR

Chicago vs Vegas Golden Knights – 10:30PM
Series tied 0-0 – Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBC Sports, ATTSN-RM

Elsewhere in Leafs land:

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Alright, so, how much of the playoffs will you watch?


How much of the playoffs will you watch?

  • 7%

    Every second.

    (24 votes)

  • 7%

    The prime time game only.

    (26 votes)

  • 42%

    I’ll check out some highlights, watch an elimination game or two.

    (141 votes)

  • 42%

    I’m out. See you at the draft.

    (139 votes)

330 votes total

Vote Now

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Rangers’ Win Sparks Conspiracy Theories About Rigged Draft Lottery – Sports Illustrated



In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: NHL fans start conspiracy theories about the draft lottery, Kyle Kuzma gives a great quote after nailing a game-winner and more.

A tradition unlike any other

For as long as sports leagues have been holding draft lotteries, fans have been accusing them of rigging the results. The most famous example of such a conspiracy theory is the idea that the Knicks’ envelope in the 1985 lottery was frozen so that David Stern knew which one to pick out of the pile. The NHL has its own urban legend that the 2005 lottery was rigged to hand Sidney Crosby to the Penguins, a formerly proud franchise that was the subject of relocation threats. But the drawing for the 2005 lottery was conducted behind closed doors. All Gary Bettman did on TV was open some envelopes to reveal the results, so there was never any guess as to how the process had been rigged in Pittsburgh’s favor. 

This year’s NHL lottery was different, though. The ping pong balls were picked right out in the open on national TV, allowing fans to start speculating wildly when the Rangers won

This is the smoking gun moment. 

Ah ha! The allegedly impartial arbiter from Ernst & Young dropped the Rangers’ ball! Therefore, it must be weighted differently from the rest!

If you search Twitter for fans accusing the league of tilting the scales in New York’s favor, you’ll find many, may results (of varying degrees of seriousness). That’s not because they all believe the fix was in for the Rangers. Accusing a league of favoring any team but yours (and especially big city teams like the Rangers) is just part of being a sports fan. 

The reason people are especially geared up to cry conspiracy in this case is that the presumptive No. 1 pick, Alexis LaFrenière, is a total slam dunk. He had 42 goals in his first season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League—as a 16-year-old—and he has 217 points in 113 games over the past two seasons. He seems like a lock to be a star in the NHL for a long time. 

Only players like LaFrenière are worthy of developing conspiracy theories about. You don’t hear anyone saying the NBA rigged the lottery in favor of the Cavs in 2013 so they could take Anthony Bennett. Conspiracy theories are ludicrous on their face, but when they involve stars like Ewing or Crosby, they become part of a player’s lore. Rangers fans should hope LaFrenière turns out to be the kind of player who warrants having speculation about a ping pong ball follow him around for the rest of his career. 

What makes this example particularly exciting from a conspiracy standpoint is the added intrigue of the Ernst & Young guy’s butterfingers. If LaFrenière lives up to the hype, you’ll be seeing clips of that moment all over whichever new social media platform we’re all using in 2038 when the Rangers hoist their third Stanley Cup. 

The best of SI

What does it mean for baseball that pitchers have stopped throwing as many fastballs? … Analyzing the NBA bubble’s breakout stars. … Players pushing to organize was the perfect capper for a wild weekend of college football news. … What Tom Brady can learn from Joe Montana’s brief time with the Chiefs

Around the sports world

Bills defensive lineman Ed Oliver spoke about feeling “violated” for being arrested on drunk driving charges despite blowing a 0.0 on the breathalyzer. … MLB is reportedly considering a bubble format for its postseason. … As the Big Ten was crumbling around him, Jim Harbaugh called for college football to roll ahead by arguing, “This virus can be controlled.” … Ramón Laureano says he regrets charging at Alex Cintrón “because he’s a loser.” … Andre Iguodala explains why he decided to wear “Group Economics” on the back of his jersey. … Disney is making a movie about the childhoods of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis.

If the NHL really wanted to rig it, this wouldn’t have happened

LeBron blocking a shot is the best

Clutch shot from Kuzma

I’m pretty sure Bol Bol has a longer wingspan than Jesus

Nebraska’s Scott Frost wants to find a way to play even if the Big Ten cancels football

Devin Booker is doing Steph Curry things now

Just stay in the hotel!

Not sports

Disney is rebooting Tron with Jared Leto starring. … A guy using a metal detector in Scotland found what appears to be the remnants of a Bronze Age horse harness. … James Gandolfini was apparently a big fan of the Green Day album Dookie

Extremely good pun

NBC is turning Will Forte’s MacGruber into a TV series

Sulfuric acid vs. sugar

A good song

Email with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.

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