While the NHL’s 2019-20 campaign remains suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league’s Return to Play Committee continues to push ahead on trying to figure out what exactly a potential return would look like, if one is eventually able to come about.
According to Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving, per Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, news on a potential return-to-play format could come as soon as this week, as talks among the committee have picked up. On Monday, we highlighted four key issues that could soon be sorted out, in fact — the potential hub cities, the return-to-play format as a whole, the draft lottery and the 2020 NHL Draft itself.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated‘s Alex Prewitt published Monday, Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares echoed the sentiment that the Return to Play Committee is pushing towards finalizing a restart format sooner rather than later.
Tavares told Prewitt there is a “great sense of urgency” among the Return to Play Committee — which includes Tavares, fellow star Connor McDavid, commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, among others — to finalize what exactly the league’s potential return might look like. “Obviously when [exactly] that will be, we don’t know … But in terms of how to finish the season, and how to award the Stanley Cup, I think we want to get something figured out soon.”
The Maple Leafs pivot said providing some clarity on a potential format would be beneficial to all involved, granting time to adjust to the “new normal” that will need to be established.
“We’ve obviously gone a pretty significant amount of time in terms of following the stay-at-home protocols, social distancing, not being able to go to team facilities and train,” Tavares told Prewitt. “Mentally it’s challenging to not really know. We still have so many unknowns. We really can’t answer a lot of stuff. But if we’re able to at least understand what coming back will look like, if we’re able to come back, it can give a little bit of clarity so everyone can wrap their head and mentally prepare for what things may look and feel like.
“Because it’ll obviously be very different than what we’re used to on a daily basis. It’s going to be a new normal, if we’re going to be able to play, or when.”
As reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the 24-team structure appears to be the most-discussed option up to this point. Tavares confirmed as much, telling Prewitt it’s been “kicked around the most,” but that nothing has been officially decided yet.
However, the former New York Islander added that he’s not yet sold on the 24-team format.
“I’m not sure I’m completely 100 per cent sold on any format,” Tavares told Sports Illustrated. “But the biggest thing is honouring the regular season as best as we can while still giving each team that deserves the opportunity, or still has an opportunity to make the playoffs, to be a part of that.”
Aside from the overall structure of the league’s potential return, Tavares touched on more specific details in need of addressing, too, with the amount of contact involved in everyday NHL life sure to necessitate guidelines extending into all aspects of movement in and around the game.
“I’m sure when you come to the rink, the entrance you come in, how you interact, the normal things you do that you take for granted on a daily basis will be a lot different,” Tavares told Prewitt. “There’s a lot of talk about temperature checks, the possibilities of wearing masks … that’s all the stuff we’re discussing. What’s safe? What’s not? What makes sense? What doesn’t? Is this possible? Is this not? There’s so many different things to cover and it continues to evolve.”
There’s also the matter of players’ families and how they fit into the potential plan of having players relocate to hub cities for an extended period while the post-season is played out. The Maple Leafs captain called that aspect a “focal point” of any return-to-play plan.
“Obviously the family situation has been paramount. From the get-go, the league has continued to talk about understanding those concerns,” Tavares told Prewitt.
“A lot of the calls we’ve had have been very positive that way. That continues to be a focal point in terms of the things that have to check the boxes for us, and for the league as well.”
NFL stars send passionate video message to league about racial inequality – CBC.ca
Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who united to send a passionate video message to the league about racial inequality.
The 70-second video was released on social media platforms Thursday night and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.
Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who has led the league in receptions the past two seasons, opens the video with the statement: “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then take turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?”
The players then name several of the black men and women who have recently been killed, including Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner.
“I AM George Floyd,” Hopkins says.
Adams follows with: “I AM Breonna Taylor.”
The video closes with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.” They also demand the NFL state that it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people…. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting…. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
‘We were wrong,’ says NFL commissioner
Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league made mistakes in not listening to players, in a video on Friday denouncing racism in the United States amid widespread protests over police brutality against black people.
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” said Goodell. “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”
The NFL has been locked in an ongoing debate with players over kneeling protests during the national anthem before the start of games, a practice popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
WATCH | NFL Commissioner admits league mistake for not listening to players:
Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league in 2017, claiming collusion as no teams signed him after he parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL and Kaepernick settled in 2019.
“Protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff,” said Goodell. “I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve.”
The NFL sent the video out just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his call for an end to kneeling protests during the national anthem.
Jaguars lead march against racial injustice
The Jacksonville Jaguars protested against inequality and police brutality on Friday, marching from their stadium to the steps of the sheriff’s department.
“Today, we say, ‘No more,'” wide receiver Chris Conley said. “Today, we see a nation that can’t await change, a city that won’t sit still or be quiet.”
The Jaguars started their march at 9:04 a.m. local time to signify the local 904 area code.
The protest came two days after owner Shad Khan spoke against racism in a letter on the team website. He promised then the franchise would work toward a “timely response.” Former Jaguars receiver Ernest Wilford, now an officer at the department, joined them on the steps at the sheriff’s office.
Conley spoke at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said he cried when he saw the video of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was jogging when killed Feb. 23 in Georgia.
Marrone said the Jaguars are working on actions they believe can make a difference. He also challenged the white community to step back, listen and learn.
“Let’s not make the same mistakes we’ve made,” Marrone said. “We need to stand together white and black to make this movement work.”
With the NFL allowing only coaches to return to their offices Friday and players still working remotely because of the pandemic, several Jaguars could not take part in the march.
The team posted videos from a handful of players, including quarterback Gardner Minshew, linebacker Joe Schobert and defensive end Aaron Lynch. Schobert encouraged people to register to vote.
From <a href=”https://twitter.com/TheSchoGoesOn53?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TheSchoGoesOn53</a> ⤵ <a href=”https://t.co/vOlqS7oeLi”>pic.twitter.com/vOlqS7oeLi</a>
The Jaguars’ protest is the latest involving professional athletes since the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.
Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry marched in a protest Wednesday along with his wife and four teammates from the Golden State Warriors, including Klay Thompson. Shaq Thompson, and four other Carolina Panthers walked in a protest march Monday in Charlotte, with Thompson helping lead the way.
Broncos plan Saturday march in Denver
On Saturday, several Denver Broncos and coaches plan to march to the Colorado capitol, the site of daily demonstrations. Safety Kareem Jackson organized the gathering after saying Tuesday that players need to do more than tweet and talk because they all see what’s going on.
“I think it’s huge for us to be heard,” Jackson said Tuesday on a video call, “and it’s huge for us to be out in the community so everyone can see us and know that we stand behind them.”
Saints’ Drew Brees responds to Trump: It was ‘never’ about the flag – Sportsnet.ca
A day after he apologized for his comments about NFLers engaging in peaceful protest, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is defending his newfound stance to the president of the United States.
Earlier on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Brees for walking back his statements about kneeling during the national anthem.
“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honouring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high… We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!” Trump tweeted.
Brees — who faced backlash from teammates, other athletes and fans for saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States” — acknowledged in an Instagram post Friday night that he has learned the protests initiated by Colin Kaepernick in the NFL and taken up by other players was never about the stars and stripes.
“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week,” Brees wrote.
“We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial and prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”
View this post on Instagram
To @realdonaldtrump Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.
A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on Jun 5, 2020 at 7:10pm PDT
Issues of police brutality and systemic racism have returned to the forefront of discussions around the NFL in light of the widespread protests over the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Trump: Brees 'should not have taken back his original stance' on flag – theScore
United States President Donald Trump weighed in Friday on the controversy sparked by Drew Brees‘ comments about players potentially kneeling during the national anthem.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback said on Wednesday he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” by protesting during the anthem. Brees’ statement drew the ire of players across the league, including several of his teammates, who reiterated that the protests are against police brutality and racial injustice, not the American flag.
The president tweeted Friday that Brees “should not have taken back his original stance.”
Trump was vehemently against players kneeling during the national anthem when protests took place in the NFL back in 2016.
NFL stars send passionate video message to league about racial inequality – CBC.ca
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