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MLB cancels opening day as league, players fail to reach agreement to end lockout – CBC Sports

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Major League Baseball has cancelled opening day, with Commissioner Rob Manfred announcing Tuesday the sport will lose regular-season games over a labour dispute for the first time in 27 years after acrimonious lockout talks collapsed in the hours before management’s deadline.

Manfred said he is cancelling the first two series of the season that was set to begin March 31, dropping the schedule from 162 games to likely 156 games at most. Manfred said the league and union have not made plans for future negotiations. Players won’t be paid for missed games.

“My deepest hope is we get an agreement quickly,” Manfred said. “I’m really disappointed we didn’t make an agreement.”

After the sides made progress during 13 negotiating sessions over 16-½ hours Monday, the league send the players’ association a “best and final offer” Tuesday on the ninth straight day of negotiations.

Players rejected that offer, setting the stage for MLB to follow through on its threat to cancel opening day.

“Today is a sad day,” union leader Tony Clark said. “The reason we are not playing is simple: a lockout is the ultimate economic weapon.”

At 5:10 p.m., Manfred issued a statement that many fans had been dreading: Nothing to look forward to on opening day, normally a spring standard of renewal for fans across Canada and the U.S. The Toronto Blue Jays will miss their season-opening series in Baltimore as well as their home opener against Tampa Bay.

The ninth work stoppage in baseball history will be the fourth that causes regular season games to be cancelled, leaving Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium as quiet in next month as Joker Marchant Stadium and Camelback Park have been during the third straight disrupted spring training.

“The concerns of our fans are at the very top of our consideration list,” Manfred said.

Manfred practises his golf swing as negotiations continued on Tuesday. (Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press)

Sides argue over money

The union said later Tuesday that it will push for cancelled games to be rescheduled when talks resume.

“To say they won’t reschedule games if games are cancelled or they won’t pay players for those games that are cancelled is solely their position,” union chief negotiator Bruce Meyer said of the league. “They’re not legally required to take those positions. … We would have a different position.”

The lockout, in its 90th day, will plunge a sport staggered by the coronavirus pandemic and afflicted by numerous on-field issues into a self-inflicted hiatus over the inability of players and owners to divide a $10 billion US industry.

By losing regular-season games, scrutiny will fall even more intensely on Manfred, the commissioner since January 2015, and Tony Clark, the former all-star first baseman who became union leader when Michael Weiner died in November 2013.

“Manfred gotta go,” tweeted Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman.

The bulk of fan ire on social media was aimed at Manfred, who was spotted practicing his golf swing between bargaining sessions by an Associated Press photographer Tuesday. Others were upset that Manfred was laughing and jovial with reporters at his news conference announcing the cancellation.

“Have no clue how he has the ability to laugh about anything right now,” Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen tweeted. “Mind is blown.”

Past stoppages were based on issues such as a salary cap, free-agent compensation and pensions. This one is pretty much solely over money.

This fight was years in the making, with players angered that payrolls decreased by 4 per cent from 2015 through last year, many teams jettisoned a portion of high-priced veteran journeymen in favour of lower-priced youth, and some clubs gave up on competing in the short term to better position themselves for future years.

“This is not just about shifting pieces of the pie around,” pitcher Andrew Miller said. “This is about getting the game that we love to work and operate effectively and perform and let us focus on what we like to do.”

3rd straight season without full Blue Jays home schedule

The sport will be upended by its second shortened season in three years. The 2020 schedule was cut from 162 games to 60 because of the pandemic, a decision players filed a grievance over and still are litigating. The Blue Jays haven’t played a full home schedule since 2019.

The disruption will create another issue if 15 days of the season are wiped out: stars such as Shohei Ohtani, Pete Alonso, Jake Cronenworth and Jonathan India would be delayed an extra year from free agency.

Players would lose $20.5 million in salary for each day of the season that is cancelled, according to a study by The Associated Press, and the 30 teams would lose large sums that are harder to pin down. Members of the union’s executive subcommittee stand to lose the most, with Max Scherzer forfeited $232,975 for each regular-season day lost, and Gerrit Cole $193,548.

Scherzer and free-agent reliever Andrew Miller were present for talks. Both stopped to sign autographs for fans as they left Roger Dean Stadium, the vacant spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins where negotiations have been held since the start of last week.

The first 86 games of the 1973 season were cancelled by a strike over pension negotiations, the 1981 season was fractured by a 50-day mid-season strike over free agency compensation rules that cancelled 713 games, and a strike that started in August 1994 over management’s attempt to gain a salary cap cancelled the final 669 games and led to a three-week delay of the 1995 season, when schedules were cut from 162 games to 144.

“We’re prepared,” Miller said. “We’ve seen this coming in a sense. It’s unfortunate, but this isn’t new. This is not shocking.”

Far apart on key issues

Players and owners entered deadline day far apart on many key issues and unresolved on others. The most contentious proposals involve luxury tax thresholds and rates, the size of a new bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, minimum salaries, salary arbitration eligibility and the union’s desire to change the club revenue-sharing formula.

While the differences had narrowed in recent days, the sides remained apart, with how far apart depending on the point of view.

MLB proposed raising the luxury tax threshold from $210 million to $220 million in each of the next three seasons, $224 million in 2025 and $230 in 2026. Players asked for $238 million this year, $244 million in 2023, $250 million in 2024, $256 million in 2025 and $263 in 2026.

MLB proposed $25 million annually for a new bonus pool for pre-arbitration players, and the union dropped from $115 million to $85 million for this year, with $5 million yearly increases.

MLB proposed raising the minimum salary from $570,500 to $675,000 this year, with increases of $10,000 annually, and the union asked for $725,000 this year, $745,000 in 2023, $765,000 in 2024 and increases for 2025 and 2026 based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners.

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Oilers on the lookout for Flames' desperation after watching Avs-Blues Game 5 – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY — Everyone knows how hard it is to eliminate a group of National Hockey League players, or more specifically, to send a Calgary Flames team that won 50 regular season games into its summer.

But just in case any of the Edmonton Oilers needed a refresher, many were watching Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues forged a heroic comeback on the road in Denver. Down 3-1 in the series and 3-0 in the game, the Blues scored four goals, two in the last five minutes including one after going down 4-3, and won a game in overtime to stay alive.

Game 5 can be seen on Sportsnet, starting at 9:30 a.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. MT.

“Just another thing to see in your head, that you know it’s not going to be easy,” said Edmonton defenceman Brett Kulak, who played for the Montreal Canadiens team that came back from down 3-1 to beat Toronto a year ago. “We’re in a good spot this series (up 3-1), but the job’s not done. We all we all know what needs to get done and we got one more win to go. Now, we’re looking to get it.”

So, how does Edmonton match Calgary’s desperation in Game 5?

“We are desperate to close the series. That’s how,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who was all business Thursday morning. “We want to come out and have a strong performance. play our best game in the series, and close the series out.”

Matthew Tkachuk scored 42 goals in the regular season, and opened this series with a Game 1 hat trick. Since then, he chipped in just a single assist in the next three games, all Flames losses.

There was a time when No. 19 wore the black hat in the Battle of Alberta, and used that antagonistic side of his game to inject himself into the series. Usually offence followed, and when it was all said and done, “Matthew” and “Tkachuk” were the two words trending in both Northern and Southern Alberta.

Thus far in Round 2, Tkachuk has been neither pest nor producer, something that will have to change if the Flames are going to turn this thing around.

What has to change?

“Just the skill set. He’s got to use it more to his advantage,” his coach, Darryl Sutter, said. “It’s got nothing to do with effort, with any of our guys who haven’t been as productive after Game 1 of the series. But you have to give Edmonton credit in that too.

“Maybe our guys are doing all they can. Maybe Edmonton is just a little bit better,” Sutter proposed. “That’s kind of the (sidebar) that nobody’s talked about. It’s always been about the negative. Not the good stuff that’s gone on.”

So far, the best Flames forward in this series has been Mikael Backlund, but he’s a 12-goal guy. If the big boys don’t weigh in — starting with Game 5 — it’s hard to see Calgary winning three straight over Edmonton.

As for Johnny Gaudreau, who is a pending UFA, Thursday night could be his last game at the Saddledome — or for the Flames organization, for that matter. He’s not looking ahead that far, of course.

“I really enjoy playing with all these guys in this locker room,” Gaudreau said. “We have a good group in there. It’s been fun all year long.”

Defenceman Chris Tanev took the morning skate next to Oliver Kylington and looks to be in for the Flames again in Game 5. His suspected shoulder injury cost him four playoff games — from Game 7 of Round 1 through Game 3 of Round 2 — and left him doubled over in pain on the Calgary bench at times upon his return in Game 4.

The Flames like their leader on the ice and in their midst, even if it’s pretty clear they are getting something less than 90 percent of their assistant captain.

“You know, even-strength minutes, he was really good last game,” said Sutter of the 17:12 Tanev played at even-strength (19:24 in total). “He made his partner a better player, and with the experience on our back end — or lack of experience or back end — he was important.”

Plenty of players are playing through the pain here, on both sides. Namely, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse for Edmonton, who have both gutted their way through these playoffs at something less than 100 per cent.

“He’s such a huge part of our team on and off the ice.” Tkachuk said of Tanev. “So, when you get a guy like that to come in for a big game, that definitely motivates you to be a lot.”

“We won 55 games this year. We’re pretty good at getting set for the next one.”

Looks like the same lines as Game 4 for both teams, with Tanev still a bit of question mark and Draisaitl and Nurse once again eschewing the skate.

Evander Kane, whose partner gave birth to a newborn son on Wednesday, remained at home in Edmonton. He’ll be down in time for the game. In other Oilers news, the Finnish media continues to report that goalie Mikko Koskinen is headed for Lugano in the Swiss League next season.

Here are Thursday night’s expected lineups.

EDMONTON

Draisaitl-McDavid-Kane

Hyman-Nugent-Hopkins-Puljujarvi

Foegele-McLeod-Yamamoto

Archibald-Ryan-Kassian

Nurse-Ceci

Keith-Bouchard

Kulak-Barrie

Smith

CALGARY

Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk

Coleman-Backlund-Mangiapane

Dube-Jarnkrok-Toffoli

Lucic-Lewis

Hanafin-Andersson

Kylington-Tanev

Zadorov-Gudbranson

Stone

Markstrom

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CFLPA voting on new tentative agreement with CFL on Thursday – TSN

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The CFL and CFL Players’ Association have reached another tentative seven-year agreement.

According to a league source, the two sides hammered out a second agreement in principle Thursday, two days after CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie unveiled the league’s final offer to its players.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as neither the CFL nor the CFLPA have confirmed the deal.

The new agreement is pending ratification by both the CFL Players’ Association membership and the league’s board of governors. According to two sources, the players will vote on the deal Thursday night.

Players on six of the nine CFL teams must vote to ratify the deal, with the required margin being at least 50 per cent plus one of ballots in favour.

Time is of the essence as the CFL pre-season schedule is slated to kick off Friday night with two games.

On Monday, the players voted against a tentative deal that the union had recommended they accept. The CFLPA is also recommending the ratification of Thursday’s tentative agreement.

According to sources, CFL teams will have seven Canadian starters and 21 in total on rosters this year. In 2023, that number increases to eight with one being a nationalized Canadian — an American who has spent either five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team.

Clubs will also be able to rotate two nationalized Canadians for up to 49 per cent of snaps. Teams can move to three nationalized Canadians in 2024 but the two franchises that play the most Canadians at the end of the season will receive additional second-round draft picks.

And the seven pure Canadian starters per game will remain intact throughout the term of deal, which can be reopened after five years when the CFL’s broadcast agreement with TSN expires.

The CFL will also provide $1.225 million in a ratification pool for players.

The biggest asset the CFL receives in the deal is extended labour piece and the opportunity to really rebuild its business.

Last December, the league announced a partnership with Genius Sports, a data, technology and commercial company that connects sports, betting and media. In August 2021, the CFL signed a multi-year partnership with BetRegal to become its official online sports-gaming partner.

Last month, the single-game sports betting industry opened fully in Ontario.

But Canadian Justin Palardy, a former kicker who spent time with five CFL teams from 2010-15, took to social media to voice his displeasure with the deal.

“Like I said on another tweet, what’s the point of drafting more (Canadians) if we’re getting rid of Canadian starters?” he tweeted. “You may think it’s a terrific idea, doesn’t mean it makes sense.”

The two sides had been at odds regarding the Canadian ratio.

Last Wednesday, the CFL and CFLPA reached a tentative seven-year agreement, ending a four-day strike by seven of the league’s nine teams. At first glance, there seemed to be many positives for the players, including a revenue-sharing model, the ability to reopen the pact in five years once the CFL signed a new broadcast deal, and veteran players having the ability to negotiate partially guaranteed contracts.

But the agreement also called for CFL teams to increase the number of Canadian starters from seven to eight. The extra would’ve also been a nationalized Canadian.

In addition, three other nationalized Canadians could play up to 49 per cent of snaps. And the deal didn’t include a ratification bonus.

On Tuesday, Ambrosie unveiled an amended proposal that included a $1-million ratification pool and the abolition of the three nationalized Canadians playing 49 per cent of snaps. However, it also reduced the number of Canadian starters to seven, including one nationalized Canadian.

Not only did Ambrosie say it was the CFL’s final offer, but it was good until midnight ET on Thursday, given the league’s exhibition schedule was slated to begin Friday night with two games. Ambrosie added if the players rejected the offer and opted to go back on strike, they’d be served notice to vacate their respective training-camp facilities.

It marked the second time Ambrosie had gone public with a final contract offer to the CFLPA. On May 14, he posted a letter to fans on the league’s website detailing the league’s proposal to players hours before the former CBA was set to expire.

The next day, players on seven CFL teams opted against reporting to training camp and went on strike. The Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders both opened camp as schedule because they weren’t in a legal strike position, as per provincial labour laws, at the time.

It marked just the second work stoppage in league history and first since 1974.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

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Rocket advance with win in 3OT thriller | TheAHL.com – American Hockey League

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The Laval Rocket are off to the Eastern Conference Finals after a wild 6-5 triple-overtime victory over the Rochester Americans on Wednesday night.

The Rocket completed a three-game sweep of the Amerks and will face either Charlotte or Springfield in the next round.

Working on a power play following a delay of game penalty against Rochester, former Amerk Jean-Sébastien Dea wristed a shot that beat Aaron Dell at 1:51 of the third OT period to give the Rocket the victory. It was the second goal of the night for Dea, and came on Laval’s 60th shot of the evening.

Rochester nearly escaped with a Game 3 victory, scoring three times in the third period to take a 5-4 lead before Jesse Ylönen netted the equalizer for the Rocket with 1:07 remaining in regulation.

Back home in front of an energetic crowd of 10,662 fans at Blue Cross Arena, the Amerks struck quickly when Mark Jankowski pounced on a loose puck and scored his sixth goal of the playoffs just 1:04 into the contest.

JJ Peterka made it 2-0 in favor of Rochester with a power-play goal at 8:05, and that lead held until late in the second period, when Laval scored four goals in a span of 3:56 to swing the game in their favor.

Brandon Gignac started the comeback with 6:08 to go in the second period with a nifty deflection of a Corey Schueneman shot from the point. Danick Martel tied things up 55 seconds later, taking Gabriel Bourque’s pass from behind the net and snapping home his fifth goal of the series.

Just 76 seconds after that, the Rocket took their first lead of the night as Xavier Ouellet floated a shot from the left point through traffic that found the top corner over the glove of Aaron Dell.

And with 2:12 to go before intermission, Dea put Laval in front by two, hitting an open cage with Dell out of position following a collision with a teammate in front.

Rochester regrouped during the break and needed just 1:32 to tie things back up. Brett Murray scored 13 seconds into the third period to pull the Amerks to within 4-3, and Peterka got his second of the night 1:19 later off a slick feed from Peyton Krebs.

Murray then scored his second of the period at 8:35, getting a piece of Ethan Prow’s shot from the point and deflecting it home to put Rochester back in front.

Laval outshot Rochester 24-12 during sudden death and killed off two Amerks power plays before converting on their own for the winner.

Cayden Primeau (6-1) made 34 saves and earned his fourth consecutive victory in net for the Rocket. Dell (5-5) stopped a career-high 54 shots for Rochester.

North Division Finals (best-of-5)
N3-Laval Rocket vs. N5-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Sun., May 22 – LAVAL 6, Rochester 1
Game 2 – Mon., May 23 – LAVAL 3, Rochester 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 25 – Laval 6, ROCHESTER 5 (3OT)

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