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NHL GMs keeping a close eye on NFL's remote draft – TSN

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Brad Treliving will be paying close attention to the NFL draft.

And not because he’s curious to see if Joe Burrow does indeed go No. 1 to the Cincinnati Bengals or where fellow quarterback Tua Tagovailoa winds up.

The general manager of the Calgary Flames is planning to focus on how his football counterparts deal with the realities of their world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NFL closed all 32 of its team facilities in March and cancelled the live, in-person draft spectacle originally scheduled for Las Vegas. Executives will instead submit picks remotely from their homes, away from the so-called “war rooms” where decisions are usually made alongside scouts and other members of the front office.

The selections for Thursday’s first round will still be announced to a television audience by commissioner Roger Goodell, but he’s going to be holed up at his residence outside New York City.

“It’s going to be really interesting,” Treliving said. “I know the NHL is watching what they’re doing closely. We may be following their lead.”

The NHL draft was set to be held June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal before the novel coronavirus brought society to a screeching halt last month.

Forced to suspend its season, the league last month postponed the draft and its yearly combine, which was scheduled for early June in Buffalo, N.Y. The draft lottery was also postponed.

With so much hanging on the advice and direction of medical experts — including whether or not the 2019-20 campaign can be completed — when and how the NHL draft is eventually held remains a fluid situation, but it’s safe to assume things will be scaled back.

It could end up like the NFL with proceedings taking place remotely or, if social distancing guidelines are relaxed, might look similar to the 2005 NHL draft that was moved to an Ottawa hotel ballroom in late July following the lockout that wiped out the previous season.

Treliving believes given the current situation, it could be hard to get teams to physically gather in one place.

“Certainly our draft is going to be remote, that would be safe to say,” he said. “For sure I’m going to be watching (the NFL draft) and doing a lot of homework on not only that, but different ideas of how we could potentially do our draft.”

The NFL held a mock draft Monday in hopes of ironing out any technical issues. Officially, only a few minor hiccups arose, but some anonymous sources told The Associated Press there were glitches at the outset when the Bengals were making the first selection.

“Certainly it has been interesting,” Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said of the NFL’s preparations. “We are living in a different time here right now. We’ve had lots of different video sessions internally, getting together with scouts over the different platforms that are available.”

Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Trevor Timmins, who oversees his club’s amateur scouting department, said NHL teams and fans should be able to glean plenty of information from how things play out for football.

“We can learn a lot from that — what works, what doesn’t work,” he said. “I’ve been in contact with my NFL contacts discussing how they are preparing with the limitations.”

The NFL combine had already taken place by the time the pandemic shut down much of North American society, but that doesn’t mean teams haven’t had issues gathering information.

“A lot of them do FaceTime interviews with draft prospects,” Timmins said. “They do video conferencing with their staff, they do video conferencing with players.

“We should all pay attention.”

A feature of NHL drafts has been television cameras zeroing in on rival GMs chatting on the arena floor or management groups huddling in deep discussion.

So what would an remote format do to any potential trades?

“A lot of the work on the trades that happen on draft day is done in the weeks and days and hours prior to the draft,” Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. “Things do happen quickly on the floor when it comes to the switch of picks, but we’re always on the phone and we can do the same remotely.”

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said because technology is already so ingrained in how teams do business — and even more so in the current climate of self-isolation and social distancing — a remote draft shouldn’t be a huge leap.

“I’m sure I’ll keep an eye on (the NFL draft), but I don’t think it’s going to change much,” he said. “At the draft, we’re around the table, everybody’s on their computer, we’ve got the direct line to the central registry system.

“We make our pick on the computer and away it goes.”

But even though video conference calls have become more common in the current coronavirus climate, Cheveldayoff said given the circumstances, NHL GMs won’t be alone in monitoring the NFL’s unique, technology-dependent draft.

“There’s lots of interesting dynamics,” he said. “You’ll probably see a lot of non-football fans tuning in.”

-With files from Donna Spencer

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2020.

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Amanda Nunes completely dominates Felicia Spencer in lopsided decision to defend title at UFC 250 – MMA Fighting

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Amanda Nunes was already considered the greatest women’s fighter of all time before competing at UFC 250. Nothing dispelled that mystique on Saturday night as the reigning two-division champion absolutely dominated Felicia Spencer from the first second of their fight until the last as she defended her featherweight title for the first time.

The scorecards read 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45 with Nunes winning her 11th consecutive fight overall. While it was somewhat shocking that Spencer survived to the end, Nunes paid homage to her opponent for the incredible toughness she displayed.

“I’m not surprised,” Nunes said afterwards. “I know she’s very tough. I know what she’s capable of. I know she’s tough. I have to be sharp.”

In the first few exchanges it appeared Nunes was going to add another knockout to her resume after she clubbed Spencer with a couple of powerful right hands that would likely finish many opponents. Somehow, Spencer stayed upright as she tried to apply her grappling game by slowing Nunes down in the clinch.

That backfired after Nunes surprised her with a whizzer and then began dropping elbows from the top position for the remainder of the first round.

While she didn’t fade away, Spencer was just outmatched on the feet as she continued to eat punches with Nunes blasting her with thudding right hands again and again. With a smirk on her face almost the entire fight, Nunes continued walking Spencer down and then unleashing her powerful strikes.

By the time the third round was winding down, Nunes was in absolute control, tagging Spencer with a barrage of punches and then making her pay with kicks as well. Spencer was starting to fade without any hope of getting Nunes to the ground as the damage she was absorbing really started to add up.

With Nunes battering Spencer’s lead leg, the two-division champion really started to stalk her prey as she hunted for the finish. As time ticked away in the fourth round, Nunes went for the kill as she put together a series of punches that had Spencer nearly out on the feet.

Nunes almost wrapped up a rear-naked choke with seconds remaining but Spencer survived to the end of the round as she went back to her corner with hematomas swelling and blood streaked across her face.

In only got worse during the final five minutes with another cut opening up and Nunes just punishing Spencer in every exchange on the feet or on the ground. By the end of the fight, Nunes was just rag dolling Spencer around the cage as she cemented the victory.

Now with title defenses at bantamweight and featherweight, Nunes has all but obliterated every legitimate contender in both divisions. The question remains who will challenge Nunes next but for now she’s going to concentrate on more important matters — like the birth of her first child.

“That was my goal, defend my two belts,” Nunes said. “I’m so happy right now. I don’t know what is next. I had a fifth corner today. I have my daughter with me.”

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Spurs’ Gregg Popovich: U.S. ‘is in trouble and the basic reason is race’ – Sportsnet.ca

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Amid the marches and the protests, amid the pain, amid the generational trauma this moment in history has forced communities across the world to openly reckon with, a spotlight has shone bright on the need to listen and learn.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sees that spotlight. He sees that need for learning. And he knows that what must be learnt is not just what is happening in the streets across the United States now, but the history that preceded it. To see one without the other would be to miss the essential full picture.

“Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years,” Popovich said Saturday during a #SpursVoices video, a Twitter-based initiative by the team to give a voice and platform to people within their organization to share how racism has impacted them. “The only reason this nation has made the progress that it has is because of the persistence, and patience, and effort of Black people.

“The history of our nation from the very beginning, in many ways, was a lie. And we continue to this day — mostly Black and Brown people — to try to make that lie be truth so that it is no longer a lie.”

In the three-minute video, Popovich does not expand on the specific history he is labeling a lie, though possibilities are not hard to find.

The preamble to the Declaration of Independence, for example, written in 1776, reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Pledge of Allegiance, in its original form, read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words “the Flag of the United States of America” were added to the beginning of the pledge.

Longstanding notions of all men being created equal with certain unalienable rights, and the U.S. being one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all are challenging to reconcile with history.

The United States had 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow — laws which mandated racial segregation in all public facilities, starting in the 1870s and 1880s, and sought to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by Blacks during the Reconstruction period — and 60 years of “separate but equal,” a legal doctrine that asserted racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed “equal protection” under the law to all people. None of which even begins to address discriminatory housing policies or explicitly touches on the history of Black people suffering from police brutality.

“It’s almost, in a strange counter-intuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this most recent tragedy,” Popovich said. “I think [it was] the look on the officer’s face. For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, how just everyday-going-about-his-job [he looked]. So much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson, and it was his right and his duty to do it in his mind.”

The abhorent incident Popovich is referencing is, of course, the death of George Floyd.

Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast about how COVID-19 is impacting sports around the world. They talk to experts, athletes and personalities, offering a window into the lives of people we normally root for in entirely different ways.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis. The incident, which was captured on video, showed Floyd pinned to the ground with his hands cuffed and Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin – who was identified as the primary officer in the video – with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes.

In the video, Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn’t breathe, and later paramedics are seen lifting an apparently non-responsive Floyd onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

An independent autopsy has since found that Floyd’s death was caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain. After the graphic video circulated widely on social media, the four officers involved in the incident were fired and Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded Chauvin’s charge to second-degree murder on Wednesday, and charged the three other officers on the scene with aiding and abetting.

“I don’t know,” Popovich said, visibly hurt by the recollection of the video. “I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen, to actually watch a lynching. We’ve all seen books. And you look in the books and you see Black people hanging on trees. And you are amazed that we just saw it again. I never thought I’d see that with my own eyes in real time.”

The dismay and outrage Popovich felt has been shared by many, as protests continue across the U.S., sparked by the death of Floyd, denouncing systemic racism and acts of police brutality. The protests have not been for Floyd exclusively, though. Popovich is aware of that, too.

“What’s it gonna take,” he wonders in the video. “Two more Black people with knees in their necks?”

Though she did not die due to a knee in her neck, protests have also featured calls for justice for Breonna Taylor, an African-American woman who died on March 13 after Louisville police officers — executing a search warrant — used a battering ram to enter her apartment and, after a brief confrontation, fired several shots, striking her at least eight times. At this time, no charges have been filed against the officers.

“It’s like the gun [control] arguments,” Popovich said when grappling with how American can build a better, safer future. “How many more Sandy Hooks do we need to have? It’s easy for people to let things go because it doesn’t involve them. It’s like the neighbourhood where you know there’s a dangerous corner, and you know that something is going to happen some day and nobody does anything. Then a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up.

“Well, without getting too political, we’ve got a lot of stop signs that need to go up. Quickly. Because our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”

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UFC 250 salaries: Amanda Nunes easily tops card, could make $450k – MMA Fighting

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Early salaries have been released for the UFC 250 card, and Amanda Nunes is the biggest earner out of the gate.

The two-division champ take home a guaranteed $350,000 and stands to make up to $450,000 if she defends her featherweight title against Felicia Spencer, who could make $200,000 with an upset, according to preliminary salaries released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Ex-bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt is the second-highest earner in terms of guaranteed money, making $130,000 to show – and double that for a win – in a bout against Raphael Assuncao, who’s show and win pay is $79,000.

Here is the full list of UFC 250 payouts. As always, these figures do not represent a fighter’s total earnings, as certain sponsorship incomes, pay-per-view bonuses, or discretionary post-fight bonuses are not publicly disclosed.

Main card (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

Amanda Nunes ($350,000 to show, $100,000 to win) vs. Felicia Spencer ($125,000 to show, $75,000 to win)

Raphael Assuncao ($79,000 to show, $79,000 to win) vs. Cody Garbrandt ($130,000 to show, $130,000 to win)

Aljamain Sterling ($76,000 to show, $76,000 to win) vs. Cory Sandhagen ($80,000 to show, $80,000 to win)

Neil Magny ($79,000 to show, $79,000 to win) vs. Rocco Martin ($48,000 to show, $48,000 to win)

Sean O’Malley ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win) vs. Eddie Wineland ($46,000 to show, $46,000 to win)

Preliminary Card (ESPN and ESPN +, 8 p.m. ET)

Chase Hooper ($27,000 to show, $27,000 to win) vs. Alex Caceres ($58,000 to show, $58,000 to win)

Gerald Meerschaert ($33,000 to show, $33,000 to win) vs. Ian Heinisch ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win)

Cody Stamann ($36,000 to show, $36,000 to win) vs. Brian Kelleher ($33,000 to show, $33,000 to win)

Charles Byrd ($12,000 to show, $12,000 to win) vs. Maki Pitolo ($10,000 to show, $10,000 to win)

Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)

Jussier Formiga ($49,000 to show, $49,000 to win) vs. Alex Perez ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win)

Alonzo Menifield ($14,000 to show, $14,000 to win) vs. Devin Clark ($48,000 to show, $48,000 to win)

Evan Dunham ($60,000 to show, $60,000 to win) vs. Herbert Burns ($12,000 to show, $12,000 to win)

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