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NHL looking at 8-9 sites as options to restart season, Commissioner says – NHL.com

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The NHL is looking at “probably eight or nine different places” that can accommodate “a dozen or so teams in one location” as it explores options for resuming the season, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday.

The Commissioner participated in a digital keynote interview with Leaders Week, a sports business conference originally scheduled to be held in New York, to discuss the League’s efforts since pausing the season due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

“I don’t think anybody has a fixed timetable, particularly in North America right now,” Commissioner Bettman said. “We have been working very hard since we took the pause on March 12 to make sure that whatever the timing is, whatever the sequencing is, whatever physical ability we have in terms of locations to play, that we’re in a position to execute any or all of those options. There is still a great deal of uncertainty.”

[RELATED: NHL Pause Binge – replays of archived games, unique content]

The Commissioner said the NHL would need to resolve border and quarantine issues to reconvene the players, 17 percent of whom are outside North America, the rest of whom are spread around the continent.

If the NHL uses centralized locations, it probably would need the ability to play multiple games per day without fans. NHL arenas are best suited for that because of their back-of-the-house facilities, such as multiple locker rooms that can be sanitized as teams move in and out.

The League also would need the hotel space to house teams and the capacity to test personnel for COVID-19 without doing so at the expense of the medical community.

“I am told that there can be enough capacity, and certainly over the next couple of months, there will be more capacity,” Commissioner Bettman said. “But that is a fundamental question, and we certainly can’t be jumping the line in front of medical needs.”

The Commissioner said the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have been extraordinarily collaborative. They have formed a Return to Play Committee of executives and players that has held regular digital meetings.

“Do we complete the regular season when we’re given the opportunity?” Commissioner Bettman said. “Do we do an abbreviated regular season, because our competitive balance is so extraordinary, it’s hard to tell how the season would have ended? Do we go right to the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs and in what form?

“And if we’re not playing in front of fans, which at least in the short term seems [likely], do we do it in a centralized location or locations? And if so, what places what might suitable from a COVID-19 standpoint in terms of the communities that you’re in and how big the outbreak is? And what is the availability of testing? And so that requires a collaboration with our medical advisers.

“And I believe that all of the major sports in North America are going through this same exercise, and while the medical and health issues are probably to some extent the same for all of us, the logistics of what we do and how we do it may be a little different depending on the sport.”

The NHL has the flexibility to finish this season by playing in the summer and to delay the start of next season as late as December while playing a full schedule. 

“We’d like to complete this season,” Commissioner Bettman said. “We’d like to award the Stanley Cup, the most treasured trophy and the most historic trophy in all of sports. And our fans are telling us overwhelmingly that’s what they’d like us to do, because people have an emotional investment in this season already.”

Commissioner Bettman said he believes large gatherings will come back quickly once the medical community has determined the best treatment for COVID-19 and there is a prospect of a vaccine. The Commissioner mentioned the possibility of masks, sanitizers and different seating configurations initially.

“Everything we’re hearing from our fans is that they’re [eager] to get back, and we don’t take that for granted, which is why we will do what the medical people tell us is necessary and appropriate for us to do to bring fans back,” Commissioner Bettman said. “And again, everything we do is going to be governed by the doctors, the medical people and by governments at all levels, which will tell us what is and isn’t appropriate for us to do.

“So a lot of our planning and a lot of the issues we’re confronting ultimately are going to be resolved for us by other people, whether it’s physicians or whether it’s governmental leaders, and that’s why we have to be doing a lot of contingency planning so we can react to whatever they’re telling is us appropriate and permissible.”

Commissioner Bettman said he was very optimistic and hopeful for the sports industry in the long term. Sports, the Commissioner said, brings people together and helps them heal.

“I think the major sports and their franchises will get through this and will come back as strong as ever,” Commissioner Bettman said. “It’s just a question of time.”

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NBPA approves 22-team format to resume NBA season – Sportsnet.ca

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The National Basketball Players Association has signed off on the 22-team, return-to-play format for the NBA, the union announced in a statement Friday.

The NBPA said its Board of Player Representatives has approved further negotiations on the plan with the league and various details still need to be hashed out.

“The acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play,” the statement reads.

The league’s Board of Governors approved the proposal for restarting the 2019-20 season on Thursday. The plan would see the campaign resume next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla.

The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports that other aspects of the return-to-play plan were discussed by the NBPA on a call with its Board and Player Representatives on Friday afternoon, including:

• Two to three exhibition tilts before the regular season

• A maximum of 1,600 people on the Disney World campus

• Daily COVID-19 testing and a minimum seven-day quarantine if a player is found positive

• The NBA will continue to play if a player contracts the novel coronavirus

• Players and family must stay inside the bubble

• Potential manufactured crowd noise using NBA 2K video game sound

• A proposed 35-person travel party limit

• Potential three-hour practice windows for teams

• No blood tests in Orlando for substances that fall under the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBPA reportedly also said players will receive their full paycheques after taking a 25 per cent reduction in May.

Additionally, Charania reports that the union told players a Dec. 1 start to the ’20-21 campaign is “unlikely” and it plans to negotiate the date.

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'Djokovic will overtake Roger Federer and become the GOAT', says former World No. 1 – Tennis World USA

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Former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic was the protagonist of a long interview on Eurosport, where he commented on all the news that gravitates around the world of tennis. The former World number 1, who retired from the circuit at the end of 2016, has won 15 singles titles during his career, including Roland Garros in 2008.

She also reached a final in Paris in 2007 and one at the Australian Open in 2008. She was at the top of the world ranking from 9th June to 10th August 2008 and then from 18th August to 7th September of the same year (for a total of 12 weeks).

Ivanovic: ‘Djokovic will break Federer’s Slam record’

Ana had a recent talk with former world no.10 Barbara Schett-Eagle. She talked about Kim Clijsters: “I have been watching some of her matches and she has been striking the ball amazingly well, but I really hope she can get back to that level to play like she used to,” Serbia’s 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic, talking to Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi, said on Wednesday.

“Personally, I don’t think it’ll be easy after being out for so many years. It’s amazing what she achieved. I still respect her so much, it’s just difficult to imagine now after having three kids and being out for so long to make a comeback,” Ivanovic, who retired in 2016, aged 29, said.

“Not because she’s not fit, but because your body just reacts differently. When you are out of competition you realise how much fine-tuning is necessary and she’s been out a while”. When asked about her opinion about Novak Djokovic and the opportunity for him to break Federer’s slam record, Ana sounded rather positive.

“In tour we were very close friends, but then later over the years he had his own path and I had my own path, but what he achieved is really amazing,” Ivanovic said. “Yeah. Probably. He has time working for him.

He still has a few years left and he definitely has a big chance of doing it and that’s one of his goals probably,” she added.

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A spy and an armbar: The night ‘India’ welcomed Amanda Nunes to MMA – MMA Fighting

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“Let me rewind the tape here… There’s a drawer we open and memories come back.”

The first and only woman to win multiple UFC belts, Amanda Nunes, returns to the octagon Saturday night at UFC 250 to once again defend her throne when she takes on Felicia Spencer in Las Vegas. Like many other MMA stars, however, her career actually started with a defeat — and the woman responsible for it had a few tricks up her sleeve.

A mixed martial arts pioneer in Brazil, Ana Maria “India” received a call from Prime MMA promoter Luiz Fernando Menezes with an offer to be part of the company’s second show on March 8, 2008. It was scheduled for International Women’s Day, and he wanted women competing on it.

India was training under experienced boxing coach Luiz Carlos Dorea in Salvador and had previous experience in MMA, while Nunes, a 19-year-old protege under Edson Carvalho, was looking to make her debut in a cage. India was coming off a long layoff due to a knee injury and decided to collect as much as information as possible about her upcoming foe.

“I had six knee surgeries throughout my career and I was coming off one of them, just five months before the fight, and I never heard of Amanda before,” Ana Maria says. “A friend of mine trained at Edson Carvalho’s gym and I asked him if he could to the gym and film her a little bit so I could check her out [laughs].”

The experienced fighter received some inside information about Nunes, and only heard great things about her.

“Ana, this girl trains really hard,” the “spy” allegedly told Nunes’ opponent. “She sleeps in the gym and watches fights on computer all day everyday.”

“He told me she was really tough on the feet, with her background in karate, and very good on the ground,” Ana Maria says. “Since I was coming off the knee surgery and one leg was two inches shorter than the other one, I didn’t want to waste any time on the feet. I shouldn’t even be fighting, but I’m a fighter and we always think we can pull it off.”

India’s strategy was to take Nunes to the ground as quick as possible, but “The Lioness” started off with a leg kick followed by a combo of punches. Nunes was “fiery, she wanted to take your head off, but often got too emotional,” Ana Maria recalls.

She took advantage of Nunes’s aggression, pulling guard and snapping a tight armbar that forced the tap.

“35 seconds,” Ana Maria recalls. “A kick, three punches, I shot for a takedown, she sprawled, I pulled guard and got the armbar. We could see how hungry she was back then, her will to fight… You could see she was good.”

Nunes eventually joined Academia Champion in Salvador and trained with India, but saw a chance to move overseas as a way to improve as a mixed martial artist.

Amanda Nunes
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“She always told me she would go to the United States and only come back with the belt in her hands,” Ana Maria says. “She was the one to beat Ronda (Rousey). She said she would beat Cris (Cyborg) one day. She slept with a computer by her bed to watch videos of their fights. She was always very focused and determined.”

Their careers went different directions. Nunes eventually signed with Strikeforce and then joined the UFC, where she climbed to the top in two different weight classes — and beat both Rousey and Cyborg by first-round knockout.

Ana Maria became a popular name in Brazil after being on the cast of a Survivor-esque reality TV competition in 2009, but never made it to the big leagues in the sport. India often wonders if she was just born in the wrong era, where women simply didn’t get the same opportunity as men.

“I’ve asked myself a lot,” she says. “People didn’t understand why I was fighting, they said there was no event for women. I said it would be big one day and they called me crazy. PRIDE was the biggest promotion in the world, then Dana White said there would never be women fighting in the UFC, and I’ve always said they had nowhere to run.

“I wanted to fight, and I believed it would be big. I didn’t have someone to look up to, but I was doing it because I thought it was cool. If it wasn’t for me, Vanessa Porto, Michelle Tavares and others, these girls wouldn’t have the space they have today. That’s why I won’t complain. Someone has to be first, someone has to open the way for others.”

At 41 with a record of seven wins and five defeats (she says two victories are missing from online databases), India is open to the idea of taking a farewell bout if the terms are good. In 2018, back when she was training at Demian Maia’s team in Sao Paulo, Ana Maria says she received a “laughable” offer to fight for the first time since 2014.

“If there’s someone out there willing to pay, I’ll fight,” Ana Maria says. “I’ve had arguments with promoters for treating us like clowns. They set the circus up with a bunch of clowns. Everyone gets paid except for the fighters. It’s absurd. What’s the point of being part of a show if I’m getting paid nothing?”

Even if she doesn’t get her shot at a proper goodbye to the sport she helped build, Ana Maria India knows she was one of the pillars to get it where it is today.

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