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NHL, NHLPA finalizing plan to resume season amid new COVID-19 cases – Sportsnet.ca

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As the NHL and NHL Players’ Association continue putting the finishing touches on a plan to resume the season, the league says 26 players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last three weeks.

We won’t be able to gain a full picture about the rate of infection in the NHL population until training camps open next month. Fifteen of the positive tests announced Monday came from those participating in voluntary small-group workouts at NHL facilities — a group that includes 250-plus participants, or roughly a third of the total needed for the planned 24-team restart.

The other 11 positives came from players not yet subject to regular testing under the league’s return-to-play protocol.

Exhaustive testing procedures are expected to be part of the overall package being finalized by the NHL and NHLPA now. They are believed to be close to settling on a plan that includes the location of two hub cities for games, the protocols governing training camp and the competition phase, and the framework for an extension of the collective bargaining agreement — all of which would be subject to approval.

The hope has been to get something to the NHLPA membership for a vote by the end of this week.

It’s an enormous undertaking, especially with how fluid the situation is.

Consider that at this point last week there was progression towards choosing Vancouver and Las Vegas as the two hub cities — only to see Vancouver dropped as an option when discussions hit a snag with the B.C. government on how positive tests would be handled inside the bubble.

Meanwhile, with coronavirus caseloads spiking in various parts of the United States, talks between the NHL and NHLPA continued into Monday night on the location of hub cities. There were sources who believed that two Canadian hubs could still be an option for the league with Toronto and Edmonton remaining in the bidding. Chicago and Los Angeles are also among the finalists.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

The opening of training camps remains scheduled for July 10, but there’s some thought among teams that it might get pushed back to July 13. Players are expected to spend about two weeks in their home markets before travelling to hub cities, where games could start on or around Aug. 1.

The NHL’s goal has been to return in as safe a manner as possible and will require it to keep players in a tightly controlled bubble with a myriad of built-in safeguards once games start. That’s expected to include daily testing.

Frequent testing, physical distancing and the wearing of masks inside team facilities will likely be part of the protocols governing training camps — although players are expected to be allowed to stay at their own homes during Phase 3.

Given that more than 400 NHLers aren’t currently being tested at all, there’s bound to be more positive results if the league keeps moving towards a restart. The 250-plus participants in Phase 2 have taken more than 1,450 combined tests since June 8, and produced 15 positive results.

Preventing an outbreak among the playing population is vital to handing out the Stanley Cup this October.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of the [return-to-play] talks and I’m pretty confident that once we get into hub cities we’ll be able to do a good job of keeping it out,” veteran Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza said recently. “I think getting there is going to be the challenge and that’s where it takes a little bit of discipline on our part as players to make sure we don’t kind of derail the plans.”

The NHL says that all players who have tested positive have been in self-isolation and are following protocols set out by Health Canada and the Centers for Disease Control.

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CFL to return in August

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The Canadian Football League (CFL), which saw its entire 2020 campaign wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, said on Monday its board of governors voted unanimously to kick off a shortened 14-game season in August.

The CFL, whose biggest source of revenue comes from ticket sales rather than TV deals like those enjoyed by larger U.S.-based leagues, also said fans will be able to return to the stands in line with provincial guidelines.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release.

“I want to thank our fans, players, coaches, and partners for their incredible support and patience as we’ve worked together towards this day.”

The season will begin Aug. 5 while the Grey Cup championship game will be played Dec. 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The full schedule will be released on Tuesday along with each of the league’s nine team’s plan for distributing tickets to season ticket holders and, where government restrictions on stadium capacity allow, ticket sales to the general public.

After first delaying its 2020 season, the CFL decided to scrap it entirely following a last-ditch effort to secure financing from the Canadian government to stage a shortened campaign that would have been held entirely in Manitoba was turned down.

The CFL had previously said it would only move forward with a 2021 season if it could secure the government approvals for its plans to keep players and coaches safe and the green light to allow a “significant” number of fans to attend games.

“We are on track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals, thanks to our tireless medical advisers and staff, and the dedicated government officials who have been working with them,” said Ambrosie.

“And while the outlook for fans in the stands varies from province to province, we are confident that process is also on the right track.”

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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