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NHL pushes back possible restart date, allows players to go home – CBC.ca

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The NHL is pushing back the possibility of resuming its season for several weeks, if not a month or more.

The league and NHL Players’ Association told players Monday they can go home, even out of North America, and must self-isolate through March 27 while the season is on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the NHL also cautioned it will not be able to even provide guidance on the potential reopening of team practices for another 45 days, which could make May the earliest possible restart date.

The new directives come on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation against gatherings of 50 or more people in the U.S. for the next eight weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the NHL’s new timeline, it would mean facilities would not be opened until late April at the earliest.

“I think in light of the CDC recommendations, it’s hard to foresee that we’re looking at much happening here in March or even April, in my opinion,” agent Jay Grossman said.

The league said “depending on world developments,” consideration will be given to reopening practice facilities after the self-quarantine period ends in late March.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver last week said his league’s hiatus would likely last at least a month. After saying last week the season was on “pause,” commissioner Gary Bettman had not put a time frame on when the NHL could resume play.

Euro players scramble to return to ‘safest environment’

“The pause will be until it’s appropriate and prudent and safe to start back up,” Bettman said last week. “Nobody knows how long the hiatus may be. Nobody, even the medical community, can predict it with certainty. And what we’re doing is, we’re modelling every conceivable alternative so that when it’s appropriate to go back to work, we will know what our options and our alternatives are.”

The U.S. government has imposed a travel ban from Europe for non-citizens that extends until mid-April. There are currently 233 European players on NHL rosters, including leading scorer Leon Draisaitl from Germany, and there are more on contracts who are in the minors. How many might return home is unknown.

“I’ve spoken to some players who are doing their best to obviously scramble to return to the safest, most comfortable environment that they can get to at this point,” Grossman said.

Players previously were directed to stay in their team’s city and wait. The league and union had discussed the possibility of players returning to team training facilities within the next week or so, but that plan has similarly changed. Those facilities are currently closed to players.

“We’ll be constantly in touch with the NHL and constantly re-evaluating,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said last week. “Any date you pick out is merely going to be a best guess and it has about as much likelihood of being right as any other best guess.”

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The AP teams had been instructed to take care of arrangements for and pay players under contract. That was in light of the minor league ECHL’s decision to cancel the rest of its season.

The NHL suspended its season with 189 games remaining before the playoffs. Bettman said he remained optimistic about resuming and still awarding the Stanley Cup, which has only not been handed out twice since 1893: 1919 during the Spanish flu outbreak and 2005 because of a lockout.

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Edmonton Oiler Leon Draisaitl hit hard on all fronts by COVID-19 – Edmonton Sun

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If there is a poster boy for the impact COVID-19 is having on National Hockey League players, it might be Leon Draisaitl.

He is feeling the brunt of it this crisis on all sides, perhaps more than any other player in the league.

His home country is the fifth hardest hit on the planet, behind only the US, China, Italy and Spain. His family, like the rest of Germany, is in total lockdown in a nation that’s ground to a halt.

And even though hockey is pretty low on the depth chart of things to be worried about right now, he is taking the worst of it on that front, too.

When the NHL shutdown hit, he was roaring down the backstretch of the best campaign of his life, chasing down the triple crown of Hart, Art Ross and Ted Lindsay trophies while leading his Edmonton Oilers to the playoffs for just the second time in 14 years.

Normally it’s good to be Leon Draisaitl, but it’s been a tough month.

“Obviously we don’t know yet what’s going to happen in all the professional leagues,” said the Oilers centre, speaking on a video conference call with reporters Monday. “If we don’t get to play the playoffs it’s obviously frustrating, but I think the health of people at this time is more important. I think they’ve made the right decision so far.”

While Canada watches its number of confirmed cases rise every day, it’s been a gradual, upward trend rather than the dramatic spikes they’re having in Europe, where social distancing measures came too late to slow the attack.

Canada has just over 7,000 confirmed cases and 67 deaths, while Germany, with just over double the population, has 64,000 cases and 560 deaths.

“It’s obviously concerning,” said the 24-year-old. “My family is doing what they’re supposed to, they’re staying in. So far everyone is healthy. I hope that it stays that way back home. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Draisaitl admits he gave some thought to being with his family during this crisis, or bringing them here, but decided it was best for everyone to hole up where they are and wait this thing out.

“It definitely crossed my mind, but I don’t think it makes much sense for me to go there right now, especially since it’s worse over there than it is over here. I think I’m in a good place here right now, so I made the decision to stay.”

It’s where Draisaitl, and every other hockey fan in Edmonton, wait to see if he and the Oilers will get a chance to finish what they started.

“Just stay positive, stick with it,” he told fans. “Just like we are. We all want to get back to playing as soon as possible. Right now, there are more important things in the world going on and we have to accept that.”

With no real end to the global pandemic in site, it’s really tough to predict when, or if, the NHL will start up again. It’s the IF part that’s hard to accept right now. But even the insiders admit everything is up in the air and nobody knows where or when any of it is going to land.

“It’s tough for me to say. Obviously we get updates and that kind of stuff, but there is not really much for us to know. I think we all hope we’re going to get back to playing as soon as possible, but you never know what’s going to happen. That’s not up to us.

“It’s not an ideal situation for any of the players, but once a decision is made there will be some clarity. If it is hopefully going back to playing, then it will be very exciting. Everyone will be fired up to play again.”

So he will continue to work out the best he can, build puzzles and play with the dog while waiting, like the rest of us, to see how this real life disaster movie ends.

He’s tried watching some of the old hockey broadcasts, designed to help people through their NHL withdrawals, but he finds they have the opposite effect on him.

“I’ve watched a few sitting on the couch,” he said. “I watched Game 5 against San Jose a couple of years ago and to be honest it’s little bit of a tease. You start to miss it even more.

“Sometimes it’s better watching Friends than hockey.”

Follow me on twitter.com/rob_tychkowski
rtychkowski@postmedia.com

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The Olympics and Paralympics have new dates – Canadian Cycling Magazine

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The spread of COVID-19 has rapidly turned into a global pandemic and events have been called off throughout the world. As gatherings of all sizes have been cancelled or rescheduled, the future of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, one of the year’s biggest gatherings, has been a hot topic of discussion. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan initially announced they would make a decision about the future of the Games by April.

RELATED: Live blog: How coronavirus is affecting cycling right now

Unsatisfied with the announcement, and unwilling to put the health and safety of athletes at risk, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee announced the country would not participate in the Games if they were to take place in 2020. Other nations such as Australia and Brazil quickly followed suit, pulling out of the Olympics and urging the IOC to make a decision on the postponement of the 2020 Games.

RELATED: Canada won’t send athletes to 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

On Mar. 24, Japan’s Prime Minister officially announced the postponement of the Games. The IOC and Japanese government agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan, as a “beacon of hope”. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

RELATED: Tokyo 2020 Olympics officially postponed

New dates

On Mar. 30, the IOC announced the new dates for the event. The Olympics will run from July 24 to Aug. 8, 2021 and the Paralympics will take place between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5, 2021.

“I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge,” says IOC president Thomas Bach. “Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”

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Tavares thinking of New York friends ‘right in the fire’ of COVID-19 crisis – Sportsnet.ca

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In his 11th year as an NHLer, John Tavares grasps the importance of each spring that passes without a deep playoff run. You only get so many chances.

Yet even as the COVID-19 pandemic puts another shot at realizing his Stanley Cup dreams in jeopardy, Tavares has taken a Zen approach to the indefinite pause on league action and life as we used to know it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs captain has savoured the unexpected extra time he’s had to help his wife Aryne care for their six-month-old baby, Jace, reading books on parenthood and opting for Nexflix’s new Babies docuseries over Tiger King — a “mindboggling” show Aryne has been streaming.

“Enjoying time with my son. Having that time with him has been fantastic,” Tavares said Monday, on an NHL-run Zoom conference Monday alongside Brady Tkachuk, Dylan Larkin and Zdeno Chara. (Tavares joked that the only reason he joined the call was to steal training tips from Chara.)

Tavares has poured time into his passion for cooking, and weather in his High Park neighbourhood on the west side of Toronto has been warm enough to fire up the barbecue.

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Yes, he’s been keeping fit with the training equipment he keeps at his house — a few dumbbells and kettle bells, some resistance bands, and a bicycle — but with a return to action more likely months than weeks in the future, there will be plenty time to ramp back up into game shape.

“I think with the uncertainty, it’s a good time to kind of disconnect and relax as well,” Tavares, 29, explained. “We are fortunate with in the world we do live in, in terms of the social aspect and technology and the ability to stay in touch and communicate with loved ones.”

This week, Tavares’s thoughts are with New York, his home for nine years. A Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds arrived Monday in New York City as the number of deaths in the state from the outbreak has climbed above 1,200.

Tavares made a point to send well wishes to Islanders fans, staff and former teammates who are quarantined in a much more dangerous city.

“I know a few people that are really right in the fire of it and seeing kind of how it’s spreading and really making the impact that it is in New York,” Tavares said.

“I really hope everyone there is staying safe and following all the health recommendations, doing everything they can to stay healthy and to slow the spread and help all the people that are on the front line doing everything they can to keep everyone safe and taking a lot of risk themselves.”

­

It should go without saying that squeezing in more hockey playoffs falls a distant second to a world on alert. Tavares will be 30 when 2020-21 kicks off, and at the time of the pause, his Leafs were on a collision course for what could be an enticing Round 1 series versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“In Toronto, we certainly miss playing in front of our fans and going to Scotiabank Arena and competing to play in the playoffs and the opportunity that we had in front of us,” Tavares said.

“It’s a real special thing to be a Maple Leaf — and we never take that for granted and certainly miss it — but more importantly for everyone to stay safe and healthy and continue to follow all the recommendations from the experts and from the local authorities.

“From what I’ve seen, people have been really good in my area understanding that. We’re all here to support each other, help each other and do the best we can to get this back to normal as quickly as possible.”

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