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NHL urges players to ‘self-quarantine’ to help save season

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The best indication that the NHL has a strong chance to resume this season and hand out the Stanley Cup may be if we don’t see players surfacing out and about in public via social media.

The COVID-19 virus cannot be controlled, but exposure to it can be mitigated.

That is the message the NHL sent to its teams and players on Friday in a memorandum that was written in conjunction with the NHL Players’ Association.

The NHL “strongly” encouraged players to “self-quarantine” in their homes for “the next week or so.”

“While self-quarantine will undoubtedly impose lifestyle limitations and may seem like an overly precautions measure, adherence to these principles for the relatively brief period of time … should allow us to be in the best position possible to assess next steps regarding the potential resumption of play,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote.

How seriously NHL players – and club personnel who are in close contact with players on a frequent basis – take the recommendation could have a large say on the timetable to return.

To this point, no NHL player has been reported to test positive for novel coronavirus. Dallas Stars forward Alex Radulov was tested for the virus, but the team and the league are awaiting results.

Dreger outlines key points from NHL’s memo to teams and players

The NHL and NHLPA have bargained an agreement as to what the players can and cannot do for the foreseeable future. Hockey Insider Darren Dreger joins Gino Reda to outline some of the key points of the agreement.

Any player or staff member who develops symptoms, or a person sharing a home develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, are instructed to consult with their team’s medical staff immediately.

A positive test could set back an NHL timeline. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday that NBA player Rudy Gobert testing positive meant “all bets are off” ­ forcing the NHL to hit pause on the 2019-20 season.

“It was clear to me that no matter what scenario we came up with that we continued to play with, either with or without fans, it was inconceivable, certainly unlikely that we were going to get through the rest of the regular season at a minimum without somebody testing positive,” Bettman told the AP.

As part of the self-quarantine, the NHL’s memo on Friday urged players to “remain in your home as much as possible and practicable and avoid unnecessary interactions with non-family members or roommates.”

Players who live apart from their family during the season – like players who have been traded – are permitted to return to their primary residence. Once there, they have been instructed to avoid any further travel, including public transportation and ride-sharing.

For the most part, team practice facilities are to be off-limits, except for players with “disabling injuries.” Even those players with injuries were encouraged to communicate and continue rehab via alternative means, including FaceTime or webinar, to any extent possible.

The NHL also asked players to not organize informal skates at public facilities, because players will be afforded “sufficient time to resume skating and game preparation activities prior to any resumption of play.”

Following this period of “self-quarantine,” the NHL said it hopes to be in a “position to transition.” The first step would be to re-open club facilities for conditioning, followed by “a training camp period during which practices are scheduled and game preparation would resume.”

Until then, the NHL told players that they will receive each of their final three paycheques of the season, scheduled for Friday (March 13), March 30 and April 15.

Fehr sheds light on NHL’s current situation

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr joined the Ray and Dregs podcast on Friday. With the NHL in uncharted waters, Fehr discussed the league’s current situation.

It’s anyone’s guess what happens after that.

The NHL’s Board of Governors were told in a conference call on Thursday to expect the pause to last at least three weeks. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a letter to fans that his league’s suspension would last at least 30 days.

Bettman told reporters on Friday that he didn’t want to put a timetable on it. The return to play won’t be determined necessarily by Bettman and Daly, but by health experts who will give a green light, along with a healthy dose of common sense. A league task force is meeting twice a day on the subject, while the league’s top brass works through any number of possibly contingency plans.

“I’m optimistic we will be able at some point to get through the season and award the Stanley Cup,” Bettman said. “That’s the hope.”

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Report: Trump hopes to have fans back at sports games by end of summer – Sportsnet.ca

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U.S. President Donald Trump told major-league sports commissioners on a call Saturday afternoon that he hoped to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Trump reportedly also said he believes the NFL season “should start on time in September.”

The call included 13 league commissioners, among them the NHL’s Gary Bettman, NBA’s Adam Silver, MLB’s Rob Manfred and NFL’s Roger Goodell.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere tweeted a statement following the completion of Trump’s call.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters later Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate sports being played with fans in the stands by September in his state, contrary to Trump’s reported comments.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the plan for the call was “to discuss charitable contributions and how the leagues would help those dealing with coronavirus.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought most of the sports world to a halt for the last three weeks, as only White’s UFC and MacMahon’s WWE are the only organizations still hosting events.

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Kobe, Duncan, Garnett headline 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class – TSN

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Kobe Bryant was already immortal. Now he’s officially a Hall of Famer as well.

And he’s got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class.

Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.

They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.

“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honour him,” Colangelo said. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said — as if there was going to be any doubt — that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.

Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.

“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said.

Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medallist . Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn’t understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.

Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.

The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well.

For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran’s, Women’s Veteran’s, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.

With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the top NBA trio to ever enter simultaneously, the Hall wanted to make sure that no enshrinee would be overlooked.

“We didn’t need to water it down,” Colangelo said. “Next year is another year for many.”

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Nelson, Fimis taken No. 1 and 2 in OHL Draft – TSN

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TORONTO — Teammates Ty Nelson and Pano Fimis were the top two picks in the Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection Draft.

Nelson, a 16-year-old defenceman from the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens, was announced by the North Bay Battalion as the first overall pick on Friday, the night before the OHL draft formally began.

Fimis, a centre with the GTHL’s Jr. Canadiens, was taken second overall on Saturday morning by the Niagara IceDogs.

North Bay had the first overall pick when the season was cancelled on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nelson led all GTHL defencemen in regular-season scoring with 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) over 33 games. He then posted a league-best 12 points over 11 playoff contests as he helped lead the Jr. Canadiens to the league title.

Fimis had 14 goals and 28 assists in 32 games for the Jr. Canadiens. Three more centres were taken after Fimis on Saturday.

Maxim Namestnikov was selected third by the Sarnia Sting, Bryce McConnell-Barker was picked fourth by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and the Kingston Frontenacs made Paul Ludwinski the fifth overall pick.

Namestnikov is the younger brother of Colorado Avalanche forward Vladislav Namestnikov. The younger Namestnikov had 53 goals and 75 assists in 59 games for the midget Honeybaked U15 team, then had 12 goals and 11 assists in 13 games for the same team in the High Performance Hockey League.

Defenceman Jorian Donovan, the son of former NHLer Shean Donovan, was taken sixth overall by the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Highly touted prospect Adam Fantilli went 18th overall to the Saginaw Spirit.

Fantilli, is a six-foot-two 181-pound centre who spent 2019-20 with Kimball Union Academy — a US high school prep program based in Plainfield, N.H — who had already committed to the United States Hockey League’s Chicago Steel on March 25.

That means it’s very unlikely the Toronto native comes back north while allowing him to keep the NCAA route open when he turns 18.

The Priority Selection has been held online every year since 2001. However, this year teams worked remotely and adhered to all government and public health guidelines on physical distancing when selecting the 2004-born skaters.

Team staff were not allowed to work the draft from their hockey offices or arenas and made their announcements through a conference call, most often from home.

Players were not permitted to enter into league offices for introductions and sweaters on draft day. They also weren’t allowed to meet their new fans and interviews were out of the question.

The OHL also reminded prospects and their families that the province of Ontario has prohibited organized public gatherings and social gatherings of more than five people, keeping celebratory groups tight, while American-based OHL teams are following the rules set in place by their state.

The Western Hockey League Bantam Draft is scheduled for April 22 while the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft goes June 6.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 4, 2020.

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