Mitch Marner was asked recently about the possibility of the NHL going with an all-Canadian division next season.
The league finished its pandemic-delayed 2019-20 campaign with tightly-controlled bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton to protect against the spread of COVID-19, but with the coronavirus showing no signs of slowing down and the border with the United States still closed to non-essential travel, a seven-team circuit north of the 49th parallel seemed likely.
“It would definitely be interesting,” Marner, a star winger with the Toronto Maple Leafs, said last month. “We’ve got to be ready for whatever happens.”
Well, commissioner Gary Bettman indicated this week the league is exploring the idea of temporary realignment in 2020-21.
And an all-Canadian division appears to indeed be on the table.
“We’re not going to move all seven Canadian franchises south of the 49th parallel … so we have to look at alternative ways to play,” Bettman said Tuesday as part of a virtual panel discussion during the 2020 Paley International Council Summit. “While crossing the U.S.-Canadian border is an issue, we’re also seeing within the United States limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states.
“It’s again part of having to be flexible.”
Bettman added the league, which is working closely with the NHL Players’ Association, is contemplating the possibility of a reduction from the usual 82-game schedule and the use of temporary hubs where teams would play a fixed number of games in the same location and then return home for a period of time before resuming action.
WATCH | NHL analyst Dave Poulin discusses NHL’s next steps:
It remains to be seen if Canadian clubs would set up in a hub or travel to individual cities, but if the Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks wind up grouped together, fans could be in for a treat.
“The Canadian teams are quite strong,” Montreal head coach Claude Julien said in October. “It might be a very competitive division. We know that Ottawa is being rebuilt — that doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive — but the other teams all believe in their chance to make the playoffs.
“People are likely to see very exciting and very competitive hockey.”
Six of Canada’s seven franchises took part in the summer resumption of play, with only the Senators on the outside looking in. There’s optimism in each city for whenever the league gets going — the NHL continues to target a Jan. 1 start date — and the temperature between rivals could be turned up with more games against the same opponents.
“It would be pretty cool, especially for Canadian hockey fans,” Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. “It’ll be heated and it’ll be some good hockey if it happens.”
It also doesn’t hurt that some of the game’s biggest names — including Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Marner and Auston Matthews with Toronto, Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson and Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine — could be pitted against each other more often.
“It would be a cool experience,” Marner said. “We’ve just got to be ready for whatever happens.”
Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa usually play in the Atlantic Division, Winnipeg is in the Central, and Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary are in the Pacific.
WATCH | NHL reports no COVID-19 cases after 65 days in bubbles:
Senators forward Connor Brown, who was acquired from the Leafs in the summer of 2019, said he wouldn’t mind facing his old club a little more often.
“It would be interesting,” he said. “It’s all speculation, but it would be different.”
Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher added that, like the bubble concept used during the restart, players have to be prepared to adapt on the fly.
“If that is the case, an all-Canadian division, I think it would be pretty unique,” he said. “Pretty neat you to get to see those other teams a little bit more and have an appreciation for what they do. And at the same time, there’s a little bit of pride involved when you’re playing for your Canadian division.
“I’m sure everyone would have a little bit of motivation.”
Reaction Recap: Mike Tyson–Roy Jones Jr. bout finishes as a draw – Sportsnet.ca
In what was ultimately a sporting event as bizarre as the year it capped off, boxing legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. returned to the ring in a battle of 50-year-old former champions Saturday night.
After eight two-minute rounds at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, and some impressive displays from both veteran fighters, the bout was ruled a draw by the WBC’s unofficial judges, Christy Martin, Vinny Pazienza and Chad Dawson.
“This is better than fighting for championships,” Tyson said after the heavyweight tilt, the goal of which was to raise money for charity. “We’re humanitarians now. We can do something good for the world. We’ve got to do this again.”
While Jones’ return to the ring was his first since 2018, it was Tyson’s first time back in 15 years. But the man who established himself as one of the most dominant heavyweights in the game back in his prime showed glimpses of the form that made him an undisputed champion decades ago.
“The body shots definitely took a toll,” said Jones post-fight about Tyson’s attack. “It’s something to take the punches that Mike throws. I’m cool with a draw. Maybe we can do it again.”
While the event divided boxing fans between those who saw it as little more than a spectacle and others who were more than willing to indulge for a chance to see two of the sport’s best make their return, chatter about the card on social media — from YouTuber Jake Paul’s knockout win over former NBA guard Nate Robinson to Tyson and Jones’ main-event meeting — made clear the undeniable interest in the event regardless.
The spectacle certainly didn’t disappoint, either, with California legend Snoop Dogg emerging as one of the true winners on the night, his commentary throughout — not short on witty one-liners — drawing rave reviews from the social media crowd.
By the night’s end, the meeting of the two former champs under the lights finished amicably.
“I hit you with some good shots, and you took it,” Tyson told Jones post-fight. “I respect that.”
Re-live all the action below via the Twitterverse’s round-by-round reaction to the fight, from the opening bell to the last:
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) November 29, 2020
First Half (Rounds 1-4)
Imagine if they were in their prime. Thank you mike and Roy we needed this. 1 for the culture. And I ain’t complaining.
— Baron Davis (@BaronDavis) November 29, 2020
Snoop “do he really wanna frustrate mike?”
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) November 29, 2020
Second Half (Rounds 4-8)
Think Roy Jones really thought this was an exhibition and Tyson’s fighting for his life #tysonvsjones
— Billy Q (@BillyQMMA) November 29, 2020
— With files from The Associated Press
ACC CFB Picks: Clemson vs Pittsburgh 11/28/20 College Football Picks, Odds, Predictions – Sports Chat Place
Pittsburgh Panthers (5-4) at Clemson Tigers (7-1)
College Football: Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 3:30 pm (Memorial Stadium)
The Line: Clemson Tigers -26 — Over/Under: 55
Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The Clemson Tigers host the Pittsburgh Pantherswhen they meet Saturday in college football action from Clemson Memorial Stadium aka “Death Valley”.
Pittsburgh comes into this one at 5-4 overall. The Panthers have won their last two consecutive games, taking out Florida State and Virginia Tech in that time. As for Clemson, they’re 7-1. The Tigers are coming off their first and only loss of the year so far, falling in overtime to Notre Dame on November 7. Check back all season long for free college football picks at Sports Chat Place.
Pittsburgh got off to a nice 3-0 start with wins over Austin Peay, Syracuse and Louisville. The Panthers then went on a four-game losing streak, falling in close games to NC State and Boston College prior to double-digit losses to Miami and Notre Dame.
The game against the Fighting Irish was never close after the first quarter, and end up a 45-3 Pittsburgh loss. Panthers quarterback Joey Yellen posted 101 yards and three interceptions on 10-of-27 passing. Vincent Davis managed eight carries for 28 yards to pace the rush, and Jordan Addison had three catches for 40 yards.
Over on the Clemson side, they marched out of the gate with six straight double-digit victories, taking out Wake Forest, the Citadel, Virginia, Miami, Georgia Tech and Syracuse with relative ease. The Tigers escaped Boston College 34-28 on Halloween, then suffered their first loss of the year November 7 against Notre Dame, 47-40 in double overtime.
Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei managed 439 yards with two touchdowns in that game, and Travis Etienne added 28 yards and a TD on 18 carries. Cornell Powell had six catches for 161 yards and a score to lead the Clemson receivers there.
The Panthers are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games in November and 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 overall. Pitt is 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 conference games and 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven conference games and 2-7 ATS in their last nine overall. Clemson is 1-4 ATS versus a team with a winning record and 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
PICK: I’m going with Pittsburgh. It’s been tough picking Clemson games with any confidence over the last couple of weeks, what with all the postponements, virus inactive lists, etch. That said, if Clemson is going to cover it’s going to be up to the defensive side of the ball in this one. The Tigers have given up at least 21 points in each of the last three outings, and a combined 75 in the last two games. The Panthers offense (though not against elite competition) has shined over the last two games, with a combined 89 points in that time. I think Pittsburgh has the offensive gas to get in there.
Pittsburgh Panthers +26
49ers may need temporary home after county bans contact sports – Sportsnet.ca
The San Francisco 49ers and other teams may need to find a temporary new home after Santa Clara County on Saturday banned all contact sports from holding games and practices for the next three weeks.
County officials issued the directives in response to rising cases of the coronavirus in the area. The rules take effect Monday and will last until Dec 21.
The 49ers have home games scheduled for Dec. 7 against Buffalo and Dec. 13 against Washington at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The team also practices at that site in the county.
“We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed,” the team said in a statement.
A person familiar with the situation said the NFL and 49ers prepared possible back-up plans before the season in case the Niners needed to move their operations and have an NFL stadium ready for games. The person spoke on condition of anonymity and gave no details on what those plans are because the league hadn’t made any announcement.
The rules also will impact the San Jose Sharks of the NHL and college teams at Stanford and San Jose State.
“For those teams, they will not be able to play games or have practices where they have direct contact, within the county,” Santa Clara County counsel James Williams said.
Williams said he has been in touch with the teams. None immediately responded to requests for comment.
Along with banning contact sports, the new rules also require anyone who has travelled more than 150 miles from the county to quarantine for 14 days. The 49ers are playing Sunday at the Los Angeles Rams but will return from that trip before the rules go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
“This pandemic is like a high-speed train, and our projections tell us that we are on target to derail by around the third week of December,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “If we don’t apply brakes, right now with all our collective might.”
Cody said Santa Clara County has the highest case rate in the Bay Area, leading to the stricter rules. If the other counties don’t follow, the 49ers could look to play at the Oakland Coliseum _ the Raiders’ old home _ or possibly the Giants’ baseball stadium in San Francisco.
The NHL hasn’t announced a date for the start of training camp but the Sharks have said they would look into alternate sites if needed. Several Sharks players have been holding informal workouts at the team facility in small groups.
Stanford and San Jose State also have several sports in season. The Cardinal have one scheduled home football game left on Dec. 12 against Oregon State.
The Spartans have home football games on Dec. 5 against Hawaii and Dec. 11 against Nevada. San Jose State practiced before the season a few hundred miles away at Humboldt State because of restrictions in Santa Clara County.
Stanford’s second-ranked women’s basketball team has a home game scheduled for Monday against San Diego. The athletic department is discussing options with university and county officials.
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