Ontario Hockey League officials were optimistic that starting regular season action in early-December was a possibility.
With a spike in COVID-19 cases across the province this fall and the closure of the border between Canada and the United States extended at least until Nov. 21, the league has pushed back its potential start date well into the new year.
In a release issued Thursday, the league has announced a start date of Feb. 4 with players reporting to training camo on Jan. 22 and camps opening the following day.
With European and American players expected to follow the two-week quarantine period, those players will be reporting by Jan. 8.
The dates were confirmed in a meeting with OHL general managers on Wednesday.
“Now you can start to think about how training camp might shape out,” Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis said. “It’s tough on everybody, but especially with players especially, they like to ramp up their training in a certain way to get to camp. It’s tough when you’re not sure. Mentally, in a regular year, are you in July right now or June just in terms of how you would pace out your training. You don’t want to burn guys out. It will help on that side of it.”
“Hopefully we can be an asset in terms of helping their development while they’re still doing their own workouts and training on the ice at home because it’s been a long time since we’ve all been on the ice together,” Raftis added. “Everybody is in the same boat, so we have to make the best of it.”
The playoff structure will also look very different as just eight teams will advance into playoff action in 2020-21 instead of the usual 16, meaning the top four teams in each conference will earn playoff spots.
As for the regular season schedule, the league is planning for 40 games and limited travel as much as possible.
In a release from the league, the plan will be for teams to play primarily against teams in their geographic region.
Details on team alignment are expected to be announced when the league releases its schedule.
The closure of the border between Canada and the United States as well as the possibility of fans attending games were not addressed in the league release and were reportedly not discussed at Thursday’s meeting of general managers.
The OHL isn’t the first Canadian Hockey League member league to push back starting until 2021.
Earlier this month, the Western Hockey League announced plans to open regular season action on Jan. 8 in what commissioner Ron Robison called a firm date.
In a Zoom meeting with reporters shortly after the announcement, Robison said the regular season would run until May 2, which would allow the league to play a schedule of up to 50 games.
“The number of games will be determined over the next number of weeks,” Robison said at the time.
Robison said the approach to calling Jan. 8 a hard date was “to create some certainty around the start of the season.”
“We had announced already two tentative target dates,” Robison added. “This is not a tentative date. This is a firm date.”
As for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, regular season action is underway, but there have been some bumps in the road along the way.
The QMJHL regular season began on Oct. 2 with teams playing only opponents within their six-team division.
On Oct. 14, the league announced that teams in the two Quebec-based divisions had their games postponed until at least Oct. 28 as a number of teams were in provincial red zones. The Maritimes Division has continued to play since then.
Some teams are returning to play this weekend after the two-week pause.
Three teams in the league have had cases since the start of the regular season, though training camps and exhibition games were played in September without issue.
STYX Releases Quarantine Video For 'Too Much Time On My Hands' In Time For STEELERS/RAVENS Football Game – BLABBERMOUTH.NET
STYX has released a video for its classic hit “Too Much Time On My Hands”, filmed from the band’s home studios specifically for Pittsburgh #SteelersNation in time for yesterday’s (Wednesday, December 2) game against the Baltimore Ravens.
STYX‘s affiliation with the Pittsburgh Steelers has been strong for years. One of the band’s other signature hits, “Renegade”, has been an adopted theme song of the team for over a decade, and they’ve sung the national anthem at many Steelers games in recent years.
STYX recently asked fans for donations to be made to the Pittsburgh Foundation Emergency Action Fund. The Pittsburgh region is facing unprecedented economic, health and human services challenges in the global public health pandemic brought on by the COVID-19 virus. In response, on March 16, local philanthropies partnered to create the Emergency Action Fund, which awarded operating grants on a rolling basis to emergency service providers and nonprofit organizations serving on the front lines of recovery.
STYX has spent the last few months working on its new studio album, The upcoming effort will be the follow-up to “The Mission”, which was released in June 2017. That disc marked STYX‘s first new LP in 14 years. It was recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, co-produced and co-written with Will Evankovich, a longtime collaborator of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw‘s in the SHAW/BLADES band and who also plays with THE GUESS WHO.
STYX‘s James “JY” Young told Radio Forrest in September that the band will hold off on releasing the new album until it can go back on tour. “That’s the current plan,” he said. “Because we like to have everything kind of get launched at once. It’s easier to make people aware of it if it’s not released in a vacuum. But if you can get a tour going, and tickets are selling, and then the record’s out, it’s easier to build a critical mass for awareness.”
This past August, Young told the Q105.7 radio station that STYX‘s next LP may not arrive for at least another year. “If Dr. Fauci [Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] is right, [we won’t be able to tour until] the end of , so that would put us out in 2022, which would be the 50th-anniversary year of us signing our first recording contract, which is February 22, 1972,” he said. “But if it’s in ’22 that this record comes out, it’ll be 2-22-22, so maybe that’s what we’ve gotta wait for.”
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, four straight STYX albums sold at least two million copies — “The Grand Illusion” (1977), “Pieces Of Eight” (1978), “Cornerstone” (1979) and “Paradise Theatre” (1981). The band eventually replaced original singer/keyboardist/songwriter Dennis DeYoung in 1999 with Lawrence Gowan.
Raptors prop odds roll out in advance of season – Sportsnet.ca
With the start of the NBA regular season less than three weeks away the Toronto Raptors are adjusting to life in their temporary home of Tampa Bay. Forced to relocate due to continued cross-border travel restrictions related to the ongoing pandemic, the Raptors will play home games at Amalie Arena until further notice.
However, with a COVID-19 vaccine looking increasingly likely to roll out at some point in 2021, the odds of the Raptors playing at least one home game in Toronto this season sit at a short -250 in NBA props betting at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
But faced with the prospect of living out of hotels for the entirety of the NBA season, the Raptors have taken a step back on the NBA odds.
Victorious in 53 games last season, second most in the NBA, the Raptors’ win total for the upcoming season sits at just 43.5. Toronto remains a -360 favourite to return to the NBA playoffs for an eighth straight season, but their temporary exile from Scotiabank Arena and recent offseason moves have raised questions. While the team locked up Fred VanVleet with a lucrative four-year contract, the departures of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol suggest the team is undergoing a changing of the guard.
Those concerns extend to team president Masai Ujiri, who has been in demand around the league since leading Toronto to a championship and sports -110 odds of resigning his position with the Raptors before next season’s NBA playoffs.
Indeed, if the Raptors fall out of postseason contention during their upcoming nomadic campaign, Kyle Lowry’s future with the team could also be in question. The heart and soul of the Raptors since his arrival in Toronto eight years ago, Lowry played a crucial role in the team’s march to an NBA title in 2019. But with Lowry turning 35 in March, and entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $30 million, he is listed as a +250 wager at online betting sites to not finish the season as a member of the Raptors.
While a slow start could place Lowry’s future in question, Drake’s position with the Raptors appears to be eternal. The Toronto-born hip hop star has served as the team’s global ambassador since 2013, and has become a familiar presence around the franchise both on and off the hardwood.
That is not expected to change, even as the global pandemic rages, with the musician sporting -850 odds to take his familiar seat at courtside for at least one Raptors game in the season ahead.
Inside look at New York Rangers – NHL.com
NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, the New York Rangers.
The New York Rangers are confident they’re entering training camp with the blueprint for how they need to look and play to be a Stanley Cup Playoff contender.
“We found that balance toward the end of last season, the last two months, from playing with a defensive conscience and also being productive offensively,” Quinn said. “That’s what we have to be. We found some continuity with lines and [defenseman] pairings, and that was really the first time that had happened in the last two years. I think for the first time going into training camp we have a little bit of a clearer picture of what we’re going to look like.”
The disappointment of the Rangers’ quick exit from the Stanley Cup Qualifiers last season — they were the first team eliminated, swept by the Carolina Hurricanes in three games — hasn’t stolen from their belief that they’ve grown into a contender to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It starts with familiarity with who they have returning, a list that doesn’t include Henrik Lundqvist. They bought out the final year of the goalie’s seven-year contract, making the Rangers’ leader in wins (459) an unrestricted free agent to solve the three-goalie issue they dealt with last season and pave the way for Igor Shesterkin to be their new No. 1.
Shesterkin was 10-2-0 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 12 starts last season after being recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Jan. 6. New York also re-signed goalie Alexandar Georgiev to a two-year contract Oct. 15.
“I just love his demeanor,” Quinn said of Shesterkin. “I just love how confident he is.”
Artemi Panarin proved last season, when the left wing had 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists) in 69 games (1.38 points per game), that he’s comfortable in the New York spotlight, solving one of the questions the Rangers had going into last season.
Panarin, entering the second year of his seven-year contract, is expected to start camp playing with center Ryan Strome, who re-signed with a two-year contract Nov. 5.
Quinn is eyeing 19-year-old Kaapo Kakko to be the right wing with Panarin and Strome, replacing Jesper Fast, who signed with the Carolina Hurricanes as a free agent. Kakko, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, scored 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 66 games last season.
Mika Zibanejad delivered as a No. 1 center last season, scoring 41 goals in 57 games, including an NHL-high 23 in 22 games from Jan. 30 to the end of the regular season. He is again expected to have Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich on his line, giving the Rangers continuity in their top six forwards.
“No final decisions have been made, but certainly you want to start that way and hit the ground running,” Quinn said.
The Rangers expect Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, will be an impact player in his rookie season. Lafreniere is penciled in as the left wing on the third line, likely playing with 21-year-old center Filip Chytil.
Lafreniere arrived in the New York area from his home in Saint-Eustache, Quebec, in November and is training and living with a billet family in Connecticut.
“He has the whole package,” Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury said. “His skating, his sense, his shot, his passing, you name it, it’s all very elite. His internal drive is exceptional.”
The Rangers are comfortable with their returning defensemen, even if there are issues to iron out, namely filling an opening on the left side they created by trading Marc Staal to the Detroit Red Wings.
Quinn said the Rangers could move a right-handed defenseman (Jacob Trouba, Tony DeAngelo or Adam Fox) to the left side.
DeAngelo, who led New York defensemen with 53 points (15 goals, 38 assists) last season, is the most likely candidate, but Quinn said he knows Fox would be comfortable too. It’s unlikely they ask Trouba to switch.
K’Andre Miller and/or Tarmo Reunanen, two of New York’s top defenseman prospects and each a left-handed shot, could play well enough in training camp to win a job and remove the need to move a righty to the left side.
“That probably is the one position that we’re going to have to really let it play out,” Quinn said.
The Rangers have far fewer uncertainties than they’ve had entering the past two seasons, fueling their optimism.
“We feel real good about where we are,” New York president John Davidson said. “We’ve come a long way. There’s been some very difficult decisions, but to get to that end, to the championship, this is what you have to do.”
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