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Oilers’ Draisaitl misses game, but focused on big picture with NHL paused –



EDMONTON — “Sometimes,” Leon Draisaitl surmises, “it’s better watching Friends, than hockey.”

Now, you could ask if Draisaitl had been tied to a chair and forced to watch New Jersey Devils — The Jacque Lemaire Years, or if he caught a replay of one of those ’80s playoff games that drudged into the second or third overtime.

But the truth is … Well, two things:

One, it turns out that Friends, an American sitcom that began airing in 1994 — a year before Draisaitl was born in Germany — is one of his all-time favourite shows.

And two, watching old Oilers games — as Draisaitl did when he sat down for Edmonton’s Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks back in the 2006 playoffs — only reminds him of what he’s missing this spring, as we all isolate indoors in the wake of COVID-19.

“It’s a little bit of a tease, I have to say,” Draisaitl said of the NHL Classics that are airing on Sportsnet. “You start to miss it even more.”

There is much to miss for Draisaitl — the consensus Hart Trophy winner and likely Art Ross winner as the NHL’s leading scorer — given the league’s pause. Not to mention the excellent chance he and his Oilers teammates had at making a playoff run, with the first Battle of Alberta in nearly 30 years a growing possibility for Round 1, as Edmonton sits in second place and Calgary third in the Pacific.

He is as frustrated as the rest of us, but Draisaitl is also aware enough to know that there are plenty of people with a lot bigger problems than a healthy 24-year-old who has risen to become one of the stars of today’s game — and is paid commensurate to that stature.

“It goes for everyone playing the game. If we don’t get to play the playoffs, it’s frustrating,” he said. “But the health of people at this time is more important. They’ve made the right decisions so far.”

To the fans, Draisaitl says he feels your pain.

“Stay positive. Stick with it — just like we are,” he said. “We all want to get back to playing as soon as possible, but right now there is one important thing in the world going on, and we have to accept that. Hopefully, we can get back to playing soon, and bring this thing into the playoffs.”

Draisaitl is staying in shape with a variety of methods. “Try to do something different every day. Try to stay fit. Go for runs. Do stairs. All kinds of different stuff.”

But honing his hockey skills, with every rink in Edmonton closed and the outdoor rinks unattended, hasn’t been easy. That’s where his Cavapoo named Bowie comes in.

“I try to dangle around my dog once in a while. I have a stick in the basement,” Draisaitl smiled. “But other than that there is not much opportunity for me to work on my skills.”

So this is where we are in the sports world: Leagues are hoping not to be forgotten in the waning hope that they may return to complete their seasons. Meanwhile, sportswriters are sitting at home in dire need of content.

So teams such as the Oilers are putting together video chats like the one that included Draisaitl sitting at home Monday, fidgeting with what he jokingly described as “stress balls,” a pair of golf ball-sized balls he fumbled with throughout Monday’s “Zoom conference.”

What did we learn other than the gem about his dog’s hockey skills and his affinity for Friends?

“I’ve been watching a lot of ‘This is Us,’” Draisaitl revealed. “Gosh, I’ve got a lot of time to watch movies and shows right now. I feel like watched pretty much everything.”

And while Connor McDavid had singled out teammate Zack Kassian last week as the one guy he would not want to be quarantined with, we heard Draisaitl say quite the opposite Monday.

“He doesn’t need much to make you laugh out of nothing.”

Draisaitl had thought about going home to his parents in Cologne, but “I don’t think it makes much sense for me to go there right now,” he decided. “Especially since it’s probably worse over there than it is here. I’m in a good place right now.”

Maybe it’s the serious German outlook, or perhaps the fact he has been away from home since he was a teenager, but Draisaitl has always come across as a thinker. And he’s been thinking about this new coronavirus, while doing puzzles and whiling away his time like the rest of us.

“It teaches us a little lesson,” he began. “You think about how many things you touch, how many germs are being spread all over. It’s tough that people pass away, that that has to be a part of it. At the same time, it is good for us that we see what the world can do if we’re not treating it the right way.

“Right now, it’s a tough time. But on one hand, it might be good for us.”

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NASCAR, Wallace respond to Presidents tweet – Yahoo Canada Shine On



President Trump on Monday asked on Twitter if an apology was forthcoming from NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace for his alleged role in what he termed a “hoax” two weeks ago at Talladega Superspeedway, adding that the sanctioning body’s decision to ban the confederate flag has hurt television ratings for its events.

None of these claims are true.

Wallace, the lone Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, embraced a widespread show of support from the stock-car racing industry and his fellow drivers two weeks ago after the discovery of a noose at his team’s assigned stall at Talladega Superspeedway. The rest of the Cup Series driver roster stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with Wallace on Talladega’s pit road after a crew member for his Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 team reported the noose’s presence to NASCAR officials that weekend.

The Birmingham office of the FBI launched an investigation, later determining that no hate crime had been committed against Wallace and that the garage pull had been tied into a noose since last fall’s events at the Alabama track. That prompted conspiracy theories and other allegations of wrongdoing on social media accusing NASCAR and/or Wallace of falsifying the timeline of events.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed those charges at a press conference June 25, stating: “Bubba Wallace and the 43 team had nothing to do with this.”

Wallace responded later Monday with his own statement, encouraging his followers to “keep your head held high” and saying in part that “always deal with the hate being thrown at you with LOVE! Love over hate every day. Love should come naturally as people are TAUGHT to hate. Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS. Love wins.”

Trump’s mention of the “Flag decision” refers to NASCAR’s June 10 decision to ban the confederate flag from its events and properties. That resolution came days after Wallace advocated for its removal and days after NASCAR drivers banded together for a video message speaking out for social justice in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others in the Black community.

Trump’s claim of “lowest ratings EVER” is false, unsupported by the facts of recent TV ratings data. NBC Sports on Monday said the NASCAR Cup Series’ Sunday event averaged a total audience of 4.37 million viewers, a 46 percent increase from last year’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway race and a 32 percent rise over the Daytona event held on the same weekend last year. Michael Mulvihill, FOX Sports executive vice president in charge of research and Nielsen ratings analysis, said his network’s ratings were up 8 percent since NASCAR racing resumed in May after the coronavirus outbreak.

NASCAR released its own statement Monday afternoon, saying “We are proud to have Bubba Wallace in the NASCAR family and we commend his courage and leadership. NASCAR continues to stand tall with Bubba, our competitors and everyone who makes our sport welcoming and inclusive for all racing fans.”

A spokesperson also reiterated the stance made by NASCAR President Steve Phelps on June 25: “Bubba has done nothing but represent this sport with courage, class and dignity and he stood tall for what he believes in.”

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Decade Deals: How other 10-year NFL contracts panned out – theScore



The Kansas City Chiefs are locking up Patrick Mahomes for the next decade, as the parties agreed Monday to a 10-year extension worth up to $503 million.

While such instances are rare, Mahomes isn’t the first recipient of a contract spanning 10-plus years. Here’s how the other decade-long deals panned out:

March 2001: Brett Favre gets 10 years, $100M from Packers

Favre didn’t anticipate playing beyond 2006 but took a 10-year deal at 31 to help Green Bay massage the salary cap. Though his best days were behind him, Favre still led the NFL in passing touchdowns once and gave the Packers four Pro Bowl seasons after signing the deal. The club made the playoffs five times over the next seven years, and Favre broke the NFL career passing touchdowns record in a Packers uniform.

Favre didn’t finish the contract in Green Bay, though, as he was traded to the New York Jets in 2008 after ending a brief retirement. The Jets released him in 2009 after he retired again, and he signed a fresh contract when he made a second comeback as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

March 2001: Drew Bledsoe gets 10 years, $103M from Patriots

Bledsoe was already regarded as the greatest quarterback in Patriots history by the time he signed his deal. And at 29, it appeared he was signing up to spend the rest of his career in New England. But Bledsoe played only two more games for the Patriots, as an injury in Week 2 of the 2001 season spelled the beginning of the Tom Brady era.

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Bledsoe helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl that year after relieving an injured Brady in the AFC Championship Game and collected a ring as Brady’s backup. Bill Belichick and Co. traded him to the Buffalo Bills that offseason with nine years left on his contract. While Bledsoe got off to a hot start with his new team, he fizzled the following season and was released after the 2004 campaign.

September 2002: Donovan McNabb gets 12 years, $115M from Eagles

McNabb owns the record for the longest contract in NFL history. At 26, he agreed to a 12-year pact with Philadelphia. The deal quickly paid dividends, as McNabb led the Eagles to a Super Bowl berth two years after signing. The Eagles were perennial contenders with McNabb, though they never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy or returned to the Big Game after the 2004 season.

Shockingly, the Eagles traded him to the Washington Redskins in 2010 with four years remaining on his contract. Though only 34, McNabb’s game fell off quickly in Washington, which made the five-year extension he received midway through the 2010 campaign a head-scratcher. He was relegated to third-string duties late in the season and was traded to the Vikings in July 2011. McNabb spent less than one miserable season in Minnesota before he was released, and he retired soon after.

May 2003: Daunte Culpepper gets 10 years, $102M from Vikings

One of the most exciting young quarterbacks in football at the time, Culpepper was 26 when he inked his extension. He immediately rewarded the Vikings with two of his best seasons. In 2004, Culpepper established a new NFL record for total yards by a quarterback, racking up 5,123. He led the league in passing that year with over 4,700 yards.

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty

But he got off to a horrid start in 2005, and in late October, he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL. The Vikings shipped him to the Miami Dolphins, who were more encouraged by his injury outlook than that of Drew Brees. Culpepper struggled with the Dolphins and was released after one year, with six seasons remaining on his contract. The three-time Pro Bowler had forgettable stints with the Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions before exiting the NFL for good.

December 2004: Michael Vick gets 10 years, $130M from Falcons

Atlanta gave a 24-year-old Vick, perhaps the most electrifying quarterback the NFL had ever seen, the richest contract in league history. Vick steered the Falcons to the NFC divisional round that year and appeared to be ascending, but he plateaued. While he became the first quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season in 2006, his lack of progress as a passer kept him from joining the top echelon of quarterbacks and the Falcons from becoming a Super Bowl threat.

Everything came crashing down in the summer of 2007, as Vick was arrested for his role in a dogfighting ring and spent most of the next two years in prison. The Falcons recovered nearly $20 million in arbitration, and the signal-caller signed with the Eagles upon returning to professional football.

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Blue Jays’ 60-game schedule for the abbreviated 2020 MLB regular season – Bluebird Banter



Major League Baseball chose to unveil their 2020 schedule on MLB Network with MLB Tonight: Schedule Release by Camping World®. For some reason, that show conveniently skipped over the Blue Jays’ schedules (along with others) even though they had a lot of talking. That left us to try to piece together the schedule from other teams’ releases until the Blue Jays finally made their own announcement.

Blue Jays baseball is scheduled to return at 6:40 pm on July 24 against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

It is still unclear where these games will be held, but the Blue Jays will open their home schedule on July 29 against the Washington Nationals as a second half of a home-and-home. The Jays then host the Phillies then the Marlins—meaning the first American League team to visit will be the Rays on the weekend of August 14.

If they do get to play in Toronto, the only place to see live baseball games will likely be in one of the field-view suites at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel, which is attached to the Rogers Centre. While rooms are available to be booked, it is not clear whether fans will actually be permitted to occupy them as both Blue Jays and visiting personnel are to be set up in there.

The Blue Jays will not be playing on the August 3 Civic Holiday but will be at home hosting the Yankees on Labour Day. The 2020 regular season will end with a seven-game homestand against the Yankees and Orioles. Actually, the Blue Jays will play their entire 10-game schedule against the Yankees in September.

September 27 is the final day of the regular season, and all games, including the Baltimore-Toronto tilt is scheduled to begin at around 3 pm ET.

All home games Monday through Saturday are scheduled to start at 6:37 pm, with Sunday games starting at 3:07 pm.he only exception is the game on Monday, August 31 against Baltimore, when first pitch will be at 2:07 pm. Toronto will not have an off day between August 21 and September 9, playing 20 games in 20 days.

You can explore the schedule in detail at

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