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Pacioretty says would be 'hardest Stanley Cup to win' for Golden Knights – NHL.com

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Max Pacioretty said this would be the most difficult Stanley Cup to win if the NHL season is able to resume and determine a champion.

“I think this will be the hardest Stanley Cup to win out of all of them. Look at all the obstacles,” the Vegas Golden Knights forward told their website in an interview published Saturday. “Who knows when we’re going to play, where, fans or no fans, everything is up in the air.

“With that being said, whatever teams that have been banged up are healing up right now. They’re getting their bodies ready, and you better believe everyone around the League is trying to get every advantage possible in terms of recovery and getting in whatever shape they can. Most teams go into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] beat up, but that won’t be the case this year. Guys are going to be healthy and teams are going to be able to show their true forms with pretty much every player on the roster.

“For me, I look at it as this will be one of the most special playoffs since I can remember. Teams aren’t going to have any excuses. It’s going to be your full team ready to rock and ready to go.”

There is no timetable for the NHL to return after the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Vegas (39-24-8) leads the Pacific Division trying to make the playoffs for a third straight season since joining the NHL. The Golden Knights reached the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season, losing to the Washington Capitals.

Pacioretty, in his second season with Vegas, said he believes the Golden Knights are a contender for the championship. They are 15-5-2 since Peter DeBoer took over as coach after Gerard Gallant was fired Jan. 15, and won 11 of the final 13 games before play was stopped.

“We were playing some very, very good hockey up until the pause,” Pacioretty said. “That’s with injuries, key guys out, a coaching change and learning new systems. We were playing some very strong hockey, probably by far our best since I’ve been here. That being said, it’s up to us as players to come back after this break and pick up where we left off. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to do so. Teams are going to have a little bit more time to study the way we’ve been playing. Coaches are probably going to look at tape of other teams right now and try to pick up habits. It’s really important we pick up where we left off and start up even stronger again. …

“We really like the team that we have. We feel they’ve done a great job of addressing every need to give us the resources and players to go compete for the ultimate prize. Now it’s up to us to do it.”

Video: VGK@CGY: Pacioretty strikes on power play

Pacioretty leads Vegas with 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) in 71 games this season. He would have been sidelined by a lower-body injury if play was not interrupted and said he is working to be ready if the season restarts.

“I mean, if we had to wait six months and play in Antarctica, I’d be willing to do that,” the 31-year-old said. “We have a special group. We want to do whatever we can to finish out this year because we feel we have a group that’s capable of doing special things and it’s up to us as a group to try and achieve that when we do get started.”

Pacioretty played his first 10 NHL seasons for the Montreal Canadiens. He was traded to Vegas before last season for forwards Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar and a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Pacioretty said a long playoff run would help the community, much as it did in 2018 following a mass shooting in the city.

“If we can take any motivation from this to give people hope, something to cheer for, help people out economically by bringing people to Vegas in the future and getting excited for our team. That motivates us as players,” he said. “I think we have a special bond here with our fans and the city. It motivates us as players to do what we can to win for both ourselves and teammates, but also the people in Las Vegas, the fans that have been genuinely behind us since Day One.”

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Spurs’ Gregg Popovich: U.S. ‘is in trouble and the basic reason is race’ – Sportsnet.ca

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Amid the marches and the protests, amid the pain, amid the generational trauma this moment in history has forced communities across the world to openly reckon with, a spotlight has shone bright on the need to listen and learn.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sees that spotlight. He sees that need for learning. And he knows that what must be learnt is not just what is happening in the streets across the United States now, but the history that preceded it. To see one without the other would be to miss the essential full picture.

“Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years,” Popovich said Saturday during a #SpursVoices video, a Twitter-based initiative by the team to give a voice and platform to people within their organization to share how racism has impacted them. “The only reason this nation has made the progress that it has is because of the persistence, and patience, and effort of Black people.

“The history of our nation from the very beginning, in many ways, was a lie. And we continue to this day — mostly Black and Brown people — to try to make that lie be truth so that it is no longer a lie.”

In the three-minute video, Popovich does not expand on the specific history he is labeling a lie, though possibilities are not hard to find.

The preamble to the Declaration of Independence, for example, written in 1776, reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Pledge of Allegiance, in its original form, read: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In 1923, the words “the Flag of the United States of America” were added to the beginning of the pledge.

Longstanding notions of all men being created equal with certain unalienable rights, and the U.S. being one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all are challenging to reconcile with history.

The United States had 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow — laws which mandated racial segregation in all public facilities, starting in the 1870s and 1880s, and sought to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by Blacks during the Reconstruction period — and 60 years of “separate but equal,” a legal doctrine that asserted racial segregation did not necessarily violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed “equal protection” under the law to all people. None of which even begins to address discriminatory housing policies or explicitly touches on the history of Black people suffering from police brutality.

“It’s almost, in a strange counter-intuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this most recent tragedy,” Popovich said. “I think [it was] the look on the officer’s face. For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, how just everyday-going-about-his-job [he looked]. So much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson, and it was his right and his duty to do it in his mind.”

The abhorent incident Popovich is referencing is, of course, the death of George Floyd.

Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast about how COVID-19 is impacting sports around the world. They talk to experts, athletes and personalities, offering a window into the lives of people we normally root for in entirely different ways.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis. The incident, which was captured on video, showed Floyd pinned to the ground with his hands cuffed and Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin – who was identified as the primary officer in the video – with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes.

In the video, Floyd can be heard saying that he couldn’t breathe, and later paramedics are seen lifting an apparently non-responsive Floyd onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.

An independent autopsy has since found that Floyd’s death was caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain. After the graphic video circulated widely on social media, the four officers involved in the incident were fired and Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded Chauvin’s charge to second-degree murder on Wednesday, and charged the three other officers on the scene with aiding and abetting.

“I don’t know,” Popovich said, visibly hurt by the recollection of the video. “I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen, to actually watch a lynching. We’ve all seen books. And you look in the books and you see Black people hanging on trees. And you are amazed that we just saw it again. I never thought I’d see that with my own eyes in real time.”

The dismay and outrage Popovich felt has been shared by many, as protests continue across the U.S., sparked by the death of Floyd, denouncing systemic racism and acts of police brutality. The protests have not been for Floyd exclusively, though. Popovich is aware of that, too.

“What’s it gonna take,” he wonders in the video. “Two more Black people with knees in their necks?”

Though she did not die due to a knee in her neck, protests have also featured calls for justice for Breonna Taylor, an African-American woman who died on March 13 after Louisville police officers — executing a search warrant — used a battering ram to enter her apartment and, after a brief confrontation, fired several shots, striking her at least eight times. At this time, no charges have been filed against the officers.

“It’s like the gun [control] arguments,” Popovich said when grappling with how American can build a better, safer future. “How many more Sandy Hooks do we need to have? It’s easy for people to let things go because it doesn’t involve them. It’s like the neighbourhood where you know there’s a dangerous corner, and you know that something is going to happen some day and nobody does anything. Then a young kid gets killed and a stop sign goes up.

“Well, without getting too political, we’ve got a lot of stop signs that need to go up. Quickly. Because our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”

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UFC 250 salaries: Amanda Nunes easily tops card, could make $450k – MMA Fighting

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Early salaries have been released for the UFC 250 card, and Amanda Nunes is the biggest earner out of the gate.

The two-division champ take home a guaranteed $350,000 and stands to make up to $450,000 if she defends her featherweight title against Felicia Spencer, who could make $200,000 with an upset, according to preliminary salaries released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Ex-bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt is the second-highest earner in terms of guaranteed money, making $130,000 to show – and double that for a win – in a bout against Raphael Assuncao, who’s show and win pay is $79,000.

Here is the full list of UFC 250 payouts. As always, these figures do not represent a fighter’s total earnings, as certain sponsorship incomes, pay-per-view bonuses, or discretionary post-fight bonuses are not publicly disclosed.

Main card (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

Amanda Nunes ($350,000 to show, $100,000 to win) vs. Felicia Spencer ($125,000 to show, $75,000 to win)

Raphael Assuncao ($79,000 to show, $79,000 to win) vs. Cody Garbrandt ($130,000 to show, $130,000 to win)

Aljamain Sterling ($76,000 to show, $76,000 to win) vs. Cory Sandhagen ($80,000 to show, $80,000 to win)

Neil Magny ($79,000 to show, $79,000 to win) vs. Rocco Martin ($48,000 to show, $48,000 to win)

Sean O’Malley ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win) vs. Eddie Wineland ($46,000 to show, $46,000 to win)

Preliminary Card (ESPN and ESPN +, 8 p.m. ET)

Chase Hooper ($27,000 to show, $27,000 to win) vs. Alex Caceres ($58,000 to show, $58,000 to win)

Gerald Meerschaert ($33,000 to show, $33,000 to win) vs. Ian Heinisch ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win)

Cody Stamann ($36,000 to show, $36,000 to win) vs. Brian Kelleher ($33,000 to show, $33,000 to win)

Charles Byrd ($12,000 to show, $12,000 to win) vs. Maki Pitolo ($10,000 to show, $10,000 to win)

Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)

Jussier Formiga ($49,000 to show, $49,000 to win) vs. Alex Perez ($40,000 to show, $40,000 to win)

Alonzo Menifield ($14,000 to show, $14,000 to win) vs. Devin Clark ($48,000 to show, $48,000 to win)

Evan Dunham ($60,000 to show, $60,000 to win) vs. Herbert Burns ($12,000 to show, $12,000 to win)

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NBPA approves 22-team format to resume NBA season – Sportsnet.ca

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The National Basketball Players Association has signed off on the 22-team, return-to-play format for the NBA, the union announced in a statement Friday.

The NBPA said its Board of Player Representatives has approved further negotiations on the plan with the league and various details still need to be hashed out.

“The acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play,” the statement reads.

The league’s Board of Governors approved the proposal for restarting the 2019-20 season on Thursday. The plan would see the campaign resume next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla.

The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports that other aspects of the return-to-play plan were discussed by the NBPA on a call with its Board and Player Representatives on Friday afternoon, including:

• Two to three exhibition tilts before the regular season

• A maximum of 1,600 people on the Disney World campus

• Daily COVID-19 testing and a minimum seven-day quarantine if a player is found positive

• The NBA will continue to play if a player contracts the novel coronavirus

• Players and family must stay inside the bubble

• Potential manufactured crowd noise using NBA 2K video game sound

• A proposed 35-person travel party limit

• Potential three-hour practice windows for teams

• No blood tests in Orlando for substances that fall under the league’s anti-drug policy.

The NBPA reportedly also said players will receive their full paycheques after taking a 25 per cent reduction in May.

Additionally, Charania reports that the union told players a Dec. 1 start to the ’20-21 campaign is “unlikely” and it plans to negotiate the date.

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