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Report: NHL Expected to Approve 24-Team Playoff Format – Sports Illustrated

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The NHL Players Association is set to approve a proposal for a 24-team, conference-based playoff format, according to a report from TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

The agreement does not involve a timetable for when hockey will return to play, but rather the format the league will adopt once that time comes. McKenzie expects the proposal to receive the necessary 18 out of 31 team votes to be approved. The decision doesn’t guarantee that hockey will return, as the league and players union still need to negotiate other details, including health and safety protocols.

The NHLPA later announced that its executive board has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format, subject to reaching an overall agreement with the league on resuming the season.

McKenzie describes the discussions as getting “heated” at times, with individual players having varying opinions on the proposed structure. Under this plan, the top four seeds in each conference will receive byes into the second round, based on where things stood when the NHL suspended its season on March 12.

Under that framework, the top four Eastern Conference teams would be the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. In the West, the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars would grab the top four spots.

“I feel like if you’re doing the 24-team thing, it basically gives a team a chance that had no chance of making it, which if you play 82 there’s maybe 6, 8% chance that the team in 12th place (in the conference) makes it,” Carolina player representative Jordan Martinook said Wednesday. “Nobody’s ever seen this before, but at the end of the day, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are 16 teams, seven games a series.”

The remaining 16 playoff teams would face off in five-game series for the first round. All remaining series would be best-of-seven games.

According to Reuters, the league plans on using hub cities, rather than teams’ home sites, once the plan receives approval. Games would be played with no fans in attendance.

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Hall of Famer Unseld dead at 74 – TSN

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Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Wes Unseld has died at the age of 74 after a bout of pneumonia, the Washington Wizards announced on Tuesday.

The Louisville native spent all 13 of his NBA seasons with the Baltimore/Washington Bullets franchise.

“He was the rock of our family – an extremely devoted patriarch who reveled in being with his wife, children, friends and teammates,” Unseld’s family said in a statement. “He was our hero and loved playing and working around the game of basketball for the cities of Baltimore and Washington D.C., cities he proudly wore on his chest for so many years.”

Unseld appeared in a Bullets/Wizards franchise record 984 games, averaging 10.8 points and 14.8 rebounds over his career.

Taken with the second pick of the 1968 NBA Draft out of Louisville, Unseld, a five-time All-Star, won both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in 1969.

“We all admired Wes as the pillar of this franchise for so long, but it was his work off the court that will truly leave an impactful legacy and live on through the many people he touched and influenced throughout his life of basketball and beyond,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said in a statement.

Upon his retirement, Unseld joined the organization’s front office, becoming the team’s vice-president in 1981. In 1988, Unseld became the Bullets head coach, resigning in 1994.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988 and to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Poll: Canadians OK with being benched as NHL playoff venue – Sports – Castanet.net

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It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.

Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.

The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn’t important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.

The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel.

The survey was conducted May 29 to 31 among 1,536 Canadians and 1,002 Americans, 18 or older, who were randomly recruited from an online panel.

The hockey question, limited to Canadian respondents, revealed 24 per cent felt it was very important for a Canadian city to play host, while 20 per cent said it was somewhat important.

Thirty-five per cent said it was not important at all, 12 per cent felt it was somewhat unimportant and nine per cent didn’t know.

The fact the NHL plans to bar spectators from the stands during playoff games due to COVID-19 “probably cooled off a few respondents,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

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FIFA calls on organizers not to sanction in-game gestures supporting George Floyd – CBC.ca

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FIFA urged soccer competition organizers on Monday to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players for solidarity with George Floyd during matches.

The recognition of the “depth of sentiment” over Floyd’s death came in a rare statement by FIFA telling the global game to show flexibility and not enforce laws of soccer it helps to set.

Players used weekend games in Germany to reveal messages demanding justice for Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after he pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck in Minneapolis.

Germany’s soccer federation announced earlier Monday that it was assessing whether to sanction the players for breaking laws of the game that prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.

WATCH | German league players show support for George Floyd:

During Sunday’s Bundesliga action, Marcus Thuram takes a knee and Jadon Sancho unveils a shirt that says ‘Justice For George Floyd’. 0:40

“FIFA fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case,” the governing body said in a statement.

“The application of the laws of the game approved by the IFAB is left for the competitions’ organisers, which should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”

FIFA controls half of the eight votes on the International Football Association Board, with the other four held by England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. A law change in 2014 — proposed by England — led to players being banned from revealing personal statements on undergarments.

England winger Jadon Sancho was booked while playing for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for removing his jersey — a yellow-card offence — only so he could reveal a T-shirt with a “Justice for George Floyd” message.

WATCH | Canadian athletes speak against racism:

Canadian athletes have been speaking out against racism and for change, including tennis youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, basketball legend Steve Nash, and Olympians Kia Nurse, Karina LeBlanc and Perdita Felicien 2:38

Borussia Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi displayed the same message on a T-shirt after scoring in the same game on Sunday but was not booked because he did not lift his jersey over his head.

Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck. Three other officers were also at the scene. Chauvin has been charged with murder and all four were fired.

In the Bundesliga on Saturday, American midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband over his Schalke jersey with the handwritten message “Justice for George,” and Borussia Mönchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram took a knee after scoring for Borussia Mönchengladbach in another game.

On Monday, after the Deutscher Fussball-Bund said it was assessing the players’ actions, Cologne forward Anthony Modeste became the latest to make a gesture after scoring against Leipzig. He stood briefly with his right palm facing out and his left palm facing in to display the darker skin on the back of his hand.

Cologne said it was “a clear signal” against racism from Modeste.

WATCH | ESPN’s Howard Bryant reflects on Kaepernick’s preaceful protest:

ESPN senior writer Howard Bryant on the death of George Floyd and the resulting civil unrest. 4:19

DFB president Fritz Keller on Monday showed his respect and understanding for McKennie, Thuram, Sancho and Hakimi’s gestures.

“If people are discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, it is unbearable. If they die because of their skin colour, then I am deeply distraught,” Keller said in a DFB statement. “The victims of racism need all of us to show solidarity.”

The expressions of protest are being investigated by the German soccer federation’s control body.

“As is the case internationally,” federation vice-president Rainer Koch said, “the game itself should remain free of political statements or messages of any kind.”

FIFA’s awareness of the depth of feeling over the racial inequalities highlighted by Floyd’s death comes amid ongoing criticism soccer is not doing enough to eradicate or punish racism.

“FIFA had repeatedly expressed itself to be resolutely against racism and discrimination of any kind and recently strengthened its own disciplinary rules with a view to helping to eradicate such behaviours,” the Zurich-based governing body said. “FIFA itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices.”

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