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Seven questions ahead of the NFL Draft – TSN

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The NFL Draft is just two days away and while it will be a lot different this year – the whole thing will be conducted virtually rather than in Las Vegas as it was scheduled to be before the COVID-19 pandemic hit – there is still a lot to get excited about.

Watch the first round of the NFL Draft live on TSN Thursday starting with preshow coverage at 7pm et/4pm pt.

With the pre-draft process concluded and teams’ draft boards set, TSN.ca takes a look at seven questions ahead of the NFL Draft.

Will a team trade up to select Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa?

Palmer: After Burrow, Tua is the best quarterback in the draft

There is so much uncertainty surrounding quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his true value heading into the NFL Draft. Should he be considered a top five pick? TSN Football analyst Jesse Palmer shares his thoughts and explains why the Dolphins should snag him if he’s available.

Quarterbacks are always at a premium in the NFL Draft and if the top-ranked Joe Burrow goes first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals as expected, Tagovailoa will be next in line at the position when Washington is on the clock at second overall.

The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers, who select fifth and sixth overall respectively, are both in need of long-term solutions at the quarterback position and it’s hard to see Tagovailoa falling past both of them. So any team looking at Tua will likely have to jump to fourth overall at the latest to get him.

Washington, the Detroit Lions, and New York Giants select second, third, and fourth and should keep their phone lines open before submitting their picks.

Where will Utah State QB Jordan Love be selected?

There seems to be a fairly solid consensus on where the top three quarterbacks in the draft will be selected: Burrow is likely to go first overall to the Bengals, Tagovailoa somewhere in the Top 5, and Justin Herbert somewhere in the Top 10.

And then there’s Jordan Love, whose name has been all over the first round during mock draft season. Love could go as high as the top 10 or he could have to wait until the latter stages of the first round to hear his name called.

If Burrow, Tagovailoa, and Herbert land where expected, a couple teams with a potential need at quarterback worth keeping an eye on are the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold the ninth and 20th pick, and the New England Patriots, who hold the 23rd pick. Which brings us to our next question…

Will the New England Patriots draft a quarterback in the first round?

For the first time in 20 years the Patriots don’t have an All-Pro behind centre for next season. Tom Brady’s presence hasn’t stopped head coach Bill Belichick from drafting a QB in the past, most notably taking Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round in 2014, but with Brady now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the need appears to have increased.

The answer to this question likely comes down to how Belichick really feels about Jarett Stidham, the Pats’ fourth round selection from a year ago he is reportedly high on.

Belichick also has a reputation for draft day trades and loves trading down to accumulate more picks. Sitting at 23rd overall heading into the draft, the Pats are at best on the outer limits of landing one of the sure-fire first round QBs, and any trade down would certainly push them to the second tier at the position where they’d be looking at names like Washington’s Jacob Eason and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts.

How many wide receivers will be taken in the first round?

It has been said by more than one NFL general manager that this year’s class of wide receivers could be historically good. And not just in the first round, but through the first three rounds the draft is loaded with potential star receivers.

The record for most receivers taken in the first round is seven, which occurred in 2004, and there seems to be the talent available this year to challenge that number. That year, however, three receivers were taken in the top 10: Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams, and Reggie Williams. With the expected run on quarterbacks and offensive linemen early in the draft this year, it’s unlikely three receivers, and maybe not even one, will go that early. Things should get started, at the latest, between picks 11-13, where three receiver-needy teams in the New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders, and San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to make selections.

Top prospects Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III all appear to be locks to go in the first round, with Justin Jefferson likely to hear his name called Thursday as well. Then what follows is a group of five to seven receivers who could go in the first round or could fall to the second, names that include Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, and Denzel Mims. It will be up to that group to prove to teams this year deserves to make draft day history.

Will there be a running back selected in the first round?

First round running backs aren’t quite the scourge they used to be, with high picks like Todd Gurley (10th overall, 2015), Ezekiel Elliott (4th overall, 2016), and Saquon Barkley (2nd overall, 2018) doing their part to restore their position’s reputation on the first day of the draft.

But we’re coming off a year when only one running back was taken in the first round in Josh Jacobs, taken 24th overall by the Oakland Raiders. But he, too, justified his first round slot with a strong rookie season last year.

While there’s definitely no Gurley, Elliott, or Barkley in this year’s draft, there could be a Jacobs or two. Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, Ohio State’s JK Dobbins, and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor all have late first round grades and with first round running backs now more acceptable, at least one of the three should find a home Thursday night.

How will the virtual draft affect things?

There have been some ‘doomsday’ predictions since it was announced the entire NFL Draft would be conducted virtually, things like the wifi going down and teams missing picks. But this isn’t your buddies’ fantasy football draft and with multimillion-dollar decisions on the line, bank on organizations being prepared and having more than a few failsafes in place from a technology standpoint. From a scouting standpoint on the other hand…

The NFL conducted a practice draft Monday and while there was reportedly a few early glitches, the whole process was smoother as it went along.

It will be interesting to look at this draft a couple years down the road and compare it to others, ones when scouts had full access to prospects and teams had an uninterrupted pre-draft process, to see if the picks turned out more or less successful.

Will there be any surprises in the first round?

Yes, there always are. Here’s a few that have been bouncing around the pre-draft rumour mill:

Could Washington select QB Tua Tagovailoa?

All this talk about a team trading up for Tagovailoa but maybe Washington makes it all moot by grabbing him second overall. The idea seems a bit farfetched considering Washington selected a QB in the first round in 2019 in Dwayne Haskins. But the team has a new coaching staff, Haskins struggled in his rookie year, and this very scenario happened in last year’s draft when the Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray first overall one year after taking Josh Rosen 10th overall.

Could Henry Ruggs go off the board before Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb?

It’s a three horse race to be the first wide receiver selected this year and while Jeudy and Lamb seem to have the pre-draft edge, Ruggs offers teams something different than the two: a potential Tyreek Hill-like playmaker that can be utilized all over the field.

Will CJ Henderson rise up draft boards?

The consensus second best cornerback in the draft behind Jeffrey Okudah, Henderson has landed in the late teens or 20s in most mock drafts and big boards until recently. CBs are like QBs – teams sometimes reach for them.

Was Jalen Hurts’ Combine performance good enough to convince a team to take him in the first round?

Hurts was a Heisman finalist at Oklahoma last year but it wasn’t until the Combine, when he impressed both on the field and in interviews, that he started shooting up draft boards. Likely now at least a second round pick after starting the pre-draft process as a third-rounder, Hurts could find himself in the top five at his position, which might be enough to sneak into the first round.

Will a Canadian be selected in the first round?

There are two highly-ranked Canadian prospects  this year in wide receiver Chase Claypool and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. Claypool is in tough to land in the first round because of the loaded receiver class but Gallimore, in a thinner defensive line class, has an outside chance.

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MLBPA reaffirms pay stance, no deal close – TSN

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NEW YORK — Baseball players reaffirmed their stance for full prorated pay, leaving a huge gap with teams that could scuttle plans to start the coronavirus-delayed season around the Fourth of July and may leave owners focusing on a schedule as short as 50 games.

More than 100 players, including the union’s executive board, held a two-hour digital meeting with officials of the Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday, a day after the union’s offer was rejected by Major League Baseball.

“Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless players negotiate salary concessions,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon. This threat came in response to an association proposal aimed at charting a path forward.”

“Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless players agree to further salary reductions,” Clark added.

Players originally were set to earn about $4 billion in 2020 salaries, exclusive of guaranteed money such as signing bonuses, termination pay and option buyouts. The union’s plan would cut that to around $2.8 billion and management to approximately $1.2 billion plus a $200 million bonus pool if the post-season is completed.

MLB last week proposed an 82-game season with an additional sliding scale of pay cuts that would leave a player at the $563,500 minimum with 47% of his original salary and top stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole at less than 22% of the $36 million they had been set to earn.

Players countered Sunday with a plan for a 114-game regular season with no pay cuts beyond the prorated salaries they agreed to on March 26. That would leave each player with about 70% of his original pay.

MLB rejected that Wednesday, when Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem wrote in a letter to union chief negotiator Bruce Meyer informing him “we do not have any reason to believe that a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible.”

“Nonetheless, the commissioner is committed to playing baseball in 2020,” Halem said in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. “He has started discussions with ownership about staging a shorter season without fans.”

Management officials have said they are considering a slate of perhaps 50 games or fewer. There has not been a schedule averaging fewer than 82 games per team since 1879.

“The overwhelming consensus of the board is that players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well,” Clark said in a statement. “The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.”

Baseball’s March 26 deal allows games if there are no government restrictions on playing in front of fans and no relevant travel limitations. The sides agreed to “discuss in good faith” the economic feasibility of playing in empty ballparks, which appears to be the likely option.

MLB says that without fans it would average a loss of $640,000 for each additional game played. The union disputes the teams’ financial figures.

Teams also worry about a second wave of the new coronavirus this fall and don’t want to play past October, fearing $787 million in broadcast revenue for the post-season could be lost. MLB proposed expanding the playoffs from 10 teams to 14, which would generate additional broadcast rights to sell, and players have offered to guarantee the larger playoffs for both 2020 and 2021.

While baseball has reverted to the economic bickering that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the NBA announced plans Thursday to resume its regular season with 22 teams on July 31, the NHL is moving ahead with plans for an expanded Stanley Cup playoffs this summer and MLS is planning to have teams return with a tournament in July.

“In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, players want nothing more than to get back to work,” Clark said. “But we cannot do this alone.”

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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NBA Board of Governors approves competitive format to restart 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play – NBA CA

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4h ago


NBA

NEW YORK, June 4, 2020 – The NBA Board of Governors today approved a competitive format to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play and a tentative start date of Friday, July 31. The Board’s approval is the first formal step among many required to resume the season.

The NBA is working to finalize a comprehensive season restart plan with the National Basketball Players Association. The NBA and the NBPA are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices. The season restart is also contingent on an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, as a single site for a campus for all games, practices and housing for the remainder of the season.

Based on the competitive format that the NBA Board of Governors approved today, the 22 returning teams would be the 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences. Those two groups comprise teams with the NBA’s 22 best records.

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

The season restart would begin with eight “seeding games” for each returning team and include the possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth and final playoff seed in each conference depending on combined records across regular-season games and seeding games. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs would proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The NBA Finals would end no later than Oct. 12. (See below for the list of returning teams and additional details.)

If, as tentatively scheduled, the season resumes on July 31, then the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery would be rescheduled for Aug. 25, the 2020 NBA Draft would be held on Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin on Dec. 1, 2020.

The 14 NBA Lottery teams would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs. These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11. The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.

NBA Season Restart: Competitive Format Plan

The 22 returning teams for the season restart would be the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards from the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns from the Western Conference.

Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.

If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best record would earn the eighth playoff seed.

If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference (Team A) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference (Team B), then Teams A and B would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed. To earn the eighth playoff seed, Team A would need to defeat Team B once and Team B would need to defeat Team A two games in a row.

The 2019-20 season would conclude with a traditional playoff format with best-of-seven series in the first round, conference semifinals, conference finals and the NBA Finals.

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Hockey Canada lifts ban on sanctioned activities, lets members decide on return – CBC.ca

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Hockey Canada has lifted its ban on sanctioned activities and is allowing the country’s 13 member organizations to individually determine when it’s safe to return to action.

The move is a first step toward resuming play after Hockey Canada cancelled all activities under its banner March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hockey Canada said in a statement the best approach for a resumption plan was for each member to work with regional public health authorities to determine the appropriate steps to return in areas that fall under their jurisdiction.

The sport’s national body said it expects the timing for a return to the ice will differ among its members. Certain regions of the country are further along with plans to reopen and roll back restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Hockey Canada’s 13 members are: BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, Saskatchewan Hockey Association, Hockey Manitoba, Hockey Northwestern Ontario, Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Eastern Ontario, Hockey Quebec, Hockey New Brunswick, Hockey PEI, Hockey Nova Scotia, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador, and Hockey North.

Melody Davidson leaves Hockey Canada

Decorated women’s hockey coach Melody Davidson has joined Own The Podium as a summer-sport adviser.

She coached the Canadian women’s hockey team to Olympic gold in both 2006 and 2010.

Davidson switched to a managerial role overseeing Canada to another gold medal in 2014 and a silver in 2018.

She then remained with Hockey Canada as women’s head scout while mentoring former player Gina Kingsbury to take over as director of national women’s teams.

Davidson coached Canada in four world championships and won gold twice.

Melody Davidson took the Canadian women to gold medals at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The 57-year-old from Oyen, Alta., also served as the International Ice Hockey Federation’s lead coaching mentor to improve the international women’s game following the 2010 Winter Olympics.

She’s been involved in women’s hockey for a quarter-century starting with the 1995 Canada Games, when she stood behind Alberta’s bench.

Davidson was named to the Canadian Women and Sport’s most influential women’s list five straight years from 2007 to 2011.

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