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The CFL killed its season today. Will you miss it? –



The Canadian Football League has officially turned the page on playing a shortened season in 2020.

“Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future,” said Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. “We are absolutely committed to 2021, to the future of our league and the pursuit of our vision of a bigger, stronger, more global CFL.”

The league was looking to get a $30-million, interest-free loan from Ottawa which they made a formal request for on Aug. 3 in order to hold an abbreviated 2020 season during the COVID-19 pandemic. But on Sunday, the plan fell through after an agreement with the government could not be reached.

Season ticket holders can expect to hear soon from their clubs with news on how they can apply their deposits to next season or other offers.

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Cup Final bubble downtime takes focus off hockey for Lightning, Stars –



He explained there was a guy named Jimmy with NHL Studios who had been following him around. Jimmy had been in a band called Monster Magnet, which had a song at the end of the movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

“The running joke was, you’ve got to wear a T-shirt at a press conference if you make the Stanley Cup Final,” Cooper said. “And so we made the Stanley Cup Final, and I’m owning up to Jimmy.”

The Lightning and the Dallas Stars are even in the best-of-7 series entering Game 3 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the hub city for the Cup Final, on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The story of the T-shirt isn’t really about the T-shirt. It’s a window into Cooper and his personality, and more importantly, it’s a window into the bubble and the bond between everyone in it: players, coaches, staff, everyone.

Jimmy — aka Jimmy Bags — is Jim Baglino, a sound technician who is working on “Quest for the Stanley Cup,” the six-part, all-access series with new episodes at 6 p.m. ET each Wednesday on ESPN+ in the United States and YouTube in Canada.

Baglino has worked the Cup Final so many times he can’t remember — 14 or 15, he thinks. This Cup Final is unlike any other.

“This is by far the most bizarre,” Baglino said. “I don’t know if bizarre is the right word.”

After the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the League returned with an unprecedented 24-team tournament in bubbles and no fans in the stands.

The Lightning started in Toronto on July 26 and traveled to Edmonton when they made the Eastern Conference Final. The Stars started in Edmonton on July 26 and have been there ever since.

The members of each team have been going through the same experience as everyone working alongside them: COVID-19 testing, strict safety protocols, hotel life, restaurant meals, isolation from family and friends and the rest of the outside world.

“Everybody’s in it together,” Baglino said. “You see Dallas sitting over here. They’re having lunch. The Tampa guys are over here. I’m walking across the yard the other day. I run into [Cooper] coming from the food truck. I go get a coffee, and I see [Dallas coach Rick Bowness] having a coffee. It’s a unique experience.”

Everyone has a job to do as a professional, but everyone is a person with a life outside of work too.

“Players, coaches, everybody’s focused,” Baglino said. “We’re focused on what we’re doing. But there is that downtime where normally you go home, but you’re here. You have that downtime together a lot, and that’s when you start talking about non-hockey-related stuff.”

Baglino gets to know the players, coaches and officials well, because he helps mic them for sound. He has worked a lot with Cooper in the past. He followed Dallas and Tampa Bay in the conference finals and is following Tampa Bay in the Cup Final.

He likes to talk about music. He toured with Monster Magnet in the 1990s as a tech, and when the bass player left in the early 2000s, he became the bassist. He retired from touring about four years ago.

Turns out, Cooper likes to talk about music too.

One day recently, Cooper was talking about bands he knew, and Baglino mentioned he had been in Monster Magnet.

“He’s a thorough guy when it comes to hockey or when it comes to other things,” Baglino said. “So he kind of looked into it, and I think he kind of dug it a little bit.”

Long story short, the Lightning ordered a Monster Magnet T-shirt and had it shipped to the bubble. Cooper told Baglino that if Tampa Bay made the Cup Final, he would wear it. Baglino said he’d hold him to it.

Video: Bowness, Cooper deliver pregame speeches for SCF Gm1

After the Lightning defeated the Stars 3-2 in Game 2 on Monday, eventually the camera and the microphone turned off.

“I was like, ‘Where’s the Monster Magnet shirt, man?'” Baglino said. “I was kind of razzing him a little bit about it. He’s like, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to wear it.’ I’m like, ‘I’m holding you to it.'”

Cooper was good on his word. He wore the shirt to the press conference. Of course, it was a magnet for the media, and a reporter asked about it a couple minutes in. Cooper said he would circle back.

He was good on his word then too. At the end of the press conference, he volunteered the story, thinking Baglino was there to see it. The only problem was, for once, Baglino wasn’t there.

“I think it’s his first press conference that I missed, and it was the one that he wore that,” Baglino said with a laugh. “I may have to get him to wear it again.”

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Oilers, Maple Leafs could learn from how current Lightning roster is built –



EDMONTON — In Edmonton’s fantasy world, the Art Ross, the Hart and the Norris trophies are all followed sequentially by the Stanley Cup.

In Toronto’s master plan, the spreadsheet spits out a cheat code that magically produces an offensive high-wire act, fabulously concluding with a parade down Bay Street.

That’s how the Tampa Bay Lightning used to approach things too.

“We used to be a team that wasn’t good enough to beat you 3-0. We had to beat you 9-0,” began Jon Cooper, the head coach who for the past seven-plus seasons has stewarded this vessel through the rocky waters of the Eastern Conference. “You’re right about how we used to play in the past. We have an ability to score some pretty flashy goals, there’s no question about that.”

The problem was, the Bolts kept putting together 50-win regular seasons, even reaching a Stanley Cup Final and three Conference Finals — but they could never close the deal. Then, last spring, a Columbus team that had not won a single playoff round in franchise history swept the Lightning out of Round 1.

It was as big a slap in the face as any the National Hockey League has witnessed in decades.

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

With zero rings and a loooong spring to contemplate, Cooper recalled, “we had to change that attitude.”

It’s that attitude change — and the accumulation of players like Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Pat Maroon and Zach Bogosian — that corrected the roster and priorities of a Lightning team that has gone from first-round fodder to being three wins away from being crowned Stanley Cup champions.

“What do they say the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?” Cooper asked. “We couldn’t do that. You need to have an attitude adjustment, and guys have to buy in. And it starts with your stars. The guys who are used to putting pucks in the net.”

Tampa was, to some degree, just a more mature and well-rounded team than the run ’n’ gun outfits in Toronto and Edmonton, two teams that had their share of regular season success this season before being blasted out in the Qualifying Round. Even with vastly better goaltending in Andrei “Vezina” Vasilevskiy and annual Norris Trophy candidate Victor Hedman on their blue line, Tampa couldn’t win — which tells you how far away the Maple Leafs and Oilers truly are.

“If you play that way — especially when you get to this time of year — bad things are usually going to happen,” Cooper said of the old Bolts. “Experience and being humbled can help right a ship. I truly believe last year’s experience… We’re seeing the fruits of that awful setback last spring.”

It’s obvious to look at the roster adjustments that general manager Julien BriseBois made, adding depth forwards that have made the Lightning grittier, and “slotted everybody into the right spots — including themselves,” according to Cooper.

But remember what the head coach said: “It starts with your stars.”

Whether it’s Connor McDavid, Mitch Marner or Nikita Kucherov, the leaders have to lead in the right direction. Towards the Stanley Cup, not just the Art Ross.

“Look no further than Nikita Kucherov’s (Game 2), and how he was getting beat up in ways that for anybody it’s hard to come back. All he did was come back and run a powerplay that scored two goals, and be a big part of why we won,” said Cooper. “When guys understand that it’s about what you keep out of your net, and not what you put into (their) net, good things will happen. That’s what’s gone on so far.”

Eventually, for every skilled team, there is going to be a Dallas on the horizon. A big, deep, grinding roster that doesn’t have nearly the same top-end skill of all the aforementioned clubs, but wins games using all the elements that those teams lack.

Tampa has learned through experience that you can’t simply surf along on top of those waters. You have dive in and swim with the sharks eventually.

It’s a movie the Leafs and Oilers should watch.

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Gruden apologizes for not wearing mask: 'I'm doing my best, I've had the virus' – theScore



The NFL reportedly fined three head coaches for not wearing a face covering on the sidelines, and Jon Gruden may be the next in line.

The Las Vegas Raiders head coach was seen throughout Monday night’s game against the New Orleans Saints with his mask down below his nose and mouth. The violation carries a $100,000 fine to coaches and another $250,000 to their team. Gruden addressed the issue postgame and revealed his own personal account with the coronavirus.

“I’m doing my best, I’ve had the virus. I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it,” Gruden said, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.

Gruden confirmed to the Oakland Tribune’s Jerry McDonald that he had the virus in mid-July but wasn’t planning on going public with the diagnosis.

Gruden is the offensive play-caller for the Raiders and said he keeps the mask down in order to do his job.

“I’m calling plays. I just wanna communicate in these situations and if I get fined I’ll have to pay the fine but I’m very sensitive about that and I apologize,” he said.

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