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Why Gary Bettman and the NHL Won't Set a Drop-Dead Date for the Start of the Season – Sports Illustrated

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The league would prefer each team play out of its own rink rather than in short-term bubbles, but it is wisely still leaving every possible option open.

It’s already early November and the Detroit Red Wings were supposed to already be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs by now. But not only is the NHL not playing games, beyond shooting for a loose start date of Jan. 1, it’s not even giving us any idea when we’ll be watching the best league in the world play again.

But things are inching forward, not near as quickly as most hockey fans would like, but inching forward nonetheless. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman updated the league’s board of governors Thursday afternoon, about the same time the NHL Players’ Association’s executive board was meeting to discuss return-to-play options. Those looking for the league to make a bold proclamation and set a date in stone the way the NBA did when it struck a deal with its players’ association for a 72-game season starting Dec. 22, will be disappointed. The purpose of both meetings was basically to lay out possible scenarios for return-to-play and update its constituents.

The league has said on numerous occasions that it is shooting for a start date of Jan. 1, but has been very clear that the date is subject to change. There was very little on Thursday’s call that hasn’t already been discussed, but it’s important to note that the NHL prefers using all of its buildings and having opponents play two- or three-game series against each other rather than using the short-term bubble concept. Bettman laid out the plans to the board of governors as follows:

* The league is still shooting to start Jan. 1, with training camps beginning in mid-December. Pre-camp skates would begin Dec. 1, with teams that failed to make the playoffs last season starting earlier.

* The league would like to see the season end by late June or mid-July at the latest, which would eliminate the possibility of a full 82-game season. The more realistic number is between 48 and 56 games. One of the reasons the league wants to use all their buildings would be to give each team the opportunity to gain some revenues from regional sports networks and local sponsorship. As it stands now, the paybacks to regional sports networks and local corporate sponsors have the potential to be crippling for some teams.

* The league might still start with the short-term bubble concept, or pivot to using that at some point in the season. But the preference is to have each team play out of its own arena.

* The seven Canadian teams would make up one division, with the other three divisions being formed along regional lines to minimize travel.

* The NHL and NHLPA are still working out the economics and the return-to-play protocols. The players have maintained that they should receive 72 percent of their salaries for the 2020-21 season, but with revenues greatly reduced and an ultimate 50-50 split, the players are essentially faced with the prospect of covering the losses now or in years to come. Regardless of what the players are paid next season, the league will ultimately have to be made whole.

* The league is hoping to have fans and is still holding out hope for a format which would see it play the first one-third of the season with no spectators, the second with socially distanced crowds and the final third with larger crowds. But the reality is that it has no control over that.

So why don’t Bettman and the NHL press ahead and be more proactive with the start of the season? Well, all you have to do is look at how the league handled return-to-play during the summer. The NHL was slow to announce its intentions last spring as well, choosing to gather as much information and wait as long as possible before going ahead with any concrete plans. And we all know how that turned out. The NHL’s return-to-play plan was by far the best of any of the professional sports. The bubbles the league created turned out to be safest places in the world for its athletes to be. There were over 30,000 COVID tests conducted and there was not a single positive. Even Bettman’s many detractors would have to grudgingly admit that the commissioner did the best work of his career last summer.

And that’s precisely why there have been no bold proclamations this time around. Had Bettman jumped the gun last time, the league might have ended up going to Las Vegas for its western bubble instead of Edmonton. Even though Bettman is a lawyer and understands the concept of a caveat, he doesn’t want the league to paint itself into a corner by overpromising and under delivering. Given the success the league had over the summer, it’s a wise course of action.

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Fred Sasakamoose, Indigenous NHL trailblazer, dies at 86 after battle with Covid-19 – CNN

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“This Covid virus just did so much damage into his lungs, he just couldn’t keep responding, his body just couldn’t keep up,” Sasakamoose’s Neil said in the video.
Sasakamoose played 11 games for the Chicago Black Hawks during the 1953-54 season, according to NHL’s website. He is widely believed to be the first Indigenous player in the league’s history, though the NHL tells CNN this is impossible to determine.

NHL honors a trailblazer

An outpouring of respect has come from across the NHL following the news of Sasakamoose’s death.
“That lasting impact of his legacy will forever be celebrated and continue to bring people together for generations to come,” the Black Chicago Hawks organization said on its website. “To the entire Sasakamoose family that includes his wife, Loretta, four children and over 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the Chicago Blackhawks organization extends our deepest condolences.”
Craig Conroy #22 of the Calgary Flames and Alexei Zhamnov #13 of the Chicago Blackhawks pose for the ceremonial face off being dropped by Fred Sasakamoose at the United Center on October 19, 2002.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement that Sasakamoose was the first Cree player to appear in an NHL game at age 19. Sasakamoose then dedicated his life to “serving the First Nations community — using hockey and other sports to provide opportunities for Indigenous youth,” Bettman said.
“The story of Sasakamoose’s groundbreaking, 11-game NHL career with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1953-54 was the culmination of years of dedication to overcoming adversity in pursuit of a dream, and the pivot point at which he turned his focus to helping others pursue their dreams,” Bettman said.
Bryan Trottier, who is also of Indigenous heritage and is a Hockey Hall of Fame center, called Sasakamoose “a pioneer, somebody looked at with First Nation blood who was an achiever, broke barriers,” according to NHL’s website.
“He didn’t realize how inspiring he was, which makes him a humble man, which, to me, is much like Jean Beliveau and Gordie Howe and all of those guys who we hold in such high regard,” Trottier said.
Fred Sasakamoose reacts as he is presented with a check for Johnny's Jems and Jets Hockey team during a ceremony celebrating at the United Center on October 19, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois. Fred Sasakamoose reacts as he is presented with a check for Johnny's Jems and Jets Hockey team during a ceremony celebrating at the United Center on October 19, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois.
Reggie Leach, who played for the Boston Bruins, California Golden Seals, Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, said he didn’t know about Sasakamoose until he was 16. He felt proud to be of First Nation heritage when he found out about Sasakamoose, the NHL website said.
“He was one of the players that we wanted to be like him and play in the National Hockey League,” Leach said. “He accomplished his goal and that was a big feat at that time in the 50s, being First Nation and playing in the NHL. If you think back, it’s unbelievable the things he had to go through and what he went through going to residential school and accomplishing what he did. It’s just amazing.”
Residential schools “were part of a government-sponsored, religious education system designed to assimilate the country’s Indigenous children. The schools, which began in the 1880s and closed in 1996, were rife with abuse,” according to the NHL.
The Blackhawks honored Sasakamoose in 2002 and the Edmonton Oilers did the same in 2014 as part of their Celebration of First Nations Hockey, the NHL said.
Sasakamoose was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, according to the NHL.

Father seemed in good spirits hours before death

Neil spoke to his father on the telephone mere hours before his passing and said he seemed in good spirits and was unafraid of what may lie ahead.
“I’m not scared, I’m ready to go, if I gotta go, I’m going to go,” Neil recalled his father saying.
“You know what, dad? If you’re tired, you go. You go and don’t worry about us over here. You go. If you’re getting tired and you’re getting beat up and your body is fighting, you go ahead and you go,” Neil told his father.
Neil said his mother Loretta — his father’s partner of 65 years — was currently in lockdown, as were Neil’s sisters. Prior to his death, Sasakamoose lived on the Ahathkakoop Cree Nation reserve in Saskatchewan.
Sasakamoose has an autobiography scheduled to release in the spring of 2021, titled “Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treaty Indigenous Player.”

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Toronto FC’s season ends with stunning loss to Nashville SC in extra time – Sportsnet.ca

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EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Toronto FC saw its Major League Soccer season end Tuesday, dropping a 1-0 extra time decision to Nashville SC in playoff action.

Toronto was heavily favoured heading into the game, having finished the regular season with a 13-5-5 record, the second-best in the league.

Nashville’s Daniel Rios scored in the 108th minute to secure the expansion club’s victory at TFC’s temporary home in East Hartford, Conn.

Toronto defenders tied up Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar in deep, but couldn’t stop the German designated player from getting a shot off. Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg made a stop but couldn’t control the rebound, which Rios tapped in to the net.

Westberg had held fast through a Nashville blitz to close out regulation, making a stunning stop on Alex Muyl in the final minute to force extra time. The `keeper had five saves for Toronto.

Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis stopped five on-target shots.

Tuesday marked the first-ever meeting for the two sides, coming after Nashville advanced through the play-in round with a 3-0 win over Inter Miami CF on Friday.

The upstart club posted an 8-7-8 record in regular-season play, finishing in seventh spot in the East.

Toronto nearly found the back of the net early in extra time when Richie Lareya sent a beautiful ball across the six-yard box to Ayo Akinola, who couldn’t quite catch up to the pass to tap it in.

Mukhtar did ripple the netting for Nashville in the 100th minute, sending a shot high over Westberg and in.

But on the sideline, the offside flag was raised. It was the third time a Nashville goal had been called off in Tuesday’s game.

The visiting squad also appeared to take a lead early in the second half after Auro Jr,. was called for taking down Mukhtar in TFC territory.

Daniel Lovitz took the ensuing free kick, landing a ball on the head of Jhonder Cadiz at the back post. Cadiz headed it in and reveled in the play with his teammates before the goal was called off.

Toronto started the game slowly, controlling possession but content to stay outside Nashville’s 18-yard box to begin the game.

Nashville briefly appeared to open the scoring in the 13th minute after Lovitz sent a cross in to Cadiz, who sent a header deep in to the Toronto net. His celebration was quickly cut short by a raised offside flag.

Back at the other end of the field, TFC began to open up the game midway through the half, systematically breaking down the Nashville defence.

A strong back end has been key for Nashville all year and the club conceded just 22 goals in regular-season play.

Nick DeLeon got a prime chance to put Toronto on the board in the 26th minute, putting a hefty shot on net from the top of the six-yard box, but Willis made the save.

TFC controlled possession through the first 45 minutes of the game and had the only shot on target heading into the half.

There were some tense moments for Toronto fans watching from home in the 32nd minute, however, when Jonathan Osorio got tangled up with Muyl in the middle of the field. A bit of a skirmish followed and a replay appeared to show Osorio kicking out at the Nashville midfielder. Instead of showing Osorio a red card, referee Robert Sibiga allowed play to continue.

NOTES: Tuesday’s game was the fourth of the MLS playoffs to go to extra time… Pablo Piatti and Laryea returned to Toronto’s lineup after missing time with injuries… Nashville midfielder Anibal Godoy was unavailable for Tuesday’s game after suffering a hamstring injury on Friday.

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Back in Black and Gold… Again, Raptors Unveil 2021 City Uniform – SportsLogos.Net News

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The Toronto Raptors today used the occasion of announcing the re-signing of player Fred VanVleet to announce their brand new “City Edition” uniform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

Carrying on the black and gold theme that the team has used as an alternate colour scheme over the last several seasons, this new jersey is a continuation of the “Welcome Toronto” initiative which is being done in collaboration with recording artist and proud Toronto resident Drake.

Across the front of the jersey, we see “Toronto” scrawled in a style very similar to what the team wore across their expansion season jerseys (above that infamous giant red raptor logo) back in 1995. Of course, back then the jerseys read “Raptors” instead of Toronto and they certainly weren’t black and gold. Under the Toronto logo is a single raptor claw mark acting as an underscore to the design, several more raptor claw marks can be found scratching across the shorts of the uniform; moving from one leg across to the other.

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Overall this uniform design is quite similar to what they wore last year for their city edition uniform but there are some changes. The underscore below the wordmark is certainly new, as is the lack of the expansion season-inspired player name presentation on the back. We also did not see the raptor claw marks going across the shorts last year.

This makes it four new uniforms unveiled by the Toronto Raptors thus far this off-season. Earlier we saw three chevron-heavy designs which were accompanied with teasers for two more, one suggesting a black and gold jersey (which we clearly have now seen today) and the other black and purple, which we believe to be the club’s new “Earned Edition” uniform, release date to be determined.

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