Thompson Sports News Archives for 2020-05

NHL hoping to move to Phase 2 of return-to-play protocol in early June

TORONTO - The NHL is hoping to move to Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol, including the opening of practice facilities and allowing small group workouts, early next month.


The league, which was forced to pause its season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, released a 22-page memo detailing the plan Monday. The document stresses there's no exact date for the start of Phase 2 or a timetable for how long it will last.


Only six players will be allowed in team facilities at one time for the voluntary workouts, and no on-ice coaching or instruction is permitted.


On-ice sessions will be non-contact and players will be expected to maintain physical distancing at all times. Players will be required to wear masks when entering and exiting facilities, and when not able to physically distance, but not when they're practising/exercising.


The final two phases of the return-to-play protocol - training camps followed by a resumption of play - were not mentioned in the memo.


The NHL/NHL Players' Association Return to Play Committee has been hashing out details of what the game will look like if it's allowed to return this summer. The union's executive board approved further negotiations on a 24-team format Friday.

NBA says it is talking with Disney about resuming season

The NBA is in talks with The Walt Disney Company on a single-site scenario for a resumption of play in Central Florida in late July, the clearest sign yet that the league believes the season can continue amid the coronavirus pandemic.


The National Basketball Players Association is also part of the talks with Disney. Games would be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a massive campus on the Disney property near Orlando.


NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the conversations were still “exploratory,” and that the site would be used not only for games but for practices and housing as well.


“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” Bass said.


The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is a 255-acre campus with multiple arenas that could host games simultaneously and has been home to, among other things, the Jr. NBA World Championship in recent years.


ESPN is primarily owned by Disney, one of the NBA's broadcast partners.


Space won't be an issue, even if Major League Soccer - which is also in talks to resume its season at Disney - is there at the same time as the NBA. The entire Disney complex is roughly 40 square miles, with nearly 24,000 hotel rooms owned or operated by Disney within the campus.

NHLPA executive board authorizes further negotiations with league on a return to play

The NHL Players' Association's executive board authorized “further negotiations” with the NHL on a 24-team playoff format Friday - an important step in the league's bid to resume the 2019-20 season and award the Stanley Cup.


The union added in its statement that “several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”

The league and the union have been working together on the NHL/NHLPA's Return To Play Committee.


The NHL, which was forced to pause its season March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, still has plenty of issues to work out in order to resume game action, including receiving the go-ahead from government and health officials, timing, locations, testing procedures and ensuring the safety of everyone involved.


It's almost certain teams will be clustered in hub cities across North America, with games being played in empty arenas. Locations mentioned as potential sites include Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Las Vegas.


The 24-team playoff format will see 12 clubs from the Eastern and Western Conference battle for the Stanley Cup in a tournament that could start this summer and stretch deep into the fall or early winter. The league has said it wants to ensure a full 82-game schedule in 2020-21.

Canada's Bianca Andreescu returning for Credit One Bank Invitational

Canada's Bianca Andreescu appears to be over her injury woes and ready to get back on the tennis court.


Andreescu is slated to make her first tournament appearance since last October as one of 16 players launching the inaugural Credit One Bank Invitational in June.


The Tennis Channel made the announcement on Friday, with the tournament set to start on June 23 in Charleston, S.C.


Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, has not played since she suffered a knee injury in late October at the WTA Finals in China.


The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., was hoping to defend her 2019 Indian Wells title in March at the BNP Paribas Open only to have to pull out due to the lingering injury.


The tournament ended up being halted by the COVID-19 pandemic only days after Andreescu pulled out, with the WTA Tour tennis season being put on a hiatus until July 13.

CFL changes 2020 Grey Cup plans

Regina is no longer the guaranteed host of the 2020 Grey Cup.


The CFL announced plans for an abbreviated 2020 season in a video conference with season-ticket holders. If the league was able to have a shortened season, the Grey Cup finalist with the best regular-season mark will host the CFL championship game.


The game could still be played in Regina if the Saskatchewan Roughriders were one of the finalists and the team with the better record.


Regina was scheduled to host this year's game on November 22, but has been awarded the 2022 contest instead.


Hamilton will remain as the 2021 Grey Cup host. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the earliest the CFL can start the 2020 season is September, and a cancelled 2020 season remains a possibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CFL commissioner set to discuss league's issues during government meeting

OTTAWA - Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie will be back in the spotlight tonight.


Just over a week after news broke that the CFL has asked the federal government for up to $150 million in assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambrosie is to testify at the House of Commons standing committee on finance.


Ambrosie will appear via videoconference during a panel on arts, culture, sports and charitable organizations.


The CFL's request sparked debate about whether professional sports leagues should be entitled to federal funds during the COVID-19 crisis.


A day after the CFL's request became public last Tuesday, the Canadian Premier League confirmed it was asking for $25 million from the federal government. The professional soccer league began play last season.


If the 2020 season is wiped out, Ambrosie has said the CFL's long-term future would be in peril.

Spruce Meadows cancels Masters show jumping event because of COVID-19

Spruce Meadows has cancelled its marquee Masters show jumping tournament scheduled for September because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The equestrian and soccer facility in Calgary had already called off its summer competitive season that features four tournaments over five weeks starting June 4.


The Masters was scheduled for September 9-13. Spruce Meadows planned to offer $6 million in prize money in 2020.


The tournament season draws almost half a million spectators annually to watch the top horses and riders in the world.


Spruce Meadows, founded by Ron and Margaret Southern, opened in 1975 and continues to be run by the family. The facility features 160 hectares of indoor and outdoor riding terrain, stables and convention space.

Mountain bike World Cup race in Quebec cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event scheduled this summer in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The fifth stop on the 2020 World Cup series was set to take place August 21-23.


Mont-Sainte-Anne had hosted a UCI-sponsored event every year since 1991, including the mountain bike world championships in 2010 and 2019. Quebec has prohibited events from being held until August 31.


Gabriel Fontaine Leclerc, general manager of event producer Gestev, said plans to reschedule the race in the fall were not feasible.


Cycling Canada head of development and operations Mathieu Boucher said the decision to cancel was disappointing, but the health and safety of athletes took priority.


The first five rounds of the World Cup series have been postponed or cancelled due to the novel coronavirus, as have the 2020 mountain bike cross-country world championships in Albstadt, Germany.

Lions trade up with Stampeders, take Jordan Williams No. 1

TORONTO - Linebacker Jordan Williams was the first player taken in the 2020 CFL draft Thursday night. The B.C.


Lions opened the draft with a bang, securing the No. 1 pick from the Calgary Stampeders then taking Williams first overall.


The five-foot-11, 219-pound Williams hasn't played football since 2017 when he finished second in tackles at East Carolina with 89 - including three for a loss - with a forced fumble.


The 27-year-old is an American by birth but is deemed a national for the draft because his mother is Canadian.


Williams shined at last month's Ontario combine, the CFL's final due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds, 20 reps in the 225-pound bench press, 39-inch vertical jump and broad jump of 10 feet, 8.5 inches.


B.C. (5-13) finished last in the West Division last season and made a coaching change, firing Devone Claybrookes and replaced him with Rick Campbell after he stepped down from that post with the Ottawa Redblacks.


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