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The NHL will lose more than a billion dollars by staging the 2020-21 season in largely empty arenas, Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday, but owners and players are intent on playing a 56-game schedule to provide diversion for fans and keep hockey on the sports map. The delayed and shortened season, scheduled to begin Wednesday, already has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dallas ...

PHILADELPHIA — News item: The National Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it had sold the naming rights of its four divisions this season to corporate sponsors. The divisions will be called the MassMutual NHL East, the Scotia NHL North, the Discover NHL Central, and the Honda NHL West. Last month, the league had revealed that teams would have advertisements on their players' helmets in an ...

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New York Rangers forward Alexis Lafrenière was the top pick in the NHL draft after a stellar stint in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Lafrenière was leading the league with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games last season when play ended.

The Kings and Ducks will compete with Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis and Vegas in the NHL’s West division, one of four new divisions created for the purpose of minimizing travel and health risks and making it possible to play the 2020-21 season. As announced on Sunday, the 56-game schedule will start on Jan. 13, end on May 8 and feature play exclusively within each team’s ...

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At the old O-Pee-Chee’s bubblegum and trading card factory in the Canadian city of London, Ontario, the month of December was most employees’ favorite time of the year. During most of the company’s history, that was when its eagerly anticipated packs of NHL player cards were manufactured — the crown jewel of its multi-sport product line. The process was largely manual. Once each player’s card ...

It's fascinating, and a bit frightening, to monitor football during the pandemic. Every week, we keep count of how many college games have been postponed/canceled, and that number lately has reached double figures. By way of contrast, the NFL hasn't yet canceled a game. Indeed, we've just seen the lengths to which the NFL will go not to scratch anything.

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Retired Chicago Blackhawks enforcer Daniel Carcillo says it took a mind-blowing drug to save his brain — and his life. "It was the most amazing experience," Carcillo says on the latest edition of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," set to debut at 9 p.m. CST Tuesday on HBO and HBO Max Carcillo, who sued the NHL over his concussion-related injuries, is among the former athletes on the program ...

Time is growing short for the NHL to meet its target of launching the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1, and the list of obstacles is growing longer. Without an agreement between the league and the NHL Players' Association by next week, the opener could be pushed back another month, slashing the schedule below the hoped-for 60 to 62 games.Negotiations hit some snags this week. According to people familiar with the discussions but not authorized to speak publicly, Commissioner Gary Bettman asked players to defer an additional 13% of their salaries next season beyond the 10% deferral they accepted in July. Players will eventually get that money back, but without interest. Bettman also proposed raising the escrow cap in each of the last three years of the labor agreement from 6% to 9%. Players previously agreed to cap escrow at 20% for 2020-21, at 14% to 18% in 2021-22, and at 10% in 2022-23.Players held a conference call Wednesday and, predictably, were unhappy about Bettman's efforts to change terms of the four-month-old labor deal to accommodate clubs' pandemic-deflated cash flow. But players want to play and owners want the league to regain a presence, so there's room for a compromise that could include Bettman sweetening the players' pot if revenues return to anything close to pre-pandemic levels.They'll have to find common ground quickly to be up and running by New Year's Day, which is already a month later than Bettman had hoped. The seven teams that missed the expanded playoffs last season and have been off the ice since early March — a group that includes the Kings and Ducks — will be allowed to start training camp a week early and have a three-week camp. To open on Jan. 1, they'd have to start around Dec. 11, followed a week later by the other 24 teams. There's little time to waste because players who went overseas will have to comply with quarantine requirements in their team's home city before they can take to the ice."The focus is still very much on Jan. 1, and the league and players are committed to making that happen," said Kelly Cheeseman, chief operating officer of AEG, the Kings' parent company. "That said, we're going to have to make some decisions here in the next week or two, and we're excited to make those decisions."Having games means having to make decisions. That's good. But the NHL's startup issues are more complex than those faced by the NBA, which crowned the Lakers as champions nearly two weeks after the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup but will return before the NHL, on Dec. 22.Restrictions on nonessential crossings of the U.S.-Canada border are a major problem for the NHL. The NBA has one team in Canada, the Toronto Raptors, and can relocate them to the U.S. for a season. "Obviously, we're not going to move all seven Canadian franchises south of the 49th Parallel," Bettman said during the recent Paley International Council Summit. The NHL is expected to temporarily realign and create an all-Canadian division with intradivision play. U.S.-based teams will play regionally focused schedules to minimize travel.Playing in tightly controlled bubbles like those created in Edmonton and Toronto during the playoffs is a nonstarter because players don't want to be away from loved ones for an entire season. A hub system is a possibility. "You'll play for 10 to 12 days. You'll play a bunch of games without traveling. You'll go back, go home for a week, be with your family," Bettman said. "We'll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need. It's not going to be quite as effective as a bubble, but we think we can, if we go this route, minimize the risks to the extent practical and sensible." Playing in home arenas remains owners' preference.The NHL's financial problems are intensified by its dependence on ticket revenues, one consequence of a U.S. TV deal that isn't as lucrative as those negotiated by the NFL, NBA and MLB. According to statista.com, gate revenue made up 36.6% of all NHL revenues in 2018-19; that doesn't include sales of concessions and merchandise at games. With wide distribution of a coronavirus vaccine likely a few months away, the entire season could be played without fans, a blow to clubs' bottom lines.Another complication is that playing fewer than 70 games would obligate teams to give back some of their local TV rights fees. That's an unpleasant prospect, but playing even a reduced number of games and keeping some broadcast and sponsor revenues would be better than getting no revenues at all.As recently as late September, before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Bettman said he anticipated the 2020-21 season would feature a full, 82-game schedule. That was never realistic. Like the rest of us, he has had to become flexible. That should apply to both sides as they negotiate terms for the upcoming season.

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There's a contrast at the core of what sports - let's use that umbrella term to refer to the major professional leagues on this continent and the people who direct and compete within them - will try to do over the next couple of weeks. Sports will try to return, in as normal and stable a structure as it can build, even though the coronavirus has reconfigured just about all the structures we ...

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CHICAGO - Joe Podlasek is a longtime Chicago Blackhawks fan, but he didn't like them as much 15 or 20 years ago. Podlasek, who is Ojibwe and Polish, remembers being offended at the sight of fans at the United Center mimicking Native American dress and war chants while cheering on the home team. "They had pink and white headdresses and faces painted in black and red," said Podlasek, who runs ...

Being locked in a hotel for two months, only allowed to leave for work, doesn't sound like much fun at face value. That changes, though, depending on if you're talking about a Holiday Inn (basic, no frills), a Sheraton (nicer accommodations, more options) or a luxury J.W. Marriott or St. Regis set up specifically for your group. Unlike the NBA (manicures, barbers, DJ sets), the NHL's hub city ...

The executive board of the NHL Players' Association on Wednesday approved a proposed new collective bargaining agreement with the NHL and referred the tentative agreement to its full membership for a vote, with approval expected to be announced on Friday. The deal, which would extend labor peace through the 2025-26 season and allow players to represent their homelands at the 2022 Beijing ...

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CHICAGO - Is it hypocritical to be OK with the Chicago Blackhawks' decision to keep their nickname and also laud the Cleveland Indians for potentially ditching theirs? I'll hang up and listen for my answer. After years of debating whether the NFL Washington team should change its nickname, the NFL team's decision to hold a "thorough review" has spurred other sports organizations with ...

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Classy winger Jarome Iginla leads the six-member Hockey Hall of Fame class that was announced Wednesday. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 16 in Toronto, but that's subject to change because of the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the NHL schedule and events. Also elected in the players' category were three-time Stanley Cup champion Marian Hossa; ...

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