CORO­N­AVIRUS CASES IN­CREASE AMONG NHL PLAY­ERS

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - LANCE HORNBY lhornby@post­media.com

While the NHL’S choice of two hub cities in Canada or the U.S. is on hold, the num­ber of pos­i­tive COVID-19 tests from play­ers in its small group prac­tices is up.

As of Mon­day, more than 250 who re­ported vol­un­tar­ily to club rinks in Phase 2 of the re­turn-toplay plan were tested more than 1,450 times. The 15 con­fir­ma­tions of the virus are in ad­di­tion to 11 the league was made aware of out­side Phase 2, which be­gan June 8.

All af­fected play­ers (no names were re­leased) have been self-iso­lated, ac­cord­ing to the league.

That news comes 11 days be­fore the league in­tends to start for­mal train­ing camps for its 24-team play­off tour­na­ment in two hubs.

Toronto and Edmonton re­main the Cana­dian favourites, Las Ve­gas in the U.S. un­less COVID-19 be­comes such an is­sue in the south that the league opts for two Cana­dian sites.

Sen­si­tive ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the league and the play­ers as­so­ci­a­tion on such mat­ters as test­ing, ac­com­mo­da­tions and the inclusion of fam­ily are on­go­ing, likely com­pli­cated by par­al­lel col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment talks to set­tle the 2020-21 sea­son.

With many 2019-20 and 202021 con­tracts in­com­plete and rev­enue streams un­de­ter­mined, there’s lots to set­tle be­fore the next game is played.

“July 10 seems a lit­tle quick for what needs to be done,” Min­nesota Wild goal­tender and player rep De­van Dub­nyk told lo­cal me­dia. “But at the end of the day, a vote of any sort on any­thing can hap­pen July 9 and if it’s voted on, then we can start July 10. So, in that re­gard, there is two weeks still to get some­thing ham­mered out. It cer­tainly feels like it’s go­ing to hap­pen.”

AL­LIANCE ON YOUTUBE

The Hockey Di­ver­sity Al­liance, a group of mi­nor­ity Nhlers and play­ers who have been at the fore­front of sto­ries about racism in the game, have re­leased a Youtube video that in­cludes their mis­sion state­ment.

The co-heads, San Jose Sharks for­ward Evan­der Kane and for­mer player Akim Aliu, joined Wayne Sim­monds, Trevor Daley, Matt Dumba, Chris Ste­wart, Nazem Kadri, Anthony Du­clair and the re­tired Joel Ward in a video mod­er­ated by Cana­dian film di­rec­tor, screen­writer and for­mer pro hockey player, Charles Of­fi­cer.

“When Akim’s story first broke, we were all taken aback by the news,” Kane said of Aliu’s rev­e­la­tions of mis­treat­ment in ju­nior hockey. “Ob­vi­ously, with his story rein­vig­o­rated by the Play­ers Tri­bune ar­ti­cle (and) un­for­tu­nately hav­ing Ge­orge Floyd’s death, Bre­onna Tay­lor and Ah­maud Ar­bery, it be­came ap­par­ent to us some­thing had to be changed, not only in so­ci­ety, but in the hockey world. We as a group thought it was im­por­tant our voices fi­nally be heard and united as mi­nor­ity play­ers.”

Aliu, who has chal­lenged the league’s pre­vi­ous claim that the sport is all-in­clu­sive, and Kane added Kadri and Du­clair to the group in re­cent weeks.

“Nine guys who’ve all kind of ex­pe­ri­enced the same things in a game that is pre­dom­i­nantly white,” Aliu said. “It’s a tough space to speak out about. Our whole mind­set is to make the path a lit­tle smoother (for young mi­nor­ity play­ers) than it was for us.”

Sim­monds said he was tired of the “de­nial I’ve been see­ing from the out­side world that this stuff ac­tu­ally hap­pens (in hockey).

“We watched Floyd with a (po­lice­man’s) knee on his neck, we’ve watched a nu­mer­ous amount of other Black peo­ple be killed in the streets,” Sim­monds added. “I’ve had sev­eral in­stanc es in the hockey world and out- side when some­thing racist has hap­pened to me and ev­ery time I say some­thing, peo­ple fail to be­lieve. Now’s the time to ac­cept this does hap­pen and move this con­ver­sa­tion along.”

CAN KHL CON­QUER COVID?

Though Rus­sia re­mains a COVID-19 hot spot, the KHL is op­ti­misti­cally mov­ing ahead with sev­eral Au­gust ex­hi­bi­tion games. In Helsinki, Jokerit’s KHL team plans to al­low 500 fans into games af­ter Aug. 1 and if all goes well, club pres­i­dent Jari Kurri says that re­stric­tion will be lifted af­ter Oct. 1.

“No­body has any di­rect an­swers to any­thing at the mo­ment, and noth­ing can be nailed down,” Kurri told a lo­cal news­pa­per. “But at the mo­ment, we are ex­pect­ing to start (the reg­u­lar sea­son) on Sept. 2.”

ICE CHIPS

The Hockey Hall of Fame’s me­dia wing wel­comed two new mem­bers on Mon­day. Tony Gal­lagher, the long­time colum­nist for the Van­cou­ver Prov­ince, who broke many sto­ries on the west coast through three decades, was named win­ner of the 2020 Elmer Fer­gu­son Award. The Foster He­witt Award for broad­cast­ing goes to Rick Peck­ham, with 42 years in the busi­ness, the last 24 as TV voice of the Tampa Bay Light­ning . ... De­fence­man Ro­man Po­lak is not ex­pected back in the Dal­las Stars’ lineup for the play­offs. He wasn’t play­ing full time when the sea­son was halted and re­cently signed a three-year con­tract with Vitkovice in the Czech league start­ing in 2020-21. He has con­cerns about re­turn­ing to North Amer­ica in the midst of the pan­demic . ... Nas­sau County ex­ec­u­tive Laura Cur­ran says not to give up hope that the Is­landers will play at the Coli­seum in 2020-21, de­spite the rink’s pri­vate own­ers declar­ing it closed be­cause of debt. The team will be in its new Bel­mont Park digs in 2021-22 . ... Las Ve­gas is the lat­est team to bring its AHL farm club close to home. It has moved the San Antonio Ram­page from Texas to a few min­utes’ drive from the Strip, re­brand­ing the teams as the Hen­der­son Sil­ver Knights. They’ll play at Or­leans Arena in Par­adise, Nev., part of a casino.

GETTY IMAGES

Sharks for­ward Evan­der Kane co-heads the Hockey Di­ver­sity Al­liance, which now in­cludes Nazem Kadri and Anthony Du­clair. The group has re­leased a video on Youtube ex­plain­ing what they’re hop­ing to do.

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