Finally, the NHL announced its restart schedule. Though it’s the sport returning latest, it has the best chance to sustain exciting play through a championship, thanks to manageable bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton.
Canada has done a great job of containing the coronavirus the past several weeks. That’s why those cities were selected. It's a bit of a surprise that Toronto will host the Eastern brackets while Edmonton will host the West. Early reports suggested the league was considering sending teams to their “opposite” region to avoid any hometown edge. Toronto is the #8 seed in the East, Edmonton the #5 seed in the West.
MLS (already) and the NBA (soon) are hoping they can avoid trouble in corona-saturated Orlando. The WNBA will be playing in Bradenton, Fla., also a recent trouble spot.
Here’s a quick outline of key dates. You might want to print today’s article out, as it will contain those dates plus openers for all participating teams.
July 13: Training camps open
July 28-30: Exhibition games in hub cities
Aug. 1: Playoff qualifiers begin
Aug. 11: Playoffs begin
Sept. 22: Stanley Cup Finals begin
Camps formally open Monday. Pucks drop for real beginning the first day of August.
In case you’ve forgotten the planned format, the top four teams in each conference will play a round-robin against each other to determine seeding in the second round.
Round Robins for Seeding
: Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, Philadelphia
: St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas, Dallas
Teams seeded 5-12 in each conference will hit the ground running with best-three-out-of-five series. Let’s run those seeds with the August 1 and 2 schedules…
Best of Five Openers (East)
: #5 Pittsburgh vs. #12 Montreal, #6 Carolina vs. #11 NY Rangers, #7 NY Islanders vs. #10 Florida.
Best of Five Openers (West)
: #5 Edmonton vs. #12 Chicago, #8 Calgary vs. #9 Winnipeg.
Best of Five Opener (East)
: #8 Toronto vs. #9 Columbus
Seeding Round Robin Opener (East)
: Boston vs. Philadelphia
Best of Five Openers (West)
: #6 Nashville vs. #11 Phoenix, #7 Vancouver vs. #10 Minnesota.
Seeding Round Robin Opener (West)
: St. Louis vs. Colorado
Aug. 3 brings the last four teams to skate, with seeding round-robin games matching Tampa Bay vs Washington and Vegas vs. Dallas.
SEATTLE/SAN JOSE PLAY SCORELESS DRAW IN MLS
In the only sport that’s already restarted, Seattle and San Jose played to a 0-0 tie Friday night in the “MLS is Back” tournament.
Early odds for two Saturday matchups:
Atlanta vs. NY Red Bulls (8 p.m., FOX)
: Atlanta plus 105, New York plus 239, draw plus 275
: Atlanta -0.5 goals (plus 105), New York plus 0.5 goals (-132)
: 2.75 goals (Over -115, Under -106)
Columbus vs. Cincinnati (10:30 p.m., FS1)
: Columbus -106, Cincinnati plus 281, draw plus 266
: Columbus -0.5 goals (-106), Cincinnati plus 0.5 goals (-116)
: 3 goals (Over -103, Under -119)
PAC-12 FOLLOWS BIG TEN WITH “CONFERENCE ONLY” FOOTBALL PLAN
As expected, the Pac-12 announced Friday afternoon that it would follow the Big Ten’s lead by playing only conference football games this fall (covid permitting)
. The league had already lost a few high-profile matchups with the Big Ten’s announcement (Michigan at Washington, Ohio State at Oregon). Now, games featuring both USC and Stanford vs. Notre Dame will fall by the wayside, as will USC/Alabama in what had been a much-hyped season opener scheduled for Arlington, Texas.
Of course, playing any football at all on the West Coast is very much up in the air right now. California and Arizona continue to be current epicenters. This point was driven home later Friday when it was announced that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott had tested positive. (Arizona football fans later found out that Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell had as well.)
Despite Thursday reports that the ACC would follow the same approach, the league has yet to make an announcement. Scuttlebutt is that schools with big state rivalries against SEC teams would like to keep those games on the schedule (Clemson vs. South Carolina, Florida State vs. Florida, Georgia Tech vs. Georgia, Louisville vs. Kentucky). If states in that area can form protective bubbles by November, those would be marquee attractions worth saving.
BUSTER POSEY OPTS OUT OF MLB SEASON
Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants became the latest Major League Baseball player to opt out of the abbreviated 2020 season because of covid concerns
As we mentioned back when David Price of the Los Angeles Dodgers opted out, it’s easier for longtime veteran stars to miss paychecks. Here’s a list looking at lifetime MLB earnings for those who have already made announcements (data gathered from baseball-reference.com)
Career Earnings to Date (source: Baseball Reference)
Felix Hernandez (Atlanta): $218 million
David Price: $207 million
Buster Posey: $146 million
Ryan Zimmerman (Washington): $137 million
Nick Markakis (Atlanta): $120 million
Mike Leake (Colorado): $95 million
Ian Desmond (Colorado): $91 million
Welington Castillo (Washington): $28 million
Joe Ross (Washington): $4 million
Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox): $550,000 (awaiting return from Tommy John surgery)
Kopech is looking toward the future rather than the past, wanting to make sure he’s at full health for 2021.
More Stories of Interest
*Duke FB coach David Cutcliffe optimistic about fall football (ABC News)
*Will MLB testing plan crack? (USA Today)
*Nine obstacles for NBA bubble (The Athletic)
*NFLPA may threaten “no football” if talks don’t progress (NY Post)
*Autopsies show covid victims had blood clots in multiple organs (NY Post)
VSiN Clips/Tweets on Betting Restarts
*Pauly Howard and Matt Youmans discuss the Big Ten’s “conference only” announcement (Follow the Money)
*Vinny Magliulo talks to Gill Alexander about posting early prices amidst covid scheduling complications (A Numbers Game)
*Gill talks to Jason Weingarten about MLB prop opportunities