Among the many unknowns for the New York Rangers coming in the 2020-21 season is what their division may look like with COVID-19 still prevalent around North America. This is due to the fact that one of the proposals that the NHL may have to adopt is having an all Canadian division, as border crossings between the US and Canada remained closed.
Travis Yost of TSN was among the first to mention this as a serious possibility last week when he reported on a passing comment from Las Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley.
Foley, addressing a question about the risk of trading defenseman Nate Schmidt to a division rival in Vancouver, suggested to Sportsbook Radio and Vegas Hockey Hotline host Brian Blessing that the risk would be minimized for at least next season because of the all-Canadian division.
“I think they’re going to play in a Canadian division,” said Foley. “I don’t think they’re going to cross the border.”
Then, Pierre LeBrun wrote in the Athletic that the NHL could ” start the season in geographical hubs but end the season in all 31 markets”, something that could be discussed when the NHL GM’s have their first meeting in quite some time on Friday.
A modified bubble?
An all-Canadian division?
With or without fans?
A bubble worked for the playoffs, but experts doubtful it can work for a 6 month regular NHL season set to begin Jan 1https://t.co/INP0tzItmh
While the Metropolitan does not have Canadian teams in their division, the ripple effect from other divisions would lead to a change for the other U.S.-based teams.
In addition, the NHL would try to set these and schedule games based on geographic location, similar to what MLB did in their current season.
This would seem to be the best option, as he NHL has little interest in losing another $75-90 million every two months with massive three-games-a-day Hub City play like they did to produce the Stanley Cup playoffs in Toronto and Edmonton. The players are likely not in much rush to go back to life in a bubble either.
While of course, nothing is set in stone, here is one proposal of how to align teams based on geographic regions:
EAST DIVISION: New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins
WEST DIVISION: San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Vegas Golden Knights, Minnesota Wild
CENTRAL DIVISION: Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricane, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers
These divisions would allow for some type of bubble, whether it be like a mini-bubble for short periods of time, or just play within your division, much like MLB did for their regular season.
There is one thing we should all remember over the next few months as we try and guess what next season might look like: That is whatever form the season starts with, it may not be the same at the end.
Uncertainty has given way to anticipation, as the unbeaten Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans take on a rare Tuesday night endeavor.
What: Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN When: Tuesday, 7 p.m ET Watch: CBS
Countless tests and 54 hours later, one of the NFL’s most anticipated Week 5 matchups will finally be staged.
The league will have one less unbeaten team after Tuesday night, as the Buffalo Bills hit the road to take on the Tennessee Titans. This game, originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon’s early slot, will finally kickoff after numerous issues involving positive tests for COVID-19. Consecutive days of fully negative tests out of the Titans allow the Bills to descend upon Nashville for a battle of perfection.
Tennessee’s Week 4 game against Pittsburgh was previously postponed due to positive tests. The Titans last played on September 27, stealing a 31-30 decision from the Minnesota Vikings. Stephen Gostkowski booted a trio of field goals from at least 51 yards out, including the game-winner in the game’s penultimate minute. Some called for the Titans (3-0) to forfeit their contests against Pittsburgh and Buffalo in the wake of the delays, but the Bills have instead rolled with the punches.
“We knew adversity was going to hit. We’re just going to take it day by day and focus on this week only,” Bills offensive lineman Cody Ford said of the delay, per Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN. “I don’t know anybody who wants to lose money because of something that they couldn’t control. It’s one of those things where we can only control what we can control. It would hurt not to get paid, but I would rather be healthy than be rich.”
The Bills (4-0) topped the Las Vegas Raiders in their latest matchup, earning a 30-23 decision in their first-ever visit to Nevada. Josh Allen put in three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while Quinton Jefferson and Darryl Johnson earned a sack each.
This marks the NFL’s first Tuesday night game since December 2010, when the Minnesota Vikings’ visit to Philadelphia was delayed by threats of a blizzard. Tuesday’s game is one of eight affected by the NFL’s rescheduling process at it continues to play on in the wake of the ongoing health crisis.
Tennessee leads the all-time series 28-19 (including the matchups under their Oilers moniker), but the Bills have won each of the last three get-togethers, including a 14-7 final at Nissan Stadium last season. Current Cardinal Jordan Phillips had three sacks for the Bills, while Allen had two touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Duke Williams in the fourth quarter.
History Happened: 2000
Everyone knows how the teams’ January 2000 playoff meeting ended…the Music City Miracle that haunts Buffalo fans to this day…but few talk about the immediate follow-up.
After the Titans’ special teams madness against the Bills gave birth to a Super Bowl run, the teams met up for the first Sunday night football game of the 21st century exactly eight months later in Orchard Park. The game was mostly a defensive struggle, with the teams uniting for nine sacks. Eddie George had a touchdown that tied the game in the fourth quarter, but most otherwise neutralized with 37 yards on 17 carries.
Buffalo was already missing Doug Flutie and was forced to turn to third-stringer Alex Van Pelt when Rob Johnson suffered an ankle injury. Van Pelt threw for 67 yards in relief, a majority of it coming on a 36-yard hookup with Eric Moulds that set up Steve Christie’s game-winning field goal. Deja vu nearly struck in the most horrifying way, as Derrick Mason set the Titans up near midfield on the ensuing kickoff. But one last stand from the Bills defense forced Tennessee to try a 60-yard overtime enforcer. Craig Hentrich’s kick failed, and the Bills escaped with a 16-13 win…hardly a sign of things to come for the fruitless decade.
They Said It
“Everybody’s being understanding. This isn’t a one-team league, it’s 32 teams. Everybody’s doing the best they can, things are going to happen. This isn’t a league-wide disaster or anything, the world’s going through it as well. As far as handling it one day at a time, I’m being understanding more than anything because I feel for those guys too. As far as people being sick, you don’t want anybody sick.”–Bills WR Stefon Diggs on the Titans’ situation, per Maddy Glab & Dante Lasting
“At the end of the day, we’re not going to make any excuses man,” Byard said. “We’re going to come in here and focus on what we need to focus on, and that’s winning the ballgame.”–Titans CB Kevin Byard on Tennesee’s approach to Tuesday, per the Associated Press
Matchup To Watch
WR Stefon Diggs vs. CB Malcolm Butler
The Titans have greatly missed Adoree’ Jackson, who has been dealing with a knee injury and has yet to appear in a game this season. They’re 23rd in the AFC by allowing just over 256 passing yards a game and have let up an average of 472 total yards over the last two weeks, skating by thanks to strong offensive performances. The former Super Bowl hero Butler has been part of the struggles in the early going. Both he and fellow secondary defender Chris Jackson have also been working with injuries, but both are expected to play.
It sets up the potential for a perfect Buffalo storm, as Diggs has been one of their most explosive catalysts behind their undefeated start. If he’s allowed to get loose, especially in the early going, it well could be another long 60 minutes, ones that could cost the Titans their perfect record.
The Bills Will Win If…
They attack the Titans’ suspect secondary and get off to a fast start.
Buffalo is only second to Dallas in passing yards a game at over 316. The Titans come in struggling in the deeper parts of the field and haven’t suited up in over two weeks. Pouncing on your host is advisable under normal conditions, and it could become downright vital in such a crucial conference showdown. It’s perhaps very, very early to start thinking about the postseason, but Tuesday could well play a role in playoff seedings…perhaps even the all-too-valuable, single first-round bye.
The Titans Will Win If…
They used their time off well.
Eyes in all NFL, maybe in all sports, circles are on the Titans after they’ve been responsible for one of the bigger COVID outbreaks since the return to action. They’ve used the momentum they’ve earned from an AFC title game appearance well, but they’ll have a plethora of taunts and problems to deal with if Tuesday’s match doesn’t go well. Tennessee reserves may have to come up big as well. AJ Brown is nursing a knee injury, so don’t be surprised to see names like Kalif Raymond or Geoff Swaim rise to the occasion.
It’s been a long, long time since the Titans suited up for a game. Beating a Buffalo squad that’s firing on all cylinders and eager for more seems like a lot to ask for at this point. If Buffalo is truly serious about contending, these are the types of games that need to come away with, especially with their divisional competition from New England sidelined by the health crisis as well. Expect the Bills to take advantage on Tuesday.
The future of the AFC East took a major shift on Sunday, as both the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are affected by the NFL’s continuing attempt to navigate its way through the ongoing health crisis. Eight games in total have been affected by positive COVID-19 tests emerging from New England and Tennessee.
As of press time, the Bills’ Week 5 tilt against the Tennessee Titans is scheduled to go on in its Tuesday slot (7 p.m. ET, CBS) after being moved from Sunday. Tennessee revealed on Sunday that they saw another positive test, forcing another shutdown of their Nashville facility. The Titans have now had 24 positive tests in their organization since September 24.
Consequently, the Bills’ Thursday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs has been moved to October 19, the Monday night of Week 6. That game will remain shared between Fox, NFL Network, and streaming service Amazon Prime with kickoff slated for 5 p.m. ET.
These new changes also affect the Jets, who will now face the Miami Dolphins much earlier than anticipated. The first meeting between the divisional rivals moves up to next weekend with a Sunday kickoff on October 18 (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). Miami was originally scheduled to take on the Denver Broncos, but the latter’s matchup with the Patriots was instead moved to Week 6 instead. New England and Denver were originally scheduled for Week 5’s Sunday late slot, but they were later moved to Monday. However, Week 5 now serves as de facto Broncos bye week, as they’ll now play the Los Angeles Chargers on their original open date. Miami and Denver’s meeting now moves to Week 11.
Another Jets game affected by the movement is their original Week 6 date with the Chargers. That one now moves to Sunday, November 22, when they originally were set to take on the Dolphins. Jacksonville’s visit to the Chargers in Week 8 has been moved to October 25 during Week 7’s action (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS).
This story will be updated pending further developments.
After a health scare on Friday sent players and personnel home, the New York Jets have received clearance to play on Sunday against Arizona.
A Friday morning health scare forced the New York Jets to send their men in green home, but all signs now point to spending Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets announced in a team statement that all players, coaches, and personnel have all tested negative for COVID-19. These negatives come hours after ESPN’s Adam Schefter stated the Jets emptied their Florham Park headquarters after “a presumptive positive player test”. But the team is now on pace to welcome in the Arizona Cardinals to MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
“This evening, we received negative PCR COVID-19 test results for all players, coaches, and personnel,” the statement reads. “Following a presumptive positive COVID-19 test and out of an abundance of caution to ensure everyone’s health and safety, we sent all players and personnel home this morning. We also initiated all NFL mandated protocols including player isolation, subsequent testing, and contact tracing.”
“As we have thus far, we will continue to follow required health and safety protocols in the best interests of our coaches, players, staff, and community. We look forward to our game this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.”
The Jets previously dealt with false positives during training camp. Their proximity to the NFL’s New Jersey-based BioReference testing lab helped exepditate the process that’s allowing them to play on Sunday.
As the NFL continues to navigate its way through the ongoing health crisis, two games originally scheduled for Sunday have been shifted. The New England Patriots saw one of their games moved for the second straight week, as they’ll take on the Denver Broncos on Monday late afternoon (5 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans have had no new positive tests for consecutive days after having 23 positive tests since September 24. Their matchup with the Buffalo Bills has been moved to national television status on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, CBS) and their Nashville facility could reopen this weekend.
Buffalo Bills fans will be waiting all day for Tuesday night this week.
The team confirmed on Thursday that their Week 5 tilt against the Tennessee Titans will be shifted from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday night. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET and will be nationally broadcast on CBS. Tom McCarthy and Jay Feely are expected to retain the call.
Buffalo (4-0) has been on standby in the wake of positive COVID-19 tests out of Tennessee, a number that moved up to 23 since September 24 this week. This Tuesday date hinges on whether more positive tests emerge prior to kickoff. The Titans (3-0) previously saw their Week 4 game against Pittsburgh rescheduled to October 25 in the wake of their positives.
This week’s situation with the Bills was made all the more precarious with the BIlls’ situation in Week 6, as they were slated to open the proceedings with a Thursday night match against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. If the Bills and Titans play on Tuesday, Buffalo’s visit to Arrowhead Stadium will be moved to Week 6’s Sunday slate at an unspecified time. Otherwise, it will retain its spot in Fox and NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football package.
Buffalo last had a game rescheduled in 2014, when a snowstorm moved a November tilt against the New York Jets from Sunday to Monday. Proceedings were also moved from Bills Stadium (then known as Ralph Wilson Stadium) to Ford Field in Detroit. The Bills won the game 38-3.
This anticipated matchup between unbeaten teams is one of two Week 5 games shifted in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in the NFL. For the second straight week, the New England Patriots will partake in a Monday night doubleheader, as they’ll battle the Denver Broncos a day later than anticipated (5 p.m. ET, ESPN). That’ll be followed by the originally scheduled Monday night showing between the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints.
The Buffalo Bills can only be patient as their battle of unbeatens against the Titans hangs in doubt due to Tennessee’s COVID woes.
The ongoing health crisis has officially invaded the NFL’s bubble…or lack thereof…in the form of an outbreak amongst the Tennessee Titans organization. A Thursday report from ESPN indicated that another member of the Titans’ organization has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing their total to 23 since September 24. The positives have forced a shutdown of the Titans’ Nashville facility.
It obviously pales in comparison, but the positive tests put a highly anticipated NFL showdown in jeopardy. Already forced to reschedule their Week 4 matchup against Pittsburgh, the Titans are, as of press time, slated to battle the Buffalo Bills this coming Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
As the situation awaits further developments, the Bills (4-0) are going to continue to push forward with business as usual while taking the proper precautions to ensure that they’re not forced to deal with an outbreak themselves.
“The best thing that we can do is prepare like we’re playing a game on Sunday,” Bills quarterback Josh Allen said earlier this week, in a report from Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com. “If the game does happen I trust what coach Sean McDermott and the league tell us to do…It takes one guy to go to the grocery store and it’s simple as that sometimes. You don’t ever suspect anybody to have it in the facility, but you’ve got to hope that guys are wearing their masks and the contact tracers are working.
“It’s just like holding each other accountable to that standard where if you are feeling something, tell somebody,” Allen added. “We are accountable, and we trust the guys in this locker room to do the right thing.”
Buffalo previously deal with a rash of false positives during training camp. Allen was among those affected by those and was forced to miss a practice session as a result.
The continuing situation is all part of the challenges a most unusual season that veterans like safety Jordan Poyer saw coming.
“I think coming into the season everybody knew that it was going to be something different. Everybody knew that there were a lot of challenges and obstacles that we’re going to have to overcome,” Poyer said, per Maddy Glab and Dante Lasting at BuffaloBills.com. “I figured at some point during the season this situation was going to happen, I just didn’t know when. I think Sean said it before the season, having the understanding that mentally, it’s going to be different than any other season that we’ve been a part of. We’re going to have to overcome it.”
While the previous matchup against the Steelers was pushed back three weeks (during Pittsburgh’s original open date), postponing the Bills game could be very tricky. Buffalo is scheduled to partake in Week 6’s Thursday night opener, another high-profile matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. ESPN’s Dianna Russini states that their tilt against Tennessee could be moved to Monday or Tuesday, not unlike how the Chiefs and New England Patriots rescheduled their own Week 4 matchup from Sunday to Monday after a few positives tests on each side, including the latter’s starting quarterback Cam Newton. If that were the case, the Bills’ Thursday night visit to Kansas City would shift to Saturday.
A Tennessee forfeit is also on the table, though players would not receive a game check in such an event. Many fans have clamored for such a result after Tennessee reportedly broke protocol by practicing at a Nashville preparatory school while their facility was shut down.
Bills receiver Stefon Diggs, however, held no ill will toward the Titans and advocated to play if everything is safe and secure.
“This isn’t just a league-wide disaster or whatever, the world’s going through it as well,” Diggs said in Parrino’s report. “(We’re) handling it one day at a time. I’m being understanding more than anything because I feel for those guys, too. You don’t want anybody sick.”
The NFL has continued to monitor their attempts to work through the health crisis, which has proved risky without a bubble setting adopted by other leagues like the NHL, NBA, and WNBA. Adopting face coverings on the sidelines has proved to be a problem for coaches, forcing the league to threaten more progressive penalties, such as the forfeiture of draft picks.
The New York Jets were forced to cancel a Saturday walk-through after a surge of COVID-19 tests that were revealed to be false positives.
The New York Jets were one of several NFL teams that had their training camp proceedings affected by a testing issue at a New Jersey BioReference lab the NFL has used for COVID-19 testing. New York was originally reported to have 10 positive tests, but these later came back as false positives, head coach Adam Gase explained on Sunday.
“We had just started our squad meeting. I was informed of it,” Gase said, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Everything happened really fast as far as what was being told to us. Our guys did a great job as far as getting in touch with the league office, following all the right protocols, making sure we were doing all the right things. Our guys, they jumped on it quick, as soon as we found out.”
The Jets were forced to shut down a walk-through, as well as their facility, on Saturday night but returned to summer action on Sunday. Overall, 11 teams were affected by the procedures. The NFL announced in a Sunday statement that they are working with BioReference to look over the process. Elsewhere in the state, a report from Kevin Seifert of ESPN indicated that the New York Giants were revealed to have no players test positive, but they were awaiting the results of support staff members.
Their 2020 season is still on pace to go on as scheduled, though questions remain over what will happen if positive tests are reported in the lead-up to games. Unlike other the procedures seen in the NHL, NBA, WNBA, and NWSL, the NFL is staging their season in home stadiums, outside of a bubble. Such concerns about the potential for positive tests by gameday were raised by Jets linebacker Avery Williamson after the weekend’s chaos.
“It’s kind of crazy, you know,” Williamson said in Costello’s report. “Just thinking like what if it happens before a game or something? This could happen to any team. It’s crazy. You don’t know what’s going on. There’s nothing you can really do. If somebody has it and you don’t know it and you’re practicing against them and stuff.”
“I just hope that we can stay as clean as possible. I hope that it stays just false positives.”
Players who test positive are subject to quarantine and must present two negative tests before returning to practice.
The Big Ten Conference has officially shut down activities in the fall, including football. It will attempt to run a spring season.
Due to the ongoing health crisis, the Big Ten Conference has officially postponed its fall sports slate, which includes the upcoming football season. Conference officials confirmed the delay in a statement released on Tuesday and the plan is to push things back to the spring semesters.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”
Other sports affected by the postponement include soccer, cross country, field hockey, and women’s volleyball.
The Big Ten was the first of the “Power 5” conferences to officially call off autumn activities, though the Pac-12 followed them shortly after.
This delay pushes back the return of Greg Schiano to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football program. Schiano, who led Rutgers to a program-best 11 wins during the 2006 season, was brought back after Chris Ash was fired last fall. Conference officials unveiled a plan to play only conference games earlier this summer, with Rutgers poised to open on September 5 against Nebraska. Players have also expressed a desire to play, accompanying the social trend “#WeWantToPlay” with desires to create a stable, healthy environment, as well as a players’ association.
Several players from the fallen conference have expressed their displeasure with the news, including Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Justin Fields.
Doctson, 27, was signed to a one-year deal this spring. valued at $825,000 that will carry over to next season. He joined the league as a first-round pick of Washington in 2016 (22nd overall). He dealt with an Achilles injury during his rookie season but recovered to score six touchdowns during the 2017 season. The TCU alum was Washington’s second-leading receiver with 532 yards the following year, but the team would not pick up his fifth-season option. Doctson was later among the last cuts last summer.
He joined up with the Minnesota Vikings shortly after, but injuries limited to only one game in November, after which he was released. Doctson becomes the third member of the Jets to opt-out of 2020, joining linebacker C.J. Mosley and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi.
Doctson’s opt-out leaves the Jets razor thin on experience at receiver. Veteran Breshard Perriman was chosen to be the top option alongside second-round rookie Denzel Mims. Tenured slot receiver Jamison Crowder will return for his second year in green, as will younger veterans Vyncint Smith, Braxton Berrios, and Jeff Smith. Undrafted free agents and first-year players make up the rest of the catching corps, including Lawrence Cager, George Campbell, Josh Malone, and Jehu Chesson.
The departure of Doctson also leaves the Jets with exactly 80 players on their active roster, putting them at the number sought for NFL training camps this summer. They still have three players (Bryce Hall, Shyheim Carter, Ahmad Gooden) on the COVID-19 reserve list, which accounts for players who have either tested positive or have come into close contact with someone who did. They are eligible to come off after proper medical clearance.
The MLB world was shaken when it was learned, a couple of weeks ago, that there were positive cases of coronavirus within the Miami Marlins. Lots of words have been written and spoken about the possible causes of the outbreak, but team owner Derek Jeter had an encounter with the media and criticized the ease with which false rumors were spread about the club.
In total, 18 Miami Marlins players tested positive for the virus, and the team will resume its season today after a hiatus lasting more than a week. Jeter acknowledged that some of his players failed to obey MLB’s safety protocols such as wearing masks at all times and social distancing, but anything beyond that, he says, wasn’t true.
“I am hoping that the first question today is about the health of our players who’ve tested positive because it really has been disheartening to not read anything about that or see many signs of empathy for what they’re going through,” the Yankees great and said according to NJ.com. “Instead, we continue to hear and read about rumors about our players actions in Atlanta, and we need to stop that. And our team and our players deserve better than that. These guys are sick.”
Scott Miller of the Bleacher Report said that after playing an exhibition game in Atlanta on July 21, some players partied at a hotel bar.
A failure to follow MLB safety protocols in times of COVID-19
Jeter said that the report is erroneous.
“Our guys were not running all around town after our game in Atlanta,” Jeter stated. “So I need to ask that that stop. They don’t deserve that. We did have a couple individuals leave the hotel. In our review, it was determined we had guys leave to get coffee, to get clothes. A guy left to have dinner at a teammate’s house. There were no other guests on site. There was no salacious activity. There was no hanging out at bars. No clubs. No running around the town.
“What it boiled down to on this particular trip guys were around each other, they got relaxed and they let their guard down. They were getting together in groups. They weren’t wearing masks as much. They weren’t social distancing.
“Everyone was getting tested, we went the whole spring training 2.0 without a positive and the entire traveling party got a little too comfortable. Should they have been doing that? No. And that’s been addressed, but there is no way to identify how this got into our clubhouse. And activities on Tuesday night (in Atlanta) were not it.”
Jeter also explained that “the entire traveling party is responsible for not following the MLB protocols as instructed. That includes coaches, staffs and players. Everyone has seen the impact. They’ve seen their teammates get sick, and I know we all have a new level of appreciation.
“Hopefully, this has been a wake-up call for everyone, not only on our team, but the rest of baseball and sports in general.”