Shortly after the NHL and NHLPA announced a ratified return-to-play plan and CBA extension, Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic became the first player to opt out of the season.

Hamonic said that concerns about his young children contracting COVID-19 prompted his decision. His daughter was hospitalised with a respiratory illness last year.

"I wish I could lace up my skates and be out there battling, blocking a shot and helping my team win, but my family has and always will come first," Hamonic said.

"Being my little kids' dad every day is the most important job I have."

Hamonic had three goals and nine assists in 50 games before this season was put on hold on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Flames will face the Winnipeg Jets in the qualifying round of the playoffs.

Training camps open across North America on Monday, which is also the deadline for players to opt out of participating with no penalty.

The NHL's expanded 24-team playoff format is scheduled to begin without fans on August 1 in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta.

The NHL's Board of Governors and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) approved a plan to resume the season with games in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, on August 1, in separate votes announced on Friday.

Training camps are scheduled to begin on Monday across North America for the expanded 24-team playoff format involving the top 12 teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Monday is also the deadline for players to opt out of participating in the season with no penalty.

Both sides also reached an agreement on a four-year extension to the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will run through 2025-26 and ensure 14 years of labor peace since a lockout shortened the 2012-13 season.

The current CBA was due to expire in September 2022. The new agreement would overwrite the CBA for the 2020 and 2021-22 seasons while adding another four seasons.

The CBA includes language that would allow players to return to the Olympics in 2022 and 2026 – pending an agreement with the IIHF and IOC.

"This agreement is a meaningful step forward for the players and owners, and for our game, in a difficult and uncertain time," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said. "We are pleased to be able to bring NHL hockey back to the fans."

There will be no fans at the games in Toronto and Edmonton and the plan is to play five or six games a day to start – up to three at each site.

There will be personnel limits, quarantining restrictions and daily tests for players, coaches, management and team, arena, hotel and restaurant staff at the hub cities. Players families will not be able to join them until the conference finals, which will take place Edmonton.

Those who test positive or develop symptoms will be placed in isolation for a minimum of 10 days and must twice test negative before being allowed to rejoin the team.

If all goes according to schedule, the Stanley Cup Final would begin in late September in Edmonton, with the 2020-21 season targeted to start on December 1.

The NHL hopes to complete a season that was shut down on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic with 189 games and the playoffs remaining.

Chicago Blackhawks veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook took part in the team's voluntary workout on Thursday, his first practice since undergoing three surgeries.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion's season was supposed to be over after having right shoulder surgery in late December, left hip surgery in January and right hip surgery in early February, but the pause in the season caused by the coronavirus pandemic has left the door open for a possible return. 

Chicago's season will resume on August 1 in a best-of-five play-in series against the Edmonton Oilers as part of the NHL's return.

The 35-year-old Seabrook, meanwhile, last played on December 15, but his possible return would provide some experience to a young defense. 

Since making his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in 2005, Seabrook has tallied 103 goals and 464 points, while his 1,114 games played rank third in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Stan Mikita (1,396) and current team-mate Duncan Keith (1,138).

The New Jersey Devils have hired veteran coach Lindy Ruff to lead one of the youngest rosters in the NHL.

At the same time, it was confirmed the Devils would be removing the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald, the club’s executive vice-president and general manager.

The team released statements confirming that 60-year-old Ruff, along with his 19 seasons of NHL head coaching experience, will be replacing interim coach Alain Nasreddine next season, and that Fitzgerald will continue to run the front office.

Nasreddine took over coaching duties after the club fired John Hynes on December 3.

Ruff was the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres from 1998 to 2013 – including a trip to the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals – then coached the Dallas Stars from 2013 to 2017. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers.

"His personality, experience, knowledge, work-ethic and focus will provide a calm presence in our locker room," Fitzgerald said. "He is the right coach at the right time for our organisation.

"His teaching ability, and communication skills will be well-suited for our team, especially our young, developing players."

The Devils finished the coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 season at 28-29-12 and are the only team in the Metropolitan Division not included in the NHL's expanded 24-team playoff scheduled to start later this month.

When the season was paused in March, New Jersey had the youngest roster in the NHL, with the average active player under 26 years old.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to lead a group of great young talent and strong leadership to the next level," Ruff said. "I look forward to bringing this core together, developing our players and putting us on a trajectory that can lead to sustained success in a timely manner.

"The players have to know one thing, I'm going to have their back and at the same time they have to have mine. We have to grow together."

The Devils have two recent number one overall draft picks on the roster – 21-year-old centre Nico Hischier and 19-year-old winger Jack Hughes – as well as a variety of other high draft picks. Homegrown goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is 24 years old and was 22-14-8 this season with a 2.77 goals-against average.

The Devils have made the Stanley Cup playoffs just once in the last eight seasons, a first-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018.

The NHL and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) reached a tentative agreement to restart the coronavirus-affected 2019-20 season next month and extend the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) by four years. 

The agreement, which calls for training camps to open on July 14 and a 24-team playoff to start August 1 in two hub cities – expected to be Toronto and Edmonton after the season was halted in March due to COVID-19 – will go into effect once ratified by the league's board of governors and the NHLPA's executive board as well as the players.  

If approved, the CBA would run through 2025-26 and ensure 14 years of labour peace since a lockout shortened the 2012-13 season to 48 games. Details of the extension have not yet been made public. 

The NHL did reveal details of the health and safety protocols agreed to by both parties that were necessary for the planned restart.

They include daily testing for COVID-19 once players and team personnel have returned to their club's facility.

Those who test positive or develop symptoms will be placed in isolation for a minimum of 10 days and must twice test negative before being allowed to rejoin the team. 

Teams will also be limited to 31-player rosters and a maximum of 52 people in their traveling parties once games begin, with players to be housed separately in hotel rooms and forbidden to enter each other's rooms. Family members will be permitted to join players for only the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.  

Players can elect not to participate in the resumption but must notify their team within 72 hours of the completion of the ratification process. 

Though terms of the CBA agreement are currently unknown, they are expected to resolve issues involving the salary cap and escrow payments from players to owners to guarantee an even split of league revenues. An agreement for players to be able to resume playing in future Olympics has also been a noted sticking point in negotiations. 

NHL players did not compete in the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea after taking part in five consecutive Olympics from 1998-2014. 

The NHL released an update on coronavirus testing results on Monday, revealing that 35 players have tested positive over roughly the last month. 

Of the 35 to test positive, 12 contracted the virus since voluntary workouts began June 8.  

"As of Monday, July 6, the NHL has had 396 Players report to Club training/practice facilities for optional participation in Phase 2 activities," the NHL said in a statement.

"There have been in excess of 2,900 COVID-19 tests administered (including more than 1,400 this past week) to this group of Players. Those tests have resulted in a total of 23 returning confirmed positive test results for COVID-19. 

"In addition, since June 8 (the opening of Phase 2), the League is aware of 12 additional Players who have tested positive for COVID-19 outside of the Phase 2 Protocol. All Players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. 

"The NHL will continue to provide regular updates on the number of tests administered to Players and the results of those tests. The League will not be providing information on the identity of the Players or Clubs." 

The NHL and its Players' Association on Sunday night reached an agreement on health and safety protocols pertaining to their scheduled restart of the season. 

The deal contains daily testing for the coronavirus as well as quarantine rules for players who do test positive, limits on roster size and travelling party capacity when travelling for games, and gives players the option to opt out of the resumption as long as they notify their teams by Tuesday. 

The two sides still need to work out a new collective bargaining agreement to move forward to the next phase of the league's plan, which calls for training camps to begin July 13. The NHL is slated to resume play on August 1 with a 24-team playoff format in two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, without fans in attendance. 

The first phase of the NHL Draft Lottery failed to reveal the team with the top overall selection on Friday, with it to be determined by the second phase. 

The 2020 draft – originally scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal – will be held after the Stanley Cup playoffs, which does not have a start date following the coronavirus crisis.

The top pick and rights to likely select high-scoring forward Alexis Lafreniere will go to one of the eight teams that loses in the qualifying round.

That team will be decided by a second drawing to be held before the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The Los Angeles Kings will have the second pick and the Ottawa Senators will receive the third pick from the San Jose Sharks after the Erik Karlsson trade.

"We're pretty excited," Kings president Luc Robitaille said. "It's always good to move up or down, whatever you want to call it. It's an exciting moment for the L.A. Kings and the franchise for sure."

Ottawa also have the fifth selection, while the league-worst Detroit Red Wings had the best chance to win the top pick at 18.5 per cent but fell to fourth.

The lottery included the seven teams that are not part of the NHL's 24-team return to play plan, plus the eight placeholder positions for the eliminated qualifiers.  

"Still not drafted, so we'll have to wait a little bit," said Lafreniere, a star winger for Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. 

The eight losing teams of the return-to-play qualification round will each have a 12.5 per cent chance at the top pick.  

New York Rangers star forward Artemi Panarin said on Thursday that players should not report to their teams for training camp until the NHL resolves the escrow system.

NHL training camps are scheduled to open on July 10 before the league's planned 24-team format for the Stanley Cup playoffs is set to begin in late July or early August in two hub cities.

Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, NHL owners and players divide hockey-related revenue equally, and if player salaries exceed that split, a certain percentage is withheld in escrow to make it even.

Players have voiced their concerns with this in recent years. The coronavirus pandemic has made the situation more complicated with speculation of just how much of players' salaries would have to be held in escrow next season.

"For nearly two decades, the players have protected the owners income with escrow, including during the pandemic crisis even as the owners' equity continues to grow exponentially," Panarin said in a statement, posted to his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

"It is time to fix the escrow. We as players cannot report to training camp to resume play without already having agreement in place."

Panarin is the most prominent player to speak out against returning to training camp without a fix to the escrow system.

He signed a seven-year, $81.5million free-agent contract with the Rangers last year and was tied for third in the NHL with 95 points in 69 games when the season was put on hold on March 12.

Prolific goal scorers and first-time eligibles Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa highlight the 2020 class of inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame, announced on Wednesday by the selection committee in Toronto. 

Iginla, whose 625 goals rank 17th in NHL history, and Hossa, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks, are among a group of honourees that also includes defencemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, Canadian women's standout Kim St Pierre and long-time general manager Ken Holland.

"The Hockey Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these hockey legends as Honoured Members," said Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald. "Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved."

Iginla finished a stellar 20-year NHL career in 2017 with 1,300 points and twice won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy honouring the league's top goal scorer. The Edmonton native also earned the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's points leader in 2003 and won gold medals representing Canada in the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics.

"This selection is hard to believe and makes me reflect and look back on my career," said Iginla, who spent 16 of his 20 seasons with the Calgary Flames. "I was always just trying to make the NHL and this recognition means a lot to me and my family." 

Iginla becomes the fourth black player to be enshrined, joining goaltender Grant Fuhr and pioneers Willie O'Ree and Angela James.

Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists over a 19-year NHL career that was cut short by a progressive skin disorder in 2017. The Slovak native was a key contributor to the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015 and made seven All-Star teams. 

"This honour means so much to me," he said. "I would like to thank everyone who voted for me. I have learned so much about life through the game of hockey and am very appreciative of this recognition."

St Pierre, the seventh female elected to the Hall of Fame, helped Canada to three Olympic gold medals and five more at the Women's World Championships as a goaltender. The 41-year-old recorded a 1.17 goals-against average for Team Canada during her international career. 

"Hockey has always been my passion and this is a very special honour," she said. "When I was growing up it was only boys and when that changed my dream was able to come through. I'm grateful and would like to thank all of my coaches and family." 

Lowe won five Stanley Cups as a shutdown defenceman with the Edmonton Oilers' powerhouse teams of the 1980s and another with the New York Rangers in 1994. Wilson, the current general manager of the San Jose Sharks, compiled 237 goals and 590 assists over 14 seasons with Chicago and San Jose. 

Holland is recognised in the builder category as the architect of the Detroit Red Wings teams that captured the Stanley Cup in 1998, 2002 and 2008. He spent 22 seasons as the team's general manager before taking the same position with the Oilers in May 2019.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver all are eligible to be a hub city as part of the NHL's return-to-play plan.

The three Canadian cities are among the 10 the NHL is considering, with seven United States cities – Chicago, Dallas, Columbus, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St Paul and Pittsburgh – also in the running.

"We have indicated that we are comfortable with moving forward on an NHL hub in one of three Canadian cities that are asking for it," Trudeau said.

"Obviously, the decision needs to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction. Canada is open to it as long as it is OK by the local health authorities."

Canada's border remains closed to nonessential travel through at least July 21, but Trudeau said the closure does not affect NHL players, some of whom have already been traveling to rejoin their teams. The league said it would not select a Canadian city if players were required to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

"The National Hockey League appreciates the significant effort that the government of Canada put into reviewing this matter and satisfying itself that the league's protocol and processes for return to play were thorough, well thought out and, most importantly, focused on the health and safety of all concerned," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement to the Toronto Star.

"The league will continue to work with the respective provincial governments and health authorities in the coming days as we consider our hub cities decision."

The NHL is gearing up for a return amid the coronavirus pandemic and would start with the playoffs and 24 teams split between two hub cities.

Teams are scheduled to begin training camp on July 10 provided medical and safety concerns allow and the NHL and the NHL Players' Association reach agreement on resuming play.

The Buffalo Sabres fired general manager Jason Botterill on Tuesday after he failed to help the organisation end a long playoff drought in his three seasons in charge. 

Buffalo went 88-115-30 under Botterill and will not be part of the 22-team playoff if the NHL is able to resume after being on hold since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

That extended the Sabres’ playoff absence to nine seasons – the longest active streak in the NHL and one shy of tying the league record set by the Florida Panthers (2000-01 – 2010-11) and Edmonton Oilers (2006-07 – 2015-16). 

"This morning, we informed Jason Botterill he will no longer be the general manager of the Sabres," co-owners Terry and Kim Pegula said in a statement.

"This decision was made after many candid discussions with Jason during a full review of our hockey operation. 

“We recognised we have philosophical differences regarding how best to put ourselves in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup. So, we decided to make this change."

Senior vice president of business administration Kevyn Adams has been named general manager. 

"New general manager Kevyn Adams and head coach Ralph Krueger already have a close working relationship and we are excited to see what they can do together as we reconfigure our hockey operations," the Pegulas said. 

"We have the benefit of this long 2020 pause to take time to reorganise and re-energise our hockey department."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league returning maintains the integrity of the Stanley Cup amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2019-20 NHL season was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, but the league hopes to resume with a 24-team playoff format in early August.

Teams are allowed to begin training camps on July 10 to prepare for the restart of the competition, provided all medical protocols are in place.

While the MLB struggles to get underway, Bettman talked up the NHL's plans as the NBA and MLS also plan to resume.

"I think everybody can feel good, based on the combination of the play-in round and the way we're going to run the playoffs, that this will be a full competition which will bring out the best in our teams and our players," Bettman told ESPN.

"The Stanley Cup champion will be deserving of that crown and the most storied trophy in all of sports."

"We will create an environment that will be exciting, will be entertaining, will be consistent with a competition that has integrity," he continued.

"Everything we've been doing has been a joint effort [with the players], working together, to make sure that we're adhering to the protocols which will be very strict," Bettman said.

The NHL plans to test all players daily for coronavirus when the season is able to restart and Bettman added: "If there's one positive test -- again, this will be under the strict guidance of the medical people -- that person will be isolated.

"And we'll be monitoring anybody, through contract tracing, that was in close proximity. Obviously, for any sport, if you have a major outbreak, it's going to change everything; but we're being told that an isolated case or a couple of isolated cases shouldn't interfere with the plans, and we should be able to move forward."

Asafa Powell broke the 100 metres world record on this day 15 years ago, and the New York Rangers ended a 54-year NHL title drought in 1994.

No man has ever run faster than Usain Bolt over 100m, but Powell was Jamaica's sprint king in 2005.

The Rangers were celebrating at Madison Square Garden 26 years ago, while Canada's cricketers will not want to be reminded of this date in 1979.

We go back in time to look at some memorable sporting moments that have taken place on June 14.

 

1979 - Canada crumble at Old Trafford

A Cricket World Cup contest between England and Canada always looked like it was going to be a mismatch.

That was very much the case in Manchester, where the minnows were skittled out for only 45 - the lowest ODI score in history at the time.

Bob Willis (4-11) and Chris Old (4-8) wreaked havoc, Franklyn Dennis making almost half of Canada's runs before England took just 13.5 overs to seal an eight-wicket win.

 

1994 - Rangers rule in New York

The Rangers had not been crowned NHL champions since way back in 1940 and it looked like they may have blown their chance in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

Mike Keenan's side led the series 3-1 after losing the opening match, but the Canucks rallied to force a decider.

The tension was almost unbearable for Rangers fans, but Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Mark Messier were on target to secure a 3-2 victory and spark a huge party.

There has been no NHL glory for the Rangers since that triumph.

2005 - Powell keeps true to his word in Athens

A 22-year-old Powell said he was ready to break Tim Montgomery's 100m world record in Athens.

His confidence was certainly not unfounded, as he set a new mark of 9.77 seconds at the Olympic Stadium.

"It shows no-one knows how fast a man can run." Powell said after making history. He went faster another three times after Justin Gatlin had gone quicker in 2005.

Bolt holds the current record of 9.58, set in Berlin 11 years ago.

 

2007 - Imperious Spurs sweep Cavs

The NBA Finals 13 years ago proved to be one-sided, with the San Antonio Spurs dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In their 40th season as a franchise, the Spurs wrapped up a 4-0 series victory with an 83-82 win in Cleveland.

Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 27 points as LeBron James' 24-point haul was in vain, with Tony Parker named Finals MVP for Gregg Popovich's side.

The Boston Bruins announced on Friday that an unidentified player tested positive for the coronavirus prior to attempting to use the team's facilities. 

The NHL team said in a statement that the player has since tested negative twice for COVID-19 and did not have symptoms. The player also did not take part in any informal workouts with team-mates, according to the Bruins.  

All NHL players wishing to use team facilities for voluntary workouts are required to be tested for COVID-19 as part of Phase 2 of the league's four-step Return to Play plan. The Bruins said all players that have returned to this point during Phase 2 have tested negative. 

The NHL announced on Thursday it will allow teams to begin training camps on July 10 to prepare for a restart of the suspended 2019-20 season, provided all medical protocols are in place. The league hopes to resume the season in early August with a 24-team playoff format.  

Ten players have been known to test positive for COVID-19 since the league suspended play on March 12. Five of those players are members of the Ottawa Senators, who did not qualify for the expanded postseason.  

June 12 was a day when Michael Jordan finally became an NBA champion, while the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors also enjoyed Finals celebrations.

Jordan became widely regarded as the greatest player of all time but had to endure a couple of heartbreaks before finally tasting glory with the Chicago Bulls in 1991.

Shaquille O'Neal made history with the Lakers on this day 18 years ago, while you only have to go back to 2017 for Kevin Durant's moment to shine.

The St. Louis Blues also had reason to celebrate 12 months ago as their long wait for Stanley Cup glory came to an end.


1991 - MJ and the Bulls earn first of six

Having been beaten twice in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls finally bested their rivals in the 1990-91 playoffs.

That led to a Finals series with the LA Lakers and Jordan was not about to miss his opportunity.

The Bulls wrapped it up in five with Jordan the fulcrum of their success en route to being named Finals MVP.

He scored 30 points and Scottie Pippen put up 32 as the Bulls defeated the Lakers 108-101 to win their first NBA title on this day. They would go on win six in eight years in one of sport's greatest dynasties.


2002 – 'Get ready for the Shaq attack!' Lakers rout Nets

It was a night of history for Shaq and Phil Jackson as the Lakers completed a 4-0 series of sweep of the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.

Finals MVP Shaq put up 34 points in the 113-107 victory in New Jersey as the Lakers became the fifth team to win at least three straight NBA Championships.

With 145 points in the series, Shaq became the highest scorer in a four-game Finals, beating the 131 of Hakeem Olajuwon, which he achieved in 1995 for the Houston Rockets against O'Neal's Orlando Magic.

For legendary coach Jackson, it represented a ninth NBA title as a coach - levelling Red Auerbach's benchmark.


2017: Durant the Golden boy as James' Cavs beats

Just a year earlier, LeBron James had inspired the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship from a 3-1 deficit to avenge their loss to the Golden State Warriors the season before.

But in the third year of their fourth straight battle in the NBA Finals, it was the Warriors who celebrated a 4-1 series triumph.

Kevin Durant, signed as a free agent at the start of the 2016-17 season, was named Finals MVP after averaging 35.2 points, including putting up 39 in Game 5.

James had 41 but was unable to prevent the Cavs slipping to a 129-120 loss.


2019: St Louis finally end Stanley Cup Blues

In a back-and-forth Stanley Cup Finals series, it all came down to Game Seven between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins.

But the Boston fans were left disappointed at TD Garden as St. Louis ran out 4-1 victors.

It marked the Blues' first Stanley Cup triumph in their 51st season as a franchise.

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