There might not be a frozen envelope involved, but conspiracy theories abounded after the Rangers won the NHL Draft lottery Monday night and with it the right to select consensus top pick, heralded Canadian left winger Alexis Lafreniere.
The Rangers and the seven other teams eliminated from the NHL playoff qualifying round this past week were entered into a live televised lottery for the top pick in October’s draft, held pingpong-ball style.
Normally the NHL conducts its lottery process behind closed doors and reveals the results afterward, as was the case during the first phase of the lottery in June, when it was determined that the top pick would be awarded to a team involved in the league’s restart.
With commissioner Gary Bettman looking on, an unidentified and masked NHL employee was to remove each ball from an attache case, show it to Bettman who verified the logo, and then place it into the lottery machine.
But the employee accidentally dropped the ball emblazoned with the Rangers logo into the machine first, leading players and fans on social media to suggest, without substantial evidence, that the ball may have been heavier than the other balls in order to give it a better shot at being selected by the machine.
The employee quickly removed the ball from the machine, without disrupting the other balls, and had Bettman verify it before dropping it back in.
“New York Rangers ball looks a little heavy,” tweeted former NHL goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Others on social media likened the bizarre sequence of events to the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery, when it was theorised that an envelope containing the Knicks logo was frozen so that then-commissioner David Stern would be able to easily pull it out of the lottery box, thus giving the Knicks the right to select Patrick Ewing. Stern effusively denied that rumour until the day he died on Jan. 1, 2020.
I’m not trying to single out that guy. It’s a hard job, made even harder by how frostbitten his fingers must have been while holding the Rangers’ ball. https://t.co/ULJQBbWbny
Owners of the National Hockey League’s Seattle expansion team unveiled Kraken as the club’s nickname on Thursday, the mythical sea beast having been a fan favourite in marketing polls.
The NHL’s 32nd team, set to take the ice in the 2021-22 season, will feature dark and light blue colours and an S-shaped logo that pays tribute to the 1917 Stanley Cup champion Seattle Metropolitans but adds a red eye and tentacle.
And while most seemed to get behind Kraken, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser unleashed on Pardon The Interruption.
“My instant thought was this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Wilbon said. “And I started just running through all the nicknames of all the teams in the NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL, and this is the worst.
“This is the worst one I have ever heard.”
Kornheiser agreed: “The name stinks … you’re not joining the league for another year, you have a chance to get rid of this stupid nickname. Stinks.”
“Seattle’s a city with a deep maritime history,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said.
“I think this name embodies a connection with the sea and a curiosity of what lies beneath it. It’s a natural tie to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
“In theory, it reflects the power and aggression in the game of hockey. We’re hoping that’s the kind of tenacity our players show every time they take the ice.”
FINALLY! A tiny bit of good news in 2020! The @NHL releases the KRAKEN in SEATTLE! The most metal sounding name in Hockey since the @NJDevils! The Devils and the Kraken clashing sounds almost Lovecraftian! https://t.co/iae54quLaw
Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave died Saturday morning, days after undergoing emergency surgery for a brain bleed, his family announced.
He was 25.
“It is with great sadness to share the news that our Colby Cave passed away early this morning,” Cave’s family said in a statement.
“I (wife Emily) and both our families are in shock but know our Colby was loved dearly by us, his family and friends, the entire hockey community, and many more. We thank everyone for their prayers during this difficult time.”
On Tuesday, Cave had emergency surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.
He remained in a medically induced coma following the procedure as doctors fought to save his life at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.
Cave’s family was not allowed to be in the hospital with him because of coronavirus precautions, but Emily said during the week she and his parents got to see him through a window and talk to him with a walkie talkie.
Cave, who got married last summer, split this season between the Oilers and AHL Bakersfield.
Emily Cave last week posted on Instagram a heartbreaking message where she admitted the family was praying for a miracle recovery.
“Please wake up. Please wake up,” she wrote on Instagram.
“It’s all I can keep asking, ‘he’s going to wake up right?’ We need a miracle.
“We have no idea when we will be allowed to see him again. The nurse has tied his wedding band to his ankle,” she continued.
“I am dreaming of being able to touch you, hear your voice, squeeze your hand (3 times), and kiss you again.”
On Wednesday, Emily told her followers she endured “the worst days of [her] life,” as Colby underwent surgery with doctors “fighting to keep him alive.”
Cave previously played for the Boston Bruins.
“The National Hockey League family mourns the heartbreaking passing of Colby Cave, whose life and hockey career, though too short, were inspiringly emblematic of the best of our game,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
“Undrafted but undaunted, Colby was relentless in the pursuit of his hockey dream with both the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins organisations. An earnest and hardworking player, he was admired by his teammates and coaches. More important, he was a warm and generous person who was well-liked by all those fortunate enough to know him. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Emily, their families and Colby’s countless friends throughout the hockey world.”
AHL president and CEO David Andrews also paid tribute to Cave.
“Colby Cave was beloved as a teammate and friend, as a husband and son,” Andrews said in a statement.
“The entire American Hockey League extends our deepest condolences to Colby’s wife, Emily, and his entire family, as well as to those whose lives he touched in the Oilers and Bruins organizations and throughout hockey.”
Augusta National Golf Club has announced the 2020 Masters will be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
At this stage, no future date has been given.
The Masters had been scheduled for April 9-12.
“Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley wrote in a statement.
“Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision. We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.”
SATURDAY MIDNIGHT — PREMIER LEAGUE SUSPENDED
The Premier League and the Champions League have been suspended.
The French and German leagues also dropped plans to play this weekend, placing all five of Europe’s biggest national competitions on hold.
Men’s Olympic qualifying also was suspended in soccer’s North and Central American and Caribbean region.
Basketball authorities closed the NBL’s grand final series to spectators from Friday night’s game two. Andrew Bogut put on a first-half masterclass to inspire the Sydney Kings to a 97-83 victory over the Perth Wildcats.
Australia’s men’s cricket team began a one-day international against New Zealand in an empty Sydney arena on Friday, hours after the Australian Grand Prix became the first sporting event in the country cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Organisers stopped the season opener while spectators were queuing to enter Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit, their call coming after 14 people linked to the Grand Prix were tested – one, a McLaren team member, returning a positive.
Supercars races were also cancelled, while Super Netball’s pre-season tournament later this month was scrapped.
Australian sports had no choice but to follow leagues around the world in holding games without spectators or suspending competition after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ban on non-essential mass gatherings.
— with AAP and AFP
FULL LIST: The sports impacted by coronavirus
AFL: Will still play games, but no crowds for Round 1
AFLW: Will still play games, but no crowds from Saturday March 14 onwatds
NRL: Business as usual for Round 2, but will play on with no crowds from Round 2 onwards
Super Rugby: Three Super Rugby games and two Super W matches will proceed as scheduled on Saturday and Sunday and be open to the public. But all Super Rugby and Super W matches in Australia beyond round seven will be played in closed venues until further notice.