Update on the latest sports
NHL to resume season in Canada next month
UNDATED (AP) — Hockey is the latest sport to finalize a return to competition after NHL owners and players approved an agreement to resume the season.
The return-to-play plan, tentatively approved by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association on Monday, was ratified by the league’s board of governors and with majority approval from players following a three-day voting period that ended Friday. Along with it, the two sides also formally approved a four-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement.
Games are scheduled to begin Aug. 1 in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are pushing the league into Canada for the summer and fall until the Stanley Cup is awarded in late September or early October.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Saturday that coronavirus cases spiking in the Las Vegas area contributed to the NHL’s decision to complete its season in Canada. Las Vegas was long considered a front-runner.
Daly also said one player testing positive when play starts isn’t expected to shut down the playoffs, but an outbreak would change the equation. He didn’t say what the league considered an outbreak.
Training camps open across North America on Monday, which is also the deadline for players to opt out of participating with no penalty.
In other developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
— New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms. Manager Aaron Boone announced the diagnosis Saturday and said Chapman “overall is doing well” but “will not be here for the foreseeable future.” Chapman threw a bullpen session Tuesday and Boone wouldn’t comment on whether he had been at Yankee Stadium since. Boone said the team had gone through contact tracing protocols, and no other players or personnel would be forced to isolate because of Chapman’s positive test.
— The Houston Astros canceled their workout Saturday after learning that a staff member could have been exposed to a person outside the organization with the coronavirus. It’s the second time this week the Astros have canceled a workout because of concerns about the pandemic. Houston also scrapped its Monday workout because of delays with testing results due to the holiday weekend, as did some other teams around the majors.
— Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo says he doesn’t know if he actually had the coronavirus despite two positive tests, since he never had any symptoms and also had multiple negative tests. Gallo said Saturday that he planned to have a more extensive antibody test to be sure after a finger-prick test didn’t indicate that he had COVID-19. The All-Star slugger missed the first week of the Rangers summer camp after two positive tests that sandwiched a negative result during intake testing.
— Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has tested positive for COVID-19. The team says after Bidwill developed symptoms, he tested positive and went to the hospital on the recommendation of his doctor. His condition has improved and he’s expected to be released this weekend. The team believes the 55-year-old Bidwill caught the virus while traveling and spending time on the East Coast for several weeks. He’s been working remotely since March and the team says he hasn’t had in-person contact coaches or players.
— The Pac-12 has become the second major conference to shift to a conference-only fall schedule amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The decision covers football, women’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. Conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31. The announcement came a day after the Big Ten opted to eliminate nonconference games for all fall sports. The Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Southeastern conferences are still weighing options for fall sports.
— Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has tested positive for COVID-19. The 55-year-old tested positive late this week after experiencing flu-like symptoms and is self-quarantining at the direction of his doctor, according to a statement by the conference. Scott is continuing to carry on his duties as commissioner remotely.
— IndyCar has welcomed fans to its races for the first time this season. Josef Newgarden earned the pole position Saturday for the opening race of a weekend doubleheader at Road America in Wisconsin. Newgarden also earned the pole at Road America in 2018 and went on to win that race. Jack Harvey will start in the second position for the second straight race. Scott Dixon qualified ninth as he seeks his third straight victory.
— The NHRA resumed its season Saturday in front of an expected crowd of 3,000 to 4,000 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. Fans were not allowed at Friday’s practice session but returned in a limited capacity for qualifying NHRA President Glen Cromwell said ticket sales were capped at about 10 to 15% of normal capacity. They also are expected to attend Sunday’s finals. Most fans wore face coverings on a hot, sun-drenched day, complying with county guidelines, and observed social distancing in the stands, pits and at concession areas. The weekend ends a 138-day hiatus for America’s top drag racing series.
— Swiss top-tier soccer club Zurich said it had more cases of coronavirus Saturday among its players and staff who are now in home quarantine. Zurich did not specify how many new COVID-19 cases were reported after the initial announcement Friday that a player had tested positive. Zurich’s Swiss Super League games on Saturday against Sion, and on Tuesday at Basel, have been postponed during the 10-day quarantine period through to next Friday. Zurich has seven league games left and it is unclear how that program can be met ahead of UEFA’s Aug. 2 deadline to complete domestic seasons.
— German soccer club Union Berlin is offering free coronavirus tests for more than 20,000 fans as part of a plan to hold games in a full stadium in September. The Bundesliga (BOON’-dehsh-lee-guh) club will offer testing ahead of each game to fans and club staff. Each person must test negative for the virus within 24 hours of kickoff. Union wants to implement the plan in time for the first home league game of the new season, which could be as soon as Sept. 18. The club’s plan is more ambitious than those of other German clubs because it relies on mass testing instead of social distancing. The Berlin city government has a ban in place on mass gatherings until Oct. 24.
Stars’ Polak, Canucks’ Baertschi won’t report to NHL camps
UNDATED (AP) — Dallas defenseman Roman Polak and Vancouver forward Sven Baertschi have joined the list of players who won’t be reporting to training camp for the resumption of the NHL season.
Polak is not on the Stars’ roster for the start of training camp Monday, and a team spokesman said the 34-year-old veteran won’t be attending at this time. Polak is a pending free agent who last month agreed to a deal in his native Czech Republic next season and told reporters there he wasn’t planning on returning to the NHL if play resumed.
Baertschi told the Canucks he’d be opting out of participating in the expanded 24-team playoffs.
Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic on Friday became the first player to publicly choose not to play for family reasons. Hamonic’s daughter was hospitalized last year with respiratory issues, and he and his wife also have a baby boy.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won’t have captain Steven Stamkos at 100% for the opening of camp because of a lower-body injury, but they’re optimistic he’ll be ready when games get under way in early August.
The Minnesota Wild, who face the Canucks in the qualifying round, have ruled out defenseman Greg Pateryn indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Saturday the league will be taking over injury and illness disclosure from teams as a way of protecting player privacy.
Pistons’ onetime home, the Palace of Auburn Hills, torn down
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — One of Michigan’s most beloved sports and entertainment venues was turned into rubble on Saturday with a series of controlled explosions.
The shell and roof of the Palace of Auburn Hills, which was home to three championship Detroit Pistons teams and three Detroit Shock teams and played host to some of the world’s biggest musical acts during its nearly 30-year run, crumbled to the ground following a series explosive pops. The rest of the arena had already been removed.
The Palace, which opened in 1988, held more than 22,000 people for NBA games and up to 23,000 for concerts and other shows, according to nba.com.
After the Pistons relocated in 2017 to downtown Detroit, the arena about 30 miles northwest of the city continued to host concerts and music events, the last in September 2017 by rocker Bob Seger.
It also became the second suburban Detroit arena that found little real use after its main sports tenant took its games back to the city. The Detroit Lions played at the nearby Pontiac Silverdome from 1975-2001 before moving to Ford Field in Detroit. The Pistons also called the Silverdome home for a decade before The Palace opened. The Silverdome was taken down with a partial implosion in 2017.
England World Cup winner Jack Charlton dies at 85
UNDATED (AP) — England World Cup winner Jack Charlton has died.
Charlton was an uncompromising central defender who played alongside his brother, Bobby, in England’s World Cup-winning side in 1966 before enjoying coaching success with Ireland. Charlton was Footballer of the Year in England in 1967. He spent all his club career at Leeds from 1952-73, tying its all-time record of 773 appearances. He won every domestic honor, including the league title in 1969. His biggest achievement came with the England national team that beat Germany 4-2 after extra time in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium.
Charlton died at home on Friday in his native Northumberland in northeast England. He was 85.
Premier League games will be preceded by a minute’s silence this weekend as a tribute to Charlton and players will wear black armbands.
Tennis Integrity Unit eyes suspicious exhibition matches
LONDON (AP) — The Tennis Integrity Unit has raised concerns over 24 “suspicious matches” at exhibitions organized while the men’s and women’s tours are shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The TIU, which investigates match-fixing cases in the sport, said Friday it received reports of the matches at private tournaments staged between April and June.
The reports are filed by gambling companies who track unusual betting patterns around matches. Suspicious betting patterns don’t necessarily mean a match was fixed. A similar effect can also happen if insider information about a player’s injury leaks.
Private tennis exhibitions have proliferated after the ATP and WTA tours closed down in March. Some have little or no oversight. Besides a smattering of events with big-name players, there are many smaller events around the world with low-ranked players.