NHL inching closer to a 2021 season and COVID mess of its very own

December 19, 2020 0 By boss

Gary. Bettman and the NHL are close to finalizing a deal that calls for a 56-game season.

Gary. Bettman and the NHL are close to finalizing a deal that calls for a 56-game season.
Image: Getty Images

It’s not officially official just yet, but Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported that the NHL and NHLPA have a tentative deal for a 56-game regular-season schedule with a Jan. 13 start. So, one way or another, the 2021 hockey season is a go.

Questions still to be answered are exactly what the realigned divisions for the shortened season will look like, whether a division with all the Canadian teams will be allowed to actually play in Canada, and, rather importantly, how in the bloody hell they plan to actually get through this.

Last week in college hockey, eight of the 47 games in Division I had to be postponed, and that total is lower than it might otherwise have been because the NCHC was able to put together a quasi-bubble in Omaha.

The NFL has struggled all fall, and its teams play once a week. The MLB season was a mess. College football and basketball have been borderline disasters. The NBA is just getting ready to give it a shot, and it’s not exactly promising when you get headlines like “Noah Vonleh tests positive for coronavirus, gets cut by Bulls.”

Hockey, in the best of times, is a kindergarten-level breeding ground for disease. Teams getting decimated by the flu is an annual occurrence, there have been two widespread mumps outbreaks in the league twice in the last decade, and if you played against the San Jose Sharks last March before the shutdown, congratulations, you got COVID-19.

So best of luck to the NHL on making this work, and on the upcoming PR campaign that ensues when there’s a single hockey player who gets a coronavirus vaccine before every EMT in America has had a chance to be inoculated.

Before Friday night, Oregon football’s last win came on Nov. 21, when the Ducks held on to beat UCLA, 38-35. Oregon lost at Oregon State, lost at Cal, and had its game against Washington canceled, finishing second in the Pac-12 North at 3-2 behind the Huskies, who were unable to take part in the Pac-12 title game.

So, obviously, Oregon won the Pac-12 championship, handing USC its first loss of the season, 31-24. It’s hilarious and stupid, that the third-best team in the country’s fifth-best conference is going to a New Year’s Six bowl.

At least it won’t be at the expense of an undefeated Buffalo team, because the Bulls finally lost, too, bowing 38-28 to Ball State in the MAC title game.

And Nebraska beat Rutgers. Congrats on the 3-5 season. We’re all so glad you fought so hard to bring back Big Ten football this year, Huskers. Hey, you finished with more wins than Michigan, that’s cool.

Jets center Connor McGovern is the subject of the annual story about how someone on a team headed for the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft has had it up to here with fans cheering for the tank, this time in the New York Post.

“I don’t put my body through this, I don’t think anybody on the Jets puts their body through it, to lose,” McGovern said. “It might be easy for somebody sitting on the couch, eating pizza, chips and dip, to say they should keep losing, but if they’ve ever strapped the pads on, that sounds like an impossible thing to do. I’m going to do whatever I can to win.”

McGovern is, of course, right on every count. It is very easy to sit on the couch, enjoy pizza, chips and dip, and say the Jets should keep losing. It’s also true that anyone who’s playing is trying to win. Nobody doubts that the Jets players have been trying to win all season. It’s just that, you know, they stink.

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