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Coronavirus sports roundup: NHL eyes 24-team playoff field

Coronavirus sports roundup: NHL eyes 24-team playoff field

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The NHL was awaiting the result of a players’ vote on a 24-team playoff format Friday before discussing its options on how to proceed in its bid to resume play.

If the format is approved, as expected, numerous questions remain.

They include potential game locations, when players can return to their respective teams and what nonplayoff teams will be allowed to do during what could potentially become a 10-month break between games.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place but stopped short of providing details by saying it would be premature to do so at this time.

Under the plan proposed by the NHL/NHLPA Return To Play committee, the top four teams in each conference would play each other in a mini-tournament for seeding while the remaining 16 teams face off in a best-of-five series play-in round to set the final 16 to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Games would likely be played without fans present, and the teams grouped in hub cities around the continent. Las Vegas has become the city most mentioned as a potential site, particularly because of its large concentration of hotels that could house numerous teams.

Should players provide a green light, the plan would go to the league’s board of governors, who would be likely to approve it. The next step would have the Return To Play committee sort out further issues including health and safety protocols.

Under the proposed format, Montreal would be the final team to qualify in the East based on a slim points-percentage margin. With 71 points in 71 games (.500), the Canadiens edge out Buffalo, which had 68 points in 69 games (.493).

The difference in the West is much larger, with Chicago (.514) beating out Anaheim (.472). All three California teams would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96.

The NHL is open to having the playoffs extend into September and pushing the start of the 2020-21 season as late as January — or when fans can begin attending games in some capacity.

Georgetown coach Ewing tests positive for virus

WASHINGTON — Georgetown basketball coach Patrick Ewing tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at a hospital.

“This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly,” the Hall of Famer as a player for the Hoyas in college and the New York Knicks in the NBA said in a statement. “I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Now more than ever, I want to thank the healthcare workers and everyone on the front lines. I’ll be fine and we will all get through this.”

The school said the 57-year-old Ewing is the only member of its men’s program who has contracted the coronavirus.

As a player, the 7-foot Ewing helped Georgetown win the 1984 NCAA men’s basketball championship and reach two other title games.

During Ewing’s four years playing for John Thompson Jr., Georgetown went 121-23, a winning percentage of .840.

He was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 draft after the Knicks won the NBA’s first lottery. Ewing wound up leading New York to the 1994 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Houston Rockets.

Ewing played 17 seasons in the NBA, 15 with the Knicks.

Colleges: Southeastern Conference schools will be able to bring athletes in all sports back to campus for voluntary activities starting June 8 at the discretion of each university.

The SEC’s announcement Friday is the latest sign that a college football season will be launched in some form this fall. Other conferences are expected to follow suit, though decisions could be left to individual schools.

Alabama-Huntsville is dropping men’s hockey and men’s and women’s tennis as part of budget cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Alabama-Huntsville was one of the only southern schools to have a men’s hockey varsity program. The Chargers won Division II national titles in 1996 and 1998 and were Division II runners-up in 1994 and 1997 before making the move to the Division I level for the 1998-99 season.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton raised over $200,000 for COVID-19 relief during an 11-hour radiothon.

Connaughton was on the air on 94.5 ESPN Milwaukee and 100.5 ESPN Madison throughout the day Thursday. He was joined on air at various times by Bucks teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo and Kyle Korver as well as coach Mike Budenholzer, general manager Jon Horst and co-owner Marc Lasry.

Connaughton’s show raised $205,859 for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, and Connaughton’s With Us Foundation.

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall is starting the “202 Assist” program to help with paying rent for people in the nation’s capital affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The John Wall Family Foundation set a goal of raising $300,000 over the next month. The program is named for Washington’s area code and will work with the city to find those in need and disperse funds.

His foundation donated 2,300 masks and hundreds of meals to front-line workers in Washington and in his home state of North Carolina in April.

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