Thursday Sports in Brief
The NHL Players’ Association’s executive board is voting on a 24-team playoff proposal as the return to play format, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the vote was still ongoing. Results of the vote could be in as soon as Friday night.
Even if the executive board votes to approve the format, it doesn’t yet seal the deal for the NHL season resuming. The league and players union still need to negotiate other details, including health and safety protocols.
But the format is a substantial piece of the return to play puzzle.
Under the plan proposed by the joint NHL/NHLPA Return To Play Committee, the top four teams in each of the Eastern and Western Conferences would play each other 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.
— By Associated Press Sports Writers Stephen Whyno & John Wawrow.
CALGERY, Alberta (AP) — Spokane Chiefs forward Adam Beckman was selected the Western Hockey League player of the year Thursday.
Beckman, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was the lone player to crack the 100-point mark with 48 goals and 59 assists in 63 games. The 19-year-old Minnesota prospect is the first Chiefs player to win the award since Ray Whitney in 1991.
NEW YORK (AP) — The baseball players’ association gave management a wide-ranging response Thursday to a 67-page proposed set of protocols for a season to be played during the coronavirus pandemic.
Management had presented the union and the 30 teams the proposed draft last Friday.
The union said Thursday it addressed: protections for high-risk players, access to pre- and postgame therapies, testing frequency, protocols for positive tests, in-stadium medical personnel and sanitization procedures.
The union wants more frequent testing than management’s proposed “multiple times per week.”
MLB is expected to make an economic proposal to the union within a few days. MLB hopes to start the season by early July.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates are trimming payroll while they await word on the fate of the Major League Baseball season.
The Cubs are instituting pay cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there will be no furloughs through the end of June. The Pirates announced Thursday they are instituting furloughs for several employees in business operations beginning on June 1.
— By Associated Press Sports Writer Jay Cohen.
DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is eliminating 51 positions and furloughing 33 more as part of a dramatic cut in staffing designed to trim up to 20% of its budget to respond to shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of this change. It is significant,” CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Olympic stakeholders and obtained by The Associated Press.
The letter said 32 employees had been offered different roles in the organization, setting up the possibility that not all the eliminated or furloughed positions will result in a temporary or permanently lost jobs. Still, the moves, combined with more than 30 employees who previously took buyout offers, will result in a staff of about 500 being reduced by nearly one-fifth.
These are the most drastic cuts since 2009, when the federation laid off 54 employees to handle recession-related shortfalls.
DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — Chase Briscoe capped a heartbreaking week by winning the Xfinity Series’ return to action at Darlington Raceway on Thursday.
Briscoe was in the Darlington infield Tuesday awaiting the race’s original start when he digitally joined wife, Marissa, for a 12-week exam for their expected baby. The couple heard the tragic news: There was no fetal heartbeat.
Still, Briscoe was in the lineup for the series’ first action since March 7 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and used two strong restarts and a quick pit stop to finish on top. He got the lead out of the pits during the final caution, then pulled away from Kyle Busch and Justin Allgaier on the subsequent restart with seven laps to go for his fourth career win and second this season.
Allgaier was third, Austin Cindric fourth and Noah Gragson, the pole sitter who won the first stage, was fifth.
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson receiver Justyn Ross will have shoulder surgery next month to take care of an issue that cropped up during the team’s spring workouts in March.
Team spokesman Ross Taylor said the 6-foot-4 receiver is doing well, but will have the operation to take care of any lingering issues. Testing on Ross was delayed because of protocols put in place by the school due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ross led the Tigers with 66 catches last season that went for 865 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, Ross had 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman, highlighting his season with a 74-yard TD in the national championship win over Alabama.
CHICAGO (AP) — Lydia Wahlke has resigned as chief legal officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation, two months after she was placed on administrative leave.
The federation announced her departure in a note to staff Thursday and said she will be a consultant through Sept. 15.
Wahlke was put on leave after USSF president Carlos Cordeiro resigned March 12 and was replaced by former national team player Cindy Parlow Cone, who had been vice president. Parlow Cone said the USSF legal process will be reviewed.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Promoter Bob Arum said Thursday he plans to stage a card of five fights on June 9 at the MGM Grand, the first of a series of fights over the next two months at the Las Vegas hotel. A second fight card will be held two nights later, with ESPN televising both cards, kicking off twice weekly shows at the hotel in June and July.
No fans will be allowed, and Arum said fighters and everyone else will be tested at least twice during fight week for the new coronavirus. The fights are pending approval of the Nevada Athletic Commission, which meets next week to consider the events, along with two cards that the UFC plans to stage at its facility in Las Vegas.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt has removed the interim title, making Candice Storey Lee the first woman to become an athletic director in the Southeastern Conference.
With Vanderbilt’s announcement Wednesday, Lee now is among only five women and the second black woman in charge of a Power Five program. Daniel Diermeier, who takes over as Vanderbilt’s chancellor on July 1, said Lee is the “living embodiment” of the university’s values and aspirations.
The 41-year-old Lee, a former Commodores basketball captain, was named interim athletic director Feb. 4 when Malcolm Turner resigned after one year on the job for the former NBA G League president.
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Little League is offering youth baseball organizations a pathway forward as they eye a restart amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization released a series of “best practices” guidelines this week that highlight how to create a safe playing environment whenever state and local authorities give youth sports in a given area the the all clear to restart. Little League canceled the 2020 Little League World Series and other championships because of the pandemic last month but remains hopeful a regular season may still be possible.