Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto cancels city events through June 30: here's what it means for NHL

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USA Today

Toronto cancels city events through June 30: here's what it means for NHL

Tuesday afternoon Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the city would cancel all major city-wide events until June 30. For baseball fans hoping to start their season and basketball and hockey fans hoping to get back into the swing of theirs, the news makes it hard to envision live sports returning before July. 

What does this mean for the NHL? Well, technically the ban is for city-wide events such as parades, events, festivals, and other cultural programs, excluding the NHL. 

However, professional sports will have to contend with the province of Ontario, which banned gatherings of more than five earlier this month. 

The NHL recently reached out to arenas asking for their availability in July and August. 

The idea of finishing out the 2020 season in summer is becoming more and more likely as governments continue to grapple with the severity of COVID-19. There have been speculations about what this new schedule will look like for the NHL, including a shortened 2020-21 preseason and eliminating by-weeks and All-Star weekend. This will present its own unique challenges, including arenas in warmer climates struggling to maintain ice quality for summer games. But if more major cities follow Toronto’s lead, all we know for certain is that a return to normalcy may be longer than anticipated. 

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NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

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USA Today

NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

The NHL general managers meetings are set to begin next week and one of the topics on the docket to be discussed may be emergency backup goalie (EBUG) procedures. The recent interest in reevaluating EBUG rules come after 42-year-old David Ayres suited up to play for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs this past weekend.

The issue of EBUGs comes up so rarely that NHL GMs don’t typically give it much thought. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke about EBUGs this Tuesday during the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets game.

“It's something we've given some consideration to over the years. As recently as last year, we discussed [it] with the general managers. It happens very, very rarely, but when it happens, it obviously raises everybody's attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue,” he explained. “We have to work with the [NHL] Players' Association. Who's a player? Who's not a player? What qualifies all of that? But obviously we want what's best for the game, and we want to make sure people aren't putting themselves in danger by playing goal in a National Hockey League game. ... So that's obviously something we have to continue to work through."

Currently, the 2019-20 NHL official rules state, “if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible."

Ayres drives the Zamboni at the Mattamy Athletic Center in Toronto and frequently practices with the Leafs. Ayres stepped in the net after Hurricanes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured. He made eight saves and is the oldest goalie in NHL history to make his regular season debut.

The Blackhawks had their own instance of needing an EBUG in 2018 against the Winnipeg Jets. Scott Foster, a then-36-year-old accountant stepped in the net at the United Center after Corey Crawford and Collin Delia were sidelined by injury. Foster saved all seven shots on goal, making him the first EBUG to make a save and a hometown hero in Chicago. 

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Blackhawks finish 'tough' homestand with overtime loss to Maple Leafs

Blackhawks finish 'tough' homestand with overtime loss to Maple Leafs

Now until the end of the season, the Blackhawks are in must-win territory if they have any shot at making the playoffs.

On Wednesday night, they picked up one point but not the other in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the United Center.

The Blackhawks finished their six-game homestand with a 1-4-1 record, picking up three out of a possible 12 points, and are now six points behind a wild card spot.

"It was a tough homestand when you look at it points-wise, games that were valuable situations as far as keeping us in the race and now we put ourselves in a tremendous hole," coach Joel Quenneville said after the game.

Among the good on Wednesday?

The Blackhawks went 2-for-4 on the power play after going 0-for-16 in their previous five games. Brent Seabrook and Nick Schmaltz scored for the home team.

Jeff Glass also did his part, stopping 33 of 36 shots. The game-winner came by William Nylander, who scored six seconds into overtime on a penalty shot.

Maybe getting away from home will be a good thing?

The Blackhawks' next four games will come on the road, beginning on Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings, which you can watch on NBC Sports Chicago.

"There’s time to get on a run, to get excited, and then go from there," Quenneville said.