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Jay Beagle challenges Phil Kessel to…Mario Kart?

Jay Beagle challenges Phil Kessel to…Mario Kart?

There certainly seems to be a war of words playing out in Pittsburgh ahead of Game 4. That’s to be expected given the rivalry between the Caps and Penguins plus the added tension of Washington knocking Sidney Crosby out of the lineup, but it seems to be playing out in a bizarre way.

Few Caps players were available to the media on Tuesday, but Jay Beagle was and he said he expected the same kind of nastiness we saw in Game 3 to carry over for the rest of the series.

"It should be nasty, it’s the playoffs,” Beagle said. That’s the way we like to play, that’s the way they like to play – hard hits, going after each other. I mean, these are two teams that don’t like each other.”

Harmless enough…until it got relayed to Penguins forward Phil Kessel.

RELATED: Game information for Game 5 released

Even though Beagle was not talking about the hit on Crosby that knocked him out of Game 3, he was quoted to Kessel right after the forward was done talking about Crosby.

“If he thinks that’s a clean hit, he’s an idiot,” Kessel said in response. You can hear Kessel's comments in the video above.

Again, Beagle was not talking about the hit on Crosby, but I digress.

So of course, after directly calling Beagle an idiot, everyone wanted to know Beagle’s response.

“Ouch,” Beagle said, feigning sadness. “That hurts. That’s not very nice, but I guess he said what he said.”

Beagle reiterated that his comments were not about the hit on Crosby and then offered a challenge to Kessel.

“I’m hurt deeply,” Beagle said. “I don’t know, if he wants to settle it, we could always play some Mario Kart. He knows where to find me.”

Hmm, knowing Beagle, he seems like a Luigi type of guy. Kessel? I would guess either Wario or Toad.

MORE CAPITALS: El-Bashir on whether Crosby will be back in this series

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NHL Players' Association Executive Board approves return-to-ice plan as league takes one step closer to return

NHL Players' Association Executive Board approves return-to-ice plan as league takes one step closer to return

The NHL took another step toward a return to the ice late on Tuesday night when the Executive Board of the NHL Players’ Association approved the tentative agreement between the league and its union. 

There are still two steps to go. The NHLPA Executive Board now opens up the memorandum of understanding to its full membership. Every player will have a vote. The NHL Board of Governors also must approve the MOU. 

If that happens? We will have hockey soon – barring the coronavirus pandemic wrecking things as it has for months. 

Players will report to their team facilities by July 13 for training camps as the league attempts to execute its return-to-play plan. Twenty-four teams will travel to the two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, on July 26 for round-robin games, qualifying playoff games and the full 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs. 

There is no set date for when owners must approve the memorandum, but players are expected to be finished their vote by next Monday in time for training camps.

RELATED: NHL, NHLPA ADD 4 YEARS TO CURRENT CBA  

The Capitals are set to play the Bruins, Flyers and Lightning in a round-robin tournament for seeding in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Blues, Oilers, Avalanche and Golden Knights will do the same in the Western Conference. 

The 16 other teams that will continue play have a best-of-five preliminary round to whittle the Stanley Cup field to its usual 16 teams playing best-of-seven series. 
The agreement also extends the current Collective Bargaining Agreement until at least 2026, buying labor peace the NHL has rarely found with its players. It also opens the door to Winter Olympics participation in Beijing (2022) and Milan (2026). 

Now, we wait for the next two crucial votes and hockey will be in sight. 

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NHL, NHL Players' Association agree to tentative return-to-play plan, CBA extension

NHL, NHL Players' Association agree to tentative return-to-play plan, CBA extension

The NHL and NHL Players' Association came to a tentative agreement on a Return to Play plan and added four years to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement on Monday evening.

Players will report to their team facilities by July 13 for training camps as the league attempts to return from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Twenty four teams will travel to the two hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton, on July 26 for round-robin games, qualifying playoff games and the full 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The memorandum of understanding still must be approved by the full NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA’s Executive Board and full membership. That process will take place this week with no formal date set for ratification by all parties. 

That brings the NHL a huge step closer to its long-awaited return to the ice. There are still hurdles between now and then, however.

MLS was set to begin play this week on its own before FC Dallas had to withdraw from the MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando when 10 players and a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. The NHL shut down on March 12 and entered the day with 35 players testing positive for the novel coronavirus since June 8.

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There is still a long way to go before the Capitals arrive in Toronto to play round-robin games against the Flyers, Bruins and Lightning. Those games and the qualifying round for now are set to start Aug. 1. 

That’s the big news for this season. There was more news for the future, though. The NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement was set to expire after the 2021-22 season. 

Now, it will continue through 2025-26. NHL players will return to the Winter Olympics in 2022 (Beijing) and 2026 (Milan) - as long as the league and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can agree on terms. That’s always a giant question mark, but at least there’s hope there. Players were furious at having to miss the 2018 games in South Korea after the IIHF and the NHL failed to agree. 

It could still be a week before NHL players can approve the deal and the coronavirus has proved for months it can wreck anything at any time. But for now, hockey is on track to return next month. 

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