CHICAGO (AP) — When the Chicago Blackhawks left the ice after their last game, they had little chance of making the playoffs. Whenever they play their next game, it sure looks as if they will be one of 24 teams with a shot at the Stanley Cup. Welcome to the strangest postseason berth in franchise history, one so unusual that it isn’t exactly a playoff appearance at the moment. Assuming everything goes according to plan and the final details are ironed out between the league and the players’ union, the Blackhawks will play Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-five qualifier series for the playoff bracket.
NHL training camps will open July 10 if the league and players’ union agree to resume the season. That’s still contingent on the two sides figuring out health and safety protocols and the league choosing cities to host the games. The NHL and NHLPA say camps will also only open July 10 if medical and safety conditions allow. Setting a start date for camps allows the 17% of players overseas to make arrangements to return in light of quarantine regulations in the U.S. and Canada. Players were able to start small-group voluntary workouts Monday. After some exhibitions, playoff games could get underway in late July or early August.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Golf is the second major sport in the U.S., behind motor sports, to resume a schedule shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. The start was even more quiet than usual on the PGA Tour, only the silence never left over the next 12 hours as golf was back to business at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial. Justin Rose and Harold Varner shared the lead at 7-under 63, with Justin Thomas among those a stroke back. Tom Lehman, a 61-year-old former champion at Colonial, got in on the act with a 65.
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL is committing $250 million over 10 years to social justice initiatives, targeting what it calls “systemic racism” and supporting “the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African Americans.” The league, which has raised $44 million in donations through its Inspire Change program, announced the additional $206 million commitment Thursday. It plans to “work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.”
The NFL has extended virtual offseason programs for teams through June 26. Although team facilities have opened for key personnel, coaches and players rehabilitating injuries, healthy players have been barred from those complexes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The remote programs have taken the place of on-site work, and some teams already have announced they are shutting those down. But the league said Thursday it will allow the virtual work for an additional 15 days.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Detroit Tigers took a few more big swings at rebuilding their lineup. And, they hope sooner rather than later. After selecting Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson to open the Major League Baseball amateur draft Wednesday night, the Tigers used all five of their picks Thursday on hitters they envision joining him in Detroit. Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler led off the draft’s second day as the No. 38 overall selection. The Tigers then took LSU outfielder Danny Cabrera 62nd overall, and Rice shortstop Trei Cruz 11 picks later. Cruz is the son of former big leaguer Jose Cruz Jr. and grandson of Jose Cruz.