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A Draft in June, Thornton Shaves his Beard, Laraque Talks About his Battle with COVID-19

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It’s your Monday Edition of Links, News, and Notes

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Ottawa Senators v San Jose Sharks Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images

NHL hockey may seem like a distant memory by now, but Links, News, and Notes can’t stop, won’t stop. Here’s what caught our eye from the last few days:

  • A memo sent by the league to the teams on Friday that laid out the league’s case for a June draft was then leaked to the press on Saturday. While the league acknowledges that the majority of the teams are opposed to the idea, preferring instead to wait until after the completion of 2019-20 season (whenever that may be), there is a growing sense that the league will move forward with a virtual draft in June regardless of the teams’ preference. With the resumption of regular NHL play nowhere in sight, the league seems to believe the draft could help drum up interest — and more importantly a few dollars. The logistics are a bit of a nightmare, but once Gary Bettman et al. get an idea in their head, they can be awfully stubborn. There is a Board of Governors call scheduled for today, expect to hear more as the day goes along.
  • As an impartial fan of the NHL, I have to say that re-working the rules of the draft midstream seems like a terrible idea on its face, and will undoubtedly be hugely unfair to some teams. As a fan of the Ottawa Senators, I’m ecstatic:
  • Over at the Athletic, Justin Bourne explains why the NHL running a virtual draft in June is a solution in search of a problem. I think he’s right, but, again, as a Sens fan I don’t care!
  • Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and detailed his battle to the Canadian Press. Laraque, who is an asthmatic, said this about his symptoms:

“I have pneumonia in both my lungs, they’re affected by the COVID because I have asthma, I have to have oxygen blowing through my nose,”

We’re all pulling for you, Georges.

  • Emily Kaplan had a very interesting piece over at ESPN about how professional sports leagues in North American have changed their attitudes towards marijuana. The NFL and the NBA are front and centre here, but the cross-sport comparisons are worth considering.
  • On a lighter note, while many have taken advantage of the isolation to grow out their facial hair Joe Thornton has instead gone and shaven his iconic beard. Is Brent Burns next?
  • And last, but not least, our friends over at Welcome to Your Karlsson Years put out a wonderful podcast last week where they dig into the upcoming draft with a real live scout! Give it a listen.