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Return to Play Stumbles ahead, Countdown to the Lottery, and much more

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It’s YOUR Monday edition of Links, News, and Notes

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Happy (belated) Summer Solstice, Sens fans! Last Saturday we had the most daylight by which we could run the draft lottery simulator or read scouting reports before returning to the safety of running the draft lottery simulator and reading scouting reports by cover of darkness (in our moms’ basements). And if you think that means no hockey news then you’re father off the rails than the O-Train on a hot (or cold or temperate) day. So let’s get to it!

  • While the major sports leagues proceed with plans to resume play under pandemic-conditions, the NHL, MLB, NCAA all reported outbreaks of COVID-19 at facilities last week. The Tampa Bay Lightning announced on Friday that several players tested positive with the illness. Keep in mind that MLB has its spring training facilities and the NBA has its ‘bubble’ in the state of Florida where positive cases are closing in on 100,000. Check out this article from Game On Hockey for more details into the NHL’s plan to resume despite the myriad health and safety concerns for players and staff, and put up your hand if you knew that Ron Hainsey is a member of the return to play committee.
  • With less than a week until the first phase of the draft lottery, remember to breathe and maybe try switching to herbal tea for the next few days. After all, even once we know the lottery results, we still have an indefinite wait until the actual draft. Over at Le Droit, Sylvain St-Laurent wrote up a profile on Senators’ head scout Trent Mann and explained why he’s the “Mann” for the job (I’ll show myself out). The article’s in French so for my non-Francophones out there, treat yourself to some sweet Google Translate action.
  • While I won’t go in depth about everything going on in Buffalo with the Sabres right now, I will keep an Eye on them at the draft as they hold a lottery pick and just purged 14(!) members of their scouting department per Frank Seravalli. Granted most teams have likely had their draft boards ready for months now and some teams scout individual players for years, it doesn’t bode particularly well for a lottery team to head into the draft with just a third of its scouting department ready to take the floor on the big day. The Sabres likely hold the 7th and 38th overall picks but not much after that so they could always flip a player like Marcus Johansson or Carter Hutton to increase their draft capital. We’re talking about the Sabres though, so your guess is as good as mine.
  • In other important hockey-adjacent news, Minnesota Wild defender Matt Dumba and his brother Kyle have launched Rebuild Minnesota in partnership with the Lake Street Council. The initiative supports local businesses and the affected neighbourhoods still shaken by the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing grief. Minnesota’s own JT Brown has also endorsed the initiative, along with the Hockey Diversity Alliance which includes Senators star Anthony Duclair.
  • Back in 2011 when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated and became the (new) Winnipeg Jets, I felt as though a lot of more traditional-minded hockey fans focused so much on Canada getting a seventh NHL franchise and a lot of the narratives centered around Atlanta as another sunbelt city that draws poorly. I always felt for the fans in Atlanta, though, having lost two NHL franchises to western Canadian markets. Atlanta is a diverse city with a complex history and cities do pride themselves on winning and maintaining sports franchises, so I can imagine how much losing the team affected the community especially as someone who has heard a fair share of attendance and relocation jokes. Professional athletes play a role in their adoptive communities and this thread from Anthony Stewart really resonated with me.
  • Joining the growing number of voices challenging the culture of racism, homophobia, and misogyny in hockey, aspiring coach Jennifer Chefero penned an essay on her experiences with blatant misogyny and sexual harassment while working with various teams as a member of the development staff or media. And if you’re following the development of Dan Carcillo’s class-action suit against the Canadian hockey League, at least one more player has come forward to corroborate Carcillo’s claims.