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May 27, 2020
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Update on the latest in sports:


NHL shapes a play for returning to play
UNDATED (AP) – The NHL’s regular season is over and the chase for the Stanley Cup is on if hockey can resume this summer.
The league has decided to abandon the rest of the regular season and go straight into the playoffs with 24 teams instead of 16. The top four teams in each conference would get byes. The other 16 would face off in best-of-five series in the qualifying round. The winners would then match up against Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington or Philadelphia in the East and St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas or Dallas in the West.
The decision, announced Tuesday by Commissioner Gary Bettman, is not a guarantee that games are coming back. The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association must still figure out health and safety protocols and solve other issues, including where to play.


In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic:
– Major League Baseball players are said to be extremely disappointed with a sliding-scale compensation proposal by big league teams. Players had expected a 50-50 revenue-sharing plan that owners initially approved for their negotiators on May 11. Instead, major league teams proposed a scale that would allow a rookie at the major league minimum to keep about 47% of his original salary this year while multimillionaire stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole would lose more than 77%. The union says the sides also remain far apart on health and safety protocols aimed at starting the coronavirus-delayed season around July 4.


– The Oakland Athletics are placing their scouts and a significant number of other front office employees on furlough, suspending pay for minor leaguers and cutting the salaries of other executives as part of a cost-cutting move in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A’s owner John Fisher announced the moves yesterday in a rare public statement on what he called a “tremendously difficult day.” The furloughs for the scouts and other front office personnel will begin next week, although the team’s amateur scouts are expected to stay on through the draft on June 10-11.


– Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says there definitely will be an NFL season in 2020. In an interview on CNBC, Ross says the question is whether there will be fans in the stadiums. The NFL has said it expects to play a full schedule beginning Sept. 10 but is preparing contingency plans in case the coronavirus pandemic makes venue changes or games without fans necessary. Ross says the NFL’s flexibility will allow the league to start on time. He says the country needs sports entertainment.


– Pro soccer returns to America next month when the National Women’s Soccer League plays a 25-game tournament in a near-empty stadium in Utah. Players from the nine teams will train and live at two Salt Lake City-area hotels in an attempt to control the environment. All players will be tested for COVID-19 before leaving for Utah and then will be regularly screened during their four-week stay. No fans will be allowed into the Zions Bank Stadium. All the action will be televised and streamed by CBS and its family of networks.


Reports: 2 horses trained by Bob Baffert fail drug tests
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Published reports say that two horses from the barn of two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert have tested positive for a banned substance.
The New York Times and Louisville Courier-Journal have cited unidentified sources in reporting the positive tests occurred during the recent meet at Oaklawn in Arkansas.
The Times says one of the horses to test positive for lidocaine was Charlatan, considered a top contender for the Belmont Stakes in June.
Baffert says he’s disappointed the Arkansas Racing Commission has violated its rules about confidentiality until the stewards have weighed in with a ruling.



AP-WF-05-27-20 1501GMT