Return of the NHL and NBA should be a boon to business, says Wacky’s general manager, cautioning there are gathering restrictions in place.
THUNDER BAY – The return of hockey – and live sports in general – should be a boon for sports bars across the country.
Locally, Adam Balfour is counting on it.
Balfour, the general manager at Thunder Bay’s Wacky’s location, said he was getting phone calls days in advance for reservations on Saturday, when both the National Hockey League’s play-in series begins and the Toronto Raptors resume their chase for a second straight National Basketball Association championship.
It’s exciting times, he said.
“I think it’s really important for any sports bar, in particular any restaurant that’s formatted any way like we are,” Balfour said. “Sports has always been a massive part of our business here. We have the biggest TVs in Northern Ontario in our lounge, so obviously when the sports hits, we are the No. 1 place.”
The popular sports bar should have a full weekend ahead.
The Montreal Canadians open their best-of-five series against the heavily favoured Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at 8 p.m., while the Toronto Maple Leafs will attempt to avoid being tossed into the Alexis Lafreniere lottery pool on Sunday night at 8 p.m. when they open against the No. 9 seed Columbus Blue Jackets.
Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg are also taking part in the play-in round, adding to the hockey excitement.
The Raptors, meanwhile, restart their 2019-20 campaign from the NBA bubble in Orlando, taking on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, the odds-on favourite to advance to the finals from the leagues’ Western Conference, at 8:30 p.m. They also play the Miami Heat on Monday and the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.
The Toronto Blue Jays are also back in action, posting a 3-2 record in their first five games since MLB restarted, playing games six days a week.
Balfour cautioned would-be spectators that it won’t be quite the same as in the past. The restaurant has taken plenty of precautions, including hiring extra staff to clean the restaurant and the games room, which has been reconfigured to allow for maximum social distancing measures.
“It’s exciting that the sports are coming back and we’re already getting phone call after phone call,” Balfour said. “But once again, the care we have to take to maintain that social distancing, I think back to those Raptors games when we were packed and people were crowded together.
“Obviously we can’t be doing that anymore. We’re going to be working really hard to get as many people in here as possible, but also make sure that everybody can have a safe time and everybody feels comfortable.”
Restaurants and bars are limited by gathering restrictions put in place by the provincial government.
Watch The Women’s Sport Debate, live on Sky Sports Action on Wednesday at 8pm and Women’s Sport Debate: The Reaction at 9pm
By Emma Paton
Last Updated: 12/08/20 6:09am
Sally Munday MBE, UK Sport chief executive, is optimistic that the disruption to women’s sport will just be a short-term “blip”.
A year on from 11.7 million people tuning in to watch England play the USA in football’s Women’s World Cup semi-finals, women’s sport is struggling to return from the coronavirus shutdown.
Whilst several men’s team sports have resumed, the same can’t be said of women’s sport.
“I don’t want us to talk ourselves into there being a backwards step,” Munday said to Sky Sports.
“I want us to talk ourselves into the fact that we’ve got to use this situation. Every challenging situation is an opportunity.”
The show will take a detailed look at why and how women’s sport has been affected in recent months.
The panel will discuss what has led women’s sport to this point and what needs to happen next.
Ebony Rainford-Brent, Will Greenwood and Tamsin Greenway form part of the panel of experts.
‘Women’s Sport Debate: Live Reaction’ will follow at 9pm with both shows streamed live on YouTube.
In football, the Premier League and Championship resumed, but Chelsea were named WSL champions on June 5 after the league was curtailed and the final standings were decided using a basic points-per-game basis.
In rugby union, the men’s Gallagher Premiership plans to return on August 15, long after the women’s Premier 15s season was declared null and void. And, England’s male cricketers have played the West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan, but England’s women are not set to play until September 1 at the earliest.
“I can see why some people would feel like [the momentum] it’s been lost, but I really believe that it’s just a blip,” Munday said.
“People do want to watch women’s sport and I don’t think just because we’ve paused that it will stop,” she added.
“I think people have had a taste for how brilliant women’s sport is, live and on TV, and I really am optimistic that this is a moment in time, and that we’ve got to get past and that we will then rebuild to gain the momentum we’ve seen before.”
The gender disparity doesn’t appear to be as stark when it comes to Olympic and Paralympic athletes though, as Munday pointed out.
“Olympic and Paralympic sport has very much paved the way in terms of equal gender,” she said.
“The vast majority of Olympic and Paralympic sports treat men’s and women’s sports exactly the same way. That’s what we’ve seen during COVId-19 in terms of getting back to training.
“There’s been no difference in approach from Olympic and Paralympic sport – they want to get their sports back and that is women and men.
“I think women’s sport is ripe for incredible growth, I think that the period ahead to Tokyo next year will give us an opportunity to showcase women’s sport again.
“Not only do we have the Olympic and Paralympic Games, where there’s likely to be more female than male athletes in Team GB, we’ve then got the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and that’s still on course to be the first multi-sport major that has more women than men’s events.
“Many of the current stars, that we’ve been seeing in the Olympic movement from Dina [Asher-Smith] and Hannah [Cockroft], through to Sarah [Storey] and Alice Tai, they are female and are showcasing the very best of Olympic and Paralympic sport.”
Watch The Women’s Sport Debate, live on Sky Sports at 8pm and Women’s Sport Debate: The Reaction at 9pm, plus stream both shows via the Sky Sports YouTube channel.
LAKE BUENA VISTA (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 29 points and the Boston Celtics ran past Memphis 122-107 on Tuesday, putting the Grizzlies in further danger of missing the playoffs.
The Grizzlies missed another chance to guarantee themselves a spot in the Western Conference play-in series, and could fall out of eighth place if Portland beats Dallas later Tuesday.
Boston (48-23), which has already locked up the Eastern Conference’s third seed, won its fourth straight.
Gordon Hayward added 19 points and five assists.
Memphis (33-39) lost for the sixth time in seven games since the restart. Ja Morant finished with 26 points and 13 assists.
The Grizzlies arrived in Florida with 3 1/2-game cushion over their nearest competitor for the eighth seed in the West. But their struggles have guaranteed the need for a play-in game for that final spot with Portland, San Antonio and Phoenix all still in contention.
Memphis will head into its final seeding game against Milwaukee on Thursday needing a win to earn a place in the play-in game. The team that finishes ninth would have to beat the eighth-place team twice.
Boston didn’t look like a team coasting into the postseason. Celtics coach Brad Stevens played his regular starters and they were active on both ends of the floor
Tatum paced the offensive attack, scoring 17 points in just 15 minutes of action in the first half.
Tied at 13 in the first quarter, the Celtics went a 33-11 run and led by as many as 22 in the second quarter.
Boston held the Grizzlies to 33% (17 of 51) shooting in the half, including 1 of 13 (7.7%) from the 3-point line.
Celtics: Closed first quarter on 11-4 run. Shot 51% from the field (44 of 86) for the game.
Grizzlies: Finished 24% (7 of 29) from beyond the arc.
Celtics: Play Wizards on Thursday.
Grizzlies: Play Bucks on Thursday
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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Denmark midfielder joins Tottenham for around £15m on five-year deal; Kyle Walker-Peters leaves Spurs to join Saints in separate deal
Last Updated: 11/08/20 7:13pm
Tottenham have completed the signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton.
The Denmark midfielder has signed a five-year contract after completing a medical on Monday and becomes Jose Mourinho’s first summer signing, joining for a fee of around £15m plus bonuses.
In a separate deal, 23-year-old full-back Kyle Walker-Peters has gone in the opposite direction – leaving Spurs to join Southampton – signing a five-year deal at St Mary’s after spending the second half of last season on loan with the club.
Hojbjerg made 134 appearances for Southampton after joining from Bayern Munich in 2016, with the Dane going on to become Saints skipper before being stripped of the captaincy in June when he confirmed his desire to leave the club.
“What was very important for me was that I wanted to play at a club where I could see myself for many years, and Tottenham was just the one,” Hojbjerg told the club’s website.
“I’m very proud, very happy, excited. I think there is a fantastic future ahead for the club, and I wanted so much to be a part of that.
“Spurs has fantastic players, fantastic manager, a fantastic setup.
“I feel lucky and proud to be a part of it, and I want to give my everything, but I also want to learn a lot, to push for the next step, but still keeping that consistency.”
After failing to break into Tottenham’s first team, Walker-Peters impressed on loan at Southampton as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side produced a strong finish to the Premier League season following its June restart.
Walker-Peters played in all nine of Southampton’s games after the restart as they lost just once to climb to an 11th-placed finish.
“I’m delighted to have signed here,” Walker-Peters told Southampton’s website. “The last few months on loan have been great for me and a lot of fun too. I’ve really enjoyed my football, the atmosphere here and also the style of play.
“The club definitely fits the way I like to play, and I hope that people were able to see that during the last month or so of the season.
“I feel like I’ve already developed in the time I’ve been here, and that’s a big part of wanting to stay too. Obviously, it’s a club with a great reputation for improving young players and, personally, I’ve found it really valuable working under the manager, with his ideas on the game and what he expects from you as an individual.
“I think the way we finished the season gives us real optimism about where we’re heading too, and it just feels like a really good place for me to keep developing as a player and make the best out of what I have.”
Analysis: Why Tottenham are signing Hojbjerg
Sky Sports’ Lyall Thomas:
Jose Mourinho has been in the market for a new – what he calls – ‘positional’ midfielder since attempts to adapt Eric Dier to the position proved unsuccessful and he was moved to centre-back.
Mourinho likes to play a single ‘pivot’ in midfield – think back to the likes of Claude Makelele at Chelsea – who will protect the back four dependably and consistently. It’s a key role in his system, and although Moussa Sissoko has done reasonably at it, they need someone more specialist at this position.
As the stats illustrate, Hojbjerg is that specialist; ideal for the role and both young yet still very experienced at big clubs and at international level. For £15m, he could present a shrewd bit of business by Spurs and Mourinho.
Analysis: The progressive box-to-box destroyer
Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:
In total, 37 per cent of Hojbjerg’s passes were directed upfield this season, which is something Spurs have struggled to achieve for some time – particularly since another Dane, Christian Eriksen, left the club.
Hojbjerg attempted 289 passes into the final third – a total surpassed by only 10 other players this season. Those risky passes reduce his accuracy, but Spurs needed an injection of forward momentum in their midfield.
The Denmark international also reclaimed possession a league-topping 326 times for Southampton during the campaign – epitomising the pressing style deployed under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The graphic below reveals he primarily snuffs out dangerous flank attacks and is the complete box-to-box destroyer, dismantling opposition possession and causing a nuisance all over the pitch.
The 25-year-old has the mettle and mentality to drive Spurs forward and, at just £15m, he could prove to be this summer’s bargain deal.
All the latest news, analysis and rumours from the window in one place.
The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.
A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.