Why the European Super League drama escalated so quickly, plus new NHL power rankings

Happy Wednesday! You’re almost halfway through the week and if that doesn’t make you feel a bit better, just think … you’ve already made it farther than The Super League. Big stuff! We’ll discuss how that whole thing blew up in a matter of days. It honestly might be one of the funniest stories in the history of soccer.  

We’ll also dive into a few other things, including the sports world’s reaction to yesterday’s biggest story: Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction. And, yes, that tweet from the Raiders is STILL up, in case you were wondering.

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Wednesday also means we’ve got a mailbag to get to, so make yourself comfortable. We’re going in. 

📰 What you need to know 1. European Super League comes crashing down ⚽

Here lies the Super League … April 18, 2021 – April 20, 2021. 

So, remember that European Super League that we discussed on Monday morning? The one that was going to feature more than a dozen of the top soccer teams from England (including six Premier League clubs), Italy and Spain? Yeah, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be happening.

Plans for the breakaway league were announced on Sunday, and yesterday it was announced those plans have been suspended due to teams backing out amid intense backlash from fans and governing bodies. You could say things have escalated quickly.  

So, how’d we get here?

All six Premier League clubs (Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenhamdropped out of the project on TuesdayInter Milan and AC Milan also announced they were abandoning the Super LeagueThe withdrawals come after UEFA and FIFA threatened to ban teams/players that participated in the competition. Many fans also protested the new league this week

And if that doesn’t seem like enough of a mess already, get this: Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward announced that he was stepping down from his position shortly after the club announced its withdrawal from the Super League. Man U says that his exit is unrelated to this week’s drama, but that timing sure is convenient. 

Here’s a piece of the statement that the Super League released on Tuesday:

“We are proposing a new European competition because the existing system does not work. Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid … Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project”

It’s honestly pretty impressive that they were able to come up with a multi-billion dollar idea that seemingly everyone hated so much that it led to a big ol’ “never mind” about 48 hours later. Back to the drawing board, I guess! 

2. Sports world reacts to Derek Chauvin conviction
USATSI

The big national story of the day yesterday was the conviction of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police offer who was charged with the murder of George Floyd last year. Floyd’s killing sparked countless protests that aimed to highlight social injustice and systemic racism in America, particularly with regards to the country’s police system. Many leagues, teams and athletes from the sports world participated in those protests, so it wasn’t surprising that the news of Chauvin’s conviction permeated sports yesterday.

A jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts he faced (unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter)LeBron James tweeted a one-word response to the conviction: “ACCOUNTABILITY”Karl-Anthony Towns, via Twitter: “Justice and accountability! Things I never thought I would see. There’s much more work to do, but this is an amazing start working toward the reform this country NEEDS!”Ryan Clark, via Twitter: “Remember, the jurors only did the right thing. Nothing special, not above & beyond. They held Derek Chauvin accountable for his actions under the law. That was their job, & they did it. We just aren’t use to seeing it. This was the verdict we as a country deserved.”

A number of other notable athletes (and leagues) weighed in as well, with most addressing the result of the trial while also recognizing that there’s more to be done to move justice and equality efforts forward. One response that wasn’t particularly received well was a questionable and tone deaf tweet sent out by the Raiders, which apparently came straight from owner Mark Davis. (LeBron really didn’t appreciate that Raiders one.) 

3. NHL Power Rankings: Here come the Bruins (again) 🏒

We’re about a month away from my favorite time of year — playoff hockey season. The NHL’s regular season is closing in on the finish line and, while I’m already looking forward to a few of the likely playoff matchups we’ll get at some point (namely Lightning-Hurricanes and Avalanche-Golden Knights), there are also a number of races in the standings to keep an eye on in the meantime. 

The latest edition of my weekly Power Rankings are out and if there’s one thing to highlight above all else, it’s how closely grouped the top of the East division is at this juncture. We’ve got four teams from that division among the top 10, with a fifth threatening just outside the top 10. Here’s how it looks:

AvalancheGolden KnightsHurricanesLightningPanthersMaple LeafsCapitalsIslandersBruinsPenguins

You can find the full rankings (along with some analysis) right here.

I’ll say this about my Bruins: I’ve had plenty of doubts and limited expectations for them for most of the year, and they looked like a very mediocre team for a long stretch. But they’ve transformed into a completely different team since the trade deadline (now 5-0 in the Taylor Hall era) and now I’m thinking I’m going to have to recalibrate my expectations if they keep this up.

No doubt about it, I am ready to get hurt again. 

4. College football coaches under the most pressure 🏈
CBS Sports graphic

You know what they say about coaches … they’re hired just to be fired (they say that, right? I’m not just making that up?) The grind to stay employed can be tough, especially in college football where the coaching carousel stays spinning at a steady pace. But some coaches are heading into this season closer to being fired than others, so our Barrett Sallee has highlighted a few under the most pressure:

Kirby Smart, Georgia: The Bulldogs have the best QB in the SEC and the best defense in the SEC, so the expectations are very high. So is the pressure on Smart, who basically has to lead his team to the College Football Playoff this year or else face a ton of questions and scrutinyLincoln Riley, Oklahoma: “Sure, he has led his team to the CFP in three of his four years at the helm, but that’s a double-edged sword. It became apparent in those three seasons that Oklahoma is a team that’s ceiling is getting to the CFP, not winning it.Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: Many people were surprised Harbaugh even survived this past season at Michigan, so there’s absolutely a ton of pressure on him heading into this year. He helped his cause by restructuring his contract but there’s only so much longer he can last without winning the Big Ten East and/or beating Ohio State

There are plenty more program bosses feeling the heat already so you can check out Sallee’s full list here.

📝 Odds & Ends 📺 What to watch today

⚾ Braves vs. Yankees, 6:35 p.m. | NYY -121 | TV: ESPN   

🏀 Suns vs. 76ers, 7 p.m. | PHI +1 | TV: NBA TV

🏒 Sharks vs. Golden Knights, 9:30 p.m. | VGK -255 | TV: NBCSN

🥇 The best thing I saw yesterday

Brewers outfielder Billy McKinney made one hell of a diving grab during last night’s game against the Padres.

Mailbag!
NHL

What are some teams that are totally not on anybody’s radar right now that everybody will be talking about in a few years? -Paul

Well, the easy answer to that question is the Seattle Kraken, as they don’t even exist on the radar right now and should be a popular case study in a few years. But from a competitive standpoint, I’ll stick with hockey and say the Los Angeles Kings. They’ve been comfy hanging in the basement for the past few years, but they’ve got a great prospect pool that they should be ready to dip into soon. Or the Red Wings. I believe in the power of Stevie Yzerman. In football? Give me the Dolphins. As long as Tua pans out, I believe in what they’re building in Miami. 

You said that you would be grinding some of the ‘MLB the Show 21’ over the weekend. How is it? -Anders

Gameplay and graphics are largely the same (the biggest notable upgrade comes via how smooth the fielding is) but it’s remains a good game. It’s not quite as polished as I was hoping it’d be on next-gen, but there’s a lot to like. Stadium creator is a ton of fun. I saw they’ve been running into some server issues this week but, as a mainly offline gamer, I’ve been enjoying myself.

If the NHL is the best hockey in the world and the Vezina goes to the best goalie in the NHL, is it fair to say that for one year after the trophy is awarded, you can unequivocally state that the winner is the best goalie in the world?  (Ie. Connor Hellebuyck is the best goalie in the world) -Michael

I don’t really believe in individual awards being the “unequivocal” end-all-be-all in the meritocracy of sports, but I think it’s especially difficult to apply that logic to goaltending in the NHL. Goaltending can just be so unpredictable and a lot of that position is mental, so you often see a lot of ups and downs. Also, I think it’s very possible for a goaltender to have the best season without necessarily being the best goaltender.

Plus, we all know Tuukka Rask is the best goalie in the world always. 

Published: 2021-04-21 13:04:22

Tags: #European #Super #League #drama #escalated #quickly #NHL #power #rankings

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