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Hot Button: Lundqvist pregame on repeat … Ledecky’s milky smooth stroke … OBJ says NFL shouldn’t play

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hot Button is a 'round-the-clock feature that covers anything across the scope of sports. We're here to bring you everything hot: news items, highlights, takes — everything but hot meals — whether local, national or international. Better yet, it’s interactive. Share your thoughts in comments, and even post your own links to interesting, safe-for-work sports stories.

So let’s go! Come on in!

📌 KING HENRIK, LORD OF RITUAL

Monday, August 3: Rangers goalie Henrik Lunqvist has his pregame skate ritual down so well, it's indistinguishable from night to night:

He should try it with stopping pucks — the Hurricanes led their best-of-five playoff series two games to zero after a 4-1 win Monday. — Bob

LEDECKY'S GLASS HALF ... NO, IT'S FULL!

Monday, August 3: Five-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky has taken training to new heights, traversing the length of the pool with a full glass of milk balanced on her head:

I mean, that's just ridiculous. Ledecky, 23, is planning to participate in four freestyle events at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, plus the 800-meter freestyle relay. — Bob

BECKHAM JR. CALLS OUT NFL

Monday, August 3: Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. told The Wall Street Journal that he does not believe the National Football League should play in 2020 because of safety issues around the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the league is all about the money and that "they don't see us as people."

A curious position from a player who hosted this Fourth of July party:

 

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#odellbeckhamjr #explorepage #fanpage

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Regardless, Beckham Jr. gave no indication whatsoever that he will opt out of the 2020 season on the eve of Browns camp. — Bob

JOHNSON BUYS STAKE IN XFL

Monday, August 3: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has become a part-owner of the currently shuttered XFL, purchasing the league for just $15 million along with RedBird Capital Group just before the league was entering a bankruptcy auction:

The Hollywood and WWE superstar's love for the game goes back to his youth. Johnson was a highly recruited high school football player and played for the University of Miami, winning a national championship with them in 1991. Injuries set him back and he never saw regular playing time. He had a brief pro career in the Canadian Football League before joining the wrestling circuit.

The XFL relaunched in February, but the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic and the league was forced to declare bankruptcy in April. — Bob

FERLAND, KUNIN GET FINED

Monday, August 3: Canucks forward Michael Ferland was fined $5,000 Monday for spearing Wild winger Ryan Hartman right in the midsection after wresting his stick from the Wild bench in the third period of Minnesota's 3-0 win over Vancouver in Game 1 of their best-of-five playoff series. Wild center Luke Kunin was fined $1,000 for his actions in holding Ferland's stick and instigating the encounter.

Is the fine sufficient or should there have been a suspension? — Bob

PEDERSON TESTS POSITIVE

Sunday, August 2: Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for coronavirus. He is asymptomatic and in self-quarantine. The Eagles released a statement:

Full-team practice walkthroughs and strength and conditioning begin Monday for the Eagles. Pederson will need two negative tests before he can return to team facilities. — Bob

CAGGIULA SUSPENDED ONE GAME

Sunday, August 2: Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula has been suspended one game by the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of Oilers forward Tyler Ennis during Chicago's Game 1 playoff win over Edmonton on Saturday.

Caggiula is eligible to return for Game 3 of the best-of-five series. Fair, or should he have gotten more games? — Bob

CESPEDES OPTS OUT AFTER AWOL

Sunday, August 2: Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was AWOL from the team ahead of Sunday's game against the Braves in Atlanta and had not contacted the team. The Mets issued a press release:

Cespedes, 34, later decided to opt out of the 2020 season. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in Saturdays game against the Braves and had played eight of nine games for the Mets (3-6), mostly as the designated hitter. He slashed just .161/.285/.387 with two home runs, one double and four RBIs. — Bob

PAC-12 PLAYERS SET DEMANDS TO PLAY

Sunday, August 2: A group of PAC-12 football players published an article in The Players' Tribune outlining their demands to the conference, from coronavirus safety protocols to social justice initiatives to player pay, that must be met or they will opt out of the 2020 season.

It's unclear how many players support the #WeAreUnited initiative as the article is just signed "Players of the Pac-12." There has been no comment or statement from conference officials. — Bob

LAFLEUR MAY ISOLATE, QUARANTINE QBS

Sunday, August 2: Packers head coach Matt LaFleur may take aggressive steps to make sure his quarterbacks avoid coronavirus, potentially isolating his quarterbacks at training camp and keeping one in quarantine, if needed.

That's an intriguing approach. After what happened with the Lions' Matthew Stafford yesterday, it may be a good idea to ensure your top quarterback is available for the season opener. — Bob

TKACHUK INJURES SCHEIFELE

Sunday, August 2: Jets head coach Paul Maurice was incensed in a postgame interview, calling out Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk for what he insisted was an intentional, "filthy" kick to the back of Jets center Mark Scheifele's leg in a collision along the boards in the first period of the Jets' 4-1 loss to the Flames in Game 1 of their best-of-five playoff series:

Scheifele did not return. Here's the play in question:

What say you? Intentional or incidental? — Bob

EUROPEAN GOLFER CROSSES THE POND

Sunday, August 2: This European Tour golfer was not going to take a drop:

Commit to every stroke, they say. — Bob

STAFFORD HAS CORONAVIRUS

Saturday, August 1: The Lions have placed starting quarterback Matthew Stafford on the reserve/COVID list, making him the highest profile NFL player to test positive ahead of training camp.

Stafford has a young family, including a child born in June, so it will be curious what his decision on playing the season will be moving forward. — Bob

STROME, WILLIAMS SCRAP IN PLAYOFF GAME

Saturday, August 1: It took just a couple minutes into the NHL 2020 playoffs for the first fight to break out, as Hurricanes forward Justin Williams and Rangers center Ryan Strome to drop the gloves:

Pretty sure that was a violation of CDC coronavirus guidelines but, ya know, hockey. The Canes went on to take Game 1, 3-2— Bob

CAIN OPTS OUT OVER CORONAVIRUS

Saturday, August 1: Brewers centerfielder Lorenzo Cain has left the team opted out of the MLB season over coronavirus concerns:

Friday and Saturday games against the Cardinal were canceled after six positive test among the Cardinals team and staff, leading to Cain's decision. Cain, 34, was 6 for 18 in five games this season, with a double, two RBIs and three walks. He is the reigning National League Gold Glove centerfielder.

Marlins second baseman Isan Diaz also opted out Saturday, further depleting the Marlins increasingly shrinking roster. — Bob

DUMBA SPEAKS ON RACISM, KNEELS DURING ANTHEM

Saturday, August 1: Wild defenseman Matt Dumba gave a speech on systemic racism prior to the Oilers' opening game against the Blackhawks, then took a knee for the anthem with Malcolm Subban and Darnell Nurse at his side:

Dumba is a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and is wearing the organization's hoodie in the above video. He is the first NHL player to kneel during the anthem. -- Taylor

TOP WNBA PICK INJURED IN LOSS

Saturday, August 1: New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, the top pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, injured her ankle early in an 84-78 loss to the Atlanta Dream.

Ionescu had 10 points in 12 minutes when the injury occurred. MRI results showed an ankle sprain that will sideline Ionescu for a month. — Bob 

MLB GOES MILB FOR TWINBILLS

Friday, July 31: Major League Baseball announced Friday that they reached an agreement with the players' union to have each game of a doubleheader be scheduled for seven innings, a common practice in minor league baseball:

The new rule is to limit player exposure to each other. It takes effect Saturday, August 1.

Knowing there would be doubleheaders due to rainouts, at least, why wasn't this decided ahead of time? — Bob

YANKEES GET THEIR CLOSER BACK

Friday, July 31: Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has cleared Major League Baseball's coronavirus protocol and is able to rejoin the team immediately:

Chapman tested positive in early July at the beginning of training camp 2.0. The Yankees haven't had much of a chance to miss him, off to a 4-1 start and having two games postponed due to coronavirus rescheduling. It's unclear if Chapman was able to workout during his illness, so no timetable has been reported for his return to the mound. — Bob

CARDS POSITIVES POSTPONES FRIDAY GAME

Friday, July 31: Two Cardinals players tested positive for coronavirus Thursday night, forcing heh team to self-quarantine and postponing Friday's game against the Brewers, Milwaukee's scheduled home opener. The infected players were not identified.

The Cardinals just finished a series against the Twins in Minneapolis. The Twins are hosting the Indians Friday night. At present there is no postponement of that game. The Cards-Brewers game scheduled for Friday is scheduled to be made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday. — Bob

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