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How a Hurricanes comeback can reverse a decade-long trend

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How a Hurricanes comeback can reverse a decade-long trend

After starting the second round with three straight losses, the Carolina Hurricanes have officially made it a series with thrilling back-to-back wins in Games 4 and 5. 

That’s more akin to what many expected from this series before it started — a close, hard-fought battle between the two titans of the Metropolitan Division. While it certainly played out that way on the ice with three one-goal games to start, the series score obviously told a different story.

On Thursday night in Game 6, the Hurricanes have a very real chance to flip that script, as they’ll be relatively heavy favorites at home to push the series to a Game 7 with a third straight win of their own.

That may be a nauseating thought for Rangers fans, but it’s a rare treat for hockey fans at large. It would be the first time since 2014 that a team forced a Game 7 after starting a series down 3-0, when the Los Angeles Kings rallied in the first round to eliminate the San Jose Sharks.

That it’s been an entire decade since the last such instance is wilder than it seems at first blush. 

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There may not be anything more exciting in sport than a comeback, a down-and-out team returning from the dead against all odds. On a game-by-game basis, hockey fans have been blessed in that department over the last few seasons. The “most dangerous lead in hockey” remains, but that’s also extended to three-goal and four-goal cushions, which have evaporated at a much higher rate in recent years. In this sport, truly no lead is safe.

And yet that rising comeback mentality hasn’t extended to playoff series. Over the last decade, a 3-0 series lead might as well be a done deal. It’s a guarantee with zero hope for the downtrodden. 

It’s not even that there haven’t been any comebacks; it’s that there hasn’t even been a team that was close, with zero Game 7s to speak of in those situations.

To some, that may seem like a non-story, given the rarity throughout hockey history. A 3-0 series lead is a vice-grip that should be impossible to let go of, a feat reserved for only the biggest of choke artists.

Still with the increase in parity in the salary-cap era, we should’ve seen a few more over the last decade just by pure chance. There’s always a chance of even the most unexpected thing happening and the fact those chances haven’t come to fruition is fascinating.

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Since 2015, there have been 30 instances of a team being down 3-0, and 60 percent of those ended unceremoniously in a sweep. Only four (13 percent) even made it to Game 6, where the Hurricanes are now — with last year’s Dallas Stars being the first to even manage that in eight(!) seasons.

While the odds are never in the favor of a team down 3-0, they aren’t zero, either. At least they shouldn’t be. There’s a myth that a 3-0 deficit only happens to the worst teams, those that would be extremely unlikely to crawl out of such a hole to begin with, but it can happen to even the best of teams.

Before the series began, the 30 teams ranged from 17 percent underdogs to 77 percent favorites (hello 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning) based on series prices from Sports Odds History. Of the 30, 13 teams were expected to win from the onset. Based on that — and accounting for a lesser opinion of the team after losing three straight — the odds of at least forcing Game 7 ranged from four percent to 20 percent. The odds of coming back ranged from one percent to 13 percent.

On average, we’re talking a one-in-10 shot at forcing Game 7 and a one-in-five shot at winning the series after going down 3-0. Those are clearly minuscule odds, but over 30 series, those tiny odds add up. 

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Based on each team’s odds after being down 3-0, we should’ve seen three Game 7s with one or two full-blown comebacks. We’ve got zero instead. In short — we’ve been robbed.

Some will be quick to point out the human element of it all, and it’s a very fair point. Up 3-0, a lot of teams have shown the necessary killer instinct to close the series. Down 3-0, a lot of teams have folded at the prospect of the mountain ahead. Sometimes, the teams down 3-0 are simply not as good as they were expected to be from the jump. Or the team up 3-0 is a lot better.

As valid as those points may seem, the odds of not seeing a Game 7 for a team down 3-0 let alone a comeback is still very low — low enough that even real qualitative counters can’t explain it away. Given 30 instances with an average of a 10.6 percent chance of seeing a Game 7, there’s a 97 percent chance we should’ve seen at least one. A 5.2 percent chance of seeing a comeback over 30 instances gives us an 80 percent chance of seeing at least one on that front.

The odds of chaos have been high enough over the last decade; they just haven’t manifested. That can happen over small samples; 30 series definitely qualifies for that.

Over a larger sample, the odds do tend to even out, though, and that’s best exhibited from looking at the start of the salary cap era. There, the odds perfectly reflect reality.

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From 2006 to 2014, there were 38 series in which a team went down 3-0 — but those teams clearly had a bit more fight in them. A higher percentage won at least one game (57 percent), two forced a Game 7 and lost (Detroit and Chicago in 2011), and two of those teams won (Los Angeles in 2014 and Philadelphia in 2010).

Their average odds? The same as the last decade: 11 percent to force Game 7 and five percent to complete the comeback.

Add up all the odds, and that nine-year period got the exact amount of dramatic chaos as expected: 4.1 Game 7s and 2.1 comebacks. It’s a stark contrast from what we’ve received over the last decade. Hockey fans are long overdue.

Overdue doesn’t mean it’s due to happen. It’s a fallacy to suggest there will be more Game 7s and comebacks after a team goes down 3-0 simply because it hasn’t happened in a while. That doesn’t make it more likely to happen in the near future. The odds, on average, are still about one-in-10 for a Game 7 and one-in-five for a comeback.

But we’re as close as we can get here with the Hurricanes.

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For Carolina, specifically, the odds have changed after winning Games 4 and 5. Now it’s an over 60 percent chance of forcing Game 7 and an over 30 percent chance of completing the comeback. For the first time in a decade, we have a serious chance of witnessing history. 

The odds are still heavily in the Rangers’ favor here up 3-2 and no one is counting out the Presidents’ Trophy champions from grabbing that necessary fourth win. But the Hurricanes have a great team too, one with a real chance of living up to their slogan: “cause chaos.”

(Photo: Joshua Sarner / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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PGA Tour player Grayson Murray, 30, dies after withdrawing from tournament

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PGA Tour player Grayson Murray, 30, dies after withdrawing from tournament

PGA golfer Grayson Murray died on Saturday at the age of 30, shortly after withdrawing in the middle of this weekend’s tournament.

Murray played 16 holes in the second round Charles Schwab Challenge before withdrawing due to an “illness,” according to the Tour — he shot a two-under 68 on Thursday.

“We were devastated to learn — and are heartbroken to share — that PGA TOUR player Grayson Murray passed away this morning. I am at a loss for words,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote in a statement.

Grayson Murray hits a tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club on Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

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“The PGA TOUR is a family, and when you lose a member of your family, you are never the same. We mourn Grayson and pray for comfort for his loved ones.”

Monahan added that he reached out to Murray’s parents to offer condolences, and the tour has provided grievance counselors.

“They asked that we continue with tournament play,” Monahan said of Murray’s parents. “They were adamant that Grayson would want us to do so. As difficult as it will be, we want to respect their wishes.”

Grayson Murray driving

Grayson Murray competes during the first round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, May 16, in Louisville, Ky.  (David Cannon/Getty Images)

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Murray bogeyed his final three holes before withdrawing — he was the 58th-ranked player in the world.

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He had two wins in his career on tour, including this year’s Sony Open in Hawaii in a playoff against Keegan Bradley and An Byeong-hun. His first came at the 2017 Barbasol Championship.

Murray had battled depression and anxiety earlier in his life, and also sought treatment for alcohol abuse — in January, he said he had been sober for several months, according to NBC Sports. 

No cause of death has been released.

Grayson Murray with putter

Grayson Murray reads the second green during the final round of Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club, May 12, in Charlotte, N.C.  (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

He made the cut in both major championships this year, finishing last week’s PGA Championship T43. 

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He also finished T10 at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month.

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Sondheimer: Let's offer ideas to help make high school sports better

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Sondheimer: Let's offer ideas to help make high school sports better

The end of the school year makes it appropriate to review, evaluate and offer observations on the state of high school sports in California. Whether leaders in charge like it or not, they need to hear suggestions and feedback, good and bad, from people without fear of retribution, so let me take a shot.

There have been absurd rumors of some private schools wanting to form their own media networks outside the CIF similar to what the University of Notre Dame does in college. Others want to keep challenging the line between education-based sports and those who want to be part of national championships driven by people seeking to make a buck with fewer rules in place. Good luck and goodbye if that’s what you want.

It’s a tricky time. Club sports remain integral in the college recruiting game, if not more important than ever. Private coaches and “scholarship hustlers” keep seeking greater influence, because that’s how they make money. They’re in competition with teachers and school-based coaches. Lessons learned can be the exact opposite of what is taught at schools, and parents don’t care as long as it leads to a free college education. There’s some exceptional private coaches who should be embraced and others who should carry a sign, “Beware.”

So who is going to fight for the CIF to remain relevant and worthy, and what changes or protections must be maintained? That’s where administrators, coaches, players, parents and even sportswriters need to be to be encouraged to offer ideas, solutions and heart-felt criticism to improve an environment that must not be allowed to look anything like the chaos and wild-west atmosphere of the college sports experience.

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Let’s begin with some observations and perceptions that need to be addressed:

Is illegal recruiting is rampant?

We don’t know for sure because the CIF waved the white flag of surrender years ago with rule changes and legal settlements so it would stop getting sued. Section offices don’t accept anonymous allegations and proving recruiting requires a high bar, so everyone assumes it’s happening. What can be done? It goes back to what was mentioned here earlier on how the City Section is cracking down. Multiple transfer students to the same school involving the same sport should trigger a visit from the section office to review paperwork. It’s an easy fix to restore credibility around the state. It’s pure laziness when a section office can’t devote attention to a matter everyone wants addressed

when recruiting is illegal in its bylaws.

Leveling the playing field on exposure

Just like football coaches travel to colleges and other high schools looking for new ideas, schools need to seize the opportunity to empower their own students as broadcasters, leading to greater exposure. Multiple schools are streaming games. Anyone who wants to learn how to do it can make a call to Harvard-Westlake, which has a network for a variety of sports with students announcing, producing, interviewing. Nothing can excite a community more than showcasing students acting like adults, and the initial cost isn’t as prohibitive as some believe.

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Relying on the NFHS Network to broadcast games is hit and miss, particularly for playoffs. Coverage of the state track finals on Friday was supposed to start at 5 p.m. The only information shown was, “This event has been delayed.” A technical issue with the Internet wasn’t resolved for 59 minutes of missed events. It’s embarrassing and something the CIF shouldn’t tolerate for one of its premier events. Spectrum no longer wants to broadcast certain state events as part of an $8-million, 15-year deal that ends in 2026. The CIF needs to find a reliable partner, even if it means turning to students.

Saving small schools

The competitive equity revolution, in which teams play each other regardless of enrollment or geography, is here to stay, but how do you keep small schools involved before they decide they have no chance and give up? The CIF might need to create a separate small-schools division for state competitions.

Live scoring results

The CIF signed a contract with SB Live right before the pandemic in 2019 with the understanding it would provide live scoring access throughout the state. It never happened. The contract was re-negotiated to bring back MaxPreps as a co-digital provider. Then SB Live changed its focus away from providing scores to college recruiting, videos and story writing. MaxPreps, even with years of familiarity in California, hasn’t been able to pull it off either because schools have to provide the personnel and information on their own.

GameChanger is the closest to giving fans the chance to monitor events live as teams in baseball and softball use iPads to keep score and let fans watch with streaming video. Now the Southern Section is trying to develop an app to make it simple for schools to nput scores since the Southern Section is switching to using current results instead of past data to place teams in playoff divisions. Accurate, fast information will be key to moving forward. If the new app works, the state hopes to follow. “We’re looking where all the information can be found in one place,” CIF executive director Ron Nocetti said.

Competitive equity in playoffs

The Southern Section and City Section are headed to having most ports playoff brackets created by using computer algorithms based on the current season instead of placing teams in divisions based on previous performance. It’s the way to go with a caveat. The Southern.Section is allowing each of its sports to develop its own criteria, so there must be transparency and education so everyone understands what specific data is being used. Schools that don’t post their scores could be denied playoff participation.

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Rising ticket prices

The Southern Section is expected to increase ticket prices. The Southern Section Council has given its approval. Did anyone consult with parents? Families are hurting and many parents are working multiple jobs. If it prevents them from watching their kids play, it will be a big mistake. At championship venues, parking was $15 for one basketball championship with general admission $24. The Southern Section receives no revenue from venues charging for parking, but it needs to be in the mix when deciding on a venue. There comes a point when too much is too much.

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The NBA media rights deal could bring about a once-impossible feat: the $100 million salary

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The NBA media rights deal could bring about a once-impossible feat: the $100 million salary

As the NBA closes in on a new media rights deal, much of the attention has been on what it means for the league and its teams. But there’s also another beneficiary of the set of deals that will reportedly pay the league an average of $6.9 billion over 11 years: the players.

Those new deals — whether they end up with Warner Bros. Discovery, NBC or Amazon as partners alongside Disney – should more than double the current deals, which are slated to pay the league roughly $3 billion next season in the final year of its contracts with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery. While not guaranteed, the expectation among team executives is that the salary cap will rise the maximum allowable 10 percent over the first seasons under the new media landscape, which will begin with the 2025-26 season.

The amount of money set to pour into the league will likely bring about what surely was once considered an impossible feat: the $100 million salary.

NBA players are already amassing wealth like never before. Any player part of the 2022 draft class will have the opportunity to make more than $1 billion alone in NBA contracts, before any endorsements or sponsorship deals. If the cap keeps rising as projected, a player might be able to make that much over the course of two contracts in his prime. Jaylen Brown’s record-setting contract, which could be worth as much as $304 million, could look small by comparison.

The NBA could have its first $100 million salary by the 2032-33 season. That’s assuming a salary cap of $141 million next season, as the league currently projects, and then 10 percent cap-raises after that.

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Under that forecast, the salary cap would hit more than $302 million, which would allow a number of players to cross the $100 million threshold. For example, a player in the first year of his supermax contract, which pays 35 percent of the cap, could make as much as $105.79 million during the 2032-33 season — that’s double the league-high $51.9 million Stephen Curry made this season. A player in the second year of a supermax contract that kicked in the season before could make $103.86 million that season. A player in the third year of a supermax contract that began during the 2030-31 season could make $101.41 million.

The size of the contracts will be eye-popping. A five-year supermax deal that begins with the 2030-31 season will be worth $507 million under these estimates. One that begins the next season will be worth $557.78 million. The supermax that kicks in during the 2032-33 season would be valued at $613.56 million.

Projected NBA Supermax Contracts

Season Projected Cap 35% Max Salary Supermax Deal

24-25

$141 million

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$49.35 million

$286.23 million

25-26

$155.1 million

$54.29 million

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$314.85 million

26-27

$170.61 million

$59.71 million

$346.34 million

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27-28

$187.671 million

$65.68 million

$380.97 million

28-29

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$206.438 million

$72.25 million

$419.07 million

29-30

$227.082 million

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$79.48 million

$460.98 million

30-31

$249.79 million

$87.43 million

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$507.07 million

31-32

$274.769 million

$96.17 million

$557.78 million

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32-33

$302.246 million

$105.79 million

$613.56 million

Those numbers could be overly generous, of course. Maybe the cap doesn’t go up 10 percent every year, and salaries don’t go up so quickly. While the national media rights could account for roughly 30-40 percent of all basketball revenue when they kick in, the local media revenue seems set to dip — and who knows what other issues might pop up.

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That timetable might also be too slow. Either the NBA or the NBPA could opt-out of this CBA by Oct. 15, 2028 and that would trigger a new CBA for the 2029-30 season. What if that CBA doesn’t have cap-smoothing and has no ceiling on how quickly the cap can go up? Or, it gets rid of the rule that sets max salaries at 35 percent of the cap? Get ready for some big numbers.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and president of global content & media distribution Bill Koenig have surely made a lot of people happy. The league’s still-new collective bargaining agreement was written with a new media rights deal in mind and this should allow the NBA to have labor peace through the end of this CBA, set to run until 2030 if no one opts out. There was always a small chance that the NBA would ever have to execute the opt-out clause it has in the current CBA that lets it get out of the agreement if its media income fell to a certain threshold compared to what it took in during the 2022-23 season. But with such large numbers on the horizon, the league — and its players — is approaching even loftier wealth.


Since it’s never too early to talk about the offseason — at least that’s what every TV segment about the NBA tells me — it’s a good time to remind everyone about this summer’s hottest read: the CBA.

Some of the most restrictive parts of the new CBA are set to come in next season and the new cap year starts on July 1. They will color how teams act this summer.

Starting with the first day after the just-concluded regular season, teams above the first apron ($172.346 million) can only trade for a player who makes up to the value of the salary they are dealing away. Any traded player exceptions first-apron teams generated over the past year will no longer be usable unless they get back down below the apron.

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Teams above the second apron ($182.794 million) can no longer aggregate player salaries — that provision kicked in with the end of the regular season. Those teams cannot send out their own player in a sign-and-trade, and they can’t send cash in a trade.

The “frozen pick” rule will go into effect next season. If a team is above the second apron on the last day of the 2024-25 regular season, then its first-round pick seven years out (2032) cannot be traded. If that team is above the second apron in two of the next four years, that frozen pick will also be moved to the end of the first round in that year’s draft. A team can unfreeze its pick if it is below or equal to the second apron in at least three of the next four years.

If a team does one of the things listed above, then it will be hard-capped at the apron threshold it has yet to cross.

If a team pulls off a trade between the end of the regular season and the start of the new cap year with a maneuver that is not allowed for teams above the first or second apron, then that team will be hard-capped for the rest of the current salary cap year and the next one. But the new CBA does allow teams some flexibility because that doesn’t kick in until after the 2024-25 regular season; teams can still have their total salaries go above an apron level between the end of the 2023-24 regular season through June 30, 2024 without being hard-capped.

There is also a new concern for teams that don’t hit the salary floor. Starting with the 2024-25 season, teams that don’t hit the floor won’t receive any of the money paid out to non-taxpaying teams.

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Beginning on July 1, teams will now be able to use the non-taxpayer midlevel, the room midlevel or the biannual exception to trade for one or multiple players or acquire a player on a waiver claim (the player’s contract can’t exceed the max length allowed by that exception). The exception won’t be able to get aggregated.

Teams will also get more latitude with extend-and-trade contracts. On July 1, those will be able to go up to a total of four years and 120 percent of the prior salary.

(Photo: David Berding / Getty Images)

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