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NHL prepares two different 2017-18 schedules, one with Olympic break

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TORONTO (AP) — If the NHL needs a compelling reason to compete in the next Winter Olympics, Bill Daly says the league hasn’t found one yet.

And the NHL deputy commissioner added Friday that he’s not going speculate on what it might take to convince a majority of the NHL’s board of governors that the world’s best players should take the ice in South Korea in little more than a year.

“From our board’s perspective, there has to be a compelling reason for us to go the Olympics,” Daly said. “And at this point, as I stand here now, we’re searching for that reason.”

Daly then called it a “fair question,” when asked who or what might sway the league.

“The question is, does anything change?” he said. “At this point, nothing has happened that would change where we were three weeks ago.”

Daly was referring to the NHL’s Board of Governors meetings in Florida, when Commissioner Gary Bettman said there was significant opposition among team owners to participate in the 2018 Games. Daly spoke in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs are hosting the Detroit Red Wings for the Centennial Classic outdoor game on Sunday.

His comments are the latest in the NHL’s bid to apply pressure on the International Ice Hockey Federation to meet league demands involving travel and insurance costs. And they also present the latest signal of a league not entirely convinced of the benefits of breaking up its schedule to have its players competing at a time while most North Americans are sleeping or just getting out of bed. South Korea is 14 hours ahead of North America’s Eastern time zone.

The NHL has had its players compete in the previous five Winter Olympics, starting with the 1998 Nagano Games.

A final decision hasn’t been made and Daly declined to say when it might come. He said the NHL is still waiting on the IIHF to present its case while also responding to league concerns, which he expects early next month.

Daly also noted the league is still considering the possibility of playing in South Korea by preparing to devise two separate schedules for the 2017-18 season, one of which would feature an Olympic break.

Daly said the reason for developing two schedules was made so that the league doesn’t appear to be imposing a hard deadline on the IIHF.

The league failed in an initial bid to continue competing at the 2018 Olympics by asking the NHL Players’ Association to consider changing the collective bargaining agreement. The NHL was seeking to eliminate the union’s opt-out option in 2019 and extend the labor pact three years through the 2024-2025 season.

Daly said the union turned down the offer by saying it needed more time consult with its players.

“It’s not something they could accept at this point, and we certainly understand that,” Daly said.

MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups set

Alex Zanardi, auto racer turned Paralympic champion, has 5-hour surgery to rebuild face after crash

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SIENA, Italy (AP) — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Shawn Johnson East shares struggles with body image, prescription drugs

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Shawn Johnson East, a 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion, detailed past struggles with body image and prescription drugs and reflected on her eating disorder as an elite athlete, to show there is hope to others in difficult situations.

“It all started with pregnancy and having my daughter,” East, who had daughter Drew in October, said on TODAY on Monday. “I had so many people asking me questions about how did pregnancy affect you mentally and how did you get your body back after having your daughter. I couldn’t answer that without giving a greater and a larger story.”

East first went public about her undiagnosed teenage eating disorders in 2015, three years after retiring from the sport. She said she limited herself to 700 calories per day and didn’t tell her parents.

In a June YouTube video, Johnson said she also binged and purged, including while dating future husband Andrew in the mid-2010s. And that she had depression and anxiety in 2011, when she returned to competition for the first time since the Beijing Games.

“I thought it would fix all of my problems,” East said of returning to gymnastics for a 2012 Olympic bid.

When East won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, she “hit a very low spot” going through puberty on national TV. She said she gained 15 pounds after the 2008 Olympics and started taking medications and drugs “to look like I did at the Olympics.” It included fad diets, diuretics and a three-week stretch of eating nothing but raw vegetables.

“Most pain of my entire life because I couldn’t digest anything,” she said.

At some point in 2011, East began feeling burned out. She was back to eating too few calories and overtraining. An unnamed USA Gymnastics doctor prescribed her Adderall “to lose more weight, have more energy and be more successful in gymnastics.” She took “heavy doses.”

“It helped my performances, but there were massive consequences to it,” she said. “I continued to compete into 2012, where I just started to get depressed.

“I was overdosing on Adderall. I was overdosing on any medication that wouldn’t be caught by USADA.”

Adderall was a banned substance in competition without a therapeutic use exemption, but was legal outside of competition.

“I was so controlled by other people’s opinions that I wouldn’t live up to that Olympic standard that I did anything to get it back and I could never have it back,” East said. “I didn’t learn that until later on.”

East’s mental hurdles re-emerged when she had a miscarriage in 2017. She blamed herself, believing her unhealthy lifestyle in the past was a contributor.

“Our natural inclination is to say, what did I do? And what did I do wrong?” she said. “It haunted me. I felt like I had sacrificed everything for an Olympic medal to not actually get the dream I had wanted my entire life [to have a child].”

With the help of a nutritionist and therapist and her husband, she conquered the demons through her 2019 pregnancy and childbirth.

“Having gone through a whole pregnancy and knowing that I felt confident through the whole thing, I feel like I’ve climbed Everest,” she said.

MORE: Why Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson went 8 years without talking

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