The NHL told its teams on Saturday that they could restrict admission to their dressing rooms in an attempt to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. . . . The league chose not to impose the restrictions, while leaving the decision up to each of its 31 teams. . . . If a team chooses to close its dressing room to the media, coaches and players will be made available in interview areas. . . . Earlier in the day, the New York Islanders, who lost to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2 in OT, enforced the media restriction. “We will . . . pro-act to what we’re all going through to try and prevent as much potential associations with anybody who somehow contracted something,” Lou Lamoriello, the Islanders’ president and general manager, said.“We cannot control the amount of press that go in the room who have credentials, who come from everywhere. It’d be different if we knew the people.”
At the same time, the Washington Capitals and Penguins had their dressing rooms open after a Saturday afternoon game in Pittsburgh, which the visitors won, 5-2, and the Anaheim Ducks opened their room to the media after a practice session. The San Jose Sharks didn’t open their room after a pratice, and the Dallas Stars kept their room closed after a 1-0 loss to the visiting Nashville Predators. The Los Angeles Kings also kept their room closed after beating the visiting Minnesota Wild, 7-3.
Later Saturday, the New York Rangers announced that their dressing room will be closed, while Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said on Hockey Night in Canada that the NHL is expected to make the closure league-wide at some time over the next couple of days.
The WHL and its 22 teams won’t have to act to restrict media from dressing rooms because that’s something that happened prior to the 2002-03 season.
The WHL’s media policy, in place since then, reads in part: “The dressing rooms of each team are considered restricted access — no access is granted without the permission of the team concerned. Access to the dressing room, by the media or other personnel, is strictly at the discretion of each team.”
Among cancellations related to the COVID-019 virus announced Saturday were the 2020 world women’s hockey championship and the Arctic Winter Games.
The IIHF pulled the plug on the women’s championship that would have brought 10 teams to Halifax and Truro, N.S., from March 31 through April 10. It’s expected that Halifax and Truro will play host to the 2021 tournament. The decision to cancel this year’s tournament was made during a conference call on Saturday. . . . The 2003 women’s championship, which was scheduled for Beijing, was cancelled due to the SARS outbreak.
From The Hockey News:
“The Women’s World Championship is also the seventh event the IIHF has cancelled this week. . . . International hockey’s governing body announced Monday the 2020 U18 World Championship Div. II Group B tournament in Bulgaria was set to be cancelled. Other events cancelled included U18 World Championship Div. II Group A in Tallinn, Estonia; U18 World Championship Div. III Group A in Istanbul, Turkey; U18 World Championship Div. III Group B in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg; Women’s World Championship Div. I Group B in Katowice, Poland; and Women’s World Championship Div. II Group A in Jaca, Spain. Those decisions came on the recommendation of the IIHF’s medical committee.”
The men’s world championship, scheduled for Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, from May 8-24, remains a go, at least for now. Rene Fasel, the IIHF’s president, has said the tournament would be cancelled rather than play in empty arenas.
Also still on tap, at least for now, is the men’s U-18 World championship that is scheduled for Plymouth, Mich., from April 16 through April 26.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Arctic Winter Games that were to have been held in Whitehorse, from March 15 through March 21, also were cancelled. The event would have drawn more than 2,000 participants, some of them from such countries as Finland, Greenland, Norway and Russia. . . . Catherine Elliott, Yukon’s acting chief medical officer of health, had recommended the move.
Daryl Wolski, a player agent with 2112 Hockey Agency who specializes in international placements, had four interesting tweets on Saturday:
“NLA and NLB leagues in Switzerland may considering cancelling both seasons on March 15.”
“KHL and VHL to meet to discuss 2020-21 season potential options for teams based in China.”
“Asia Hockey League will stream final playoff games and will have no fans allowed.”
“NLA teams in Switzerland get 1.6 millions Swiss (about Cdn $2.2 million) per team for TV rights therefore will consider playing with no fans.”
Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, and Gregg Popovich, who fills the same position with the San Antonio Spurs, are men of strong opinions, opinions they aren’t afraid to share.
And, I say, good for them.
On Friday, Kerr, along with players Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, attended an anti-gun rally in Oakland that shone a spotlight on, what Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, called “the city’s progress in combatting gun violence.”
Kerr told Ostler: “I do some work with the Giffords Center. Gabby Giffords was there, the former congresswoman from Arizona, who has become a friend. We put together the event with the Giffords Center. It was really a chance for us to learn what Oakland is doing to reduce gun violence, and it’s remarkable. They’re doing work that is groundbreaking, they’ve reduced gun violence by 50 percent over the last five years.”
Ostler’s story is right here.
Meanwhile, Popovich was, according to Kristian Winfield and Dennis Young of the New York Post, ripping “into Donald Trump’s response to coronavirus.”
Popovich said: “I think most people understand the situation we’re in. Anything we can do in any facet of our lives, either as groups or individuals that can bring honor to our country, that can make us not be embarrassed about the way our government performs its job, would be wonderful.”
“Today,” Popovich said on Friday, “it was our president blaming Barack Obama for the fact that we don’t have the (testing) kits that we need right now. Seriously.”
Popovich then came up with a quote for all-time. “I think,” Popovich said, “he thinks Barack Obama tripped Mary Decker.”
In the 1984 Olympic Summer Games, Decker fell in the 3,000-metre race.
The Post’s story is right here.
The Kootenay Ice are gone. Again. . . . This time it’s the Ice from the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. The 14-year-old franchise, which played out of Trail, has been suspended by BC Hockey, apparently because of low player numbers. . . . Keegan Goodrich, BC Hockey’s vice-president of communications, told Jim Bailey of the Trail Daily Times: “It’s not cancelled; we just aren’t operating it until numbers change.” . . . Bailey’s story is right here.
The WHL honoured a couple of familiar faces with Distinguished Service Awards this weekend. . . . Bernie Burtney, the supervisor of off-ice officials for the Saskatoon Blades, was saluted on Friday night. Burtney has been a volunteer with the Blades for 30 seasons. . . . On Saturday night, it was Dean (Scooter) Vrooman’s turn to be honoured. Vrooman, who has retired, spent 32 seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, and was the team’s radio voice for 26 of those. He also handled corporate sponsorships and made numerous appearances on behalf of the club in the community. . . . The WHL presents two such awards each season, one to someone from each conference who has made “an extraordinary contribution.” . . . Perhaps next season the WHL will consider honouring the late Pat Rozek, who was the Kamloops Blazers’ scorekeeper for 25 seasons at the time of his death on Dec. 22, 2016, at the age of 64.