Just a few months ago, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a native of the Montreal suburb of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, was on the offensive line as the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. He played every offensive snap in finishing his fifth season as the team’s starting right guard. . . . On Friday, he became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season, choosing to work on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic over football. . . . His contract with the Chiefs called for him to be paid US$2.75 million this season; instead, he will receive US$150,000 from the NFL’s opt-out deal with the NFLPA. . . . Duvernay-Tardif, 29, has his medical doctorate from McGill U in Montreal, but his football career has kept him from a full-time residency. He worked as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal through June and now is waiting for another role. . . . In making his announcement, he wrote: ”Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” he wrote. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
Rick Westhead of TSN reported on Friday that “The Canadian Hockey League has hired lobbyists in Ottawa to discuss financial aid” as we continue to steer our way through this pandemic. . . . Those lobbyists have met with government officials going back to late June. . . . As Westhead wrote: “It’s unclear whether the CHL will be able to hold a 2020-21 season, given restrictions on large public gatherings and how crucial ticket revenue is to the CHL’s business model.” . . . Westhead’s story is right here.
F Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers is training as though the WHL season is going to start on Oct. 2, but he is a realist and senses that isn’t likely to happen. . . . “I’m training as if I was starting in August,” he told Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV on Kamloops on Friday. “Obviously, we’re not. Honest opinion is we won’t be able to start in October, but I’ve still got to train and still got to have the train of thought that I’m training as hard as I can, and that’s what I can do to be ready no matter when it does start.” . . . The WHL has said that it is aiming for an Oct. 2 start, but it hasn’t yet released a schedule. . . . However, Zary is expecting a later start, but, like everyone else, hasn’t any idea when that might be. “Just the way everyone’s talking and you hear things,” he told Klassen. “Obviously no one can give you a final answer that ‘yeah, it’s happening.’ It’s up in the air with every single thing that’s going on this year. It’s just a waiting game to see what happens.” . . . Zary, who is preparing for his fourth season with the Blazers, will be an early first-round selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft, which now is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10. He had 86 points, including 38 goals, in 57 games when last season was halted in March.
Former Kamloops Blazers general manager Stu MacGregor will be back for a second season as a co-GM of the Thompson zone U18, U16 and U15 minor hockey teams for 2020-21. MacGregor will be teaming up with Jan Antons to run the Kamloops-based teams. . . . MacGregor also is a senior regional scout (west) for the WHL’s Victoria Royals.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
Michigan State said Friday that its entire football team was being quarantined for 14 days after one student-athlete and one staff member tested positive. The school had halted workouts on Wednesday after a different staff member tested positive. . . . David Cobb of CBS Sports wrote that “the full-team quarantine is in accordance with athletic department policy. The policy also mirrors guidelines released by the NCAA last week that mandate 14-day quarantines for student-athletes who are found to have been in ‘high-risk’ contact with others who have tested positive. That means other schools are likely to be faced with similar situations.” . . .
The 2020 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix officially was cancelled on Friday. It originally was to have run June 12-14, but had been postponed to Oct. 9-11. . . . The U.S., Mexico and Brazil Formula 1 races also have been cancelled. . . .
Before playing the visiting New York Mets on Friday afternoon, the Atlanta Braves scratched their top two catchers. Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers tested negative but were exhibiting symptoms so were left in Atlanta. It had been hoped that one or both would be feeling better by Friday morning and would then fly to New York. But it wasn’t to be. . . .
D Brett Kulak of the Montreal Canadiens told reporters on Friday that he tested positive after arriving in Montreal for Phase 3 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol. He was back on the ice with the team on Thursday. Kulak said he tested negative, but then had two positives. He’s feeling fine now, but said he experienced headaches, respiratory issues and a lack of energy. . . .
The Falkland, B.C., Stampede has been cancelled, meaning it won’t be held for the first time since the inaugural event in 1919. Normally held on the May long weekend, it was postponed to Aug. 28-30 before being cancelled.