QMJHL pauses season until January . . . NFL makes more schedule changes . . . Mount Royal hockey team has outbreak

The QMJHL has been trying to play regular-season games since Oct. 2. It had its Maritime Division teams playing each other until the virus got in the way there. And after some virus-related issues with its Quebec-based teams, it bundled up seven of them and headed to Quebec City for some bubble play. . . . On Monday, however, the QMJHL announced that it is shutting down until at least Jan. 3. . . . Here is Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL commissioner, from a news release: “The current situation with the pandemic in the regions in which we operate makes it extremely difficult to play games. With the holidays just around the corner, the provinces in the Maritimes have restricted access and travel, while red zone restrictions in Quebec do not permit us to play.” . . . Courteau is scheduled to hold a news conference today. . . . The other two major junior leagues — the OHL and WHL — haven’t attempted starts. The WHL has said it will open its regular season on Jan. 8, with the OHL aiming for Feb. 4.

How are things in the NFL?

Well, remember that game that was to have been played last Thursday night with the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers? Yeah, the one that got moved to Sunday and then to Tuesday. Well, now it has been rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon. . . . An NFL game on a weekday afternoon? Well, NBC-TV has the rights to the game but the NFL chose not to press the network to move its prime-time showing of the annual Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center for a football game. . . .

The NFL also has moved Pittsburgh’s game at Washington from Sunday to Monday night, and Baltimore’s game at Dallas, that was to have been played on Thursday, to Dec. 8 (Tuesday). . . . The Buffalo-San Francisco game from Glendale, Ariz., will follow Pittsburgh-Washington on Monday. . . . The NFL has had more than 100 players and 175 other staff test positive. But, hey, it hasn’t had to cancel a game. Yet. . . .

The San Francisco 49ers, who really don’t play in San Francisco, are going to finish their home season in Arizona. Yes, the 49ers play their home games in Santa Clara, but the county has banned contact sports for the next while. So the 49ers are moving their home games to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., the home of the Cardinals. . . . I don’t know what it means but the virus numbers are much worse in the Glendale area than in Santa Clara County. . . . The 49ers will play two home games in Glendale — Dec. 7 against the Buffalo Bills and Dec. 13 against Washington. They also have a home game, against the Seattle Seahawks, scheduled for Jan. 3; it remains to be seen where it will be played. . . .

Here’s Ann Killion, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

”Santa Clara County should get praise for treating its resident NFL team the same way it treats everyone else. The coronavirus doesn’t play favorites, but society does. The testing and supplies, manpower and dollars being devoted to playing sports in a surging pandemic continues to underscore how out of whack our priorities are.

“The NFL has not been operating in a bubble in terms of the coronavirus. But it always operates in a bubble of privilege and self-importance, so it’s a bit jolting when a team gets treated like a normal business.”

Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette:

“The only way the NFL could have made a bigger mess of this season is if the league was taking advice on how to handle the coronavirus directly from the Trump administration. . . .

“The NFL mess is on commissioner Roger Goodell, whose half-hearted approach pretty much guaranteed that the virus would be an issue every week. If you’re going to let Baltimore slide without forcing the Ravens to forfeit, then more teams are going to go the same route.

“And don’t even get me started on the NCAA.”


There aren’t any numbers today. They are available if you want to go looking for them. But trust me on this. . . . They are bad. Let’s just leave it at that for tonight.


The Mount Royal Cougars men’s hockey team, which is based in Calgary, has shut things down after 18 positive tests among players and staff. The Cougars play in Canada West, which won’t have a 2020-21 season, and players have been skating together. They might get back on the ice early in the new year. . . . The Cougars were to have played exhibition games against Canada’s national junior team on Dec. 5 and 6. Those games were cancelled after two Team Canada players tested positive in Red Deer and everyone was self-isolated. . . .

Hockey Manitoba announced Monday that it has cancelled all of its 2021 provincial championships that annually involve about 250 teams and 4,000 players. . . . From a news release: “The decision to cancel the minor hockey championships has been made with the safety of all members and the community in mind.  These tournaments will not be rescheduled for the 2021 season. The cancellation will provide leagues with more time to plan the current season and the ability to extend the season past February as we return to play.” . . .

Brady Laing of CKOM Saskatoon reported Monday that the city has removed the nets from all of its 52 indoor and outdoor rinks. “Since the current provincial public health order clearly states that hockey is not permitted, the recommendation from City of Saskatoon Community Development has been that nets be put away on the rinks for the next three weeks to discourage hockey being played,” city spokesperson Allison Collins told Laing. . . .

The Penticton, B.C., Curling Club has shut its doors after four members tested positive. It will remain closed until at least Dec. 7 as it awaits the outcome of contact tracing. . . .

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has issued a warning about a “large number” of COVID-19 cases linked to curling clubs in Regina. The SHA has issued a news release referring to issues at the Highland and Caledonian clubs. . . .

The U of Vermont men’s hockey team has paused all team activities after four positive tests. According to the school, the positives were among “the program’s Tier 1 personnel,” which is defined as student-athletes, coaches, managers and support staff. . . .

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have cancelled their game against visiting No. 16 Northwestern on Saturday. Minnesota, which also cancelled a game last Saturday at Wisconsin, has paused football activities because of positive tests and contact tracing. . . . Minnesota has had 47 positives since Nov. 19, including 21 players. . . .

The Stanford Cardinal football team plays in Santa Clara County, where contact sports have been prohibited. So the Cardinal will travel to Seattle today (Tuesday) to practise for Saturday’s game against the Washington Huskies. . . .

I’m not even going to attempt to try to get into what all is happening with NCAA men’s and women’s basketball teams and their schedules. Suffice to say that the virus appears to be winning there, too. . . . And it has to be licking lips with NBA teams about to open training camps without bubbling up.

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