BCHL hopes to play in Penticton bubble in 2021 . . . Swedish junior star tests positive . . . Daum back in coaching game

The BCHL had hoped to begin its regular season on Tuesday, but that dream ended when B.C.’s Provincial Health Office (PHO) imposed new restrictions last week.

In brief, those restrictions prohibit players 19 years of age and older from BCHLparticipating in practices or games, while allowing players younger than that to take part in drills but with a few restrictions.

Now, according to documents obtained by Taking Note, the BCHL is working on a plan that would have the 17 teams that are partaking in this season — the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild is on hiatus because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel — play in a Penticton bubble. The plan remains a work in progress but the league wants to present what it calls the “BCHL Bubble Concept” to the PHO this month.

That bubble would take place in the South Okanagan Events Centre, the home of the BCHL’s Vees, and the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

A two-week quarantine period would be followed by a regular season of 20 to 24 games and a seven- or 10-day playoff tournament. One model worked up by the league would have the quarantine period run Jan. 15-29, with a two-day transition into the bubble, the regular season going Feb. 1 through March 22, and playoffs running March 23 through April 2.

According to the documentation, a plan for COVID-19 testing “will be determined by the PHO.” Individuals would be tested as many as five times while in quarantine, although there are “more details to come on this.”

Players would continue to pay $1,500 per month for February and March, as they did for October and November when the teams held extended training camps and played exhibition games within cohorts.

So what’s next? The BCHL needs approval from government and health officials, as well as from Hockey Canada and BC Hockey.

“Once approval is (received),” the documentation reads, “we will notify all players and parents. Then final league decision and alterations to this plan are made. This is just the outlook of a plan and extensive work is going into the procedure.”

F William Eklund won’t be on Sweden’s roster at the fast-approaching World Junior Championship after he tested positive. Eklund, 18, is a top prospect for the NHL’s 2021 draft. He has seven goals and five assists in 16 games with Djurgardens IF in the SHL, his country’s top league. Last season, in the J20 SuperElit, he had 12 goals and 24 assists in 31 games. . . . Sweden’s national junior team would have been expecting him to score for them at the WJC. . . . The 10-team tournament is scheduled to open in a bubble in Edmonton on Dec. 25. With the tournament this close, a positive test means that person won’t be allowed entry into Canada. . . .

At least two other high-end players also will be missing, but not because of positive tests. The New Jersey Devils have decided not to allow F Jack Hughes to play for the U.S., while the New York Rangers aren’t going to let F Alexis Lafreniere join Team Canada.

Rob Daum is back in the coaching game, this time with EC VSV, which plays in the Erste Bank Hockey League out of Villach, Austria. . . . Daum actually is returning to the club he coached last season. He ended up on the outside looking in after he and the team weren’t able to agree to contract terms after the season ended. . . . On Saturday, Daum, 62, got a two-year deal in replacing Dan Ceman, who was 6-10. The change was made despite the club having won its last two games and four in a row on home ice. . . . Daum has been coaching since 1986, and has been in Europe since 2011-12. He coached in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes, 1989-95).


CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 19 new deaths related to COVID-19, including a woman in her 20s. The province is also reporting 354 new cases of the virus. Manitoba’s test positivity rate is 13.1%. 349 people are in hospital, including 51 in intensive care.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 202 new cases of COVID-19. No new deaths related to the illness have been reported in the province. . . . The Saskatchewan government says the numbers in the Saskatoon region, where 4 cases were recorded, are ‘much lower than anticipated due to a data-related issue that is in the process of correction and is expected to be updated tomorrow.’

CBC News: Alberta is reporting a record 1,879 new cases of COVID-19. This is the 3rd straight day the province has seen more than 1,800 cases. There have been 6 additional deaths linked to COVID-19 in the province.

As usual, there isn’t a weekend report from B.C. That guarantees us some huge numbers when they are revealed on Monday.

CBC News: Ontario reports new record high of 1,859 COVID-19 cases on Saturday. . . . Ontario health minister says spread of COVID-19 ‘has reached a critical point’ as province reports 1,859 more cases

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 2,031 new cases of COVID-19. The province has added 48 deaths to its total, including 11 that occurred within the last 24 hours. 754 people are in hospital, including 96 in intensive care. . . . With 2,031 new COVID-19 cases today, Quebec has set a grim record. It’s the highest daily case count recorded in any province or territory since the start of the pandemic. . . . Today marks the 1st time the province has topped 2,000 new cases. Case counts are skyrocketing in Montreal (630 new cases), Quebec City (304) and the outlying eastern parts of the province. . . . INSQ epidemiologist Dr. Gaston De Serres says: ‘The system in which people put in information regarding new cases slowed down,’ resulting in a slightly lower case count Friday and a slightly higher count today.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 2 new cases of COVID-19. 1 case is in the Saint John region; the other is in the Edmundston region. Both new cases are under investigation. There are 98 known active cases in the province, including 1 person in intensive care.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 6 new cases of COVID-19. 4 of the new cases are in the Central Zone and 2 are in the Eastern Zone. All of the new cases are being investigated. There are 95 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital.

CBC News: P.E.I. is reporting 3 new cases of COVID-19. The province has  seen 76 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

CBC News: 4 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. 2 are contacts of a previously announced case, 1 is travel-related and the remaining case is being investigated. There are 26 known active cases of the virus in N.L.

CBC News: Nunavut is reporting 8 new cases of COVID-19. There are 56 known active cases in the province.

KPTV: Oregon Health Authority update: 1,847 new cases of COVID-19 statewide, 24 additional deaths.

The New York Times: Seven states in the Midwest have seen a sustained decrease in infections over the past 14 days, offering a glimmer of hope for a region consumed by the coronavirus.

Ryan Struyk, CNN: “We’re rounding the corner on the pandemic,” President Trump says falsely as the United States reports a record-high 227,885 new coronavirus cases in a single day.

Ryan Struyk, CNN: The United States is now averaging 2,011 coronavirus deaths per day, its highest seven-day rolling average since April 29, according to data from CNN and Johns Hopkins University. . . . The United States is now averaging 182,586 new coronavirus cases per day, the highest seven-day rolling average since the pandemic began, according to data from CNN and Johns Hopkins University. . . . 14.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus. . . . The rolling average of new US coronavirus cases has climbed to 182,586 cases per day. That’s up 100% in the last 30 days, up 200% in the last 45 days, up 300% in the last 60 days and up 400% in the last 90 days. . . . The United States has now reported more than 1 million new coronavirus cases so far in December.

CBC News: Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, registered 7,993 new cases overnight.

Thomson Reuters: Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday, marking Russia’s first mass vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force said. . . . The task force said the Russian-made vaccine would first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers because they ran the highest risk of exposure to the disease.

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