There won’t be many of us doing this over the next 10 days, but here’s a Christmas song that I really, really enjoy . . .
A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the WHL for doing the right thing in not only scrubbing its Jan. 8 start date, but also for not coming up with another proposed start date.
The 22-team league, which has teams in four provinces and two states, announced Tuesday that “with public health restrictions in place across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S., the WHL is not in a position to start its regular season as planned on Jan. 8.”
This decision was made, according to a statement, “following further consultation with regional health authorities.”
What’s next for the WHL? According to the statement, its board of governors ”will meet in January to consider potential start dates.”
If you stop by here on a regular basis, you will have noticed that I didn’t post anything, not even a COVID-19 update, on Monday.
Well, I did edit a Mondays With Murray piece and posted that, but that was it.
I actually started to put together a regular week-day piece, but I found that as I pulled in the COVID-19 numbers I only got more and more frustrated. No matter how you look at the numbers, there really isn’t an end in sight.
Yes, one vaccine is here and more are on the way. But it’s not a magic elixir that is going to make things better overnight. Yes, we are going to need still more patience.
Earlier on Monday, I had spoken with the owner of a small business in Kamloops and he, like me, figures we’re in this until the summer months get here. Even though it didn’t have to be that way.
And then I spoke with a friend in Regina, who told me about the clown show that hit Regina on Sunday in which the two lead clowns weren’t even from Regina. We talked, too, about the restrictions that are coming to Saskatchewan. It was, we agreed, like in so many other Canadian jurisdictions, too little, too late. And, we agreed, it didn’t have to be like this. If only the politicians had acted sooner, we agreed.
But, still, I was going to write something. I was going to cobble something together and get it on the site.
But then . . .
I had been told on Friday about a B.C. junior hockey team whose 19- and 20-year-olds had skated together that day. If, indeed, that happened it would have been in direct contravention of restrictions that had been put in place by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) earlier in the month, one that prohibited such players from participating in indoor or outdoor sports.
On Monday, as I was getting my thoughts together, I got another text, this one informing me that same team had held a “full team practice” earlier in the day. As the source put it: “Other teams have gone home and they are practising!”
And then I saw the ‘woe is me’ piece that the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers — who aren’t the team referred to above — posted on their website. Well . . . that was enough to shut down my brain and open John Grisham’s latest novel.
At one point, Clippers owner Wes Mussio is quoted (on the Clippers’ website, not in the Grisham book):
“I’ve heard from many hockey fans that coming to a Clippers game is the highlight of their week and without hockey, their mental health is declining. I don’t blame them because this is our national sport and not being able to enjoy it is a tremendous sacrifice.”
Nowhere in the Clippers’ statement is there even one word about the safety of their community, or even a mention of families who have lost loved ones, or anything about people in hospitals. Nothing about healthcare workers. Nada about teachers. Retail workers? Forget it.
Nowhere is there anything about using these times as a teaching moment. Nothing about accountability. Nothing about being socially responsible. Not a word about trying to keep a community safe. Crickets about what the players can take out of living through this kind of adversity and having to deal with it.
In the meantime, the Canadian death toll from this pandemic reached 13,659 on Tuesday. The number of positive cases went over 475,000, an increase of 6,733 in the previous 24 hours.
At the same time, there have been 42,943 positive cases in B.C., and 647 deaths.
BCHL rosters include a number of American players. There have been 16.8 million positive cases and 304,000 deaths in their country.
But somehow we seem to have normalized all of this. Somehow these numbers have become just that — numbers.
How did that happen? By now most of us know someone who is or was ill, or someone who has lost a loved one to this virus, someone whose Christmas dinner table will have an empty space. We’ve read the stories about those families, or about the long-termers, those people who had the virus, some of them months ago, and continue to suffer. So how do so many people either ignore what’s going on or pretend it isn’t happening?
Perhaps some of them get their cues from what is going on in the U.S., especially in the NFL, the NBA and NCAA basketball and football, where the risk seems to be looked upon as though a positive test is nothing more than a mosquito bite.
Look, as much as I want to see junior hockey players back on the ice, the reality is that it isn’t going to happen until the numbers come down . . . way down. The virus will decide when junior hockey returns.
Having been around junior hockey for the better part of 50 years now, I fully understand the role it plays in so many communities. And I know how much it means to young players to be on the ice, all the while trying to carve out their future. But to suggest that it is an essential service or that the mental health of “many” fans is “declining” because it is missing in action. . . please, get a grip.
Oh, and wear a mask!
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
CBC News: Manitoba reports 272 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the 7-day average up slightly to 309. There are also 9 more deaths being attributed to the virus, raising the province’s death toll to 508.
CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 194 new COVID-19 cases; it’s the 1st time in a week the daily total has been below 200. 7 additional deaths are also attributed to the virus.
CBC News: Alberta reports 1,341 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths. There are 742 people in hospital and 137 in ICU, both an all time high for the province.
CBC News: Health-care worker becomes first in B.C. to receive COVID-19 vaccine as province reports 522 new coronavirus cases and 21 more deaths. . . . A cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Big White resort community near Kelowna B.C. has grown to 60 confirmed cases. Large number of people in shared homes and social gatherings to blame for spread, says Interior Health.
CBC News: Ontario reports 2,275 new COVID-19 cases, the 1st time the province has had more than 2,000. It pushes the 7-day average to 1,926. (Note: The health minister’s office says today’s number may be higher due to a change in the way data are tabulated.) . . . Changes to how Public Health Ont. collects, analyzes cases mean today’s figure has 2.5 extra hours of data from several health units, artificially inflating the number — but by how much not yet clear. 20 more deaths, 39,600 tests completed. . . . Hospitals across Ontario have been ordered to brace for a spike in COVID-19 patients. A memo from Ontario Health obtained by CBC News tells hospitals to prepare to activate emergency plans immediately.
CBC News: 1,741 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, health authorities say. That nudges the province’s 7-day average up to 1,790. 39 additional deaths are also being attributed to the virus. . . . Quebec looking to use Christmas break as way to slow down surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations. Schools, offices, non-essential businesses to close until Jan. 11 to help curb spread of 2nd wave.
Klamath Alerts: COVID-19 has claimed 54 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,214 the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,129 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 96,092.
Seattle P-I: The number of confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday climbed to 205,069, including 2,953 deaths, according to the Washington State Department of Health. As of Monday, there were 54,849 cases in King County according to King County Public Health’s dashboard. That included 948 deaths.
The BC Senior Games Society has postponed the 2021 55+ BC Games that were to have been held in Victoria, from Sept. 14-18. Those Games will be moved to the fall of 2022 and be held in Victoria. The 2022 Games that were to have been held in Abbotsford now will be there in 2023. . . .
For the period Dec. 6-12, the NFL announced that it had 14 players and 31 staff members test positive. . . . During that time, 41,857 gets were given to 6,960 players and personnel. . . .
The Seattle Seahawks announced that “as case counts . . . remain high in Washington state, we will continue to play without fans in attendance at our final regular-season home game on Dec. 27 vs. the L.A. Rams.” . . .
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, played kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion and long-snapper Zach Triner on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Tuesday. It isn’t yet known if they will be out for Sunday’s game. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders will be without WR Henry Ruggs III on Thursday when they meet the Los Angeles Chargers. He went on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.
The Winter X Games are scheduled to go ahead as planned, running from Jan. 29-31 in Aspen, Colo., but there won’t be any fans in attendance. The Games are operated by ESPN. . . .
Vanderbilt won’t be playing at the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday as the Commodores are dealing with an outbreak. That means the career of Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller is over after two games. The first woman to play in a Power Five game kicked two extra points in her second game on Saturday against Tennessee. . . .
The first bowl game of the Christmas season was schedule for Saturday between SMU and the U of Texas at San Antonio. However, the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, was cancelled on Tuesday because of an outbreak in the SMU program. Don’t dry for USTA, though. The Roadrunners now have accepted an invitation to play in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU. An opponent has yet to be announced. . . . SMU ended up losing three games to the virus this season. . . . Meanwhile, Michigan continues to have COVID-19 issues and has cancelled it’s Saturday game at Iowa. Michigan AD Warde Manuel said that between the virus, contact tracing and injuries the Wolverines are without more than 50 players. Michigan ended up cancelling its last three games.
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