We’re Walking the Block on Sunday . . . Last chance to join Dorothy’s team . . . Grand Chief needs help

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. and Yukon Branch, is gearing up for its 2020 Kidney Walk — Walk the Block virtual celebration on Sunday.

The branch, along with those in Alberta and Saskatchewan, was forced by the pandemic to cancel all of its annual walks and now has put together a virtual walk.

In B.C., Sunday’s event starts at 10 a.m., with hosts Robin Gill, Stephen Gillis and Michael Teigen. Gill is an anchor for Global National, while Gillis is a recent kidney transplant recipient. Teigen was Gillis’s donor.


Stewart Phillip, the Okanagan National Alliance’s Grand Chief, has gone public with his need for a kidney. He outlined his situation in a news release, explaining: ”My kidneys no longer work well enough to keep me alive and continue my lifelong work and passion to advocate for Indigenous Title and Rights and the environment, and to do the things I enjoy most, like spending time with my wonderful wife Joan, our five children and 15 grandchildren, and being out on our territory. My treatment options are limited to dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant, which is why I am reaching out publicly now.” . . . There is more right here.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of Sunday’s ‘virtual’ walk. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . If you aren’t aware, she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and this is her seventh straight year of supporting the Walk. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.

Paddy in Disguise (With Glasses) . . . QMJHL aiming for Oct. 1 . . . Goodall talks Bedard


The headline in the Victoria Times-Colonist read: Paddy (The Phantom) Ginnell back in town.

It was Sept. 15, 1985, and the New Westminster Bruins were in Victoria for an exhibition WHL game with the Cougars.

Ginnell, a former owner, general manager and head coach of the Cougars, now was the Bruins’ GM/head coach. While he wasn’t behind the bench for this one because he was serving Game 1 of a five-game suspension, he actually was in the arena. At least for a few minutes.

Dave Senick of the Times-Colonist covered the game and wrote that Ginnell “had a false moustache pasted on his upper lip, a pair of sunglasses perched on his nose and a floppy cap pulled well down his forehead. A frumpy lumber jacket completed the outfit.”

It seems that Ginnell had planned on taking in the game in person, but after being recognized — gee, you think! — Senick reported that the veteran coach “stood by the Bruins’ bus and spent the afternoon chatting with those he knew from a past coaching job with the Cougars.”

Why was Ginnell suspended (and fined $500)?

It seems the Bruins and Seattle Thunderbirds had become involved in a bench-clearing brawl on Sept. 11 in Chilliwack, and Ginnell’s guys were deemed the first to leave the bench.

Bench-clearing brawls. Coaches in disguise. Yes, those were the days, weren’t they?

BTW, the above photo of Ginnell, in disguise, was taken by Ian McKain of the Times-Colonist.


The QMJHL, which unveiled a new logo on Monday, plans to begin its 2020-21 regular season on Oct. 1 with a schedule calling for each team to play its usual 68 games. Commissioner Gilles Courteau told a video conference on Tuesday that his league expects to have “a certain percentage of spectators” attending games. . . . The QMJHL opened its 2019-20 regular season on Sept. 19. The 18-team league has teams in four provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. . . . Courteau said the league is working on a return-to-play program and that it will continue to work through all of this with public health officials. . . . Later, some teams, including the Halifax Mooseheads, issued statements. “Although this is a positive announcement for all of us . . . we fully understand that there are still a number of factors to be determined and approved by our Provincial Government and public health authorities before we can begin selling ticket packages,” the Mooseheads said. “We are currently working closely with the QMJHL on a Return to Play protocol for the 2020-21 season in order to ensure a safe return for our players, staff and fans, that will be in compliance with public health guidelines.” . . . So, while the QMJHL is aiming for Oct. 1, it still is faced with a lot of unknowns, meaning the league is no different than anyone else.



Don’t shoot the messenger. OK?

Bartley Kives of CBC News wrote an interesting piece that was posted on the Corp.’s website on Sunday morning.

Here’s the headline: Never mind 2020 — It could be years before pro sports fans are back in the stands.

That is something I have been wondering about for a while now. Faced with an aggressive virus, no vaccine, and with governments, at least in Canada, who are reluctant to allow large gatherings in their jurisdictions, where exactly does the sports world go from here.

That sports world would include pro sports and, yes, junior hockey.

While the NHL, NBA and MLB likely could survive in the short term without fans in the stands, it’s doubtful that the CFL could make it. And there is no chance — Zero! Nil! Nada! — that junior hockey at any level could make it.

The CFL, like all leagues, is wanting badly to have some sort of season in 2020.

As Kives points out, “. . . the CFL may not be able to afford a year of failing to engage its audience. The CFL desperately needs real fans to buy tickets to games, merchandise, food and beer.

“The league could be holding out faint hope public health authorities will allow fans to gather in large groups this season.

“That is quite unlikely, given the highly communicable nature of COVID-19 and the potential for infection when thousands of people are gathered in a confined space such as a stadium concourse.

“It’s hard enough for public health employees to trace the contacts of a single infected patient who works at a Winnipeg Walmart or a Brandon trucking company.

“Imagine the complexity — if not outright impossibility — of trying to figure out who came in contact with one infected person among a crowd of tens of thousands at a stadium such as I.G. Field in Winnipeg or Mosaic Stadium in Regina.”

Kives spoke with Dan Chateau, an assistant professor of community health sciences at the U of Manitoba.

“Think about the Roughriders,” Chateau said. “They get people from all over Saskatchewan, and the Blue Bombers get people from all over Manitoba and from all over the City of Winnipeg, which is three quarters of a million (people) itself.

“You don’t want those people to go back to their communities and eventually spread COVID-19 again through each of their individual spheres of social contact.”

Kives followed that by writing this:

“This would not just be a problem this fall. It will be a problem for the CFL, NHL and any professional league as long as COVID-19 continues to circulate among the population and no vaccine treatment is available.

“This, unfortunately, means there may be no fans in the stands for CFL and NHL games in 2021, 2022 or beyond.”

As for a vaccine, well, you can read all about it right here, which is where you will find Kives’ complete story.

Just remember . . . please don’t shoot the messenger.



When you talk about the most under-rated players in WHL history, Rick Blight’s name has to be near the top of the list. Playing with the Brandon Wheat Kings, he put up 31 goals and 62 assists in his freshman season (1972-73). The next season, he totalled 130 points, including 49 goals, in 67 games. In 1974-75, Blight scored 60 goals and added 52 assists. . . . He finished his major junior career with 336 points, including 141 goals, in 201 assists. . . . Blight committed suicide in April 2005. . . . Ed Willes of Postmedia has more on Blight’s story right here.


The Kamloops Blazers have signed F Connor Levis, a first-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft who had committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines. Levis was the 20th overall selection in that draft. . . . He and D Mats Lindgren, who was taken seventh overall by the Blazers, had both committed to Michigan. Lindgren also has signed with the Blazers. . . . Levis, at 15, had 12 goals and 14 assist in 33 games for the St. George’s School prep team last season.



Glen Goodall holds one WHL record that won’t ever be broken. Over six WHL seasons, Goodall, now 50, played in 399 regular-season games. At 14, he was a regular with the Seattle Breakers in 1984-85. He played the next five seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Having played at 14, he can relate to what F Connor Bedard is faced with as he prepares to join the Regina Pats at 15. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Goodall and the results are right here.


USA Hockey has cancelled boys’ and girls’ player development camps for this summer. From a news release: “USA Hockey cancelled the Boys Select 15, Girls 15, and Girls 16/17 camps on March 20 and on Monday cancelled the remaining camps that had been listed as tentative, including the Boys Select 16, Boys Select 17 and Girls Under-18 Select camps.”


Julie: ‘Getting down to crunch time . . . Honestly, it’s pretty scary’ . . . She needs a kidney. Are you able to help?

When you are living with kidney disease and are waiting and hoping for a transplant, it oftentimes can feel like time is running out.

While trying to get through your daily life, you have the spectre of dialysis hanging over your head. You know that the best-case scenario for you is a transplant before you need dialysis, and all the time you know that if that doesn’t happen you will end up on dialysis.

That is what’s going through your mind in what used to be ‘normal’ times. These days, the pandemic adds even more stress to your life.

That’s the situation in which Julie Dodds of Kamloops finds herself. She has a genetic kidney disease — Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1. In August, she turned to Facebook as she began a search for a living donor. She and her family — she is married with three young sons — have yet to find that donor. And she is moving ever closer to dialysis.

Here are some of her thoughts from a Facebook posting on Saturday:

“Getting down to crunch time. My kidney function as of (Friday) has my GFR at 16. That means I’m going to get the ‘what type of dialysis do you want’ talk very soon.

“This pandemic obviously shut down all the donor testing for a couple months but happily it’s been starting back up and I have a virtual appointment with the Vancouver doctors in a couple weeks.

“I don’t know the state of donors or matching. I don’t know if I’m going to last long enough to get a kidney match before having to do dialysis. I don’t know if COVID-19 is going to flare up again enough to shut it all down again. Honestly, it’s pretty scary to think about doing dialysis and where things are gonna go in the next few months.

“Thank you to everyone who is frequently checking in on me. I feel tired, achy and occasionally stressed, but most of the time life is just going on as normal.

“Trying to imagine what life is going to look like in the next year is a bit much so taking it one little step at a time.”

Julie’s GFR (glomerular filtration rate) of 16 means that she has Stage 4 kidney disease. If your GFR falls to between 30 and 15, it’s Stage 4 and a transplant or dialysis is looming. When the GFR slides below 15, the person has kidney failure and it’s time for a transplant or dialysis — either hemodialysis or peritoneal. In adults, a normal GFR would be 90 or higher, although between 89 and 60 can be seen as normal in some people, especially those over 60 years of age.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


There is some good news for people in B.C. who are awaiting kidney transplants.

Michael Coyle of Coquitlam underwent a transplant on Friday in Vancouver.

Coyle, who has polycystic kidney disease, had a date set prior to the pandemic coming along, and kept waiting for it to be postponed because of the pandemic. In the end, it was postponed — but only for one day.

Coyle has been with Coquitlam Search and Rescue for 20 years. His donor, Jody, is the wife of another SAR member. 

Monika Gul and Lisa Steacy of News 1130 in Vancouver have more on Coyle right here.

Three months ago, Coyle told his story to the Tri-City News and, if you haven’t seen it, it’s really worth a read. It’s all right here.


Elsa and Robert Garza share the same birthday in the same year. They were born in the same hospital. Now he has given her a kidney in a transplant that was done before Elsa had to go on dialysis. . . . There’s more in a story right here from ABC-7 in Austin, Texas.

On Friday, Zack Hedrick posted this on Facebook:

“Got an update that Robert and Elsa Garza’s kidney transplant surgery went well!! Both are stable and recovering!

“Robert donated one of his kidneys to Elsa, who was close to going on dialysis because of an autoimmune disease which attacked her kidneys. Elsa was in stage 5 renal failure.

Their surgery was delayed a couple months due to COVID-19, but went off without a hitch earlier this morning!”


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team while putting a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.



Cities face many financial-related questions without answers . . . The ethics of restarting a season . . . Golf tour cancels season

It would seem that paNOW made some waves in Prince Albert with a Thursday story written by Alison Sandstrom that carried the headline: City facilities expected to remain shut until next year.

The Art Hauser Centre, the home of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, is a city facility.

On Friday, paNOW allowed city officials to use its website to “clarify that they have not made any determination on the opening date for facilities. They made assumptions for the purpose of financial forecasting, but no decisions have been made.”

Of course decisions haven’t been made. These pandemic-riddled days are full of uncertainty and there really isn’t any end in sight; at least, not that anyone can predict with any sense of accuracy. I mean, if the NHL doesn’t know whether it will be able to play in July or August or September, how can the WHL know that it will start its season on time?

Interestingly, there wasn’t one sentence in Sandstrom’s story that indicated any city facilities in Prince Albert would definitely be shut down until some time in 2021.

It’s far too early to make that kind of decision, but officials in all cities will be looking ahead, putting together various scenarios and trying to figure out where they are going to be at in terms of finances at year’s end. That is exactly what Greg Dionne, Prince Albert’s mayor, told Sandstrom: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities. So lots of the decisions will be made when (the province) sets dates and rules for Phase 4, then we’ll look at them and say (for example), well, that doesn’t make any sense, ‘sorry the pool has to be closed.’ ”

As Dionne pointed out, if the province limits outdoor gatherings to 30 people, “you won’t be opening the pool for 30 people.”

At this point, the Saskatchewan government has limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer. There could be changes coming on June 8 that would bump that up to 15 for indoor groups and 30 for outdoor gatherings.

But when the time comes, if indoor gatherings remain limited to 50 or 100 or even 200, Prince Albert isn’t likely to be opening the Art Hauser Centre.

As Sandstrom pointed out in her story, even with all the cost-saving things the city has enacted in the last while, it still expects to lose $750,000 by year’s end. That may be a drop in, say, Vancouver’s bucket, but it’s big coin to a city the size of Prince Albert.

And you can bet this same scenario is being played out in various other WHL cities.

Cities also have to be wondering about how much they are going to have to spend on changes to facilities in order to meet new health standards whenever they are back in business. Take an arena, for example. Does a dressing room get completely sanitized after every use? How many sanitizer stations are needed? How often are the washrooms to be sanitized? Will more staff have to be hired in order to get all of this done?

Meanwhile, Michael Scissons, the Raiders’ business manager, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW on Friday that it’s business as usual.

“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for a regular hockey season just like we would any other year,” Scissons said. “There’s been nothing to point at this point that it’s going to be anything different. . . . We have a big 50th year coming up right now and there’s a lot of work to go into it. We’re excited for the season to get going.”

On May 22, Ed Willes, the Postmedia sports columnist in Vancouver, wrote this:

“Giants owner Ron Toigo doesn’t think the WHL will resume play until January and, to date, season-ticket holders have been understanding.

“But, ‘You can make that commitment today, but what happens in six or seven months if you don’t have a job? That’s the biggest concern. What will the economy look like? And that’s universal. It’s not just sports.’ ”

Sandstrom’s original story is right here, while D’Andrea’s piece is right here.  


“This year’s John Deere Classic, scheduled for July 9-12, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In lieu of a news release, the PGA Tour announced the breakup in a John Deere letter.”



Some sports and leagues have returned to play. albeit without fans, and, if all goes according to plan, soon there will be more, including the NBA and NHL. “Beyond logistics, though, a deeper dilemma shadows the whole exercise,” writes Nick Faris of thescore.com. “Is it ethical for team sports to resume during a pandemic?

“The implications of this question are myriad and serious. To return in the COVID-19 era, leagues need an abundance of tests and the willingness to keep playing through positive cases. Players and many other, older people will bear these health risks so that the show can go on. Viewers watching at home must square this knowledge with their desire to consume and enjoy the spectacle.”

These are things junior hockey leagues have to be wondering about, too. What are things going to be like in August when they will be hoping to open training camps? Is there a junior league alive capable of absorbing the cost of regular testing? There are all kinds of questions, few, if any, with answers at this point in time.

Faris spoke with four expert ethicists and the results, which are rather thought-provoking, are right here.

Jack Bowen, co-author of Sport, Ethics and Leadership, offered this food for thought:

“I am a little curious about what the messaging will be (when sports resume). These guys are guarding each other in basketball. The women’s soccer league is opening in three weeks. ‘Oh, everything must be fine — let’s go out and party and live our normal lives.’ I’m trying my best to follow what expert scientists are saying, not what sports leagues are doing, but humans aren’t following the science. They’re following the social trends.

“In this case, the optics and the messaging could affect things like not mitigating harm and sending mixed messages, which people will then act on. The leagues need to be really aware of that. I feel like the leagues need to take that on as part of their social responsibility — to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re doing. Stay at home and watch these games with your family. Be safe.’ That sort of messaging could go a long way.”



Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The ESPN documentaries on Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong were interesting. Now how about a documentary or two on people who become superstars without being bullies and jerks? Just to show the kiddies that it can be done that way.”

——

Ostler, again: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.



Golf’s Mackenzie Tour cancelled its season on Friday. The Mackenzie Tour, which was heading into its eighth season, is the Canadian men’s pro circuit. . . . This season was to have featured 13 stops. . . . 

La Liga, Spain’s top men’s soccer league, is to resume training on Monday, with a return to play set for June 11. La Liga shut down on March 12. . . . It plans on finishing its schedule on July 19. . . .

Two Formula 1 races have gotten the OK from the Austrian government. They are scheduled for July 5 and 12, without spectators, in Spielberg, 200 km southwest of Vienna. . . . 


ESPN followed up The Last Dance with a two-part documentary on Lance Armstrong. Remember him? No, I didn’t watch it. Christine Brennan of USA Today did, and then wrote, among other things: “After soldiering through 2½ months of a pandemic, what did we do to deserve this, another TV network giving Armstrong airtime to share childhood pictures and his innermost feelings as he retells his enduringly reprehensible story?”


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Headline at fark.com: Viewers who successfully complete 64-hour Derek Jeter marathon on MLB Network will receive free gift basket.


The Los Angeles Kings announced Saturday morning that they won’t be renewing the contract of Mike Stothers, who had been the head coach of their AHL franchise for six seasons. He was the head coach of the Manchester Monarchs for one season when the franchise moved to California and became the Ontario Reign. . . . The Reign won the Calder Cup as AHL championship in 2015. . . . Stothers, 58, was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors for three seasons (2011-14) before taking over the Monarchs.


Raiders’ home possibly shuttered until 2021. It’s all about managing debt . . . Former Wheat Kings GM/head coach done in Dallas


Officials from the city of Prince Albert have said that the Art Hauser Centre, the home of PrinceAlbertthe WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, may remain closed for the remainder of 2020 because of the financial situation brought on by the pandemic. . . . Alison Sandstrom of panow.com reported that all “city facilities, including pools, arenas and rinks are expected to remain closed for the rest of the calendar year, even as they are allowed to reopen under the phased provincial plan.” . . . The facilities need mass usage in order to be able to keep the doors open, and with a ban on large gatherings that isn’t going to happen. “City officials emphasized the situation could change,” Sandstrom wrote, “but said unless the province allows mass gatherings, facilities will likely have stay shut until the end of December.” . . . Mayor Greg Dionne summed it up with: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities.” . . . Sandstrom’s complete story is right here.


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


BearCrap


Hockey Canada announced Thursday that it has “cancelled all programs and national team camps through Sept. 1,” with plans to hold some of them on a virtual basis over the summer. . . . The national U-17 development camp, scheduled for July 19-25, and the national junior team summer development camp, July 27-31, are among those going virtual. . . . The complete news release is right here.


The Western Canadian Baseball League has cancelled its 2020 season. The 12-team collegiate league, which was to have opened its season on May 29, has franchises in the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks, and the Saskatchewan communities of Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton. . . .

If all health and safety requirements are met, soccer’s Premier League will resume play on June 17 with a doubleheader — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa against Sheffield United. . . .

The National Women’s Soccer League plans on taking all nine of its teams to Utah for a 25-game tournament that is to begin, without fans, in two Salt Lake City stadiums on June 27. The teams will live in two area hotels. Players will be tested before heading for Utah, then will be screened regularly during training and the tournament. . . .

The KHL, the top hockey league in Russia, has set a preliminary date of Sept. 2 for the opening of its 2020-21 season. . . .

The 2020 Boston Marathon has been cancelled for the first time in its 124-year history. It had been moved from April 20 to Sept. 14, but the plug was pulled on Thursday. . . .

The Dutch Grand Prix that had been scheduled for Zandvoort on May 3 has been cancelled. It is the fourth Formula 1 race to be cancelled, following the Australian, Monaco and French races.


Innovation


From Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts that was posted on Thursday: “For almost 35 years, Les Jackson’s been a (Dallas) Star. Hired as an assistant coach when the franchise was still in Minnesota in 1985, he stayed with the organization every season but one since. His contract will not be renewed. End of an era, for sure. He’s been a huge part of that organization’s success.” . . . Jackson, 67, is a former WHL head coach, having worked with the Great Falls Americans (1979-80) and Brandon Wheat Kings, where he was the head coach for two seasons (1980-82) and general manager for three (1982-85). With the Stars organization he was, at various times, assistant coach, scout, director of amateur scouting, director of player personnel, director of hockey operations, assistant general manager, general manager, director of player development and senior advisor.


Long Island University, which on April 30 announced its intention to ice a men’s hockey team, has named Brett Riley, 29, as the Sharks’ first head coach. LIU is located in Brookville, N.Y. . . . Riley spent last season as an assistant coach with the Colgate U Raiders. . . . He spent two seasons (2017-19) as the head coach of the Wilkes U Colonels in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Penn. The first of those seasons was spent preparing the Colonels for their first season of play in 2018-19. . . . Riley’s father, Bob, was the head coach at Army West Point for 19 years and now scouts for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Riley’s grandfather, Jack, also coached at Army for more than 35 years and was the head coach of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif.


Derick Brassard of the NHL’s New York Islanders is among a group of three men who have purchased 10 per cent of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. Brassard played two seasons (2002-04) with the midget AAA Intrepid Gatineau. . . . Yan Hébert and Michel Quesnel, who partnered with Brassard, are businessmen in the Outaouais region. . . . The Olympiques now have an 11-member ownership group.


StarTrek

NHL revamps playoff format for Covid Cup playoffs . . . But will there be games? . . . Royals hope Price is right

The unfortunate thing about Gary Bettman, the commissioner of all things NHL, telling us a whole lot of non-specific things on Tuesday afternoon is that we now are faced with another couple of months of this stuff.

Why?

Because nobody knows a whole lot about anything right now.

This pandemic-causing virus is brand new, which is why it’s the novel coronavirus. NHLScientists and the medical community are learning about it as we move along.

So, on Tuesday, Bettman told us that the NHL’s 2019-20 regular season is over and that there is to be some kind of convoluted Stanley Cup playoff featuring 24 teams, up from the 16 that would have made it in a ‘normal’ season, with all games played without fans in the stands. (I’m wondering if the players from the seven teams that didn’t make it are breathing sighs of relief.)

Bettman talked about the draft lottery and the draft, and that these playoffs may not get started until sometime in August, which would mean a Stanley Cup presentation two months after that, which would mean the 2020-21 regular season wouldn’t start until January.

(Whoever comes out of this as the Stanley Cup champion gets a gigantic asterisk. Right? And if that happens to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn’t officially bring an end to that championship drought that has been ongoing since their last title in 1967. Right?)

Bettman also said that this push to decide a Stanley Cup winner isn’t about the money, and if you believe that you just haven’t been paying attention. Because that’s all that it’s about; it always is.

Bettman also said that the playoffs will go ahead in two hub cities, with half the teams in one and the other half in the other. As Bettman spoke, there apparently were 10 cities under consideration.

But it became evident later that the NHL will have to drop Vancouver from that list because the province of B.C. doesn’t seem likely to drop its demand that incoming international travellers self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer, said later Tuesday afternoon that, although she hasn’t seen an NHL plan yet, “We’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk.”

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, offered: “If in fact we are not able to really find an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in, and not be able to do a strict quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city.”

If it comes down to Dr. Henry vs. the NHL, my money is on B.C.’s top doc. If you aren’t aware, she’s a star out here. A shoe company put out a line of shoes in her honour and they sold out in minutes, at a suggested retail of $339 a pair, crashing the website in the process. T-shirts with her likeness on them have raised more than 10 grand for charity.

Oh, and did I mention that, despite all of the positive spin we heard yesterday, all of this might not happen at all.

So for the next few weeks we are going to see a barrage of stories and reports on all of this, including playoff previews, speculation on what team rosters will look like and on and on.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday evening, the virus-related death toll in the United States was at 94,702, according to statistics kept by John Hopkins University. The number of deaths in Canada was at 6,639. That figure worldwide is somewhere around 350,000.

No one was talking about any of that on Tuesday in all the chatter about the NHL’s possible return to play.

——

The most sensible comments I have seen to date on the NHL’s plan to return to play have come from Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk. He is the Wild’s representative on the NHLPA’s executive board.

The executive board voted 29-2 last week to accept the 24-team format as presented by the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean the NHL is anywhere close to returning to the ice.

In speaking with Michael Russo of The Athletic on Monday, Dubnyk said: “We voted strictly on the format. In other words, ‘If we are to come back, this is how it’s going to be played.’ But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet. Nothing else has been voted on … yet.”

Dubnyk also said:

“I think it’s really important to start having these conversations with as many players as we can about, ‘Guys, what scenarios are we OK with?’ From what it sounds like, it’s going to be some sort of hub city scenario, so we’ve got to talk about that. How long are guys OK with being away for? When we are in this city, are we locked in our hotel room? Going from the hotel room to the rink and back only, are guys OK with just doing that? Can our families come with us, or if there’s a family emergency and we leave the bubble (to go back into society), can we return to the bubble or are we done? What’s the food situation? Like, can we only eat in our hotel rooms? How often are we tested? Who pays for that? What’s the damage economically to the sport?

“All of these things, and there’s so many variables, need to be talked about and we’ve got to start getting a grasp on it now so that it doesn’t just hit us in the face all of a sudden. This stuff hasn’t been discussed with the players. Everything’s just been so hypothetical.”

Dubnyk also admitted to Russo that he wonders “if this is going to truly happen unless things relax enough where that bubble doesn’t necessarily need to exist as tightly as we think it does right now. Even with the players, it’s like, if your wife’s having a baby or something and you have to leave, do I have to miss an entire series now or suddenly quarantine for two weeks?

“That’s why I just feel like it doesn’t seem feasible to make this happen unless those rules relax by the time we’re going to play later this summer. There’s just so much stuff that hasn’t been figured out yet that we’ve got to start figuring out what are we OK with or not OK with, and then once that’s discussed, have another vote.”

Russo’s complete story is right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.



Rory McIlroy has told the BBC that he doesn’t believe the 2020 Ryder Cup will be played. It is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan, Wisc. . . . McIlroy would like to see the event moved to 2021. . . .

Japan’s Nippon Professonal Baseball season is set to start on June 19, but without fans in attendance. The league, which was to have started play on March 20, has yet to release its schedule, but is hoping to have each of its 12 teams play about 120 games, down from 143. . . .

The Alpine skiing world championships are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, from Feb. 7-21. However, the Italian Winter Sports Federation already is talking about postponing them until March 2022, which would be one month following the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games that are scheduled for Feb. 4-20. . . .

The EuroLeague, Europe’s top men’s basketball league, has cancelled its season, which had been on pause since March 12. The league comprises 18 teams from 10 countries. . . .

The 2021 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Vail, Colo., from March 1-6. . . .

The AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons have had adjustments made to their rent by the town council. According to a news release from the town, Dragons owner Blair Christianson had made a presentation to council on May 11 that explained the team is likely to lose about $330,000 because of the pandemic and that without some aid the team wouldn’t be viable. On Monday, Mayor Heather Colberg said the “adjustments to the fee structure will have a financial impact of $66,291.50 over four years.” . . .

The 11-team Western States Hockey League announced Tuesday that it won’t play in 2020-21 because of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic. The WSHL includes four teams in Alberta — the Barrhead Bombers, Cold Lake Hornets, Edson Aeros and Hinton Timberwolves — and two in Washington state — the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems. . . . The WSHL, a pay-to-play league, bills itself as junior A but to say it has had trouble gaining traction would be something of an understatement. . . .



Dan Price, who joined the Victoria Royals as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 VictoriaRoyalsseason, now is the WHL team’s general manager and head coach. He has completed three seasons as the team’s head coach. He takes over as GM from Cam Hope, who was fired on April 29 after eight seasons in the office. The Royals made the playoffs in each of those eight seasons, but never were able to get out of the second round. . . . The Royals are 105-81-18 in Price’s three seasons as head coach. . . . Price, 45, holds a law degree from the U of Saskatchewan. . . . His only experience as a general manager is from three seasons (2009-12) as the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . There now are six WHL teams with one man holding the titles of general manager and head coach. The others are Dean Brockman, Swift Current Broncos; Willie Desjardins, Medicine Hat Tigers; Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks; Mark Lamb, Prince George Cougars; and Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels.


Casinos


It seems that John Pateman is more convinced than ever that his Prince George Cougars PrinceGeorgeare on the right track. He just doesn’t know when the WHL team is going to get started on that track. . . . “To me, the million-dollar question is when are we going to be playing games,” Pateman, a co-owner and the franchise’s president, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “Certainly in our league, our main sources of revenue are certainly the fans and corporate sponsorships for rink boards and all that, but you have to have fans. What everybody is attempting to do is prepare for every option that’s out there so when we know what’s going to happen we’re fully prepared.” . . . Pateman and the ownership group there purchased the Cougars after the 2013-14 season, so they are waiting for their seventh season as owners to begin. The Cougars wouldn’t have been in the playoffs last season, had the pandemic not wiped out everything, and Pateman has said they were 1,500 fans per game from breaking even. Still, he told Clarke, “In the last two seasons, I feel we’ve really started to head in the right direction.” . . . The complete story is right here.



The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have signed associate coach Gaelan Patterson to a one-year extension. Patterson, who is from La Ronge, is preparing for this third season with the Ice Wolves. . . . Patterson, 29, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon seasons (2015-18) in Europe.


Mondays With Murray: This Selection Didn’t Just Come Out of Left Field

The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation celebrated its 21st birthday/anniversary on May 17.

Moving into its third decade, the JMMF is changing gears and revising its mission in order to establish a permanent legacy to Jim Murray.

With this new focus and mission, the JMMF no longer will be conducting a sports Halloffamejournalism essay competition for scholarships. While we are sad to say goodbye to this wonderful and worthwhile tradition, the shift will allow us to put our time and resources into creating a permanent legacy for Jim’s work — and to make his work available in the years ahead. 

With that in mind, the JMMF has joined forces with the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and MLB share significant and timeless overlapping history with Jim Murray, who wrote more columns on baseball than he wrote on any other sport, bringing its history and legends to life through sports journalism.

“The influence of Jim Murray continues full measure in the style and ideologies of sports journalists throughout the country,” says Tim Mead, the president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “The impact of his legacy and contributions during such a stellar career and life will affect generations to come. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is honored to work with Linda Murray Hofmans in perpetuating Jim’s influence via an annual scholarship program within our Communications Department. We are extremely excited to play a small role in continuing to honor the 1987 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner, and 1990 Pulitzer Prize recipient, Jim Murray!”

The JMMF will continue its Mondays with Murray posts indefinitely with a link to the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame website supporting its new Jim Murray initiative. The JMMF will dissolve its 501(c)(3) status and distribute its remaining financial assets to the Hall of Fame.

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 1988, SPORTS

Copyright 1988/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

Jim Murray

This Selection Didn’t Just Come Out of Left Field

  COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — I half expected Babe Ruth to come down off the wall and say, “Get that guy outta here!” I thought Ty Cobb would spike me. I figured Don Drysdale would throw at my head.

  I would expect an alarm to go off or a wake-up call to sound. Except, I wouldn’t even dream this.

 What am I doing in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown? I mean, there goes the neighborhood, right?

  Me! One of the great non-athletes of our time. I was practically born with one foot in the mondaysmurray2bucket. I couldn’t hit a curveball if you diagrammed it for me beforehand. I wouldn’t recognize a slider from 10 feet away.

  I’m the guy who used to get a headache the day fastball pitchers were going to throw, a guy who’d pretend to fall down under hard line drives. I’d wait for a walk. I don’t think I got to third base five times in my life. Some guys have been on the moon more than I’ve been on third.

 You’ve heard of people who couldn’t hit the curveball? I couldn’t hit a straight ball. You’ve heard of guys who couldn’t hit the fastball? I couldn’t hit the slowball. To tell the truth, I couldn’t hit, throw, or catch anything going more than 5 m.p.h.

  So, what am I doing here in a shrine with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax?

  Good question. I’m glad you asked. If you’ll get my guitar, I’ll sing you the haunting ballad of that most long-suffering, patient, loyal group of people who ever stood and served — the baseball fans.

 You see, baseball is not all hits, runs and errors, ticker-tape parades and the keys to the city. Does a falling tree make a sound if there’s no one there to hear it? Would Shakespeare be Shakespeare if no one came to hear the lines?

  Baseball is a guy sitting with a beer and a hot dog and a bag of peanuts in the third deck hollering, “Call yourself a pitcher, Drysdale? You couldn’t get a fastball past Helen Keller!”

  Baseball is love. Baseball is probably the ultimate in sports caring. No one bleeds like the baseball fan whose team is in a long slump.

   Baseball is an affection, but it’s also an affliction. The home team loses and the coffee tastes bitter, food becomes cardboard, life becomes a study in the morose.

   It’s no accident that the most famous poem in baseball history is about defeat, failure. Baseball fans understand. Baseball fans deal in disappointment. Baseball fans jeer so they won’t sob. They boo to insulate themselves against disappointment.

  It has been said that to be a baseball fan is to remain 12 years old all your life. It’s to have heroes, and no one over 12 has room for heroes.

  The baseball writer is the ultimate fan. He’s the surrogate for the fan. He’s as important to the game as umpires. He and the fan are a partnership. The fuel that drives the ship.

 Baseball was built by Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, Willie Keeler, Cy Young, Rogers Hornsby, Walter Johnson, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. They are American royalty. They should be buried in a Westminster Abbey when they’ve gone.

  But who would they be if there were no one to tell you about them? Would there even be this magnificent Hall in this picturesque little town in Upstate New York, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ country, if there hadn’t been a Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Red Smith, Jimmy Cannon or Jimmy Breslin to tell you about them? To bring imagination, a sense of the dramatic?

  Would you know that Willie Keeler once said he would “hit ’em where they ain’t” if a reporter hadn’t had a nice ear for a quote? Where would the game be if us guys grew up?

  What’s the sense in Ruth “calling his shot” if there’s no typewriter present? Who called him the Sultan of Swat? How did Gehrig become the Iron Horse? How come so many people, when Mickey Mantle struck out, felt as if they had struck out?

 I rest my case. If love of baseball gets you here, I should have made it long ago. I should have gone in with Ruth and Cobb.

  Baseball is not about winning. Baseball is about “Wait till next year!” Baseball is about hope, if not charity. And faith.

  I told the Hall of Fame crowd I didn’t see how Yankee fans stayed fans all those years when they won everything — in four straight. What fun is a game when every card you pick up is an ace? How do you recognize joy if you never experience adversity?

 That’s how baseball hooks you. Losing is such sweet heartache. Losers close ranks. There are no bonds like those of the bleacher crowd of a losing team. There are no tears as salty as those of the fan whose favorite pitcher just walked in the winning run — and maybe the pennant.

  Even the players learn to live with frustration. Even the best of them fail 7 of 10 times with the bat. Even Sandy Koufax gave up home runs with the bases loaded.

  So, I like to think they put writers and broadcasters in this thing as stand-ins for the fans. We also stand in for every beat writer who ever had to go down to a locker room and ask a pitcher who has just thrown the home run ball that lost the World Series why he didn’t curve it and got told, “Take a hike, ya four-eyed creep, before I curve you!”

  Together, we form a partnership that has made child’s play into a billion-dollar industry. As far as I’m concerned, the writers’ wing has its own Murderers’ Row. Lardner, Runyon, Grantland Rice, Bob Broeg, Dan Daniel, J. Roy Stockton, Jack Lang. I’m just glad to be in there to bunt them along, pinch-run for them, pick up the bats.

  We are all boys of summer. The years drop off, the step gets lighter, the heart beats faster when we step through the turnstile and hear the bats cracking and smell the hot dogs cooking. It’s summer again and Casey’s coming up and the bases are loaded and this time he’ll hit it. “Outta the lot, Hack?” implores the fan.

  I once said to Pete Rose, everybody’s kid brother and the next unanimous Hall of Fame inductee-to-be, “Aren’t you glad, Pete, there’s a game like baseball that lets you make all this money?”

  Pete looked at me as if I were a 3-and-2 pitch and curving. “Yeah,” he said. “Aren’t you?”

  You better believe it, Pete.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 661532, Arcadia, CA 91066

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info@jimmurrayfoundation.org|

www.jimmurrayfoundation.org