No hockey games for Saskatchewan until late March? . . . Savoie on Fighting Saints’ roster . . . Toporowski shines for Stampede


A brief letter from the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) to its members on Thursday seems to indicate that any chance of playing hockey games in that jurisdiction between now and April is slim.

The letter, from Kelly McClintock, the SHA’s general manager, came after Saskatchewan health officials extended Public Health Orders until Jan. 29.

Then, on Wednesday, Ken Dueck of the government’s Business Response Team informed the province’s sport governing bodies that, according to McClintock, “there would be no consideration of return to play (games) for at least four weeks and that a return to game play is unlikely to happen before the end of March.”

McClintock wrote: “With the current rate of positive cases per 100,000 people placing Saskatchewan near the top in Canada, the likelihood of things changing before the end of March is looking bleak. . . .

“Please be aware that the landscape related to COVID-19 in the province can change at any time.”

At the same time, Saskatchewan health officials rejected CurlSask’s proposal for using a bubble-format to select it’s men’s and women’s champions. That resulted in the provincial association cancelling its championships and selecting teams for the Canadian men’s and women’s championships via a performance-based system covering the previous two seasons.


The New York State Amateur Hockey Association posted a letter on its website on Thursday, part of which reads: “The New York State Amateur Hockey Association (NYSAHA) Board of Directors has retained the services of the law firm of Hogan Willig of Amherst New York for the purposes of filing a legal action against the Honorable Andrew Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York et al to obtain a court ruling that will allow the resumption of hockey in New York State.” . . . Hockey is considered a high-risk sport under restrictions presently in place in the state, so teams are limited to practices only and aren’t allowed to scrimmage. . . . There’s more on this story right here.


Oldies


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice was added to the roster of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints on Thursday. Savoie, from St. Albert, Alta., played four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders this season, scoring three goals and adding three assists. . . . The Fighting Saints announced on Jan. 5 that they were adding Savoie, the first selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, to their roster. . . . Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, is eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. He and his brother, Carter, now a freshman at the U of Denver, attending the Fighting Saints’ main training camp prior to the 2019-20 season. . . . Dubuque is scheduled to play two homes games this weekend — against the Waterloo Black Hawks tonight (Friday) and the Des Moines Buccaneers on Saturday night. . . .

F Luke Toporowski of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs played his first game with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede on Thursday night. He was the game’s first star with a goal — the game-winner — and two assists in a 3-2 OT victory over the visiting Sioux City Musketeers. Toporowski won it 2:08 into OT. . . . F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers also played his first game with the Stampede, but went pointless.


Dwarves


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Manitoba announces 2 additional COVID-19 deaths and 261 new cases, the highest daily total since January 2 and well above the 7-day average of 174. More than half of the new cases are in the Northern health region.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 312 new COVID-19 cases, which is consistent with the province’s 7-day average. . . . Saskatchewan Health Authority releases latest modelling forecast. Daily bump in COVID-19 cases could triple even if people closely follow rules, province warns.

Lethbridge Herald — Alberta reports Thursday 967 new cases of COVID-19 . . . 12,434 active cases . . . 806 in hospital, 136 of those in ICU . . . 21 additional deaths for a total of 1,389 fatalities provincially.

CBC News — Alberta to ease some COVID-19 restrictions starting Monday, health minister says. The province is reporting 967 new cases, 21 more deaths.

CBC News — B.C. reports 536 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths. . . . B.C. identifies case of infectious coronavirus variant first seen in South Africa.

CBC News — New COVID-19 cases in Ontario surge above 3,000 for the 1st time in 3 days. 3,326 reported, with 968 in Toronto, 572 in Peel, 357 in York. 62 people died. Just over 71,000 tests were done.

CBC News — Quebec adds 2,132 new COVID-19 cases. It’s the highest number in 4 days but below the 7-day average of 2,330. Health authorities are also attributing 64 additional deaths to the virus.

CBC News — New Brunswick has 23 new COVID-19 cases as the province experiences a surge in 2021; the number of new cases has been in double-digits for all but 3 days in January. There are now 246 active cases, the highest since the pandemic began.

CNN, Thursday, 1:52 p.m. PT — 387,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Thursday, 4:48 p.m. PT — 388,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CBC News — Global COVID-19 cases top 93M with over 1.99M deaths: Johns Hopkins University.

——

Early this week, the NHL said that 17 players with the Dallas Stars had tested positive since Dec. 30. On Thursday, 13 players were missing from practice. Saad Yousuf of The Athletic reported that these players weren’t on the ice — forwards Nick Caamano, Jason Dickinson, Justin Dowling, Radek Faksa, Rhett Gardner, Riley Tufte and Joel Kiviranta; and defencemen Taylor Fedun, Miro Heiskanen, Julius Honka, Esa Lindell, Jamie Oleksiak and Mark Pysyk. . . . The Stars’ first three games have been postponed. They are scheduled to open Jan. 19 against the host Tampa Bay Lightning, but there are rumblings that game also may be postponed. The Stars’ next scheduled game is Jan. 22 against the visiting Nashville Predators. . . .

The NBA’s Phoenix Suns have had a third straight game postponed. They were to have entertained the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, but that game won’t happen. . . . The Suns were to have played the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday and the Golden State Warriors tonight (Friday), but neither game happened. . . . The Suns are dealing with contact tracing. . . . The Saturday postponement will be the 10th since Dec. 23. . . .

The Australian Open, which is scheduled for Feb. 8-21, has lost American Madison Keys after she revealed that she has tested positive. Keys is the 16th-ranked women’s player. . . . Andy Murray, who received a wild-card berth, also has tested positive so likely won’t play. He is isolating at his London-area home. . . . Charter flights will begin taking players to Australia in the coming days. Upon arrival, players must quarantine for 14 days. . . .

Organizers of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am have cancelled the pro-am part of the PGA tournament, meaning Bill Murray won’t be putting on a show this year. The tournament is scheduled for Feb. 11-14 at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. . . . Next week’s event at La Quinta in Riverside Country also has cancelled its pro-am. . . .

San Jose State’s women’s basketball team won’t play again this season. The Spartans had played four games while having seven cancelled. The university cited “health and safety concerns stemming from COVID-19” in making the announcement on Thursday. . . . The U of Virginia Cavaliers women’s team also has ended its season. They haven’t played since Dec. 13, having missed six games since a positive test.


——

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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: You will recall that just before Christmas the AJHL suspended Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the Canmore Eagles, for 15 games and fined him $1,000. His sin? It seems he spoke with media about a COVID-19 outbreak that hit his team and, in turn, the community. Well, it seems that supporters set up a GoFundMe page and in fewer than 24 hours raised more than enough to cover the fine. Now if the AJHL would get off its high horse and do the right thing by erasing the suspension. . . . The MJHL’s Dauphin Kings have signed Doug Hedley, their general manager and head coach, to a contract extension that runs through 2022-23. In his third stint with the Kings, Hedley has been the GM/head coach since April 24, 2018.


Police

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while thinking about how much I don’t miss Prairie blizzards . . .

Scattershooting2


As you likely are aware, the City of Cranbrook has filed a lawsuit against the wpgiceWHL and the owners of the Winnipeg Ice, claiming that a lease was broken when the franchise, then the Kootenay Ice, picked up and moved to the Manitoba capital after the 2018-19 season. . . . A Winnipeg-based company, 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is headed up by chairman Greg Fettes, had purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family in 2017. . . . It turns out that the lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Dec. 24. Merry Christmas! . . . “The lawsuit,” writes Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, “. . . seeks a few different types of financial relief stemming from lost income due to the relocation of the Kootenay Ice from Cranbrook to Winnipeg, a move (that) broke a license of occupation agreement with Western Financial Place that had four additional years left in the terms of the contract.” . . . Crawley’s complete story is right here. . . .

Bradley Jones of myeastkootenaynow.com writes: “As per their claim, the City of Cranbrook is seeking general damages, damages for lost income for the remainder of the License Agreement to 2023, special damages of the $15,167 one-time expense, pre-judgment interest on damages, costs, and any other relief the court deems justifiable.” . . . His complete story is right here.


Sleep


Apologies to members of the Cam Moon Fan Club. I mentioned here the other day that he would be making his NHL play-calling debut on Wednesday when the Edmonton Oilers played host to the Vancouver Canucks. That actually was a national telecast for Sportsnet — Harnaryan Singh made his Hockey Night in Canada national debut — which meant that Jack Michaels was back doing the Oilers’ play-by-play on radio. . . . The Oilers’ game on Thursday will be a regional telecast, so Moon will be at the radio microphone as he calls an NHL game for the first time. Game time against those same Canucks on 630 CHED will be 7 p.m. MT.



The Medicine Hat Tigers have released F Cole Sillinger to play for the USHL’s ushlSioux Falls Stampede. Sillinger, the 17-year-old son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, is a potential first-round selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Sillinger, who has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, will be joined in Sioux Falls by F Luke Toporowski, 19, who was released by the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday and will be playing with the Stampede. Toporowski is a native of Bettendorf, Iowa. . . . On Tuesday, the Chiefs freed up F Bear Hughes to join the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho, . . . “Our league and USA Hockey reached a unique agreement regarding American players from (WHL) U.S. Division clubs,” Scott Carter, the Chiefs’ general manager, said in a news release. “Despite the WHL’s commitment to play this season, there are still uncertainties, and this opportunity will provide Luke and Bear the chance to play right away.” . . . WHL players who are moving to the USHL will stay with those teams until their seasons end, after which their playing rights will revert back to their WHL teams.


The NHL began is 2021 regular season with five games on Wednesday night. If all goes well, it was the first of 116 straight days when at least one NHL game will be played. . . . The tweet below is the first of a series in what is sure to garner nightly interest . . .


Eating


In the period from Jan. 6-12, the NBA ran 497 COVID-19 tests and had 16 players come up positive. . . . It postponed three games that had been scheduled for Wednesday — Utah Jazz at Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks at Phoenix Suns. . . . With the Suns and Washington Wizards having contact tracing issues, the NBA also has postponed a pair of games scheduled for Friday — Washington at the Detroit Pistons and the Golden State Warriors at Phoenix. . . . The NBA now has had to postpone nine games, eight of them since Jan. 10.

——

Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“At a time when a complete shutdown seemed appropriate, even for a month or less, the NBA has chosen the fast lane, the one labeled Take the Money, once again. Whether it’s stay-at-home orders, eliminating visitors to hotel rooms or the clampdown on simple things, like dropping into a bar, Tuesday’s mandate suggests a player nightmare over the next two weeks — and probably beyond.

“No, this cruel new world hardly resembles a military boot camp, but some serious change is at hand. The NBA now expects a complete halt on lengthy pregame meetings, postgame hugs with opposing players and the comically reckless usage of masks, among other highly detailed restrictions. (Somehow, coaches worldwide have come to believe that when you really need to shout at somebody — thus putting yourself at the highest pandemic risk — that’s when you take off the mask.)



Taxes


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


WHL board chairman suggests late February or early March for start . . . Five WHL players off to USHL . . . City of Cranbrook suing WHL, Ice owners

How does the Prince George Cougars of Kamloops sound? Or how about the Victoria Royals of Kelowna?

The WHL announced on Friday that it has a “commitment” to play a 24-game WHL22021 schedule. The league didn’t announce any other particulars, other than pointing out that “he start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction, and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and the owner/general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told Travis Lowe of CHBC-TV in Kelowna that the people running the show “thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,”

Taking Note was told Tuesday afternoon that one plan the WHL has looked at would have players reporting to teams on Jan. 22 in the hopes of starting a season on Feb. 8. However, that seems awfully far-fetched if only because, for example, the restrictions that presently are in place in B.C. are there until at least Feb. 5.

Hamilton told Lowe that a new season “probably” wouldn’t get started “until the end of February, early March.”

Lowe also reported: “According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete. Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.”

Hamilton also told Lowe that “we may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into (Kelowna) and then limit the travel.”

A source told Taking Note that one option that has been discussed would have the Cougars spend the season playing out of Kamloops, with the Royals doing the same out of Kelowna.


Last week, the USHL’s Lincoln Stars added four players to their protected list, PortlandAlternateall of them American-born skaters off the roster of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. On Tuesday, the Winterhawks released those four to play for the Stars. F Cross Hanas, 19, who is from Highland Village, Tex.; F Clay Hanus, 19, from Excelsior, Minn.; F Jack O’Brien, 17, from Denver; and F James Stefan, 17, from Laguna Beach, Calif., will stay with Lincoln until the Stars’ season ends. . . . “With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. . . .

Meanwhile, F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs has been given his release to play for the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho. . . .

On Jan. 5, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. However, Savoie’s name has yet to appear on that roster. He is from St. Alberta, Alta. Savoie played six games this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, putting up three goals and three assists.


If you have been holding out hope that fans will be allowed into arenas to watch games when/if the WHL gets a season started, it really doesn’t seem likely to happen.

For proof, here’s part of message from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to their fans: “The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has been working with the Ticket Centre and our ticket provider to begin the process of issuing full refunds to everyone who purchased 2020-21 season tickets.”


The WHL and the Winnipeg Ice are being sued by the City of Cranbrook. . . . Karin Larsen of CBC News reports that “a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says both the Winnipeg Ice (formerly Kootenay Ice) and WHL are responsible for breaking an arena deal that was supposed to run through June 2023. The claim says the city is out approximately $178,000 per year as a result.” . . . The Kootenay Ice franchise was purchased by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is based in Winnipeg, from the Chynoweth family. The Ice played two seasons in Cranbrook under new ownership before moving to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 season. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Carlin


With its 2021 regular season to start Wednesday night, the NHL revealed NHLTuesday that 27 players, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, tested positive during the training camp period from Dec. 30 to Monday. . . . According to the NHL, about 12,000 tests were conducted on more than 1,200 players. . . . The other 10 positives tests involve players from eight other teams. . . . The NHL has said it will provide “regular updates on the results of tests administered to players, including the identities of the players” with the start of the new season. . . . The Stars have returned to the practice ice, although more than a dozen players were unavailable on Tuesday, but their first three games have been postponed. They also have had an undisclosed number of staffers test positive. . . .

D Jordie Benn and F J.T. Miller won’t play for the Vancouver Canucks when they open their NHL season Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks aren’t saying why, but Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver tweeted that the two are out “due to COVID-19 concerns” and that they will be out “for a couple of weeks.” Sekeres added: “Both players are quarantining. Miller had been staying at Benn’s Vancouver residence.” . . . Richard Zussman of Global BC reported via Twitter that he has been told either Benn or Miller “tested positive for COVID, then negative, then positive again and when tested a fourth time tested negative. The other is a close contact.”


Spidey


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister — Update on the Canada-US border: We’ve extended the current border measures by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until at least February 21st. We’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

680 CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and said eight more Manitobans with the virus have died. It’s the first time the province’s list of new daily infections has dropped below 100 since Oct. 19.

CBC News — 248 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan. It’s the 1st time in a week the province has recorded fewer than 300 new daily cases. Health authorities also report 5 additional deaths from the virus. . . . The provincial government has extended current COVID-19-related public health orders until at least Jan. 29, due to current transmission rates.

CBC News — Alberta again breaks COVID-19 record with 38 deaths reported in single day. The province reported 652 new cases, 819 hospitalizations and 132 patients in ICUs. . . . Deaths from the illness are reported as Alberta Health compiles data, meaning not all 38 happened on the same day. The latest report includes deaths reported to the province from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12. But provincial numbers released over the last two days show that at least 21 people died from COVID-19 on Sunday alone. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now stands at 1,345.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 446 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 58,553 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 368 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 72 of whom are in intensive care. . . . There are 7,238 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 51,144 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,019 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News — Ontario reports 41 more deaths and 2,903 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the 1st time the number has fallen below 3,000 since January 3.

CBC News — Quebec reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 47 additional deaths. It’s the 2nd day in a row where the number of new cases is below 2,000; it was above 2,000 for the previous 8 days.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC — No surprise the Canada/US border will remain closed. Here are the latest weekly (Jan. 4-11) COVID-19 stats for Washington state: 217 deaths. 20,251 cases. 818 hospitalizations.

CNN, Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT — So far today, Johns Hopkins University has reported 212,766 new cases and 4,212 new deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 22.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 380,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

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The number of postponements in this young NBA season has reached six, with the latest casualty a Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Due to protocols, the Wizards don’t have the necessary eight players able to play. . . . Three of the postponed games have involved the Boston Celtics, including one that had been scheduled for Chicago on Tuesday night. . . . Five of the NBA’s six postponements have occurred since Sunday. . . .

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also have come up with some new rules aimed at keeping numbers down. From The Associated Press: “For ‘at least the next two weeks,’ the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games. . . . Players also no longer will be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road. . . . Also from The AP: “Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a ‘cool down chair’ without a mask — but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.” . . .

As if the NBA doesn’t have enough on its plate, Brian Windthorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Tuesday that sources have told them “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time. That story is right here. . . .

Pro golfer Jhonattan Vegas has tested positive so has withdrawn from the Sony Open that is to open in Honolulu on Thursday. . . .

The Czech Republic pulled out of the world handball championship after 13 of its 21 players and a number of coaches tested positive. The event was scheduled for Egypt, Jan. 13-31.


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The ECHL has sold two expansion franchises to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by Dean MacDonald. The new teams will begin play in 2021-21 in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Que.  Deacon Sports and Entertainment also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. From an ECHL news release: “Coralville will play out of Xtreme Arena, a 5,100-seat venue which was completed in September 2020, while Trois-Rivières will play out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a new construction that will host 4,390 fans.”


John

WHL: Unanswered questions; maybe no playoffs . . . Moon to shine bright in Edmonton as veteran radio voice moves from Rebels to Oilers

A number of WHL management types made themselves available to media on Monday to expound upon the brief news release issued by the league on Friday afternoon.

The league, at that time, said it was “committed” to playing a 24-game WHL2schedule, but that it didn’t have a starting date, something that won’t be established until health officials in various jurisdiction give the OK.

“It is anticipated the approvals will be received soon,” the WHL news release read, hinting that perhaps it had received some inside information.

Three things are readily apparent: 1. There won’t be any fans in attendance at games; 2. Teams will play geographical/divisional rivals in weekend double- or tripleheaders in one venue; 3. The league hasn’t completely moved away from using some kind of bubble format.

Oh, and there likely won’t be anything resembling a championship playoff.

“There could be a divisional playoff,” Collin Priestner, the Saskatoon Blades’ president and general manager, told Pat McKay of CTV Saskatoon, “but I don’t think we have the ability to have a league championship at this point, given that we’ve got teams in different countries and the travel is going to be severely restricted.”

If the WHL is able to get a season started, then, it all will be about giving its players a chance to strut their stuff for the scouts.

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Radio NL in Kamloops: “We are going to bring our players in at the appropriate time. They will be part of a program to develop, which really is our mandate. We’ll figure it out based on what health authorities allow us to do.

“We are a development hockey league. We are the elite hockey development program in the world. That’s what our responsibility is.”

But, as Priestner pointed out to McKay, there remain many unanswered questions.

“From protocols, safety, insurance, logistics,” Priestner said. “How big rosters can be, or how do we bring in players if there’s injuries? How do we get a season in? What do we do if things get shut down in the provinces?”

Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars, the most remotely located of the WHL’s 22 teams, doesn’t even know where it will be playing.

“I think it’s wide open to see if we will be playing games here or on the road or in a bubble format,” Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager and head coach, told local reporters in a Zoom call. “We don’t have an exact date yet as to when we are going to start playing so that is still up in the air, but we do have a commitment from the league that we do have a 24-game schedule.”

And if you’re wondering who will be footing the bill for a return to play, Andy Beesley, the Cougars’ vice-president of business, had the answer.

“(The owners) are shouldering the entire cost,” he said. “For sure, when the players come to Prince George they will be put up with billet families, which we pay for, there is a tremendous amount of PPE and testing that we are on the hook for and, assuming that we are going into a bubble-type concept, wherever that may be, there will likely be hotel rooms, meal costs, player equipment, and staffing.”

Multiply that by 22 teams and, well, red ink is going to flowing like the South Thompson River in spring time.

So . . . what’s next?

Willie Desjardins, the general manager and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, told Scott Roblin of CHAT-TV that there will be an update coming from the WHL on Jan. 22.

McKay’s complete story is right here.

Brendan Pawliw of myprincegeorgenow.com took part in a Zoom call in that city and his story is right here.


CamMoon

Who says you can’t go home again?

Cam Moon, a native of Edmonton, is leaving Red Deer after 22 years as the radio voice of the WHL’s Rebels, to handle play-by-play duties on Edmonton Oilers’ regional broadcasts.

Moon had been with the Rebels since 1998, through 1,753 consecutive games — regular-season, playoff and Memorial Cup. He joined the Rebels after spending three seasons with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers.

“Central Alberta hockey fans have had the pleasure of listening to his energetic spirit for 22 seasons,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and head coach, said in a news release, “and we’re honoured we’ll continue to hear him on Alberta’s airwaves. This truly is a dream come true for Mooner.”

Moon, an immensely popular figure on the WHL media circuit, told Troy Gillard of rdnewsNOW: “It’s overwhelming, for sure. It’s a team I grew up watching in my hometown so I very much look forward to the opportunity, the challenge. I never thought this day would come, I really didn’t, nor was I really looking for it, but here it is . . .

“It’s exciting and I look forward to the next chapter, but it’s also a little sad in that one chapter’s closing. It’s definitely a dream job. If I had the ability to pick a radio play-by-play job with any of the National Hockey League teams, this would be my No. 1 choice.” 

With the Oilers, Moon moves into the seat vacated by Jack Michaels, who now will call the play of Edmonton regional TV games for Sportsnet, replacing Kevin Quinn. Michaels will return to radio for Oilers games that are national and for Edmonton playoff games.

Louie DeBrusk is the analyst on TV games, with Bob Stauffer doing the same on radio.

Quinn and Drew Remenda no longer are part of Oilers’ telecasts or broadcasts.

You are able to tune into 630 CHED in Edmonton to hear Moon call his first Oilers game on Wednesday night as they play host to the Vancouver Canucks.



Twins


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba announces 133 new cases of COVID-19. That’s the lowest total in 6 days but still pushes the province’s 7-day average up slightly to 172. Health authorities are also reporting 3 more deaths.

CBC News: A big jump in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan with 412. The previous day’s total, which hadn’t been reported, was 307. The average for the 7 previous days was 290. The province is also reporting 8 additional deaths and hospitalizations are at an all-time high.

CTV Regina: Saskatchewan’s 7-day average for daily COVID-19 has doubled over the past 13 days. The weekly average dropped to 152 on Dec. 30, but it has increased each day since, hitting an all-time high of 307 Monday.

CBC News: Alberta reports 639 new COVID-19 cases and 23 more deaths. Across the province there were 13,917 active cases, with 811 people are being treated in hospitals for the illness, including 130 in ICU beds.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: There are 1,475 new cases of COVID-19, from Fri to Sat 538 new cases, Sat to Sun 507 new cases, Sun to Mon 430 new cases. There are now a total of 58,107 positive cases in BC. . . . There are 5,220 active cases of COVID in BC. There are 358 people in hospital with COVID, of whom 72 are in ICU. There are 7,313 people in active monitoring. . . . There have been 22 new COVID deaths over the weekend. There have been 1,010 COVID deaths in BC in total.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 3,338 new cases of COVID-19, the 8th straight day above 3,000. The hot spots are Toronto (931), Peel Region (531) and York Region (241). The province is expected to announce new restrictions tomorrow to help curtail the spread.

CBC News: 21 new COVID-19 cases today in New Brunswick. The province has experienced a significant surge over the past week with 164 new cases, for a daily average of 23. For the previous 7 days, the total number of cases was 26, with a daily average of 3.7.

CNN, Monday, 2 p.m. PT: 375,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 7 p.m. PT: 376,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 22.5 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 7 p.m. PT: 22.6 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

Anna Cabrera, CNN: At least two gorillas at San Diego Zoo test positive for COVID-19, first known cases among great apes. The zoo says three animals are currently showing symptoms and it is suspected that the primates were infected by an asymptomatic staff member.

——

The Vancouver Canucks, who cancelled all Sunday team activities because of COVID-19 protocols, were back on the ice on Monday morning. It seems that Sunday’s episode was the result of a false positive. . . . The Canucks are scheduled to open their regular season with games against the host Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . The Dallas Stars, who shut things down last week after eight positive tests — six players and two staffers — are to return to the practice ice Tuesday. They also announced that practices will be closed to the media until further notice. . . . The Stars’ first three scheduled regular-season games have postponed, leaving them to open at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 19. . . .

The NBA’s coronavirus nightmare continues. Having postponed one game on Sunday, it had to do the same to a Monday night game and another scheduled for Tuesday. . . . There now have been a total of four games postponed. . . . The Miami Heat-Boston Celtics game scheduled for Sunday didn’t come off; neither did Monday’s game between the New Orleans Pelicans and host Dallas Mavericks. The visiting Celtics and Chicago Bulls won’t play tonight (Tuesday). . . . Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The NBA started its season in the worst part of the pandemic, as post-Thanksgiving numbers surged, deaths spiked, and hospitals and frontline health care workers were absolutely overwhelmed. What we have seen in recent weeks makes last summer seem calm.” . . . We now wait to see if the same fate awaits the NHL. . . .

The Air Force Falcons have shut down their hockey program for at least two weeks after five players tested positive following a road trip during which the team played five games in seven days on the East Coast. Their home games for the next two weekends are off the schedule. . . .

Skate Canada has cancelled the 2021 National Skating Championships because of the “evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada.” . . . The Canadians were scheduled for Vancouver, Feb. 8-14. . . .


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Answers

Mondays With Murray: No One Can Say the Guy Chose the Wrong Field

Lasorda

The world lost one of the most recognizable names in the game of baseball, Tommy Lasorda, on Jan. 7. Lasorda lived, breathed and bled Dodgers blue until til the end.

Arash Markazi, a JMMF board member and sports writer/radio host, remembers Lasorda:

Tommy Lasorda’s office at Dodger Stadium was like a museum. It included a tombstone he loved showing off to visitors. “I want to see the Dodgers win before they put that tombstone to use,” he once told me.

Tommy kept a letter he wrote to God that gave thanks for his wife, Jo, in his desk drawer. He loved her. He once told me, “I want my wife to put the Dodgers’ schedule on my tombstone. When people are in the cemetery visiting their loved ones, they’ll say, ‘Let’s go to Lasorda’s grave and see if the Dodgers are playing today.'”

He loved Frank Sinatra and next to his desk hung a painting of Sinatra kissing Lasorda’s mother, Carmella, on the cheek after visiting her at her home in Norristown, Pennsylvania, for a home-cooked meal.

He took care of my mom. He brought her to his show, he dedicated it to her, he gave her flowers, and that’s the kind of man he was,” he told me. “He was a generous man, but if he didn’t like you, look out.”

The last time I talked to Tommy was last year at a New Year’s Eve party. It was one of the few highlights of 2020. He said the Dodgers were finally going to win the World Series in October. He was right and he was there to see it.

RIP in Blue Heaven, Tommy.”

——

TUESDAY, JULY 12, 1988, SPORTS

Copyright 1988/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

No One Can Say the Guy Chose the Wrong Field

  If you had a licence from God to construct yourself a baseball manager, you would probably begin with one with a big belly and short legs that were slightly mondaysmurray2bowed or pebbled with lumps so that they looked like sacks of walnuts. You would want one who had his own syntax, a voice that sounded like an oncoming train in a tunnel. It’d have to be a nice part for Vincent Gardenia.

  He wouldn’t have been a big star in his youth. A .500 pitcher, perhaps. A .260 hitter who made a lot of noise. He’d have to know how tough this game is. He’d never have a self-doubt or a moment’s anxiety. He’d come into a room as if he were leading a parade. Everybody would be his best friend. He’d talk to shoeshine boys, parking lot attendants. He’d sell baseball. He’d be sure God was a baseball fan. He’d know that America was the greatest country in the world, otherwise how could a poor boy like him grow up to be part of the greatest organization in the world?

  He’d never be at a loss for words, he’d like to eat, he’d cry at sad movies, but he’d have a temper like a top sergeant whose shoes were too tight. He’d be sentimental, cantankerous, on speaking terms with the president of the United States but, if you asked him what his foreign policy was, he’d say, “Beat Montreal!”

  He’d be part press agent, part father figure, all man. He’d have an anecdote for every occasion, always with a moral attached. He’d tell at the drop of a hat of the time when he knocked the big league batter down the first time he faced him because that batter had refused him an autograph as a knothole kid years before. His stories would be more entertaining than true, but no reporter ever would leave his office with an empty notebook or stomach.

  He wouldn’t be one of those tense, secretive guys like the manager in the World Series last year who looked as if he was guarding a gang hideout and you were the Feds. He’d be selling baseball. It would be his job, and come from a long line of people who did their jobs.

  He’d have a lot of con in him. He’d never forget he was dealing with kids, and that he would make them pick the shell without the pea under it if he had to.

  When he’d have a player who didn’t want to transfer from the outfield to catcher, he’d say, “Didn’t you know the great Gabby Hartnett, the greatest catcher of all time, started out in the outfield?” Gabby Hartnett started out in a catcher’s mask, but a good manager is resourceful.

  When a team was floundering in a 10-game losing streak, this manager would reassure them that “the 1927 Yankees, the greatest team of all time, lost 11 games in a row that year!” The 1927 Yankees didn’t have 11 losing innings in a row, but that would be irrelevant.

  He’d know baseball wasn’t nuclear physics. It was show business. It was “Entertainment Tonight.” The pictures on his wall would not be Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Stuffy McInnis, Connie Mack, John McGraw, guys sliding into second. They’d be the heavy hitters of show business, Sinatra, Rickles, Berle, Kaye.

  He’d be a star in his own right. People would have his picture on their office walls.

  He’d be Tommy Lasorda. He’d be Mr. Baseball, a guy with his own show. He’d get the best tables in restaurants, he’d be part of the fabric of the glitter and glitz of a town that prides itself in it. He’d never be out of character when the spotlight was on. He’d be on the dais of every black-tie dinner there was, he’d make a speech at the tap of a glass.

  Some managers are worth five games a year to their franchises. Sagacious moves can account for that much success. Tommy Lasorda is worth something more — a few hundred thousand in attendance.

  His predecessor, Walter Alston, was a great manager. He had to be. But he was as quiet as snowfall. He dressed with his coaches. He led by example. His office had a picture of his wife and grandchildren in it. He never made a headline in his life. He was patient, kindly, courtly, a gentleman of the old school. A guy you would most want to be in a foxhole — or a lifeboat — with. Dependable, matter-of-fact, as untemperamental as a butler, he knew more about the balk rule than any man who ever lived.

  It’s not what baseball is about. It’s no secret the late owner Walter O’Malley chafed under Alston’s monkish managerial policy. He was stuck with him because Alston was so good. It was hard to fire an annual pennant. So he did the next best thing: he gave him an annual one-year contract.

  It was all well and good to be low-key in the corner of the dugout when the Dodgers were new to the town and every night was New Year’s Eve and they had Koufax and Drysdale and Maury Wills and The Duke and the Davis boys and you didn’t have another major league baseball team, football teams (two) and pro basketball teams (two) and a hockey team and a lot of other promotions to vie for your space in the sports sheets.

  You think the Dodgers are going to hire Tom Kelly, or the manager of Seattle (if it has one) or some minor leaguer who understands the infield fly rule backward and forward (which reads the same, anyway)?

  Tommy Lasorda is as perfect for the Dodgers as peanut butter for white bread. Or Laurel for Hardy. A lot of people were surprised when the Dodgers broke precedent and signed him to an early extension on his contract. Why? Peter O’Malley is Walter’s son, isn’t he? The only way Tommy Lasorda could be let go is if Casey Stengel suddenly became available. God is not going to let that happen. Or the real Angels are going to have a drop in attendance.

  Neither is Peter O’Malley going to let his manager become available. There are, conservatively, 14 big league teams who would sign Lasorda tomorrow for more money than the Dodgers pay him. But Lasordas do not change their religions, either. “Who gave me a chance to manage?” he yells. “The Yankees? The Phillies? No, it was the Dodgers.” Lasordas dance with the one what brung them. “Lack of loyalty,” Lasorda shouts, “is rooning this country!”

——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

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

——

info@jimmurrayfoundation.org|

www.jimmurrayfoundation.org

Scattershooting on a Sunday night following an NFL weekend and with Alabama-OSU yet to come . . .

Scattershooting2

Whatever it was that the WHL was selling on Friday — hope? — F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers and F Conor Geekie of the Winnipeg Ice WHL2were buying. Both players have decided to stay put rather than play in a U.S. junior league. . . . The deadline for players released by Hockey Canada to move south was Sunday. . . . Stankoven chose not to join the USHL’s Fargo Force. He told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he made his decision on Friday night. . . . “I decided (Friday) night to stay in town,” Stankoven, who is from Kamloops, told Seitz, “and stick with the Blazers since the WHL came out with a statement (Friday) night saying that we’ll be having a 24-game season starting in February.” . . . The WHL said Friday that it had “made a commitment” to play a 24-game season, but didn’t indicate a potential starting date, saying that would be determined once health officials “in each provincial and state jurisdiction” give the OK for a return to play. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Geekie, the second overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, had offers from two USHL and two NAHL teams. Geekie, who is from Strathclair, Man., got into nine games with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals this season, scoring once and adding four assists. . . .

The Dubuque Saints announced on Jan. 5 that they were adding Ice F Matt Savoie. Savoie, the No. 1 pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, didn’t play in either of Dubuque’s two weekend games and, in fact, hadn’t been added to the team’s roster as of Sunday night. . . . A notice on the Dubuque website: “Our offices have been closed temporarily due to recommendations from the CDC in regards to COVID-19.”

——

The WHL has done the smart thing in moving away from declaring potential starting dates for a new season. Here’s Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, in an Oct. 15 Zoom call with media:

“We just felt that at some point we needed to create some certainty around the start of the season. We had announced already two tentative target dates but this is not a tentative date, this is a firm date. We are going to start on Jan. 8.”


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The 6-10 Giants think they got hosed by missing out on an NFL playoff berth? ‘Cry us a river,’ said the 10-6 Miami Dolphins.


After Trump’s stormtroopers stormed the gates on Wednesday, wouldn’t it have been nice to have heard from the likes of Brett Favre, Jack Nicklaus and/or Bobby Orr, all of whom were proud to be seen as Trump supporters before the November election? You may recall that Orr took out a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader, stating that Trump was “the kind of teammate I want.” . . . Really, Bobby? He wasn’t anywhere near the joint as his troopers were storming the gates. Some teammate!

And let’s not forget that it was Nicklaus who wrote in a tweet about Trump: “His love for America and its citizens, and putting his country first, has come through loud and clear.” . . . Yeah, hasn’t it!

——

Meanwhile, I wake up every morning and wonder how it is that the United States of America could experience what it did on Wednesday and still have the same orange clown operating out of the White House five days later.

——

Here’s Steve Kerr, the always thoughtful head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors: “A legitimate election is suddenly questioned by millions of people, including many of the people who are leading our country in government, because we’ve decided to, over the last few years, allow lies to be told. So this is who we are. You reap what you sow.”

If you aren’t familiar with Kerr’s background, well, Google is your friend.

——

And here is Draymond Green, a veteran forward with the Warriors: “Through social media and all these different tools we have at our fingertips today, we’re more aware. But nothing’s changed. We’re still the same America that it’s been. It’s no different. I’ve seen a lot of (statements) of ‘shoot (the protestors) like (Black people) would’ve been shot.’ Nah, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Stop shooting us. That’s more the battle cry than necessarily shoot them like we would’ve been shot. Just stop shooting us.”

——

Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has a question: “While he’s banned from most sites has anyone checked to see if Trump is trying to sell the White House china on eBay?”



A big thank you to the NHL and TSN or whoever was responsible for blacking out the Toronto Maple Leafs’ scrimmage that was held on Saturday night. It was live on TSN-4 and, had it been available here, I may have watched it, all the while wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off playing solitaire. . . . Update: Later Saturday night, I stumbled on replays on two separate Sportsnet channels. I watched about three minutes of it and, yes, play-by-play voice Joe Bowen was in Game 7 form.

——

So . . . why wasn’t the Montreal Canadiens’ Sunday night scrimmage available on TSN or Sportsnet?


If you’re a football fan, please allow me to suggest that you make Jack Finarelli’s Football Friday a regular stop. Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) dropped a terrific all-encompassing read on his website last Friday. Take a look right here and I think you’ll agree that it should become a habit.


The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 11-0 at one point and had a quarterback being mentioned as a potential MVP, finished 1-5. . . . BTW, that quarterback’s cap hit next season is to be more than US$41 million.


Leftfield


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: As of Sunday, more than 90 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.

CBC News: As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 660,289 cases of COVID-19, with 84,567 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,950.

CBC News: Ontario registered 3,945 new cases and 61 additional deaths. The new cases mark a single-day record for the province.

CBC News: Quebec reported 2,588 new cases and 39 new deaths, a day after it topped 3,000 new cases for the first time. Recent projections suggest Montreal’s hospitals could soon exceed capacity.

CNN, Sunday, 7:15 p.m. PT: 374,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Sunday, 3:15 p.m. PT: 22.3 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

——

The Vancouver Canucks cancelled their Sunday on-ice sessions because of a possible exposure to someone in their organization. They are due back on the ice today (Monday) and are to start the regular season in Edmonton against the Oilers on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . The Canucks are the fourth team to have cancelled training camp sessions, after the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. Of the four clubs, though, only the Stars have reported positive tests — six players and two staffers. . . .

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat were to have played an NBA game on Sunday night. However, one of the Heat players had an inconclusive test. That result and contact tracing left the Heat without the required eight players needed in order to play a game. The Celtics had eight players available after nine were ruled out because of protocols. . . . On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers played despite having only seven healthy players, and lost to the visiting Denver Nuggets. Philadelphia lost Seth Curry to a positive test on Thursday and four teammates were out due to contact tracing. . . . Tim Bontemps of ESPN has a great look at the NBA’s situation right here.


Shopping


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Cxn

WHL makes “commitment” for 24-game schedule; no starting date yet . . . Virus finds Dallas Stars . . . Former WHL coach added to Coyotes’ staff

The WHL’s board of governors chatted on Friday, after which the league announced that it had “made a commitment” to play a 24-game 2021 season.

The news release stated: “The start date for the season will be determined once WHL2final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

In other words, there isn’t anything new for a league that has announced starting dates of Oct. 2, Dec. 4 and Jan. 8, only to watch COVID-19 make those goals impossible to reach. The WHL and its fans continue to play the waiting game as they have for almost 10 months now.

As I have written here on numerous occasions, the virus will decide if/when the WHL and other leagues will play, and let’s be honest — short of announcing that it was cancelling the season, what else could the WHL say?

On Dec. 15, when it announced that a Jan. 8 start date wouldn’t be happening, the league said the governors would “meet in January to consider potential start dates.”

That is the meeting that took place on Friday.

When the WHL states that it needs final approval from health officials and that “it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon,” you are free to wonder if someone in the Calgary-based office has some inside information. Again, though, what else would the WHL be expected to say?

But the coronavirus-based numbers in the six jurisdictions in which the WHL operates haven’t exactly provided anyone with warm and fuzzy feelings of late. (See The COVID-19 Chronicles further down in this piece.)

You also wonder if the governors started their meeting yesterday by discussing DallasStarsgoings-on in the NHL where the Dallas Stars shut things down after six players and two staff members tested positive, and the Columbus Blue Jackets held 17 players out of practice.

The Stars were to have opened the NHL’s regular season against the host Florida Panthers on Jan. 14, but that obviously won’t happen. In fact, the Stars also have had to postpone two others games — Jan. 15 at Florida and Jan. 17 at the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars’ first game now is scheduled for Jan. 19 in Tampa Bay.

In the meantime, the Stars players and staff who tested positive are self-isolating and the team’s training facilities are closed.

The Blue Jackets, who are scheduled to open on Jan. 14 against the Predators in Nashville, held 17 of 38 players off the ice “out of an abundance of caution and in accordance with NHL COVID-19 protocols.”

Aaron Portzline, who covers the Blue Jackets for The Athletic, tweeted that the non-practising players were: forwards Emil Bemstrom, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Max Domi, Nick Foligno, Nathan Gerbe, Liam Foudy, Mikhail Grigorenko, Boone Jenner, Mikko Koivu, Eric Robinson, Alexandre Texier, and defencemen Adam Clendening, Vladislav Gavrikov, Seth Jones, David Savard, Andrew Peeke, Michael Del Zotto.

After discussing the NHL situation, maybe the WHL govs talked a bit about NCAA hockey where a number of schools have found out that their hockey teams have been bitten by COVID-19.

Nothing explains all of what has happened better than the National Collegiate NCHCHockey Conference (NCHC). It took eight teams into Omaha in early December and played 38 games. They didn’t call it a bubble; rather, it was a pod. Teams were limited to their hotel and the arena. There was regular testing; there weren’t any positive tests.

However, once that experience was over and the teams returned home, well, the virus licked its lips and went to work.

The U of Omaha has been unable to play four straight games against North Dakota, including two scheduled for this weekend. Mike Kemp, an associate athletic director at Omaha, told The Associated Press: “We got it in spades.”

Elsewhere in the world of NCAA men’s hockey, Lowell’s program is on pause and at least its next three games are off the schedule; Canisius has put things on hold due to protocols and contact tracing; Michigan Tech had to put things on hold after positive tests in its program earlier this week; Northern Michigan has been able to play six games, while having eight postponed or cancelled . . . and on and on it goes.

Where it stops . . . only the virus knows.


F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers told CFJC-TV’s Chad Klassen that he is looking at going to the USHL.

“I know nothing’s been confirmed yet, but I’ve talked to Fargo Force from down in the States,” Stankoven, 17, said. “I think they’re pretty interested in me, maybe having me come down, but obviously nothing’s set in stone.”

The USHL deadline to add Hockey Canada-released players to team rosters is Sunday. Klassen reported that should Stankoven go that route, he would be required to spend the remainder of the season there.

“As much as I don’t want to head down to the States and play for a whole different team and in a whole different country, things got to be done,” Stankoven said. “It’s part of our development and players need to play hockey. It’s our life. As much as people say it’s not our job, it’s part of our job. It’s our careers.”

You wonder what impact, if any, the WHL’s Friday news release might have on Stankoven’s decision.

Earlier this week, the Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, 16, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. The Fighting Saints played Friday night — they lost 5-2 to the host Youngstown Phantoms — but Savoie has yet to be placed on their roster.


At least two B.C. junior B leagues — the Kootenay International and Vancouver Island leagues — had hoped to return to regular-season play on Jan. 15. However, those hopes were dashed on Thursday when the B.C. government and health officials extended a series of province-wide restrictions until Feb. 5. . . . The junior A BCHL now is talking about starting its regular season on Feb. 8. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted that the BCHL couldn’t get approval for its Penticton hub idea from health officials so that idea is dead.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

CJOB Radio, Winnipeg: As Manitoba announced nine additional COVID-19-related deaths Friday, the province’s top doctor said hundreds of recent cases have been linked to gatherings over the holidays.

Scott Billeck, Winnipeg Sun: From the province: 355 cases and 1,900 contacts from holiday gatherings to date.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 336 new cases of COVID-19 and 7 new deaths related to the illness. It’s the highest daily case count since Dec. 6. There are currently 180 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 26 people in intensive care.

Jason Herring, Postmedia: Here are Friday’s COVID-19 Alberta stats: 1,183 new cases (total now 109,652) . . . 24 new deaths (total now 1,241) . . . 851 currently in hospital, 135 in ICU (yesterday: 871 in hospital, 139 in ICU) . . . 13,628 active cases (up from 13,298) . . . 16,765 tests conducted (~7.1% positive).

Justin McElory, CBC Vancouver: 617 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C. on Friday, a big drop from Thursday but part of a small rise since Christmas. . . . 18 new deaths, the highest number since Dec. 23. . . . Hospitalizations and active cases down.

Tacome News Tribune: The Washington state Department of Health reported 4,829 new cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths Friday. . . . Statewide totals from the illness caused by the coronavirus are 268,607 cases and 3,699 deaths. The case total includes 11,160 cases listed as probable. Those numbers are up from 263,778 cases and 3,634 deaths on Thursday.

Daily Hive Portland: The Oregon Health Authority has reported 1,755 new and presumptive COVID-19 cases and seven new deaths. The state has now seen a total of 122,847 COVID-19 cases, and the death toll has risen to 1,575.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Friday, 4 p.m. PT — People tested: 15,420,760 . . . Total cases: 644,348 . . . Active cases: 81,670 . . . Recovered: 545,971 . . . Deaths: 16,707.

CNN, Friday, 3 p.m. PT: 368,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Friday, 3 p.m. PT: 21.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

AFP News Agency, Friday, 8 p.m. PG: US sets new record with nearly 290,000 Covid cases in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins.

——

Curling Alberta has cancelled its 2021 men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships “due to Alberta’s continued state of public health emergency.” All were to have been held in Sylvan Lake, Jan. 25 to Feb. 5. . . .

With the B.C. government and health officials having extended various restrictions, including one restricting adult team sport, through Feb. 5, Curl BC has cancelled the men’s and women’s championships that had been scheduled for Kamloops and the mixed doubles event that was to have been held in Chilliwack. . . .

Holly Rowe, a veteran ESPN sideline reporter, revealed on Friday that she has tested positive, meaning she won’t be working on Monday when Alabama and Ohio State meet in the college football championship game in Miami. . . . Rowe admitted to having some symptoms and not feeling great. . . . She also is a cancer survivor, having battled melanoma. . . .

The Maine Red Claws, a G League men’s basketball team affiliated with the NBA’s Boston Celtics, have opted out of the 2021 season. . . .

Mike Lange, the veteran play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, won’t start the approaching NHL season out of an abundance of caution. He says he’ll be back once he is able to be vaccinated and when he feels it is safe to return. Lange, who will turn 73 in March, missed the 2019 playoffs due to pneumonia. . . .

Kurt Warner, an analyst with the NFL Network, announced Friday night that he has tested positive so won’t be working on any studio shows this weekend. Warner, 49, has been with the NFL Network for 10 years. . . . Also on the NFL broadcast front, NBC’s Mike Tirico will call the play of the Tampa Bay-Washington game from home because of COVID-19 protocols, while CBS-TV’s Tony Romo will provide analysis of the Chicago-New Orleans game from a remote site for the same reason.


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Former WHL coach Jay Varady, who is the head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, has been added to the coaching staff of the parent Arizona Coyotes. Varady, 43, spent seven seasons (2003-10) on the coaching staff of the Everett Silvertips. He had been the Roadrunners’ head coach for two seasons. . . . The NHL’s San Jose Sharks has left K-FOX, its play-by-play station since 2020-21, and now will stream its games on the Sharks Audio Network, available on the team’s website and app. . . . Lethbridge has been chosen as the host city for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier (aka the Canadian men’s curling championship). It is scheduled to run March 4-13, which means the Hurricanes will be out of the Enmax Centre for a couple of weeks in the waning days of the WHL’s 2021-22 season.

WHL governors to meet Friday . . . QMJHL not impacted by curfew . . . Former CAHA president dies at 85

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The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to confer on Friday, but in these WHL2uncertain times it isn’t known what might happen. Remember that the WHL, which halted its 2019-20 season after games of March 11, originally said it hoped to begin a new season on Oct. 2 . . . then Dec. 4 . . . then Jan. 8, which is Friday’s date. The WHL chose to dump the Jan. 8 startup on Dec. 15, saying at that time that the governors “will meet in January to consider potential start dates.” . . . WHL pooh-bahs have said that once a decision is made to start, teams will need about three weeks to prepare. So I would suggest that, given the OK from the various health authorities, something that is hardly a sure thing, the earliest the WHL could start up — and that would be without fans in all likelihood — would be the first week in February. But you and I both know that isn’t likely to happen . . . not with the numbers that we are seeing in the four provinces and two states that are home to WHL franchises. . . .

BTW, who scored the last goal of the WHL’s 2019-20 regular season? That would be F Brayden Tracey of the Victoria Royals, who broke a 2-2 tie at 11:22 of the third period in a 3-2 victory over the host Kelowna Rockets. . . . A better trivia question: Who scored the Spokane Chiefs’ final goal of the 2019-20 regular season? That would be G Lukas Parik, who notched the empty-netter and record the shutout in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers on March 10.

——

One of the things the pandemic has deprived WHL fans of, especially those in the Kamloops area, is F Logan Stankoven’s 17-year-old season. A Kamloops native, Stankoven scored 29 times and added 19 assists in 59 games as a rookie last season. There were times last season when the personable Stankoven showed that he just might be one of those players with the ability bring fans out of their seats on a regular basis. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia talked with Stankoven and more on how he is preparing for a season that may never happen, and it’s all right here.


The Quebec government announced on Wednesday that it is implementing a qmjhlnewdaily curfew that will begin on Saturday and run until Feb. 8. The curfew will be in play from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. . . . The QMJHL, which last played games on Nov. 29 and plans to resume play on Jan. 22, won’t be impacted by the curfew because its Quebec-based teams are going to play in bubbles, or what they are calling protected environments. . . . The QMJHL has said it wants to resume play on Jan. 22 with 12 Quebec-based teams playing in bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan. The plan is to have three teams play in each of those cities Jan. 22-24, and then have four-team bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville and Rimouski, Jan. 29 to Feb. 6. . . . The QMJHL can afford to play in bubbles because it was given a reported $12 million in government money earlier in the season. . . . The QMJHL’s schedule has the six Maritimes-based teams returning to play with games in Moncton, Charlottetown and Saint John on Jan. 22, as well. However, I’m not certain that those teams have been given the OK by health officials to return to play. Those teams haven’t been given any government money so having them play in a bubble, or bubbles, really isn’t feasible. But the Maritime teams were able to have some revenue flowing as the three provincial governments allowed limited attendance at their games. . . .

Meanwhile, the restrictions under which Manitobans have been living since mid-November are due to expire on Friday, but most, if not all, are expected to be renewed. . . . “I don’t think there’s going to be any significant change, to be frank,” Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, said on Wednesday. . . . Those restrictions include a ban on public gatherings of more than five people.





THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 10 more COVID-19 deaths and 176 new cases on Wednesday, and officials are also seeing a spike from the Christmas holidays. . . . Nearly 60 cases and more than 400 contacts have been definitively linked to holiday gatherings, said acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal.

CBC News: 9 more COVID 19 deaths in Saskatchewan including person in 20s, 277 new cases.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 25 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,123 new cases.

CBC News: B.C. reports 625 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths.

CBC News: Quebec’s premier has announced a curfew amid rising COVID-19 cases. Residents will have to stay inside their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. The new measure starts Saturday and will be in effect until at least Feb. 8.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting a record 31 new cases of COVID-19. The province’s previous single-day record was 27 cases. N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there will be more cases as a result of holiday gatherings.

KOMO News: Washington state’s total COVID-19 cases eclipsed 260,000 and the death toll from the virus reached 3,600 Wednesday, according to the latest reporting from the Washington Department of Health. . . . State health officials reported 1,985 new coronavirus cases, 88 additional hospitalizations and 64 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

KATU News: Eight more people have died from COVID-19 and 764 more have tested positive for the disease, the Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday. . . . The state now has lost 1,558 people to COVID-19 and 120,223 have tested positive for it since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 87M: Johns Hopkins University.

CNN, Wednesday, 8:13 p.m. PT: The United States reported at least 3,805 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

CNN, Wednesday, 7:50 p.m. PT: 361,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

NBC News, Wednesday, 8:52 p.m. PT: US sets daily records for coronavirus cases and coronavirus deaths on Wednesday . . . 268,840 cases . . . 3,920 deaths. . . . In 2021, the US has reported 1,345,873 coronavirus cases and 15,120 coronavirus deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Wednesday, 4 p.m. PT: Tested: 14,243,625 . . . Total cases: 626,799 . . . Active cases: 79,203 . . . Recovered: 531,227 . . . Deaths: 16,369.

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The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Wednesday that it will begin its traditional fall sports season on Feb. 1. It will be a seven-week season, with practices to start on Feb. 1 and the season to end on March 20. Sports that will be scheduled include cross-country, football, slow pitch, girls and boys soccer and volleyball.


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.

Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

——

The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

——

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

Scattershooting on a Saturday night before a day of virus-ravaged NFL games . . .

Scattershooting


“Detroit Lions DB Mike Ford got penalized for taunting after teammate Jamal Agnew’s 74-yard punt return cut the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ lead to 40-7,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “They had to rule it taunting, because there’s no such thing as 15 yards for stupidity.”



Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers was one of the many NCAA football coaches who went the entire season without learning how to properly wear a facemask. Of course, he’s also the guy who ranked Ohio State, 6-0 at the time, at No. 11 in the coaches’ poll. That was before the Buckeyes handed his Tigers a 49-28 drubbing in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.


It’s really too bad that someone who pulls strings in the world of NCAA football didn’t instruct the on-field officials to throw flags for unsportsmanlike conduct every time a coach was spotted with his mask under his nose or under his chin. Of course, had that happened it would have taken them about five hours to play one game.


Monk


Headline from @TheOnion: Facebook clarifies site not intended to be users’ primary information source.


So . . . when you were a youngster and ate a Christmas orange — OK, a mandarin orange — did you try to get the peel off all in one piece and then wolf down the slices, including all the white stuff? And now that you’re a mature adult, do you sit there and painstakingly remove all that white stuff, one strip at a time from one slice at a time before eating?


RB Alvin Kamara wore one red shoe and one green shoe on Christmas Day as he scored six touchdowns to lead the host New Orleans Saints to a 52-33 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Kamara is well aware that he plays in the No Fun League, so he knew he was going to have to pay for his sin. As he told reporters: “You know that the Grinch always tries to steal Christmas.”

——

True to form, the No Fun League touched up Kamara for $5,000. As Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times noted, it left “pundits to speculate whether it was $2,500 per shoe, the green shoe put him in the red, or the red shoe cost him some green.”



Back to the NFL for a moment. . . . That’s the league where the Indy Colts could finish 11-5 and miss the playoffs . . . and the New York football Giants could be 6-10 and in. Seriously!


Headline at TheOnion.com: Report: 750,000 Americans die each year during first attempt to get back in shape.



Abe


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

Entertainment Weekly: Legendary talk show host Larry King has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19.​

KTVU: Funeral homes in the hot spot of Southern California say they must turn away grieving families as they run out of space for the bodies piling up.​

CNN, Saturday, 8:47 p.m.: 350,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Saturday, 7:50 p.m. PT: 20.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

——

Tony Romo, CBS-TV’s top NFL analyst, was to have worked the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. But he’s out because of COVID-19 protocols and will be replaced by Boomer Esiason. . . .

The New Orleans Saints, who are to play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, ran out of running backs on Saturday when they placed Latavius Murray, Michael Burton and Dwayne Washington on the reserve/COVID-19 list as close contacts of Alvin Kamara, who had tested positive earlier in the week. . . . Running backs coach Joel Thomas also will be out as a close contact. . . . Also out due to COVID-19 are S D.J. Swearing and S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, while S Marcus Williams is out with an ankle issue.

The Pittsburgh Steelers put CB Joe Haden, TE Eric Ebron and LB Massius Marsh on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . They won’t play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns who, on Saturday, closed their facility for the third time in four days after another positive test, this time to wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea. Bill Callahan, the Browns’ offensive line coach, and his assistant, Scott Peters, are out due to COVID-19 protocols. The Browns also will be without CB Denzel Ward, TE Harrison Bryan, LB Malcolm Smith, LB B.J. Gordon and S Andrew Sendejo, all of whom tested positive this week. . . .

The Buffalo Bills placed TE Tyler Kroft on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday so he won’t play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. . . .

The Arizona Cardinals won’t have WR Christian Kirk when they play the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday because he’s on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who get the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, have placed LB Devin White, LB Shaq Barrett and DL Steve McLendon on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . .

The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants will play Sunday without some personnel. Dave DeGuglielmo, the Giants’ offensive line coach, tested positive, so he’s out. The Cowboys will be without S Darian Thompson and DT Justin Hamilton, both of whom now are on the reserve/COVID-19 list. As well, assistant head coach Rob Davis, offensive assistant Scott Tolzien and special teams assistant Matt Daniels didn’t make the trip due to protocols.


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

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Barnyard