OHL teams look to bring U.S. teams north . . . B.C.’s top doc says “many more months of this to come” . . . NAHL team out for season


If you are a junior hockey fan living in Western Canada or the Pacific Northwest, there hasn’t been much to cheer about the past few days. The COVID-19 numbers haven’t been good. And with summer’s last long weekend around the corner and schools soon to open in Canada, I really wonder what is in our immediate future. . . . On Monday, in releasing the latest statistics for B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top medical official, offered this ominous note: “There are many more months of this to come.” . . . She also said: “What we need to do is figure out how to do all that we want to do in our society safely for the next year, maybe longer.” . . . The maximum number of people allowed at indoor gatherings in B.C. these days is 50 and, Dr. Henry said, there is “no opportunity” to change that in the near future.



Adam Wodon, the managing editor at collegehockeynews.com, addressed a few things in a piece he posted on Tuesday. This column really resonated because it deals with those folks who get upset when people like him report things that point out it is going to be difficult to get hockey in at some levels in 2020. . . . “I pointed out the delusion of thinking the sports-minded ‘go get ‘em’ mentality was going to get us through this,” he writes. “These remarks have been interpreted wrong in a variety of ways, which is frustrating, to say the least. I’ve heard three main negative critiques, all of which are preposterous, frankly.” . . . He addresses those right here as he hammers the nail on the head.



Interestingly, The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the U of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has decided that it no longer will use the term “student athlete,” opting instead for “college athlete,” “athlete” or “student.” . . . The newspaper’s reasoning is in an editorial that is right here. . . . Gotta wonder if major junior hockey pooh-bahs might ever consider doing the same. Nah, never mind.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Corpus Christi IceRays announced Monday that they are suspending operations for the 2020-21 NAHL season. . . . From a team-issued statement: “After much consideration surrounding the developments of COVID-19, and for the health and safety of our organizational family, which includes our players, our coaches, our operating and arena staff, our billet families, and the fans that make up the Greater Corpus Christi and Coastal Bend communities, we have made the difficult decision to suspend operations for the upcoming 2020-21 season and return or the 2021-22 season.” . . .

Retired track star Usain Bolt has tested positive and is in self-isolation, albeit asymptomatic, in his Jamaican home. Bolt, 34, may have contracted the virus at his recent 34th birthday party. . . . The Jamaican government has limited gatherings to 20 people, and Andrew Holness,the country’s prime minister, has said Bolt won’t be given any special treatment, so there could be discipline of some sort involved once an investigation is completed. . . . Two international soccer players — Raheem Sterling of Manchester City and Leon Bailey of Bayer Leverkusen — also were in attendance at the birthday party. . . .

The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to open the regular season on Sept. 13 and they will do it in front of empty seats at Levi’s Stadium. Chances are good that fans won’t be allowed at any of their next three home games, either — Oct. 4, Oct. 11 and Oct. 18. At the moment, the Santa Clara County public health department is limiting outdoor gatherings to 60 people. . . . Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Raiders have said they won’t have fans at home games all season, and the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, both of whom play at SoFi Stadium, said they won’t have spectators “until further notice.” . . . The Buffalo Bills say they won’t have fans in attendance at their first two home games, on Sept. 13 and Sept. 27. . . . When the Bills open on the road against Miami on Sept. 20, the Dolphins say they will allow in 13,000 fans, all of whom must wear masks while in the stadium. . . .

The Rural Manitoba Football League suspended its 2020 season on Tuesday “with an eye toward playing our competitive season in the spring of 2021,” it said in a news release. . . .

The U of Alabama has reported 531 positives on its Tuscaloosa campus, along with another 35 on campuses in Birmingham and Huntsville. Those come after six days of classes. . . . There are countless reports of American universities suspending students for reckless behaviour at off-campus parties and a lack of social distancing, including 23 by Syracuse U, 36 by Purdue U, more than 200 at Ohio State, 11 at Montclair State and on it goes.


Congress


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Sask


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Dwight Eisenhower, a former U.S. president: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from a corn field.”


The 52-team Provincial Junior Hockey League, a junior C circuit in Ontario, hopes to begin a regular-season schedule on Dec. 1 that will have teams playing at least 24 games. Of course, that is contingent on approval from all of the appropriate health and hockey officials.



Jamie Russell, a native of Kamloops, is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the 18U team at South Kent School, a private all-boys boarding school in South Kent, Conn. . . . Russell has extensive NCAA coaching experience with stops at Ferris State, Cornell, Michigan Tech and Providence College. He also was the director of hockey operations and head coach with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. . . . He spent three seasons (2016-19) as the general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Worcester Railers. . . . There is a news release right here.


Dense

USNTDP experiences positive tests . . . NHL preparing for restart; Flames D-man opts out . . . Giants catcher Posey won’t play

With the NHL announcing Friday that it has a new CBA in place and that almost 80 per cent of its players had voted for a return to play, a story out of Plymouth, Mich., didn’t seem to have the impact it probably should have.

ICYMI, Craig Custance and Katie Strang of the The Athletic reported that “at least three players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program have tested positive for COVID-19, multiple sources have confirmed. . . . The players had been participating in on-ice skills training at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., the venue for USA Hockey’s 2020 World Junior Summer Showcase later this month.”

Custance and Strang also reported that “additional participants in the on-ice skills training who are not members of the USNTDP have also tested positive, according to a source.”

The complete story is right here.

One source was quoted as saying: “It’s hockey players who hang out together. One person got tested, found out they had it and so they all did.”

This, I believe, is the first report of teenage hockey players testing positive, and this has to be ominous for junior hockey owners and operators.

Obviously, if you are going to bring teams of athletes together and have them in close quarters, like in locker rooms and on buses, there are going to be positive tests. That means that if you own a team, say, in the WHL and you are hell-bent on opening the 2020-21 season at some time in the not-too-distant future, your return-to-play protocol better have something in it about dealing with positive tests.

Or you have you fingers crossed, a rabbit’s foot in your hip pocket, and you’re hoping for a miracle.


Dog


Meanwhile, Adam Wodon, the managing editor of College Hockey News, posted a thought-provoking piece on Friday that spells out a lot of things.

He starts:

“The shutdown of Ivy League sports until Jan. 1 and its implications for college hockey are just the first of many shoes to drop in the coming weeks and months.

“Trying to summarize what college sports will look like this fall, seems silly at the moment. It changes day by day, and usually in the wrong direction.

“The trajectory, however, points to a continued steady drip towards the seemingly inevitable: that there will be no college sports in the fall, or, at best, nothing close to how we know it to be, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis.

“College sports departments continue to go through the motions of preparing for the season, what with the social media countdowns to the next game, and so on. But it all seems so pointless. I mean, I get it — what else are those staffs supposed to do? Gotta do something. Can’t all be like me, catching up on my golf game and rewatching Lost.

“Coaches have been going through offseason workouts in all sorts of ways, keeping training facilities open, but with certain distancing measures in place. And so on.

“But nothing anyone says about ‘we plan on this . . .” or ‘we plan on that . . . “ has any real substance at this point, even if they’re sincere in saying it.”

There’s a whole lot more to his piece and it’s well worth your time. It’s all right here.


D Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames has opted out of the NHL’s season. Hamonic cited family considerations in making his decision.


Hey, you want some optimistic news?

Here you go . . .

The 15-team AJHL released its 2020-21 schedule on Friday, with opening night set for Sept. 18. Each team is to play 58 games in the regular season. According to the news release: “The schedule has been created to remove pre-determined blocks of games should the season start be delayed.” . . . The complete news release is right here.

Meanwhile, the 16-team USHL said Friday that it plans to open in the fall “with the intention to play a full schedule.”

But, in Germany, the 14-team DEL season that was to have started on Sept. 18 now has been pushed back to an unspecified date in November.


Flatearth


Michael Bidwill, the owner of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, has been in hospital after testing positive. His condition has improved of late and he may be released sometime this weekend. . . . He is believed to have contracted the virus while travelling in the eastern U.S. . . . Bidwill, 55, isn’t believed to have had any contact with the team’s football personnel.


In a release issued Friday, MLB and the MLPBA said that 71 players and 12 staff members have tested positive since intake screening began on June 27. That is out of 11,149 samples. All told, 66 of the positives came from intake screening. . . .

C Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants won’t play this season. He and his wife adopted twin girls who were born about six weeks prematurely on July 3, so he has chosen to stay with his family rather than play in the pandemic-shortened MLB season. . . . “In the current state we are in now, and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months at a minimum, this just ultimately was not a difficult decision for me,” Posey, 33, said on a ZOOM call. “From baseball, it was a tough decision. From a family standpoint, that I feel I’m making a decision to protect our children, I think it was relatively easy.” . . .

P Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox also has opted out of the approaching MLB season. The right-hander, 24, is seen as one of MLB’s top pitching prospects. . . .


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, posted a terrific piece on Friday detailing difficulties encountered by MLB in getting two plane loads of Dominican players to Miami on July 1. It’s all right here. . . .

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The Pac-12 announced on Friday that fall sports, including football, will be conference only if their seasons are able to start. The cancellations include a Sept. 5 football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and USC. . . .

Dartmouth has dropped a handful of NCAA Division 1 sports, effective immediately. Gone are men’s and women’s golf, men’s lightweight towing, and the men’s and women’s diving and swimming programs. The Ivy League school also shuttered the Hanover Country Club, which was built in 1899. . . .

The 11-member New England Small College Athletic Conference has cancelled all fall sports. Bowdoin College and Williams College had made that move last month. Now the other nine schools — Amherst College, Bates College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University — have chosen to do the same.