B.C.’s top doc: This pandemic is far from over . . . Nachbaur to coach SC Bern . . . . Guest tells OHL horror story


Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said during a Monday briefing on COVID-19 that gatherings in the province will be limited to 50 people with room for physical distancing for months to come.

B.C. announced 36 new cases for the period encompassing Friday through Sunday, with 182 people ill and 13 of those in hospital. There are four people in intensive care.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top health official, pointed out that new cases continue to pop up.

“This pandemic is far from over,” Dr. Henry said. “There continues to be no effective treatment and the virus will continue in our communities for many months to come.”


A hockey fan from Portland emailed me Monday afternoon with some information from Oregon Live and Seattle Times.

First, from Oregon Live:

“Oregon public health officials announced a record 184 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, bringing the total number of known cases in the state to 5,820.

Monday’s new high in cases solidifies a disturbing trend statewide, which this month includes elevated numbers in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Previously, the number of new cases in the state had never exceeded 100. But in the past nine days, seven have surpassed 100 — 146 on June 7, 114 on June 8, 178 on Thursday, 142 on Friday, 158 on Saturday, 101 on Sunday and 184 Monday.”

FYI, Portland is in Multnomah County. The Portlander added that Clackamas and Washington are the surrounding counties where the (Winterhawks) players “would live, practise and and socialize.”

And from the Seattle Times:

“State health officials confirmed 324 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, as well as four additional deaths.

“The update brings the state’s totals to 26,158 cases and 1,221 deaths, meaning about 4.7% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

“So far, 471,265 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.6% have come back positive. The rate of positive tests in Washington has hovered just under 6% in recent weeks, even as case numbers have been climbing.

“The state has confirmed 8,785 diagnoses and 592 deaths in King County, the state’s most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s death toll.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds are located in King County.


Reports on Monday indicated that “several” players from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have tested positive for the coronavirus. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network were first with the story. . . . Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott was among those who tested positive, although he now is said to be healthy. . . . The Cowboys, citing “federal and local privacy laws,” haven’t identified any of the players. . . . On Monday, Pelissero reported that NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, in a call with agents on Monday, “said the current plan in place is to test players for the coronavirus about three times per week, isolating those who test positive.” . . . Mayer also told agents that there is a “90 per cent chance reliable saliva testing is available before players return to facilities.”



It could be that if you are going to bring a team together in close quarters, you had best be prepared for positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

This is from Jesse Spector of Deadspin:

“Friday brought a report from the New York Post that a major league player and pitching coach have contracted coronavirus.

Also, the Boston Bruins announced that one of their players has tested positive.

So did a D.C. United player.

And three Clemson athletes — two football players and one men’s basketball player. And four Mississippi State football players. And six University of Houston football players, leading that school to suspend workouts.

“Even at the high school level, a football player at Cathedral High in El Paso, Texas, tested positive, halting workouts there.

That’s all from a single, 24-hour period. It doesn’t include other coronavirus cases found in June, like the Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the other Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the Florida State football players. Or the two Texas football players. Or the Pittsburgh Penguins player. Or the golfer and three caddies from the PGA’s developmental tour. Or the FC Dallas player. Or the three Central Florida football players. Or the high school football player in East Texas. Or the Oklahoma State football player. Or the three Auburn football players. Or the Utah Jazz players.”

Or the Arizona Coyotes staff member, who tested positive and is in isolation at his home.

Or the student-athlete from North Dakota State, who is being quarantined for 14 days after testing positive.

On Monday, The Associated reported that at least 45 athletes, coaches or staff members at 17 schools have tested positive since June 1.


From Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “A Zion Williamson rookie card fetched nearly $100,000 on eBay this weekend. Is that more or less than Zion was paid to attend Duke, you think?”



Golf Canada has cancelled all of its amateur golf competitions for 2020. That includes the Canadian women’s amateur, that had been scheduled for Montreal from July 21-24, and the Canadian men’s amateur that was to have been played in Calgary, Aug. 3-6. . . . There is more info right here. . . .

The PGA Championship will be held in August; however, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday that it will be played without fans. . . . The tournament is to be played at Harding Park, Aug. 6-9. . . . It will be the first major of the season on the men’s tour. . . . Originally, the PGA Championship was to have been held in mid-May. . . .

The International Softball Congress has cancelled the 2020 World men’s tournament that had been scheduled for Moline, Ill., Aug. 8-15. The 2021 tournament is scheduled for Kitchener, Ont. . . .

The 12-team WNBA is going to play its 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with each club playing a 22-game regular season with playoffs scheduled for October. Training camps will open there early in July. . . . Its regular season had been scheduled to begin on May 15.


Politics


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.”


Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, has signed a two-year deal as head coach of SC Bern, which plays in Switzerland’s National League. . . . Bern has led all of European hockey in attendance for 19 straight seasons. . . . Nachbaur, 61, spent last season as the head of HKM Zvolen of the Slovak league. In Bern, he takes over from Hans Kossman, who finished last season after the firing of Kari Jalonen.



The junior B Southern Rebels of the Prairie Junior Hockey League won’t play in 2020-21. The Rebels, who are based in Assiniboia, Sask., announced via Twitter on Sunday that they “have requested and been approved for a one-year leave” from the PJHL. . . . In requisting the leave, they cited “the fact that there are more unknowns than knowns” because of the impact COVID-19 has had. . . . With the Rebels sitting out, the PJHL will be down to 11 teams.


match


Headline at SportsPickle: Roger Goodell announces 4-game suspension of Roger Goodell for not realizing racism exists.


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins have added Phil Fife as an assistant coach. He’ll work alongside Jason Tatarnic, the club’s new general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Aren Miller, who is preparing for his eighth season in Estevan. . . . Fife spent last season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. He played two seasons under Tatarnic with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Woodstock Slammers (2010-12). . . . Fife fills the spot created when associate coach Jeff Smith left to take over as GM/head coach of the U18 AAA Estevan Bruins for their inaugural season.



“Michael Jordan and the crew on his 80-foot fishing boat ‘Catch 23’ hauled in a 442-pounder during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament off the North Carolina coast,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In fact, the fish flopped so much they nicknamed it Laimbeer.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has found a bright spot in a shortened MLB season. As she put it, it’s “good news for those who worried the Orioles would lose 100 games this year.”


vodka

U Sports, conferences deal with unknown by cancelling events, sports . . . Chiefs sign familiar faces

Burnaby-060720 2
Dorothy and I were joined by a special guest, our granddaughter Kara, for a walk on Sunday.

That’s it for the Kidney Walk for another year. The 2020 version was of a virtual variety and it was held on Sunday.

Thanks to all of you who joined Dorothy’s team by supporting her with a donation. At this point, she has raised $3,080.

This was her seventh year of taking part in the Kidney Walk, and people like you have donated $19,686 through her to the BC/Yukon branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The money raised goes to help people dealing with kidney disease handle the financial costs that come with the fight.

Again, thank you so much for putting so many smiles on Dorothy’s face. Hopefully, we’ll see you in 2021.

In the meantime, please stay safe.


As expected, U Sports and three of its conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — cancelled almost all Canadian university athletic activity until at least January.

It is expected that Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec will follow suit.

U Sports, the governing body of university sport in Canada, cancelled national Usportschampionships in men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s rugby, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey. It also cancelled the Mitchell and Uteck Bowls and the Vanier Cup, the semifinals and championship game for men’s football that has been decided every year since 1965.

It then remained for the conferences to deal with sports at their level, including regular-season play and playoffs. Canada West, along with the Atlantic and Ontario conferences, announced that they are shutting down most sporting activity until at least January.

Canada West will decide on its fall sports of cross-country, golf and swimming by July 15.

Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s CWbasketball are done until at least January.

Canada West has said that it will decide by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will start up in January. Also to be decided by Oct. 8 is whether men’s and women’s wrestling, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s curling, and women’s rugby 7s will begin in January.

“While cancellation isn’t the outcome anyone associated with university sport wanted, I’m confident in the fact that this difficult decision is in the best interests of our student-athletes,” U of Victoria athletic director Clint Hamilton, who is Canada West’s president, said in a news release. “Health and safety is at the forefront of everything we do and simply put there was no way to adequately ensure the safety of everyone involved in university sport during competition this fall.”

Canada West’s 17 member schools voted unanimously on this strategy on Friday. The U Sports, Atlantic and Ontario conference’s decisions were made by their boards of directors.

Canada West had struck a COVID-19 Task Force to steer it through these pandemic-riddled times. That task force recommended the cancellation of competition through year’s end. That recommendation preceded the unanimous vote.

“The Task Force undertook significant discussion and research to inform our recommendations with public health considerations, specifically minimizing risk for both individual participants and the general public, at the core of our work,” said Dr. Steve Martin, who is UVic’s varsity sports medicine physician and Canada West’s rep on the U Sports medical committee. “By and large, sport competition provides a high-risk environment for the transmission of COVID-19. While other areas of society continue to mitigate risk through new guidelines, sport provides a challenge in this regard as any risk mitigation would render many sports unrecognizable.”

The Canada West news release also pointed out that “while professional sports leagues continue to explore options for a return to competition, the resources they will have at their disposal to minimize the risk of infection will not be the reality for Canada West members when the transition from training to competition eventually occurs.”

Also from Canada West’s news release: “Student-athletes in sports without U Sports national championships this season will not be charged eligibility and will remain eligible for athletic financial aid (scholarships).”

Meanwhile, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association has shut down its intercollegiate sports schedule for the fall semester, a move that involves cross-country, golf, rugby, rugby sevens, baseball, soccer and softball. It has 27 member schools.


During a daily briefing on Monday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, noted that while things appear headed in the right direction here, the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been increasing in the American states of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada, something he finds concerning.

“I don’t see that as practical,” he said of opening the U.S. border to non-essential travel. “I don’t see as practical either to have Canadians either visiting and then coming back.

“I don’t see it as practical for people visiting from the United States.”

These statements have to be disconcerting to say the least to junior hockey leagues with any cross-border connections.

The WHL, of course, has five teams in the U.S. — four in Washington and one in Oregon — and has a number of American players on team rosters. The BCHL has one U.S. franchise, the Wenatchee Wild, and its rosters are populated with American players.

On Monday, Canada’s federal government announced a loosening on border travelling that will allow families who have been separated to re-unite, with anyone entering Canada having to self-isolate for 14 days.

The most-recent ban on non-essential travel across the border is to reviewed before June 21.


Editor


During the last week of May, The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists “when they expect to resume 20 activities of daily life, assuming that the pandemic and the public health response to if unfold as they expect.”

Respondents took into consideration their own situation, such as where they live and what the coronavirus impact is in their area.

When asked when they might “see a doctor for non-urgent appointment,” 60 percent said this summer, with 29 percent option for three to 12 months, and 11 percent saying a year or more.

Asked about getting a haircut at a salon or barbershop, 41 percent said this summer, 39 per cent said three to 12 months, and 19 percent said a year or more.

The question about eating at a dine-in restaurant resulted in 16 percent saying this summer, 56 percent saying three to 12 months, and 28 percent saying a year or more.

The biggest number in the survey showed up when they were asked when they might “attend a sporting event, concert or play.” A full 64 percent said it would be one year or more, with three percent saying this summer, and 32 percent saying three to 12 months.

“They mostly agreed that outdoor activities and small groups were safer than being indoors or in a crowd,” the story reads, “and that masks would be necessary for a long time.”

Steve Mooney of the U of Washington told The Times: “This is as much about feelings of social responsibility as about personal infection risk. Large-scale gatherings are a contact tracing nightmare and seem like they should be shut down until we have a really good sense of what’s safe/how to screen people.”

Tammie Nelson of the Marion County Public Health Department said she would considering attending events in the fall. “I would do this IF social distancing was enforced and everyone attending was required to wear a mask,” she said.

The story, with graphics, is right here.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, returned to the world of the Internet on Monday after a few days of battling modem-related issues.

He came back with an update on a defamation lawsuit that had been filed by former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra against one-time teammate Ron Darling over something the latter had written in a book.

The case was heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, the Hon. Robert D. Kalish presiding.

The curmudgeonly one reports that this was part of the judge’s ruling:

“Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug-abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation — largely due to his autobiography — of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires . . . Considering this information, which was presumably known to the average reader of the book, this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference in the book has not exposed Dykstra to any further ‘public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace,’ or ‘evil opinion of him in the minds of right-thinking persons,’ or ‘deprivation of friendly intercourse in society.’ ”

For more on this and some good stuff on happenings involving Drew Brees, click right here.

——

And here is the curmudgeonly one with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.”


Grammarman


With no active COVID-19 infections remaining in the country, New Zealand Rugby has given the all-clear for fans to return to its rugby stadiums. Matches are to resume this weekend and there won’t be any size restrictions placed on crowds for games in Dunedin on Saturday and Auckland on Sunday.



The Spokane Chiefs have signed five members of their front office to contract extensions, SpokaneChiefsthe length of which weren’t revealed. . . . Jim Hammett, the assistant general manager, and goaltending consultants Lucas Gore and Jesse Plewis were re-signed, as were equipment manager Tim Lindblade and education advisor Joe Everson. . . . Hammett, who runs the club’s scouting department, is entering his second year with the Chiefs, as are Gore and Plewis. . . . Lindblade is preparing for his eighth season in Spokane, while Everson has been with the Chiefs, in one capacity or another, for 30 years. He has been the education advisor for the past 12 seasons.


Flowers

CHL hires lobbyists in hopes of landing federal aid . . . Some NCAA teams adjusting schedules. . . . Saskatchewan hockey league done

The Canadian Hockey League, which last week announced it had agreed to pay $30 million to settle a minimum wage-related class-action lawsuit, is lobbying Canada’s CHLfederal government for financial aid to help it and its 52 Canadian teams through these trying pandemic times.

Marco Vigliotti of ipolitics.ca reports that “Susan Smith, Raphael Brass and Tim Barber of Bluesky Strategy registered” as lobbyists on behalf of the CHL.

According to its website, the Ottawa-based Bluesky Strategy Group delivers “public affairs, strategic communications, government relations, and media relations advice and execution.”

Smith and Barber are co-founders of Bluesky; Brass is a senior consultant.

On Friday, the CHL brought an end to a lawsuit that had been filed against it in 2014 by agreeing to pay $30 million. In that lawsuit, former players were asking for major junior hockey players to be declared employees, rather than student-athletes, and as such fall under various employment standard regulations including minimum wage and overtime pay.

In its statement on Friday, the CHL stated: “This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs. It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.”

From the other side, Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The CHL and the three leagues that operate under its umbrella — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — aren’t strangers to lobbying governments.

In the early years of the lawsuit, they all worked to get provincial and state governments to provide exemptions from minimum-wage legislation.

Exemptions were provided by the governments of Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Washington state, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Michigan. Oregon legislators refused to provide an exemption.

David Branch, the OHL commissioner and at the time the CHL’s president, registered as a lobbyist with the Ontario government on Sept. 11, 2018. Two months later, the government announced that it was excluding OHL players from employment standards legislation.

That came two years after B.C’s cabinet, then under Liberal control, had done the same thing for the WHL.

Vaughn Palmer, a political columnist with the Vancouver Sun, wrote on Oct. 22, 2016:

“The Liberals made the change after extensive lobbying from the league, which was facing a court challenge on the failure to pay minimum wage and concerned about economic pressures on its teams were they obliged to pay up.

“The Liberals bought the argument but did so in the quietest fashion. The waiver was approved by cabinet order on Feb. 15, with no followup press release nor much else to draw attention to what they’d done.”

Five days after Palmer’s column appeared, The Sun’s Ian Mulgrew reported that the WHL “did not register as a lobbyist before leaning on B.C.’s cabinet to exempt major junior players from the minimum wager law . . .”

According to Mulgrew, Erin Beatty, communications director for the B.C. Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, said the regulator was “acting on the potential incident of non-compliance in this case.”

It would seem that whatever investigation was held didn’t go anywhere, and The Sun never followed up.

The $30-million settlement revealed on Friday won’t become official until it is approved by the court, which should happen later this summer. It’s believed that $15 million of that sum will be covered by insurance, leaving the CHL’s 52 Canadian teams each to pay about $288,000.

On April 17, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced that the government was committing $500 million to arts, culture and sports sectors.

The CHL joins other sports groups including the CFL, soccer’s Canadian Premier League, the Canadian Elite Basketball League and various hockey leagues in working to get financial aid from government.


Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, announced Tuesday that the U.S.-Canada border will remain closed to non-essential travel for another month, taking it to around June 21. In April, the closure had been extended to May 21. . . . The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 18. . . . Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said later in the day that he believes the closure will be needed long past June 21. . . . “I’m not convinced there is much chance that it will clear sufficiently in the next month to change at least my mind about whether we should open the border,” Dix said. “I think it’s going to be significantly longer than that for visitors.”


Some NCAA hockey teams are beginning to make adjustments to their schedules brought on by budget cuts implemented because of the pandemic. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reports that “college hockey teams are already starting to call of non-conference road trips that require airplane flights because of anticipated budget crunches due to the coronavirus pandemic.” . . . His complete story is right here.


Ironing


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


The Triangle Hockey League, long a fixture on the Saskatchewan winter sports scene, is no more. According to the league, the decision was made at a meeting on Saturday. . . . The league had five teams last season — the Bredenbury Cougars, Esterhazy Flyers, Hudson Bay Hunters, Ochapowace Thunder and Theodore Buffalos. The Rocanville Tigers were a league member although they sat out last season. . . . The THL had been without an executive board since February; it also looked like there may be issues getting on-ice officials for a 2020-21 season.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”


Horse


Soccer’s English Premier League, idle since March, is slowly resuming training in the hopes of resuming its season. On Tuesday, the results were announced from the 748 people who were tested for the coronavirus on Monday and Tuesday. Six people were found to be positive and will be self-isolated for a week. More test results are expected to be announced on Tuesday. . . .

The Belmont Stakes, normally the third event in thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown, now will be the first leg. It is scheduled for June 20 and will be run without spectators. . . . The Kentucky Derby, usually the first leg, was postponed to Sept. 5 and the Preakness, normally No. 2, is scheduled for Oct. 3. . . .

The Western Lacrosse Association and the Major Series Lacrosse have both cancelled their 2020 seasons. The WLA is based in B.C.; MSL is an Ontario-based league. . . . That means that the Mann Cup, which goes annually to Canada’s top senior men’s lacrosse team, won’t be contested. . . .

The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner and ceremony that had been scheduled for Sept. 26. According to a news release, “The 2020 induction class will be carried forward as the Class of 2021.” It will take place at some point in September 2021.