CHL cancels playoffs, Memorial Cup; next tournament set for OHL in 2021 . . . Winterhawks lay off employees; more to come

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The University of Toronto Schools won the 1919 Memorial Cup, the first time the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association had put the trophy into competition. It was to go to the champion of junior hockey.

The Memorial Cup has been awarded every single year since then — not even the Second 2020MCWorld War could get in the way.

However, it won’t be awarded in 2020, the COVID-19 virus haven’t knocked the major junior hockey season for a loop.

The 60-team CHL announced Monday afternoon that the major junior hockey season is over. That means that there won’t be any playoffs in the OHL, QMJHL or WHL.

Nor will there be a Memorial Cup tournament. This year’s four-team affair was to have been played in Kelowna, March 22-31. Interestingly, it would seem that the 2021 Memorial Cup won’t be decided in Kelowna, but in an OHL city.

The last line of the CHL’s Monday statement:

“We look forward with hope that next season will provide new opportunity to celebrate, and that the MemorialCup will be presented at our prestigious national championship, hosted by the OHL in May 2021.”

The CHL follows a three-year rotation among the three leagues. The QMJHL is to be the host in 2022, with the WHL back for 2023.

According to the Kelowna Daily Courier, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president KelownaRocketsand general manager, said that the city “may not have had the steam to muster a tournament in 2021.” The newspaper added that “it could tax volunteers, staff, players and sponsors too much.”

Hamilton also expressed doubts that he and his hockey staff would be able to ice a Memorial Cup-calibre team.

According to the newspaper, “Hamilton said he’d also been building a team that could compete for a national title this season, and he’s losing too many veterans to be ready for next spring.”

After cancelling the remainder of the regular seasons on March 12, the CHL said in a news release on Monday that it “continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played. Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.” . . .

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Losing a handful of regular-season games and the playoffs is going to hurt a few WHL teams. When WHL teams are preparing their budgets, they usually look upon playoff Lethbridgerevenue as gravy. But how much gravy might that be?

Well, let’s take a look at the Lethbridge Hurricanes, one of the WHL’s community-owned teams, which means they hold an annual general meeting and announce profits and/or losses.

After the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes announced a net profit of $422,443, with playoff revenue of $885,558. That came after a playoff run that included 16 games, nine of them at home.

One year earlier, the Hurricanes had played 10 home playoff games during a 20-game run. At the 2017 AGM, they announced a profit of $737,710, with playoff revenue at $685,000.

A year ago, the Hurricanes’ playoff run was short-circuited when they lost a first-round series in seven games. Four of the games were played in Lethbridge, some of them in the 1,200-seat Nicholas Sheran Arena because the world men’s curling championship was being played in the ENMAX Centre. At the 2019 AGM, the team announced a profit of $282,168, with $336,397 in playoff revenue, some of that was compensation from the City of Lethbridge for having been forced from their home arena.

Yes, there was a lot of money — A LOT OF MONEY — at play in the decision to pull the plug on the playoffs. The story will become more explicit when the Hurricanes hold their 2020 AGM.

The WHL’s other publicly owned teams are the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. The Raiders are the WHL’s defending champions and finished atop the East Division this season. The Warriors and Broncos wouldn’t have qualified for this season’s playoffs. . . .

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The Portland Winterhawks have laid off employees from their front office and from their Portlandhockey staff, Taking Note was told on Monday morning. . . . The Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers both have laid off staff and implemented pay cuts. . . . According to one WHL insider, the league, with the playoffs and Memorial Cup having been cancelled, also is expected to lay off some of its office staff. . . . The 22-team WHL suspended its regular season on March 12 and then cancelled it on March 18. The Winterhawks finished atop the U.S. Division and won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions; the Blazers finished first in the B.C. Division. . . . On Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week wrote that Blazers president Don Moores, in a text, had confirmed the “layoffs and pay cuts and opted to make no further comment.” . . . 



Dick Pound of Montreal, a longtime influential IOC Committee member, told Christine Brennan of USA TODAY on Monday: “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.” . . . Her story is right here. . . .



Here’s how Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times began his Monday column:

We are surrounded by a cacophony of chaos, our lives filled with words of warning and dread and doom.

“I need a sound of spring. This being the formerly opening week of the postponed baseball season, I crave the melodious tones of the ballpark, the bunting, the hope.

“So, what the heck, I call Vin Scully.

“And, wouldn’t you know, he answers on the first ring.”

This is what we need in these trying times, and it’s all right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has his thought for the day, courtesy of H.L. Mencken: “Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.” . . .


During a brief drive on Sunday afternoon, I spotted two curb-side signs advertising Garage Sale. . . . Seriously! . . . Yeah, like I want to buy and bring home garage sale items during a pandemic. Yikes! . . .


Spruce Meadows, one of the world’s best show-jumping facilities, announced Monday that it has cancelled its summer season, clearing its calendar through July 5. The cancellations include four tournaments that had been scheduled over a five-week span, starting on June 4. . . . The Masters, scheduled for Sept 9-13, remains on the calendar, at least for now. . . .


Scattershooting on a Monday as we await the arrival of spring. . . . It is coming, isn’t it?

Scattershooting


“It’s doubtful Marie Antoinette, beheaded former queen of France, ever played hockey,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “If she had, history would note her as out indefinitely with an upper body injury.”


McMars


Hey, Sportsnet, if you’re going to make a to-do about a pregame fight you should know that it happened in the ECHL, as opposed to the East Coast Hockey League. If you’re wanting to be a nation’s hockey network, you should be aware of that. Once again . . . that pregame scrap took place in the ECHL. OK?



So . . . my wife, Dorothy, was in Brandon last week. While they were paying 97.9 for a litre of gasoline, the price in Kamloops was 1.27.9. Does anyone have a clear and reasonable and sensible explanation for that? And you can’t use the word ‘gouging’ in your explanation.


A couple of Robservations from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post: 1. Why are hockey referees so oblivious to obvious cross-checks? On Friday, for example, Logan Nijhoff of the Regina Pats was cross-checked into the Brandt Centre boards by Dakota Krebs of the Calgary Hitmen. No call. The Hitmen proceeded to score a goal when they should have been killing a penalty. The laissez-faire officiating was also on display when Nijhoff gave Kaden Elder an extra shot after finishing a check. No call (repeat). Why employ two referees if they are going to ignore penalties? . . . 2. There isn’t any justification for fighting in hockey — not when player safety is supposedly an area of emphasis.


Santa


Here’s columnist Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times on the Dodgers’ attempts to sign Bryce Harper: “They flew to his Las Vegas home this week in what appeared to be a successful attempt to convince him of their charms. It seemed like Harper was all but begging to come to Los Angeles. Yet the Dodgers let him go to the one place he clearly didn’t want to go. . . . When it comes to bringing a star to Hollywood, the Dodgers are more about raising prices than raising hopes.”


Headline at SportsPickle.com: Report: Man agrees to live in Philadelphia for $330 million.



Headline at SportsPickle.com: Somehow this Bryce Harper deal will end with the Mets paying him $1 million every month through the year 2095.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, notes: “With Bryce Harper’s $300-million, 13-year contract,  there are kids not even born in Philly who will be booing him someday.”

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Hough, again: “Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper at the Oscars had more chemistry than we’ve seen live since Trump and Putin in Helsinki.”



“By now,” writes Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, “I’m sure you have seen photos of the exploded sneaker that led to Zion Williamson’s ‘Grade 1 knee sprain’. Photos of Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ didn’t get wider distribution than the exploded shoe has gotten.”


If you’re looking for a good read, get a copy of Bower: A Legendary Life. Written by Dan Robson, it chronicles the life and times of Johnny Bower, and what an amazing story it was. It helps, too, that Bower was a perfect gentleman. It should be mandatory reading, too, for every player who is making his living playing hockey today.


OnHold


Wondering what’s in the future for outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels? Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s nice to envision Mike Trout wearing a Giants uniform when he becomes a free agent two years from now, but that’s a pipe dream. Trout is an East Coast guy (New Jersey). His buddies are tired of staying up past midnight to watch a dreadful Angels game on television. Only the Dodgers could keep him in California.”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times flagged this one . . . Rich de Give, via Twitter, on former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort’s sentencing memo taking up 800 pages: “Wait until you get to the end, when you find out not only did he remove a mattress tag, he used the descriptions and accounts of a game without the express written consent of Major League Baseball.”