B.C. restrictions in place through Jan. 8 . . . Vancouver Winterhawks? It’s possible . . . Inside the BCHL’s Penticton bubble proposal

If the WHL is to open its next regular season on Jan. 8, as it has announced that it plans on doing, its five B.C. Division teams will be on the sidelines unless provincial health officials loosen some restrictions.

Under those restrictions, which on Monday were extended through Jan. 8, junior hockey teams are prohibited from playing games. At the same time, players aged 19 awhlnd older aren’t allowed to practice, while those 18 and under are able to practice with restrictions.

If it is to open a regular season on Jan. 8, the WHL would want players to travel from their homes on Dec. 26 to join teams for training camps that would open on Dec. 27.


If you subscribe to The Athletic, you are able to follow the link in the tweet below to a story by Ryan S. Clark on what’s going on with the five teams in the WHL’s U.S. Division. . . . Spoiler alert: How does Vancouver Winterhawks sound? That would be Vancouver, Wash., of course. Hmmm . . .

In light of those restrictions being extended until Jan. 8 by the Provincial Health Office (PHO), the BCHL announced Monday evening that it has “decided to BCHLdelay the start of its 2020-21 regular season to the new year.” It had hoped to begin its regular season tonight (Tuesday).

The last sentence of the BCHL’s news release: “If current restrictions are extended beyond midnight on Jan. 8, the league will come together and make a decision on when play can resume.”

In the meantime, you can bet that the BCHL will be putting even more work into a plan aimed at getting 17 teams into a bubble in Penticton, home of the Vees. If you’re a regular here, you read about it right here on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

In one scenario, all BCHL players would spend Jan. 15-29 in quarantine, then spend Jan. 29-31 moving into the Penticton bubble. The 17 teams would play a 20- or 24-game regular season from Feb. 1 through March 22, with a playoff tournament running March 23 to April 2.

Of course, there would be a lot more to this bubble than games.

For starters, the BCHL would have to find ways to keep more than 350 mostly teenagers entertained. They will have to be fed, have their laundry done, remote learning will have to be arranged and on and on.

The BCHL has chatted with the City of Penticton’s powers-that-be and reports that they are eager to help. Penticton also is home to a first-class arena — the South Okanagan Events Centre — and a roomy convention centre. I also am hearing that at least one Penticton hotel has offered to get involved.

In the convention centre, each of the 17 teams would be allotted about 2,000 square feet, which would provide room for about 30 beds and a team lounge of some kind. Beds/cots would be separated by curtains.

There also would be room for a study area, something that is most important because players would have to move to online learning. There also would be a quiet study area with ample power outlets and Internet access. Tutors would be made available, too.

As for feeding the ravenous teenagers, the facilities feature “multiple kitchens and concessions,” according to the draft of the BCHL proposal that Taking Note has seen, and the primary kitchen would be located in the SOEC. There also would be designated eating areas in which three squares would be served every day.

Players would be allowed to order in food “on occasion. Snacks and food orders to be delivered under strict protocols and paid for by the individual.”

There also would be game rooms that would include TV sets and various gaming units, theatre rooms with access to Netflix and laptops, and a recreation room that would include table tennis, bubble hockey, a pool table, air hockey and sports simulators.

In terms of outdoor activities, players would have access to a baseball diamond, basketball nets and a place to play road hockey. None of these facilities would be open to the public.

If approval for the plan is granted, the BCHL would arrange for players to have access to Zoom conferencing that would feature NCAA coaches, as well as former and current NHL players who might, for example, deal with life after hockey.

Of course, the teams would be in Penticton to train, practise and play hockey. Each team would have daily practice ice and likely three games per week with which to deal. There also would be a gym and training area with weights, bikes and other gear, with teams having assigned time slots for use.

What about scouts? If the project comes off, the BCHL is expecting NHL and NCAA scouts to flock to the games. There would be a safe area in the suite level, with access through a back entrance, that would allow them to come and go without having to bubble up. As well, teams would be designated suites with “absolutely zero tolerance for going down to the team or a lower level.”

And, of course, masks would be mandatory “at all times” for scouts, team governors, league officials, medical staff, etc.

Yes, there still is a long way to go before all of this would end up on the desk of provincial health officials. For example, a testing plan has to be structured, one that the BCHL said “will be determined by the PHO.”

Approval would have to come from government and health officials, as well as BC Hockey and Hockey Canada.

BTW, the BCHL now is pay-to-play, at least for this season, and players would pay $1,500 per month for February and March, which is what they already have paid for October and November.


Bob McKenzie, the semi-retired TSN Hockey Insider, rattled off a few texts on CanadaMonday, all of them with regards to the World Junior Championship. Here are a few of them, but in text form:

1. The 2021 IIHF World Jr. Championship is set to begin 2 weeks from this Friday (Dec. 25) in EDM in a restricted-access “bubble” format. All 10 teams are scheduled to “check in” Sunday, for a 4-day quarantine/daily-test period before being released into bubble Dec. 18.

2. Key for teams, obviously, is to try to get to the “start” line, which is this Sunday Dec. 13, when they are scheduled to report to EDM. All teams, starting today, are now in a seven-day closed preparation window. Only players currently in team camps today will be WJC eligible.

3. In order to “qualify” for Sunday’s admission to four-day quarantine/testing phase, all players must be tested three times in the current seven-day window and, obviously, test negative each time for Covid. Only then do they enter quarantine phase in their EDM hotel room.

4. If any player tests positive now, he’s out of the tournament and cannot be replaced from outside the current roster of players now in camp.

As of Monday night, McKenzie reported, “Hockey Canada is awaiting word any hour now from Alberta Health on how the remainder of this week will play out. Team Canada has been off ice/quarantined for two weeks after two players tested positive during training camp. Team Canada hopes to be back on the practice sometime today (Tuesday) in Red Deer.

McKenzie also tweeted: As I’ve said on multiple occasions, first major hurdle is to get all 10 teams — CAN, FIN, GER, SUI, SVK in one group; USA, SWE, RUS, CZE, AUS in the other group — plus the on-ice officials (all Canadian locals) to what amounts to a starting line, which is Sunday’s check-in day in EDM.


Another day means another positive test for a player who was expected to contribute to the Swedish team at the World Junior Championship. D William Wallinder is the third Swedish player to be knocked out of the tournament by a positive test. Wallinder, who was selected by the Detroit Red Wings with the first pick of the second round in the NHL’s 2020 draft, plays for Modo in the HockeyAllsvenskan and the team experienced a positive test last week.

Pekka Jalonen, a writer with the Helsinki newspaper Iltalehti, reports that the KHL continues to have issues with COVID-19.

Former NHLer Alexei Morozov, who is the KHL president, said that going into this week there were 21 people within the KHL with the virus, while 486 had recovered.

Jalonen wrote: “There are 23 teams in KHL, so on average there have already been 22 infected people in each club. There are still more than two and a half months left in the regular season, so it is likely that almost everyone on the KHL teams will get a coronavirus infection this season.”

The Finnish team Jokerit, which is in a stretch of playing eight of nine games on the road, “is currently on a long tour of Russia and have had just 22 infections this season. Not everyone infected has been a player. All of Jokerit’s infections have been detected after the team returned from a road trip to Russia.”

As expected, the ECHL had three more teams choose to opt out of the 2020-21 season on Monday. Players who had been on the rosters of the Cincinnati Cyclones, Idaho Steelheads and Kalamazoo K-Wings now are free agents for this season. All three organizations plan on returning to the ECHL next season. . . . Jeff Marek of Sportsnet tweeted on Sunday that the Toledo Walleye and Fort Wayne Komets “are still undecided.” . . . The ECHL now has had 11 of its 26 teams choose not to play this season. Some of the remaining teams are expected to begin playing games on Friday.



From a family doctor based in Alberta . . .

CBC News: Manitoba has passed 400 deaths due to COVID-19 as 12 more people have died and there are 325 new cases, health officials say. The five-day test positivity rate is at 13.7 per cent province-wide and 14.6 for Winnipeg. There are 310 people in hospital due to the illness, down 38 from yesterday, with 39 people in intensive care, down from 43 on Sunday.

CBC News: 274 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Saskatchewan, dropping the province’s 7-day average to 308. There is also one additional death being attributed to the virus.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,735 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional deaths. 6 of these deaths are linked to outbreak at Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre.

Shelby Thom, Global Okanagan: B.C. recorded 2,020 new cases of COVID-19 over past 3 days with 35 deaths. . . . 647 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths from Friday to Saturday. . . . 726 cases and 10 deaths from Saturday to Sunday. . . . 647 cases from Sunday to Monday along with seven deaths.

CBC News: Ontario reported a single-day high of 1,925 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, following two consecutive days of record numbers over the weekend. . . . Ontario’s 7-day average for new cases ticks up to 1,820, the highest it has been at any point during the pandemic. 725 people in Ontario are hospitalized with COVID-19, 213 are in ICU and 121 are on a ventilator.

CBC News: Quebec adds 1,577 new COVID-19 cases, which moves the province’s 7-day average up slightly to 1,543. Health authorities also report 22 additional deaths.

Medford Mail Tribune: The Oregon Health Authority reported 12 more deaths from COVID-19 Monday and 1,331 new cases, pushing statewide totals to 1,045 deaths and 85,788 cases.

euronews.com: Italy bans Christmas travel and midnight mass after nearly 1,000 people die in one day.


The Toronto Raptors revealed Monday morning that three members of their organization have tested positive as they open training camp in Tampa, Fla. . . . The team didn’t disclose whether they were players or staff, but they have been put into isolation away from other personnel. . . . On Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers shut things down after getting three positive tests, one involving a player. The Trail Blazers’ camp is in Portland; the Raptors moved to Tampa because the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to non-essential travel. . . . The San Francisco Chronicle reported that F Draymond Green and C James Wiseman of the Golden State Warriors tested positive last week, so missed the team’s first practice of training camp on Monday. Wiseman was the second overall selection in last month’s NBA draft. . . .

The NFL’s Carolina Panthers placed eight players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. That included DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, two of their top wideouts. As a result, the Panthers shut down their facility for Monday and Tuesday. . . . The Panthers are scheduled to play the Denver Broncos on Sunday. . . .

Texas A&M won’t be playing Ole Miss in an SEC football game on Saturday, as the latter is having COVID-19 issues. The game had been rescheduled from Nov. 21 when it was postponed because A&M was having issues. . . .

The U of Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team has had to postponed games against the Michigan State Spartans that were to have been played today and Wednesday. The Badgers have a positive test. . . . Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s women’s team has postponed its next two series, scheduled for Dec. 11-12 and Dec. 18-19, because of COVID-19 protocols. By Dec. 19, Wisconsin will have played two if its eight scheduled games. . . .

Here is Pittsburgh men’s basketball coach Jeff Capel to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday: “These kids are away (from their families) and they’re out and they’re laying it on the line to entertain people. Something just doesn’t feel right about it right now. The numbers were what they were back in March. I look at it every day, man. It seems like every day it’s getting worse. I don’t know why you cancel it in March, but you say it’s OK to do it right now. But what do I know?”

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



Or, for more information, visit right here.


Hockey world is mourning loss of Hawerchuk . . . Here’s hoping CFL is able to find itself

As you no doubt are aware, the CFL won’t happen in 2020. For the first time since 1919, the Grey Cup won’t be awarded.

(There wasn’t a Grey Cup game for four years — 1916-19 — because of the First World War. The CFL didn’t pause for the Second World War.)

I would suggest that this day of reckoning has been in the CFL’s windshield for a few years now. I don’t know exactly when it was that the CFL came to the fork in the road and took the wrong one, but somewhere along the way it lost track of who it is.

Hopefully it can find itself over the next few months. Hopefully it can figure out where the fans went in Edmonton and Toronto and B.C. Hopefully it can get things back on track in Montreal. Hopefully it can get back to being the CANADIAN Football League.

I spent a fair amount of time around the CFL and its teams while with the Winnipeg Tribune and Regina Leader-Post through 1999. It hurts to see this happen to the CFL, but here’s hoping it comes back with a redesign that makes it bigger and better whenever COVID-19 allows another season to be held. . . .

In the meantime, two columnists I worked with while in Regina took a look at the CFL and the situation in which it now finds itself. . . . Ed Willes of Postmedia has his take right here, while Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post has a column right here. . . . Ed Tait of the Blue Bombers has a terrific piece right here with thoughts from LB Adam Bighill and QB Zach Collaros. . . . Here’s part of what Collaros had to say: “The optics of going to the federal government without consulting with us at all was definitely tough. Guys were definitely not happy about that. It’s kind of a microcosm of how this pandemic has been handled from leadership in North America. The transparency is not there, the communication hasn’t been great. That needs to improve moving forward if 2021 is going to be successful.”

Fans of the Vancouver Canucks have had to put their plans for a Stanley Cup parade on hold since their favourites now find themselves at 2-2 with the defending-champion St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the NHL’s bubble tournament. . . . The Canucks, you may recall, won the first two games, only to have the Blues wake up in time for a 3-2 OT victory in Game 3 on Sunday, and then pound their way to a 3-1 triumph on Monday. . . . The Blues have gotten more and more physical with the Canucks young guns, especially Elias Pettersson, as the series has worn on. How the Canucks and Pettersson respond in Game 5 tonight will tell the story.

Meanwhile, the NHL revealed on Monday that it completed the third week of its return to play without any positive tests. There had been 5,640 tests administered through Aug. 15. . . . Yes, if everyone is on the same page with the same goal in mind, the bubble approach does work.



The U of Notre Dame reported 147 positive tests — 146 students and one staff member — on Tuesday, so suspended in-person classes for two weeks just eight days into the fall semester. Some of the positives apparently were traced to an off-campus party where there were neither masks nor social distancing. . . . The U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill cancelled in-person undergraduate classes on Monday with at least 135 positive tests on campus. A spokesperson said that as of Monday morning, there were 177 students in isolation and 349 in quarantine. . . . Also on Tuesday, Michigan State ordered undergrads to stay home for the remainder of the fall. MSU hadn’t yet started its fall semester when it told students to say home “effective immediately.” . . . In a letter to students, Samuel Stanley Jr., MSU’s president, said the move was due to the “current status of the virus in our country — particularly what we are seeing at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities.” . . .

The Atlanta Braves have placed OF Nick Markakis on the 10-day IL because he may have been exposed to the virus. Interestingly, Markakis, 36, originally opted out of playing this season. However, he changed his mind and returned to the Braves shortly after the season began. . . .

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with a pertinent observation: “Something’s wrong with the business model at many American universities when the cancellation of a football season threatens to wreck a school’s budget.”

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



Or, for more information, visit right here.


The 16-team USHL announced Tuesday that it hopes to open a 54-game regular season on Nov. 6 and wrap it up on April 24. Teams will open training camps on Sept. 14 with exhibition games to start in mid-October. . . . From a news release: “All activities are designed to take place in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines as well as the League’s Return to Play Protocols which are currently being finalized. The regular season schedule allows for flexibility for games to be moved to the back of the schedule due to postponements, capacity restrictions, or other factors.” . . . The news release didn’t make any mention of the situation in Des Moines, Iowa, where Buccaneer Arena, the home of the USHL’s Buccaneers, was damaged by an intense storm on Aug. 10. The ImOn Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, the home of the RoughRiders, also suffered some damage.

These leagues are hoping to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on these proposed dates:

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

Heritage Junior B Hockey League: Oct. 28

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: Sept. 25

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Oct. 9

USHL: Nov. 6

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: Sept. 7 (48 games), Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40), Dec. 14 (32)

WHL: Dec. 4

Paul McFarland now is the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. An assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019-20, McFarland signed as Kingston’s head coach on May 8. He was named general manager on Tuesday. . . . The Frontenacs had been looking for a GM since July 23 when they announced that they wouldn’t be renewing Darren Kelly’s contract. . . . Prior to his one season with the Maple Leafs, McFarland was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers for two seasons.

The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have reinstated assistant coach Curtis Toneff. The team made the announcement on Monday after a stay of proceedings had been agreed to regarding charges faced by Toneff. . . . He had been charged with assault on June 2 after a May 24 incident. The Broncos suspended Toneff after the charge was laid. . . . Last season was Toneff’s first with the Broncos after two seasons as head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


May 8, 1957, belonged to Flin Flon . . . Frey to step back after today’s draft . . . Pats sign top prospect Bedard

The 1957 Memorial Cup-champion Flin Flon Bombers. (Photo: reminder.ca)

OK. It’s obvious that you need a hockey fix. Well, you’ve come to the right place . . .

It’s May 8, 1957. The Ottawa Canadiens and Flin Flon Bombers are playing Game 7 of the Memorial Cup final in Regina’s Exhibition Stadium.

The Bombers will take a 2-1 lead into the third period. . . .

Flin Flon is led by the line of Ted Hampson between Paddy Ginnell and Mel Pearson. Ginnell got the game’s first goal at 17:23 of the FlinFlonfirst period, with Pearson counting at 18:14. Mike Legace got Ottawa to within a goal at 19:43 of the second period.

The goaltenders are George Wood for Flin Flon and Ottawa’s Claude Dufour.

Sam Pollock is running Ottawa’s bench, with Bobby Kirk the Bombers’ coach.

We now take you to Regina’s Exhibition Stadium and the play-by-play voice of Lyle Armitage, all thanks to Flin Flon radio station CFAR. All you have to do is click right here and scroll down a couple of items.

While you’re listening, you may want to read about the series and the hijinks that went on. . . . That’s all right here in a history I wrote a few years ago.

Hampson, now 83, went on to play 676 regular-season NHL games, putting up 108 goals and 245 assists. He has been an NHL scout since 1983-84, the last eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.

When CFAR first aired a replay of Game 7’s third period earlier this month, Hampson was listening and, at the same time, texting with Erin Ginnell, 51, one of Paddy’s sons. Erin scouts for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

“It was pretty special,” Erin told me via email.

Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that “the 2020 Ivan Hlinka-Wayne Gretzky U-18 tourney scheduled for August” in Edmonton and Red Deer “is going to be cancelled.” . . . As he pointed out, it is the “first big event for the 2021 NHL draft class and 2003-born players.” . . . He also suggested that Hockey Canada is looking at what to do with its U-17 and World Junior Summer Showcase camps and series. The U-17 event is scheduled for July, with the Summer Showcase in August. . . . “No one is optimistic, obviously, but decisions on those still to come,” McKenzie tweeted. . . . Don’t forget, too, that the 2019 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is scheduled for Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7.

The Regina Pats will select F Connor Bedard of North Vancouver with the first selection Patsin the WHL’s bantam draft today (Wednesday). The Pats signed Bedard, 15, to a contract on Tuesday. . . . Bedard has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada, something that allows him to play full-time in the WHL as a 15-year-old. It used to be that a player in that age group was limited to five games with a WHL team until his club team had its season end. However, F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice, who wasn’t granted exceptional status prior to last season, got into 22 games in 2019-20 and would have played even more had he not suffered a concussion in December. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more on the Bedard signing right here.


Baseball’s independent American Association, which includes the Winnipeg Goldeyes, has postponed the start of its season that was to have opened on May 19. The 12-team league now is hoping to get rolling at some point in July. . . . “We will not jeopardize the safety of our fans, staff, players, umpires or vendors and will abide by all national and local restrictions when determining if we can open in early July,” commissioner Joshua Schaub said in a statement. . . . The U.S.-Canada border will have to re-open before play starts; the Goldeyes are the only Canadian-based team. . . .

The 12-team West Coast League, which includes teams in Kelowna and Victoria, is scheduled to open on June 5. In a statement posted on its website on March 25, it said it “continues to monitor” the situation . . . “while preparing for the upcoming season.” . . . The league’s other 10 teams are in Oregon and Washington state. . . .

Andy Dunn, the president of the Vancouver Canadians, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that their season is “in a holding pattern.” The Canadians, who play in the eight-team single-A Northwest League, are an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Vancouver’s season is scheduled to open on June 17. Dunn also told Ewen that the Canadians have plans in place for a “full season, a half season or no season.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here.

The Thought for the Day, thanks to Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with this one from Will Rogers: “Things will get better — despite our efforts to improve them.”

Barry Petrachenko’s run as the chief executive officer of BC Hockey is over. The organization has revealed that he was done on Monday. . . . A new CEO is expected to be named before the next hockey season starts. In the meantime, Jeremy Ainsworth, the chief program officer, and CFO Jen Cheeseman are in charge. . . . Petrachenko had been the CEO since March 2000.


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have added Lukáš Lomicky as their associate coach. He spent the past three seasons with the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, moving from assistant coach to associate coach to head coach. He also has worked as video coach for the Czech team at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . In Prince George, he will work with general manager Mike Hawes and head coach Alex Evin.


Ryan Hollweg has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as the associate coach. He will work alongside Dan Cioffi, who signed on as assistant general manager and head coach earlier this month. . . . Hollweg, 36, is from Downey, Calif. He is a former BCHL player who went on to play for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers (1999-2004). He also got into 228 NHL games, playing with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes, before concluding his playing career with HC Skoda Plzen in the Czech Extraliga in 2018. . . . He has been an associate coach with the North West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . The Express has been rebuilding its coaching staff since losing Jason Fortier, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, when they couldn’t agree on a new contract.

The Summerland Steam of the junior B Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League announced Tuesday that Ken Karpuk won’t be returning as head coach. . . . Karpuk was the head coach for one season, having replaced John DePourcq, who resigned on May 6, 2019. . . .


Blue Jays drop opener to Red Sox on Devers’ late dinger . . . Is U.S. college football season in jeopardy?



Yes, Thursday was to have been Opening Day.

Of course, it was wiped out.

But . . . baseball fans . . . there is hope.

I found this atop a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Since 1962, baseball lovers have played a board game called Strat-O-Matic, which uses real statistics, player tendencies and dice rolls to simulate games and seasons.

“Starting Thursday, which was to be Opening Day, New York-based Strat-O-Matic Media will replicate the postponed 2020 season through the computer version of the game and post the results, box scores and standings each day at 11 a.m. PDT on its website.


Some Opening Day highlights from the Strat-O-Matic website:

“The defending-champion Washington Nationals knocked off the Mets, 4-3, on a ninth-inning, tiebreaking home run by Howie Kendrick off Mets closer Edwin Diaz. Rafael Devers’ ninth-inning solo shot off Ken Giles gave the Red Sox a 3-2 win at Toronto. Colorado’s Garrett Hampson’s RBI double followed by David Dahl’s two-run single keyed a 10-7, 10-inning victory at San Diego. And Kolten Wong’s leadoff bomb off Raisel Iglesias in the top of the ninth lifted the Cardinals over the Reds.

“Pinch-hitters also produced two late-inning heroics for wins. The Milwaukee Brewers walked off the Chicago Cubs, 7-4, on a bottom of the 11th, three-run home run by Brock Holt, while Johan Camargo came off the bench to take Yoan Lopez out of the yard in the top of the ninth to propel the Braves past the Diamondbacks.

“And though not a last at-bat win, Baltimore scored twice off Adam Ottavino in the seventh inning to ruin the Yankees’ debut of Gerrit Cole in a 3-2 Birds win at Camden Yards.”

If you visit the Strat-O-Matic website, the link to the simulated games is right at the top.



If you’re a hockey fan, you are going to want to check out cougarshockeyproject.ca. . . . According to a tweet that launched the website, it celebrates “this history of the Victoria Cougars in the Western Hockey League (with) player profiles, database, Vancouver Island arena guide and a blog.” . . .

With advertising revenues dropping like punctured balloons, news outlets are starting to issue layoffs and furloughs to employees. . . . Sound Publishing owns 43 publications in Washington state, including the Everett Herald, has cut staff. One of those to be furloughed was Josh Horton, who, among other things, has been covering the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. . . . Four of the seven people in the Herald’s sports department were furloughed. Sports columnist Nick Patterson, who used to be on the Silvertips beat, has been moved to the news room. . . .



The Thought of the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, via Will Rogers: “Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate; now what’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?” . . .

BTW, the curmudgeonly one also is the supplier of many of the cartoons that end up on this site, and I thank him for brightening our days. . . .

The Indianapolis 500 had been scheduled to run on May 24. It now has been postponed until Aug. 23. . . . This will be first time since 1945 that it hasn’t been held on the Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t held from 1941-45 because of the Second World War. . . . This will be the first Indy 500 since Roger Penske purchased IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. . . . IndyCar is hoping to get its season started with a race in Detroit on May 30. . . .


If you don’t think that we have fallen down a rabbit hole consider that the odds-makers at www.SportsBettingDime.com have come up with some over/unders involving President Trump’s favourite words and phrases during his yammering in those inane press briefings/campaign rallies that go on daily. . . . Here’s a look:

Fantastic +Incredible + Amazing + Tremendous 24.5

Great 11.5

Big/Bigger/Biggest 10.5

More Tests than any other Country 9.5

Fantastic 8.5

Incredible 6.5

Amazing 5.5

Tremendous 5.5

Best 5.5

I/We’ve been treated unfairly 3.5

I/We inherited a broken system 3.5

Working Very Hard 2.5

We’re doing a great job 2.5

Not our fault 2.5

The OHL’s Kitchener Rangers have signed general manager Mike McKenzie to an extension that runs through the 2024-25 season. He has been the club’s GM since March 2017. He also acted as the team’s interim head coach from November 2019 through the end of this season. . . . He has been with the Rangers since 2012 when he signed on as an assistant coach. . . . McKenzie’s father, Bob, is a TSN hockey insider.

Scott Owens, the general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, has announced his retirement. Owens, 64, spent 15 seasons as the head coach of the Colorado College Tigers. He has been with the Stampede for five seasons. . . .

An unidentified player with Colorado Avalanche has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He is the third NHL player to test positive, along with two members of the Ottawa Senators. The Avalanche said they got the test result on Thursday and that the player “has been at home in isolation since the first systems appeared, has recovered and is back to normal.” . . . The NHL halted its regular season on March 12. The Avalanche and Senators both were in California prior to that decision coming down. . . .


A year without any U.S. college football? The whispers have started. . . . Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports writes: “What was once unthinkable has quietly become a discussion point and concern throughout college athletics. Will the coronavirus pandemic force the cancellation of the 2020 college football season?” . . . The kickoff to the season (Aug. 29) is more than five months away. But the way things are going in the U.S., who knows? . . . Dodd’s piece is right here.

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “Spring games and practices have already been canceled and there’s no certainty that programs are going to be able to get work in this summer given the way things are trending right now. Are we going to be ready to stuff 100,000+ people into some stadiums around the country by the time fall rolls around? I wish I could say yes, but nobody can provide an end date for this ordeal.” . . .



Memorial Cup in June? Who knows? . . . Gallivan, Irvin stand test of time. Oh, do they! . . . Social distancing is the thing

The Memorial Cup, a four-team tournament for the CHL championship, is scheduled for Kelowna, May 22-31. If it is held, the tournament will include the host Rockets and the OHL, QMJHL and WHL champions. . . . Bob McKenzie, the godfather of TSN’s Insiders, reported Thursday that the Rockets “have secured the ice for June if the Memorial Cup needs to be moved back a month. And they’re also working on hotel blocks just in case. No one is necessarily optimistic but all options are still on the table for the Memorial Cup.” . . .

Interestingly, as is noted in the tweet below from Kevin Shaw, the first game of the 1919 Memorial Cup — the first time the trophy was contested — was played on March 19, 1919.

Not many, if any, WHL players appear to have been made available to the media since the league shut down on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kamloops Blazers, though, made captain Zane Franklin available for a chat with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. Franklin, who was busy helping Mom bake cookies on the family’s farm, was, well, frank as he usually is during the conversation, even explaining that he and his teammates “were all a little worried because we were in that area where it was getting bad” during a road swing into Washington state a few days before the shut down. “It was kind of nerve-racking, but we saw we were healthy, so were weren’t too worried after that. I’m as healthy as I can be.” . . . The whole piece is right here.

Irvin 2
On a cool day in November 1988, Dick Irvin (right) tells me about growing up in central Regina. (Photo: Patrick Pettit/Regina Leader-Post)

If you were like me on Thursday afternoon, you were flipping channels and stumbled the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders playing Game 6 of the 1983 Prince of Wales Conference final on Sportsnet. . . . The Islanders, behind four goals from Mike Bossy, beat the visiting Bruins, 8-4, to win the series, 4-2. . . . Oh, the 30 minutes I was able to watch were glorious. . . . The great Danny Gallivan calling the play and the observant Dick Irvin providing colour/analysis from right beside him. It was glorious. . . . Of course, you notice the all-white boards and a playing surface interrupted only by lines necessary for the game to be played. . . . There were a handful of players without helmets, and Butch Goring of the Islanders wearing his infamous Spaps helmet. . . . The goaltenders — Billy Smith of the Islanders and Pete Peeters of the Bruins — looked to be half of the size of today’s behemoths. . . . And, well, I’m thinking that today’s players, on the whole, are much better skaters than those from days of yore. . . . BTW, the Islanders also got goals from Goring, Brent Sutter, Bryan Trottier and Wayne Merrick. . . . Rick Middleton, with two, Craig MacTavish and Ray Bourque scored for the Bruins. . . .

Hearing Irvin’s voice brought back memories of a cool November day in 1988 when he visited Regina while promoting his book, Now Back To You Dick. Leader-Post photographer Patrick Pettit, sports writer Rob Vanstone and I met Irvin in central Regina and we strolled around the neighbourhood in which Irvin had spent his childhood. . . . “I don’t get teary-eyed or sentimental thinking about Regina,” Irvin said at the time. “I still come back. It’s not like I’ve been away 20 years.” . . . Irvin, then 56, had moved to Montreal in 1951. His father, Dick Sr., spent 27 seasons as an NHL coach — 14 with the Canadiens. . . . The family home, built by Dick Sr. in 1921, had been demolished in 1985. By the time we visited the area, there wasn’t any sign of the pigeons, chickens and show dogs that had been raised in the backyard. . . . “I’m glad I wasn’t walking down the street when the wreckers came in,” Irvin said.

Not only has the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League cancelled the remainder of its season, but, as Kelly Moore of radio station CJOB reports, it has had to postpone its 50th anniversary gala and awards dinner that was scheduled for May 13. . . . Moore reported that the decision to end the season came “moments before last Thursday’s opening game of the MMJHL McKenzie Cup playoffs between the St. Vital Victorias and Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins at the St. Vital Arena.” According to Moore: “The players had actually warmed up, on-ice officials were ready to go, and fans were in the stands when both teams were advised the game was not going to be played.”

If your are a follower of the PGA Tour, you should know that the next scheduled stop is the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, May 21-24. . . . The first major of the season, now that the Masters has been bumped, is the U.S. Open that is scheduled for Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., June 18-21.

Hey, I don’t know where the puck is, but I’m thinking these are the hottest sweaters I saw this hockey season. Yikes, these are good!

QMJHL cancels rest of regular season; WHL, OHL expected to do same . . . Eskimos bow out of Brady chase


The QMJHL announced on Tuesday that it has brought an end to its regular season, which was to have ended on Friday. The league also has postponed its annual draft that had been scheduled for March 25. . . . The QMJHL is still hoping to be able to put together some kind of playoff with teams seeded based on points percentage. . . .


The WHL’s board of governors was to talk on Tuesday, but so far . . . crickets! However, it is widely believed that the WHL and the OHL will cancel the remainder of their regular seasons perhaps as soon as Wednesday. . . .

Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted Tuesday afternoon: “The WHL will be following the same path as the QMJHL. The OHL has a governors’ conference call (Wednesday), at which time it will be no surprise if the OHL also cancels the regular season.”



The two players from the Winnipeg Ice who were tested for the COVID-19 virus are fine. Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that a source with the team has told him that both tests came back negative. . . . “The club,” Sawatzky wrote, “did not immediately make further comment.” . . . Both players had been symptomatic so were tested, while the remainder of the players were allowed to go home. . . .

On a day when it was announced that four players from the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, including Kevin Durant, had tested positive, it was learned that one player from the Ottawa Senators has tested positive. The player, whose identity wasn’t revealed by the Senators, is the first NHLer to test positive for the virus. . . . The team said the player’s symptoms are mild and that he is in isolation. . . . Hailey Salvian and James Mirtle of The Athletic reported that “multiple Senators players are ill and awaiting test results to determine how many have been infected.” The Senators played the host Los Angeles Kings on March 11, their last game before the NHL shut down. The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets played at Staples Center on March 10 and have had four players test positive. . . . The Senators also played in San Jose on March 7, which was after health officials had recommended a ban be placed on well-attended events. . . . Of the four Nets players involved, only one is experiencing symptoms. . . .

So . . . Tom Brady isn’t going to be returning to the New England Patriots and, at the age of 42, is expeced to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will pay him in the neighbourhood of US$30 million for one season. . . . So much for him ending up in the CFL. . . .

The International Ice Hockey Federation has cancelled two more men’s tournaments — the Division I Group A tournament in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the Division I Group B event in Katowice, Poland. Both were to have run from April 27 through May 3. . . . The IIHF Council continues to discuss the status of the world men’s championship that is scheduled for Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, from May 8-24. . . .

The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League officially cancelled the remainder of its season on Tuesday. . . .

The Achilles International Track Society announced Tuesday that it was cancelling the annual Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic. It was to have been held at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium on May 30. . . .

The French Open tennis tournament now will be played from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4. It had been scheduled to being in Paris on May 24. The change in dates will make it the last of the four majors this year, and it will begin a week after the U.S. Open. . . . The Guardian has a good story right here on the reaction to the date change and, yes, there is some unhappiness. . . .

The PGA Championship has been postponed. It had been scheduled for Harding Park in San Francisco, May 11-17. One of the four majors for men’s professionals, organizers hope it will be played at Harding Park later in the summer. . . . Earlier, Augusta National announced that the 2020 Masters, which was scheduled for April 9-12, had been postponed. There now is speculation that it will be played in October. . . .

The PGA has cancelled the RBC Heritage (April 13-19), the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (April 20-16), the Wells Fargo Championship (April 27-May 3) and the AT&T Byron Nelson (May 4-10). . . .

The 2020 Canadian Transplant Games have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Winnipeg, Aug. 15-20. . . .

Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports is a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Here he is: “I’ll try to keep my weeping to a minimum, but it’s St. Patrick’s Day, our king has left us and all the bars are closed. Nothing makes sense anymore and us Pats fans can just never seem to catch a break.”

Czech goalie appears headed to Chiefs. . . . ‘Canes’ Cozens suffers thumb injury. . . . Campbell staying in Portland


F Brandon McMillan (Kelowna, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, in 47 games, he had seven goals and 12 assists. An alternate captain he averaged 19:04 TOI. . . .

D Anatoli Yelizarov (Edmonton, 2015-17) has been traded by Salavat Yulaev Ufa to Sochi (both Russia, KHL) for monetary compensation. Last season, with Salavat Yulaev, he was pointless in 40 games. He also had one assist in 16 games with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), and had one assist in two games with Tolpas Ufa (Russia, MHL). . . . MHL (Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga) is Russia’s national junior league.


Allan Walsh is a prominent player agent and the co-managing director at Octagon-Hockey. One of his clients would seem to be Czech G Lukas Pařík, 18, who was selected by the Spokane Chiefs in Thursday’s CHL import draft and it would seem that he is bound for the WHL. . . . A few days earlier, Pařík had been selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the NHL draft, then spent a few days in the Kings’ development camp. . . . At this point in time, he joins three other goaltenders on the Chiefs’ depth chart — veterans Bailey Brkin and Reece Klassen, both of whom are prepping for their 20-year-old seasons, and Campbell Arnold, a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft who played last season with the junior B Spokane Braves.

F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes suffered an injury to his left thumb on Saturday while in the Buffalo Sabres’ development camp. It appears that the thumb was hurt as he put his hand down in the hopes of easing a fall as he tried to absorb a hip check from D Brandon Hickey. . . . Cozens, who is to see a specialist on Monday, later told reporters: “It’s good. I saw the videos and stuff. I think it looked a lot worse than it really was. . . . but right when it happened I wanted to get right back out there, so I’m feeling good.” . . . Cozens told reporters that the thumb isn’t broken. He also kept his left hand in the pouch of his hoodie as he spoke with reporters. . . . The Sabres selected Cozens with the seventh pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft.

You may recall that the Prince George Cougars’ 2018-19 schedule included an 11-game road trip that began in early December and ran into Christmas, all but ruined their season and may well have cost head coach Richard Matvichuk his job. . . . So what kind of schedule are the Cougars looking at for 2019-20? . . . Hartley Miller of 94.3 the GOAT and the analyst on Cougars’ home broadcasts, takes a look right here.

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An interesting item from Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, who is a must read whenever she posts a smorgasbord of thoughts and opinions, which usually is a couple of times a week

“Can it really be true that parents are required to pony up $12,000 for their 17- and 18-year-old kids to skate with Winnipeg Blues in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League? That, according to an article by Taylor Allen in the Drab Slab, is up from $3,000 last season. I don’t make a habit of telling folks how to spend their money, but in this case I will: Are you people nuts? That’s a lot of coin for a handful of hope. I mean, if the goal for your boy is the National Hockey League, you might be better off buying $12,000 worth of lottery tickets. I don’t blame parents for dreaming, though. The bad guys here are the mucky-mucks at 50 Below Sports + Entertainment. That $12,000 price tag is just wrong.”

The “Drab Slab” is the Winnipeg Free Press, in which Allen wrote:

“To suit up for the Blues this (season), it will cost $12,000 for players between the ages of 17 and 18, and $6,000 for 19- and 20-year-olds. Last (season), players had to pay roughly $3,000, with some of the cost offset by fundraising. The price has gone way up, as the Blues, who are owned by the same ownership group as the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, are now a club whose main intention is to develop players in hopes of getting them ready to play in the WHL.”

Are the Blues the only junior A team in all of Canada whose goal is to groom players for the WHL rather than try to get them hockey scholarships with NCAA teams?

Swansson’s complete piece is right here.

The Portland Winterhawks have re-signed Rich Campbell, their athletic trainer/strength Portlandand conditioning coach, to a contract extension, the length of which wasn’t revealed. . . . Campbell is prepping for his 12th season with the Winterhawks. . . . “Rich Campbell is the longest serving member of our current staff, and we are pleased to announce that he will be returning for several more seasons,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. “One of the key reasons we are able to develop players for the National Hockey League is because of the work Rich does off the ice.” . . . Campbell’s resume includes a stint with the 2008 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that played in the Beijing Games, and working as the head trainer for the NHL’s New York Islanders from 1997 to 2006.


The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Dave Hakstol as an assistant coach under head coach Mike Babcock. Hakstol, the former U of North Dakota head coach, was fired as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 17. . . . The Leafs had an opening on their staff after Jim Hiller, a former WHL player and coach, left after four seasons to join the staff of the New York Islanders. Hiller was the head coach of the Chilliwack Bruins for three seasons (2006-09) and the Tri-City Americans for five (2009-14). . . .

Mike Vellucci, who was the head coach of the AHL-champion Charlotte Checkers for two seasons, now is the head coach of that league’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. . . . The announcement was made on Friday, one day after Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli resigned for personals reasons. . . . Vellucci is the AHL’s reigning coach of the year. . . . He spent five seasons (2014-19) with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations. For the past two seasons, he also was Charlotte’s head coach. Before joining Carolina, he spent 14 seasons (2001-14) as the GM/head coach of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers. . . .

The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have named Clayton Robinson their general manager and head coach, with Jesse Hammill coming on board as associate coach. . . . Robinson has owned the franchise since May 1, 2018. . . . Curtis Toneff, the team’s GM/head coach for two seasons, left to join the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos as an assistant coach.


Rebels’ Radar reaches milestone. . . . Ice’s run in Kootenays almost over. . . . Chiefs add a Bear to their roster


Wednesday was the last day of the regular season in Finland’s Liiga. . . . F Malte Strömwall (Tri-City, 2011-13), playing for KooKoo Kouvola, finished the season leading the league in goals and points. In 52 games, he put up 57 points, including 30 goals. . . . Strömwall is the first player from KooKoo to win either title. He also is the first points leader in 31 years and the first goal leader in 24 years from a team that missed the playoffs. KooKoo finished in 13th place. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current, 2016-18), playing for Kärpät Oulu, led all Liiga rookies in assists (30) and points (46), in 50 games. . . . Heponiemi led his team in points, tied for the lead in assists for first-place Kärpät, finished in 12th place overall in points & 13th place overall in assists.


Dave (Radar) Horning was in Cranbrook for the Kootenay Ice’s first WHL game, and he’ll be there Sunday for the last one. . . . Horning is the equipment manager for the Red Deer Rebels, and he worked his 2,000th game on Tuesday night. . . . Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate has more on one of the WHL’s good guys right here.

F Tristan Zandee has made a commitment to the Colorado College Tigers. Zandee, 15, is from Chestermere, Alta., and was a second-round selection by the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Zandee made the announcement via Twitter on Thursday evening. . . . He had 20 goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the midget Airdrie CFR Bisons this season. He also was pointless in one game with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints.

The Kootenay Ice’s first home game? On Sept. 26, 1998, F Jarret Stoll had two goals and two assists to lead the Ice to a 6-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Steve McCarthy, F Andy Penny, F Kyle Wanvig and F Mike Green also scored for Kootenay. . . . Red Deer goals came from F Kevin Marsh, with two, and F Shawn McNeil. . . . G Clayton Pool stopped 38 shots for the Ice. . . . Dustin Schwartz and Shane Bendera combined for 26 saves for the Rebels.


The Kootenay Ice is to entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight in Cranbrook, B.C., and the Red Deer Rebels come calling on Sunday.

After that game, the curtain will drop on 21 seasons of the WHL in the Kootenays.

Owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell are taking the Ice to Winnipeg, choosing to leave Cranbrook’s 4,264-seat Western Financial Place to spend at least two seasons in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, which right now has about 1,400 seats, as they await construction of a new facility.

The Ice (12-44-10) is in the process of missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Last season, its first under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell, it finished 27-38-7.

The Spokane Chiefs have added F Bear Hughes, a 17-year-old native of Post Falls, Idaho, SpokaneChiefsto their roster. . . . Hughes, who signed a WHL contract in January, spent this season with the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He led the team with 66 points, including 41 goals, and was named the league’s top rookie. . . . In the playoffs, he added six goals and four assists in seven games. . . . Hughes is the second player off the Braves to have been added to the Chiefs’ roster this week. G Campbell Arnold, who turned 17 on Jan. 2, is from Nanaimo, B.C. He was a second-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2017 WHL bantam draft.

The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives have signed Craig Anderson as head scout and assistant Neepawageneral manager, while adding Kori Pearson as director of U,S. scouting. . . . Both are former Neepawa players. . . . Anderson, from Brandon, played two seasons (1993-95) with the Natives, then played for the Brandon U Bobcats. . . . Anderson served in a similar capacity with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers when Ken Pearson was the GM/head coach there. Pearson now is the Natives’ GM/head coach. . . . Kori Pearson played three seasons (1993-96) with the Natives, then played with Dakota College in Bottineau, N.D., and Concordia, Minn., College. He now is an assistant coach with the East Ridge Raptors of the Minnesota High School Hockey League, while living in Cottage Grove, Minn. He also worked under Ken Pearson as Winkler’s director of U.S. scouting.


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