Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering if that was the longest intermission in history . . .

Scattershooting2

While the sun was shining in Lake Tahoe and forcing the longest first intermission in NHL history on Saturday afternoon, the U of Saskatchewan’s athletic department was dropping a bombshell.

It wasn’t long after Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that Mike Babcock’s hiring as the U of Saskatchewan’s men’s hockey coach would be announced “next week” when the school made it official.

Dave Hardy, the Huskies’ chief athletics officer, said in a news release that the 57-year-old Babock, who is from Saskatoon, “will lead the Huskies on a full-time volunteer basis for the next two seasons.”

Dreger later tweeted that Babcock “will coach one season, but is heavily involved in hiring an assistant coach to work with him next season before taking over the program the following year.”

Earlier in the week, Hardy told Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he had heard from “less than 100 and more than 50” people interested in the vacancy. Hardy said that he hoped to hire someone before April 1.

“It’s a real challenge for our search committee to narrow that down but we’ll do that sort of collaboratively over the next three or four weeks,” Hardy told Zary. “We’ll have a very qualified coach by March 31.”

Babcock, who is to move into his new position in May, takes over from Dave Adolph, the team’s 27-year head coach who announced his retirement on Dec. 7 and will leave on May 1.

Babcock, a defenceman, played one season (1981-82) with the Huskies and one with the WHL’s Kelowna Wings before spending three seasons at McGill U in Montreal. He later coached at Red Deer College (1988-91) and with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns (1993-94), winning a national title there. He also coached in the WHL for eight seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors (1991-93) and Spokane Chiefs (1994-2000). . . . As an NHL coach, he won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings (2007-08) and two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada (2010, 2014).

This season, he has been helping out as a volunteer senior advisor with the U of Vermont Catamounts, and he recently began working with NBC Sports as an NHL analyst.

Babcock was fired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 20, 2019. He was in his fifth season there. When he was dumped, what was an eight-year, US$50-million contract had almost three years left on it. At the time, Pierre LeBrun of TSN reported that Babcock’s contract with Toronto “had a $3M signing bonus then $5.875M salary every year evenly through 2022-23.”

There since have been allegations that he verbally abused players, in particular Mitch Marner with the Maple Leafs and Johan Franzen in Detroit.



The 15-team AJHL, which hasn’t played since Nov. 21, announced Friday that it ajhlhas received government approval to resume its season. Specific dates apparently haven’t yet been set, but the league said training camps are to open “at the start of March” with games to begin at some point after that. If all goes well, games will be played on weekends through the end of May. . . . The news release didn’t mention a format but there have been reports that teams play be placed in three-game cohorts and play 24 games. . . . The league says that “players, coaches and support staff are currently self-isolating in preparation” for training camps. Players will be free to move on to camps after two negative tests. After that, a positive test will sideline a team for at least 14 days. . . . At this point, there won’t be any fans allowed to attend games. . . . The last line of the AJHL news release reads: “An update league schedule and a list of participating teams will be announced shortly.” By Saturday afternoon there was speculation that as many as three teams may opt out  of the resumption of play. . . . Before suspending play in November, the AJHL had experienced positive tests on at least five teams — the Canmore Eagles, Calgary Canucks, Drumheller Dragons, Olds Grizzlies and Whitecourt Wolverines.


The day before the AJHL announced that it was going to get in some games in PGKingsthe next while, the BCHL revealed that “multiple members” of the Prince George Spruce Kings have tested positive. . . . “At this point,” the BCHL news release reads, “the affected team members and all close contacts have been placed in a 14-day quarantine and anyone showing symptoms will be tested as soon as possible.” . . . The BCHL closed off with: “For the privacy of the people affected, we will have no further comment at this time.” . . . Brendan Pawliw of myprincegeorgenow.com reported that “several members” of the team had tested positive and that “all other billet families, team personnel and staff have been instructed to self-monitor for symptoms and to arrange for a test if symptoms arise.” . . . Pawliw also reported that “general manager Mike Hawes told MyPGNow.com he will not be commenting further on the issue.” . . . The Prince George Citizen reported that “general manager Mike Hawes has been told by the league not to reveal any other information.” . . . You may recall that Andrew Milne, the general manager and head coach of the Canmore Eagles, was hit with a 15-game suspension and fined $1,000 for talking to the media in December after his team was hit by an outbreak.



The Calgary Hitmen have cleared the first hurdle and now are OK to begin on-ice workouts. The Hitmen didn’t get back any positives from 59 tests from Feb. 13 through Friday as they set up shop at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on Tsuut’ina National near Calgary. . . .

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, reported that Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said Friday that the WHL’s 65-page return-to-play proposal “has been received and (is) being reviewed by the provincial health office. We are working on the plan and we will be responding the plan soon.” The plan apparently was received on Feb. 2, although Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said earlier in the week that officials ““haven’t received an updated proposal in the last few weeks.”


Drinks


Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle writes some truth:

“Women’s tennis reached its contemporary pinnacle when Serena Williams met Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semifinals, and they played it like champions: quietly and with dignity, save those moments of exultation. Somehow, the WTA’s godawful noise machine grinds on with two of the top players, Simona Halep and Garbiñe Muguruza, right at the forefront. Every stroke brings a deafening shriek, as if there’s a gruesome crime in progress. As such, they leave no pleasant memories. They’re just passing through the sport.”


Frigate


The Port Moody Amateur Hockey Association has cancelled all team activities after learning of four positive tests among its membership. . . . According to a statement on the PMAHA website, it became aware of single positives on Feb. 4 and Feb. 9, and two on Feb. 10. . . . It acted on Feb. 10 to pause all activities. Before this, teams were allowed to practice under certain restrictions.



The eight-school Ivy League announced Friday that it won’t be holding any spring sports in 2021. The Ivy League Council of Presidents said the decision had been made “because of ongoing public health concerns related to COVID-19.”



If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Mars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So . . . what’s next?

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

McKay’s complete story is right here.

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


CamMoon

Who says you can’t go home again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Twins


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——

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

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

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

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


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Answers

B.C.’s top doc: I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year . . . Virus takes big bite out of Raiders . . . Things get worse in QMJHL


If it hasn’t been apparent before, it should be now.

The WHL, which has maintained that its teams can’t/won’t operate without whlbeing allowed to play before crowds of 50 per cent capacity, won’t be playing for a while in B.C., not unless something changes.

Brendan Pawliw, a reported with Vista Radio and mypgnow.com, spoke with Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, on Tuesday.

Here is what Dr. Henry said in regards to attendance at such events as hockey games:

“We have been in ongoing discussions with a number of professional and amateur sports leagues about how to do sports safely, and the challenge we are going to have particularly as we go into the next few months is that we’re not having large groups of people together.

“In B.C., the order around no more than 50 people still stands and I know that the WHL and the BCHL are very dependent on gate receipts to keep the league going. But it is just very dangerous during this pandemic to have people in that type of an environment, so I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year.

“I know that’s a difficult thing for these leagues and I know the government is looking at how we can support these leagues or postpone seasons until we have something like a vaccine, so it’s still ongoing . . . very concerning and challenging discussions.”

That entire interview is right here.


The Prince Albert Raiders, who won the WHL championship in 2018-19, held their annual general meeting on Wednesday night and announced they had lost Raiders50$331,895 in 2019-20, quite a difference from a year ago when they revealed a profit of $633,314.

The WHL has four community-owned teams that are required to hold AGMs and release their financial statements.

Late last month, the Swift Current Broncos announced a loss of $791,000 for the abbreviated 2019-20 season, while the Moose Jaw Warriors dropped $391,299.

I will do the math for you . . . the three Saskatchewan-based community-owned teams combined to lose $1,514,194.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes, the WHL’s fourth community-owned team, is to hold their AGM sometime in November.

Prior to their championship season, the Raiders had shown losses totalling $806,571 in four of five seasons; the exception being a profit of $3,892 in 2015-16.

When the 2019-20 season was halted, the Raiders were 36-18-10 and had clinched first place in the East Division. They had two home games remaining and may well have had a deep playoff run in their future. Their average attendance also was up 27 over the previous season, meaning the championship love affair in that city still was in full bloom.

The pandemic short-circuited any kind of playoff run, though, and the results of that were evident on Wednesday night.

In explaining the loss, Gord Broda, the Raiders’ president, mentioned a couple of things that were pandemic-related. The Memorial Cup, which was to have been played in Kelowna, was cancelled, taking with it a revenue-sharing plan that included WHL teams. With the season ending prematurely, Sportsnet didn’t have to fulfil the financial aspects of its contract with the CHL.

There also was the matter of a minimum wage-related class-action lawsuit that the CHL chose to settle for $30 million. The Raiders say they had to pay $166,667 as their share of the settlement. Interstingly, the Warriors, at their AGM, said their share of that settlement was $180,846. (BTW, that settlement, while agreed to by the parties involved, hasn’t yet been approved by the court.)

“If you take those things out of the equation,” Broda told Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald, “we would have had another season in the black.”

Punkari’s story is right here.

Trevor Redden also covered the meeting, for panow.com, and his story is right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The QMJHL appears to have lost another team at least until the end of October. The Drummondville Voltigeurs play out of a region that is being declared a red zone by the provincial government, which means suspending play until at least month’s end. . . . The Voltigeurs are expected to play two weekend games — tonight and Saturday against the visiting Val-d’Or Huskies — and then shut things down. . . . The same thing has happened to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Quebec Remparts. . . . Meanwhile, the Sherbrooke Phoenix has been hit by at least eight positive tests after playing a weekend doubleheader agains the Armada, which has had 18 positives. The Phoenix also has shut down operations indefinitely.

With officials in the Saskatchewan government having approved return-to-play guidelines the SJHL has the OK to begin exhibition games on Oct. 17 and start its regular season on Nov. 1. . . . The Regina Leader-Post has more on the province’s return to play right here.

The NFL’s Tennessee Titans reported two more positive tests on Thursday, bringing the total to 25, and there were reports that the NFL and NFLPA are looking into multiple instances of players taking part in unauthorized workouts. Once the positive tests started coming in, the team was ordered to shut down everything. Apparently, some players held workouts away from the team’s facility. . . . With the Titans’ facility still closed on Thursday, the NFL moved Sunday’s game with the visiting Buffalo Bills to Tuesday night. Of course, that is only if there aren’t more positives with the Titans. . . . The Bills were scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 15, but that game will go to Oct. 18, as long as the Buffalo-Tennessee game doesn’t get postponed again. . . .

Les Miles, the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks football team, has tested positive. Miles, 66, found out Thursday and is in self-isolation. . . . Kansas is next scheduled to play on Oct 17 when it visits West Virginia. . . .

The New England Small College Athletic Conference, which includes 11 NCAA Division III schools, has cancelled its winter season. The conference said the decision by NESCAC presidents was unanimous. . . . The schools involved are Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College. . . .

St. Francis Xavier University, which is located in Antigonish, N.S., “has suspended all varsity practices and training privileges for two weeks after some student-athletes attended a Saturday off-campus party that exceeded more than 50 people,” reports Glenn MacDonald of the Halifax Chronicle Herald. . . . Leo MacPherson, the school’s director of athletics and recreation, said “there were a number of athletes from a number of teams present . . . in numbers greater than allowed by the public health authority guidelines.” . . . The complete story is right here. . . .

NBC New York reported Thursday night that The Broadway League is to announce today that the theatres will remain closed through May 30, 2021. Broadway performances have been shut down since March 12.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.