WHL not playing games, but some players are . . . Two football bowl games gone . . . Hobbs decides to go back home

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, addressed some media folks in a virtual whlgathering on Oct. 15. When the topic of WHL players moving to junior A during the shutdown arose, Trevor Redden of panow.com reported via Twitter that Robison said that if they were affiliated last (season), they’re eligible to play now, and that general managers were to discuss the subject this week.

That meeting apparently took place at some point this week, because the WHL issued a statement late Friday afternoon, stating that it “has granted temporary transfers for WHL roster players to continue their development by playing competitive hockey at the junior A, junior B and under-18 levels . . . through mid-December.”

That something had happened became apparent on Thursday night when the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers announced that they had signed Everett D Gianni Fairbrother, 20.

Then, on Friday morning, the Estevan Bruins revealed there was an agreement between the SJHL and WHL that will allow major junior players to play in the junior A league until Dec. 20. The Bruins did that as they announced the signing of F Cole Fonstad of the Everett Silvertips. Fonstad, 20, is from Estevan.

Everett also has loaned D Dylan Anderson, 18, to the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals, F Jackson Berezowski, 18, to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, and F Ethan Regnier, 20, to the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs.

A news release from the Silvertips indicated that players are allowed “full participation in . . . practices, workout activities and games, until a loan expiration of Dec. 20. . . .”

The WHL has said it will start its next regular season on Jan. 8, with players reporting to teams shortly after Christmas.

According to Ryan Flaherty of Global Saskatoon, Blades D Rhett Rhinehart, who turns 19 next month, is with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. Flaherty added that G Nolan Maier, 19, “will likely play for Yorkton, although that has not been confirmed yet.”

As well, Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported F Evan Herman, 18, of the Winnipeg Ice has joined the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, while Connor Roulette, 17, of the Seattle Thunderbirds is with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers.

Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate tweeted that Rebels F Jaxsen Wiebe, 18, is to play for the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks.

The Tri-City Americans have loaned F Parker Bell to the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Bell, 17, is from Campbell River.

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have run out of goaltenders — three of them are injured — so have added veteran goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius, both 19, from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets at least for this weekend.

——

Questions . . . yes, there are questions about the WHL’s agreement with junior A and junior B leagues about the loaning of players.

For starters, what happens to the transferred players if a WHL regular season doesn’t get started?

Also, some of these leagues have moved to a pay-for-play model. So who is paying for the WHL players to play in these other leagues?

Braden Malsbury, the radio voice of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves via MBC Radio, also has some thoughts in the following tweets:



Grandma


Hartley Miller, the GOAT at 94.3 The GOAT and the analyst on broadcasts of Prince George Cougars home games, offered up this today:

“Leagues like the BCHL and WHL insist they will play a season even if fans are not allowed to their games.
“The financial commitment from those owners should be applauded, but the question remains how safe is it to play?

“There does not appear to be a clear answer but regardless of whether it is a top-notch junior player or one competing at the rec level, the athlete needs to fully understand there is a health risk, even though we remain in the dark how much risk that is.”

That is from his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack, headlined ‘The risk of competition.’ . . . It’s all right here. . . . And if you aren’t a daily reader, you should be.


Nessman


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Among the many thousands who just don’t get the mask thing, there appear to be three options: (1) Wear it under the nose. Perfected by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. Gives those droplets a fighting chance. (2) Down around the chin. Extremely fashionable. Shows you might have cared at daybreak. (3) None at all. Because, you know, what the hell, it’s a hassle.” . . .

The Founders League, which comprises 11 prep schools, announced Friday that it has cancelled all interscholastic competition for the 2020-21 season. It includes 10 Connecticut schools and one from eastern New York. . . .

The KHL has postponed Jokerit’s next two games, which were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, after four positive tests within the organization. Jokerit underwent testing after returning from its latest road trip. . . . Jokerit also had games postponed early in September because of positive tests. . . .

Two of U.S. college football’s bowl games are gone, at least for 2020. The Holiday Bowl was to have been held in San Diego, while the Fenway Bowl, which was to have been played for the first time, was scheduled for, yes, Fenway Park in Boston. . . .

Scotty Walden, the interim head coach at Southern Miss, tested positive earlier this week. He has been the head coach since Jay Hopson left after the season’s first game. . . . The Golden Eagles, who haven’t played since Oct. 3, are scheduled to play Liberty today (Saturday). Their game on Oct. 17 against UTEP wasn’t played because they were going through an outbreak. . . .

The U of Toledo has put its men’s basketball team on hold for two weeks because six players and head coach Tod Kowalczyk tested positive. . . . Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams also have been shut down for two weeks after each experienced one positive test.


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.



JUST NOTES: Some European teams are using the four-team Karjala Cup as a tuneup for the 2021 World Junior Championship that opens in an Edmonton bubble on Dec. 25. Former NHLer Igor Larionov is coaching the Russian team, with Valeri Bragin, normally the team’s head coach, having recently recovered from COVID-19. Also in the Karjala Cup are teams from Czech Republic and Sweden. The tournament, in Helsinki, runs from Nov. 5-8. . . . Former WHL D Connor Hobbs (Medicine Hat, Regina, 2013-17) has retired from pro hockey after playing three seasons with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Hobbs is back at home in Saskatoon and taking online courses as the U of Saskatchewan. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that story right here.


Leg

WHL moves goal posts to Jan. 8 . . . QMJHL shuts down two divisions . . . NCHL (not CHL) cancels its season

On a day when the QMJHL shut down some teams until at least Oct. 28, the WHL announced that it has moved its proposed regular-season starting date from whlDec. 4 to Jan. 8. . . . The WHL, which normally begins its regular season in late September, first said it would open on Oct. 2. It later changed that to Dec. 4. . . . If it is able to open on Jan. 8, the league’s 22 teams will play entirely within their divisions, although the Swift Current Broncos will move from the Central Division to the East Division to play with the four other Saskatchewan teams and two from Manitoba. . . . Players will be expected to report to their teams after Christmas for brief training camps. . . . The WHL also has added Dr. Dhiren Naidu, the NHL-Edmonton Oilers’ head team physician, as chief medical advisor. An associate professor at the U of Alberta, Dr. Naidu worked with the NHL during its time in the Edmonton bubble. His role with the WHL will be “to assist with the implementation of comprehensive health and safety protocols.” . . .

The pandemic has been ongoing for more than seven months now, and it is apparent that it is far from being over. That being said, the WHL has a lot of work ahead of it between now and Jan. 8. Here are a few things that have yet to be addressed publicly:

1. The WHL’s news release didn’t mention length of schedule;

2. It didn’t touch on how it will get Canadian players to the five U.S. Division teams with the U.S.-Canada border closed and not likely to be open by then. Although, as I understand it, Canadians are allowed to fly into the U.S., while non-essential travel across the border via vehicle isn’t allowed;

3. The Saskatchewan government has told curlers that they aren’t allowed to leave the province for competitions, nor will out-of-province competitors be allowed in. Presumably the WHL will have to deal with that regulation in some way;

4. Steve Ewen, who covers the Vancouver Giants for Postmedia, pointed out via Twitter: “There are five B.C. teams and viaSport rules have stated that you can play in cohorts of four. Be interesting to see if the WHL gained an exemption regarding that or what their plan is. Cohorts can be changed with a two-week break.” . . . Ewen later tweeted that he asked the WHL how it will deal with B.C.’s cohort regulations, and received this response: “We are continuing to work on those details and remain in conversation with the B.C. government. At this time, it has not been determined what cohorts will look like for the WHL in B.C.”

5. The WHL’s news release didn’t mention anything about testing or contact tracing;

6. The WHL has been adamant for months now that it can’t play unless it has the OK for its team to open up their facilities to at least 50 per cent of capacity. The last sentence of Wednesday’s seven-paragraph news release might indicate that the WHL no longer is prepared to die on that hill: “A final determination has not yet been made as to whether spectators will be permitted to attend WHL games as this will be subject to the approval of the Health Authorities in each jurisdiction.” . . . Could it be that the WHL is prepared to play in empty buildings?

7. Is the WHL attempting to get financial aid from any levels of federal, provincial or state governments?

Questions, questions, questions . . . some of which may not have answers.

One thing is for certain, though: The WHL will play when ’Rona says it will play, which is what the QMJHL is learning these days.

——


Meanwhile, the QMJHL has shut down its two Quebec-based divisions until at qmjhlnewleast Oct. 28. The six-team Maritime Division will continue to play, but with five teams because the Moncton Wildcats, who are in a government-declared orange zone, are limited to practising. . . . Six of the 12 Quebec-based teams are in red zone and have been shut down by government restrictions until month’s end. Two of the Quebec teams — the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the Sherbrooke Phoenix — had a combined 26 positive tests. . . . The QMJHL, which has had its teams playing strictly within their divisions, said it will reassess its situation in two weeks. . . . Mikaël Lalancette of TVA Sports wrote: “Behind the scenes, I have already been told that it would be astonishing to see the circuit activities resume in 14 days.”


When last heard from, the OHL said it was planning on opening its regular ohlseason on Dec. 1. However, that announcement was made on Aug. 5. . . . Since then, of course, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, has said that the OHL will have to get rid of body-checking and fighting if it is to return to play. She said: “It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19. That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.” . . . I think it’s safe to say that negotiations are ongoing.


Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle touched on some truths about the virus in a Wednesday column, beginning with a reference to the NBA’s bubble success . . .

“As success stories go, this one was downright dangerous, offering hope in a pandemic when reality suggests nothing of the sort. It is now quite clear that nothing short of a carefully supervised bubble, free of positive tests for the coronavirus, is going to work in any sport in which athletes compete at close range.

“You’d think the football-crazed folks would get the picture, but instead we’re seeing all sorts of craziness in the NFL, the college game and surely throughout youth sports across the country. As they barge ahead through virus outbreaks, camp shutdowns, postponements and cancellations, they seem to treat positive tests as a minor inconvenience — a veritable sacrifice to the football gods. Fans are streaming back into many Power 5 conference stadiums, including the disturbing sight of some 24,000 people at Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma game, sitting extremely close together and, in many cases, wearing masks only around their necks.”

That complete column is right here.


Mozart


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

BC Hockey has cancelled all of its provincial minor hockey championships for 2021. Under normal circumstances, BC Hockey would sanction 16 provincial championship tournaments in U-13, U-15, U-18 and U-21 age groups. . . . The pandemic also had resulted in the cancellation of 2020 championships last spring. . . . From a BC Hockey news release: “BC Hockey is making the proactive decision at this time to allow all Districts and leagues the flexibility needed to facilitate programming that best fits into the viaSport provincial guidelines regarding sport participation focusing on the safety and well-being of participants.” . . .

The North Central Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. The Senior AA league features teams in the Alberta communities of Blackfalds, Bonnyville, Daysland, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Lacombe, Morinville, Red Deer and Westlock. . . .

The NFL has cancelled the Pro Bowl that was to have been played in Las Vegas on Jan. 31. The league hopes to replace it with a virtual program, the details of which have yet to be detailed. . . . Cancelling the game also provides the NHL with a bit more scheduling space in case it needs to move regular-season games. . . .

Nick Saban, the head football coach at the U of Alabama, and Greg Byrne, the school’s athletic director, both have tested positive. . . . Upon getting his result, Saban, 68, said he “immediately left work and isolated at home.” . . . The No. 2 Crimson Tide is scheduled to play at home against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. . . . Alabama played at Mississippi last Saturday. Lane Kiffin, the Runnin’ Rebels’ head coach, said Wednesday that his team has had some positive tests. . . .

Earlier in the week, the SEC postponed two games — LSU at No. 10 Florida and Vanderbilt at Missouri. . . . Florida has had 21 players and two assistant coaches test positive, and has suspended team activities. . . . Vanderbilt also has been hit by an outbreak and wouldn’t have enough scholarship athletes available to play. . . . There now have been 29 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) games postponed. . . .

Members of Tornado Moscow Oblast, a Russian women’s hockey team, are in quarantine and six games have been postponed because of positive tests. . . .

Skate Canada International, part of figure skating’s Grand Prix circuit, has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Oct. 30-31 in Ottawa and was to have taken place without fans. Organizers made the decision citing rising COVID-19 cases in Ontario. . . .

George Birger, a former athletic director at Brandon University, died on Saturday in Arizona. He was 91 and had tested positive. . . . The Brandon Sun has a thorough look back at Birger’s career right here.


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.


Time

SJHL-Melfort player tests positive . . . PJHL looking to mid-October start . . . Winterhawks eliminate position

The coronavirus has found the SJHL. On Friday, a tweet from the league revealed that a player with the Melfort Mustangs “has tested positive for COVID-19.” . . . Rick Lang, Melfort’s mayor, told the Melfort Journal that to his knowledge “this is the first confirmed case in Melfort.” . . . According to the SJHL, “The player and the close contacts have been identified and contacted by the local public health office and have been advised to self-isolate. . . . There has been limited contact in the community.” . . . The last sentence in the statement read: “This is an advisory and there will be no further comments by any of the organizations at this time.” . . . The city shut down the Northern Lights Palace, the home of the Mustangs, for deep cleaning. It is to be reopened on Monday.


The 13-team junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League, which had said it hoped to begin regular-season play on Sept. 29, now says it is aiming for Oct. 15, although that could end up being moved to Nov. 1. . . . The PJHL’s teams, all of which are based on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, have completed training camps and named their rosters. However, Trevor Alto, the league’s commissioner, noted in a release that “not all of our facilities are prepared to host game play by . . . Sept. 29. We had identified this as a possibility and our schedule was prepared to make the adjustment.” . . . The league is planning on a 36-game regular season, with teams playing in four cohorts of three or four teams. After the first 18 games, the league will take a break in December “to quarantine for the second half where the cohorts will be adjusted for the remainder of the season and playoffs.” . . . Teams are permitted to begin exhibition games immediately. If facilities and cohorts are ready, regular-season play would begin Oct. 15. Failing that, the season will begin by Nov. 1.


Sting


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Brady McCollough, writing in the Los Angeles Times about college football being back on TV:“It sends a message that times have returned to normal. Fans in Big Ten country are going to gather in groups to watch, let their guards down by putting away their masks, scream and hug in indoor spaces when something good happens, and the virus will receive new life all over the region. All so Ohio State can get its crack at the College Football Playoff.” . . .

Bruce Jenkins, the San Francisco Chronicle: “That’s quite a season they’re having at the University of Houston, by the way. The team’s entire September schedule — Washington State, Rice, Memphis, Baylor and North Texas — has been wiped out by postponements or cancellations.” . . .

The Kamloops Curling Club has cancelled its 2020-21 season, citing the pandemic and an inability to play host to large bonspiels or banquets. The Kamloops Crown of Curling, held annually since 1974, won’t be held this year. . . . The B.C. men’s and women’s curling championships are scheduled to be decided in Kamloops, from Jan. 26 through Feb. 1. A decision on whether those events, which are to be played at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, has yet to be made.


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.


Adam Purner was the manager of group events and video co-ordinator for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. He tweeted Friday afternoon that his position has been eliminated. . . . The Winterhawks have been in receivership since May 7, but have yet to be sold. Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, had said in June that he was optimistic there would be a new owner before the end of July. . . . “The receiver is now looking through and assessing the various inquiries that have been made. I can tell you that there has been very strong interest,” Robison said at the time. “The receivership is not a reflection of the state of the franchise. The franchise is in very, very good position. It’s one of our premier franchises in the Western Hockey League.”


The MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze has added Will Kinsman and Tyler Brown to its coaching staff. . . . Kinsman, who spent the previous six seasons as the head coach of the Vincent Massey Trojans of the Winnipeg High School League, will work as general manager/head coach Josh Green’s assistant. . . . Brown, who played four seasons in the WHL (Regina, Saskatoon, 2014-18), will be the expansion team’s goaltending coach.


Politics

Hockey world mourning death of Melfort defenceman . . . Rollins: From enforcer to entrepreneur and author . . . USHL loses two teams for season

DylanAshe
Dylan Ashe, 18, loved his 1984 Chevrolet truck. (Photo: Della Ashe/Facebook)

Dylan Ashe, a defenceman with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs, was killed in a one-vehicle accident on Saturday night. Ashe, 18, died when his immaculately restored 1984 Chevrolet pickup left the road and rolled on Highway 37 near White Fox, Sask. . . . A native of Warman, Sask., he helped the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans to a bronze medal at the 2019 Telus Cup before joining the Mustangs as a 17-year-old. With Melfort, he had two goals and four assists in 46 games. . . . Ashe wasn’t selected in the WHL draft, but signed with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in April 2019 and was in their training camp prior to the 2019-20 season. . . . His mother, Della, wrote on Facebook: “This is the hardest and most heartbreaking post I have ever had to make. Dylan was driving back to the lake (Saturday) night and rolled the car. He didn’t make it out of the accident alive. I can honestly say I’m numb, and my heart literally feels broken. He was the most easy-going, fun-loving, and never in a rush for anything type of guy. He loved his family and truck. Oh that truck, boy did he work hard on it. My favourite thing was when he would come home and go directly to each of us and give us a big hug. He was making his last trip out to the lake and then heading home here for a couple days before taking off to Melfort for his second season with the Mustangs. He was looking forward to seeing all his hockey buddies. I am comforted knowing he was doing everything he loved to do, but unfortunately never fulfilled his dreams here, and now he will always be in my dreams. I can’t believe your life was so short. Please watch over us. I love you so, so, so much.” . . . Deanna Venn, an aunt of Dylan’s, has started a GoFundMe page that is right here.


If you’re an old-time hockey fan, you may remember Jerry Rollins as a tough guy who put up 338 penalty minutes with the WCHL’s Flin Flon Bombers in 1973-74 and another 473 in a 1974-75 season split between the Bombers (72) and Winnipeg Clubs (401). . . . These days, according to a news release that found its way into my inbox, Rollins is the “co-founder and chairman of the Sage Executive Group, a Southern California-based peer advisory group that helps CEOs, founders and executives achieve all-around success by positively impacting their business, families and communities.” On top of that, his new book — Enforcer to Entrepreneur: Achieving Hockey Stick Growth in Life, Business and Sports — is scheduled for an Oct. 1 publishing date.



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “As Doris Burke moves to ESPN radio, she’ll become the first woman to call an entire conference finals and the NBA Finals for a national outlet. But she’ll be missed on television, especially in light of her superb work in Orlando. Gather up Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Reggie Miller, all the analysts working for ESPN and TNT; Burke is better than all of them.” . . . Jenkins isn’t wrong.


Just the other day the Atlanta Braves scored 29 runs in a game against the Miami Marlins. As Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, the Braves “violated every one of baseball’s 1,212 unwritten rules.”


Gilligan


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Mike Norvell, the head football coach of the Florida State Seminoles, tested positive and has gone into quarantine. The school’s athletic department made the announcement on Saturday. FSU wasn’t scheduled to play this weekend. . . . He is expected to miss his team’s game at Miami on Saturday. . . .

Florida Atlantic U was to have played Georgia Southern in a televised football game on ESPN on Saturday. However, FAU experienced an outbreak of positive tests involving players and on- and off-field staff so wasn’t able to play. . . . Other games cancelled or postponed this weekend for virus-related reasons included Baylor-Houston, Charlotte-North Carolina, BYU-Army, Florida Atlantic-Georgia Southern, and Arkansas State-Central Arkansas. . . .

The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that it would have a football season, after all. One day later, it was revealed that the U of Wisconsin Badgers football team had more than 40 positive tests among players and staff to that point. . . . ABC News reported: “On Thursday, UW-Madison reported 190 new positive COVID-19 tests among students and employees from on- and off-campus testing. As of Thursday morning, 400 students were in on-campus isolation, it said. There have been nearly 2,400 confirmed cases among UW-Madison students and employees since July 28, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County.” . . .

Jokerit, the KHL team that plays out of Helsinki, Finland, will be back on the ice for practice on Monday after health officials ended the club’s 14-day quarantine. Jokerit is scheduled to return to game action on Friday against visiting Sibir. . . .

The 2021 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed, after the 2020 Games were postponed in March. The 2021 Games had been scheduled for Halifax in July. Organizers have yet to announce a future date, but said they will be held in Halifax.


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.


Explosive


The USHL lost two teams on Friday when the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Madison Capitals suspended operations for 2020-21. . . . The RoughRiders opted out because of storm damage to their home arena, the ImOn Ice Arena, from an Aug. 10 storm. . . . The Capitols, according to a USHL news release, “face significant county restrictions related to COVID-19 that affect their ability to practice, play and host spectators.” . . . The USHL is left with 14 teams that plan to open their regular season on Nov. 6.


One group — 50 Below Sports + Entertainment — owns the Winnipeg Blues and the expansion Winnipeg Freeze in the 12-team MJHL. I don’t know what the rules dealing with player transactions will be but I am told that the Blues traded 10 players to the Freeze on Thursday. The deal included 16-year-old twin brothers Rylan and Ryder Ringor of Winnipeg, both of whom played at the Elite 15 team at Rink Hockey Academy last season. . . . There isn’t anything on either team’s website about the player moves.


The BCHL, which plans on opening its regular season on Dec. 1, has released an exhibition schedule that is to start on Sept. 25 and features more than 100 games. Teams will play within their four-team cohorts. Interestingly, the schedule doesn’t include the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, although there has yet to be an announcement on the team’s immediate future.


JohnWayne

Positive tests anything but positive news . . . Seem to be everywhere . . . Tough weekend for sports execs

If you’re a sports executive trying to get our league up and running, you aren’t enjoying this weekend.

The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning shut down their training facility after three players and two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

Then the NHL announced that 11 of its players had tested positive after somewhere around 200 had been tested. The Toronto Sun reported that one those players was Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The NHL said in a statement released via Twitter that while it will be providing a weekly testing update, it won’t “be providing information on the identity of the players or their clubs.”

Meanwhile, in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies closed their training facility in Clearwater, Fla., after confirming that five players and three staff members tested positive. All eight had been working there. At the same time, the Phillies said eight staff members had tested negative, while 12 staff members and 20 players were awaiting results.

The Toronto Blue Jays followed by closing their Dunedin, Fla., facility, which is near Clearwater. One Toronto player, who apparently had been in contact with some of the Phillies, was showing symptoms.

The San Francisco Giants also got into the act, shutting down their Scottsdale, Ariz., training facility after someone who had visited the complex and a family member showed mild symptoms.

The Giants wouldn’t reveal if the person was a player, but said they are awaiting results of tests on about 20 people.

The Houston Astros revealed that they one player tested positive at their facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

On Friday night, the NFL Network reported that a player from the San Francisco Giants had tested positive. The unnamed player had been working with teammates in Nashville. The other players have been tested and are awaiting results.

The PGA Tour got in on the act Friday when Nick Watney became the first player to test positive. He withdrew before the second round of the RBC Heritage Open at Hilton Head, S.C.

Watney, a five-time winner on the Tour, shot 74 in Thursday’s first round, showed some symptoms and was tested. He had been tested on site on Tuesday and that one came back negative.

And then there was Clemson U, where at least 28 athletes and staff, 23 of them believe to be football players, have tested positive. That was after 315 people were tested.

The U of Tennessee reported one male student-athlete, believed to be a basketball player, had tested positive, as well.

There are at least three positives in the MLS — two with Atlanta United and one with Inter Miami.

The LSU football team has at least 30 players in quarantine because they tested positive or have been in contact with those who did.


Mask

Meanwhile, in Yakima, Wash., the Herald reports right here that hospitals there “have exceeded staffing capacity, prompting Yakima Health District officials to urge residents to forgo gatherings during the Father’s Day weekend to minimize spread of COVID-19.” . . . Dr. Teresa Everson, health officer of the Yakima Health District, said in a statement: “This is the day we have been fighting to avoid for months, when our hospitals can no longer provide their highest level of care because they are overwhelmed caring for patients with severe COVID-19 infection.” . . . Oh boy, this is scary stuff.


Just don’t think there aren’t issues in B.C., too. . . .

After not having been in Kamloops’ largest mall, Aberdeen Mall, since sometime in February, Dorothy and I ventured there on Saturday afternoon. More than anything else, it was a fact-finding mission aimed at finding out how things are there. Perhaps we would be able to stroll some stores, too. You know, just for a change. . . . Wearing masks, we entered through a second-level door and were pleased to see arrows on the floor and other markings that indicated traffic was to move one way down the right side of the walkways and the other way on the left side. . . . It looked promising. Right? . . . Uhh, not for long. . . . As we moved into the mall, it became apparent that we had walked into a disaster. There were people of all ages walking every which way, with very few masks being worn. . . . Arrows? What arrows? Virus? What virus? . . . A few times, I pointed directly at someone walking the wrong way, and then said: “Arrows!” I got blank stares in return. . . . We didn’t go into even one store. We didn’t complete even one lap of the second level. . . . We got out of there in a hurry, and the mall has been taken off our “To Visit” list.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“As for MLB . . . it has to be troubling to watch huge sections of the country pretend the coronavirus doesn’t exist. Talk all you want about salaries, the number of games, the isolation from families, even commitment to Black Lives Matter: In all sports, most of them returning too soon, COVID-19 will be the ultimate decider.”

——

And then there was this from the Chronicle’s Scott Ostler:

“Florida.

“The NBA is about to bubble down in Florida.

“But why Florida? Apparently, there were no leper colonies available.”


A Friday note from Sean Shapiro, who covers the NHL’s Dallas Stars for The Athletic, involving an arena in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas:


Pothole


Ken Campbell of The Hockey News spoke with two former players from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. Both players vouched for the things Daniel Carcillo claimed happened to him as a rookie, all of them in a lawsuit filed Friday against the CHL and its 60 teams. Former Sting G Ryan Munce said he experienced similar abuse and, at one point, realized that he was suicidal. . . . Munce told Campbell he definitely will be joining the lawsuit, which also includes former WHLer Garrett Taylor, who alleges that he was abused in various ways while with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Campbell’s piece is right here and, yes, it’s a tough but necessary read.

If you are interested, the Statement of Claim can be found right here. But be forewarned that there are a lot of disturbing details in it.


It’s fair to say that the sport of rodeo has been devastated by the pandemic. Check out this list right here of North American rodeos that have been cancelled.


The 17-member Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) announced Friday that it has cancelled its fall 2020 sport season. . . . It hopes to begin badminton, basketball, curling, futsal, men’s and women’s hockey, indoor track and volleyball in January. As well, the fall sports of cross-country, golf and soccer will be rescheduled for the spring. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

On Saturday, the U of Alberta-Augustana, which plays in the ACAC out of Camrose, announced that it had withdrawn its men’s hockey, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball teams from competition for the 2020-21 season.

——

PACWEST followed suit on Friday by cancelling league competition in men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball, as well as golf, for the rest of 2020. PACWEST includes seven B.C.-based schools. . . . There is a news release right here.


“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said mask wearing ‘has to be voluntary because the Constitution is not suspended just because there is a virus,’ ” writes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “So why, for starters, doesn’t DeSantis also suspend the state’s seat-belt laws and speed limits?”


Check out Slava Malamud’s Twitter feed for, well, let him tell the story . . .


Call

Scattershooting on a Sunday while waiting for the warmth of summer to arrive . . .

The Canadian sporting world is going to take a huge hit on Monday when U Sports and three conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — are expected to announce first-term cancellations of most sports, including national championships, because of the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

Taking Note has been told that the announcement will mean the cancellation of sports at the U Sports level, including football, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s volleyball, at least through the end of 2020.

U Sports held its 43rd annual meeting — this one on a virtual basis — on Wednesday and Thursday.

On May 13, Canada West, with 17 members, had announced that it was preparing for an eventual return to play that would feature fewer games and less travel due to budgetary concerns. That return to play was based on health officials in the four western provinces providing the OK.

Obviously, U Sports and its conferences haven’t seen enough encouraging signs that would help them feel comfortable with running fall programs. They mustn’t feel that they will be able to provide their student-athletes with safe places in which to practise and play.

Yes, there are professional leagues that have returned to play and others that appear to be getting closer, but the financial resources available to those leagues, for things like regular testing, aren’t available for Canadian university athletic departments.

It will be interesting to see how various other organizations and leagues who are looking at trying to get seasons started in the fall will react to the U Sports news. Especially if U Sports cites the lack of a coronavirus vaccine as a reason for the decision made by it and its conferences.


On Thursday, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer, said that he doesn’t expect his province to open up to large gatherings until June 2021.

Yes, a lot can change between now and then, but that’s a year from now and that’s a chilling thought. 

At the moment, indoor gatherings in Saskatchewan are limited to 10 people, although that is scheduled to increase to 15 on Monday — and to 30 outdoors.

Saskatchewan is home to five WHL franchises and 12 teams in the junior A SJHL.



BamaInsider reported Thursday that five members of the U of Alabama Crimson Tide football team have tested positive for coronavirus. Players returned to campus earlier in the week. . . . As many as 50 players practised on their own on Wednesday and may end up in quarantine. . . . Alabama reported 746 new cases on Thursday, it’s highest single-day number. . . . Football players are returning to campuses planning on resuming activities on Monday. . . . The Oklahoma State Cowboys have had three players test positive, so freshmen players were told not to report. Senior linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga tested positive after attending a protest rally in Tulsa last weekend. One of college football’s top linebackers, he was born in Nigeria, moved to Houston with his family in 2003 and then to Calgary in 2011. . . Iowa State reported that four student-athletes from different sports have been quarantined as they await test results.



I took a couple of days away, just to coast and do some reading. I returned to find that Agent Orange had said: “Hopefully George (Floyd) is looking down right now and saying this a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Trump said. “There’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.” . . . Agent Orange was attempting to play up U.S. unemployment numbers that had shown some improvement — they later proved to be erroneous — but still were the worst since the end of the Second World War. . . . Unfortunately, George Floyd wasn’t available to comment.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times found this note on the Facebook page of Everett’s KRKO Radio: “I miss baseball so much that I made hot dogs for my family today and charged them $10 per hot dog.”

——

Perry, again: “Michael Jordan, after becoming president of the Wizards, traded Laron Profit in retaliation for Profit trash-talking Jordan in practice during their days as Washington teammates. In a related story, rumor has it that Jordan’s TV set still has rabbit ears.”



A couple of notes from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle relating to the NBA’s return:

Two weeks ago, Houston’s James Harden told CNBC he wanted to return “when the pandemic has calmed all the way to a minimum.” Good luck with that, as hot spots remain an issue and are completely unpredictable — in this country and around the world. In recent days, positive tests were revealed for three Oklahoma State football players, two Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, and 16 players on a single Brazilian soccer team (Vasco da Gama, a storied franchise in Rio de Janeiro).

Jenkins also wrote this:

Why Orlando, and specifically Disney World? It offers a wide variety of hotels (just one will be selected), three arenas that reportedly can be configured into 20 basketball courts, and a convenient partnership; Disney owns ESPN, a crucial component of the NBA’s national-television package. There are many advantages, but consider that Florida hasn’t set the best example of how to manage a pandemic. On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health announced 1,317 new cases of the coronavirus, the state’s largest surge in six weeks.



JUST NOTES: If you’re wondering about that $20 bill, it’s still in my money clip. It now has been there for more than three months. . . . Saw the person in front of me in the DQ drive-thru paying with cash on Saturday and wondered what I was witnessing. . . . Just wondering, but did actor Lee Van Cleef ever get to play a good guy? . . . ICYMI, The Athletic laid off 46 people this week, including Ken Wiebe, a good guy who covered the Winnipeg Jets. . . . Boris Protsenko, who played three seasons (1995-98) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, has spent 13 seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. His contract is about up and won’t be renewed due to the Stars’ financial concerns in these pandemic times. From Kiev, Ukraine, Protsenko has worked for the Stars out of Calgary.


Former NHLer Igor Larionov is the new head coach of Russia’s national junior hockey team. He takes over from Valeri Bragin, who has been promoted and now is the head coach of the men’s national team. . . . Bragin coached Russia’s national junior team for eight years. His teams won seven medals during that time, including gold in 2011. . . . With the men’s team, he replaces Alexei Kudashov, who lasted just one season. . . . Larionov, 59, won four world championships, two Olympic golds and three Stanley Cups as a player. He was an assistant to Bragin at the 2020 World Junior Championship. . . . The 2021 WJC is scheduled to be held in Edmonton and Red Deer, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for today. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . This is your last chance to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Baseball’s 12-team West Coast League has cancelled its 2020 season with pandemic-related safety guidelines and travel restrictions still in place in Washington and Oregon. Earlier, five of the teams, including the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, had cancelled their seasons. . . . Two of the teams, the Portland Pickles and Wenatchee AppleSox, are planning to play some games  this season as independents. . . . The WCL is a wood-bat collegiate league. It already has set the opening date for its 2021 season as June 4 and will be welcoming a new franchise in Nanaimo.


The NBA’s return-to-play plan, in brief: The season resumes on July 31. The last possible day of playoff action would be Oct. 21. Training camps for the 2020-21 season would open on Nov. 10. The new season would begin on Dec. 1.


NHL one step closer to return . . . Canada out of junior Summer Showcase . . . Fragle hoping to rock in Trail

There still are a number of hurdles to get over but the NHLPA has given the OK for its executive to keep on talking to the NHL about a return to play. So if things continue to progress, hockey fans may yet get to watch 24 teams take part in some kind of a Stanley Cup tournament with games played in a number of hub cities. . . . Keeping in mind that there still negotiations to be held, Carol Schram, a senior contributor for Forbes, has more right here.

——

Here’s one more thing for NHL players to think about as they prepare for a potential return to the ice. . . . Dr. Andrew Morris, who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has told TSN’s Rick Westhead that players need to make sure their long-term health is looked after should they happen to end up becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during a return to play. . . . Dr. Morris said: “Young athletes do not think about this stuff because they think they are invincible, but every so often we see young, healthy people get very bad diseases, and this is no different. It would be unusual for a healthy young athlete to get really sick with COVID and wind up in the ICU, but, hey, somebody wins the lottery, right? . . . They should want their health care and income insured, seeing that they are taking an additional risk, especially if residing in the U.S.” . . . As the medical community learns more and more about the impact of this virus, it is finding survivors who have been left with heart, kidney, liver and lung damage. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.



And what of the NBA and its efforts to get its season back on track? It is look as though it will re-open with all of its teams playing out of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance. . . . As Rohan Nadkarni of si.com points out in this piece right here, it really is all about the Benjamins.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA and a return to play:

“In the wonderful world of asterisks, we’re already talking Extra Large for whichever team wins the title. If you’re trying to play through a pandemic in neutral settings with nobody in the stands, you connect with nothing in Finals history. Don’t ruin this risky venture by welcoming the absurd.

“Those 16 teams worked hard to establish playoff position. Nobody else has the right to qualify after such a maddening layoff. The Warriors have long disappeared from view, but the same goes for Portland, New Orleans or any other team trying to sneak into this science-fiction film. They all had their chance.

“And for heaven’s sake, forget the idea (actually discussed) of a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine the final playoff slots in each conference. Could it be more boring, especially during times of urgency? ‘Hey, come see the teams that don’t deserve this.’ ”



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


BillPosters


USA Hockey is planning to play host to the World Junior Summer Showcase later this USAhockeysummer but Canada won’t be taking part. Teams from the U.S., Finland and Sweden will participate in the event that is to run from July 24 through Aug. 1 at Plymouth, Mich. . . . “We’ve heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we’re checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations who also is the GM of the U.S. national junior team. “Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There’s also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it’s going to be lifted sometime in June, so we’re just staying on top of everything from what’s going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That’s how we’re going to go. We’re not going to change anything.”



Hockey Canada announced on March 13 that it had cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice. . . . Earlier this week, Hockey Canada issued “An Open Letter to Canadians” that was signed by Michael Brind’Amour, the chairman of the board of directors, CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO. . . . Included in that letter was this paragraph:

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the game will determine when we return, not our desire to get back on the ice. When our country is ready, Hockey Canada will be ready. Until then, continue to follow the guidelines set by your provincial and territorial government to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Only by working together will we be able to make a difference and safely return.”

That letter is right here.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956 put perhaps foresaw the future rather clearly: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. . . . All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”


Granted, it’s not going to happen until 2021, but a new hockey league — 3ICE — is on the way. Headed up by CEO E.J. Johnston and Commissioner Craig Patrick, 3ICE will feature eight teams playing 3-on-3 hockey over nine weekends, each one in a different city, during the summer of 2021. . . . Each team’s roster will comprise six skaters and one goalie. . . . The team’s head coaches are Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier. . . . E.J. Johnston is the son of Ed Johnston, one of the head coaches who is a former NHL goaltender, head coach and GM. . . . There’s more right here.


After watching all 10 episodes of The Last Dance, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “These questions will never be answered, but here goes: For Jordan, was there really a higher level of emotional fire that could be reached only by disrespect? Did that disrespect supercharge his physical skills, or was that higher level of fire a self-created myth to enhance his greatness?”


Tinfoil


Brian Wiebe, a veteran observer of the BCHL, has a solid piece right here on that league and how it and its teams are coping with the pandemic and all that has come with it.

——

Tim Fragle is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. TrailFrom Edmonton, Fragle has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. . . . While at NAIT, Fragle won three coach-of-the-year awards. . . . Fragile was the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for seven seasons (2009-16). . . . He played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Smoke Eaters, finish the last of those seasons with the Merritt Centennials. . . . While playing in Trail, he was teammates with Craig Clare, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., and is the Smokies’ director of hockey and business operations. . . . In Trail, Fragle takes over from Jeff Tambellini, who left in April to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as a pro scout and NCAA free-agent recruiter.


David Legwand, a co-owner of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, is moving from associate coach to be the team’s president of hockey operations. Legwand and Derian Hatcher, another former NHL player, purchased the Sting in 2015. . . . Legwand has been the associate coach for three seasons, with Hatcher as the head coach. Hatcher remains in the role, with Dylan Seca the general manager.


Darren Rovell of actionnetwork.com reports that a Mike Trout signed rookie card has sold at auction for US$900,000. It was from the Bowman Draft Chrome Prospect set. . . . That “obliterated the record for the highest-priced modern-day baseball card and tied the record for the most expensive modern-day card ever — the LeBron James/Michael Jordan logoman card, sold in February 2020,” Rovell wrote. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of Rovell’s story involved seven unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer NBA cards. These boxes weren’t at all popular when they debuted; in fact, boxes were returned by hobby stores for $6 refunds. At auction, Rovell wrote, they sold for “as much as $109,200 each.” . . . Rovell’s story is right here.


Border

BCHL commish sounds warning . . . City to take over Canalta Centre . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup on bubble?


DrKara
Allow me to introduce you to our granddaughter, Kara, who will turn four in July. . . . I don’t know what your grandchildren have been doing during this predicament in which we find ourselves, but Kara was in her lab on Tuesday, working to find a vaccine. . . . She isn’t funded by Bill Gates and doesn’t know 5G from Grade 5; she just has mankind’s best interests at heart. . . . She knows the experts say a vaccine is, at best, a year away, but she is working hard to squeeze that window. Judging by the top she is wearing, she is hoping to have success before Christmas. . . . Kara also says: Stay safe and have a great day!


Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that the junior A league “could lose teams” because of the pandemic. Ewen (@SteveEwen) tweeted that “many of those clubs rely heavily on the cash they bring in from spring camps and those camps have been cancelled.” . . . More from Ewen: “Hebb says the (BCHL) will approach the government looking for some sort of financial assistance. The league has gathered letters from the mayors of 18 cities that have teams . . . that state what the clubs mean to those regions.”


Another indication that the 2020-21 junior hockey season may be looking at a delayed start comes from the City of Medicine Hat. . . . The City announced Monday that “in Tigers Logo Officialresponse to the COVID-19 pandemic and the dynamic economic challenges ahead,” it will be taking over operations of the Canalta Centre from ASM Global, a venue management company, starting in August. . . . The news release announcing the change included this: “Current provincial and federal restrictions have limited the operational capabilities for the Canalta Centre venue, and the current outlook from Alberta Health and Canada Health authorities indicates that public restrictions can be expected for the remainder of 2020 in an effort to mitigate virus transmission.” . . . The 7,000-seat facility is home to the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Since opening in time for the 2015-16 season, the Tigers, according to figures compiled by the WHL, have averaged 4,248, 3,586, 3,295, 3,121 and, in 2019-20, 2,947 fans per game. . . . Brian Mastel, the City’s commissioner of public services, said: “Challenges related to market support and attendance were occurring prior to the COVID-19 crisis. When the current situation is considered in context of these broader challenges, it underscores the need to re-examine the operational and cost structure for future sustainability.” . . . You have to wonder what is in store for the start of the next hockey season if, as this news release indicates, all signs in Alberta point to “public restrictions” through the end of 2020. The WHL has five franchises based in Alberta.



One of the events on the bubble because of the pandemic would appear to be the 2020 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 3-8. . . . Bob Nicholson, the chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks a decision on the U-18 tournament will be made in the next 10 days. Teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland are scheduled to attend. . . . Nicholson also said that the NHL is “really determined to finalize this season,” adding that it could return to play in “July or August,” which would mean the 2020-21 season would begin in November. . . . Of course, having the NHL restart its season in July or August likely would mean the cancellation of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. “Everyone would like to see the Hlinka Gretzky tournament happen,” Nicholson said, “but, in fairness, I’d rather see the Edmonton Oilers be in the playoffs in the month of August.”


Bruce Jenkins, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The New York Times recently staged a panel discussion including Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised the Obama administration on health policy and the Affordable Care Act. His words were stark and foreboding.

“ ‘Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically, we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.’ ”

Jenkins’ column, which carries the headline California Gov. Newsom’s coronavirus plan has grim implications for sports in 2020, is right here.


——

According to Golf Digest, the PGA Tour is preparing to return to play with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, June 11-14. An announcement is expected this week and, no, fans won’t be allowed to attend the event. . . . The tournament had been scheduled for May 21-24. . . . The story also indicates that the RBC Canadian Open, scheduled for June 11-14, won’t be played. . . .

The Asian Football Confederation, which features 32 Asian Champions League teams, has shut down through the end of June. . . .

The Senior British Open golf tournament that was to scheduled for July 23-26 at Sunningdale has been postponed. Organizers are hoping to hold the tournament later in the year. . . .

The Tour de France that was to have started on June 27 in Nice has been postponed, although possible future dates weren’t announced. France has cancelled all large public gatherings through at least mid-July. . . . The Tour de France has been held every year since 1946 when it was cancelled due to the Second World War that had recently ended. . . .

The MLS, which was a couple of weeks into its season when it suspended play on March 12, had hoped to resume in mid-May, but now says that is “extremely unlikely.” It is following guidelines established by federal and public health officials. . . .

The Chinese Basketball Association, on hold since Jan. 24, had planned on resuming play on Wednesday (April 15). Now, however, it seems the CBA has been forced to delay a possible return until at least sometime in July. . . .

The Canadian U-15 and U-17 basketball championships, scheduled for Aug. 2-9, have been cancelled. The women were to have played in Charlottetown, the men in Kingston.


Here’s our man Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “And the thing about my jokes is, they don’t hurt anybody. You can take ’em or leave ’em — you can say they’re funny or they’re terrible or they’re good, or whatever, but you can just pass ’em by. But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it’s a law! And every time they make a law, it’s a joke!”


A few things I’ve learned while sitting out this pandemic: Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, apparently is paid somewhere around US$11 million per year. He and other baseball officials are said to be taking a 35 per cent cut in pay. I’m sure he will be able to survive on $7 million. . . . Everything that goes wrong in Canada, from the pothole at the base of your driveway to the divot that your golf ball landed in on the second fairway, is Justin Trudeau’s fault. . . . Nothing is more valuable these days than hand sanitizer. That fact was borne out on Saturday when fistfights broke out at Forbidden Spirits Distilling near Kelowna as folks arrived in vehicles hoping to score some free sanitizer. Rumour has it that Lorne Frey, the Kelowna Rockets’ super scout, was on hand looking for some muscle for next season. . . . Hockey continues to have a nickname problem. Koletrane Wilson, who played out his WHL career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, had one of the league’s best names, and his nickname is Willy. Seriously? . . . The United States of America has fallen a long, long way since this thing started and it is looking more and more like it can’t get up.


Trudeau: Today, we remember . . .


Michael McCann is the legal analyst for Sports Illustrated and writes regularly for SI’s website.

In his latest piece, he writes about the legal implications involved in a return to play by professional sports leagues.

It really isn’t as simple as bringing players back to a central location, holding some sort of training camp, and then playing games. Oh no! There’s a whole lot more to it than that in these bizarre times.

You can give him a read right here.

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And what if Major League Baseball ends up opening its season by having teams play in facilities without any fans.

Well, there is precedent from 2015 . . .

As Bruce Jenkins wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Kurkjian, the longtime baseball writer/analyst with ESPN, was in Baltimore when baseball got a taste of the no-fans experience. It was the spring of 2015 and the city was in chaos over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered severe spinal-cord damage while in police custody. Violent protests raged over the issues of race, justice and police brutality, and it was determined that if the April 29 game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox were to be played at Camden Yards, the public could not be allowed inside.

“Strangest day I’ve ever known in sports,” Kurkjian said in a telephone interview this week. “Chris Davis hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and you could hear the sound of it landing. He rounded the bases in total silence in his home ballpark. (Manager) Buck Showalter told me he could hear every word the TV guys (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer) were saying. And Buck didn’t need the bullpen phone. He just yelled down there, ‘Get (Zack) Britton up!’”

Kurkjian admitted it was “pretty cool, for that day. But if it happens several times in a week, it’s no longer a novelty. After that, I think we should all be pretty careful.”


Survival


While we don’t have any idea when professional golf will return, the British Open officially was cancelled on Monday. It had been scheduled for Royal St. George’s from July 16-19, and now is set for July 15-18, 2021. The 2022 Open Championship, the 150th, is to be played at St. Andrews. . . .

The Masters, which was to have been played this week, has been rescheduled for Nov. 12-15 at Augusta. . . . The U.S. Open is to be played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Aug. 6-9, with the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Sept. 17-20. . . .

If you’re wondering about the Canadian Open, it remains on the PGA schedule at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, June 11-14.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “I agree with my esteemed (and sometimes steamed) fellow columnist, Bruce Jenkins, that it will be weird if the NBA plays games without fans, because of the lack of crowd noise. But there would be two benefits. We’d get to hear the game — the squeaks, the growls, the talking, the swearing. And we would be spared the incessant PA sound effects during play, which add nothing to the experience for fans in the arena or watching on TV.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, brings us his Thought of the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Truth is might and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”

——

BTW, The Sports Curmudgeon was at his best in Monday’s rant, where he speculates about what we will see when we emerge from this tunnel.

He points out that even with all that we are missing — from March Madness to the NHL to the NBA and on and on — “the world goes on; and as time passes without the presence of these pleasant activities, people may very well come to a point where sports reside on a lower tier of their life-importance construct. If — I said IF — that comes to pass in a significant number of people, that may mean a much smaller demand for high priced tix and a much diminished willingness to approve spending large blocks of taxpayer money to build sporting venues. If interest diminishes, TV ratings would likely drop too and that will make ever-increasing TV rights deals a bad revenue projection for leagues and owners.”

He’s got more to say on the subject and it’s all right here.


Shower


Veteran junior coach Mike Vandekamp has left the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals to join the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm, signing a three-year deal as general manager and head coach. . . . Vandekamp spent two seasons as the Capitals’ GM and head coach. . . . Whenever the next season begins, it will be Vandekamp’s 26th as a junior hockey coach. . . . Vandekamp is returning to Grande Storm, where he coached the Storm for four seasons (2007-11), going 154-72-19 and winning the AJHL title in 2009. He has spent the past nine seasons in the BCHL. . . . In Grande Prairie, he takes over from Ryan Aasman, who stepped in as interim head coach on Dec. 17 after the firing of Matt Keillor.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if we need more bananas . . .

Scattershooting

Let me tell you a little about where we’re at in our household right now, and I have a feeling there are others in the same boat.

If you’re not aware, Dorothy and I are both considered at risk these days; she has a compromised immune system from a kidney transplant; I have heart disease.

So we are trying hard to limit exposure to other people, which is why we ordered groceries online for the first time a few days ago. She had the list; I was at the keyboard. Bananas were on her list.

I found them on the store menu. Hmm, how many did we want? The first option was 1. Well, I thought, when you’re in the store you see some singles, some pairs, three together, even four in a bunch. Yeah, four bananas will do for a while, I thought. So I clicked on 4.

When we got home after picking up the groceries a few days later, we discovered that 4 meant 4 bunches with about 10 bananas in each bunch.

So . . . Dorothy quickly drove over to a friend’s home and left half of the bananas outside her door. (Yes, she phoned first.)

I got up the next morning and looked out a window that overlooks our driveway. Hmm, I didn’t park our Tucson that way. I had backed in; now it was parked looking at me. What happened? I had a brief thought that someone had stolen it and brought it back. Hey, c’mon, these are bizarre times.

Finally, it struck me that Dorothy had driven it after I did. And heaven forbid that she would park the same way that I did. Right?

A couple of days later I was lolling in my recliner late in the afternoon when Dorothy asked: “Are you going to shower today after you didn’t yesterday?”

Upon further reflection, I couldn’t remember whether I had showered the previous day. Eventually, I gave up trying to remember. But I can say that I absolutely cannot remember the last time I went one day without showering.

And then when I awoke Saturday morning, I thought it was Friday. But not knowing what day it is . . . well, that is happening with more and more regularity.

Hey, welcome to our new normal and I don’t mean Normal, Ill.


Clown


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled for 2021 but will still be known as the 2020 Games, organizers say. ‘We couldn’t agree more,’ said 12 of the Big Ten’s 14 athletic directors.”

——

Perry, again: “Triple-double … Double-double … Solo-double? Former standout soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo announced she is pregnant with twins.”


ICYMI, Agent Orange met with sports leaders on Saturday and told them that he would like to see games being played in August and September. (Agent Orange? Saw that in a column by Ed Willes of Postmedia on Saturday.)

The conference call included folks from the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, WNBA, LPGA, PGA, IndyCar, Breeders’ Cup and yes, WWE and UFC. For whatever reason, there was no one included from, among others, the NCAA, NASCAR or the WHL.

It wasn’t long after word got out about the orange one wanting games in August and September that Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said: “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”

And that should take care of that.

Thank you, Governor.

——

There has been talk about the NBA perhaps taking teams into Las Vegas and playing some kind of neutral-site games.

Yeah, I’m sure NBA players are going to want to leave their families to go into self-isolation in Las Vegas and be tested and tested and tested just to play a few games. What if one of them tested positive? What then? And how on earth would the NBA be able to keep players in self-isolation without even one of them going rogue?

So let’s scratch that idea.

——

BTW, the logistics of pulling off even one NFL game under the circumstances in which we now live — and in which we still could be living in August and September — are mind-boggling.

It’s a big enough production under normal circumstances. Now throw in all that goes into testing more than 50,000 people, in one way or another, and it becomes all but impossible.

And what of the support staff? To give you some idea of how many people work a pro game, there are more than 1,300 workers at a New York Mets’ home game just to deal with food service.

And it only would take one person in the facility to test positive and, well, it would be: HERE WE GO AGAIN!

So let’s scratch that idea, too.


Crayons


No one knows when this is going to end, or what it’s going to look like at the other end.

But I would be curious to know how many schedules the WHL is going to prepare.

Under normal circumstances, the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season, with each team scheduled to play 68 games, would begin on or around Sept. 25. But if teams aren’t able to open training camps in late August, a bit more than four months away, and they start pushing things back, does the WHL also prepare a schedule that would open in late October and would have teams playing, say, 54 or 56 games? And on and on it would go . . . Keep in mind that the WHL has teams in two states and four provinces, each of which operates independently in these bizarre times.



Headline at TheOnion.com: Kawhi Leonard misses second consecutive family game night, citing load management.


Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “MLB has canceled its scheduled games in Mexico City, Puerto Rico and London, but hopes remain for the Aug. 13 game between the Yankees and White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa, where ‘Field of Dreams’ was filmed. The site adjoins a cornfield and has long been a tourist attraction; an 8,000-seat stadium was built for this and future MLB visits.”



The 12-team Western Canada Baseball League announced Sunday that it has “established a timeline that will guide our decisions this spring.” . . . For starters, the league will decide by May 2 if it will be able to get in a complete 2020 season. . . . “There are also provisions for shortened seasons that would start either on or about Father’s Day or on or about Canada Day,” a news release stated. “Similar dates exist for three or four weeks prior for these shortened seasons for logistics to be put in place.” . . . The league also announced that “governors have agreed that if by early June 2020 health and travel restrictions are still such that the league cannon confirm a start date that the season would be cancelled.” . . . The WCBL has teams in Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Melville, Moose Jaw, Okotoks, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton. . . .

——

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the PGA Championship will be held at that city’s Harding Park course from Aug. 6-9. It had been scheduled to run from May 14-17 at Harding Park. . . . Of course, keep in mind that California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate seeing pro football in his state in August or September. . . .

Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey died late Saturday in a New Orleans care home. His daughter, Ashley, said he had tested positive for the coronavirus a week previous. . . . He was 73. Dempsey was born without toes on his kicking foot and held the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yards) for 43 years. . . . He had been in assisted living for a number of years as he dealt with dementia. . . .

Aleksandar Prijovic, a Serbian soccer player, was given three months of home detention for violating a curfew that is in place because of COVID-19. He an 19 others were arrested in a hotel lobby bar in Belgrade on Friday. . . . Meanwhile, Kyle Walker, a defender with Manchester City, is in trouble after breaking lockdown conditions in England. He has apologized after holding a party involving two sex workers at this home.


Dinosaur


Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, via Will Rogers: “If stupidity got us in this mess, how come it can’t get us out?”


A few thoughts from Patti Dawn Swansson: “Most of us follow our personal doctors’ advice. I mean, if told to take two aspirin and call ol’ sawbones in the morning, I take two aspirin and make that call. Yet when the finest medical minds in our country advise us what to do (stay the frig home) during the COVID-19 crisis, they are ignored by many among the rabble. I find that to be a most curious bit of business. Even more curious: Why would it take a celebrity athlete, singer or movie star doing a PSA to convince some that the safest place to be right now is behind our own closed doors? Seriously, you’ll listen to, say, Connor McDavid instead of Dr. Theresa Tam? The mind boggles.”

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