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.

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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.

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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

Heponiemi leads Broncos to sweep . . . Swift Current takes 50/50, too . . . Johnston gets 300th victory . . . Dewar sparks Silvertips


MacBeth

D Stefan Ulmer (Spokane, 2007-10) has been assigned on loan by Lugano (Switzerland, NL A) to Ticino (Switzerland, NL B). The length of the loan wasn’t announced. He had three assists in 13 games with Lugano this season.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Chris Dilks (@Chris Dilks), who closely follows U.S. college hockey, tweeted Saturday afternoon that “on the NTDP line chart . . . Erik Middendorf is no longer showing a commitment to Denver.” . . . Middendorf, a 17-year-old forward, is from Scottsdale, Ariz. The Moose Jaw Warriors selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . Middendorf, who is in the U.S. National Team Development Program, committed to the U of Denver on Sept. 20, 2016. . . . He is a nephew to former NHL F Max Middendorf.


The Los Angeles Ramblers played in the Western International Hockey League in 1946-47, flying to road games in Trail, Nelson, Kimberley and Spokane. Greg Nesteroff has more on the Ramblers right here, and if you care at all about hockey history you don’t want to miss this story.


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Regina, F Aleksi Heponiemi had a goal and two assists to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 4-1 victory over the Pats. . . . Swift Current (35-12-4) had won two in a row. It SCBroncosis second in the overall standings, seven points behind Moose Jaw. The Broncos are 4-0-0 in the season series with the Pats, including a 3-1 victory on home ice on Saturday afternoon. . . . Regina (25-22-5) has lost two in a row. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . The Broncos scored the game’s first three goals. . . . F Beck Malenstyn (5) and F Matteo Gennaro (31), who were acquired in a pre-Christmas deal with Calgary, got the first two. Malenstyn scored at 18:45 of the first period. Gennaro counted at 9:00 of the second. . . . Heponiemi (24) added a PP goal at 5:31 of the third. . . . D Cale Fleury (9) got Regina’s goal at 16:02 of the third. . . . Broncos F Glenn Gawdin (40) closed out the scoring, on a PP, at 16:02. . . . Gennaro also had an assist. . . . Heponiemi now has 93 points, three shy of F Brayden Burke of Moose Jaw, who leads the scoring derby. . . . Swift Current was 2-4 on the PP; Regina was 0-3. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 41 shots for Swift Current, while G Ryan Kubic turned aside 31 at the other end. . . . Swift Current scratched F Kaden Elder, F Kole Gable and D Sahvan Khaira. . . . To complete Swift Current’s grand weekend, Jamie LeBlanc’s wife won the 50/50 draw. He is the Broncos’ athletic trainer. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484.


At Red Deer, F Jordy Bellerive tied the game in the third period and won it in OT as the LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes beat the Rebels, 2-1. . . . Lethbridge (23-21-6) had lost its previous four games (0-2-2). The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, six points behind Medicine Hat and three in front of Kootenay. . . . Red Deer (12-25-12) had won its previous two games. . . . F Reese Johnson (17) put the home side ahead 1-0, while shorthanded, at 10:16 of the second period. . . . Bellerive tied it at 9:42 of the third period and won it with his 33rd goal of the season at 2:57 of OT. . . . Each team was 0-5 on the PP. . . . G Logan Flodell earned the victory with 22 saves. . . . Red Deer G Ethan Anders stopped 42 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 4,382.


At Everett, F Connor Dewar scored the game’s last two goals as the Silvertips beat the Spokane Chiefs, 6-5, in overtime. . . . Everett (32-16-3) has points in 10 straight games (9-0-Everett1). The Silvertips lead the Western Conference by one point over Kelowna. . . . The Silvertips were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours, having split with Seattle, winning 3-1 at home and losing 3-2 in a shootout on the road. . . . Spokane (26-19-5) has points in six straight (4-0-2). It is tied with Tri-City for the Western Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . The Chiefs scored two goals early in the third period — F Kailer Yamamoto (9), on a PP, at 2:16, and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (27), at 4:38 — to take a 5-3 lead. . . . Everett got to within a goal when D Wyatte Wylie (5) scored at 5:08. . . . Dewar tied it at 19:36, then won it with his 27th goal at 1:10 of OT. Wylie had the primary assist on the winner for a three-point evening. . . . Dewar enjoyed a five-goal weekend. . . . F Jake McGrew had given Spokane a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:15 of the first period. . . . F Matt Fonteyne (30) pulled Everett event at 15:07. . . . F Luke Toporowski (4) put the Chiefs back out front at 17:22. . . . F Spencer Gerth scored for Everett at 2:52 of the second period, but Anderson-Dolan put the Chiefs back out front at 5:58. . . . Wylie, on a PP, tied it at 10:30. . . . The Silvertips got two assists from F Patrick Bajkov, who now has 262 career points, tying F Zach Hamill (2003-08) for the franchise record. . . . F Garrett Pilon also had two assists for Everett, with Dewar adding one. . . . Yamamoto also had three assists, with Ty Smith getting two, and Anderson-Dolan one. . . . Spokane was 2-3 on the PP; Everett was 1-3. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 37 shots for the Silvertips. . . . The Chiefs got 42 saves from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . Announced attendance: 4,187.


At Portland, Mike Johnston got his 300th regular-season coaching victory as the Winterhawks beat the Kamloops Blazers, 4-2. . . . Johnston is the 23rd coach in WHL Portlandhistory to get 300 victories. . . . Portland (29-17-4) had lost two games — 5-2 and 3-1 — in Kamloops earlier in the weekend. It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind Everett. . . . Kamloops (23-24-3) had won its previous five games. It is eight points away from a playoff spot. . . . The teams played in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday nights. They left for Portland immediately after Saturday’s game. . . . Last night, the Winterhawks had a 3-0 lead early in the third period on goals from D Henri Jokiharju (8), on a PP, at 4:46 of the second; F Jake Gricius (12), on a PP, at 14:32; and D Keoni Texeira (7), at 3:28 of the third. . . . Portland lost F Joachim Blichfeld to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 4:12 of the third period. That was for a hit on Kamloops D Nolan Kneen, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . The Blazers scored twice on the ensuing power play, with F Luc Smith (15) and F Quinn Benjafield (18) getting the goals. . . . Portland iced it when F Mason Mannek (8) got the empty-netter at 19:43. . . . Blichfeld, Gricius, Texeira and Jokiharju each added an assist. . . . Kamloops was 2-3 on the PP; Portland was 2-4. . . . G Cole Kehler earned the victory with 33 saves, five more than Max Palaga of the Blazers. . . . Portland again was without F Kieffer Bellows and F Cody Glass. . . . D Matthew Quigley of the Winterhawks completed a two-game suspension from a Friday night hit on F/D Tylor Ludwar of the Blazers. Ludwar was injured on the play and now has missed two games. . . . Announced attendance: 7,818.


At Kennewick, Wash., F Riley Sawchuk scored twice to help the Tri-City Americans to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Tri-City (25-16-7) has points in five straight TriCity30games (3-0-2). The Americans and Spokane are tied for fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Seattle. . . . Seattle (26-18-6) was playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours, having split a home-and-home series with Everett. The Thunderbirds are third in the U.S. Division, four points behind Portland. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead on F Matthew Wedman’s 11th goal at 3:43 of the second period. . . . The Americans scored three times in the third period. . . . Sawchuk tied the score at 7:16, and F Morgan Geekie (17) gave the home side the lead, on a PP, at 12:50. . . . Sawchuk (8) added an empty-netter at 18:51. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (23) got Seattle to within a goal at 19:32. . . . Tri-City was 1-5 on the PP; Seattle was 0-4. . . . G Patrick Tea stopped 29 shots for the Americans. . . . G Dorrin Luding turned aside 32 at the other end. . . . Announced attendance: 2,848.


At Victoria, the Royals erased a 1-0 deficit with four goals en route to a 7-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Victoria (30-17-4) has won three in a row, including a 4-1 victory VictoriaRoyalsover Calgary on Saturday night. . . . Calgary (15-28-6) is 0-2-0 on a seven-game road trip. . . . F Luke Coleman (11) scored while shorthanded to give the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 3:38 of the first period. . . . Victoria F Noah Gregor (17) tied it at 16:57, then drew the primary assist one minute later as D Kade Jensen (3) broke the tie. . . . F Lane Zablocki (12) made it 3-1 at 2:30 of the second period with his first goal since being acquired from Lethbridge. . . . The Royals went ahead 4-1 at 6:14 when F Tyler Soy (23) scored on a PP. . . . Calgary got to within two goals, at 10:46, when F Tristen Nielsen (9) scored. . . . The Royals put it away with the next three goals — from F Braydon Buziak (4), F Andrei Grishakov (16) and F Dante Hannoun (21). . . . F Jakob Stukel (23) had Calgary’s third goal. . . . Soy, Hannoun and Zablocki had an assist each for the winners. . . . Coleman also had an assist for Calgary. . . . Victoria was 2-8 on the PP; Calgary was 0-3. . . . Victoria G Dean McNabb stopped 28 shots. . . . Calgary starter Nick Schneider stopped 15 of 19 shots in 26:14. Matthew Armitage finished up with 18 saves on 21 shots in 33:45. . . . Announced attendance: 5,785.


MONDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


TUESDAY (all times local):

Red Deer at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY