The strain of loving a critically ill child . . . Bedard scores twice in WHL debut, but Pats lose . . . BCHL prepping to play games

Ferris2
That’s Elmo from Sesame Street keeping Ferris company in her hospital bed in Vancouver. Ferris’s mother, Lindsey, says her daughter often crosses her legs in this fashion. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

If you’re a parent with a young child, you will have known the helpless feeling that takes over when your youngster is ill. Still, you know that the illness will be gone in a day or two and your child will be back to running and playing and generally creating havoc.

But what if your child was four years of age and had been ill, seriously ill, for most of that time? What does that do to your emotional state and to that of others in your family? What about your family’s financial status when there have been numerous trips to Vancouver, along with a number of lengthy stays?

That is the situation in which Lindsey and Pat Backmeyer find themselves. Ferris, their four-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino Syndrome shortly after birth and has been on dialysis — peritoneal dialysis (PD) or hemo-dialysis — for most of her life. She now is in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after having undergone a kidney transplant a week ago. Unfortunately, the kidney began bleeding into Ferris’s abdomen and had to be removed a few hours later.

Ferris was moved from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on Thursday but still has a long road ahead of her.

Lindsey is a respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and hasn’t been shy about telling Ferris’s story, even if it means baring her own soul. It’s hard to read Lindsey’s writings without your gut tightening, your heart breaking and your eyes tearing up.

“We have felt an overwhelming cocoon of support by my work family . . since the beginning,” Lindsey wrote earlier this week after Alexa McMillan, a co-worker, issued a plea for financial help to the Kamloops business community. “They protect me, provide for me and my family and have provided endless emotional support.”

As someone who works in the healthcare field, Lindsey has “a pretty solid understanding of critical care medicine and the reality is Ferris has been critically ill for a huge part of her life.

“I’ve spent four years assessing her and caring for her and very few people actually know what it’s taking to keep our ship afloat. My immediate family, closest friends, home nurses and then my work people probably understand best.

“I’ve worked on the other side of what I witnessed Saturday. It was like the hardest night shift ever, where you just did all the things working on your patient for hours except I so rarely see people survive that. I’ve been scared for Ferris’s life before and every time I’ve had a work person by my side . . . through the night. Saturday night was no exception.”

Her training and understanding of all that she and her family — including daughters Tavia, 9, and Ksenia, 7 — have been through has Lindsey knowing full well what’s happening to them from an emotional standpoint, but also financially.

“I have ridiculous trauma to overcome,” Lindsey explained. “My work family would also attest that I’ve worked really hard to keep it all going. If we aren’t here or she’s not admitted, I’ve been at work. Lots of times it’s the very next day. The reality is Ferris’s life has been financially devastating and I really just want to be able to maintain the quality of life we’ve had. For my big girls and for Ferris.

“Even if we get to make our way home . . . I know now this will never be over.”

While the Backmeyers do have a home in Kamloops, they have been in a rental in Vancouver since the last week of December. Pat has been doing a lot of commuting as he attends Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, with plans to become a registered nurse.

The whole family, including Lindsey’s mother, Leslie, thought they were on their way back to Kamloops last weekend, but then the call came saying that a kidney was available and transplant surgery had been scheduled.

“Living in limbo is pretty accurate,” Lindsey wrote, “or like a marathon that you never get to finish but always have to run. Feels like we are on a runaway train. It’s bumpy and scary and makes you nauseous and every once in awhile we get allowed off and create life and memories and then the train comes and we have no choice but to get back on.

“If and when we get to go home I need to give myself a bit of time before coming back. I never have done that before. Ever.”

In her plea to local businesses, McMillan asked that they contact her or donate to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to benefit the Backmeyers. That page is right here.



The WHL’s Regina hub swung into game action with two games on Friday. The Pats dropped a 6-3 decision to the Prince Albert Raiders in the second game, with highly touted Regina F Connor Bedard, 15, scoring his first two goals at 5:01 and 5:49 of the second period. . . . In the earlier game, the Moose Jaw Warriors got past the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3, in OT. . . .

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks announced that their final 11 home games of this developmental season will be played at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Their first home game, on March 21, is to be played at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. . . .

As first reported by Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post earlier this week, Shaun and Gavin Semple of the Brandt Group of Companies now own all of the Regina Pats. They had owned 50 per cent and now have purchased the other half from Todd Lumbard and Anthony Marquart. The move was unanimously approved by the WHL’s board of governors on Friday. Shaun Semple has replaced Marquart as the franchise’s governor. Lumbard, a former goaltender with the Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, had been the team president; he remains with the organization as an advisor.


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The BCHL has received the all-clear for the return of game play from provincial government and health officials. The league plans to set up pods in five league centres — Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon — with three or four teams in each place. The abbreviated season will begin the first week of April and the hope is that each team will play 18 or 20 games before it ends. . . . The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild opted out of this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. That leaves the BCHL with 17 teams that could being play in April, although the league has given teams a couple of days to make that decision. . . .

Meanwhile, the AJHL had 13 of its 15 teams back playing games on Friday for the first time since Nov. 21. The final all-clear came earlier in the day when it announced that its third round of testing featured 389 players and staff, and no positives. . . . The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats are the only two teams not playing, both having opted out. . . . On Friday, five games were played in five different venues with all teams playing in their home arenas.


Deadspin has put together a brief slideshow that provides some first-person information on a handful of high-profile athletes who have contracted COVID-19 and their experiences. It’s right here and well worth a look.

One slide features Demi Washington, a Vanderbilt basketball player. Washington, 19, had a mild case, but wasn’t allowed to return to play until she had a cardiac MRI. That test uncovered acute myocarditis.

“It’s horrifying to think that, without that MRI, I would have gone back out there and played and something could have gone wrong,” she wrote for The Athletic. “I could have passed out on the court. I could have died. I saw what happened to Keyontae Johnson and it terrified me. After he collapsed, he was ultimately diagnosed with acute myocarditis — just like me. I wonder how many other athletes are playing with it right now and have no idea.”


Quarantine


The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team had its season come to an end on Thursday with the news that one player tested positive. That knocked the Blue Devils (13-11) out of the ACC tournament and may have taken away any chance they had of qualifying for March Madness. The last time Duke was in the NCAA tournament was 1995. . . . “If they do get an invitation, it will be a basketball equivalent of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote on Friday. “This year’s Duke squad is not nearly as powerful as the ones that fans have come to expect for most of the Mike Krzyzewski Era in Durham.” . . . On Friday came word that No. 16 Virginia had to pull out of the ACC tournament because of a positive test, thus forfeiting a semi-final game to Georgia Tech. Virginia no doubt will get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Virginia won the title in 2019; there was no tournament a year ago. . . . Also on Friday, No. 11 Kansas withdrew from the Big 12 tournament after a positive test. The Jayhawks were to play No. 13 Texas in a semifinal game, so the Longhorns now are into the final. . . . Florida International and North Carolina A&T are among smaller schools that have had to withdraw from tournaments. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled to begin on Friday in Indianapolis. . . . The Sports Curmudgeon has more on the tournament right here.


You will recall that Clarkson shut down its men’s hockey program for this season earlier in the week and there was speculation that the move was virus-related. College Hockey News reported via Twitter on Thursday that it “was a school decision based not on positive COVID tests — but on a party attended by most of the team that broke the school’s COVID safety protocols.”

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College Hockey News also reported that the Bentley Falcons (5-11-0) had withdrawn from the Atlantic hockey tournament. One week earlier, Holy Cross pulled out before the first round began. . . . Bentley had beaten Air Force to move into a second-round best-of-three series against American International, which now gets a bye into the semifinals. . . . From CHN: “For its part, AIC hasn’t played since January, due to its own COVID-19 issues and that of other league teams. By the team of the semifinals, the Yellowjackets will have gone almost seven weeks without a game. Bentley missed most of January with COVID issues, though played most of February.”


Once again, thanks for asking how things are going in B.C., as government and health officials work on loosening some restrictions . . .

Robyn Crawford, CKNW/Global BC — 648 new cases; no new deaths; 255 in hosp, 67 in ICU; 5,070 active; 9,155 in isolation; 79 new variant cases (total at 717).

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 425 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 additional deaths. And 365 more people have recovered from coronavirus.

CBC News — Number of new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan climbs again with 176. That pushes the province’s 7-day average up to 134; 3 additional deaths have also been recorded.

CBC News — Manitoba announces 104 new cases of COVID-19, the 1st time the number has been above 100 since February 18. The province’s 7-day average now rises to 74. Health authorities also say there has been 1 additional death.


——

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: Former WHL F Ryan Hollweg is the new head coach of the U18 AAA Vancouver North West Hawks. Hollweg, 37, played 233 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers over five seasons (1999-2004) before going on to a pro career that included 228 NHL games. He finished up playing (2012-18) with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga. Hollweg was the North West Hawks’ associate coach for two seasons (2018-20) under Chris Shaw.


Wreath

Semples on verge of buying out partners in Pats; WHL governors poised to vote on deal . . . MJHL’s Freeze has new GM/coach

Ferris Backmeyer remained in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver on Wednesday, four days after a kidney transplant went awry. The four-year-old from Kamloops was extubated on Tuesday, and late, late that night her mother, Lindsey, wrote:

“At the moment she has an HD line on the right side of her neck, a central line on the left, a JP drain, an 8-inch wound on her abdomen, a femoral artline and a foot IV that has like 6 inches of plastic stopcocks with IV tubings running from it that get tangled in feet and really looks pretty uncomfortable.”

The HD line is for hemodialysis — she has been on 24 hours a day but hopefully will transition to once a day at some point today (Thursday). The JP drain is used to remove excess fluid after surgery.

This, folks, is a gritty four-year-old who has been through oh, so much.

But, hey, this girl’s got some spunk.

In the wee hours of Wednesday, Lindsey wrote: “She’s awake and asking for water and her soother and iPad! She hates that she doesn’t have an ‘outfit’ on. Unfortunately she has no idea it’s 12:30 a.m. She really wanted to sit up tonight and that’s just not a thing quite yet.”

There is a GoFundMe page that will benefit Ferris and her family right here.


Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post reported Wednesday night that the PatsWHL’s board of governors could vote today (Thursday) on a deal involving 50 per cent of the Regina Pats. . . . The sale involves four existing partners, with Gavin Semple and his son, Shaun, having tentatively agreed to buy out Todd Lumbard and Anthony Marquart. . . . As Harder reported, “Marquart is the founder and president of Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group, which purchased the Pats from the Parker family in the spring of 2014 for approximately $7.5 million.” . . . At the moment, the Semples own 50 per cent, with Lumbard, who is the team president, and Marquart holding the other 50 per cent. . . . Gavin and Shaun Semple own the Regina-based Brandt Group of Companies. . . . Harder’s complete story is right here.


You may recall that the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights were to have played the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colo., on Monday, only to have the game postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. It turns out that the Silver Knights experienced a false positive, so things are back to normal there.


Twain


The NBA had 465 players tested since March 3 and experienced only two positive tests, both of which came prior to the all-star break. . . . Head coach Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors, who missed two games prior to the break because of COVID-19 protocols, is expected to return to the bench tonight against the Atlanta Hawks in Orlando, Fla. However, the Raptors remain without five players — OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, Pat McCaw, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed to non-essential travel, the Raptors are playing their home games in Orlando.


Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds’ veteran first baseman who is from Toronto, has tested positive. Votto, 36, will be away from spring training for an indefinite period. He was 4-for-9 in four exhibition games.



Clarkson’s men’s hockey team had its season halted on Wednesday. Although the school didn’t offer an explanation in a two-sentence news release, the speculation is that COVID-19 protocols are to blame. . . . Clarkson was to have played in an ECAC semifinal, but the withdrawal means that Quinnipiac will get a bye into the final, with Colgate visiting St. Lawrence in the lone semifinal. . . . Meanwhile, in the WCHA, Denver is going into the playoffs in Grand Forks, N.D., with only 16 skaters because it left eight players at home in quarantine. . . . College Hockey News reports that Colorado College also will have a short roster after having left an “unspecified” number of players in quarantine. . . . CHN has more on the situation right here.


How are things going in B.C.? Glad you asked . . .

CBC News — B.C. records 531 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. There are 244 people in hospital with the disease, 66 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Alberta reports 399 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths. 47 new variant cases identified, for a total of 734 to date.

CBC News — 111 new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, below the province’s 7-day average of 140. One additional death is also being reported.

CBC News — 77 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, highest daily total since February 27. Province’s 7-day average rises slightly to 61. 1 additional death is also being attributed to the virus.


Directions


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: Harry Mahesh is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze. He replaces Josh Green, who now is an assistant coach with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. Last season, Mahesh was an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. The Ice, Freeze and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues all are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment.


Sneezy

B.C.’s WHL, BCHL teams are looking for $9.5 million from gov’t . . . We remember Mickey Mouse Night at the Crushed Can . . . Hey, whatever happened to Doyle Potenteau?

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Walter Gretzky would have loved this little guy’s approach to the game . . .


As the sun set on Thursday, there didn’t seem to be anything new to report on bchlthe BCHL, its 17 teams and a potential return to play. . . . During Question Period on Wednesday in Victoria, Shirley Bond, the interim leader of the B.C. Liberals and the MLA for Prince George-Valemount, asked: “Simple question, hopefully a very simple answer: Will the premier provide B.C.’s local hockey teams with the $9.5 million in funding they need to survive the hockey season? They are asking for $9.5 million so that WHL teams and B.C. Hockey League teams, like the premier’s own Victoria Grizzlies and my Prince George Spruce Kings, can survive.” . . . Premier John Horgan, the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island, replied: “There’s going to be more news about both hockey leagues. They provide an economic benefit. Certainly the WHL restart will be a bonus for Kamloops and Kelowna. But it will also be a difficult time for those teams, because outside of those two cities, they will not be having revenue coming in. We understand the issue. We’ve been working on it for a number of months. I regrettably have to say, ‘Stay tuned’ at this point.” . . . Bob Mackin of theBreaker.news obtained a letter written last week by Chris Hebb, the BCHL’s commissioner, to government and health officials. In his report, Mackin wrote: “If (the) BCHL does not get the go-ahead by March 3 for the its return-to-play plan, Hebb wrote that a motion will be prepared for team owners to vote March 4 to cancel the season.” . . . Apparently, that didn’t happen on Thursday. . . .  Jay Janower of Global tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that “it’s my understanding that as of right now, league will continue to hold its vote on cancelling the season on Friday.” . . . That, of course, would be today. The waiting game continues.


Trees


It was on Feb. 25 when I wrote this:

“We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days.”

It turns out I wasn’t alone with that thought.

Steve Ewen, who covers junior hockey, the Vancouver Giants in particular, for Postmedia, wrote this on Wednesday:

“The WHL fanned on a glorious opportunity to show they believe intentions outweigh outcomes. . . .

“No one official has ruled it out, but playoffs aren’t likely. This is going to be an exhibition season. At its very best, it’s giving players something to grasp onto in the midst of this pandemic chaos. For some, it’s also a chance to show their wares for NHL teams or minor-pro clubs, or even Canadian universities moving forward.

“So why did the WHL stick to the traditional roster construction and only allow three 20-year-olds per team? Why not give teams a fourth or even a fifth 20-year-old so they can bolster the resume of some older players who have been loyal to the league in this very tricky time?”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.



What ever happened to . . . Doyle Potenteau?

Potenteau spent a lot of years at the Kelowna Daily Courier and was a regular on the WHL beat as he wrote and wrote and wrote, mostly about the Kelowna Rockets.

At one point, he started up an on-line publication — DubNation — that was all WHL all the time, and really was ahead of its time.

He left print journalism a while back — he had left sports and was the Daily Courier’s managing editor — and now is in TV with Global Okanagan out of Kelowna. That’s him in the above photo — top row, second from right.


The 2022 Arctic Winter Games have been postponed. They were to have been held in Wood Buffalo, Alta., from March 6-12, 2022. The Games that attract about 2,000 international participants normally are held every two years. The 2020 Games were to have been held in Whitehorse but were cancelled a week before opening. Organizers didn’t want a repeat of that so made the decision well in advance.



It is readily apparent that the medical profession continues to learn new things about COVID-19 as we move through this pandemic. On Thursday, there were reports about a peer-reviewed study of pro athletes returning to play after dealing with the coronavirus that found few cases of myocarditis or pericarditis. . . . Thomas Ketko of Sportsnet reported that “several professional North American sports leagues collaborated on the effort, including the NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, WNBA and MLS. A total of 789 athletes who had COVID-19 participated in the study, which took place between May and October 2020 and sought to gauge how often the leagues’ return-to-play cardiac screening techniques found instances of inflammatory heart disease.” . . . Only five of those athletes were found to have inflammation of the heart. . . . Ketko also reported that “prior studies on the risk COVID-19 poses to the heart drew more uncertain conclusions, too.” For example, one earlier study found that 60 of 100 people who had tested positive had at least some signs of myocarditis. . . . Yes, the learning continues. . . . Ketko’s complete story is right here.


Bernie Lynch, a former WHL coach (Regina Pats, 1988-89), has been suspended by the junior A Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. According to a report from CBC News, Lynch was suspended on Jan. 2 via a letter that referenced “inappropriate” emails and conduct. He also was ordered to have no further contact with the players. . . . The CBC report also notes that “more than two months later, neither the team nor the league has publicly disclosed this.” . . . According to the CBC story, “Hockey Canada says it has launched an investigation, under the guidance of Glen McCurdie, its vice-president of insurance and risk management. Yet neither the player nor his parents have been contacted. Nor, apparently, has Lynch.” . . . The entire CBC story is right here.


Hello there, ESPN. It’s been a long winter so I really have been looking forward to watching some baseball. But I have tried to watch two of your telecasts in the last few days — Cubs and Mariners, then Nationals and Mets — but have bailed on both of them. I want to watch baseball with the accompanying play-by-play and commentary, and not be subjected to a bunch of interviews over top of the play. Please stop trying to re-invent the wheel. . . . Thank you for listening!


Bacon


The IIHF’s nine-team 2021 women’s world championship that is scheduled to be held in Halifax and Truro, N.S., has been moved to May 6-16. It had been scheduled for April 7-17 in those communities. . . . The 2020 tournament was to have been held there but was cancelled. . . . The IIHF is hoping that a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend games.


Some NCAA hockey teams are dealing with virus-related issues. . . . Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) reported via Twitter on Thursday: “Merrimack won’t be able to continue with its season. Games vs. UVM (the U of Vermont) this weekend are canceled and per a source, Merrimack won’t compete in the HEA playoffs, which is scheduled to begin with the first round on Wednesday.” . . . St. Lawrence U cancelled its last four regular-season games, all of which were to have been against Clarkson. . . . Earlier, Colorado College had cancelled its final two games, both against Denver, that had been scheduled for last night (Thursday) and Saturday. . . . College Hockey News has more right here.


Restrictions are being loosened in Nova Scotia, meaning the province’s three QMJHL teams will be allowed to play home games again. The Halifax Mooseheads are scheduled to play at home three times in the next 10 days, while the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have one home game scheduled.



DrGoogle


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: Phil Andrews is returning as the radio voice of the Regina Pats on 620 CKRM. He had been the play-by-play voice since 2011, and took over as director of media and communications in 2016. He left that post in July and the position was filled by the hiring of Evan Daum, who will serve as the analyst on Pats’ broadcasts. CKRM will carry 19 of the club’s 24 games in the upcoming developmental season, with five weekdays games available on the station’s website. . . . The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers have signed Justin Falk as assistant general manager/assistant coach. A 32-year-old native of Snowflake, Man., Falk will work alongside GM Jeff Jeanson and head coach Kelvin Cech. Falk played in the WHL (2005-08) with the Calgary Hitmen and Spokane Chiefs before going on to a pro career that included stints with five NHL teams. He last played in 2018-19, when he spent time with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles and Belleville Senators and the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. . . . The Flyers also announced that Mike McAulay has added the director of player personnel duties to his previous job as head scout.


Pizza

B.C. restrictions seem to put kibosh on junior game indefinitely . . . Saanich Predators: We all need to do our part for the long-term health of our community . . .


At some point in the near future, the WHL will announce that it isn’t going to be whlstarting its next season on Jan. 8, as it had hoped. It has to make that announcement soon because its previous plan would have meant players travelling on Dec. 26 to begin short training camps on Dec. 27.

But with the three Prairie provinces and B.C. turning into COVID-19 hot spots, with the governments in all four jurisdictions imposing restrictions to one degree or another and with the Christmas season closing in on us, now really isn’t the time to be looking at getting a new season started.

The OHL has said it plans on opening on Feb. 4, so I would guess that the WHL, whose pooh-bahs apparently met earlier this week, will choose to try and do the same.

Of course, the WHL will pretty much have to forget about the five U.S. Divisions teams if there is to be a new season, because the U.S.-Canada border isn’t going to open any time soon. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, said earlier this week that the border will remain closed to non-essential travel until “the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world.”

In B.C., the hammer came down on hockey and a whole lot of other sports as Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, announced that most sports, whether being played indoors or outside, were being banned.

She explained, too, that it isn’t the games causing the problems.

“I’ve said this many, many times,” she said. “It’s the locker room, it’s the before, it’s the after, it’s the going for a coffee or a beer after a game that has been the most source of transmission.”

According to Dr. Henry, 10 to 15 per cent of all transmissions in her province can be tied to sports or fitness-related activities.

As Postmedia’s David Carrigg wrote: “This came a day after reporting that an oldtimers team from the Interior Health region had travelled to Alberta and come back infected. This led to dozens of cases among family and workmates and has caused an outbreak in at least one long-term care facility.”

It would seem that, at least in B.C., there won’t be any junior hockey games being played at any level for some time.

The latest order from the Provincial Health Officer suspends “all indoor and outdoor team sports for people 19 years of age and older.”

At the same time, “indoor and outdoor sport for people under 19 years of age can continue” but with restrictions. Games, tournaments and competitions for teams aren’t allowed, but group training may occur so long as participants are able to maintain a physical distance of three metres from one another.

The Ministry of Health also explained that “the intention of the restrictions is to minimize the number of people we interact with and to reduce travel in order to significantly reduce COVID-19 transmission.”

There doesn’t seem to have been any time element discussed in terms of these latest restrictions. I have been the word “indefinitely” used, and also saw that Dr. Henry apparently said they will be in place for weeks to come.


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Saanich Predators of the junior B saanichVancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Here’s part of a news release issued by owners Edward Geric and Norm Kelly on Thursday:

“The public health order impacts players over 19 years old, which is more than half of our team. Rather than looking for ways to request an exemption for continued practice for our whole team, we have instead decided that it’s best for all of our players, coaches and staff to stop play for now and get those who are currently living with billet families safely home for the holiday season.

“Though we are sad to lose this time during such an exciting season with our new name logo and colours, we feel strongly that it’s time to take a look at the big picture, listen carefully to Dr. Henry and not look for ways to continue playing right now. We all need to do our part for the long-term health of our community, and we know the Saanich Predators can be counted on to do just that.”

Bravo!


Popcorn


The San Francisco 49ers arrived in Glendale, Ariz., where they are likely to spend the remainder of the NFL season. For sure, they will play their next two ‘home’ games there after Santa Clara County, their normal home, banned contact sports.

Ann Killion, one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s terrific sports columnists, writes:

“But (Kyle) Shanahan, an NFL coach who is better than most at seeing the big picture, doesn’t deserve your wrath. It is the NFL that has put the 49ers in this situation, with its demented pursuit of the completion of a 16-game schedule. With its unwillingness to cancel games or pause the season. With its forcing of the Ravens and Steelers to play a game on a Wednesday afternoon, with several starters missing. With its demand that the Broncos take the field without a legitimate quarterback. With its solution to sending the 49ers to a state where virus cases are raging rather than just wait until this long-predicted spike subsides.”

That column is right here.

BTW, in that column, Dr. Jeff Smith, the county executive for Santa Clara County, told Killion this: “If leaders want to protect their teams and communities, they should not play anywhere until it is safe.”


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba reports 12 more COVID-19 fatalities and 368 new cases. That’s lower than the province’s average for the previous 7-days of 397. Authorities say there are 357 people in hospital with the virus, a record high.

CBC News: Saskatchewan has 259 new COVID-19 cases, which is below the province’s 7-day average of 276. Saskatchewan health authorities are also reporting 1 additional death.

CBC News: Alberta once again shatters COVID-19 record with 1,854 new cases. Province has reported almost 10,000 new cases over the past six days.

Red Deer Advocate: Red Deer has 289 active cases of COVID-19.

CBC News: 12 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C. as 694 new cases confirmed. The number of patients in hospital dips slightly to 325, with 80 in critical condition. . . . Right now, 10,849 people are in isolation and being monitored by public health workers because of exposure to known cases of COVID-19. . . . To date, 35,422 cases of the disease have been confirmed and 481 people have died.

CBC News: 14 more COVID-19-linked deaths reported in Ontario. Critical Care Services Ontario says 203 COVID-19 patients are in ICU. Health officials have said that 150 is the threshold for when unrelated schedules and procedures may be cancelled.

Cynthia Mulligan, Citynews Toronto: Ontario COVID-19 data Thursday: 1,842 new cases; 7 day avg 1770 — highest ever, 1 wk ago at 1427, 2 wks ago at 1370; 14 deaths; Positivity 4.4%, 52,873 tests, Backlog 58,320; Hospitalizations up 10 to 666; ICU 195 – most since May; 122 new cases in schools w 15.6% of all schools showing cases.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 30 additional deaths and 1,470 new COVID-19 cases. For comparison, the province’s average for the previous 7 days is 1,374.

CBC News: Quebec Premier François Legault has backtracked on his plan to allow gatherings over the Christmas holiday period after a rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

CBC News: Global COVID-19 cases top 65M, with over 1.5M deaths: Johns Hopkins University.

CBS Evening News: In just 24 hours, the U.S. has broken every record set since the pandemic began 10 months ago, with more new infections, hospitalizations and deaths in a single day than ever before.

——

As was expected, the No. 25 Liberty Flames (9-1) won’t be playing football at the No. 14 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (9-0) on Saturday, and the No. 8 BYU Cougars (9-0) will fill the void. ESPN Stats and Info reports that this will be “just the third regular-season or conference championship game between 9-0 or better teams since 2000.” . . . Liberty is in the middle of an outbreak that has included star QB Malik Willis testing positive.


——

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: I met Jim Loria more than a few years ago when he was working in the Regina Pats’ front office. A couple of years later, he was working with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Before joining the Pats, he did a stint with the Billings Bighorns. Recently, we renewed our acquaintance for the first time in a long while. In these pandemic times, you might be interested in checking out his new website where you just might find some inspiration to help you get through these strange times. It’s all right here. Give it a look. . . . If you’re a fan of MLB, you should know that The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma is reporting that Len Kasper is leaving the Chicago Cubs’ TV booth — he has been there since 2005 — to do radio play-by-play of Chicago White Sox’ games. Who will replace Kasper? Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago reports that it will be veteran broadcaster Chris Myers.


Cat

COVID-19 steals Sasakamoose as family, hockey world mourn . . . Canada’s national junior team has positive players . . . BCHL’s Wild shuts down for now

Dorothy and I were in Penticton, B.C., on the evening of July 24, 2015, for the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame induction dinner.

Here is part of what I wrote afterwards:

The legendary Fred Sasakamoose was on hand to receive the Okanagan Hockey School’s Pioneer Award.

What a wonderful moment it was as a tremendously touching video chronicling Sasakamoose’s life was played and an emotional Sasakamoose made his way to the stage.

If you aren’t aware of Sasakamoose and all that he has done, get thee to Google and prepare to spend an hour or two.

At one point, Sasakamoose spoke to what was a thoroughly captivated audience about how lonely it was being an aboriginal — he is from the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation — on the way to the NHL.

On this night, Sasakamoose was anything but lonely. He was on the receiving end of two emotionally charged standing ovations as he made a roomful of new friends and admirers.

That is the kind of night it was, and I will long remember being a small part of it.


Hockey Canada, we’ve got a problem!

Hockey Canada announced Tuesday morning that two players who are part of Canadaits national junior team selection camp in Red Deer have tested positive for COVID-19. Both players are in quarantine at the team hotel.

As a result, Tuesday afternoon’s Red-White game was postponed and all other activities were cancelled for the day. Ryan Rishaug of TSN reported later Tuesday that “as of now nothing is scheduled for training camp activity (Wednesday).”

Head coach Andre Tourigny had said the coaching staff wanted to trim the roster by a dozen or more players after Tuesday’s game. That obviously didn’t happen. Chances are that some players will be sent home before a scheduled exhibition game against the U of Alberta Golden Bears on Saturday.

This is Team Canada’s second brush with the virus. On Saturday, a person described as a “non-core” member of the support staff tested positive. That resulted in an undisclosed number of people going into a 14-day quarantine, including assistant coaches Michael Dyck and Jason Labarbera.

On Tuesday, after news of the two players having tested positive, Rishaug tweeted:

“A key question is, how many players will be identified as close contacts? We don’t know if the infected players were playing in the games Saturday and Sunday. All close contacts must isolate for 14 days.

“Covid has wreaked havoc on Canada’s camp to this point. 14 players were late arriving for various Covid testing related issues, including Ridly Greig testing positive before camp. He has since joined the team after his quarantine ended.

“All of this happening with the back drop of rapidly rising cases in Alberta, and news coming later today from the Premier that could involve further restrictive measures being put in place. The next few days will determine a lot on what Canada’s camp looks like moving forward.

“Players and staff were tested before arrival in Red Deer, then tested again upon arrival. A 2x per week protocol then kicked in once camp was up and running. The first positive test of a staff member came as a result of the 3rd test they had taken.”

Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has his take on Team Canada’s situation right here.


The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets said Tuesday they have “had several players NHLrecently test positive for the COVID-19 virus.” . . . Frank Seravalli of TSN reported that a “significant” number of Blue Jackets “have tested positive . . . over the last 7-to-10 days.” . . . The players went into quarantine and the organization’s off-ice facilities at Nationwide Arena were closed “beginning the week of Nov. 16.” . . . The NHL apparently continues to have its sights set on a Jan. 1 opening. But now there are outbreaks with the Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights. . . . Seravalli also reported that “sources say multiple family members of VGK players have also tested positive.” . . . Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com wonders right here just how realistic a Jan. 1 starting date might be.


Blaming restrictions implemented by the state of Washington and the closure Wenatcheeof the U.S.-Canada border, the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild announced Tuesday that it is “taking a hiatus for the 2020-21 season.” . . . All Wild players now are free agents. . . . “The latest setback is not being able to train our players here in the state of Washington,” a Wild news release reads. “We are not opting out of the season we are being forced out because the United States and Canadian border are closed and (because of) the restrictions on gyms and ice arenas in the state of Washington.” . . . Kudos to Wild owner David White as Taking Note has been told that he is keeping the staff on the payroll. . . . There is a news release right here.


LightUp


In the QMJHL, the Charlottetown Islanders have had to pause their schedule for qmjhlnewat least two weeks. That’s because the Prince Edward Island government has withdrawn from the Maritime travel bubble. . . . With COVID-19 numbers rising in the Maritime provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island announced Monday that they were withdrawing from the bubble for at least two weeks. That bubble had been in place since July 3. It allowed people to travel rather freely across the Maritimes provinces without quarantining. . . . P.E.I. implemented new travel restrictions on Monday at midnight; N.L. puts its restrictions in place on Wednesday. . . . On Tuesday, the Nova Scotia government also announced travel restrictions, so the QMJHL postponed seven games scheduled for this week in the Maritime Division.


“A shortened season, no playoffs and a $265,000 payment for litigation fees involved in a minimum-wage lawsuit against the Canadian Hockey League pushed the Kitchener Rangers into the red for the 2020 fiscal year,” writes Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record. “The Rangers announced a net deficit of $83,736 at Monday night’s virtual annual general meeting, making it the first time in the past 25 years the Ontario Hockey League club failed to record a profit.

“Last year, the team made $335,233.”

It is interesting that the Rangers apparently have written off $265,000 for the settlement of that lawsuit. In the WHL, the Moose Jaw Warriors told shareholders that they are on the hook for $180,846 as their part of the settlement, while the Prince Albert Raiders said their share was to be $166,667.

The Swift Current Broncos don’t seem to have stated a figure, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes have yet to hold their annual general meeting.

Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert and Swift Current are the 22-team WHL’s four community-owned teams. As such, they are obligated to hold annual general meetings open to shareholders.

BTW, the afore-mentioned lawsuit was thought to have been settled for $30 million, but courts in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have rejected that settlement. So negotiations no doubt are continuing.


Bar


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

CBC News: Manitoba announces 476 new cases of COVID-19, its 4th-highest daily total since the pandemic began. It follows yesterday’s record high of 543. The province is also attributing 12 more deaths to the virus.

CTV News: Manitoba issued $126,082 in tickets last week for those not following health orders.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 175 new coronavirus cases — 70 of them in Regina and 28 in Saskatoon zones. That’s the province’s lowest new daily case total in 4 days and is below the province’s previous 7-day average of 218.

Regina Leader-Post: After reporting 175 new cases and 112 recoveries Tuesday, Sask. government cancels afternoon press conference.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,115 new COVID-19 cases, 16 more deaths, for a provincial case load of 13,349 active infections.

CBC News: Premier Jason Kenney declares a state of public emergency in Alberta. Imposing new restrictions on social gatherings, religious services. No indoor social gatherings permitted in any settings for a minimum of 3 weeks. Will be evaluated in mid-Dec.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: Medicine Hat is up to 103 active cases of COVID-19. There are 123 recoveries listed in MH. . . . There are 39 active cases in Cypress County. There are 40 active cases of Forty Mile. . . . There are 171 active cases in Lethbridge. Brooks is at 46 active cases of the virus.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: British Columbia has shattered the one day COVID-19 record with 941 new cases over the past 24 hours. There have been 28,348 total cases of the virus in BC. . . . There are 284 people in BC in hospital with COVID. With 61 people in ICU. The hospital number is a record. . . . Another double digit day for COVID deaths. There have been 10 deaths due to the virus over the last 24 hours. There have been 358 deaths in the province from COVID. . . . The latest positivity rate on the BC CDC website is 6.6%. On October 6th it was 1.2%.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC: BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on Global BC tonight with a message for anti-maskers: “Grow up, shut up and mask up.” I’d say that’s fairly clear.

CBC News: B.C. health-care workers plead for public to follow COVID-19 orders.

Global News: B.C. grocery story (in Nelson) hires security guard as anti-mask hostility grows.

CBC News: Ontario’s reporting error means (Tuesday’s) total case count is artificially low. Additional data: 14 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Ontario, 534 ppl are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, 159 of them in ICU, 91 on ventilators.

CBC News: Quebec reports 45 additional deaths due to the coronavirus, also diagnoses 1,124 new cases. That’s virtually unchanged from the province’s previous 7-day average of 1,162.

CBC News: Nova Scotia reports 37 new COVID-19 cases, highest since April 23. Province announces wave of restrictions for greater Halifax area, including gathering size limits, 25% capacity cap on the number of shoppers in a store, while restaurants and bars are restricted to takeout only.

CBC News: Nunavut has 10 new cases of COVID-19. Nine are in Arviat, on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay, where there’s now a total of 107 cases. There have been 375 negative tests in Arviat, which has a population of about 2,600. The other new case is in Rankin Inlet.

——

Keith Baldrey, Global BC: Brutal Washington state COVID-19 numbers today: 3,482 new cases, a record. 35 deaths. In the past week alone 119 people have died there and almost 600 people have entered hospital.

Oregon ArtsWatch: COVID-19 has claimed a record 21 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 847. The total number of Oregonians hospitalized and in intensive care with COVID-19 also increased. There were 1,011 new confirmed and presumptive cases, down from recent days.

FacesOfCOVID: 2,028 people died of COVID today in the United States, the first time since May that the daily death count has exceeded 2,000.

The New York Times: California reported 17,694 new cases on Monday, well more than it or any other state had ever done before, according to a New York Times database. Over the past week, it has averaged 12,712 new cases a day — more than Maine’s total for the whole pandemic.

——

——

The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens have had at least 10 positive tests among players and staff since Sunday night. They are scheduled to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday. . . . Baltimore RBs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins won’t play, nor will DT Brandon Williams. . . .

To say that NCAA men’s basketball is a mess would be something of an understatement. . . . No. 1 Baylor has pulled out of a tournament in Connecticut that is to start today. Head coach Scott Drew tested positive. . . . Florida has pulled out of two games. . . . East Carolina, Indiana State and Akron pulled out of a tournament in Florida. . . . The start of Wichita State’s season has been delayed. The Shockers actually flew into Sioux Falls, S.D., for a tournament only to have seven team members test positive. . . . Rick Barnes, the head coach at Tennessee, has tested positive and team activities are on hold. The school reported multiple positives among “Tier 1 personnel, which consists of coaches, student-athletes, team managers and support staff.” . . . Gardner-Webb experienced at least one positive so pulled out of what was to have been Duke’s season-opener. . . . Ole Miss had some positives, including head coach Kermit Davis, so cancelled a three-game tournament it was to hold and team activities are on hold until Dec. 7. . . . The Florida A&M women’s team has opted out of the 2020-21 season. . . .

The 24-team Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, which had been hoping to open its season on Dec. 2, now is aiming for Jan. 15. The league’s return-to-play protocol includes games being played without deliberate bodychecking/intentional physical contact and no post-whistle scrums. . . .

Northeastern has shut down winter sports until Dec. 18 because of what the schools says is a “small cluster of recent COVID-19 cases that led to quarantining athletes on five varsity teams.” The men’s hockey team has cancelled or postponed six games. . . . The women’s basketball and women’s hockey team both experienced positive tests, as did the men’s women’s track and field teams. . . .

The U of Maine in Orono has shut down winter athletics through at least Dec. 8 “due to positive test results on campus, including individuals involved with the varsity athletic programs.” . . . All games for the men’s and women’s basketball teams and men’s and women’s hockey teams between Nov. 25 and Dec. 8 have been cancelled. . . .

The Minnesota at No. 18 Wisconsin football game scheduled for Saturday won’t happen. Minnesota has paused team-related activities due to positives tests within its program. . . .

Martin Pakula, the sports minister for the Australian state of Victoria, says the start of the 2021 Australian Open tennis tournament “most likely” will be delayed. The tournament, which is held in Melbourne, is scheduled to begin on Jan. 18. However, Pakula said it is likely to be delayed a week or two. At the same time, he didn’t rule out a longer delay.


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.


The Brandon Wheat Kings announced Tuesday that they have promoted Don BrandonWKregularMacGillivray to head coach, replacing Dave Lowry who joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant coach on Monday. . . . Lowry spent one season in Brandon. . . . MacGillivray has been on the Wheat Kings’ coaching staff for four seasons. . . . He has extensive coaching experience in junior hockey, including most of two seasons (1996-98) as head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders. He also is a four-time winner of the MJHL’s coach-of-the-year award. . . . The Wheat Kings’ coaching staff also includes assistant Mark Derlago and goaltending coach Tyler Plante. . . . The team apparently is in the process of hiring another assistant coach.


Decision

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Nuts


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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

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

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



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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604.875.5182 or 1.855.875.5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Stars


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


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

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

Heritage Junior B Hockey League: Oct. 28

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: Sept. 25

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Oct. 9

USHL: Nov. 6

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

WHL: Dec. 4



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


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


Plaid

USNTDP experiences positive tests . . . NHL preparing for restart; Flames D-man opts out . . . Giants catcher Posey won’t play

With the NHL announcing Friday that it has a new CBA in place and that almost 80 per cent of its players had voted for a return to play, a story out of Plymouth, Mich., didn’t seem to have the impact it probably should have.

ICYMI, Craig Custance and Katie Strang of the The Athletic reported that “at least three players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program have tested positive for COVID-19, multiple sources have confirmed. . . . The players had been participating in on-ice skills training at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., the venue for USA Hockey’s 2020 World Junior Summer Showcase later this month.”

Custance and Strang also reported that “additional participants in the on-ice skills training who are not members of the USNTDP have also tested positive, according to a source.”

The complete story is right here.

One source was quoted as saying: “It’s hockey players who hang out together. One person got tested, found out they had it and so they all did.”

This, I believe, is the first report of teenage hockey players testing positive, and this has to be ominous for junior hockey owners and operators.

Obviously, if you are going to bring teams of athletes together and have them in close quarters, like in locker rooms and on buses, there are going to be positive tests. That means that if you own a team, say, in the WHL and you are hell-bent on opening the 2020-21 season at some time in the not-too-distant future, your return-to-play protocol better have something in it about dealing with positive tests.

Or you have you fingers crossed, a rabbit’s foot in your hip pocket, and you’re hoping for a miracle.


Dog


Meanwhile, Adam Wodon, the managing editor of College Hockey News, posted a thought-provoking piece on Friday that spells out a lot of things.

He starts:

“The shutdown of Ivy League sports until Jan. 1 and its implications for college hockey are just the first of many shoes to drop in the coming weeks and months.

“Trying to summarize what college sports will look like this fall, seems silly at the moment. It changes day by day, and usually in the wrong direction.

“The trajectory, however, points to a continued steady drip towards the seemingly inevitable: that there will be no college sports in the fall, or, at best, nothing close to how we know it to be, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis.

“College sports departments continue to go through the motions of preparing for the season, what with the social media countdowns to the next game, and so on. But it all seems so pointless. I mean, I get it — what else are those staffs supposed to do? Gotta do something. Can’t all be like me, catching up on my golf game and rewatching Lost.

“Coaches have been going through offseason workouts in all sorts of ways, keeping training facilities open, but with certain distancing measures in place. And so on.

“But nothing anyone says about ‘we plan on this . . .” or ‘we plan on that . . . “ has any real substance at this point, even if they’re sincere in saying it.”

There’s a whole lot more to his piece and it’s well worth your time. It’s all right here.


D Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames has opted out of the NHL’s season. Hamonic cited family considerations in making his decision.


Hey, you want some optimistic news?

Here you go . . .

The 15-team AJHL released its 2020-21 schedule on Friday, with opening night set for Sept. 18. Each team is to play 58 games in the regular season. According to the news release: “The schedule has been created to remove pre-determined blocks of games should the season start be delayed.” . . . The complete news release is right here.

Meanwhile, the 16-team USHL said Friday that it plans to open in the fall “with the intention to play a full schedule.”

But, in Germany, the 14-team DEL season that was to have started on Sept. 18 now has been pushed back to an unspecified date in November.


Flatearth


Michael Bidwill, the owner of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, has been in hospital after testing positive. His condition has improved of late and he may be released sometime this weekend. . . . He is believed to have contracted the virus while travelling in the eastern U.S. . . . Bidwill, 55, isn’t believed to have had any contact with the team’s football personnel.


In a release issued Friday, MLB and the MLPBA said that 71 players and 12 staff members have tested positive since intake screening began on June 27. That is out of 11,149 samples. All told, 66 of the positives came from intake screening. . . .

C Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants won’t play this season. He and his wife adopted twin girls who were born about six weeks prematurely on July 3, so he has chosen to stay with his family rather than play in the pandemic-shortened MLB season. . . . “In the current state we are in now, and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months at a minimum, this just ultimately was not a difficult decision for me,” Posey, 33, said on a ZOOM call. “From baseball, it was a tough decision. From a family standpoint, that I feel I’m making a decision to protect our children, I think it was relatively easy.” . . .

P Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox also has opted out of the approaching MLB season. The right-hander, 24, is seen as one of MLB’s top pitching prospects. . . .


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, posted a terrific piece on Friday detailing difficulties encountered by MLB in getting two plane loads of Dominican players to Miami on July 1. It’s all right here. . . .

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The Pac-12 announced on Friday that fall sports, including football, will be conference only if their seasons are able to start. The cancellations include a Sept. 5 football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and USC. . . .

Dartmouth has dropped a handful of NCAA Division 1 sports, effective immediately. Gone are men’s and women’s golf, men’s lightweight towing, and the men’s and women’s diving and swimming programs. The Ivy League school also shuttered the Hanover Country Club, which was built in 1899. . . .

The 11-member New England Small College Athletic Conference has cancelled all fall sports. Bowdoin College and Williams College had made that move last month. Now the other nine schools — Amherst College, Bates College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University — have chosen to do the same.


Saanich jr. B team to change logo, nickname . . . Hockey problems down under . . . U.S. conferences, schools start reacting to pandemic

Owners of the Saanich Junior Braves, who play in the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, are changing the team’s nickname and logo. . . . In a news release, owners Edward Geric and Norm Kelly said: “The Saanich Junior Braves name is not respectful to our First Nations and does not reflect the value relationships we hold with local First Nations communities or with our First Nations players. We have decided to rename the team and have started a process to develop a name that upholds our core values.” . . . The nickname and logo have been in use since 1967. . . . The team is open to feedback and questions at SaanichJrBHockey@gmail.com.


The City of Red Deer decided Wednesday to give Westerner Park as much as $2 million to allow it to operate until November. The hope is that things will have gotten better by then, in terms of the pandemic, meaning the park will be able to play host to events including WHL games. The Centrium, home to the Red Deer Rebels, is part of Westerner Park. . . . Lana Michelin of the Red Deer Advocate has a terrific story right here that explains the situation.


The Grand Slam of Curling, which is owned and televised by Sportsnet, has dropped four events from its next season, which leaves it with two competitions on its schedule. . . . The season was to have started in Sarnia, Ont., Oct. 20-25. Also gone are events in Grande Prairie (Nov. 3-8) and Chestermere, Alta. (Dec. 8-13), and Las Vegas (Jan. 12-17). . . . Now the season is to open in Toronto (April 13-18), with the final event in Olds, Alta., April 27 through May 2.


The Augustana Vikings, who play out of the U of Alberta’s Camrose campus, won’t be playing hockey this season, but they’ll be back for 2021-22. And that’s great news! . . . In February, it seemed that the program was kaput due to financial reasons, but the U of A and Vikings’ alumni got together and came up with a plan. . . . Robert Tychowski of Postmedia has more right here.


Testing


The Melbourne Mustangs of the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) revealed Wednesday that their season is over. The AIHL season was to have opened on April 18. . . . Melbourne was put into a six-week lockdown earlier in the week. . . . The Mustangs wrote on their Facebook page: “It is with much sadness that we today announce the cancellation of the 2020 season. We were holding onto the slim chance we might get to see a modified competition, but the current situation in Victoria makes this all but impossible. Thank you to our tireless supporters. Rest assured we will be back next year stronger than ever.” . . . On Thursday, the AIHL responded with this: “We’ve got an active Return To Play (RTP) committee which continues to closely follow COVID-19 updates. While the current outbreak and border closures are making it increasingly unlikely, the RTP committee remains hopeful of having a substantially condensed 2020 schedule when the situation improves in Melbourne.” . . . Interestingly, the Melbourne Ice, the second AIHL team in that city, has yet to comment on its immediate future. . . .

New Zealand’s dream of having teams compete for IIHF championships has been set back at least a year. The country’s ice hockey federation has withdrawn its teams from the men’s U-20 World Championship Division III in Mexico, and has taken its women’s team out of the U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group B in Turkey. . . . From a news release: “The NZIHF Management Committee met and discussed the two team’s attendance at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and after reviewing the situation, unanimously agreed that putting forward teams for these age groups to compete in the 2021 World Championships was not possible due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 in New Zealand and internationally.”


Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, has decided that contact sports at the high school level won’t be allowed this fall. That includes football and soccer, with some non-contact sports, like cross-country and volleyball, under review. . . .

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The Ivy League has cancelled all sports, including football and hockey, through Dec. 31 due to the pandemic. It is the first NCAA Division I conference to cancel fall sports. . . . The Ivy schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale. . . . The Ivy League includes six schools with hockey teams — Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Without those teams, the ECAC is down to six teams, but Colgate, RPI and Union are expected to follow the Ivy League’s lead because they won’t have all students on campus in the fall. . . . From an Associated Press story by Doug Feinberg and Jimmy Golen: “Ivy League schools are spread across seven Northeastern states that, as of mid-July, have seen some success at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. But most of those states still ban large gatherings; under the Massachusetts reopening plan, Harvard would not be allowed to have fans in the stands until a vaccine is developed.” . . .

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On Thursday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that its Olympic sports will be kept from competition until at least Sept. 1. That covers men’s a women’s cross-country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s volleyball. . . .

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The National Junior College Athletic Association, the second-largest collegiate athletic association in the U.S., recommended Thursday that its members move a majority of its competitions to the spring. . . . From a statement: “Individual NJCAA regions will discuss the recommended changes prior to the NJCAA board of regents’ meeting on Monday, July 13, where an official plan of action will be decided.” . . . The NJCAA encompasses 525 schools in 24 regions of the U.S. . . .

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Meanwhile, the Big 10 issued a news release on Thursday that included this: “We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our No. 1 priority. To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.” . . . There is a mighty big “IF” in the second sentence of that statement. . . .

There is a look right here at all the non-conference football games that the Big 10’s decision killed . . .

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Stanford announced Wednesday that it will be cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports once the 2020-21 season is over. Men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling will be going by the wayside. . . . In making the decision, the school cited the pandemic and the cost of operating a total of 36 varsity sports. . . . “These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches,” read a statement released by the school. “They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements. Each of the individuals associated with these programs will forever have a place in Stanford’s history.”


The MLS is Back tournament lost another team on Thursday as Nashville SC pulled out have having nine players test positive. FC Dallas had been taken out of the tournament prior to its start after 10 players and a coach tested positive. . . . Nashville had one p[layer test positive when the team arrived in Orlando, Fla., on July 1, then had eight more come up positive after the arrival.



Bob Tasca, who drives the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang Funny Car, will miss this weekend’s E3 Spark Plugs Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Why? You guess it. Tasca, 44, tested positive for the coronavirus. . . . He caught the virus at a family gathering on Father’s Day, as did seven other family members. . . . Tasca shares his experience right here.