QMJHL may have seven teams out of action . . . CHL cancels 2020-21 season . . . Ronaldo, Johnson come up positive

The QMJHL is looking at having seven teams unable to play because they are qmjhlnewlocated in what a provincial government deems to be COVID-19 red or orange zones or because of positive tests. . . . The Victoriaville Tigres are the latest team to be forced to halt operations, but restrictions in their zone don’t start until Monday so they should be able to play on the weekend. . . . If things don’t change, they will join the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, which had 18 positive tests, the Sherbrooke Phoenix, with eight positives, Moncton Wildcats, Gatineau Olympiques, Quebec Remparts and Drummondville Voltigeurs in being idle. . . . The Wildcats are in an orange zone, as deemed by the New Brunswick government, but have been given the OK to return to practice. . . . Kevin Dubé of Le Journal de Quebec reported that the QMJHL continues to talk with health officials about tightening “the concept of the bubble. . . . An answer should come in the next few days. If this proposal is rejected, some fear that the QMJHL will put its season on hold until the situation, especially in Quebec, improves.”


I have to wonder how many major junior hockey fans had their heads just about explode when they woke up Tuesday to this headline: “2020/21 CHL Season Cancelled.” . . . In this instance, CHL refers to the Champions Hockey League, a competition that features 32 of the best teams from 12 European countries playing for the European Trophy. . . . The board of directors has decided to cancel the 2020-21 season. . . . From a news release: “Travel restrictions between participating countries had already put several match-ups at risk. Although a number of authorities would potentially issue special permits for travelling sport teams, a vast amount of uncertainty and risks remained. Many discussions and evaluations have taken place in the last few weeks and months with involved parties, taking all available facts and forecasts into consideration.”


Sean Shapiro, who covers the NHL’s Dallas Stars for The Athletic, has detailed the organization’s difficult times in a story headlined “Stars owner’s mounting financial difficulties lead to more furloughs.” . . . Shapiro reported, among other things, that according to sources, “Multiple . . . employees were told this week they are going to be furloughed for a second time this year.” . . . Tom Gaglardi, the Stars’ owner, also is the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, who laid off an undisclosed number of employees in March. . . . If you subscribe to The Athletic, that piece is right here.


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COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Portuguese Football Federation revealed on Tuesday that star Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive. Ronaldo, 35, came up positive while with the national team so won’t play against Sweden on Wednesday. Ronaldo played Sunday in a 0-0 Nations League draw with France, and on Monday posted a photo from a team dinner. . . . According to the national team, he is asymptomatic and in isolation. . . . Ronaldo also plays for Juventus — he has two years left on a four-year contract — and is the captain of Portugal’s national team. . . .

Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1-ranked men’s golfer, has tested positive so won’t be playing in this week’s PGA Tour event, the CJ Cup in Las Vegas. . . . Johnson is the 12th PGA player to test positive since June. . . .

The Yale Daily News reported Tuesday night that “Yale Athletics has reverted to Phase 0 following a six-person outbreak on the hockey team.” . . . Phase 0, which means no in-person team activities, will last until at least Oct. 21. . . . The team had been cleared to practice for up to two hours per day. . . . The Ivy League is aiming to start its regular season on Jan. 1. . . .

Fred Dean, a hall of fame defensive lineman in his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, is in an undisclosed hospital with coronavirus. Dwight Hicks, also a former 49ers, posted the information on his Facebook page on Sunday. . . . Hicks posted that Dean is in hospital “on a ventilator in intensive care.” . . .

Baylor and Oklahoma State have had to postponed their football game that was scheduled for Saturday. The game has been moved to Dec. 12 after Baylor had to suspend football operations because of what the Big 12 said was “multiple positive COVID-19 test results.” . . . The game was to have been played in prime time on ABC-TV. . . . Neither team played on Oct. 10. . . .

Vanderbilt and host U of Missouri have postponed their football game that was scheduled to be played on Saturday. The SEC said the game was postponed “due to positive tests and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Vanderbilt football program.” . . . They now are hoping to play on Dec. 12. . . . This is the first game that the SEC has had to postpone due to the pandemic. . . .

Canada’s national women’s soccer team was to have held a camp in England later this month, but Canada Soccer has cancelled it on the advice of medical experts. The camp would have included a friendly with No. 6 England.


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Corey Graham was the radio voice of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings in 2017-18. But it all came crashing down when a tumour was discovered inside his spinal cord and he underwent surgery on June 29, 2018. . . . He was in a wheelchair. He was doing rehab. He was determined to get back on the air. . . . Well, he was able to do 30 home games in the Oil Kings’ 2019-20 season, and last night he opened another chapter, this one as co-host of a three-hour sports show on TSN 1260 in Edmonton. . . . Jason Gregor of oilersnation.com has more on Graham’s wonderful story right here.


Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginia-Pilot: “With everything else going on in America ― and the impact it’s having on sports ― MLB playoff games shouldn’t be high on anybody’s list of complaints. But, man, do these games drag ― averaging about three hours 30 minutes. Pitching changes are relentless. Strikeouts come in comic abundance. Let’s face it, baseball is broken.” . . . The man isn’t wrong. . . .

The Tampa Bay Rays scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on Tuesday night. Doug Kern (@dakern74) pointed out via Twitter: “Top of 6th: 35 actual pitches, seven of them in play. 31 minutes 48 seconds. #PaceOfPlay.”


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Scattershooting on a Tuesday night as Cranbrook celebrates the birth of the Bucks . . .

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As of Saturday evening, Const. Mike Seel of the Regina Police Service Traffic Unit, who goes by the nickname Hawkeye, had written 1,097 cell-phone related tickets in 2019 and, he told me via Twitter, “over 1,500 total tickets for the year.” Think about those numbers for a moment. . . . What’s with the nickname? According to a story by Michaela Solomon of CTV News Regina, it was “given to him by the former face of RPS traffic, Const. Curtis Warnar, for his ability to catch drivers on their cell phones.” . . . Meanwhile, more than 2,000 speeding tickets were handed out to drivers in Regina school zones in the month of September, with the speed limit having been dropped from 40 km/h to 30. . . . “It is ridiculously high,” Sgt. Rob Collins of the RPS’s Traffic Safety Unit told Lynn Giesbrecht of the Regina Leader-Post. “In all reality, most of the tickets that I’ve seen issued would’ve been a ticket even if it was still 40, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do.” . . . It seems the drivers of Regina have a lot of work to do, too.


If you are a follower of the WHL, there was good news on Friday when Corey Graham revealed via Twitter that “I’m back calling Edmonton Oil Kings home games on TSN 1260.” . . . Graham, who continues his recovery from some major health issues, will handle home games, with Andrew Peard providing analysis. Peard will call the play of all road games. . . . Graham added that he is “really excited to get back in the booth!” . . . Corey, we’re all excited for you. Welcome back!


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“Jim (Mattress Mack) McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, placed a $3.5-million bet on the Astros to win the World Series,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “And, doubling down, he rolled out his latest mattress, the George Springer.”

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Perry, again: “Scientists at the National Defense Medical College in Japan say they’ve created artificial blood that works better than the real stuff. Didn’t pro rasslers already do that?”


Is the WHL thumbing its nose at Hockey Canada, while at the same time inviting 15-year-whlolds to come to its teams and play at least 30 games? . . . According to a story by Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press, the WHL has granted an exemption to the Winnipeg Ice so that F Matt Savoie, 15, can play 34 games this season. Ordinarily, 15-year-olds are allowed to play five games before their club team’s season ends, at which time they may join the WHL team on a full-time basis. . . . Prior to this season, Hockey Canada rejected the Savoie family’s application for exceptional status. . . . Savoie played his third WHL game of this season on Friday night; he wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday.



The Winnipeg Ice played two home games, its second and third of this season, last weekend. The announced attendances were 1,373 (7-0 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings) and 1,327 (4-0 loss to the Vancouver Giants). . . . In its home-opener, the Ice announced 1,621 for a 4-2 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . If you were wondering, the Kootenay Ice announced crowds of 2,862, 2,375 and 2,287 for its first three home games last season. . . . You remember the Kootenay team, don’t you? It played out of Cranbrook.


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The brand new Cranbrook Bucks of the BCHL have merchandise ready for fans at Western Financial Place.
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The Kootenay Ice sign on a wall at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook is gone, marking the end of an era.
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Hockey fans in Cranbrook gathered Tuesday morning to welcome the junior A Bucks to their Kootenay community. (Photos: Darren Cottingham/Taking Note)

Speaking of Cranbrook, a group headed by former WHL G Nathan Lieuwen announced Tuesday that it will bring the junior A BCHL to the city next season when the Bucks begin operation. . . . In reading the story by Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman, I was struck by this: “The city was left reeling after a messy break-up with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice last January. After 21 years in Cranbrook, new ownership relocated the team to Winnipeg and still (has) an outsanding lease agreement valid until 2023. (Mayor Lee) Pratt confirmed the city remains in negotiations with the Ice over the agreement.” . . . The WHL and the Ice announced on Jan. 29 that the franchise was relocating to Winnipeg. Of course, observers had realized long before then that the Ice owners were going through the motions and that they were done with Cranbrook. . . . Here we are, almost nine months later, and the lease still hasn’t been settled. You are free to wonder if anyone in the WHL is embarrassed by any of this.


Hey, Edmonton, that 100 km/h speed limit on Anthony Henday Drive . . . that’s not the speed limit; it’s a guideline. Right?


After driving more than 4,000 km through the Prairies and back, I can tell you that the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding contains far more election signage than any other one we passed through. . . . Yes, it’s all a blight on the scenery.


After the Chicago Cubs dumped manager Joe Maddon, Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot pointed out just what a horrid job Maddon had done: “In five seasons under Maddon, Chicago won 58 percent of its games, reached the playoffs four times and celebrated a long-awaited World Series victory. What a failure he was.”



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OH DEER! Bob Tory, the GM of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, posted the evidence on his Facebook site after hitting a couple of deer while on a scouting trip.

A note from Bob Tory, the general manager of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, to accompany a couple of photos that he put on his Facebook page: “That time of year. Two deer down. One car down.” . . . Thankfully, Tory wasn’t injured in the collision. Word is that Trader Bob, as he once was known, did put brothers John and Jim Deer on the trade wire, though. No word yet on whether he found any takers.


Saw this in a column by Steve Simmons of Postmedia: “If Guy Carbonneau is going to the Hockey Hall of Fame, why not Dale Hunter? And if you want to go back a few years, why not 86-year-old Claude Provost, who won more and scored more playing a defensive role with the great Montreal Canadiens teams back when the Canadiens were great.” . . . I was absolutely flabbergasted to realize that Provost isn’t an honoured member of the Hall. Seriously. Had there been a Frank J. Selke Trophy back in the day, Provost would have owned it.


Headline from @SportsPickle: Have to think we could be a game or two away from Odell Beckham demanding a trade to the Giants.


If you aren’t a fan of the analytics that are sweeping through the world of sports, you just might be a fan of Bill Belichick. Asked the other day how much of a role analytics play in his game-planning, the New England Patriots head coach replied: “Less than zero.”


Graham fighting to get back in booth. . . . Ice unveils plans for its temporary home. . . . Raiders can close out WHL final tonight

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D Martin Bodák (Kootenay, 2017-19) has signed a one-year contract with Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Kootenay, he had 11 goals and 14 assists in 58 games. . . .

D Brent Regner (Vancouver, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract extension with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had 11 goals and 23 assists in 44 games.


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As he had for more than 650 Edmonton Oil Kings games, Corey Graham was calling the play on March 18, 2018. That was the Oil Kings’ final game of the 2017-18 season because they missed the playoffs. . . . That also was Graham’s last game to date. What happened? . . .

Jason Gregor has the story right here . . .

“I met Corey and his wife Nicole in their new home last month. Corey greeted me at the front door of their newly renovated bungalow. Freshly painted walls and three gorgeous white pillars showcased a welcoming open area for the kitchen and living room.

“Instead of calling Oil Kings games, Corey has been battling to stand up. Literally.

“He moved his wheelchair close to the couch and we talked about the events of the previous 10 months.”


While they were preparing to move from Cranbrook, B.C., to Winnipeg, the owners of the wpgiceteam that now is the Winnipeg Ice had said they would spend $400,000 on dressing up Wayne Fleming Arena, the 38-year-old arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. On Thursday, Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, announced that figure will be closer to $1.2 million. . . . As Paul Friesen wrote in the Winnipeg Sun: “You can buy a lot of lipstick for $1.2 million.” . . . That will allow them, Cockell said, to increase the arena’s capacity by 200, to 1,600, and to add such things as a new clock with video boards, as well as new glass and netting. . . . The Ice has said it will spend two seasons playing in the Wayne Fleming Arena as it awaits construction of a new facility. That new arena is to be built in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald, but a shovel has yet to be put in the ground because some rezoning apparently has yet to be done. . . . Friesen’s complete piece is right here.


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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored a pair of empty-net goals to finish off a 6-3 victory over the visiting Halifax Mooseheads in Game 5 of the QMJHL’s championship final on Thursday night. . . . The Huskies lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 in Halifax on Saturday. . . . Halifax is the host team for the Memorial Cup so both teams will be playing in the tournament regardless of who wins this series. . . .

The OHL championship series is scheduled to resume tonight in Ottawa with the 67’s and Guelph Storm tied, 2-2. Ottawa won the first two games; Guelph followed by holding serve on home ice. . . . Game 6 is to be played in Guelph on Sunday.



Ken Campbell of The Hockey News pretty much summed up the NHL playoffs with this:

“A blown major penalty that leads to four power-play goals in a crucial game can’t be reviewed, but a play where a guy’s DNA is on the wrong side of the blueline can.”

He’s right, and his entire piece is right here.


Men’s and women’s hockey teams from Trinity Western U in Langley, B.C., and MacEwan U in Edmonton will begin play in Canada West, one of U Sports’ top conferences, in 2020-21. . . . The applications were accepted on Thursday as Canada West’s annual general meeting wrapped up in Whistler, B.C. . . . The TWU Spartans men’s team is coming off back-to-back championship seasons in the B.C. International Hockey League. The women’s team plays in the South Coast Women’s Hockey League. . . . Both of MacEwan’s teams, the Griffins, play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference where both teams have won three straight championships.


Brad Elliott Schlossman covers the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and NCAA hockey for the Grand Forks Herald. He regularly writes a feature that he calls The Daily Skate, and it’s a really good read. . . . On Thursday, he wrote, among other things, about the number of standalone diving calls this season in NCAA Division I hockey. . . . He also had some info on college teams moving the starting times for Saturday games up to 6 p.m. Minnesota State U-Mankato is one of those teams. Here’s what Kevin Buisman, the athletic director, told Schlossman: “This is a strategy that has been effective in other markets and after consulting players, coaches, fans, event staff and other program supporters, we decided to move forward with immediate implementation. I think this change will be particularly appealing to families with younger children and this is a demographic we need to grow as they represent the future fan base of Maverick hockey.” . . . Schlossman’s complete piece is right here.


Rikard Grönborg is one of the hot names in the coaching community these days. Grönborg, the head coach of the Swedish national team, spent one season (2004-05) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. These days, it was thought that he was high on the Buffalo Sabres’ list of prospective head coaches. However, his day in the NHL is going to have to wait as he has signed a two-year deal with the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League.


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NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup could conclude tonight as the Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants meet in Game 5 in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders, who have posted 4-0 and 1-0 shutouts in two of the past three games, hold a 3-1 lead. In between the shutouts, they beat the Giants, 8-2. . . . Should the Giants win tonight, Game 6 would be played in Prince Albert on Sunday. A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday.


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