NBA season suspended . . . NHL pondering immediate future . . . Maybe all leagues should shut down?


The NBA has indefinitely suspended its season after a player with the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus.

With a number of NBA teams sharing facilities with NHL teams, it is hard to see how the NHL season will be allowed to continue. In fact, the NHL said Wednesday night that it “is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options.”

The NHL said it expects “to have a further update (Thursday).”

With the NBA having suspended its season and if the NHL follows suit, you have to wonder what the WHL will do.

Maybe it’s time for all sports leagues to suspend operations indefinitely, just to cut down on large gatherings, and see where all of this goes.

We obviously have to do something, because this has to change before we are forced to go through many more days like Wednesday when nothing got touched more than refresh buttons.

And every time you hit refresh so much had changed.


If the WHL season continues, it could end up with an entire first-round playoff series being played without any fans in attendance.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington announced Wednesday morning that public gatherings of more than 250 people are being banned through the end of March as part of the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

The Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds then let it be known that they would complete the home portions of their regular-season schedules by playing in empty arenas.

The Silvertips are second in the Western Conference, one point behind the Portland Winterhawks. Each team has five games remaining.

The Thunderbirds are destined to finish in eighth spot and will meet the first-place finisher in the opening round of the playoffs.

So if Everett was to get into that top spot and if the season continues . . .

If, if, if . . .

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The first WHL game to be played in an arena without fans in attendance is scheduled for Saturday in Kent, Wash., with the host Seattle Thunderbirds meeting the Vancouver Giants.

The Thunderbirds also are scheduled to play at home against the Spokane Chiefs on March 17. That game, too, will be played without fans.

There had been speculation on Tuesday night in Spokane, as the Chiefs were beating the Kamloops Blazers, 3-0, that the March 17 game would be moved to Wenatchee, Wash.

Seattle’s final home game of the regular season, against the Winterhawks, is scheduled for March 21. Chances are that game, too, will be played without fans but a firm determination has yet to be announced.

The Silvertips’ final home game, against the Victoria Royals on March 20, will be closed to the general public.

The Silvertips will finish first or second in the Western Conference, so will open the playoffs with home games on March 27 and 28. Should that happen, and with no end to this crisis in sight, it would seem that those games would be closed to the public.

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Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds are scheduled to visit the Giants at the Langley Events Centre on Friday. The Giants said they “will continue to welcome fans” to the LEC, but also said they are “continually monitoring the COVID-19 situation.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been 46 positive tests in B.C., almost all of them on the Lower Mainland. B.C. announced seven new cases on Wednesday, including the first on Vancouver Island.

In Alberta, the total of positives tests reached 19 on Wednesday — 11 in the Calgary Zone, seven in the Edmonton Zone and one in the Central Zone. All cases to date have been travel-related.


The IIHF men’s world U-18 championship is scheduled to be held in Plymouth, Mich., from April 16-26. But it’s hard to see that tournament being held after U.S. President Trump announced Wednesday night that some travel from Europe is being prohibited.


If the NHL season continues . . .

The San Jose Sharks will play their next three homes games without any fans in the SAP Center. The Montreal Canadiens are to play there on March 19, with the Boston Bruins there two days later and the Arizona Coyotes on March 29. . . . The Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, also plays in the SAP Center and will play home games on March 17 and 22 without fans in attendance. . . .

In Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets will play their final five home games without fans. The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to play in Columbus tonight (Thursday).


Daniele Rugani, a defender with the Italian soccer team Juventus, has tested positive for coronavirus, the team announced Wednesday. Rugani, 25, now is in isolation and all who have been in contact with him are being checked. . . . Play in the Italian Serie A had been suspended with the country all but shut down. . . .

The world figure skating championships that were to have been held in Montreal, from March 18 through March 22, were cancelled on Wednesday. . . .

The NCAA announced that March Madness, the annual men’s basketball championship tournament, will be played, but that fans won’t be allowed to attend any of the games. The NCAA said that only players, essential staff and family members will be allowed in the buildings. . . . NCAA president Mark Emmert also said that the Final Four is likely to be moved from the 71,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to a smaller venue. It is scheduled for April 4 and April 6. . . .

The Big Ten, Big 12, American, ACC and Pac-12 announced that their men’s basketball tournaments, all of which start on Thursday, will be closed to fans. . . .

The U of Michigan has cancelled its annual spring football game that was scheduled for April 18 in Ann Arbor. The school also cancelled all events scheduled for any of its athletic facilities through April 21. . . . Ohio State cancelled its spring football game that was to have been played on April 11, while announcing that attendance at any intercollegiate events played host to by the school will be limited. . . .

USA Hockey has cancelled its national championships — high school, youth, girls, adult and sled — and its Disabled Hockey Festival. . . . The national tournaments were to being March 26 in various locations; the Festival was to be held in Pittsburgh (March 26-29, April 2-5).


If you are from Regina, this is big, big, big . . .


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have signed Simon Ferguson to a two-year contract as head coach. Ferguson took over as interim head coach on Jan. 1 after the firing of Brandon West. . . . With Ferguson in control, the Warriors went 9-10-2 and earned a playoff berth. . . . They lost a first-round series to the Penticton Vees. . . .

The junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats have signed Nick Redding, their general manager and head coach, to a three-year contract. Redding, who is from Spokane, just completed his second season with Creston. . . . Before joining the Thunder Cats, he had been the hockey operations co-ordinator with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Scattershooting on a Monday night while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, following news that New York Giants QB Eli Manning was about to announce his retirement: “So, I’ll ask you . . do you think he’s a Hall of Famer? You can let me know by tweeting me your thoughts, but just know that I don’t care what you think because I’m a Patriots fan and Eli Manning has been dead to me for years.”


Larry Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., later this year. But how close was he to becoming a goaltender? . . . Legend has it that he was in camp with the WHL’s Regina Pats and ended up being cut — twice! — by general manager Bob Strumm, who is one of the most popular figures in WHL history. . . . Anyway, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Strumm for a column that is right here.


Passwords


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Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Baseball Hall of Fame: “The truth is, (Barry) Bonds deserves to be in the Hall. Not for his hitting — the PED business makes it hard to fairly evaluate Bonds’ hitting — but because baseball is the rudest sport, and Bonds should be in the Hall representing that aspect of our national pastime.”

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Ostler, again: “If I had a HOF vote, I’d write in Mike Fiers.”


The Bosa family doesn’t talk about it a whole lot, but it’s a story you are going to hear about as Super Bowl LIV (54) approaches. . . . It seems the great-grandfather of San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa was a Chicago mobster who worked with Al Capone. Seriously! . . . Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has more right here.


Congrats to Kelly Kisio, who is to be honoured by the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on March 1. CalgaryKisio will become the third person to be saluted as Forever A Hitmen, after players Ryan Getzlaf, who was honoured in 2015 and Andrew Ladd (2017). . . . In 18 seasons with Calgary, Kisio filled various roles, including stints as general manager, head coach and president of hockey operations. He twice was named the WHL’s executive of the year. . . . My favourite Kisio story doesn’t involve the Hitmen. In 1982-83, he was playing with HC Davos in Switzerland. He had eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. That was Kisio’s second-last game with Davos; three days later he was with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . . . He finished that season with Davos with 87 points, 49 of them goals, in 38 games. . . . Now a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Kisio will be honoured prior to an afternoon game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.


CallImportant


The NFL’s 2020 draft is to be held in Las Vegas, which now has its own franchise — the Raiders. . . . As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out, “The NFL has come a long way in just a few years.  About five years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of ‘close ties to gambling’. This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for three days.”

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Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, tweeted the other day: “Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

That was enough for The Sports Curmudgeon to come up with this response: “There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the U.S. That tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades have taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi. I have been to Lubbock TX and to Pullman WA and to Starkville MS. Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth. If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a ‘bustling burb’ — but it won’t be easy. That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

“Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens. There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

“As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events. I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list.”


Sleep


You may have been watching when RB Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers’ defence in the NFC final. As Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it: “There hasn’t been anything carved up like that since Emeril Lagasse was introduced to his first turkey.”


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Prior to a recent NBA game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, StubHub was listing tickets for as low as $4. The Left Coast Sports Babe wondered: “Are they asking or paying?”


Sportsbetting.ag, an offshore site, has listed a whole lot of prop bets for the Super Bowl. . . . Here’s one: “Which will be higher? (Tweets and retweets count). Donald Trump total tweets on 2/3/20 or the 49ers point total?” . . . Yes, Trump’s total will come from the day after the Super Bowl. . . . BTW, the over/under for Demi Lovato’s version of the U.S. anthem is two minutes one second. Take the over.


ipadexpert


You know how an NHL team now might fire its head coach and then hire a head coach who recently had been fired as the head coach of a different team? Well, it seems that trend has reached the junior A ranks. . . . The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have hired Scott Atkinson as general manager and head coach, replacing Joe Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 15. The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks had ousted Atkinson on Dec. 30.


The Kamloops Blazers beat the host Prince George Cougars, 3-0, on Friday night, the first time in franchise history that its goaltenders have put up three consecutive shutouts. The Kamloops1Blazers had beaten the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-0, on Jan. 18 and the host Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Jan. 19. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots on Friday night. He blocked 21 against Vancouver, with G Rayce Ramsay turning aside 24 against the Americans. . . . The Cougars got a split on Saturday night, beating the Blazers, 3-1, and ending Kamloops’ shutout streak at a franchise-record 233 minutes 30 seconds. . . . The Blazers also put together back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 15 and 18, beating the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-0, and Vancouver, 6-0. Ramsay had 23 saves against the Broncos, with Garand stopping 23 in the victory over the Giants. . . .

Kamloops first posted back-to-back shutouts in 1991-92 when Corey Hirsch made 20 and 21 saves respectively in home-ice victories — 13-0 over the Tacoma Rockets and 9-0 over the Seattle Thunderbirds — on Feb. 7 and 9. . . . Kamloops scored 11 times in the second period against Tacoma. . . . Those two shutouts came in a seven-game stretch during which Hirsch put up four shutouts. . . .

Back-to-back shutouts didn’t occur again until 2006-07 when Dustin Butler did it on Jan. 10 and 13. He stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane, then turned aside 18 in beating the visiting Prince George Cougars, 6-0. . . .

In 2011-12, Cole Cheveldave did it on Jan. 1 and 6, blocking 22 shots in blanking the visiting Cougars, 5-0, then turning aside 32 shots in a 2-0 triumph in Prince George. . . . Cheveldave did it again in 2012-13, on March 3 and 5. He kicked out 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets, then stopped 14 in a 6-0 beating of Victoria. Both games were in Kamloops. . . .

It was Connor Ingram’s turn in 2016-17, when he made 28 stops in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Cougars on Feb. 19, then blocked 23 shots in a 7-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Kamloops on Feb. 21. . . .

One other shutout-related note involving Kamloops: In 2004-05, 19 of the Blazers’ 72 games ended in a shutout. Unfortunately for Kamloops, it was on the wrong end in 13 of those.


“Just wondering,” ponders the always deep-thinking Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions, what is the Breakfast of Upsets, Coco Gauffs?”



JUST NOTES: If you watched Serena Williams lose a third-setter to China’s Qiang Wang in the third round of the Aussie Open the other night/morning, you have to wonder if we are watching the end of an era. Serena, who was the No. 8 seed, certainly seemed to be suffering from fatigue near the end of her loss to the No. 27 seed. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Williams just once would give some credit to her opponent? . . . The NHL all-star stuff on Friday and Saturday evenings? Not in my home. The Aussie Open was on my TV. . . . One of the best things about the Aussie Open, and other tennis tournaments, is the lack of commentary while the ball is in play. . . . I did find time to watch The Irishman during the week. If you like gangster movies and know at least a bit about Jimmy Hoffa, you should like this one. If you aren’t aware, though, it’s three hours and 20 minutes long. . . . The book with the movie tie-in — The Irishman: Frank Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa — is rather good, too. . . . Sheesh! If only some people would learn the difference between cancelled and postponed!

Scattershooting on a Sunday while thinking about Canada Day and great gobs of money, and watching Audrey Hepburn smoke her way through Charade . . .

Scattershooting

Murcer

Happy Canada Day, aka the one day a year in which NHL general managers hand out bad contracts — you get one, you get one, and you over there, you get one, too — knowing that they probably won’t be around when the time comes to clean up the mess.

It’s also a day that always has me, for whatever reason, thinking of the cover on the August 1973 issue of the long-gone Sport Magazine that showed New York Yankees outfielder Bobby Murcer on an outfield of greenbacks.

Murcer was the third Yankees player to sign a contract calling for at least $100,000 a season. The other two were Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

Yes, $100,000. Think about that today when you were reading about the money being tossed around in the NHL.

At the same, ask yourself this: What do NHL players think when they look at the money that started being thrown around like so much confetti in the NBA when free agency arrived on Sunday? NBA teams announced more than $2.1 billion — that’s BILLION — worth of contracts in a couple of hours.

BTW, Murcer was traded to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Bobby Bonds on Oct. 22, 1974. It was the first time in MLB history that two $100,000 players had been swapped for each other. Yes, think about that for a moment or two.


I will save you the trouble of watching TV today.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to trade F Connor Brown and D Nikita Zaitsev to the Ottawa Senators for D Cody Ceci. . . . The Leafs also have signed F Kenny Agostino. . . .

The Columbus Blue Jackets will re-sign F Artemi Panarin. . . . Or maybe the New York Islanders will sign Panarin, along with G Semyon Varlamov. . . .

The Florida Panthers will sign G Sergei Bobrovsky and F Brett Connolly. . . .

The Vancouver Canucks will sign D Jordie Benn and D Tyler Myers. . . .

The Calgary Flames will sign G Cam Talbot. . . .

The Dallas Stars will sign F Corey Perry and F Joe Pavelski. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings will sign G Calvin Pickard. . . .

The Nashville Predators will sign F Matt Duchene. . . .

The Edmonton Oilers will end up with G Mike Smith. . . .

The Tampa Bay Lightning will sign D Luke Schenn. . . .

The Minnesota Wild will sign F Mats Zuccarello and F Ryan Hartman. . . .

The Washington Capitals will sign F Richard Panik. . . .

The Colorado Avalanche will sign F Joonas Donskoi. . . .

Speculation on these signings, with most of them including money and term, have been reported by various ‘insiders’ in advance of the NHL’s free-agent signing period opening today. Many of those same insiders will be twiddling their thumbs on TV today.

So . . . go out and cut the grass, or take the family to the nearest DQ for a Canada Day Blizzard. You’re welcome!


While we are on the subject of money, let’s not forget that today is payday for Bobby Bonilla, who last played in the bigs in 2001 when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals. . . . The New York Mets will pay Bonilla $1,193,248.20 today, as they have on every July 1 since 2011 and will on every July 1 through 2035. . . . There’s more on that deal right here in a story by Darren Rovell that first appeared on ESPN’s website three years ago.


Dorothy, my wife of more than 47 years, is preparing to take part in her sixth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 22; she also is one of the Walk’s organizers. If you’re new here, she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.


A note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “According to Le’Veon Bell’s 911 call, the last time the New York Jets running back saw those two ‘girlfriends’ who allegedly stole $500,000 of his stuff, he was leaving for the gym and they were still naked in his bed. . . . In other words: Bares 2, Jet 0.”


“LeBron James is giving up his Los Angeles Lakers jersey No. 23 for Anthony Davis, who has worn the number since high school, which is a nice gesture” notes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “And whether James goes back to the No. 6 he wore with the Miami Heat or another number, I am sure the thought of new jersey sales never entered his mind.”



Headline at TheOnion.com: Norfolk Tides third baseman sent down to Baltimore Orioles.


Buried in Patti Dawn Swansson’s latest collection of gems is this one:

“The Chicago Cubs recruited good, ol’ Cookie Monster from Sesame Street to warble Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field on Thursday. It’s believed that Cookie is the first Muppet to perform the ritual since Don Cherry.”

The complete piece — featuring lots of goals and yellow and red cards — is right here.


Hey, Sportsnet and TSN, it’s time you stopped blocking off three hours for MLB games, especially when you have a doubleheader scheduled. The day is long gone when you could count on a big league game being completed in fewer than three hours. . . . I have a particular bone to pick with Sportsnet, which scheduled a game involving the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays the other day. When that game had an early 57-minute rain delay, the network switched to a game featuring the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals, and never did go back to the Twins and Rays. Hey, Sportsnet, when you schedule a game, it is taken off the menu for those of us who subscribe to MLB Extra Innings. Your decision to show Twins-Rays and then not show it meant that viewers were cheated out of watching those two teams play 18 innings.