Two B.C. junior B leagues cancel seasons . . . WHL continues to get good news from tests . . . Can you take time for this GoFundMe page?


Two of B.C.’s junior B leagues pulled the plug on their 2020-21 seasons on Tuesday. . . . The 12-team Pacific Junior Hockey League, which is based on the Lower Mainland, had been shut down since November, with teams only allowed to practice. Ronnie Patterson, the owner of the White Rock Whalers, told the Peace Arch News: “We battled through some issues . . . but we just felt in fairness to the athletes and all the programs, we would show some leadership in the hockey community and shut it down, and then hopefully we can start our spring and summer programs at some point, and just focus on having a successful 2021-22 season.” . . . The nine-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League also cancelled its season. “The current Public Health Authority discussions show it is unlikely there will be any changes in their current direction . . . and with the added pressures from facilities comparing the teams’ need for ice usage against the need for the removal of the ice for other sport- or health-related events, it seems that this is the time to make this decision,” Simon Morgan, the league president, said in statement from the league. . . . The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, another B.C.-based junior B league, cancelled its season on Feb. 6.


The WHL announced on Tuesday that there weren’t any positive tests among 455 tests administered to the five U.S. Division teams from Feb. 27 through WHL2March 5. From a WHL news release: “The WHL’s U.S. Division clubs are utilizing a private antigen testing strategy and will be conducting testing three times per week. Testing will be administered to all members of the team delegations of players and staff.” . . . All five teams were cleared to begin practices on March 5. . . . From Feb. 12 through March 5, the WHL has gone through 1,554 tests without even one positive. . . .

Interestingly, the Alberta-based teams, who began play on Feb. 26, move into playing three-in-three this weekend. This weekend, the Lethbridge Hurricanes will visit the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night, then they’ll play in Lethbridge on Saturday, and then it’s back to Red Deer for a Sunday game. The Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen will go Calgary-Medicine Hat-Calgary. The Edmonton Oil Kings will sit out this weekend, and then will play a triple header the following weekend. . . .

Games are scheduled to begin in the Regina hub on Friday. The five Saskatchewan-based teams and the two from Manitoba are playing in the Brandt Centre. A Friday doubleheader will have the Brandon Wheat Kings meet the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince Albert Raiders playing the Regina Pats. . . . There will be at least one game played in Regina on every day from Friday through April 28. . . .

The U.S. Division teams are scheduled to begin playing games on March 19. They’ll play in Kent, Everett, Spokane and Kennewick, Wash. . . . The five B.C. Division teams, whose schedule was released on Tuesday, are to start up on March 26 with games only in Kamloops and Kelowna.


Lindsey
Ferris Backmeyer remains in a Vancouver hospital with her mother, Lindsey, by her side.

Please allow me to remind you of an active GoFundMe page that will benefit the Backmeyer family of Kamloops. That page is right here. . . . Ferris, who recently turned four, underwent a kidney transplant in Vancouver on Saturday night. Unfortunately, there were complications shortly afterwards and the kidney had to be removed. . . . Ferris remains in hospital, and this means that her mother, Lindsey, and two older sisters are going to have to stay in Vancouver for the foreseeable future. Father Pat will be there, too, although he also is attending school in Kamloops as he works to become a registered nurse. . . . All money raised from this GoFundMe page will be used to help the Backmeyers meet expenses pertaining to their stay in Vancouver and to keep their home in Kamloops.


The 2021 RBC Canadian Open, a PGA Tour stop that was scheduled for St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto, June 7-13, has been cancelled for a second straight season. . . . The CP Women’s Open, an LPGA Tour event, is still on the schedule for Aug. 26-29 at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver.



Dang! I just love it when Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, does things up right. Here he is from Monday, writing about the NIT, which was held at Madison Square Garden in its glory days but this year has been shuffled off to, uhh, Texas:

“Your junior varsity post-season men’s basketball tournament now has the potential to be a highly visible pandemic super-spreader event. If you think that it is a good thing to have attached to ‘the NCAA Brand,’ may I suggest that linking ‘the NCAA Brand’ to Typhoid Mary is not a good thing?”

His complete rant is right here.

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Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot on the same subject: “Now that the college basketball anachronism called the NIT has been moved from New York to wide-open Texas, expect some teams to take a pass. Not to mention that the three-week-long NCAA women’s tournament must deal with mask-less Texans. Good luck, ladies.”


Pig


CP24 — Ontario reports nearly 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 as ICU doctor warns third wave is ‘upon us.’


The AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights were to have played the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colo., on Monday night. That didn’t happen, though, as the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Silver Knights.


We can only hope that G Taran Kozun has some kind of clause in his contract that calls for him to be paid some mileage this season. In a Monday ECHL trade, Kozun moved from the Allen Americans to the Wheeling Nailers for cash considerations. (BTW, what does cash considerations mean? Is it the same as cash?) . . . Kozun, 26, was the WHL’s top goaltender in 2014-15 (Seattle Thunderbirds), and the top goaltender in Canadian university hockey for 2018-19 and 2019-20 while with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . The Nailers will be his seventh team this season, following the Kansas Mavericks, Pensacola Ice Flyers, Indy Fuel, Rapid City Rush, Orlando Solar Bears and the Americans. Those all are ECHL teams with the exception of the Ice Flyers, who play in the SPHL. Through all of this, Kozun, according to eliteprospects.com, has played in only five games this season — one each with the Mavericks, Ice Flyers, Fuel, Rush and Solar Bears.


——

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: The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has named Adam Nugent-Hopkins as its interim head coach, at least for whatever might be left of this season. He takes over from Dan Cioffi, the assistant general manager and head coach who left the club to, according to a news release, “focus on his family and pursue a new opportunity.” Cioffi took over during the pandemic and went 8-3 in the BCHL’s exhibition season. Nugent-Hopkins, 32, was the head coach of the U15 AAA Greater Vancouver Canadians in 2019-20. Yes, he is the older brother of Edmonton Oilers F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Portal

Oh my, those are some horrid numbers . . . How do you hit a homer and not get credit for a run? . . . Some coaching news here, too

OK. I need someone to tell me that isn’t a nightmare. Surely this isn’t really happening . . . I must have fallen asleep while hunkered down in my recliner . . . Tell me that I did and that none of what follows really happened . . .

It was Wednesday evening when I saw a couple of tweets from Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) of CNN.

The first one showed reported U.S. coronavirus cases (I have added Thursday’s updated numbers):

Feb. 15: 15 cases.

March 15: 3,485 cases.

April 15: 638,111 cases.

April 16: 671,151 cases.

The second one showed reported U.S. coronavirus deaths:

Feb. 15: 0 deaths.

March 15: 65 deaths.

April 15: 30,844 deaths.

April 16: 33,268 deaths.

More than 2,000 people a day are dying from this virus and Agent Orange is nattering on ad nauseam about opening things up. On Thursday, he said: “Our experts say the curve has flattened and the peak in new cases is behind us.”

While still digesting those numbers, all of which are from Johns Hopkins University where they are tracking these things, there came news that Brian Allen, a centre with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, tested positive three weeks ago. Allen, who now is said to be symptom-free, is the first active NFLer to publicly acknowledge having tested positive. . . . On Thursday came word that Von Miller, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Denver Broncos, became No. 2 when he tested positive.

And then, as if those figures aren’t bad enough, I awaken Thursday morning to the news that some quack doctor, who surely is in cahoots with Agent Orange, doesn’t think it would be a big deal if schools go back in and a bunch of children die. Obviously, he is perturbed by the fact that there wasn’t even one school shooting in the Excited States in March for the first time since something like 2002. And later in the day, it was Dr. Phil’s turn. (I don’t know if it means anything but the two quacks were given their TV starts by Oprah Winfrey, whose first names spelled backwards is . . . 

And let us not forget the goofy Nebraska state senators who, as Brad Dickson put it on Twitter, “want to basically end social distancing so everyone catches Covid & develops herd immunity. Ya know, it may be faster to just behead the elderly and the vulnerable. #WorstIdeaEver.”

Oh, and what about those covidiots in Michigan who protested at the state capitol in Lansing, demanding that the economy be reopened and damn the consequences. Hey, gang, yes, you have the right to protest but maybe you should first check with the doctors, nurses, first-responders, police and all of those people who are fighting the good fight on your behalf.

Somewhere in all of this I saw something about Agent Orange suggesting the U.S.-Canada border “will be one of the early borders to be released.” The man who speaks in word salad also said this: “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well, so we’ll see.” Yes, so much winning in the Excited States!

It remained for Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, to explain things: “I don’t want (Americans) in Ontario.”

In fact, let’s close that border permanently, or at least until Agent Orange and all of his old white pals sail off into the sunset, which might be the only thing that will bring an end to this nightmare.

Hey, maybe we could build a wall and have the Americans pay for it.


On a lighter note, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game 12 years ago when a batter hit a single that was turned into a home run after video review, but that same batter didn’t score a run. . . . Seriously! . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic has that great story right here. . . . Stories like these are why I subscribe to The Athletic, which will give you a 90-day free trial these days.


Cockroach


Webster Garrison, a former manager of baseball’s Vancouver Canadians, is breathing on his own and looks to be on the way to recovery after testing positive more than a month ago. . . . Garrison now is a minor-league coach with the Oakland A’s. . . . Garrison, 54, had been intubated for more than three weeks and remains in a Louisiana hospital.


The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, which is based in Calgary, has shut down for the rest of 2020, cancelling its October induction gala in the process. Also cancelled is the Hall’s Sport + Spirit Charity Gala that was to have been held on May 27. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball Team (CEBL) has postponed the start of its regular season and now is hoping to get started at some point in June. It was to have begun its second season on May 7. . . .

The Tour de France now is scheduled to start on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 20. Originally, it was to start on June 27. . . . As the race ends, tennis’s French Open will be be starting. . . .

In soccer, the Belarusian women’s Premier League, which was to have opened its season today, has postponed the start of its season indefinitely. . . .

The Mackenzie Tour — aka PGA Tour Canada — has postponed the first six events of its 2020 schedule. Those events had been scheduled for Vancouver (May 28-31), Victoria (June 4-7), Kelowna (June 11-14), Lethbridge (June 25-28), Cardigan, P.E.I. (July 2-5) and Toronto (July 9-12). . . . The MacKenzie Tour plans on issuing an update before the end of this month.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” . . . OK, that actually was the Thought for Yesterday. Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Will Rogers: “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”


Bacon


Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late George Steinbrenner and a co-owner of the New York Yankees, died on Tuesday after a long battle with various health-related issues. . . . It was in 2008 when Hank endeared himself to Yankees fans with this:

“”Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”


Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, spent some time chatting with Steve Ewen of Postmedia earlier this week. . . . The BCHL was founded in 1961. “We’ve never taken a dime of government support in the history of this league,” Hebb told Ewen. “Here we are, in 18 communities now. In many cases, we are the Vancouver Canucks of those communities, and we could lose teams out of this (COVID-19 crisis).” . . . Reading Hebb’s comments leaves one wondering how many other junior leagues are faced with this same predicament. . . . Ewen’s piece is right here.


Bill Peters is the new head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, a Russian team in the KHL. . . . Peters has been out of coaching since he resigned as the head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Nov. 29. That came after he was accused of using a racial slur and of kicking a player. . . . Peters signed a two-year contract with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist’s top players are former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk and Nigel Dawes, who was a terrific player with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (2001-05). . . . Via a video hookup, Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs coach, told Russian reporters: “I think as time goes on we all grow and improve and become better versions of ourselves, and I’m no different than that. You learn from all the experiences that you’re in, and you become better.”


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Dan Cioffi as its new head coach. . . . In 2019-20, he was the head coach of the B.C. Major Midget League’s Valley West Giants. . . . Cioffi has BCHL experience, having worked as an associate coach with the Express (2007-10) and also with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (associate coach) and Trail Smoke Eaters (director of player personnel). . . . In Coquitlam, Cioffi replaces Jason Fortier, the reigning BCHL coach of the year who left after being unable to come to terms on a contract. He has since signed on as the general manager and head coach of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes.


Toast


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins fired Chris Lewgood, their general manager and head coach, on Wednesday. . . . According to a news release, Cory Prokop, the Bruins’ president, announced “that the board made this very difficult decision after determining that the future success of the team, both on and off the ice, would be best served with new leadership at the GM/head coach position.” . . . Lewgood just completed his seventh season as the Bruins’ head coach and had never finished out of the playoffs. They lost the 2017-18 final in seven games to the Nipawin Hawks. . . . In 2019-20, the Bruins finished second in the Viterra Division, at 31-23-4. . . . Estevan is scheduled to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup tournament.


Todd Woodcroft, who had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, has signed on as the head coach of the U of Vermont Catamounts. . . . Woodcroft takes over from the retiring Kevin Sneddon, the head coach for the past 17 seasons. . . . The Catamounts finished with a 5-23-6 record in 2019-20, their poorest showing since 2001-02.


Jeff Tambellini is leaving the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters after two seasons as general manager and head coach. Tambellini, 36, is joining the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as an NCAA free-agent recruiter and pro scout. . . . In his two seasons in Trail, the Smokies were 70-46-15 with one tie. . . . Tambellini is to help in the search for his replacement in Trail, and he also will serve as a special advisor for 2020-21.


Typing