Will OHL ban fighting and body-checking? . . . Some Toronto-area minor hockey groups shut down for season . . . Warriors reviewing the future of primary logo


Rick Westhead of TSN spoke with Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s sport minister, on Thursday. That conversation led to these tweets from Westhead . . .

1. The Ontario Hockey League may have to ban fighting and even body-checking ohlas a condition of resuming games, provincial sport minister Lisa MacLeod told me in an interview. (The OHL has said it hopes to open training camps in mid-Nov and begin its regular season Dec. 1.)

2. MacLeod: “The fact is that you can’t have physical contact right now. . . . We certainly will not be allowing people to be body-checking at the moment. We are trying to contain a healthcare crisis.”

3. MacLeod said the OHL has said that U.S.-based OHL teams will either relocate to Ontario for the season to avoid cross-border travel or they will remain in the U.S. and only play other American-based teams.

4. I asked whether spectators would be allowed at OHL games. MacLeod: “I don’t see that happening at the moment. . . . The last thing we want is to open and then have unintended consequences that put the safety and well-being of the athletes, spectators . . . and others at risk.”

5. MacLeod said the OHL & government are talking about a pandemic aid package but the OHL has not made a specific ask.

MacLeod also said the government still hasn’t heard a proposal from the OHL about how often the league would like to test players for Covid-19.


Batteries


TSN’s Rick Westhead also spoke with a couple of doctors, both of whom are wondering about the wisdom of playing hockey in these pandemic times.

After speaking with Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist, Westhead tweeted: “Dr. Andrew Morris (@ASPphysician) says it’s a bad idea to even contemplate major junior hockey right now. Ontario has an 85K test backlog. Some sick people, he says, aren’t being tested b/c they won’t line up for 5-6 hours.”

Dr. Morris told Westhead: “The numbers are going in the wrong direction fast.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Isaac Bogoch (@BogochIsaac), an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, told Westhead that he spoke with Toronto-area minor hockey leagues on a Sept. 24 conference call and recommended a shutdown for the 2020-21 season. “I’d be very hesitant to play,” Dr. Bogoch told Westhead. “Who do these players go home to and what’s the ripple effect this could have?”


The East York Hockey Association, with more than 800 minor hockey players, announced Monday that it was shutting down for the season.

“How would I feel, Lord forbid, if someone came into our organization, contracted this virus, took it home and their grandparent . . . gets it and dies?” Connie Mitchell, the association’s president, told Sean Fitz-Gerald of The Athletic. “How would I live with myself?”

Fitz-Gerald added: “East York announced it was cancelling its season on Monday, just a week after it opened registration to returning players. It became the second GTHL-sanctioned association to close because of COVID-19, following Amesbury/Bert Robinson Minor Hockey League. (Swansea Hockey Association, which is not part of the GTHL, has also ceased operations for the season.)”

Fitz-Gerald’s story is right here.


So . . . you think you’ve got a gambling problem! Well, consider the bettor who picked the New York Giants to cover what was a four-point spread on Sunday. He put down $500,000. The visiting San Francisco 49ers won, 36-9. . . . Meanwhile, with the 49ers missing nine injured starters, someone bet that Giants QB Daniel Jones would throw for more than 244.5 yards. Uhh, no. He finished with 179, and there went another $500,000. . . . Both bets were placed with the DraftKings Sportsbook; a spokesperson wouldn’t tell the Action Network whether both bets were placed by the same person. . . . Now you can go back to that $2 scratch-and-win crossword.


Lastcall


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

With the Tennessee Titans having reported 11 positive tests, including five players, the NFL has postponed their scheduled Sunday game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers until sometime later in the season. Prior to two more positive tests revealed Thursday, including one player, the league had hoped to play the game Monday or Tuesday. . . . The Minnesota Vikings, who lost to the visiting Titans on Sunday, hadn’t had any positives through Wednesday tests and reopened their facilities on Thursday. . . .

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that the bus driver who “drove the Titans last weekend in Minnesota also drove MLB’s Houston Astros on their trip for a playoff series this week against the Twins, per sources. After the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak surfaced, the Astros removed the driver.” . . .

The MLS has postponed a game between the visiting Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbermen that was scheduled for Saturday. The move comes after the Rapids had two players and one staff member test positive. . . . The game now is scheduled to be played on Nov. 4. . . . The Rapids haven’t trained since Sept. 24 when the organization first experienced positive tests. . . .

The U of Hawaii has suspended training activities for its teams in football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. The decision was made after four football players tested positive. The football team had started its fifth practice when it was halted because of the positive tests.


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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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.



Geoff Grimwood has resigned as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s CowichanCowichan Capitals. . . . A news release from the team included this quote from Grimwood: “Effective today I have resigned my position of GM/head coach over ethical and philosophical differences with ownership. I have certain values that guide how I coach. I no longer felt comfortable continuing in this situation.” . . . Brian Passmore, the Capitals’ coach in 2017-18, has been named interim GM/head coach. . . . Grimwood didn’t get to coach even one regular-season with the Capitals. He was signed to what the team said was a “multi-year contract” on May 4. . . . In recent seasons, Grimwood has been on staff with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers, the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors and the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders and Winkler Flyers. . . . He was hired by the Capitals to replace Mike Vandekamp, who now is with the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm.


JUST NOTES: Darryl Plandowski is the new director of amateur scouting for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. He is coming off 12 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, most recently as assistant director of amateur scouting. He has some WHL history, having spent six seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds, four as a scout and two as an assistant coach. . . . Judging by Thursday’s loss to the visiting Denver Broncos, the NFL’s New York Jets are most fortunate that fans aren’t allowed into their home games.


Dwarfs

NHL one step closer to return . . . Canada out of junior Summer Showcase . . . Fragle hoping to rock in Trail

There still are a number of hurdles to get over but the NHLPA has given the OK for its executive to keep on talking to the NHL about a return to play. So if things continue to progress, hockey fans may yet get to watch 24 teams take part in some kind of a Stanley Cup tournament with games played in a number of hub cities. . . . Keeping in mind that there still negotiations to be held, Carol Schram, a senior contributor for Forbes, has more right here.

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Here’s one more thing for NHL players to think about as they prepare for a potential return to the ice. . . . Dr. Andrew Morris, who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has told TSN’s Rick Westhead that players need to make sure their long-term health is looked after should they happen to end up becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during a return to play. . . . Dr. Morris said: “Young athletes do not think about this stuff because they think they are invincible, but every so often we see young, healthy people get very bad diseases, and this is no different. It would be unusual for a healthy young athlete to get really sick with COVID and wind up in the ICU, but, hey, somebody wins the lottery, right? . . . They should want their health care and income insured, seeing that they are taking an additional risk, especially if residing in the U.S.” . . . As the medical community learns more and more about the impact of this virus, it is finding survivors who have been left with heart, kidney, liver and lung damage. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.



And what of the NBA and its efforts to get its season back on track? It is look as though it will re-open with all of its teams playing out of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance. . . . As Rohan Nadkarni of si.com points out in this piece right here, it really is all about the Benjamins.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA and a return to play:

“In the wonderful world of asterisks, we’re already talking Extra Large for whichever team wins the title. If you’re trying to play through a pandemic in neutral settings with nobody in the stands, you connect with nothing in Finals history. Don’t ruin this risky venture by welcoming the absurd.

“Those 16 teams worked hard to establish playoff position. Nobody else has the right to qualify after such a maddening layoff. The Warriors have long disappeared from view, but the same goes for Portland, New Orleans or any other team trying to sneak into this science-fiction film. They all had their chance.

“And for heaven’s sake, forget the idea (actually discussed) of a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine the final playoff slots in each conference. Could it be more boring, especially during times of urgency? ‘Hey, come see the teams that don’t deserve this.’ ”



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


BillPosters


USA Hockey is planning to play host to the World Junior Summer Showcase later this USAhockeysummer but Canada won’t be taking part. Teams from the U.S., Finland and Sweden will participate in the event that is to run from July 24 through Aug. 1 at Plymouth, Mich. . . . “We’ve heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we’re checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations who also is the GM of the U.S. national junior team. “Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There’s also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it’s going to be lifted sometime in June, so we’re just staying on top of everything from what’s going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That’s how we’re going to go. We’re not going to change anything.”



Hockey Canada announced on March 13 that it had cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice. . . . Earlier this week, Hockey Canada issued “An Open Letter to Canadians” that was signed by Michael Brind’Amour, the chairman of the board of directors, CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO. . . . Included in that letter was this paragraph:

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the game will determine when we return, not our desire to get back on the ice. When our country is ready, Hockey Canada will be ready. Until then, continue to follow the guidelines set by your provincial and territorial government to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Only by working together will we be able to make a difference and safely return.”

That letter is right here.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956 put perhaps foresaw the future rather clearly: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. . . . All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”


Granted, it’s not going to happen until 2021, but a new hockey league — 3ICE — is on the way. Headed up by CEO E.J. Johnston and Commissioner Craig Patrick, 3ICE will feature eight teams playing 3-on-3 hockey over nine weekends, each one in a different city, during the summer of 2021. . . . Each team’s roster will comprise six skaters and one goalie. . . . The team’s head coaches are Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier. . . . E.J. Johnston is the son of Ed Johnston, one of the head coaches who is a former NHL goaltender, head coach and GM. . . . There’s more right here.


After watching all 10 episodes of The Last Dance, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “These questions will never be answered, but here goes: For Jordan, was there really a higher level of emotional fire that could be reached only by disrespect? Did that disrespect supercharge his physical skills, or was that higher level of fire a self-created myth to enhance his greatness?”


Tinfoil


Brian Wiebe, a veteran observer of the BCHL, has a solid piece right here on that league and how it and its teams are coping with the pandemic and all that has come with it.

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Tim Fragle is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. TrailFrom Edmonton, Fragle has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. . . . While at NAIT, Fragle won three coach-of-the-year awards. . . . Fragile was the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for seven seasons (2009-16). . . . He played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Smoke Eaters, finish the last of those seasons with the Merritt Centennials. . . . While playing in Trail, he was teammates with Craig Clare, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., and is the Smokies’ director of hockey and business operations. . . . In Trail, Fragle takes over from Jeff Tambellini, who left in April to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as a pro scout and NCAA free-agent recruiter.


David Legwand, a co-owner of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, is moving from associate coach to be the team’s president of hockey operations. Legwand and Derian Hatcher, another former NHL player, purchased the Sting in 2015. . . . Legwand has been the associate coach for three seasons, with Hatcher as the head coach. Hatcher remains in the role, with Dylan Seca the general manager.


Darren Rovell of actionnetwork.com reports that a Mike Trout signed rookie card has sold at auction for US$900,000. It was from the Bowman Draft Chrome Prospect set. . . . That “obliterated the record for the highest-priced modern-day baseball card and tied the record for the most expensive modern-day card ever — the LeBron James/Michael Jordan logoman card, sold in February 2020,” Rovell wrote. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of Rovell’s story involved seven unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer NBA cards. These boxes weren’t at all popular when they debuted; in fact, boxes were returned by hobby stores for $6 refunds. At auction, Rovell wrote, they sold for “as much as $109,200 each.” . . . Rovell’s story is right here.


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