Will WHL change bantam draft age? . . . Lowry thinks NBA headed for positive season . . . Sorry! More ugly COVID-19 numbers


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, appeared on The Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 in Edmonton on Wednesday night and, at one point, suggested that the annual bantam draft might be pushed back a year. . . . On Thursday, Gregor, writing at oilersnation.com, expanded on that story, and it’s all right here. . . . “The WHL has a wonderful opportunity to make the correct decision and permanently increase the draft age,” Gregor writes. “Doing it for only one year would be close-minded, stubborn and with the new NCAA rule changes completely unnecessary.”


The NBA’s regular season is set to begin on Tuesday night and, yes, things are going to be interesting. . . . Just in case you’re wondering whether the NBA has normalized COVID-19, PG Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors said Thursday that it’s a given there will players testing positive during the season. During a Zoom call with reporters, Lowry said: ”It’s going to happen and we have to adjust, and when it happens, no one’s going to know how guys get it, or coaches get it, or whoever gets it. No-one’s going to understand how it happened . . . it’s going to be like, ‘Damn, OK.’ But the players, the team, the coaches, the league, will have to go on, make adjustments and figure it out as we go and it will be a different year. It’s going to be a tough year, but we got some of the best people in the world working with us, working for us.” . . .  With the teams in training camps and playing exhibition games, the NBA had only one player out of 549 test positive from Dec. 10-16.


Weed


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Canada reported a total of 7,008 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, which is the highest single-day increase the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 74M: Johns Hopkins University.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 221 new cases. That’s the lowest daily total since November 3. The province is also reporting 14 additional deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 238 new cases, just above the province’s 7-day average of 231. There have been 7 additional deaths.  Nationally, there are 486,393 cases; 395,980 people have recovered while 76,548 cases are active. The death toll stands at 13,865. . . . Sask. reduces self-isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 to 10 days. All international travellers must still self-isolate for 14 days.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw: Over the last 24 hrs, we ID’d 1,270 new cases & completed about 17.5K new tests.  Our positivity rate stands at about 7.3%. 749 ppl are in hospital, incl 139 in ICU. AHS is taking steps to increase capacity & expand the number of acute care & ICU beds. . . . Sadly, 16 new deaths were reported in the last 24hrs. My thoughts are w/ those grieving their loss. Each death is a reminder it is vital to reduce spread quickly. In less than 10 months, more ABs have died from COVID-19 than from influenza in the last 10 yrs combined.

CBC News: Alberta reports record-breaking 30 COVID-19 deaths over past 24 hours. Total number of deaths since pandemic began reaches 790.

CBC News: B.C. reports 673 new COVID-19 infections, 21 more deaths and 587 recoveries, for a provincial total of 44,776 cases, 713 deaths and 32,963 recoveries.

CBC News: Ontario’s hospitals are calling for new 28-day lockdowns in all regions currently in the red tier of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework. . . . Ontario reported a record-high 2,432 new cases on Thursday.

CBC News: 1,855 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec compared to the 7-day average of 1,817. Health authorities in the province are also attributing 22 additional deaths to the virus.

KOIN News: Gov. Brown extends Oregon state of emergency into March 2021.

NBC News: The U.S. reported 243,645 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, setting a single-day record.

Dr. Tom Frieden: The US reported more Covid deaths Wednesday than Japan has since the start of the pandemic.

CNN: 310,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

Los Angeles Times: Unions for teachers, nurses, grocery and hotel workers call for L.A. County shutdown in January.

ABC7 Eyewitness News: ICU capacity drops to 0% in Southern California as state reports 379 new COVID deaths, shattering daily record.

CBC News: French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said. He plans to continue to work while in isolation for seven days.

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Canada West, which has 17 member schools, has cancelled the 2020-21 swimming and track and field championships, while deferring a decision on its curling championships, which are scheduled for Edmonton in March. . . . The U of Calgary was to have played host to swimming, with the U of Manitoba handling track and field. . . .

The New York Giants will be without CB James Bradberry when they play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night. The Browns’ shutdown corner went on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Thursday. . . . The Giants also will be without Jason Garrett, their offensive co-ordinator, after he tested positive. That means that former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, who coaches the tight ends, will call the plays for the Giants on Sunday night. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders were without Greg Olson, their offensive co-ordinator, on Thursday night as they dropped a 30-27 OT decision to the Los Angeles Chargers. Yes, he tested positive. . . .

The Baltimore Ravens placed three wide receivers — Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and James Proche — on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. All three played in Monday’s victory over the Cleveland Browns. . . . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed RB Ronald Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . It isn’t known if any of the four tested positive or were identified as close contacts of someone who did. . . .

No. 12 Coastal Carolina won’t get a chance to improve to 12-0 on Saturday because the Chanticleers have run into COVID-19 problems. It was to have played No. 19 Louisiana (9-1) in the Sun Belt’s championship game. . . . The conference has declared the teams to be co-champions. . . . Also cancelled is Saturday’s scheduled game between the Michigan State Spartans and Maryland Terrapins, who had stopped all team activities. It is the second time in a month that a game between these two teams wasn’t played. Two other Big Ten games also have been cancelled — Michigan-Iowa and Indiana-Purdue.

Scott Van Pelt, who anchors ESPN’s nightly SportsCenter, revealed Thursday that he has tested positive. “Won’t be doing shows for a bit after a positive Covid-19 test,” he tweeted. “Thankfully, no fever & I feel fine. Just can’t smell or taste anything which was my clue to go get a test.”



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.



Poe

Dorothy, kidney patients need your help . . . Can pro leagues overcome logistics involved in a return to play? . . . DuPont signs with Canucks


It’s that time of the year again.

Under normal circumstances, we would be starting to get geared up for the annual Kidney Walk that was scheduled for Kamloops on Sept. 23. Yes, it has been cancelled.

So now we’re taking part in a virtual Kidney Walk that is being used to raise funds to help those fighting kidney disease to get through this stage of their lives.

My wife, Dorothy, who is approaching the seventh anniversary of her kidney transplant, is among those raising funds, as she has done for each of the six previous Kidney Walks.

If you would like to support her and join her team, you are able to do so right here.


As much as we all would like to see it, I really don’t think we should be holding our breath waiting for the NHL and/or the NBA to resume their 2019-20 seasons, or for MLB to start its 2020 season.

The logistics of getting these operations up and running are mind-numbing. And all the while there is the possibility of someone testing positive.

There has been speculation that if the NHL resumes play in five or six cities, one of those centres might be Edmonton.

Well, Ryan Rishaug of TSN asked Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical health officer, “what would happen in the event of a player testing positive after competition was under way in a hub city scenario?”

Here is Dr. Hinshaw’s response:

“The individual who is the confirmed case would need to be isolated for 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, and anyone who is a close contact with that person while they were infectious would need to be in quarantine for 14 days from that point of last exposure. That’s how we in public health would treat any case independent of wherever it happens.”

And the waiting game continues . . .

——

One thing that hasn’t been given much attention in all the speculation about professional leagues and when they might return/start play is: What do the wives and girlfriends think?

Consider the family of Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle. His wife, Eireann Dolan, has a lung condition and, as she explained on Twitter, has “been hospitalized and on oxygen for weeks at a time with viral pneumonia. Since I was nine years old. Go through something like that and maybe then you’ll have the requisite experience to judge my response.”

Yes, she was being abused on social media after suggesting that there was a lot more involved in a return to play than just pitching, hitting and playing defence.

She also pointed out: “I’m also not the only member of a player’s family who has a pre-existing condition or co-morbid condition. Not only that, there are players who have pre-existing conditions. This is not the time for haste when lives are on the line.”

At the same time, her husband was on a podcast with Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville, telling them: “We’ve all seen the way a common cold goes through a clubhouse. We’re in such close proximity, it’s impossible to enforce social-distancing measures when you’re trying to play a Major League Baseball season.”

So . . . how eager are players in any pro sport going to be to leave their families and enter into a facility where one opponent — the other team — is in their faces, while another is invisible?


Gulch


Could it be that there are junior hockey leagues out there that just don’t like each other? If so, is it envy or jealousy or something else?

Fred Harbinson, the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, spoke out on Monday, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that he and others have had enough.

After the conversation, Ewen wrote: “Harbinson says he was so frustrated with prospective players and college coaches telling him that they’re being told that the BCHL won’t run this season that he felt obligated to take to Twitter to fire back.”

This all seems to have started last month when Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, said that the league was preparing to ask provincial and federal governments for financial aid to help it get through the pandemic. However, Hebb never even intimated that any of the BCHL’s 18 teams might not be able to answer the next bell.

More from Ewen: “Harbinson wouldn’t point fingers at exactly who might be trying to spread the word that the entire BCHL is in harm’s way, but it’s no secret that the league has long duelled with the U.S. Hockey League for players.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Bryan Erikson is the GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Northeast Generals.


Peter King’s Football Morning in America, usually available on Sunday night in the Pacific time zone, is one of the week’s best reads. This week is no exception.

In a week in which the NFL is to release its schedule, here’s King writing about one of the stumbling blocks to a September start to the season:

“Potentially sensitive. What if each of the 32 teams is testing its players and essential staff twice a week. (Obviously, they’ll have to be tested regularly, to ensure that no COVID-positive person spreads the disease in the close quarters of a football team.) Say that’s 150 people (players, coaches, staff). So 300 tests per week (17) per team (32) — that adds up to 163,000 tests for the regular season. Let’s round up for the full season: 200,000 tests for a sports league to play its full schedule. By August, will there be enough tests so that the NFL doesn’t seem piggish to be using 200,000 that could go to the general public? (Even half that number, 100,000 tests, is a major number if many in the country are going without.)

“And teams will have to be willing, in the case of a positive test, to commit to placing that person in quarantine for two weeks. So the Kansas City Chiefs had better be comfortable with Chad Henne playing for two weeks or more if Patrick Mahomes tests positive. The Patriots had better be comfortable with Josh McDaniels coaching the team for two weeks if Bill Belichick tests positive.”

King’s complete column is right here.


DuctTape


The next world swimming championship are scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, May 13-29, 2022. They had been scheduled for July 16 through Aug. 1, 2021, but those dates ended up in conflict with the Olympic Summer Games after they were postponed from 2020 to 2021. . . .

There are 36 teams in Germany’s top two soccer leagues, and it was revealed on Monday that there have been 10 positive tests for the coronavirus. All told, players and staff underwent 1,725 tests. . . . The leagues are hopeful of starting at some point this month. . . . On Tuesday, Erzgebirge Are, a team in Germany’s second division, which is the men’s third division, announced it had put all players and staff into isolation after a staff member tested positive. . . .

The Associated Press is reporting that “the head of English Soccer says he does not expect crowds to be allowed back into matches ‘any time soon.’ ” . . . Greg Clarke, the FA Council chairman, wrote that “it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans — who are the lifeblood of the game — turning to matches any time soon.”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “An Englishman teaching an American about food is like the blind leading the one-eyed.”


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have added Micki DuPont and Jamie Henry to their coaching staff. DuPont will work as an assistant coach under Brad Moran, the general manager and head coach. Henry signed on as assistant coach/video co-ordinator. . . . DuPont played four seasons (1996-2000) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and was named the CHL’s top defenceman for 1999-2000. He went on to play extensively in Europe, retiring after 2018-19, his fourth season with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL. He worked last season with the midget AAA Calgary Royals. . . . Henry is a familiar face in Calgary minor hockey circles. . . . Tyson Avery is the Canucks’ other assistant coach.


Joe Birch has been named the chief operating officer and governor of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He takes over from the retiring Steve Bienkowski on June 1. Bienkowski had been with the Rangers for 18 seasons. . . . Birch has spent the past 12 years working in the OHL office, most recently as vice-president of hockey development. He also is a former Rangers player.


Here is Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with an observation regarding the NFL draft: “If every team gets the players it wanted, why are some franchises on their 12th consecutive rebuilding year?”


WashHands

No large gatherings in Alberta through August . . . Calgary and Edmonton lose major events . . . WHL planning to open on schedule

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, has said that restrictions on large gatherings in that province will run through the end of August.

Since Thursday, a number of events scheduled for Edmonton, including K-Days, and the city’s folk and jazz festivals, have been cancelled.

On Thursday, the Calgary Stampede and that city’s folk music festival were cancelled. On Friday, the City of Calgary extended its ban on large public gatherings and events through Aug. 31.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come, and the relatively low case numbers we’re seeing in many parts of the province are the result of our collective efforts and sacrifices,” Hinshaw said in her daily briefing. “COVID-19 is still with us, and it spreads rapidly through social interactions.

“We have had several instances in the province of social gatherings where one person passed the virus on to many others at a single event before the individual knew they had COVID.”

She mentioned a bonspiel in Edmonton that included 73 attendees, 40 of whom later tested positive for COVID-19.

“Unfortunately,” she added, “this virus does not respect our feelings. I am keenly aware of the depth to which these measures are affecting everyone. I do not take them lightly. I ask you to do the same.”

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from Rod Pedersen, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told him that the league plans “to open the 2020-21 season on schedule and the June 27 import draft is unchanged.”

That, of course, is what Robison would be expected to say.

The WHL hasn’t yet released its 2020-21 regular-season schedules, but chances are it would begin the weekend of Sept. 25, about five weeks after teams will want to open training camps.

However, you would hope that the WHL has Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and maybe a few others . . . you know, just in case.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, with 19 teams in B.C. and one — the Spokane Braves — in Washington, normally would open its regular season in mid-September. Steve Hogg, the general manager of the Summerland Steam, has told John Arendt of Black Press that “we have full plans on having a league,” but that it might not get rolling until mid-October.

You also are free to wonder if the annual CHL import draft really will be held on June 27. It normally is held a day or two after the NHL draft, which, this year, is scheduled for June 26 and 27 in Montreal.

But . . . hold on . . . there are rumblings that the NHL may postpone its draft because there will be a whole lot to sort out if it is to be held prior to the end of the regular season. And you will recall that the NHL’s regular season remains in a holding pattern.



The Bellingham Bells of baseball’s West Coast League have cancelled their 2020 season, but the league says its remaining 11 teams are preparing to open on June 5. . . . The league includes two Canadian teams — the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats. . . . The Bells’ hand was forced when the city shut down all activities in its facilities through Aug. 31. . . .

The 10-team Cape Cod Baseball League, perhaps the top summer league for college players, has cancelled its 2020 season. The league has been around since 1885 and has played every season since 1945. . . . Its season was to have opened on June 13, with playoffs starting on Aug. 4. . . .

The 12-team Western Canadian Baseball League is expected to cancel its 2020 season after officials meet on Wednesday. The 12-team league features teams in Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton, all in Saskatchewan, and the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks. . . .

Organizers have cancelled the World Triathlon event that was scheduled to be held in Edmonton. The Grand Final of the ITU World Triathlon group was set for Aug. 17-23. . . . Reid Wilkins of Global News has more right here, including news that the Prairie Football Conference, which is scheduled to begin play in mid-August, is looking at a delayed start.



A nondescript wooden cudgel discovered in a Vermont home in 1980 — and just sitting in an umbrella stand ever since — turned out to be a circa-1850s hockey stick now up for auction online. It’s been appraised at $3.5 million,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Proving once again that it pays to forecheck.”


Pizza


Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “The PGA Tour is planning a mid-June return with no fans, assuring the look and ambiance of it will have all the excitement of a Tuesday practice round. Meantime, GolfTV reported exclusively that the gum Tiger Woods chews on a golf course is orange-flavored Trident. Run to the store and start hoarding!”



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Khrushchev, too, looks like the kind of man his physicians must continually try to diet, and historians will someday correlate these sporadic deprivations, to which he submits ‘for his own good,’ with his public tantrums. If there is to be a world cataclysm, it will probably be set off by skim milk, Melba toast, and mineral oil on the salad.”


Wasps


Nick Deschenes has signed on as the head coach and director of player personnel with the junior B Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . He has spent the past four seasons working with minor hockey programs and academies near his home in West Kelowna. . . . Prior to that he spent one season (2012-13) as the GM/head coach of the KIJHL’s Grand Forks Border Bruins and the next two as the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Deschenes takes over the Steam from Ken Karpuk, who departed after one season. . . . Tim Hogg, the play-by-play voice of the Steam has more right here.


Barry Petrachenko spent 20 years running BC Hockey. On Monday, the province’s hockey CEO lost his job. . . . If you’re wondering what happened, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has the story right here.


StayAway