WHL’s B.C. teams closer to playing . . . Oilers new goalie had myocarditis . . . Junior A league cancels season

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told media on Monday afternoon that the WHL2WHL’s return-to-play protocol for its five B.C. Division teams has been approved. Richard Zussman of Global BC tweeted that Dix said he “expects the season to go ahead. Says there are some health authority issues still being worked out, but the season will be played.” . . . Postmedia’s Steve Ewen reported: “Through the negotiations, there had been some suggestion from the health authority about a one-city hub. There’s been talk as well through the process of a 24-game season spread over six weeks. WHL officials weren’t sure Monday what exactly had been approved.” . . . Ron Toigo, the Vancouver Giants’ majority owner, told Ewen: “We’re definitely going in the right direction.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here. . . .

Wondering why the WHL apparently has received clearance to play, while the BCHL continues to wait? It might have to do with the WHL hubs in Kamloops and Kelowna both being in the Interior Health Authority, while the BCHL wants to play in five hubs which means it will be dealing with more than one health authority. . . . Also, WHL teams are to stay in hotels; the BCHL plan apparently calls for the use of billets. . . .

The WHL reported on Friday that it hadn’t received any positives from 481 tests done on its five Alberta teams. The schedule involving those teams began on Friday. The five Saskatchewan-based teams and two from Manitoba have gathered in Regina and will begin play on March 12. The five U.S. Divisions are scheduled to start up on March 18. . . .

B.C. health officials don’t report COVID-19 numbers during weekends — it is the only jurisdiction in Canada that chooses not to — and on Monday it was announced that the province experienced 1,478 news cases over the previous three days. Eight weekend deaths brought B.C.’s total to 1,363.



Selfish


The Edmonton Oilers claimed G Alex Stalock on waivers from the Minnesota Wild on Monday, despite the fact that he hasn’t played all season. Stalock was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November, then was listed by the Wild as being out with an upper-body injury. . . . Stalock told Michael Russo of The Athletic that he was found to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can come along with COVID-19. Upon being diagnosed, he was told to rest for six weeks. . . . Here’s what he told Russo: “Those first couple weeks were scary. You go on the internet and read stuff and you’re like, ‘Holy shit.’ I was completely asymptomatic, but they think because I had no symptoms and had it in my system that because it was right at the time where we were ramping things up with skating and working out and ramping up for the season that my heart was working and working and working and started to get stressed and swell because of the virus in my system.” . . . Stalock also said: “It was mentally draining and very frustrating. Every doctor you talk to, they’re like, ‘This is so new, we don’t know what can happen.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, that doesn’t help.’ “


The seven-team junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League’s board of governors announced on Monday that it has “discontinued its effort to resume play in 2020-21 . . . effective immediately.” . . . From a news release:

“Throughout the entire return-to-play process, the league has never sought exemptions from public health guidelines and recommendations. The stark reality is that the Thunder Bay District and Northwestern region is currently amongst the hardest hit in the province — perhaps even the country — with virus activity and trending in the wrong direction.

“The SIJHL is confident that its strict safety protocols mitigated risk and ensured the league has not contributed to the spread of the virus, it is simply no longer reasonable to hold out hopes that the region will revert to an environment that permits return to play in time to resume any sort of meaningful competition this season.”


Speed


In the world of NCAA men’s hockey, a series between visiting Denver U and Colorado College that was to have been played Thursday and Saturday has been cancelled. Why? Positive tests, contact tracing and quarantining in the Colorado College program. The NCHC playoffs are scheduled for March 12-16 in Grand Forks. The cancellations meant teams haven’t played the same number of games, so playoff seedings were determined by points percentage. Colorado College’s status — it is the No. 7 seed — will be monitored over the next few days.


The Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons were to have played an NBA game in Tampa tonight, but it was postponed and now it’s hoped that they will be available to play on Wednesday night. According to the NBA, the move was made because of “positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization.” . . . A game between the Raptors and Chicago Bulls that was to have been played Sunday also was postponed, and Toronto played without F Pascal Siakam, head coach Nick Nurse and five members of his staff on Friday,


Tim McCarver, a former MLB catcher, opted out of his job as an analyst on Fox Sports Midwest’s telecasts of St. Louis Cardinals games last season. McCarver, 79, likely won’t be taking part in telecasts again this season. “Everything is fine with me, I’m very healthy — and plan on keeping it that way,” McCarver told Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I just have to use common sense.”


James Bradshaw, The Globe and Mail — CIBC has pushed back its return-to-office plans again, telling employees currently working remotely that most of them shouldn’t expect to come back until the end of June, at the earliest.


The AJHL will resume its season on March 12 with its 13 remaining teams playing in five cohorts. The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats have opted out. . . . Teams will play on weekends through April 14, without fans, then pause, change groups and start up again. . . . The first round of COVID-19 testing didn’t return any positives from 367 players and staff.


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.


Pinging

Scattershooting on a Sunday night following an NFL weekend and with Alabama-OSU yet to come . . .

Scattershooting2

Whatever it was that the WHL was selling on Friday — hope? — F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers and F Conor Geekie of the Winnipeg Ice WHL2were buying. Both players have decided to stay put rather than play in a U.S. junior league. . . . The deadline for players released by Hockey Canada to move south was Sunday. . . . Stankoven chose not to join the USHL’s Fargo Force. He told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he made his decision on Friday night. . . . “I decided (Friday) night to stay in town,” Stankoven, who is from Kamloops, told Seitz, “and stick with the Blazers since the WHL came out with a statement (Friday) night saying that we’ll be having a 24-game season starting in February.” . . . The WHL said Friday that it had “made a commitment” to play a 24-game season, but didn’t indicate a potential starting date, saying that would be determined once health officials “in each provincial and state jurisdiction” give the OK for a return to play. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Geekie, the second overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, had offers from two USHL and two NAHL teams. Geekie, who is from Strathclair, Man., got into nine games with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals this season, scoring once and adding four assists. . . .

The Dubuque Saints announced on Jan. 5 that they were adding Ice F Matt Savoie. Savoie, the No. 1 pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, didn’t play in either of Dubuque’s two weekend games and, in fact, hadn’t been added to the team’s roster as of Sunday night. . . . A notice on the Dubuque website: “Our offices have been closed temporarily due to recommendations from the CDC in regards to COVID-19.”

——

The WHL has done the smart thing in moving away from declaring potential starting dates for a new season. Here’s Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, in an Oct. 15 Zoom call with media:

“We just felt that at some point we needed to create some certainty around the start of the season. We had announced already two tentative target dates but this is not a tentative date, this is a firm date. We are going to start on Jan. 8.”


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The 6-10 Giants think they got hosed by missing out on an NFL playoff berth? ‘Cry us a river,’ said the 10-6 Miami Dolphins.


After Trump’s stormtroopers stormed the gates on Wednesday, wouldn’t it have been nice to have heard from the likes of Brett Favre, Jack Nicklaus and/or Bobby Orr, all of whom were proud to be seen as Trump supporters before the November election? You may recall that Orr took out a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader, stating that Trump was “the kind of teammate I want.” . . . Really, Bobby? He wasn’t anywhere near the joint as his troopers were storming the gates. Some teammate!

And let’s not forget that it was Nicklaus who wrote in a tweet about Trump: “His love for America and its citizens, and putting his country first, has come through loud and clear.” . . . Yeah, hasn’t it!

——

Meanwhile, I wake up every morning and wonder how it is that the United States of America could experience what it did on Wednesday and still have the same orange clown operating out of the White House five days later.

——

Here’s Steve Kerr, the always thoughtful head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors: “A legitimate election is suddenly questioned by millions of people, including many of the people who are leading our country in government, because we’ve decided to, over the last few years, allow lies to be told. So this is who we are. You reap what you sow.”

If you aren’t familiar with Kerr’s background, well, Google is your friend.

——

And here is Draymond Green, a veteran forward with the Warriors: “Through social media and all these different tools we have at our fingertips today, we’re more aware. But nothing’s changed. We’re still the same America that it’s been. It’s no different. I’ve seen a lot of (statements) of ‘shoot (the protestors) like (Black people) would’ve been shot.’ Nah, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Stop shooting us. That’s more the battle cry than necessarily shoot them like we would’ve been shot. Just stop shooting us.”

——

Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has a question: “While he’s banned from most sites has anyone checked to see if Trump is trying to sell the White House china on eBay?”



A big thank you to the NHL and TSN or whoever was responsible for blacking out the Toronto Maple Leafs’ scrimmage that was held on Saturday night. It was live on TSN-4 and, had it been available here, I may have watched it, all the while wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off playing solitaire. . . . Update: Later Saturday night, I stumbled on replays on two separate Sportsnet channels. I watched about three minutes of it and, yes, play-by-play voice Joe Bowen was in Game 7 form.

——

So . . . why wasn’t the Montreal Canadiens’ Sunday night scrimmage available on TSN or Sportsnet?


If you’re a football fan, please allow me to suggest that you make Jack Finarelli’s Football Friday a regular stop. Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) dropped a terrific all-encompassing read on his website last Friday. Take a look right here and I think you’ll agree that it should become a habit.


The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 11-0 at one point and had a quarterback being mentioned as a potential MVP, finished 1-5. . . . BTW, that quarterback’s cap hit next season is to be more than US$41 million.


Leftfield


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: As of Sunday, more than 90 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.

CBC News: As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 660,289 cases of COVID-19, with 84,567 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,950.

CBC News: Ontario registered 3,945 new cases and 61 additional deaths. The new cases mark a single-day record for the province.

CBC News: Quebec reported 2,588 new cases and 39 new deaths, a day after it topped 3,000 new cases for the first time. Recent projections suggest Montreal’s hospitals could soon exceed capacity.

CNN, Sunday, 7:15 p.m. PT: 374,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Sunday, 3:15 p.m. PT: 22.3 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

——

The Vancouver Canucks cancelled their Sunday on-ice sessions because of a possible exposure to someone in their organization. They are due back on the ice today (Monday) and are to start the regular season in Edmonton against the Oilers on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . The Canucks are the fourth team to have cancelled training camp sessions, after the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. Of the four clubs, though, only the Stars have reported positive tests — six players and two staffers. . . .

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat were to have played an NBA game on Sunday night. However, one of the Heat players had an inconclusive test. That result and contact tracing left the Heat without the required eight players needed in order to play a game. The Celtics had eight players available after nine were ruled out because of protocols. . . . On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers played despite having only seven healthy players, and lost to the visiting Denver Nuggets. Philadelphia lost Seth Curry to a positive test on Thursday and four teammates were out due to contact tracing. . . . Tim Bontemps of ESPN has a great look at the NBA’s situation right here.


Shopping


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.


Cxn

Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

——

The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

——

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


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: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

Toigo: Pandemic fallout won’t be pretty picture . . . Hamilton: We are in full support of what’s going on . . . Robison: Bantam draft may be delayed

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, said on Wednesday that the fallout in junior hockey from COVID-19 may take a year or two to be seen but that “it’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

Appearing on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver, Toigo said:

“At some point, there’s going to have to be some government support for these Vancouverthings to survive, and without that I think you’re going to see failures across the country from (junior A) to major junior to junior B. It’s inevitable.

“From our perspective, we were already down half-a-million dollars when (last season) ended because we didn’t get the last home games in which is where you start to break even. All these things are more or less designed to break even if everything goes right, and then if you get a run in the playoffs you can recover some of the money.

“Most teams in general, not just the Western Hockey League, the BCHL, across the board, people don’t get into this to make a living. . . . These aren’t great models from an economic perspective. Now when you take all the revenue away but keep most of the expenses, it’s not a good scenario for any business.”

The end result, according to Toigo, could be disastrous.

“You might not see it this year,” he said. “It might take a year or two where a lot of these things will come to fruition. It’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

Toigo pointed out that he and the other WHL operators are hardly alone in having to face this pandemic.

“It is a scenario that virtually all walks of life are dealing with,” he said. “Every business is dealing with it. The catastrophic impact on small businesses across this province is something we are going to feel for many many years to come, and junior hockey is just one of those that are caught up in it.”

Toigo’s appearance is available right here.

——

Bruce Hamilton, the Kelowna Rockets’ president and general manager and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, agrees with Toigo in terms of what’s ahead.

“We are going to have some teams that are going to really struggle,” Hamilton KelownaRocketstold Travis Lowe of Global News.“It’s up to the rest of us to help make sure that they make it through.”

But, at this point in time, Hamilton said, “We just don’t see there being any way that we can safely have our players back here.”

Hamilton also pointed out that the WHL and its teams aren’t about to question any of the public heath officials or the regulations that have been put in place in any of the six jurisdictions in which the league operates.

“We fully understand and fully, fully support what is going on,” Hamilton said.

There was a time when the WHL had hoped to open a regular season on Oct. 2. It later changed that date to Dec. 4 and then to Jan. 8. On Tuesday, the league announced that it has moved on from that date and that it now doesn’t have a starting date. Instead, its board of governors will meet in January and assess things at that point.

“I think we are being wise to not name a date,” Hamilton told Lowe. “To me, that becomes an issue for the players . . . they get their hopes up.”

Meanwhile, the OHL is hoping to open its regular season on Feb. 4.

The QMJHL tried to get its regular season started in October, and has gone in fits and starts. Like so many other leagues, it now is back on hold and is hoping to resume play in January. When it does get back on the ice, it could be in some sort of bubble format.

There are 12 Quebec-based teams in the league and seven of them want to play host to bubbles — the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Drummonville Voltigeurs, Quebec Remparts, Rimouski Oceanic, Shawinigan Cataractes and Victoriaville Tigres.

These days, however, there’s more to life than playing hockey.

As Rockets head coach Kris Mallette told Lowe: “There’s a bigger issue at hand. This pandemic is not going away.”

Lowe’s story is right here.

——

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said on Wednesday that the league’s is considering moving the bantam draft back on year because of what the pandemic has done to this season.

“Yes, absolutely,” Robison said on The Jason Gregor Show (TSN 1260, whlEdmonton). “It’s hard to evaluate players (and) it’s hard for players to develop under these circumstances. We are considering delaying the draft.

“We haven’t arrived at a decision on that but I think in fairness to the players and the system generally that is something we are seriously considering and we will hopefully make a decision real soon.”

Robison pointed out that scouting has “represented a challenge.” But, he said, the WHL wants to “do it right and give the players every opportunity.”

Under normal circumstances, the bantam draft is held on the first Thursday of May, although the 2020 draft was held virtually on April 23.

During his appearance, Robison also said that the WHL hasn’t had any conversations about scrapping the season, and added that there isn’t a drop-dead date by which time such a decision would have to be made.

“We’re just trying to find a window of time that’s going to make sense,” he said. “Our goal is to have all teams, all divisions playing. Our hope is to get everyone started. We may have to stagger our start. We’re not quite sure what that will look like. We’re prepared to do anything, quite frankly, to get the season in and find a way to make it a representative season for the players and our teams.”

In the end, Robison said, the league is well aware that a final decision will come down to the health authorities.

“We are in discussion with the health authorities in order to return to play,” he explained. “Our protocols are a little bit more extensive than the other levels of hockey, if you will. We have not received final approval from all jurisdictions in order to play. It’s a health-and-safety issue first and foremost for our players, and we want to make sure we do it right. We want to have a testing base and a protocol solution and we’re working through these with the various health authorities.”

The WHL announced on Tuesday that it wasn’t going to start its next season on Jan. 8 as it had hoped. Had it been able to go then, it likely would have had a 50-game regular season.

Now, with no start date even pencilled in, Robison said a determination hasn’t been made as to how many games is needed to have a season.

“We aren’t going to be in a position to deliver (50 games),” he said. “We’ve got to make a determination on whether we can play four full rounds of playoffs and a Memorial Cup. Once we have all that information we’ll set our schedule. But it’ll all depend on what our start date is . . . and what our end date will be.”

At the moment, restrictions in at least two provinces — Alberta and Saskatchewan — have been extended into mid-January. Whenever restrictions come off, Robison there will be about a three-week time frame before a regular season could start. That would include getting players into isolation, a testing procedure and holding some kind of training camp.

“There is a bit of a process we have to go through in preparation to start,” Robison said, adding that the WHL isn’t “in a position to project with restrictions into Jan. 15.”

Robison also touched on the financial picture involving the 22-team league.

“They’re all in a very difficult position,” he said. “This is something that is very challenging for a lot of organizations, a lot of teams at this stage. They’ve been holding on waiting to start play. They’ve got ongoing costs associated with that.

“Let’s not forget that we had to cancel the balance of our season, including the end of the regular season and playoffs and the Memorial Cup that we were scheduled to host (in Kelowna). A significant amount of losses has been accumulated by the teams to date.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for them to envision moving forward, especially when we’re a ticket-driven league and at this particular stage we are not envisioning spectators to be permitted. The whole financial equation is a very difficult one for our teams.”

The complete interview is available right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Earl Seitz, the long-time sports anchor at CFJC-TV in Kamloops, opened his Wednesday evening sportscast with this:

“We hear about the impact that no hockey, no sports, is having on the mental health of some.

“Can’t disagree with that.

“But to put it in perspective — think of the seniors, the elders, who are dying by the hundreds, the thousands, from Covid-19 — and because of restrictions are alone without the presence of loved ones there to comfort them in their final hours.

“Or those loved ones who will live with the anguish of not being able to be there with a mother, a father, a grandparent or wife or husband in their final hours.

“Hockey and sports will be back — those who are dying from Covid-19 won’t be.”

——

——

Skylar Peters, CJOB Winnipeg: 15 more Manitobans have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the province reported 292 cases Wednesday. . . . Total: 21,286. . . . Active: 5,797. . . . Deaths: 523. . . . Hospitalized: 328. . . . ICU: 46. . . . WPG test positivity rate: 13.7%. . . . Prov. test positivity rate: 13.6%.

CBC News: 169 new COVID-19 cases reported in Saskatchewan, the 2nd day in a row the number of cases has been below 200. That’s hasn’t happened since November 24-25.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,270 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths. Dr. Hinshaw points out that more Albertans have died from COVID-19 in 10 months, than from influenza over the past 10 years combined.

Kamloops This Week: B.C. health authorities are reporting 640 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 further deaths due to the disease. . . . Those new cases include 91 in the Interior Health region, which now has 843 active cases, including 28 in hospital and seven of those patients in critical care units. . . . In total, there are 9,950 active cases in the province. Of those, 362 are in hospital, including 91 in critical care. The province has now had 44,103 confirmed cases. Of those, 32,375 have recovered and 692 have died.

CBC News: Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 more deaths from the illness on Wednesday as hospitalization figures reached second-wave highs.

CBC News: 1,897 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, well above the 7-day average of 1,791. 43 additional deaths are also reported. The number of people in hospital rose by 16 to 975; 128 are in intensive care.

CBC News: New household gathering limits announced for all of Nova Scotia during Christmas period.

CNN: The United States reported at least 3,453 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

Jim Acosta, CNN: A devastating day in the pandemic for the US. So far today (Wednesday), Johns Hopkins has reported 242,490 new cases and 3,518 reported deaths (10:20pm eastern). This is the highest single day reporting of daily new deaths since the pandemic began.

——

The start of the Australian Open has been pushed back three weeks to Feb. 8. It was to have opened on Jan. 18 in Melbourne.


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 NHL’s Calgary Flames have moved Jason LaBarbera from the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen to be their goaltending coach. LaBarbera spent four seasons as the goaltending coach with the Hitmen, who are owned by the Flames. LaBarbera, 40, also is Hockey Canada’s goaltending coach, so is in the Edmonton bubble with the national junior team. He played four seasons in the WHL (Tri-City, Portland, Spokane, 1996-2000). . . . The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves need a head coach after Cory Stillman left to join the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes as an assistant coach. He had been the Wolves’ head coach for three seasons. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as the Carolina Hurricanes’ director of player development.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if that really was an NFL game in Denver . . .

Scattershooting

EarlyMorning
Sunrise over the South Thompson River . . . Campbell Creek, B.C. . . . Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 . . . 7 a.m.

There was a wonderful outpouring of emotion the other day when Fred Sasakamoose was taken from us by COVID-19 at the age of 86. Mel Recchi of Kamloops felt the loss, too.

FredSasakamoose, who would have turned 86 on Christmas Eve, played four seasons (1956-60) with the Kamloops Chiefs of the long gone Okanagan Senior Hockey League. This came after his 11-game stint with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks (1953-54) and time with the New Westminster Royals, Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Calgary Stampeders.

During Sasakamoose’s stint with the Chiefs, Recchi sometimes would serve as a practice goaltender.

“He was a hell of a hockey player and also a pretty nice guy,” Recchi remembers. “He could shoot that puck. He really liked Kamloops . . . and they loved him here.”

Of course, goaltenders didn’t wear masks back in the day.

“I was a brash kid in those days . . . no mask and no fear,” recalls Recchi, who also got ice time with the Western league’s Vancouver Canucks when they would train in Kamloops. “I can’t believe it now.”

BTW, Sasakamoose played 94 games through three of those seasons with the Chiefs, scoring 43 goals and adding 57 assists. The stats for the 1958-59 season aren’t available.

Sasakamoose has family in Kamloops, including his younger brother, Pete, who didn’t make the Chiefs when Fred did, but ended up staying in the city and making it his home.

Solaine Sasakamoose, a great-grand niece, played for the Kamloops-based Thompson Rivers University women’s soccer team in 2019. She was born in Kamloops, but was living and playing soccer on the Lower Mainland when she was recruited by TRU coach Mark Pennington.

Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more on Fred Sasakamoose and his Kamloops connections right here.


Papercut


Earl Seitz, the sports voice at CFJC-TV in Kamloops, has been an observer of the sporting universe for more than 50 years. Here’s a relevant thought that he posted on Facebook this weekend:

“Can’t understand the NFL and college basketball keep plowing ahead with growing number of COVID-19 cases. I make my living from sports, but if we want to keep living it’s time for sports, all sports, to take a complete break until there is a reliable vaccine for everyone.”

He’s right.


Columnist Ann Killion, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“At UCLA, registered nurses protested the fact that the athletic department conducted 1,248 tests in a single week but health-care workers at the university hospitals have been denied testing.

“National Nurses United, the nation’s largest RN union, released a survey of more than 15,000 members: two-thirds reported never having been tested. Yet the NFL administered more than 43,000 tests in a two-week period in November.

“Do you think our priorities might be just a little bit skewed?

“Sports is a nice distraction. But at what price?”


“Veteran NBA forward Trevor Ariza got traded from Portland to Houston to Detroit to Oklahoma City in three separate deals in barely two days after this year’s draft,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The Thunder is listing Ariza as day-to-day with severe jet lag.”

——

Perry also served up what he calls a “Turkey quiz.” Here it is: “The worst dish served up each Thanksgiving Day is: a) Tofu; b) Plantains; c) the Detroit Lions.”

——

It would seem that Perry isn’t a Lions fan, because he also had this one: “Eastern Market Brewing Co. has stopped sales and production of ‘Same Old Lager’ after Lions legend Barry Sanders — pictured on the can in team colors without his consent — threatened to sue. Apparently it was a little too Lions: It went flat the minute you opened the can.”

——

Perry’s tweet of the week came from George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on TV’s original Star Trek: “Breaking: Professional sports fall into disarray as concerns mount over whether losing teams will concede to winning ones despite what the scoreboard says.”


Fixed


After Alabama football coach Nick Saban tested positive and another 19 NCAA football games were scratched, Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, wondered: “Wouldn’t it be simpler to write ‘COVID-19’ on the College Football 2020 Trophy and be done with it?”



Coming at some point over the next 10 days, the annual Taking  Note Bookshelf. Yes, it’s coming back by popular demand — two loyal readers have asked about it! . . . It looks like it’ll be in three parts, but be forewarned that I strayed from sports books over the past 12 months. Still, you may find a Christmas idea or two, especially if you’re shopping for yourself.


The story to which Jack McCallum refers in the above tweet is a wonderful piece of work by the great Steve Rushin. Take a few minutes and give it a read. You won’t be sorry.



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Against titanic odds, the NBA and MLB managed to complete seasons with historical significance — wildly different to be sure, but nevertheless authentic in the end. That’s hardly the case with the Pac-12 football season, a terrible idea (especially after the initial plan to call it off) that has descended into farce. Retrospective views will offer nothing but disdain, dismissal and wonderment, as in, What were we doing? Now the plague of stupidity (with a special dose of greed) has infected college basketball, with alarming developments expected throughout the land. . . . That’s the key word, expected. Positive tests, outbreaks, shutdowns, fractured schedules — all of this was going to be part of the deal, and the power brokers just brushed it aside, like lint. ‘Surely,’ wrote Chuck Culpepper in the Washington Post, ‘there’s an admirable human trait tucked somewhere into the way everybody continues to act.’ ”


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Catherine Litt worked in the newsroom at the Kamloops Daily News while I was the sports editor. As she writes: “It happens to other families until it happens to yours.” . . . Wear a mask, keep your distance and be safe out there.

——

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 365 new COVID-19 cases, 11 additional deaths. Officials say the current 5-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 13.3% per cent provincially, 13.5% in Winnipeg.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: Record highs for hospitalizations (115) and ICU patients (23). . . . There were a record high 120 positive cases in Regina in the past 24 hours. The high one month ago was 21. . . . Regina’s test positivity was 10.78%.

COVID-19 Tracker Canada: Both COVID-19 hospitalizations and patients in ICU in Saskatchewan are at all-time highs, with 115 in hospital (+9) and 23 in ICU (+5). . . . Today’s increase of +5 in ICU is the highest ever daily increase for COVID-19 ICU census data in Saskatchewan.

Robson Fletcher, CBC Calgary: The latest COVID-19 data for Alberta: 1,609 cases yesterday (1,608 net w/adjustments to past days); 15,692 active cases. A record; 435 in hospital / 95 in ICU. Both records; 9 more people have died. 533 total now.

rdnewsNOW: Red Deer up to 191 active COVID-19 cases.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: Another COVID-19 death is being reported in the Hat today. Bringing the total to four. . . . There are 107 active cases and 152 recoveries. . . . 1,608 new cases were identified in the last 25 hours. Nine new deaths (including the one here) are being reported

CBC News: Ontario reported 1,708 new cases and 24 deaths today: The province’s health ministry says another 53,959 tests were completed in the last 24 hours. Labs are reporting a 3.7% positivity rate for Ontario.

CBC News: Quebec reported 1,395 new cases today: The province has added 12 deaths to its total, including 4 from the last 24 hours and 8 that happened earlier this week. 665 people are in hospital, including 92 in ICU.

CBC News: P.E.I. has no new confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are 4 active cases in the province. No one is in hospital.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 14 new cases of COVID-19. 4 of the cases are in the Moncton region, 9 are in the Saint John  region and 1 is in the Bathurst region. There are now 119 cases in the province, including 1 person who is in hospital.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19. 9 of the new cases are in the Central Zone and 1 is in the Western Zone. There are now 125 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital.

CBC News: 4 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. All of the cases are in the Eastern Health region, but they are not connected to each other. There are 36 active cases in the province. No one is in hospital.

KOMO News: Washington State health officials report more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases.

Top U.S. & World News: The US has surpassed 100,000 new daily Covid cases for the 27th consecutive day as those who traveled for the holiday risk spreading the virus.

——

——

Things have gotten to a point in the NFL where it is shutting down almost all team-related activities for Monday and Tuesday. Yes, there are games scheduled for both nights, but other than that it will be mostly quiet as the league tries to get a handle on what has been happening. . . . Yeah, good luck with that. . . . WR Willie Snead of the Baltimore Ravens tested positive on Sunday. He is the seventh Baltimore starter to test positive. The Ravens, who are to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday, have had at least one positive test each of the past eight days and have 20 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They also have had 10 staff members test positive. . . .  That is the game that was to have been played on Thursday, then was bumped to Sunday and, finally, to Tuesday. . . . The Steelers will be without RB James Conner, a cancer survivor who has tested positive, and a couple of assistant coaches.


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: If you’re a regular viewer of PTI you have to know that Michael Wilbon is going to be an angry man on Monday afternoon, what with Northwestern and his beloved Chicago Bears both laying eggs on the weekend. . . . If you are interested in WHL history and if you’re on Twitter, you need to be following Kevin Shaw (@theblueliner). He posts something every day slugged “On this date in @WHLPats history” and it’s great stuff. Yes, every once in a while my name shows up, but more often it’s someone like Fran Huck or Billy Hicke or Terry Harper or Gord Berenson. You may know Berenson as Red. Anyway, check it out.


Bills

CHL facing another potential class-action lawsuit . . . Most everything with WHL these days is fluid . . . Former WHL owner, GM, coach dies at 79

These have to be tough days to be the owner of a WHL franchise, don’t they?

The WHL is only a few weeks removed from the CHL, the umbrella under which it, the whlOHL and the QMJHL operate, having settled a civil suit for $30 million. In that suit, players, former and present, were, among other things, asking to be paid minimum wage under labour legislation in various jurisdictions. While not admitting to any wrongdoing or agreeing to pay minimum wage, the CHL settled, with insurance covering half the tab and each of the Canadian teams believed to be on the hook for more than $280,000.

And there is another WHL-related lawsuit before the courts, this one involving concussions, with the parties waiting to see if it will be certified as a class-action.

And another lawsuit dropped on Thursday, this one also seeking to be certified as a class-action. It carries the signatures of two former major junior players — Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Garrett Taylor, who split a couple of seasons (2008-10) between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — and is looking for more co-signees.

This one could prove to be particularly ugly because, as you will see by reading this piece right here from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, Carcillo and Taylor are alleging that they were subject to abuse that is, to be honest, beyond description.

(BTW, you may recall that Taylor and his mother, Kim, were among those who appeared before an Oregon Senate committee on workforce on Feb. 27, 2018. They were opposing a proposed bill that would have exempted the Portland Winterhawks from state labour legislation. Ultimately, that request was denied.)

Geez, we haven’t even mentioned the hot mess that former OHL player Eric Guest hit that league and his old team, the Kitchener Rangers, with earlier in the week. The allegations, which included the forced ingestion of cocaine, are beyond messy, and the league, the team and the RCMP now are said to be conducting investigations.

And let’s not forget about the pandemic, you know, the coronavirus, COVID-19, and all that goes with that.

On Wednesday, following the completion of its annual meeting, the WHL issued a news release in which it said it “has targeted a start date of Friday, Oct. 2, for the 2020-21 regular season, but this date remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from government and health authorities in each of the six jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

Those would be Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Washington and Oregon. To this point, the citizens of the four Canadian provinces have done a good job of battling this virus. As for the two states, well, let’s just point out that Canada has closed its border with the U.S. until at least July 21 for a reason. And Canadians, especially those in B.C., are pleading with the feds to keep it closed for a whole lot longer.

On Thursday, Ron Robison, the WHL commish, was on a Zoom gathering with various media types and it is obvious that a proposed starting date really is a moving target.

At his point, the WHL hopes to have a 68-game regular season, but . . .

It hopes to open training camps on Sept. 15, but . . .

It’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s all in the hands of the medical community and, as Rafferty Baker of CBC News, reports right here, people like Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, aren’t ready to commit to anything just yet.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week was on the Zoom call and his report is right here. . . . The word “fluid” appears on more than one occasion and for good reason.

How fluid are things?

Don Moores, the Kamloops Blazers’ president and chief operating officer, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV this week that the club isn’t even selling season tickets.

Moores explained: “We actually haven’t sold any season tickets yet. One of the things we don’t want to do is over-promise and under-deliver. It’s important for us to make sure that we know what we’re going to have and what that season will look like before we move ahead with that.”

As for the Winterhawks, who aren’t believe to be experiencing financial difficulties but are in receivership, Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison “said there has been a lot of interest in acquiring the club.”

Danzer’s piece is right here.


Earlier in the week, the University of Alberta stunned the Canadian sporting community by announcing it has cancelled the 2020-21 seasons for it’s men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and volleyball teams.

Ian Reade, the school’s athletic director, made the announcement, stating in a news release that “the Athletics budget is no longer able to support participation in the 2020-21 season.”

As The Canadian Press reported: “Earlier this year, the provincial government announced cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant and ordered universities to immediately begin balancing their budgets and reducing expenditures.

“Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a ripple effect on revenues.”

In April, the U of Lethbridge dropped men’s and women’s hockey from its program for financial reasons. Might there be more cuts on the way?

With two Alberta schools already having made moves, you are excused for wondering how things are with the U of Calgary, MacEwan U and Mount Royal U, the three other Canada West members based in Alberta.

Of course, it could be that there won’t even be basketball, hockey or volleyball seasons.

U Sports, which oversees Canadian university sports, and three of its four conferences announced last week that football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s field hockey and women’s rugby wouldn’t be played during the first term.

Canada West has said it will make a decision by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will be played after Jan. 1.

Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia has more on the U of Alberta story right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”


Robbers


You may be aware that the Buffalo Sabres’ owners staged a massive house-cleaning this week, sweeping out more than 20 people from the hockey operation, including general manager Jason Botterill. . . . Also caught up in the mess were two men with ties to the WHL. . . . Mark Ferner played with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers/Blazers. He also coached in Kamloops and with the Everett Silvertips. . . . Randy Hansch played with the Victoria Cougars and the Blazers. He later was the Blazers’ director of player personnel before spending 11 seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings, first as assistant GM/director of player personnel, then as general manager.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff returned to the NFL team’s facility on Monday. By Thursday, one assistant coach had tested positive for the coronavirus, although he was asymptomatic, and was placed in quarantine. Two other assistant coaches also have bee quarantined.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, on Thursday that he doubts the NFL will be able to have a season without placing teams in bubbles much like the NBA has planned for next month in Orlando, Fla.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci said. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NFL doesn’t have any interest in the bubble format.

Dr. Allen Sill, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that “we do not feel it’s practical or appropriate to construct a bubble. Anyone who tests positive will be isolated until medically appropriate to return.”


Real Turcotte, at one time a WHL owner and coach, died Monday after fighting congestive heart failure. He was 79. . . . Turcotte was born in East Angus, Que., but made a real mark as a coach in the Detroit area. . . . He was the owner and general manager of the Nanaimo Islanders for their only season (1982-83). He took over as head coach when he chose to replace Les Calder during the season. . . . Turcotte was the father of Alfie Turcotte, who played with the Islanders and Portland Winter Hawks (1982-84) and was selected 17th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 1983 draft. . . . There is an obituary right here.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual meeting on Saturday and revealed in a Wednesday news release that it is aiming for open its regular season on Oct. 2. . . . As with so many other leagues, however, that is contingent on a number of things. As the league said in a news release: “As has been the case since the league’s 2019-20 season was cancelled on March 13, all decisions related to Return to Play will be made with the health and safety of players, staff, fans, volunteers and sponsors as our top priority.” . . . In that same release, Jeff Dubois, the league’s commissioner, said: “There are still a number of obstacles for us to navigate ahead of resuming league play this fall, but I’m confident that we’re trending in a positive direction.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Herman