Hockey world is mourning loss of Hawerchuk . . . Here’s hoping CFL is able to find itself


As you no doubt are aware, the CFL won’t happen in 2020. For the first time since 1919, the Grey Cup won’t be awarded.

(There wasn’t a Grey Cup game for four years — 1916-19 — because of the First World War. The CFL didn’t pause for the Second World War.)

I would suggest that this day of reckoning has been in the CFL’s windshield for a few years now. I don’t know exactly when it was that the CFL came to the fork in the road and took the wrong one, but somewhere along the way it lost track of who it is.

Hopefully it can find itself over the next few months. Hopefully it can figure out where the fans went in Edmonton and Toronto and B.C. Hopefully it can get things back on track in Montreal. Hopefully it can get back to being the CANADIAN Football League.

I spent a fair amount of time around the CFL and its teams while with the Winnipeg Tribune and Regina Leader-Post through 1999. It hurts to see this happen to the CFL, but here’s hoping it comes back with a redesign that makes it bigger and better whenever COVID-19 allows another season to be held. . . .

In the meantime, two columnists I worked with while in Regina took a look at the CFL and the situation in which it now finds itself. . . . Ed Willes of Postmedia has his take right here, while Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post has a column right here. . . . Ed Tait of the Blue Bombers has a terrific piece right here with thoughts from LB Adam Bighill and QB Zach Collaros. . . . Here’s part of what Collaros had to say: “The optics of going to the federal government without consulting with us at all was definitely tough. Guys were definitely not happy about that. It’s kind of a microcosm of how this pandemic has been handled from leadership in North America. The transparency is not there, the communication hasn’t been great. That needs to improve moving forward if 2021 is going to be successful.”


Fans of the Vancouver Canucks have had to put their plans for a Stanley Cup parade on hold since their favourites now find themselves at 2-2 with the defending-champion St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the NHL’s bubble tournament. . . . The Canucks, you may recall, won the first two games, only to have the Blues wake up in time for a 3-2 OT victory in Game 3 on Sunday, and then pound their way to a 3-1 triumph on Monday. . . . The Blues have gotten more and more physical with the Canucks young guns, especially Elias Pettersson, as the series has worn on. How the Canucks and Pettersson respond in Game 5 tonight will tell the story.

Meanwhile, the NHL revealed on Monday that it completed the third week of its return to play without any positive tests. There had been 5,640 tests administered through Aug. 15. . . . Yes, if everyone is on the same page with the same goal in mind, the bubble approach does work.


Nuts


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The U of Notre Dame reported 147 positive tests — 146 students and one staff member — on Tuesday, so suspended in-person classes for two weeks just eight days into the fall semester. Some of the positives apparently were traced to an off-campus party where there were neither masks nor social distancing. . . . The U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill cancelled in-person undergraduate classes on Monday with at least 135 positive tests on campus. A spokesperson said that as of Monday morning, there were 177 students in isolation and 349 in quarantine. . . . Also on Tuesday, Michigan State ordered undergrads to stay home for the remainder of the fall. MSU hadn’t yet started its fall semester when it told students to say home “effective immediately.” . . . In a letter to students, Samuel Stanley Jr., MSU’s president, said the move was due to the “current status of the virus in our country — particularly what we are seeing at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities.” . . .

The Atlanta Braves have placed OF Nick Markakis on the 10-day IL because he may have been exposed to the virus. Interestingly, Markakis, 36, originally opted out of playing this season. However, he changed his mind and returned to the Braves shortly after the season began. . . .

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with a pertinent observation: “Something’s wrong with the business model at many American universities when the cancellation of a football season threatens to wreck a school’s budget.”



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.


Stars


The 16-team USHL announced Tuesday that it hopes to open a 54-game regular season on Nov. 6 and wrap it up on April 24. Teams will open training camps on Sept. 14 with exhibition games to start in mid-October. . . . From a news release: “All activities are designed to take place in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines as well as the League’s Return to Play Protocols which are currently being finalized. The regular season schedule allows for flexibility for games to be moved to the back of the schedule due to postponements, capacity restrictions, or other factors.” . . . The news release didn’t make any mention of the situation in Des Moines, Iowa, where Buccaneer Arena, the home of the USHL’s Buccaneers, was damaged by an intense storm on Aug. 10. The ImOn Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, the home of the RoughRiders, also suffered some damage.


These leagues are hoping to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on these proposed dates:

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

Heritage Junior B Hockey League: Oct. 28

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: Sept. 25

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Oct. 9

USHL: Nov. 6

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: Sept. 7 (48 games), Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40), Dec. 14 (32)

WHL: Dec. 4



Paul McFarland now is the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. An assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019-20, McFarland signed as Kingston’s head coach on May 8. He was named general manager on Tuesday. . . . The Frontenacs had been looking for a GM since July 23 when they announced that they wouldn’t be renewing Darren Kelly’s contract. . . . Prior to his one season with the Maple Leafs, McFarland was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers for two seasons.


The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have reinstated assistant coach Curtis Toneff. The team made the announcement on Monday after a stay of proceedings had been agreed to regarding charges faced by Toneff. . . . He had been charged with assault on June 2 after a May 24 incident. The Broncos suspended Toneff after the charge was laid. . . . Last season was Toneff’s first with the Broncos after two seasons as head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


Plaid

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if QMJHL really is going to play without fans . . .

Scattershooting

——


The St. Louis Cardinals left for Chicago on Friday, but they weren’t in an airplane or even two or three chartered buses. Instead, the team used 41 rental cars to get them to the site of Saturday’s doubleheader with the White Sox. . . . St. Louis, which had played only five games this season and hadn’t played since July 29, went on to sweep the White Sox, 5-1 and 6-3, to improve its record to 4-3. . . . Remember that in these pandemic times doubleheaders feature two seven-inning games. . . . The Cardinals, who slipped to 4-4 with a 7-2 loss on Sunday, don’t have C Yadier Molina or SS Paul DeJong, who were among the 10 players on the roster who tested positive. . . . They also don’t have assistant coach Willie McGee with them. McGee, 61, who has high blood pressure, has opted out of the remainder of the season. . . .

Meanwhile, an unidentified player with the Cincinnati Reds has tested positive, resulting in the postponement of two weekend games against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. The teams had split the first two games of the series before Saturday and Sunday games were called off. . . . The Reds are awaiting news on their latest test results, which are due sometime today, before figuring out where to go now. They had been scheduled to open a series with the Royals in Kansas City on Tuesday. . . .

The 18 players off the Miami Marlins’ roster who tested positive during their outbreak have reported to Jupiter, Fla., the site of the NL team’s spring-training site. . . .


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “A number of NHL general managers are expecting to play next season without fans in the stands and that will create some kind of chaos at the ownership level.” . . . The NHL has plans to open its 2020-21 season on Dec. 1.


Turkeys


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Michael Jordan, after becoming president of the Wizards, traded Laron Profit in retaliation for Profit trash-talking Jordan in practice during their days as Washington teammates. In a related story, rumor has it that Jordan’s TV set still has rabbit ears.”


Another report from Perry: “Seattle cut Kemah Siverand after the rookie cornerback was caught on video trying to sneak a woman — dressed in Seahawks players’ gear — into the NFL team’s hotel. That’s what you call disguising your coverage.”


The 18-team QMJHL says it will return to play on Oct. 1 but that there won’t be any fans qmjhlnewin attendance, at least at games in Quebec. . . . “Following our conversations with both the Provincial Governments and Public Health Agencies, it has been determined that the 2020-21 season will be played behind closed doors in Quebec, while details are currently still being discussed for the Maritimes,” the league said in a news release. . . . Training camps are to open on Aug. 30 with teams allowed to bring in 34 players. . . . With the league split into three divisions, each team will play 60 games without leaving its own division. . . . The league said it will release its playoff format in December. . . . Interestingly, the QMJHL operates under the CHL umbrella with the OHL and WHL. The OHL is aiming to start its regular season on Dec. 1, while the WHL is hoping to open on Dec. 4. . . . The WHL, however, is adamant that it won’t be playing without fans in the pews. . . . Keep in mind that the QMJHL season, including the dates of its open trading sessions, has close ties to the province’s education system. . . . The QMJHL’s news release is right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Always drink upstream from the herd.”


The AJHL, which had hoped to begin its regular season on Sept. 18, announced Friday ajhlthat it is postponing things. But it didn’t announce another proposed opening date. . . . Instead, it says it will “commence the 2020-21 campaign with a development season beginning Aug. 31.” . . . From the AJHL’s news release: “Within the current boundaries of Hockey Alberta’s Return to Hockey Plan and Stage 2 of Alberta’s Relaunch, the AJHL is unable to enter regular season competition at this time.” . . . More from the news release: “The Development Season will meet the needs of both the League and its athletes by allowing teams to actively prepare for the upcoming season while providing players an opportunity for high-calibre training and development.  Training Camps will be permitted to begin as early as August 31st in all 15 AJHL communities and will run until the AJHL embarks on regular season play.” . . . The complete release is right here.


Aliens


With the Big 12 continuing to plan to play football this fall, nine players at the U of Oklahoma were revealed to have tested positive. Lincoln Riley, the Sooners’ head coach, made the revelation on Saturday. Riley said a couple of others players are in quarantine “due to contract tracing.” . . . The players had been tested after returning following a one-week break. . . . “We’ve done such a tremendous job this entire time,” Riley told reporters during a video conference call. “You know when (you) give players time, there is risk in that. This isn’t the NBA, we don’t have a bubble. We all have to continue to work to do a better job by all accounts. We’re still confident in the plan that we have.” . . . The Sooners are scheduled to open against visiting Missouri State on Sept. 12. . . .

Eli Johnson, Ole Miss’s starting centre, has opted out of the 2020 college football season. His father, David, contracted the virus in March and ended up on a ventilator before recovering. . . . The Rebels are to begin practising today as they aim for a Sept. 26 opener.


From Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Hey, Lou Holtz: I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure that when our brave soldiers stormed the beach at Normandy, they didn’t do it so you could have a job on TV spouting nonsense.”


The Buffalo News reported on Friday that Seth Appert will be the next head coach of the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Appert, 46, was the head coach of the RPI Engineers for 11 seasons before being fired in 2017. Since then, he has been USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program head coach. . . . In Rochester, Appert replaces Chris Taylor, who was 116-65-33 in three seasons with Rochester. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported that Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill was negotiating a new contract with Taylor earlier this summer. However, Botterill was fired in June and Taylor was among 22 employees who were swept out of the organization shortly thereafter.


Zach16

 

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, click right here.


If you’re a CFL fan, you will want to check out the work being turned in by Ed Tait, a veteran football writer, at bluebombers.com. . . . Tait, a longtime keyboard warrior with the Winnipeg Free Press, works for the Blue Bombers now and provides their website with a lot of great reads. Don’t believe me? Check out First & 10: The CFL’s U.S. Expansion right here.


With the Cleveland Indians thinking about changing their nickname, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald offered this tip: “I hear ‘Cleveland Baseball Team’ is still available.”


Avocado

CFL delays start until at least July . . . MLB’s Arizona option gets panned . . . Heartfelt tribute to Jack Bowkus


The CFL’s regular season was to have started on June 11. The training season was to have opened in mid-May with rookie camps; main camps were set to start on May 13.

The CFL now says it won’t get started until sometime in July at the earliest.

With the cities of Calgary and Ottawa having locked down all facilities through June 30, the CFL really wasn’t left with much choice.

The league still hopes to play a full season, meaning 18 regular-season games for each team. But that doesn’t seem likely with the Grey Cup game scheduled for Regina on Nov. 22.

Here’s what Pat Neufeld, an offensive lineman with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, told Ed Tait of bluebombers.com:

“It’s tough. I’m still hopeful, but nobody knows how any of this is going to play out. It’s going to evolve over time, but now it’s a matter of keeping people safe.

“This is bigger than sports and entertainment right now. People have to stay patient and stay hopeful and understand this. We’ll get through this and eventually we’ll have football.”


In the meantime, Major League Baseball apparently has been discussing options, one of which would involve taking all of its 30 teams to Arizona, holding mini-training camps of some sort, and then playing regular-season games in empty facilities throughout the state.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post has taken a look at MLB, this particular option and the logistical nightmare that would be involved in making it work. That’s all right here.

——

Here’s Larry Stone of the Seattle Times:

“But this possible plan floated by MLB — which likes to send out more trial balloons than the United States Weather Service — is rife with holes, wishful thinking, dangerous assumptions and unsolvable quandaries.

“Beyond that, is it really wise to be putting so aggressive a timeline on baseball’s return at a time when the full scope of coronavirus’ devastation is still being felt?

“As much as we all covet the return of live sports in general, public health is still paramount, and I have a hard time wrapping my brain around how this advances that cause. COVID-19 is not an illness that adheres to the calendar. We’ve already learned in painful fashion, as the reopening of various elements of society keep getting pushed back. To think we can control the timeline borders on recklessness.”

Stone’s entire column is right here.


——

I have to think MLB would have a hard time selling that plan to players and their wives. Here are three tweets from Eireann Dolan, the wife of Washington Nationals’ reliever Sean Doolittle:

“Ok now what about the non-millionaire hotel workers, security staff, grounds crews, media members, team traveling staffs, clubhouse attendants, janitorial workers, food service workers, and the billion other people required to make that 3.5 hour game happen every night?”

“Y’all asking them to stay at their current salaries but also stay locked inside Baseball Biodome for an indefinite amount of time away from their families during a GD pandemic? This is a reckless and irresponsible kernel of an idea. Shut it down.”

“Let me clarify that I really want baseball back. But not if it’s not done safely, not if it requires sacrifices like this from people who make minimum wage, and not if it means redirecting badly needed medical and testing supplies away from the public and to a sports league.”

——

When looking at this one MLB option, the naysayers are forgetting one thing. It was just last month when Agent Orange told some state governors: “The virus that we’re talking about having to do, a lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat, as the heat comes in, typically that will go away in April.” . . . Well, it gets real hot — REAL HOT! — in Arizona in the heart of the summer. So, if we are to believe Agent Orange, as millions seem to do, well, maybe MLB is on to something here.


Gaugin



The NFL’s 32 teams are to hold their 2020 draft April 23-25. It will be a virtual draft with everyone involved operating from the safety of their own homes.

So how might all of this work out. Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports:

“It’ll be interesting to see how the NFL approaches a fully virtual draft from a technical standpoint, not to mention how it’ll be covered on TV. I feel like there’s a good chance of chaos here. Are we going to see pets/toddlers/shirtless dads interrupt draft interviews on Skype? What if technology fails? What if Bill Belichick manages to hack the mainframe and rig the whole thing?

“If my experience with fully virtual fantasy football drafts is any indication, most GMs will be way too drunk by the middle rounds and at least two players will be auto picked after the front office loses wifi connection.”


When Pro Football Focus asked “Best defence in sports history?”, the response from @SportsPickle was “O.J. Simpson’s.” . . . Hey, hard to argue with that.


Gator


The plan was for NBC to provide 7,500 hours of content on various platforms from the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo in July. Of course, those Games now are scheduled for 2021. . . . Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had a couple of ideas on how NBC will fill the time now:

“NBC has a cache of Law and Order SUV episodes that date back about 20 years.  If they play them sequentially as reruns, we can watch Marissa Hargitay’s career progression from Detective through Captain.

NBC has available reruns of Chicago FireChicago P.D and Chicago Med.  Maybe they will have time to produce a few episodes of a new series — Chicago Veterinarian — to augment that line of broadcasting.”

The curmudgeonly one’s Tuesday offering is right here.

——

And here is his Thought of the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A judge is a law student who grades his own examination papers.”


The Canadian Grand Prix that was to have been held in Montreal, June 12-14, has been postponed. Formula One’s first eight races have either been cancelled (two) or postponed (six). The Canadian race is No. 8 on the calendar. . . . A further decision is expected this month. . . .

Former NHLer Craig Ramsay is the head coach of the Slovakian national men’s hockey team. He said Tuesday that he is forsaking his salary while he, like so many others, is unemployed and waiting to go back to work. . . . Ramsay is believed to be earning €140,000 a season, which is about Cdn$213,000. . . .


Hills