Get your Last Man Back gear right here . . . Bedard continues red-hot start for Pats . . . Selkirk College drops hockey


We are nearing the third anniversary of the bus crash that involved the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. It occurred on April 6, 2018. Morgan Gobeil, who wore No. Humboldt24, was injured in the crash and spent almost a year in hospital. Morgan was, in fact, the last person from the crash to be released from hospital; he was the Last Man Back.

His brother, Ryan, was in the hospital with his brother one day when he found himself entranced by the heart monitor. So Ryan had Morgan’s heartbeat off the monitor tattooed onto one arm.

“I was watching the screen for, I don’t know how long it was,” Ryan told Global News. “I thought to myself, I never want this moment to end for me.

“I have this on me and it is something that I can see all the time. Whether we’re in the waiting room or going to catch some sleep, or eating or whatever. We can always see it. It’s always there.”

Ryan also has taken to marketing Last Man Back clothing, with all proceeds going to STARS air ambulance, the service that responded to the bus crash. The Last Man Back logo also incorporates No. 24.

If you’re interested, there’s more info in the tweet below . . .


Former WHL G James Priestner and his brother, Jared, are part of a Vancouver-based rock band — Rare Americans — these days. And they have had to ask for help from police after a thief or thieves stole some instruments and unreleased music . . . . CTV Vancouver reported: “The items were taken on Wednesday night, while James and his girlfriend were asleep in their home in Gastown. But it wasn’t until Friday, when the band got together in James’ basement studio, that they noticed several things were missing.” . . . The complete story is right here.



I don’t watch a lot of NCAA basketball, but I do see some of it during March Madness. One thing that crossed my mind while watching this weekend was that the men’s coaches sure seem to spend a lot of time whining about or at the officials. I kind of shrugged it off, until Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, posted this as part of a brief Monday comment on the Florida State-Michigan game: “I also liked the fact that both coaches avoid histrionics on every possession and they also accept some of the calls that go against their team without making it seem as if they are suffering more than Job.” . . . Glad to know it wasn’t just me.



G Nolan Maier stopped 24 shots on Monday night, helping the Saskatoon Blades Bladesto a 4-0 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . This was the 11th shutout of this WHL season, but the first in the Regina hub. . . . Maier has eight career shutouts, all of them with the Blades, who are off to a franchise-best 8-0-1 start. He is one shutout shy of the franchise record held by Andrey Makarov. . . . This season, Maier is 6-0-0, 2.00, .913. . . . The victory was the 85th of Maier’s career, tying him with Tim Cheveldae for the franchise’s regular-season record. . . . Saskatoon got two goals and an assist from F Colton Dach (6). . . . The Raiders slid to 3-4-2. . . . The Blades were 2-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Raiders lost F Logan Linklater to a butt-ending major and game misconduct for a play involving Colton Dach at 3:20 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon F Chase Wouters got the ol’ heave-ho for cross-checking for a hit on Raiders F Ozzy Wiesblatt at 11:50 of the third. . . . The Raiders continue to play without D Kaiden Guhle and G Max Paddock, so again had only one goaltender — Carter Serhyenko — dressed. . . .

F Connor Bedard, the only player in WHL history to have been granted exceptional status to play at 15 years of age, had a goal and three assists as the Regina Pats dumped the Swift Current Broncos, 9-4. . . . Because of the pandemic, Bedard is hardly the only 15-year-old in the WHL, but he is at the head of the class with seven goals and 10 assists in nine games. . . . The Pats (3-4-2) got two goals and an assist from F Zack Smith, three assists from F Carter Chorney, and two more goals from F Carson Denomie (9). . . . D Mathew Ward had a goal, his first, and an assist for the Broncos (2-7-1). The 14th overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft has a goal and 12 assists in his first 10 games. . . . F Owen Williams of the Broncos scored once in his 200th regular-season WHL game. . . .

F Connor Bowie scored three times to spark the Prince George Cougars to a 5-3 PGvictory over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . This one was the Royals’ home-opener. . . . Bowie, who will turn 20 on April 10, went into this one with 17 goals in 137 regular-season games with the Cougars (1-1-0). That included three in 64 games as a freshman in 2018-19. . . . F Riley Heidt, the second overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his first goal in his second game. . . . Prince George F Ethan Browne (2) snapped a 3-3 tie at 6:55 of the second period and Bowie added insurance at 19:19. . . . The Royals (0-2-0) and Spokane Chiefs (0-4-1) are the only WHL teams without at least one victory.


Elliotte Friedman posted his weekly 31 Thoughts on Monday, and the top of it is terrific. He wrote about Ryan Fanti and his parents. Who? Fanti is a goaltender with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. He spent six periods on the bench Saturday night watching his guys play the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in a regional final game in Fargo, N.D. But when starter Zach Stejskal started cramping up early in the fourth OT, Fanti got the call. He finished with six saves and the Bulldogs won, 3-2. But it’s what happened right after the goal was scored that made an impression with Friedman and anyone else who saw it on TV. Fanti took time away from celebrating to console UND G Adam Scheel. . . . Friedman’s piece is right here.



The Montreal Canadiens were back on the practice ice on Monday, the first time they had skated since being shut down on March 22 because of COVID-19 protocol. F Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but F Joel Armia and newly acquired F Eric Staal remain. . . . General manager Marc Bergevin has said that one player had tested positive for a variant. That player wasn’t Armia or Kotkaniemi, but several players were identified as close contacts of the player so things were shut down. . . . The Canadiens, who haven’t played since March 20, are scheduled to return to game action tonight (Tuesday) against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


Volcano


Selkirk College, which has is main campus in Castlegar, B.C., has dropped its men’s hockey program “due to budgetary constraints.” The Saints had been members of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League since 2006. The Saints won four consecutive BCIHL championships (2013-16). . . . Selkirk College’s departure leaves the BCIHL with four teams — Simon Fraser U, Trinity Western U, the U of Victoria and Vancouver Island U. However, Trinity Western was to join Canada West for the 2020-21 season that ended up being scrubbed because of the pandemic. Presumably Trinity Western will make the move whenever the next season gets started.


The Vancouver Canadians announced Monday that they will at least open the 2021 baseball season by playing out of Hillsboro, Ore. They usually play out of Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, but that isn’t possible these days with the U.S.-Canada border closed to non-essential travel. The Canadians will share Ron Tonkin Field with the Hillsboro Hops. . . . Both the Canadians and Hops play in the High-A West; the Canadians are affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Hops with the Arizona Diamondbacks.


——

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.


Mitts

WHL’s wait is almost over; two games set for tonight . . . Second team opts out of AJHL restart . . . Beast prexy with good dope on folderoo

It was March 11. The Victoria Royals and host Kelowna Rockets were tied, 2-2, in the third period of a WHL game.

F Brayden Tracey of the Royals broke the tie, banking a shot off G Roman Basran and into the Kelowna net. The goal would give the Royals a 3-2 victory and would be the last score of the WHL’s 2019-20 season.

The last goal of the CHL’s 2019-20 season was to have been scored in Kelowna, but it should have happened in the Memorial Cup in May. That tournament, like so many other things, was cancelled.

With the world in the early stages of what has turned into a full-blown pandemic, the WHL put things on hold after March 11, a pause that will end tonight (Friday) with two games featuring four Alberta teams.

In Red Deer, the Rebels will play the Medicine Hat Tigers, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. The same teams will play again Saturday, only they will switch venues. The Calgary Hitmen, the fifth of the league’s five Alberta teams, have the bye.

In Red Deer, Troy Gillard will make his debut as the interim play-by-play voice of the Rebels, replacing Cam Moon, now the radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Down the way from Gillard, Bob Ridley will be calling his 3,999th game as the only voice the Tigers have known.

If the excitement of tonight’s game doesn’t get to him, Ridley will do No. 4,000 in Medicine Hat on Saturday night. If you haven’t heard, he has called every game in Tigers history — except for one. It’s an oft-told story, but back in the day — way, way back — his then-boss’s wife was playing in the Canadian women’s curling championship in Saskatoon and, well, Ridley missed a Tigers game while covering curling. Yes, that’s a true story!

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings game won’t be heard on an Edmonton radio station, but will be available, with Andrew Peard on the call, on the team’s website.

(I had written here that G Lukáš Pařík of the Spokane Chiefs had scored the last goal of the season. That was in error.)

——

JUST NOTES: You may not have been aware of it, but the WHL’s trade deadline came and went on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT. For the first time in league history, there wasn’t even one trade. . . . The league released a U.S. Division schedule this week. The five American teams will open their season on March 18 with the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans meeting in Kennewick, Wash. With the Winterhawks not having clearance to play in Oregon, they will play their two March home games at the accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash. (aka the home of the Seattle Thunderbirds). The Portland home games April 2 through May 7 have TBD as the home arena. . . .

A schedule hasn’t yet been announced, but the seven-team Regina hub is expected to begin play on March 12. The hub will feature the five Saskatchewan-based teams, along with the two from Manitoba. . . . The five B.C. Division teams have yet to receive clearance to return to play from government and health officials. . . . Earlier this week, on the subject of 15-year-olds, the afore-mentioned Gillard tweeted: “So I confirmed that Alberta players are good to go since the U18AAA season here is cancelled, but Sask players are limited to 5 WHL games for now as they’ve yet to officially cancel league play in that province.” . . .

The Oil Kings have added three people to their front office — Shaun Mahe as video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator, the afore-mentioned Andrew Peard to handle hockey broadcasting and media, and Erin Klatt in charge of game-day operations. Mahe has been with the Oilers Entertainment Group for eight years, most recently in statistical analysis with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Peard’s duties include play-by-play, taking over from Corey Graham who somehow lost his job during recent Bell Media cuts. Klatt has been with OEG for two years, working as a hockey engagement co-ordinator. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers have added Brodi Stuart, 20, to their coaching staff. Stuart, from Langley, B.C., played three seasons with the Blazers. His WHL career came to an end when he had knee surgery on Jan. 20. In 204 regular-season games, he had 115 points, including 45 goals. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders have added Ryan McDonald as an assistant coach. He will work with the team during its time in the Regina hub. A Prince Albert native, McDonald, 33, played four plus seasons in the WHL (Regina Pats, Raiders, 2004-09). He was the head coach for the U18 AAA Warman Wildcats in 2020-21. . . .

Josh Green, the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze, has moved to the Winnipeg Ice as an assistant coach. The Ice and Freeze are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Inc. Green, who played five WHL seasons in the WHL (Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Portland, 1993-98), was an assistant coach with the Ice in 2019-20. . . . Ryan Guenter, who had been on the Ice’s scouting staff, also will be on the team’s coaching staff in the Regina hub. When that stint is over, he will step in as the Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations. . . . The Ice also has added Byron Spriggs as goaltending consultant. He has been the U of Manitoba Bisons’ goaltending coach for the past two seasons and is expected to work with both clubs. . . . Cole Hillier, a former head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen, now is in that role with the Ice. Darcy Ewanchuk, who made the move to Winnipeg from Cranbrook with the franchise, now is on staff as a consultant.


Questions, there are questions . . .

We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days. . . .

F Seth Jarvis of the Chicago Wolves is tied for the AHL lead in goals (6) and points (9). He has played seven games. Jarvis, who turned 19 on Feb. 1, was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 13th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. The rules call for him to be returned to the Portland Winterhawks, but if this odd-ball season, with no fans allowed, is all about development why not leave him in the AHL? . . .

If you are a hockey fan who lives in Canada, does your NHL include only your country’s seven teams? And would you be content with a seven-team NHL and having those teams play an 84-game regular season? . . .

If you get vaccinated in the next month or six are you going to want to go back into an arena next fall not knowing how many unvaccinated people are in the same facility? Is that same thing going to be an issue in some work places? . . .

If you are paying attention to the coronavirus-related numbers in B.C., with variants showing up in schools and teachers in at least one city having marched in protest, will you be surprised if the province’s five WHL teams have to wait a while longer before getting the OK to return to play? . . .

What’s wrong with this picture? . . . On March  21, B.C. announced 76 new positives, raising the number of confirmed cases to 424. There were 27 people in hospital and 12 in intensive care. There was one new death, for a total of 10. So health officials closed all personal service establishments — remember when you couldn’t get a haircut? — and ordered all restaurants to go to takeout and delivery only. . . . On Feb. 25, B.C. reported 395 new cases — down from 559 two days earlier — for a confirmed total of 78,673, with 4,489 of those active. Ten new deaths raised the grim total to 1,348. But, hey, you can get a haircut and eat in a restaurant.


On Feb. 12, Brendan Batchelor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Canucks on Sportsnet 650, revealed via Twitter that he had been “exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19” and was going into self-isolation. . . . All is well and Batchelor, whose resume includes calling Vancouver Giants games, returned to action on Thursday night as the Canucks lost, 3-0, to the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


The Lloydminster Bobcats are the second team to opt out of the AJHL’s return Bobcatsto play. According to a news release from the team, it was “denied participation . . . due to public health restrictions of the Saskatchewan government.” . . . More from that news release: “The organization exhausted all efforts to resolve barriers to meet the requirements of the Saskatchewan government. So far the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has also been unable to meet requirements, while the Western Hockey League has been approved by forming a bubble in Regina, SK. Attempts were made to establish a bubble in Lloydminster, but the team was shut out by circumstance.” . . . While they play in the AJHL, the Bobcats’ home arena, the Centennial Civic Centre, is in Lloydminster, Sask. . . . Earlier, the Canmore Eagles announced that they were opting out of a return to play. 


For the last while we regularly have heard from junior hockey pooh-bahs about Beasthow some teams may not survive the pandemic. To date, they’re all still alive, but that’s more than can be said for the Brampton Beast, a seven-year-old ECHL franchise.

The Beast called it quits last week, another victim of COVID-19, but one that won’t show up in death totals.

Cary Kaplan, the Beast’s president, general manager and minority owner of Brampton Beast, said that the pandemic simply made the hurdles too huge to continue.

Here’s part of what he told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, and all of this will be applicable to junior hockey teams, as well . . .

“What we realized recently is that next season is compromised. Normally at this time of year, you sell a lot of season tickets, you renew your season tickets, you make group sales, you do a lot of sponsorship. There’s so much nervousness out there, we realized for the upcoming season . . . that revenues would be greatly depleted. You’re losing revenues in three distinct hockey seasons. As a business, it’s not sustainable. We came to that realization probably since Christmas, (and) for us that was just too much.”

And now we wait to see if more teams meet the same fate.

If you haven’t already seen it, Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts is right here.


Sauce


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The City of Toronto has cancelled outdoor events and parades through July 1. That includes Canada Day celebrations and its Pride Parade. . . .

The Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association has cancelled any games for the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The provincial government has extended restrictions until at least March 19, so the association decided it was time to move on from this season. Teams are still able to practice with eight mask-wearing, social-distancing players on the ice at a time. . . .

The San Jose Sharks had F Thomas Hertl enter COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, so their Thursday game against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights has been postponed. The Sharks didn’t hold any practice or training sessions on Wednesday. . . . San Jose next is scheduled to play on Saturday against the visiting St. Louis Blues. . . . Also on Wednesday, the New York Rangers placed F K’Andre Miller on the COVID-19 protocol list, but they still played that night, losing 4-3 to the Flyers in Philly. . . .

Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press reports that the CFL, which didn’t play in 2020, is looking at holding training camps in May with the first exhibition game on May 23. He also writes that an 18-game regular season would open on June 10 without fans in the stands. . . . That story is right here. . . .

The 10-team Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. “These are unprecedented times,” Kerry Lines, the league president, said in a news release, “and the events around COVID have impacted so many lives and families. Our priority as a league is to be compliant with the health orders and respect and support the decisions that are made to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk.” . . . The MMJHL last played on Oct. 29.


Warranty


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.


Kids

Lori Sopotyk: ‘They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again’ . . . Joseph wants semi driver deported . . . Virus hits Vegas coaching staff


“They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again,” Lori Sopotyk told Mart Hastings of Kamloops This Week on Tuesday. “He’s paralyzed from the belly button down and it’s a long, long journey ahead for all of us. That was the first thing out of his mouth, his hockey, that he would never skate again. And he felt like he had let everyone down.” . . . Lori was referring to Kyrell, her 19-year-old son, who was injured in a snowboarding accident near North Battleford, Sask., on Friday and is in a Saskatoon hospital. He played the last two seasons (2018-20) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . .

A GoFundMe page, launched by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, has surpassed $160,000. It is right here should you wish to donate.


Chris Joseph, a former WHL/NHL defenceman, and his wife, Andrea, lost their son, Jaxon, in the accident that occurred almost three years ago when a semi-trailer pulled out onto a Saskatchewan highway in front of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus. But unlike Scott Thomas, who also lost a son in the accident, Joseph doesn’t want Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to be allowed to remain in Canada whenever he is freed from jail. Thomas, whose son, Evan, died in the crash, has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s plea to avoid deportation. . . . “As much as I can admire someone who finds that forgiveness,” Joseph told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, “I personally don’t have it yet, don’t know if I’ll ever get it to be quite honest. Everyone’s forgiveness journey is their own journey. I just can’t understand why you cannot forgive while he’s on a plane back to India.” . . . One thing that Joseph and Thomas can agree on, meanwhile, is the need for a serious upgrade to some of the rules and regulations around Canada’s trucking industry. . . . Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Just wondering, but what have you accomplished during this pandemic? Trent Miner, a goaltender with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, has been studying and working towards a private pilot’s licence. “I always wanted to do this,” Miner, 19, told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, “but obviously didn’t have any time to get into it until this summer.” . . . Miner started the process by taking lessons at the Brandon Flight Centre in May. Now the only thing standing between him and his licence is a written exam. . . . These days, Miner is in camp with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Bergson’s story is right here.


Here’s a snippet of the Tuesday morning post from Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon):

“If 2021 were destined to be a ‘normal sports year’ teams would be setting up facilities in Florida and Arizona for the onset of spring training about now. Instead, there are reports this morning that Arizona officials have sent a letter to MLB asking for a delay in the start of spring training there because of the high rate of COVID infections in Maricopa County. The report I read in the Washington Post said that the officials there do not have the authority to order such a delay, meaning this could evolve into a negotiation with MLB. Unfortunately, any negotiation with MLB will have to involve the MLBPA as well; history tells us that those two entities have difficulty agreeing on even basic things like Tuesdays always following Mondays.”

You are able to catch all of his musings at sportscurmudgeon.com.


The latest 31 Thoughts from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman includes lots on the weekend deal between the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets, and also some interesting stuff with former Everett Silvertips D Shaun Heshka. It’s all right here.


With one member of the Vegas Golden Knights’ coaching staff having reportedly tested positive, the NHL team had to sideline all of its coaches, at least for Tuesday night’s game against the visiting St. Louis Blues. As a result, Kelly McCrimmon, the former owner/general manager/head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, made his NHL coaching debut. He is the Golden Knights’ general manager. . . . On the bench with McCrimmon were Manny Viveiros, a former WHL coach and player who is the head coach of the team’s AHL franchise, the Henderson Silver Knights; Jamie Heward, a former WHL player and coach who is an assistant coach with Henderson; and former NHL player Joel Ward, also an assistant in Henderson. . . . The Blues won the game, 5-4 in a shootout. The Golden Knights hit four posts in regulation, one in OT and another in the shootout. . . . F Brayden Schenn, who spent three seasons (2007-10) with McCrimmon’s Wheat Kings, scored the shootout winner. . . . The Golden Knights’ coaching staff comprises head coach Peter DeBoer; assistants Ryan Craig, Ryan McGill and Steve Spott; goaltending coach Mike Rosati; and video coach Tommy Cruz.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Anyone entering Manitoba, including people coming from Western Canada, will have to self-isolate for 14 days starting Friday. . . . The travel restriction is designed to stop non-essential travel, by land or by air, and applies to people visiting the province and returning Manitobans.

CBC News — Sask. extends public health orders as daily death toll reaches new high. The measures will remain in effect until Feb. 19. They were set to expire on Jan. 29.

CBC News — Saskatchewan saw its deadliest day of the pandemic, with a record-high 14 fatalities reported on Tuesday. The previous record came on Dec. 21, when 13 people died after being diagnosed with the virus. The province has now reported 268 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic came to the province. Of those, 115 deaths have happened in 2021.

If you’re wondering how the NCAA men’s basketball season is going, check out this piece right here by Ryan Young of yahoo!sports.

The New York Times — The coronavirus death toll in Britain surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he accepted responsibility as fatality rates continue to soar. “I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost,” he said.

AFP News Agency, Tuesday, 1:39 p.m. PT — Global coronavirus cases pass 100 million mark, AFP tally shows.

Ron Johnson, who got into five games with the Montreal Expos in 1984, has died in Tennessee from complications related to COVID-19. He was 64. Johnson spent 25 seasons as a minor league manager, most recently with the Triple-A Norfolk Admirals, who are affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles.

Sekou Smith, who worked as an analyst for NBA TV, died Tuesday after contracting COVID-19. He was 48.


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 ECHL is expected to announce today (Wednesday) that it will have a franchise in Savannah, Ga., in time for the 2022-23 season. The team will play out of the Savannah Arena, a facility that is under construction.

Hurricanes limit the damage, but 2020-21 could be messy . . . QMJHL looking to play this weekend . . . NHL postpones Tuesday game


While the three community-owned Saskatchewan-based WHL teams combined Lethbridgeto lose more than $1.5 million last season, the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the league’s other community-owned club, managed to lose only $1,030. . . . That appears to have been the biggest revelation as the Hurricanes held their annual general meeting in virtual fashion on Monday night. Originally scheduled for September, it had been postponed to December before finally being held on Monday. . . . While almost breaking even for last season, the Hurricanes, who had shown a profit of $282,168 for the 2018-19 season, have budgeted a loss of about $1.3 million for 2020-21. That, of course, is the worst-case scenario, which isn’t hard to imagine happening in these COVID-19 times. . . . Danica Ferris of Global News has more right here. . . .

The Hurricanes were able to get in 31 home games, averaging 3,970 fans per game. . . . Some numbers for the three community-owned teams that operate in Saskatchewan: The Moose Jaw Warriors, who declared a loss of $391,299, averaged 2,981 fans for 31 home games. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders, who lost $331,895, got in 32 homes games, averaging 2,642 fans. . . . In 32 home games, the Swift Current Broncos averaged 1,954 fans en route to losing $791,000.



The QMJHL, which last played on Nov. 29, plans on resuming play this qmjhlnewweekend, but it won’t be playing in the Maritime provinces. The league had three games scheduled for each of Friday and Saturday nights in the Maritime Division, but has had to scratch them all “following meetings with government and public health officials of the three provinces,” the league said in a news release. “Meanwhile, the league will continue its constructive dialogue with the three provinces to resume playing as soon as possible.” . . . In the meantime, the 12 Quebec-based teams are scheduled to play a total of 15 games over the weekend.



Don’t look now but we already are half-past January, and there are daffodils blooming at English Bay in Vancouver. With that in mind and considering all that is going on around us, it perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise that some places are giving up on a 2020-21 winter season. . . . In Regina, the Highland Curling Club and the Caledonian Curling Club have cancelled the remainder of their seasons. A note from the Callie’s announcement via Facebook: “With the recent extension of the public health order, and continued rise of Covid-19 in our community, the need to end our curling season has become abundantly clear.” . . . Meanwhile, in B.C., the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) shut down Castlegar’s Pioneer Arena on Monday and is closing the Civic Centre in Nelson, effective Jan. 29. With a Public Health Order in place that restricts adult participation in sport and no end in sight, the RDCK said the closures were being done in order to reduce expenses. . . . The Nelson Star has more right here.


If you are an avid reader of Elliotte Friedman’s weekly posting 31 Thoughts, you are able to find the latest one right here. As always, it’s best served up with a hot cuppa coffee or tea, or whatever else is your beverage of choice.


Bigpot


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Manitoba announces 111 new cases of COVID-19, which suggests the number of new cases is trending downwards. Today’s total brings the province’s 7-day average down to 172. There are also 11 more deaths due to the virus.

CBC News — Number of new cases in Saskatchewan tops 300 again after falling below that figure for 3 days. With 309 new cases, the province’s 7-day average rises to 300. 6 additional deaths are also being reported.

CBC News — Alberta reported another 17 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday and 456 new cases of the illness. There were 11,096 active cases in the province with 740 people in hospital, including 119 in ICU beds. Total deaths since the beginning of the pandemic now sits at 1,464. Active cases in the province declined by 827 compared to Monday.

Richard Zussman, Global B.C. — There are 465 new cases, including 13 epi-linked cases, for a total of 61,912 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 12 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,090.

CBC News — Ontario has 1,913 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest in more than a month. However, the health minister’s office says the number is likely low due to a data collection issue in Toronto. There are also 46 additional deaths. A record high 400 people are in ICUs.

CBC News — 1,386 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, the lowest number of daily cases since December 4. The province is also attributing 55 additional deaths to the virus.

CBC News — Quebec calls on federal government to ban all non-essential international travel in light of growing emergence of new COVID-19 variants.

CTV News — PM warns Canada could impose new COVID-19 travel restrictions without notice.

CBC News — New Brunswick reports 31 new COVID-19 cases, tied for the 2nd highest number since the pandemic. Authorities recommend 3 health zones — including the province’s 3 biggest cities (Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton) be moved to red alert level.

CBC News, Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. PT — COVID-19 deaths in United States top 400,000, Johns Hopkins University tracking team says. Number of confirmed cases worldwide is 95,914,148 (24,163,823 in U.S.) with 2,049,813 deaths. Canada has had 718,519 cases with 18,232 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: 401,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

The NHL postponed a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and host Nashville Predators that had been scheduled for Tuesday night. According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, there is a COVID-19 “situation with the Hurricanes.” . . . The Hurricanes have five players on the protocol list — Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jaccob Slavin, Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen. . . . The NHL now has postponed five games this regular season, with the other four all involving the Dallas Stars, who have yet to play a game. They are scheduled open on Friday at home against the Predators. . . .

The IIHF world men’s hockey championship, scheduled to open on May 21, won’t be taking place in Belarus, a country troubled by political unrest. The IIHF announced the decision on Monday, citing safety concerns. Of course, the decision also was made after three sponsors — Liqui Moly, Nivea and Skoda — said they would withdraw support if the tournament went ahead in Belarus. . . . The tournament was to have been shared with Latvia; the IIHF now is looking for another site. Another option is to move it to Denmark or Slovakia. . . .

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels have shut down their hockey program until the fall “due to continuous national hardships with COVID-19. . . . As it stands today, the local government determined that a safe enough path for competition could not be found for spring of 2021.” . . .

Hockey East has thrown out the remainder of its 2020-21 schedule because of coronavirus-related disruptions, and now says it will schedule on a weekly basis. . . . The conference has some teams that have played 15 games and some at four, so will work to try and even things out at least a bit. . . .

Devin Heroux of CBC Sports reported Tuesday that the Canadian men’s slopestyle team will miss an international event in Switzerland because two members have tested positive and are in isolation. . . . His story is right here.


Beer



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: In a letter to season-ticket holders, the Edmonton Oil Kings, among other things, indicated that should a WHL season get started they will their home games “in the Downtown Community Arena without fans in attendance.” Under what used to be normal circumstances, the Oil Kings played home games in Rogers Place, the home of the the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers, of course, own the Oil Kings. . . . The Montreal Canadiens have signed a three-year affiliate deal with an expansion ECHL franchise that is to begin play in Trois-Rivières in 2021-22.


Fix

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

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while thinking it’s starting to get late early these days . . .

Scattershooting

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle has become a go-to read for me.

Of all that has gone on in recent days, she writes:

“(Athletes in their 20s and early 30s) have the pressure of short careers and massive amounts of money — both for themselves and their employers — hanging in the balance. They have all eyes on them. They are under vicious attack by many. What they are doing is organic. And it is powerful.

“Underestimate them at your peril.”

She is correct. Yes, we have seen movements similar to this in the past, but this one feels different. It really does.

I believe it was LeBron James who started the push to get out the vote, even before the past week, but now this has picked up steam, backed by the NBA and its teams. We are going to see a lot of the the facilities in which these teams play turned into polling places for the U.S.’s Nov. 3 election.

With the NBA and its teams supporting all of this, it just might provide safe havens where citizens will feel safe to cast their ballot in a place that seems to be moving closer to becoming a third-world country/dictatorship every single day.

Not that it’s going to be easy.

As Kilion also writes:

“Of course, a lifetime in diverse sports does not always make one empathetic to the concerns of others, as witnessed by the words of former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on social media, when he degraded the NBA’s actions.

“But the belittling and denouncing coming their way isn’t working. There’s too much at stake.

“ ‘These guys are so popular and secure in themselves, not only economically but as people, that they really don’t care what people are saying,’ Astros manager Dusty Baker said. ‘They are tired of what’s going on.’ “

Yes, this one feels different. It really does.


Parents


The Spokane Braves of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey kijhlLeague posted this on Twitter on Sunday:

“After much consideration, we have elected to suspend operations for the 2020-21 season due to the uncertainty surrounding the US/Canada border. We want to thank our players, coaching staff, sponsors, billet families, volunteers, and the fans for their support. We look forward to returning to the ice for our 50th season in the KIJHL in 2021-21.”

Shortly after, the KIJHL requested that the post be removed and it disappeared.

The league is expected to announce this week that it has moved its proposed start from Oct. 2 to Nov. 13, and that a new schedule will call for each of its teams to play 30 regular-season games. Sources have told Taking Note that the 100 Mile House Wranglers also have opted out of a 2020-21 season, a move that combined with Spokane sitting out would leave the league with 18 teams. Williams Lake was to have played host to the 2020 Cyclone Taylor Cup, which decides B.C.’s junior B championship, but that went by the wayside when the KIJHL ended its season on March 13. . . . The Braves told their players last week that the franchise is stepping back for one season.


Let’s give columnist Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post the award for the best lede of 2020. With the Post having uncovered even more sleazy revelations involving the NFL’s Washington franchise and its owner, Jenkins started her column with: “This is what the NFL gets for not scraping Daniel Snyder off its shoe before now.”


“That 6½-foot asteroid hurtling our way has only a 0.41 per cent chance of striking Earth, astronomers say,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Or, to put it in terms a baseball fan can understand, there’s a 99.59 per cent chance that Angel Hernandez would call it a strike.”

——

Perry, again: “Owning a dog is a plus for men trying to get a date, according to Dr. Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute. And it’s double-bonus points if you just so happen to own the Knicks.”

——

Perry is on a roll: “The Brooklyn Nets are interested in hiring Gregg Popovich away from the Spurs as their next head coach, The Athletic reported. And in a related story, the Jets covet Bill Belichick and we’d like to win the Lotto.”


Argue


Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “As I type this, the Red Sox have the American League’s worst record. They are irrelevant, in other words.  Somebody remind ESPN’s programming department.”


Beaver

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the U of Alaska-Fairbanks hockey team is in quarantine after six players and an athlete from another school team tested positive following an off-campus party on Aug. 22. The paper reported that 21 other hockey players and head coach Erik Largen, along with six other athletes, will be quarantine until at least Sept. 5 after being exposed to those who tested positive. . . .

Another MLB game was postponed on Sunday after a member of the Oakland A’s organization tested positive. The A’s were to have played the host Houston Astros. Instead, the team ended up self-isolating in Houston. . . . Since this season started, five teams now have had positive tests within their organizations. . . . “It should be noted,” wrote Mike Axisa of cbssports.com, “this is the first time a team in the West region has had a positive COVID-19 test. MLB went with regional play this year to reduce exposure (i.e. East vs. East, Central vs. Central, West vs. West) and now all three regionals have experienced some level of outbreak. This is also the first positive test among American League teams.” . . .

French tennis player Benoît Paire withdrew from the U.S. Open after testing positive. Ranked 22nd in the world and seeded 17th in the tournament that is to open today (Monday), he was to have met Kamil Majchrzak of Poland on Tuesday. . . . While Paire self-isolates for at least 10 days, four other French players — Richard Gasquet, Grégoire Barrère, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Adrian Mannarino — were confined to their hotel rooms until further notice. . . .

Humourist Brad Dickson, via Twitter: “Some say I’m not nice to the non-maskers but that’s not true. I wish them nothing but the best and encourage them to stick with the night classes until they get their G.E.D.’s.”



In the NBA world, Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers is known as Playoff P. But as TNT analyst Charles Barkley explains: “You can’t be calling yourself Playoff P and lose all the time. . . . They don’t call me Championship Chuck.”


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.


Titanic


It doesn’t seem likely that the OHL will continue to investigate allegations of ohlhazing brought against it by F Eric Guest, 20, who played three seasons (2016-19) with the Kitchener Rangers. . . . You may recall that earlier this summer Guest posted a video on social media in which he detailed some alleged hazing incidents, one of which included the use of cocaine. . . . Having twice tried to contact Guest and not having received a response, David Branch, the OHL commissioner, said in a statement that “we have assumed that Mr. Guest is not prepared to meet and provide the assistance required for the OHL to conduct an investigation into his allegations.” . . . In June, the Rangers asked Waterloo Regional Police to conduct an investigation, but, according to Mark Pare of kitchenertoday.com, “Guest reportedly told police he didn’t wish to proceed with a criminal investigation into the matter.”


Randy Wong has signed on as general manager and head coach of the Medicine Hat Cubs of the junior B Heritage Hockey League. Wong, 53, is from Redcliff, Alta., which is a slapshot or two west of Medicine Hat. He played one game with the Medicine Hat Tigers (1983-84) and 32 with the New Westminster Bruins (1985-86). . . . He also worked as an assistant coach with the Tigers (1997-2001). . . . In 2018-19, he was the head coach as the U18 Medicine Hat Hounds won the provincial AA title. . . . Wong takes over from GM Dave Kowalchuk and coaches JD Gaetan and Steve Leipert. . . . Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News reports that the Cubs’ new board of directors has chosen to combine the positions “as a cost-cutting measure.”


JUST NOTES: Columnist Ed Willes’s 22-year run at the Vancouver Province ends today. Yes, Postmedia is shuffling another one out the door, which means neither Vancouver daily employs a sports columnist. There was a time in the newspaper business when that would have been seen as something of an embarrassment, especially with the Canucks in the hunt for the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. . . . His weekly Musings column always was worth a read, and the one he filed on Sunday night is right here. . . . If you’re looking for more good reading with your morning coffee, you can’t go wrong with Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts, the latest edition of which is right here. . . . Remember that item I referred to a week ago, the one I had ordered from walmart.ca but now, according to tracking, was in Jamaica, N.Y. Well, I checked on Friday evening and it was still in Jamaica. Except that it showed up in our mailbox on Thursday afternoon. So Trump’s tracking seems to be working about as well as Trump’s Postal Service.


Mask

WHL backs up proposed start to Dec. 4 . . . Aiming to play 68 games in 147 days . . . Still lots of questions without answers

Under what once was considered normal circumstances, the 22-team WHL would start a regular season in late September. Each team would play 68 regular-season games, with whlplayoffs — four rounds of best-of-seven series — beginning in late March.

In other words, teams would take six months to play those 68 games. In 2018-19, the teams played the regular season in 178 days, then took 53 days to complete the playoffs.

Then, like the big, bad wolf, along came the coronavirus and the resulting disruption of all things normal.

A few weeks ago, the WHL announced that it hoped to open its 68-game regular season on Oct. 2.

On Thursday, the goal posts moved again; now the WHL is targeting Dec. 4 as opening day, and continues to say it plans on having each team play 68 games.

While the WHL didn’t reveal a closing date, the OHL on Wednesday said that it hopes to play a 64-game season from Dec. 1 through April 29, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for June 17-27.

Presumably the WHL will be following a similar blueprint, meaning it will have to play its regular season in five months. Should it get to open on Dec. 4 and play through April 29, each of its teams would play 68 games in 147 days — 31 fewer days than it took to play the same number of games in 2018-19.

That means teams would be playing as many as four games a week. There likely would be an increase in the dreaded three-in-three weekends. You may recall that decreasing the number of tripleheader weekends was one of the reasons given when the league shortened its schedule from 72 games.

A Dec. 4 start surely would mean a shorter Christmas break — the league stopped for 10 days in 2018-19 and nine days in 2019-20.

But let’s be honest. There aren’t any guarantees there will be a season.

As the WHL’s news release read, all of this “remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial/state jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

The WHL’s announcement didn’t mention the situation involving the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, something that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2020, at least not at B.C. crossings. That would lead to teams playing inside their own divisions for the early part of a schedule.

The news release also didn’t mention players and school. The OHL said Wednesday that it will have its players stay home and start school there, so it likely is safe to assume that the WHL do the same as everyone awaits further developments.

The most important thing to remember is that everything — and I do mean everything — is fluid.

What follows are some thoughts from a few WHL officials, all speaking after Thursday’s announcement . . .

Gord Broda, the president of the Prince Albert Raiders, who are the WHL’s defending Raiders50champions, told Trevor Redden of panow.com: “As frustrating as this (process) has been, I just can’t emphasize enough that as a league, safety is at the forefront. Safety for our players, safety for the people in our buildings when we get going, safety for our fans. We’re at a time where patience is necessary.”

Broda also said: “I’ll speak for the Prince Albert Raiders only, even at 50 per cent capacity, we’re going to have financial shortfalls. I think it’s a realistic goal as a starting point to maybe work with our medical authorities and hopefully they find that an acceptable capacity level. And at the same time at least it’s a reasonable start from a financial perspective. It’s going to be financially very challenging to have reduced capacity in all the buildings. We all know we’re a ticket-driven venue and we’ve got to have fans in the seats.” . . .

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “Being fluid is really important. If the border remains closed, we’ll have to deal with it. If it opens and there are restrictions we have to adhere to, we’ll see if that’s workable and make those decisions as we go.” . . .

Brent Sutter, owner, president, general manager, and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, Red Deertold Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate: “We gotta have people in the building, no question. We have to have some kind of attendance and that’s our goal right now. And yet we’ll just have to see where it goes because it continues to move. It’s a moving target that’s changing all the time. It changes from week to week. You look at the other leagues — junior A leagues, American Hockey League, National Hockey League — no one is going to be playing in November.”

Ron Robison, WHL commissioner, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity. We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer of the Everett Silvertips, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “The anticipation was that we would be further ahead with (the pandemic) within not only Washington and Oregon, but the four western provinces. The more we looked at things and the way (Washington) is in a holding pattern with Phase 2 (of the state’s reopening plan), it was probably the only decision we can look at. They’re talking about us in Washington not looking at hosting events until Phase 4, so this makes the most sense now. It gives us time to work through things.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The Canadian Junior Football League announced Thursday that it has cancelled its 2020 season and has turned its attention to getting a 2021 season off the ground. . . . The CJFL is the governing body for 18 teams in six provinces that play in three conferences. . . .

The U of Alberta’s men’s and women’s hockey teams have been reinstated by Canada West, so will be eligible to play should the conference start up again in January. The reinstatement comes after the programs received a financial infusion from almuni. . . . The athletic department announced on June 17 that it was suspending all Canada West competition for 2020-21 for financial reasons. . . .

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has cancelled football’s 2020 season, while pushing girls volleyball, cross-country and cheerleading to January. . . . The only sports left on Hawaii’s fall high school sports calendar are air riflery and bowling. . . . Delaware also has cancelled its high school football season. There are 12 states who have done that, while at least 28 others have postponed the start of the football season. . . .

The U of Louisville booted three players off its men’s soccer team and suspended three others for their roles in a Saturday off-campus party that resulted in 29 positive tests within the school’s athletic department. The three who were kicked off the team apparently organized the party. Players from both soccer teams, as well as the field hockey and volleyball teams, tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Green Bay Packers said Thursday that they will play their first two home games without fans. That will be re-evaluated after the two games. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders had announced earlier that they will play the entire season without fans in their brand new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to open on Sept. 10. . . . Since July 21, when rookies reported to training camps, the NFL has had at least 56 positive tests. . . . The NFL had 66 players opt out of the season by Thursday’s deadline. A complete list is right here.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604.875.5182 or 1.855.875.5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.



Tinfoil

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if major junior hockey should “burn it down and start all over” . . .

Scattershooting


When the Portland Winterhawks are sold — and presumably that will happen at some point in the next month or two — they will become the seventh WHL franchise to change whlhands since 2011.

That means almost one-third of the league’s 22 teams have been sold during the past 10 years.

During the past while, I have sometimes wondered what these ‘new’ owners or ownership groups wonder about what they have bought into? Did they think they were buying into a hockey team with a focus on putting a winning team on the ice and fans in the stands? Did they expect to have to foot part of the bill for whatever legal fees are having to be paid for the off-ice battles that have arisen?

In his latest 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet touched on the latest lawsuit facing the CHL and its teams:

“My reaction to the lawsuit against the CHL and its teams for hazing is this: no one should fear the truth. The OHL, QMJHL and WHL maintain they have improved things on this very serious issue. They should welcome the opportunity to publicly show it

“The secondary aspect to this story is the financial fallout. The CHL just settled the minimum-wage suit for $30M, half of which will be covered by insurance. Remaining is a concussion suit and now this one. How many industries/companies could handle three expensive settlements in the time of COVID? I counted 26 of the 60 teams as being sold to new ownership since 2010. One such investor said last weekend that he’s frustrated by liability for events prior to his arrival. He thinks they should burn it down and start all over. I don’t know how widespread his feelings are, but I can’t imagine he’s alone.”

Burn it down and start over? I hadn’t heard that idea previously to reading Friedman’s column, but the way things are going that might not be a bad idea.




A note from Patti Dawn Swansson, The River City Renegade:

“In March, one basketball player tested positive for COVID-19, putting the brakes on the entire sports world and, at the same time, launching a stampede to the toilet paper aisles that resembled the California gold rush of the mid-1800s. Yet now, with many dozens of athletes in many sports testing positive, it’s go-time for the NHL, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball? What part of ‘deadly virus’ do they not understand?”

Her complete column is right here.



Peter


Major League Soccer’s return-to-play tournament is scheduled to open on July 6 near Orlando, Fla. The league announced Sunday that there have been 26 positives out of the 668 players and staff members who were tested. According to the league, 24 of the positives came before teams arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando. Two of the positives came after the arrival. . . .

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, has suggested players stop working out together in groups. With the U.S. continuing to struggle to get a handle on COVID-19, and that’s putting it nicely, he has told players that they aren’t safe. . . . Smith told USA TODAY’s SportsPulse: “Those practices are not in the best interest of player safety. They’re not in the best interest of protecting our players heading into training camp and I don’t think they are in the best interest of us getting through an entire season.” . . . High-end quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson are among the players who have been working out with teammates. . . .

F Wilson Chandler of the Brooklyn Nets has confirmed that he won’t be reporting to Orlando, Fla., for the re-start of the NBA season in July. . . . He told ESPN: ”As difficult as it will be to not be with my teammates, the health and well-being of my family has to come first.” . . . Other players believed to have said they are opting out are Trevor Ariza (Portland Trail Blazers), Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards), Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Lakers) and Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks).


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with a report from Canton, Ohio: “This score just in from the canceled Cowboys-Steelers Hall of Fame Game and postponed induction ceremony in early August: COVID 19, NFL 0.”


Cat


If you’re wondering what all is involved with trying to get a non-professional team back onto the field of play, take the case of the U of Toledo Rockets football team. . . . David Briggs of the Toledo Blade did just that in a recent column in which he covered every aspect of the athletic department’s plan. . . . Give this a read — it’s right here — and it will help you understand what organizations that don’t have the resources of the pro leagues are up against.


The highest-paid public employee in 40 American states is the head coach of either a football or men’s basketball team. As Bob Molinaro in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot pointed out: “Clearly then, the priorities of the other 10 states need adjustment.”


Raiders’ home possibly shuttered until 2021. It’s all about managing debt . . . Former Wheat Kings GM/head coach done in Dallas


Officials from the city of Prince Albert have said that the Art Hauser Centre, the home of PrinceAlbertthe WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, may remain closed for the remainder of 2020 because of the financial situation brought on by the pandemic. . . . Alison Sandstrom of panow.com reported that all “city facilities, including pools, arenas and rinks are expected to remain closed for the rest of the calendar year, even as they are allowed to reopen under the phased provincial plan.” . . . The facilities need mass usage in order to be able to keep the doors open, and with a ban on large gatherings that isn’t going to happen. “City officials emphasized the situation could change,” Sandstrom wrote, “but said unless the province allows mass gatherings, facilities will likely have stay shut until the end of December.” . . . Mayor Greg Dionne summed it up with: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities.” . . . Sandstrom’s complete story is right here.


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


BearCrap


Hockey Canada announced Thursday that it has “cancelled all programs and national team camps through Sept. 1,” with plans to hold some of them on a virtual basis over the summer. . . . The national U-17 development camp, scheduled for July 19-25, and the national junior team summer development camp, July 27-31, are among those going virtual. . . . The complete news release is right here.


The Western Canadian Baseball League has cancelled its 2020 season. The 12-team collegiate league, which was to have opened its season on May 29, has franchises in the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks, and the Saskatchewan communities of Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton. . . .

If all health and safety requirements are met, soccer’s Premier League will resume play on June 17 with a doubleheader — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa against Sheffield United. . . .

The National Women’s Soccer League plans on taking all nine of its teams to Utah for a 25-game tournament that is to begin, without fans, in two Salt Lake City stadiums on June 27. The teams will live in two area hotels. Players will be tested before heading for Utah, then will be screened regularly during training and the tournament. . . .

The KHL, the top hockey league in Russia, has set a preliminary date of Sept. 2 for the opening of its 2020-21 season. . . .

The 2020 Boston Marathon has been cancelled for the first time in its 124-year history. It had been moved from April 20 to Sept. 14, but the plug was pulled on Thursday. . . .

The Dutch Grand Prix that had been scheduled for Zandvoort on May 3 has been cancelled. It is the fourth Formula 1 race to be cancelled, following the Australian, Monaco and French races.


Innovation


From Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts that was posted on Thursday: “For almost 35 years, Les Jackson’s been a (Dallas) Star. Hired as an assistant coach when the franchise was still in Minnesota in 1985, he stayed with the organization every season but one since. His contract will not be renewed. End of an era, for sure. He’s been a huge part of that organization’s success.” . . . Jackson, 67, is a former WHL head coach, having worked with the Great Falls Americans (1979-80) and Brandon Wheat Kings, where he was the head coach for two seasons (1980-82) and general manager for three (1982-85). With the Stars organization he was, at various times, assistant coach, scout, director of amateur scouting, director of player personnel, director of hockey operations, assistant general manager, general manager, director of player development and senior advisor.


Long Island University, which on April 30 announced its intention to ice a men’s hockey team, has named Brett Riley, 29, as the Sharks’ first head coach. LIU is located in Brookville, N.Y. . . . Riley spent last season as an assistant coach with the Colgate U Raiders. . . . He spent two seasons (2017-19) as the head coach of the Wilkes U Colonels in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Penn. The first of those seasons was spent preparing the Colonels for their first season of play in 2018-19. . . . Riley’s father, Bob, was the head coach at Army West Point for 19 years and now scouts for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Riley’s grandfather, Jack, also coached at Army for more than 35 years and was the head coach of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif.


Derick Brassard of the NHL’s New York Islanders is among a group of three men who have purchased 10 per cent of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. Brassard played two seasons (2002-04) with the midget AAA Intrepid Gatineau. . . . Yan Hébert and Michel Quesnel, who partnered with Brassard, are businessmen in the Outaouais region. . . . The Olympiques now have an 11-member ownership group.


StarTrek

CHL, teams settle minimum-wage lawsuit for $30 million . . . Next up: Concussion-related action . . . Gaglardi: It all comes down to testing

Six years later . . . if you were hoping for a clear-cut winner and loser, well, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

The CHL and its leagues have agreed to pay $30 million to settle three class-action CHLminimum wage-related lawsuits that were filed six years ago.

The suits were filed by former players against the three major junior leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — that operate under the CHL umbrella. They later were certified as class action.

“This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs,” the CHL said in a statement. “It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.” 

Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, who was the lead for the plaintiffs, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The lawsuits were filed in 2014, with players claiming that the major junior teams are businesses and that players, as employees, should be eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay. The players also requested back pay.

While the lawsuits were before the court, the major junior leagues, which are of the belief that the players are student-athletes, lobbied various governments and were successful in gaining exemptions from minimum-wage laws.

As TSN’s Rick Westhead said in an on-air interview: “Over the last few years, the CHL has been very diligent about going to provinces and U.S. states where there are CHL teams and trying to successfully have minimum-wage laws amended so that players are exempt from minimum-wage legislation.”

In the west, governments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Washington state all amended labour codes to provide exemptions. Oregon politicians chose not to provide an exemption.

According to the CHL and the plaintiffs, they agreed on a settlement in February with the help of a mediator.

“Earlier this year we met with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and agreed on a settlement that would see the end of the court case and an award of $30 million which will cover their lawyer’s fees, funder’s fees and other legal costs,” the CHL said in its statement. “The remainder will be distributed to players in the class. We did this because cases like these are very expensive and are a distraction to the league and as we had publicly disclosed, we had $30 million in insurance for these lawsuits.”

Lawyers are expected to get about $10 million off the top, with the remainder to be split among players. There are believed to be about 4,000 players who played from 2010-19 eligible to share in the money — players who have signed NHL contracts aren’t eligible — but it’s unlikely that all will apply.

It is believed that the CHL and its teams will pay half of the agreed-upon sum, with the CHL’s insurance paying the other half. Interestingly, the CHL purchases its insurance through Hockey Canada, which means that insurance premiums for the governing body of minor hockey in Canada are likely to rise. Those costs could be passed on to minor hockey players throughout the country.

If all 60 CHL teams are on the hook for a share of the payout, each will pay $250,000. But there are seven Americans teams involved, five of them in the WHL. If the American teams, which were exempted from the class action, aren’t required to pay, each of the remaining 52 teams would pay more than $288,000.

One of the five players who was in on the lawsuit from the beginning, Samuel Berg (Niagara IceDogs, OHL), is to receive a $20,000 honorarium. Each of the other four — Travis McEvoy (Saskatoon Blades, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, WHL), Kyle O’Connor  (Kootenay Ice, WHL), Thomas Gobeil (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) and Lukas Walter (Tri-City Americans, WHL; Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) — is to get $10,000.

As Westhead reported, with the amendments having been made to minimum-wage laws in various provinces and states, “This does not open the door to future claims like this. . . . it’s unlikely the CHL is going to have to worry about a case like this down the road.”

Unless, of course, there are changes in governments and new faces choose to rewrite the employment standards legislation that includes the exemptions from minimum-wage requirements.

“There was a belief the provincial changes showed the CHL to be on the right side of the law,” Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote, “but legal advice indicated the case could continue for up to another decade. That would cost millions in fees and, according to sources, the insurance fund topped out at $30 million. Clearly, that was a major factor in deciding to settle the case.”

What’s next? According to a tweet from Westhead: “After a settlement approval hearing (likely Aug/Sept), eligible players will need to file claims with a court-appointed administrator to get a payout.”

So, as the lawyers like to say on TV, in summation . . . the winners and losers.

Well, the only winners would appear to be the lawyers.

Yes, I would suggest that everyone else loses.

The CHL teams lost because financial filings necessitated by the lawsuit allowed people on the outside to learn just how much money some of these franchises make. Yes, major junior hockey no long is a mom-and-pop operation. It is a big business.

Players, past and present, certainly didn’t win. Yesterday’s players aren’t likely to get more than a few thousand dollars out of this settlement and, as far as today’s players are concerned, nothing is going to change in terms of what they are paid.

Perhaps the biggest winners, aside from the lawyers, of course, are WHL fans in whlcities that won’t lose their teams.

Three years ago, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, issued a statement  after the lawsuit was certified as a class-action. In that statement, Robison said: “If WHL clubs were required to provide minimum wage, in addition to the benefits the players currently receive, the majority of our teams would not be in a position to continue operating.”

That is a position that he repeated more than once or twice over the past three years. Presumably those unnamed franchises won’t cease operations now. Although considering the uncertainties presented by the pandemic-related situation in which all teams now find themselves, you wonder how they will handle getting a bill for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

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“Well, major junior hockey operators in Canada got rid of one of the biggest headaches they’ve had in their history and all it cost them was $30 million, much of it paid by insurance, and a ton of negative headlines. Now they’re free to go back to paying their ‘student athletes’ less than minimum wage,” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

“Sounds like a pretty good deal for them. Because essentially what has happened when the CHL minimum-wage lawsuit was settled to the tune of $30 million is that the former players who bravely and persistently fought for this chunk of money were able to win in court for themselves and the roughly 3,600 other players in the lawsuit. But in the bigger picture, the Canadian Hockey League won in the far more important political arena by convincing each province to consider its players student athletes, which exempts it from annoying employment standards legislation. Once they managed to do that, they were happy to settle. It’s believed it cost each team about $250,000.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.

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It should be pointed out that what came to be known as the minimum-wage lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with another class-action lawsuit facing the CHL, its three leagues and Hockey Canada. . . . James McEwan, a former WHL player, filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada in January 2019. The lawsuit later was refiled with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include the OHL and QMJHL. . . . Preliminary discussions regarding the certification of the lawsuit as class action were to have been held in Vancouver in March. If the pandemic didn’t play havoc with that, all parties involved will be awaiting Madam Justice Neena Sharma’s ruling. . . . McEwan played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting his time between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.


Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, says the league is Kamloops1“trying to figure out what the season’s going to look like . . . when it’s going to start.”

Appearing on TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Gaglardi chatted with Jeff Paterson and The Moj (aka Bob Marjanovich) on Friday.

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, frequently mentioned the importance of testing in terms of getting the economy rolling again.

Even for the WHL, he said, “it really all comes down to . . . testing.”

“There’s now a swab,” he said, “that you can get that you can swab your mouth and it tells you in 30 seconds whether you’ve got the virus. If this is something that we can get out into the mainstream market, how far are we from having fans in arenas?

“We’re really waiting for something . . . it may not be a vaccine . . . I’m certainly not counting on a vaccine in 2020. But I do think we’re going to have better testing soon, more access to testing, and somewhere we’re going to get some drug that’s therapeutic that will mean a 65- or 70-year- old guy can go to a hockey game and not worry about dying, and if he comes down with a virus then we can treat him and he’s going to be OK. We need to get to there to get this economy back going.

“At some point I think we’ll get there, with a combination of testing, tracing and hopefully something’s that therapeutic that allows people to feel safe to go to events like hockey.”

Asked about playing WHL games without fans in the building, Gaglardi replied: “The WHL is a gate-driven league. Without people in the buildings, it’s hard to see how we can operate for a great length of time.”

The WHL, according to Gaglardi, has got “contingency plans like every league there is. The Western Hockey League’s not the only league in that position . . . we’ll look at all kinds of scenarios.

“At the same time, too, we’ve got an obligation . . . to develop young hockey players, so if our league starts up a little late . . . we’ve got contingency plans to get the kids into Kamloops and to develop them. We’ve got all kinds of schemes of games and day games and things we might do . . . we take that obligation seriously.”

The complete interview is right here.

Gaglardi’s appearance on the Vancouver radio station came one day after his NHL and AHL organizations were hit with more furloughs, these ones to run through July 3.

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News reported that the latest cuts included “most of the remaining front office,” but excluded anyone who is a vice-president or higher.

“The Stars’ hockey operations department was not affected by the furloughs, but management, coaches and scouts took 20% pay cuts,” DeFranks wrote.

His complete story is right here.


The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League will have an expansion franchise in 2020-21 — the Chilliwack Jets. That begins the number of teams in the league to 13. . . . Clayton Robinson, the majority owner, will be the general manager and head coach. . . . The Jets will play out of the Sardis Sports Complex.



Honda Indy Toronto, which had been scheduled for July 10-12, has been cancelled. The move came after the City of Toronto cancelled event permits for major events for July and August. . . .

Organizers for what was to have been Ironman Canada’s return to Penticton, B.C., announced Friday that the event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Aug. 30. The Ironman last was held in Penticton in 2012, ending a run that began in 1983. . . .

The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. The 41st running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 11. Last year’s race drew more than 8,000 participants. . . .


Nominate1


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


The U.S. national junior team has filled out its coaching staff by adding four assistants — Ted Donato (Harvard), Theresa Feaster (Providence), Kris Mayotte (U of Michigan) and Steve Miller (Ohio State). All will work alongside head coach Nate Leaman of Providence College. . . . Feaster, the director of men’s hockey operations at Providence, is the first woman named to the coaching staff. She will be Team USA’s video coach. . . . She is the daughter of Jay Feaster, a former NHL general manager with the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He now is the Lightning’s vice-president of community hockey development. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


Nominate2