Morgan Gobeil progressing, but needs your help . . . COVID-19 showing up all over . . . Finland WJC team loses key player to quarantine

Merry Christmas . . .


Morgan Gobeil survived the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, and the young man continues to work on his recovery. . . . The facility in which he does so much of his rehab work is in need of a Smith Machine. With that in mind, Last Man Back, which was started by family and references Morgan’s having been the last survivor to be released from hospital, is selling clothing. His brother, Ryan, tweets that “all money is going directly to First Steps to purchase much need equipment for Morgan and others. . . . Check out the above tweet and then send a DM to Ryan to place an order. . . . I have a Last Man Back hat that I really like, and it has become my go-to lid.


It was March 11, 2020. Rudy Gobert and the New Orleans Jazz were in Oklahoma CovidCity for an NBA game with the Thunder. Officials and players were on the floor preparing for the game to start when word came that Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. It wasn’t long before the NBA season was indefinitely suspended. One positive test . . .

Keep that in mind as you read what follows . . .

The coronavirus has dominated the news from the sporting world through the first two days of this week. And it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.

Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted Monday afternoon: “Spoke to infectious disease Dr. Andrew Morris (@ASPphysician) about pro sports events & Omicron. He says Omicron cases doubling in Ont. every 2-3 days. Estimates 10K daily cases by Dec. 31. Predicts Ont. govt will soon have to close NHL/NBA games to fans. ‘Govt has no choice.’ ”

On Tuesday, the NHL postponed a game between Carolina and the host Minnesota Wild that was to have been played that night. The Hurricanes have eight players in protocol.

On Monday, the Calgary Flames had six players and a member of their training staff enter protocol, so the NHL postponed three games. The Flames added three more players on Tuesday.

Here’s a brief look at the last two days in the NHL . . .

BOSTON BRUINS: F Brad Marchand and F Craig Smith went into protocol on Tuesday, before the Bruins were beaten, 4-1, by the visiting Vegas Golden Knights. . . . The Bruins were awfully flat in this one; in fact, only Boston play-by-play voice Jack Edwards was flatter. In fact, he almost sounded bored, which may have been because of the score.

CALGARY FLAMES: They shut things down on Monday after six players and a member of their training staff entered protocol. By Tuesday, there were nine players on the list. . . . The NHL postponed Calgary’s next three games, including a scheduled Monday date against the Blackhawks in Chicago. Also postponed was the Flames game in Nashville against the Predators on Tuesday and a game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. . . . The NHL said in a Monday news release that it was postponing the games because of the “likelihood of additional positive cases in the coming days.” . . . Eric Francis of Sportsnet wrote on Monday: “With (Andrew) Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Adam Ruzicka and Brad Richardson joining the list no one wants to be on, there now have been 123 NHL players in COVID protocol this season, which is roughly 17 per cent.” . . . On Tuesday, the Flames added F Milan Lucic, F Sean Monahan and D Noel Hanifin to the list. . . . If all goes well, the Flames will return to practice on Friday and face the visiting Blue Jackets on Saturday.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: The Hurricanes put F Sebastian Aho, F Seth Jarvis and a member of the training staff on the COVID-19 list on Monday. As per Canadian regulations, all three are to remain in Vancouver while in quarantine, a stretch that will take them past Christmas Day unless the team is able to get clearance for a medical flight to get them home. While Aho didn’t play on Sunday in Vancouver — the team said he was ill but didn’t provide specifics — he and Jarvis had played against Calgary and Edmonton. D Tony DeAngelo and D Brett Pesce of the Hurricanes have been in protocol since Nov. 28. . . . On Tuesday, the Hurricanes added D Ian Cole, F Steven Lorentz, F Jordan Staal and F Andrei Svechnikov to the list.

COLORADO AVALANCHE: Colorado moved D Devon Toews into protocol.

DETROIT RED WINGS: Detroit F Tyler Bertuzzi, the NHL’s only unvaccinated player, is out of quarantine and returned to the lineup last night (Tuesday) against the visiting New York Islanders. Despite having missed eight games so far — he isn’t allowed to travel into Canada — he said he isn’t about to get vaccinated, claiming that he has “natural immunity now.” Of course, immunity didn’t help D Danny DeKeyser of the Red Wings, who is back after a second go-round with the virus. . . . The Red Wings are 2-6 without Bertuzzi, who missed five games while in quarantine and three in Canada. . . . Detroit beat the Islanders, 2-1.

EDMONTON OILERS: The Oilers placed F Ryan McLeod into protocol on Tuesday, while head coach Brad Tippett wasn’t on the bench for that night’s 5-1 loss to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers said Tippett was kept away for precautionary reasons. With Tippett out, assistant coach Glen Gulutzan was in charge of the bench. . . . After the game, Edmonton assistant coach Jim Playfair said that Tippett had gone into protocol. The earliest Tippett could return is for a Dec. 27 game at Calgary.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: F Ryan Lomberg went into protocol on Tuesday before the Panthers were beaten 8-2 by the visiting Ottawa Senators.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: There were reports that the Nashville Predators had a “handful” of positives, the specifics of which had yet to be released as of Tuesday night. F Ryan Johansen went on the COVID-19 list on Sunday.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: The Islanders put F Mat Barzal on the list on Tuesday before playing the host Detroit Red Wings. Barzal stayed in quarantine in Detroit as the Islanders went home where they are to face the Bruins on Thursday.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: F Morgan Frost was pulled from a 6-1 victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils as he entered protocol. Frost played three shifts totalling 2:12 early in the first period before leaving the game.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Vancouver, which had such a miserable time with an outbreak in May, put D Luke Schenn and F Juho Lammikko into protocol. So those two were missing from Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. Just prior to game time, Vancouver D Brad Hunt also went into protocol. . . . During the game, the Canucks lost D Tucker Poolman when he was pulled late in the first period after being informed of a positive test. Poolman also tested positive while with the Winnipeg Jets in January.

MEANWHILE, Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday afternoon that “as of now, there’s been no discussions about pausing the season due to COVID cases. NHL and NHLPA have a regularly scheduled call (will happen tonight or tomorrow) where they will discuss if there’s a need to enhance protocols.” . . . TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted Tuesday night that a medical conference took place Tuesday night. He added that “it’s likely enhanced protocols will be implemented on a league-wide basis for a period of time. Final details being worked out.” Later, he added: “Basically, it would be a return to last season’s protocols.”

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In the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets added four players, including James Harden, to what the league refers to as health and safety protocols on Tuesday, shortly before playing the Raptors in Toronto. . . . That left the Nets with eight healthy players after they upgraded Kevin Durant from questionable. An NBA team needs eight players in order to play a game. . . . According to head coach Steve Nash, the Nets also placed two coaches and two staff members on the list. . . . The shorthanded Nets still beat the Raptors, 131-129 in OT. . . .

On Monday, the NBA postponed two games involving the Chicago Bulls thanks to outbreak on their roster. They have 10 players and some staff members in protocols.

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The NFL added 37 players — yes, 37 players! — to their COVID-19 list, the most in any single day since this pandemic got started. According to the NFL, all 37 of those players tested positive. Things weren’t much better on Tuesday, with at least another 31 players added, including nine from the Los Angeles Rams and eight from the Cleveland Browns.

On Oct. 22, WR Odell Beckham Jr., then with the Browns, stated that he wouldn’t get COVID-19 because “its a mutual respect.” Now with the Rams, he tested positive on Tuesday.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out on Twitter: “Worth noting that 86 percent of NFL player and staff COVID positives this season originated away from team facilities. Community-spread has been the issue.”

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Also on Monday, the English Premier League postponed a game for the second time in three days. Manchester United at Brentford, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed on Monday. Tottenham was to have played at Brighton on Sunday but came up with eight positives and that game was postponed.

There also have been reports that Aston Villa and Norwich have had positive tests among their players.

The number of positive tests in the league through Sunday had jumped to 42 from 12 the previous week.

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One more from Monday . . . the New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island U18 Hockey League announced that “as a result of the latest New Brunswick COVID restrictions all games involving New Brunswick Major U18 teams will be postponed until further notice.”


Toads


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Brandon Lisowsky scored three goals in 6:42 of the second period to help the visiting Saskatoon Blades to a 5-4 OT victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Tuesday. F Tristen Robins scored the winner 35 seconds into extra time. . . . Robins had scored three goals in 6:16 of the second period in a 6-2 victory over the Warriors on Oct. 27. . . .

In Prince Albert, F Evan Herman’s three goals helped the Raiders to a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice is 23-4-1 this season, having lost twice to the Raiders (11-13-2) and the Edmonton Oil Kings (19-6-3). . . .

The Vancouver Giants dropped a 5-3 decision to the Cougars in Prince George on Tuesday night. . . . Vancouver F Cole Shepard scored Vancouver’s second goal, 50 seconds into the third period. It was his first goal since Feb 19, 2020, when he counted in a 6-2 victory over the host Victoria Royals. Shepard played his first game since March 7, 2020, on Dec. 10 as he completed a recovery from hip surgery. . . .

The Victoria Royals outshot the host Kelowna Rockets, 19-3, in the third period but gave up the frame’s only goal and ended up dropping a 5-4 decision in OT. That ended Victoria’s five-game winning streak. Still, the Royals are 7-1-4 since starting the season 1-10-0. Victoria is 7-0-3 in its last 10 outings.



WJC NOTES: Finland’s entry in the World Junior Championship took a hit with the news that F Aatu Räty, a draft pick of the NHL’s New York Islanders, is off the roster because of having to quarantine. Räty was seen as perhaps Finland’s No. 1 centre. . . . The Finns are to fly into Edmonton today (Wednesday). . . . Chris Peters (@chrismpeters), who is an excellent follow for all kinds of hockey news, tweets that the Slovakian team “is bussing to Munich to hop on a charter with Austria, Germany and the Czechs. Fly to stopover in Iceland, then on to Edmonton, then a bus to Red Deer. Then 2-day quarantine.” . . . If you are at all interested in the WJC, Peters has a really thorough look at Tuesday’s news right here. . . .

Russia’s roster doesn’t include three NHL draft picks — D Daniil Chayka (Vegas Golden Knights), D Yan Kuznetsov (Calgary Flames) and F Matvey Petrov (Edmonton Oil Kings). All three left Russia to play junior in North America, Chayka with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Kuznetsov with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs and Petrov with the OHL’s North Bay Battalion.


Cat


JUST NOTES: Two former WHL players and a former WHL coach have been added to the coaching staff of Canada’s entry in the Spengler Cup, replacing Bruce Boudreau and Scott Walker, who now are on the Vancouver Canucks’ coaching staff. Nolan Baumgartner, a defenceman with the Kamloops Blazers (1992-96), had been an assistant coach with the Canucks before losing his job in last week’s purge. Jeremy Colliton (Prince Albert Raiders, 2001-05) had been the Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach before being fired on Nov. 6. Ben Cooper also will be with Team Canada. He was on the Victoria Royals’ coaching staff for two seasons (2011-13). Cooper now is an assistant coach with EC Salzburg of the ICEHL. . . .

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan and host Halifax Mooseheads were scheduled to play on Friday night. That game — it is a Teddy Bear night — has been moved to Thursday due to, according to a post on the Mooseheads’ Facebook page, “the recent restrictions announced by the Nova Scotia government.” Global-TV explained: “spectators will be placed into groups of 150 people. There can be multiple groups, so long as each group has a separate entrance, exit and washrooms. Within those groups of 150 people, masking and physical distancing will be maintained, unless people are with their own household or a consistent group of 20. Eating and drinking will no longer be allowed in the stands or seats, and can only happen in separate designated seating areas.” Tim Houston, Nova Scotia’s premier, wasn’t pleased, saying in a statement that “the time between the announcement and the implementation was to give businesses, organizations and individuals time to prepare . . . not to give organizations an opportunity to reschedule events and get in front of the changes.”


Fifi


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.


Cooking

Looking for WHL rosters? Look no further . . . Thompson no longer on Sharks’ staff . . . NHL lays out restrictions for unvaccinated players

Unvaxxed


If you’re looking for WHL rosters, I would suggest that you check out the work of Alan Caldwell. He has the latest rosters right here, and you should know that they include a whole lot more than name and position. . . . And if you aren’t following him on Twitter, he’s at @smallatlarge.


The OHL, under commissioner David Branch, has issued an indefinite OHLsuspension to D Logan Mailloux of the London Knights. Yes, that’s the same Logan Mailloux who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Branch’s reasoning behind the suspension was that Mailloux “violated the league’s expectation of appropriate conduct for an OHL player.” . . . He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1 “based in part on his conduct since his return to Canada and the appropriate treatment, counselling, mentoring and/or education he receives from the date of this decision.”. . . Ken Campbell has more at his site right here.



The Prince Albert Raiders announced on Wednesday that Bruno Zarrillo is the club’s new director of player personnel, replacing Curt Brownlee “effective immediately.” . . . Brownlee had been with the Raiders since 2011, first as a scout and then as director of player personnel for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Zarillo has been scouting for the Raiders since 2011-12. . . . The last sentence of the Raiders’ news release stated: “No further comments will be made at this time.”


NoVax


You will recall that the Edmonton Elks weren’t able to play an Aug. 26 game after having 13 positive tests. That game, in Toronto against the Argonauts, now will be played on Nov. 16. . . . The Elks now will play their final three regular-season games in seven days, meeting the host Saskatchewan Roughriders on Nov. 13, playing in Toronto on Nov. 16, and facing the B.C. Lions in Vancouver on Nov. 19. . . . The Elks, Argos and Lions will be allowed to each add five players to their game rosters for those dates.


Rocky Thompson no longer is part of the San Jose Sharks’ coaching staff. The Covidformer WHL player and coach had been the NHL team’s associate coach. . . . “Due to a medical exemption that prevents me from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, under the new league protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time,” Thompson said in a news release.”I will have no further comment on this matter.” . . . As a player, Thompson split three seasons (1994-97) between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos. He later was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings for three seasons (2007-10). . . .

Meanwhile, in MLB, Bob Boone, a vice-president with the Washington Nationals, has quit rather than comply with the organization’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Boone, 73, is a former catcher, and is the father of New York Yankees manager Aaron and Bret, who also play in the majors. Bob had been with the Nationals since 2005. The Nationals told employees on Aug. 14 that they have until Sept. 15 to be fully vaccinated or face losing their jobs unless there is a medical exemption involved.


Demons


The NHL is going to make life a lot tougher on unvaccinated players than those nhl2who have been vaccinated once the approaching season gets started. . . . Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported: “On the road, unvaccinated players will not be able to go anywhere except for the team hotel, practice facility and arena, according to a 27-page document outlining the protocols, which was obtained by ESPN. At the team hotel, unvaccinated players can’t use the bar, restaurant, gym or pool and cannot have teammates or visitors in their rooms. . . . Unvaccinated players are prohibited from carpooling or using saunas. They are encouraged not to eat and drink on flights, attend bars or clubs or eat indoors — even at home — with people outside their households or personal bubbles.” . . . Kaplan has more, a whole lot more, right here.

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In the meantime, two NFL teams — the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — are 100 per cent vaccinated. That’s all players and staff. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to get rolling on Thursday with the Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions, entertaining the Dallas Cowboys, who were 0-4 in the preseason, if that means anything.



The Oakland A’s have closed their minor-league complex in Mesa, Ariz., at least through Sunday because of COVID-19 issues. . . . “Following a number of positive COVID-19 tests by members of the Oakland A’s organization at the Lew Wolff Training Complex, the Club will close the Mesa complex through Sunday,” a news release from the A’s reads.“We are following Major League Baseball’s recommendations for testing and protocols to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff.”


Marines


Boxer Oscar De La Hoya is in a Los Angeles hospital after having tested positive for COVID-19. De La Hoya, who said he is fully vaccinated, was quoted as saying: “I feel bad, bad, bad, bad. I have Covid, my chest doesn’t — I can’t breathe well.” . . . The 48-year-old was to have returned to the ring on Sept. 11 in Los Angeles against Vitor Belfort, a former UFC champion. That fight isn’t going to happen now. . . . De La Hoya last fought in 2008 when he lost to Manny Pacquiao.


Matt Hagan, the NHRA points leader in Funny Car and the defending champion, won’t be able to compete in the U.S. Nationals after testing positive. The Nationals are being held this weekend in Indianapolis.


Musketeers


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: General manager Steve Yzerman has made some changes to the Detroit Red Wings’ scouting staff. Two men who know their way around the WHL — Bruce Haralson and Marty Stein — are gone, while Greg Hawgood has been added. Haralson had been with the Red Wings since 1996, first as an amateur scout and then, for the past 12 seasons, as a pro scout. Before joining Detroit, he split 10 seasons between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hartford Whalers. Stein had been an amateur scout since 1996. Hawgood, a former Kamloops Blazers defenceman who was the team’s head coach for part of one season, was a scout with the Chicago Blackhawks for the past three seasons. . . . Think about his for a minute or two — in his last three seasons with Kamloops, Hawgood put up 119, 123 and 133 points. . . .

The Regina Pats have added Ken Schneider to their staff as an assistant coach. Schneider spent the past three seasons scouting for the Pats. He is a former WHLer (Brandon, 1980-82). He has coached at various levels and was behind the bench with the Ile-des-Chenes, Man., North Stars when they won the Allan Cup as Canada’s national senior champions.


Coffee

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching ChiSox and Angels in a good one . . .

Scattershooting2


The Vancouver Canucks have 22 players on their active roster. As of Sunday afternoon, 16 of them were on Canucksthe NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . . When we went to bed on Saturday, that number was 14. On Sunday, D Jalen Chatfield and F Marc Michaelis were added to the list. . . .

To date, four Vancouver games have been postponed. The Canucks are scheduled to play the Flames in Calgary on Thursday and Saturday nights, but you have to think it’s a reach to expect that game to take place. . . .

Later Sunday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted: “One more Canucks player tested positive today.” . . . That would take the number on the protocol list to 17.

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Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported on Sunday:

“One Canucks player told ESPN he hadn’t heard from a team representative about any players going to the hospital, but he had heard of teammates receiving IV treatments for severe dehydration, presumably at their homes. A source told ESPN that at least three Canucks coaches have tested positive for the virus as well. In addition, many family members of players have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, according to sources.”

She quoted an agent of a Canucks player as saying: “Fatigue, dehydration, the symptoms are intense. It’s knocked a lot of guys out. Some can’t even get out of bed.”

Kaplan’s piece is right here.

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Hockey leagues and teams hate transparency the way a snowman despises warm weather. Throw in privacy issues related to healthcare and you can bet that information on what is going on with the Canucks’ coaches, players and families will be hard to come by.

That’s how we came to have Darren Dreger of TSN and Postmedia’s Ben Kuzma entertaining the Twitterverse with a brief exchange on Sunday.

Dreger had tweeted this at 9:19 a.m. PT: “Number of positive cases climbing within the Vancouver Canucks. More than 20 players/coaches combined have tested positive. Variant symptoms include vomiting, cramping and dehydration. Family members are getting it. Scary situation. Next 5-7 days will determine scheduling.”

Kuzma came back with this at 10:16 a.m.: “Been told reported number of positive COVID-19 cases with Canucks isn’t entirely accurate. The number is under 20. There haven’t been severe symptoms. Most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy. No reports of vomiting, few with worse symptoms better.”

Dreger responded at 10:50 a.m.: “18 players and 3 coaches is what a source said this morning.  As for the symptoms . . . provided by the same source and confirmed by an NHL source.”


Rick Bowness, the head coach of the Dallas Stars, left their Sunday night game after the second period and didn’t return. You guessed it . . . COVID-19 protocols. Bowness has been fully vaccinated, however, and the team is convinced that it’s a false positive. . . . The Stars, you may recall, had a nightmarish run-in with the virus just before this season got started. Here’s hoping they aren’t in for a repeat.


Dinner


“So who ratted them out? An opposing line coach? Some largemouth?” wondered Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Auburn University’s bass-fishing team — originally suspended for the rest of the year for repeatedly violating school COVID-19 travel policies — has been reinstated upon appeal and can resume angling on April 22. Great — just in time for preseason two-a-days.”


The AJHL, with four teams already shut down for 14 days due to positive tests, announced Sunday that it had postponed that night’s game between the Camrose Kodiak and Olds Grizzlys “to allow for the analysis of a COVID-19 test as per the AJHL return-to-play protocols.” . . . The Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm, Okotoks Oilers and Whitecourt Wolverines were put on hold during the week.


This is what loser points have done to statistics. . . . The Dallas Stars have played 36 games; they have 36 points. So the Stars are playing .500 hockey, or so some people claim. Not so fast, grasshopper. The Stars have won only 13 of those games. Yes, they actually have 23 losses, 10 of them in OT. . . . So please allow me ask: If you win 13 of 36 games are you really at .500?



The Washington Nationals, who are having issues with the virus, had their opening home series with the New York Mets scrubbed. And now their Monday game against the visiting Atlanta Braves has been dumped. . . . Later Sunday, MLB announced that the Nationals have been cleared to open in Atlanta on Tuesday. . . . As of Sunday, the Nationals had had four players test positive, and seven other players and two coaches who were deemed close contacts. All told, 13 people were in quarantine.


RedSea


In the WHL on Sunday . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored the last three goals to run their winning streak to six games with a 3-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Regina. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) gave the Blades (9-2-1) a 1-0 lead at 8:20 of the first period. . . . F Lynden McCallum (10) tied it for the Wheat Kings (9-2-1) at 9:08 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (7) broke the tie at 3:20 of the third and F Reid Perepeluk (3) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon has lost two straight after going 10 games without a regulation loss. . . .

F Conner Roulette’s fifth goal, at 4:47 of OT, gave the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Chiefs (0-4-3) took a 3-2 lead into the third period. . . . Seattle (5-3-0) moved out front on goals by D Tyrel Bauer (1) and F Jared Davidson (2). . . . F Adam Beckman (3) pulled the Chiefs even, on a PP, at 10:40. . . . F Henri Rybinski had three assists and was plus-4 for the winners. . . . F Erik Atchison (2) had a goal and two assists for Spokane, which was 3-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Chiefs and Victoria Royals (0-3-1) are the only WHL teams without at least one regulation victory. . . . The Chiefs are without D Mac Gross and D Graham Sward, both week-to-week with undisclosed injuries. . . . Seattle F Matt Rempe left in the first period with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t return. . . .

F Tristen Nielsen scored the game’s only goal, in the shootout, as the Vancouver Giants beat the Prince George Cougars, 1-0, in Kamloops. . . . G Trent Miner of the Giants (3-1-0) stopped 14 shots to record his second straight shutout. Miner, who has six career shutouts, had beaten the Kelowna Rockets, 6-0, a week earlier. . . . The Cougars (1-2-1), who were outshot 43-14, got 43 saves from Tyler Brennan, who recorded his first career shutout.



In the top of the first inning of a Sunday night game, Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ starting pitcher, threw one pitch at 101 mph. In the bottom half of the inning, hitting second, he hammered a fastball 451 feet into the right-field bleachers. . . . He is the first starting pitcher to homer in an American League game since the DH came into play in 1973. He also became the first pitcher since 1903 to hit in the No. 2 spot. . . . Before the game, Greg Beacham of The Associated Press reported: “Ohtani is just the third pitcher over the last 45 seasons to hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available. He’s also the first pitcher to bat second for a team since Jack Dunleavy did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 7, 1903.” . . . One more for you: The last AL pitcher to homer from one of the top seven spots in the batting order was Babe Ruth in a 1933 game from the three hole.

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Yermin Mercedes of the Chicago White Sox had five hits in the first start of his MLB career on Friday. No big deal, right? Until I heard Tim Kurkjian of ESPN say that neither Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott nor Edgar Martinez — each of them a pretty good hitter — ever had a five-hit game. . . . Ahh, you have to love baseball.



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.


Eggs

Maglio takes over Chiefs’ bench as Viveiros leaves for AHL . . . No fans for 2021 WJC? . . . Gorges joins BCHL’s Warriors

Adam Maglio is the new head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, taking over SpokaneChiefsfrom Manny Viveiros, who now is the first head coach of the Henderson Silver Knights, an AHL expansion team that is owned by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . Viveiros leaves Spokane after one season with the Chiefs. . . . Maglio, 34, is the WHL’s youngest head coach. He joined the Chiefs as an assistant coach for the 2019-20 season. Prior to that, he was with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, as an assistant (2015-17) and then head coach (2017-19). . . . Viveiros was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers in 2018-19, after two seasons as head coach and director of player personnel with the Swift Current Broncos. He guided the Broncos to the 2017-18 WHL championship. . . . Viveiros, 54, was 41-18-5 with the Chiefs when the 2020-21 season was halted by COVID-19. . . . Maglio is the Chiefs’ third head coach since 2017. Viveiros replaced Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons to join the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. . . . Lambert took over from Don Nachbaur, who spent seven seasons in Spokane before his contract wasn’t renewed after 2016-17.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, starting on Dec. 26 and concluding on Jan. 5. . . . The tournament is to include 10 teams. . . .

The above tweet appeared on Monday. Here was Hockey Canada’s response on Tuesday:

“At present time, there has been no change to the traditional hosting model for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship . . . Hockey Canada continues to engage in daily communication with the IIHF, the host communities of Edmonton and Red Deer, and the appropriate health authorities to examine all options for hosting the World Junior Championship in December and January. The health and safety of all participants and the community at large remains a priority for Hockey Canada, and our organization will continue to work towards hosting a safe, successful event on behalf of the IIHF.” . . .

The Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament, which had been scheduled for Feb. 10-21, has been cancelled. The 2021 event was expected to include about 2,500 players. . . .

The NFL and NFLPA revealed Tuesday that there were 10 positive tests — four players and six staffers — from Aug. 21-29. These results come a week after zero players and six team personnel tested positive. . . . The NFL season is scheduled to open on Sept. 10. . . .

Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell, one of the college game’s best all-purpose offensive players, has opted out of the 2020 season. He has lost four family members to the virus. . . . LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase, another top-end player, also has opted out. However, he didn’t cite the virus for his decision, saying instead that he wants to focus on becoming an NFL player. He is eligible for the NFL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Auburn Tigers are scheduled to practice Tuesday without at least 16 players — nine have tested positive and seven are considered high risk. . . . Josh Heupel, the U of Central Florida Knights’ head coach, said Tuesday the team has had 10 players opt out of this season, all of citing the virus. . . .

The Oakland A’s spent Monday holed up in a Houston hotel after having a Sunday game there postponed by a positive test. Later tests all were negative, but a three-game series that they were to have played against the host Seattle Mariners through Thursday was  postponed. . . .

The virus has started to leave its mark on the 2020-21 season for winter sports. The International Skating Union has cancelled a World Cup speed skating meet in Calgary, Dec. 11-13, along with two short-track events — Montreal, Nov. 6-8, and Laval, Nov. 13-15. . . . Also cancelled are meets in Tomaszow-Mazowiecki, Poland, Nov. 13-15; Stavanger, Norway, Nov. 20-22; and Salt Lake City, Dec. 4-6. . . .

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) announced Monday that it has postponed all competition until January 2021. From a news release: “The MIAC previously announced the postponement of all medium- and high-contact risk fall sports (cross-country, football, soccer, and volleyball) to the spring season on July 28. This latest decision will push competition in golf and tennis back to the second halves of their split-season schedules, while the basketball, hockey, indoor track and field, and swimming and diving competition seasons are now planning to begin in January. The MIAC Golf Championships, previously set for October, will be rescheduled for Spring 2021. All MIAC teams will maintain the institutional autonomy to practice, train, and conduct other athletic-related activities throughout the academic year in accordance with NCAA and campus protocols.” . . . There are 13 NCAA Division III schools in the MIAC.


Devil


If you have any interest at all in how the NBA got from where it once was, with playoff games shown on tape delay late at night, to where it is today, with players leading a movement to, among other things get out the vote, Dan Le Batard of ESPN has a great piece that is right here.

——

Sticking with ESPN, Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski have produced a piece that looks at the NHL and raises all sorts of questions about the 2020-21 regular-season. When might it start? Might it be played in four bubbles? How will the U.S.-Canada being closed to non-essential travel impact it? And on and on. . . . That is all 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

——

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: Former WHL/NHL D Josh Gorges has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors as their director of player development. Gorges, who played with the Kelowna Rockets (2000-04), played 13 seasons in the NHL (San Jose Sharks, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, 2005-18). . . . The Swift Current Broncos, one of four community-owned WHL franchises, will hold their annual general meeting on Sept. 29. . . . Aaron Spotts is the new head coach of the junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He takes over from Ian Birnie, the head coach for the previous two seasons.


Math

Will we see baseball, football in 2020? . . . Jays fall to 0-2 as Devers homers again . . . BCHL team has new head coach

Had this pandemic not reared its ugly head, the MLB season would be heading into its third day. As it stands, though, there isn’t any baseball and now there are rumblings that perhaps the 2020 season may not get off the ground at all.

On Friday morning, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweeted that “the players and league agreed the 2020 MLB season won’t begin until:

“There are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans;

“There are no travel restrictions;

“Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans.”

At the same time, he noted, there is a caveat to the first of those, that being that “they will consider playing games at neutral sites . . . and will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums and just how proper a solution it may be for both sides and especially fans.”

If you have been paying attention, I think you will agree that New York City, for one, is a long, long way from being ready to play host to baseball games. And, on the West Coast, Los Angeles County closed its beaches on Friday.

I’m thinking it could be a year before anyone yells “Play Ball” again.



Our Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, quotes H.L. Mencken: “The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”


The Toronto Blue Jays are 0-2 after dropping an 8-6 decision to the visiting Boston Red Sox on Friday. . . . Boston got another home from 3B Rafael Devers, who has three in two games. . . . LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had two hits and three RBI for the Blue Jays. . . . This game was part of the simulated season being played out by the gang at Strat-O-Matic. . . . There’s more on all of that, including standings and boxscores, right here.


Kirk Herbstreit, one of TV’s top college football analysts, is wondering if there will be college or pro football this year. In fact, he appeared on ESPN’s Freddie and Fitzsimmons show on Thursday night and offered up this:

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens.

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

The NCAA football season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29. Players would have to be in training camps in late July to make that starting date.


Hook


If you are a follower of the WHL you will be aware that the league held its inaugural U.S. Challenge Cup — a bantam AAA tournament — in Kent, Wash., in late February.

The WHL followed that up by holding a two-round draft of U.S. prospects on Wednesday.

If you’re wondering “Why now?”, consider that the NCAA changed some of its recruiting rules in April. For starters, the NCAA no longer allows “recruiting conversations” between a coach and prospect prior to Jan. 1 of a prospect’s Grade 10 year. As well, coaches have to wait until Aug. 1 prior to a prospect’s Grade 11 year to make a verbal offer.

On Thursday, Darryl Wolski of 2112 Hockey Agency tweeted a couple of times in explaining this:

“High school students may not have recruiting conversations with college coaches prior to Jan. 1 of their sophomore (Grade 10) year. Students may hear from college coaches or reach out to them on their own. Schools may make verbal offers to prospects beginning (Grade 11).”

What this means, Wolski tweeted, is that “WHL teams should have roughly 8 months to attempt to sign players to WHL/CHL education agreements before NCAA teams can speak to any of those drafted or undrafted players.”


I was heading for bed on Thursday night when — Hot Damn! — I discovered that Bob Dylan had released a new song. . . . Murder Most Foul is almost 17 minutes in length, so is that still a song?

Anyway . . . if you haven’t heard it, you are able to give it a listen right here, where you also will find a neat story touching on 20 references Dylan makes in the song.


Noose


Three prominent sports broadcasters have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at one stage or another of dealing with it. . . .

Gord Wilson, a colour analyst on Ottawa Senators broadcasts on TSN 1200, learned Friday that he has the novel coronavirus. Wilson, 59, was in California with the Senators, from March 6-12, and started feeling ill upon his return home. He now is self-isolating at home. . . . Wilson is the third of 52 people who were on the Senator’s charter flight from L.A. to Ottawa on March 12 to have tested positive. The other two were Senators players. . . .

John Kelly, the TV play-by-play voice of the St. Louis Blues, has been in self-isolation since March 13. He tested positive but now is symptom-free and feeling well. . . .

Doris Burke, an ESPN analyst on NBA telecasts, is symptom-free after having been ill for several days. She learned on Wednesday that she had tested positive. She first felt ill on March 11 while in Dallas and was sick in bed three days later. . . .



In B.C., the City of Burnaby has cancelled its Canada Day plans. As Dustin Godfrey of Burnaby Now writes: “The move comes as part of an ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak and reinforces the notion that social distancing measures will be in place for months rather than weeks.” . . .

The 47th annual Kamloops International Baseball Tournament (KIBT) has been cancelled for 2020. The eight-team affair had been scheduled for July 9-12. . . .


After two seasons as general manager and head coach, Tyler Kuntz has left the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . Brock Sawyer, who has been on staff for the past six seasons, has been named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . For the past two seasons, Sawyer has been associate GM and associate head coach. . . . “I have decided I need to do what is best for my family,” Kuntz said in a news release. “These past couple of years have taken a toll and, as much as I love the organization, the players and the city of Powell River, it just isn’t feasible to continue to commute to see my young family.” . . .


The junior A Nepean, Ont., Raiders are looking for a head coach. If you’re interested, the details are right here.


Pats to select first, plan on taking Bedard . . . NHL postpones draft . . . Opening of CFL season in doubt?

The Regina Pats will have the first selection in the WHL’s bantam draft. That was determined in the annual draft lottery that as held in the WHL’s Calgary office on Wednesday morning. . . . The draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . .

And what will the Pats do with that selection? Here’s Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“Shortly after Regina was awarded the top pick via Wednesday’s lottery, GM John PatsPaddock revealed to the Regina Leader-Post that his team will indeed select blue-chip forward Connor Bedard, who has been granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada.”

Paddock told Harder: “We will be selecting him first. I would have said this regardless but the exceptional status made it even more obvious to everybody. There’s no secret with this. He’ll be a Regina Pat, that’s for sure.”

Harder’s complete story is right here.

So . . . you’re wondering how the Pats ended up with the first pick that actually originated with the Swift Current Broncos? Here’s how it happened . . . 

It all began on Jan. 9, 2018, when the Hurricanes traded G Stuart Skinner, F Giorgio Estephan and F Tanner Nagel to the Broncos for G Logan Flodell, F Logan Barlage, F Owen Blocker, D Matthew Stanley, first- and third-round picks in the 2020 bantam draft and a conditional second-rounder in 2021.

On Nov. 29, 2018, the Pats dealt F Jake Leschyshyn and F Nick Henry to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for F Jadon Joseph, F Ty Kolle, five bantam draft selections — including a 2020 first-rounder that had been Swift Current’s — and two conditional bantam draft picks.

That turned into an early selection when the Broncos, who won the WHL’s 2017-18 championship, finished with the league’s poorest record in 2019-20.

When the lottery was held yesterday, a Prince George Cougars’ ball fell, allowing them to move up from fourth to second — that is the maximum advancement permitted under draft rules. . . . The Cougars also hold the 11th and 17th picks, from the Saskatoon Blades and Medicine Hat Tigers, respectively.

The first-round order:

1. Regina Pats (from Swift Current Broncos via Lethbridge)

2. Prince George Cougars

3. Moose Jaw Warriors

4. Tri-City Americans

5. Saskatoon Blades (from Regina Pats)

6. Red Deer Rebels

7. Seattle Thunderbirds

8. Kelowna Rockets

9. Victoria Royals

10. Vancouver Giants

11. Medicine Hat Tigers (from Saskatoon)

12. Calgary Hitmen

13. Brandon Wheat Kings

14. Winnipeg Ice

15. Prince Albert Raiders

16. Lethbridge Hurricanes

17. Prince George Cougars (from Medicine Hat)

18. Spokane Chiefs

19. Kamloops Blazers

20. Edmonton Oil Kings

21. Swift Current Broncos (from Everett Silvertips)

22. Prince George Cougars (from Portland Winterhawks)

For the second and all ensuing rounds, the draft order follows the inverse order of the 2019-20 standings.

——

The WHL held its inaugural two-round draft of U.S. prospects on Wednesday afternoon. . . . All of the selections are listed right here.


Dinos


The NHL has postponed its annual draft, but hasn’t provided a new date. It was to have been held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, June 26 and 27. . . . The NHL also postponed its scouting combine and awards ceremony. The combine would have taken place in Buffalo, from June 1-6, with the awards ceremony in Las Vegas on June 18. . . .


Bob McKenzie, the godfather of hockey insiders, reported on TSN on Tuesday that the NHL has asked teams to look into the availability of their home arenas through the end NHLof August.

Emily Kaplan of ESPN later chatted with Nick Foligno, the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Here is part of their conversation:

“I don’t know if I should be saying this, but I will. I don’t know if it makes a ton of sense for us to play into August. I think that’s pretty dangerous coming into another season. You want to have a great season the following season, and I don’t know if that gives guys enough time to rest and recover.

“If you think of the amount of games some guys would play, you’re adding on another 20 games, plus a full season, then playoffs again. That’s dangerous for some players, especially star players — the guys fans want to see — they’re usually playing deep into the playoffs, so we have to be cognizant of their health and safety. We want to make our league as great as it could be going into this big TV deal that everybody knows about. There’s so much that goes into it.”

The complete conversation is right here.


The 2020 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed until some point in 2021. The Games had been scheduled for K’jipuktuk/Halifax, N.S., July 12-18. . . . There isn’t a date set for next year but organizers are hoping for some time during the summer. . . . The 2020 B.C. Summer Games that had been scheduled for Maple Ridge have been cancelled. They were to have been held July 23-26. Maple Ridge will play host to the Games in 2024. . . . The 2020 Canada 55+ Games that were to have been held in Kamloops have been postponed to 2021. They had been scheduled for Aug. 25-28. . . . These Games are held every two years in late August. They have been held in even-numbered years, but that rotation will be broken in 2021. . . .


The Russia-based KHL has cancelled the remainder of its season. The KHL was into its playoffs and had hoped to be able to finish in time, but now has given up on that happening. . . .


The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes told full-time employees on Wednesday that they won’t be getting paid after the end of this week. . . . The Super League’s Toronto Wolfpack has laid off its Canadian staff, putting 12 full-time employees out of work until play resumes. . . .


The B.C. Lions are scheduled to hold training camp in Kamloops from May 13 through June 3. I’m thinking that is about seven weeks away. I’m also thinking that isn’t going to happen. . . . So it may not be long before the CFL announces Plan B. . . .


If you feel like clicking on that DONATE button over there on the right and making a contribution, please go ahead. . . .


The below tweet shows the price of gas in Walsh, Alta., just east of Medicine Hat, on Tuesday:


The Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, who is at sportscurmudgeon.com, courtesy of Mark Twain: “How lucky Adam was. He knew when he said a good thing, nobody had said it before.” . . .


Clown


With the French Open already having been rescheduled, it now seems that Wimbledon could get the same treatment. It is scheduled for June 29 through July 12 but the All England Lawn Tennis Club now is saying the event could be postponed or, yes, even cancelled. . . . The French Open, originally scheduled for May 24 through June 7 at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, now is to be held from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4. It is to start one week after the conclusion of the U.S. Open. . . .


Terry Jones of Postmedia reports that Edmonton is likely to lose the Volleyball Super Nationals that were scheduled for May 13-19, and also the Triathlon World Series Grand Final and World Championships, Aug. 17-23. . . . While the triathlon event is expected to be moved to 2021, the next Volleyball Super Nationals isn’t scheduled until 2022. . . .



Beans

WHL’s off-ice season begins today . . . Bedard gets exceptional status . . . Cranbrook Bucks have their GM/coach

Turnsignals


The WHL will hold its inaugural two-round U.S. prospects draft today (Wednesday), along with its annual bantam draft lottery. . . . The lottery, which won’t be streamed live, is to be held at 11 a.m. (MT) and will originate from the WHL office in Calgary. The U.S. prospects draft will be held online, starting at 2 p.m. MT. . . .

Meanwhile, the WHL announced that it has cancelled its annual awards show and changed the date of its bantam draft. . . . The awards show was to have been held in Red Deer on May 6. . . . The bantam draft that was scheduled for Red Deer on May 7 now will be held online on April 22. . . .



In loading up for a run at the 2020 Memorial Cup, no one went to the lengths as did the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats and Chicoutimi Sagueneens. The Wildcats, under general manager Ritchie Thibeau, traded for three star players, giving up 13 draft picks and a prospect. Chicoutimi GM Yanick Jean bettered that by adding five players for 18 picks, seven of them first-rounders, and two players. . . . And, of course, there won’t be any playoffs in the QMJHL, nor will there be a Memorial Cup. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reviews the situation involving the two big buyers right here. . . .


Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday morning that “the NHL is temporarily cutting the pay of league office employees by 25 per cent.” . . . The cuts will come into play on April 1. . . . Kaplan wrote, “According to sources, the NHL is hoping that the temporary pay cut among league office employees will prevent layoffs during this uncertain time.” . . . The NHL had 189 games remaining in its regular season when it halted play on March 12. . . .

——

The owners of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers had told salaried employees that they would be hit with pay cuts of 20 per cent and would be moving to four-day work weeks. . . . However, on Tuesday, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, reversed course. . . . “Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation,” Josh Harris, HBSE president, said in a statement. “As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. . . . To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.” . . .

——

Groupe CH, which owns the Montreal Canadiens and the AHL’s Laval Rocket, has announced layoffs that will affect 60 per cent of the employees in the organization. The layoffs will begin on Monday. . . . From a report by The Canadian Press: “Groupe CH says it has established a $6-millon assistance fund to help employees. The organization says the fund will help enhance employment insurance benefits for eight weeks, ensuring that employees will receive 80 per cent of their base salary for that period. The fund also will provide loans to employees in difficult financial situations.” . . .



Janet Brown of Vancouver radio station CKNW tweeted Tuesday morning that “White Spot restaurants has laid off about 3,000 employees in last week . . . owner Ron Toigo says restaurant industry was already hurting . . . he uses the words ‘bleak and staggering’ describing impact of COVID-19.” . . . Toigo also is the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . .



Former Boston Bruins star Johnny Bucyk was to have had a hip replaced this week, but — guess what! — yes, the surgery was postponed. Dave Stubbs of nhl.com caught up with Bucyk, who is 84, and wrote this story right here. . . . You will enjoy this one. I guarantee it. . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” . . .


The headline on the IIHF website reads: Ireland Coaches Italy. . . . Seriously. . . . Greg Ireland has signed on as the head coach of Italy’s national men’s hockey team. . . . Ireland, 54, takes over from Clayton Beddoes, who resigned earlier this year. . . . Ireland has been the head coach of HC Bolzano of the EBEL since January. . . . Prior to that, he spent three seasons as the head coach of Switzerland’s HC Lugano. . . .



BC Hockey announced Tuesday that F Connor Bedard has been granted exceptional status, so the 15-year-old will be eligible to play full-time in the WHL next season. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player granted such status for WHL play. . . . Bedard, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, had 84 points, including 43 goals, in 36 games for West Vancouver Academy’s midget prep team this season. . . . The WHL bantam draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, WHL teams were allowed to use a 15-year-old in only five games before his club team had its season end. However, the Winnipeg Ice got F Matthew Savoie into 22 games, turning that ‘rule’ into something of a fallacy. Savoie, who applied for exceptional status by Hockey Canada but didn’t get it, finished with seven points, all of them assists. . . .

Two other players — F Riley Heidt and F Brayden Yager — also applied for exceptional status in the hopes of playing in the WHL next season as 15-year-olds. They both are from Dundurn, Sask., and both played with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Heidt had 17 goals and 20 assists in 44 games; Yager had 18 goals and 24 assists in 44 games. . . . There was no mention of either in the announcement involving Bedard. . . .

Bedard is the seventh player to have been granted exceptional status, after Sean Day, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Shane Wright, all of whom played in the OHL, and Joe Veleno, who played in the QMJHL. . . .


Floss


Ryan Donald is the first general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks, who are scheduled to begin play in the BCHL in 2020-21. The Bucks have signed Donald to a four-year contract. . . . Donald, who is from Edmonton, has been an assistant coach at Yale U for five seasons. Earlier, he played at Yale for four seasons. . . . “Ryan is an incredible hire for our club,” Bucks owner and president Nathan Lieuwen said in a news release, “and is absolutely the right person to build this franchise. “Not only does he have quality experience coaching at high levels, but he also has great connections throughout the NCAA.”


Ryan Oulahen has been named head coach of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. He signed a three-year contract. . . . Oulahen had been the interim head coach since Dec. 10, when he replaced Stan Butler. . . . A former captain of the Battalion when the franchise was based in Brampton, Oulahen spent two seasons (2016-18) as head coach of the Flint Firebirds. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Battalion for five seasons. . . . Butler had been the Battalion’s head coach since 1998-99. . . .


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