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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Nuts


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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

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

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



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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604.875.5182 or 1.855.875.5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Stars


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


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

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

Heritage Junior B Hockey League: Oct. 28

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: Sept. 25

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Oct. 9

USHL: Nov. 6

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

WHL: Dec. 4



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


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


Plaid

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering who now has home-ice advantage in NHL bubble playoffs . . .

Scattershooting


Deer1
John Deer dropped by the Drinnan residence for a feed off our Jon Gold apple tree the other evening. You’re right. He didn’t look all that impressed. And, no, he hasn’t been back. Perhaps he was too busy watching NHL games.

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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The Mid-American Conference cancelled fall sports, including football, on Saturday. It is the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference to drop football, at least for now. The MAC is hoping to be able to play football in the spring. . . . The decision was announced after school presidents held a virtual meeting on Saturday morning. . . . The move by the MAC comes days after UConn was the first FBS school to cancel its football season. . . . Sean Frazier, Northern Illinois’ athletic director, summed up the decision: ““It’s real. No one wants to have football or sports more than me. Football gave me all the opportunities I have today. But I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives. I can’t do that and I won’t do that. Not on my watch.” . . . Chris Vannini of The Athletic wrote that Frazier “said his family has lost loved ones to the pandemic.” . . .

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The football team and the band at Oneonta, Ala., High School are in quarantine after a number of positive tests, including five football players. This is the second time the football team has been shut down by positive tests. . . . “I looked my wife in the eyes Monday night before I went to bed and I said, ‘You know I sure hope we didn’t kill anybody’s grandmother today by having a football practice,” head coach Phil Phillips told WBMA-TV. “You’re torn because the kids want to play so bad.” . . .

——

The MLS is Back tournament is to end Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., and the league is preparing to resume its regular season on Wednesday. Each of the 26 teams is to play 18 games, with games being played without fans. . . . The three Canadian teams — Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver — aren’t included for now because the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to non-essential traffic. . . .

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After having a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs postponed, the St. Louis Cardinals now have played only five games. This means that they have 55 games remaining and only 49 days in which to play them. . . . Whoops! The Cardinals now have had a three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates postponed; it was to have started Monday. . . . That now leaves St. Louis with 46 days in which to play those 55 games. . . . As Jesse Spector of Deadspin explained: “If all of the Cardinals-Cubs games wind up being part of doubleheaders, and it’s hard to see how they won’t be, that would mean 16 of St. Louis’ 60 games this season are seven-inning affairs. That’s 27 percent of the schedule consisting of these shortened games . . . and that’s assuming it doesn’t rain in the Midwest for the rest of the summer.” . . . Spector wrote that before the series with the Pirates was flushed. . . . The Cardinals, who have had 10 players and seven staff members test positive, have had 15 games postponed since last playing on July 29. . . . St. Louis is scheduled to return to play on Thursday with a doubleheader against the Tigers in Detroit.

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James Click, Houston Astros GM: “I really do think that whichever team has the fewest cases of coronavirus is going to win.”


Somewhere old friend Pat Ginnell is looking down while smiling and nodding . . .


Son



“New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes vanished from the team hotel in Atlanta before finally announcing hours later that he was opting out of the 2020 season,” Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports. “In other words, the old hidden-ballplayer trick.”

——

Perry, again: “A Twins-Pirates game was delayed for nine minutes when an unauthorized drone flew over center field. Possible charges range from violating the outfield fly rule to the most-feared one — lack of express written consent.”

——

Perry vows that he saw this on Facebook: “Hippos can run faster than humans on land, and swim faster than humans in water. Which means the bicycle is your only chance of beating a hippo in a triathlon.”


Hotel



The QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques don’t know when their next season will start but they do know that as of right know they don’t have a home arena. Health officials have told team officials that the Robert-Guerin Arena is going to be used as a COVID-19/homeless shelter for the next 12 months. Originally, the Olympiques were to be back in the rink next week to begin preparing for a new season. . . . A new arena is part of a complex that is being built; however, construction has slowed with costs having soared from a project cost of $78.5 million to more than $100 million. . . . The OHL has said it hopes to open on Dec. 1, while the WHL is aiming for Dec. 4. The QMJHL hasn’t moved its opening date since announcing that it will being its regular season on Oct. 1. . . . Norman Provencher of the Ottawa Citizen has more right here.


Here’s Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, points out: “Alabama senate candidate and former college football coach Tommy Tuberville said $600 a week is “way too much. We’re having people just sit out not working because they’re (paid) more sitting around.” . . . After a 5-7 record coaching at Auburn in 2008, school told him to resign and paid Tuberville $5 MILLION not to work in 2009.”



JUST NOTES: Oh boy, is this NHL race for the Covid Cup proving to be confusing. Fans of the Vancouver Canucks are acting as though their favourite team won a playoff series, when they actually won a play-in series that the NHL apparently isn’t counting as playoffs. Or is it? . . . The Toronto Maple Leafs, meanwhile, lost a play-in series and their detractors — and there are a few of those, aren’t there? — point out that the Leafs didn’t make the playoffs. . . . So which is it? . . . Aaron Boone’s lack of feel for his pitching staff is going to cost him his job as the manager of the New York Yankees. He really has a knack of leaving a pitcher, starter or reliever, in for one batter too long. . . . Yankees management also is going to have to do something with C Gary Sanchez, who would strike out in t-ball. . . . A tip of the cap to Mike Morreale, the commissioner of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, and his crew for the masterful job they did of pulling off their championship tournament with all teams in St. Catharines, Ont. They called it the Summer Series and the Edmonton Stingers won the final, 90-73, over the Fraser Valley Bandits on Sunday.


Magic


——

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.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “A man who picks up a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”


Moses

Team takes leave with border closed . . . KHL has 38 positive tests, no schedule . . . Will MLB season end Sunday?

The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Buffalo Jr Sabres have decided not to play in 2020-21 JrSabresdue to “issues related to border travel with COVID-19,” according to a news release. From an OJHL release: “The team and the league have been in communication for a number of weeks as the situation of travel between Canada and the United States continues to be monitored.  With so much uncertainty as to when the border will be open to allow for OJHL teams to travel inter-country between the US and Canada, the collective decision has been made to have the Jr Sabres take a leave of absence for the 2020-2021 season.” . . . Larry Playfair, who played two seasons 1976-78) with the Portland Winterhawks, is Buffalo’s governor. . . .

The Jr Sabres are believed to be the first team to withdraw from play because the U.S.-Canada border is closed and appears likely to remain that way indefinitely. . . . A number of Canadian-based leagues, including the OHL, WHL, BCHL and KIJHL, include teams that play in U.S. cities.


Scott Moe, the premier of Saskatchewan, has expressed his disappointment in the five minor hockey teams from that province who travelled to Winnipeg for tournament play, July 16-19. . . . “I’m just disappointed that a few teams would put the entire safe restart of the province at risk,” he said. “Here is a prime example of a group of people putting their own self-interests ahead of the greater public health and safety of their neighbours, of their family and of their community.” . . . Bryan Eneas of CBC News has more right here.

Stupid

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, gave some space in a post this week to the Saskatchewan stupidity. And he hit the nail on the head with this:

“What is the lesson for those kids (ages 7-12) to learn here? If there is a rule or regulation that gets in your way, then what you should do is to figure out a way to circumvent that rule/regulation in such a way that you are not likely to get caught?”


Alexei Morozov, who played seven NHL seasons (1997-2004) with the Pittsburgh Penguins, now is the president of the Russia-based KHL. The league plans on opening on KHLSept. 2, although it has yet to release its regular-season schedule. Morozov, 43, said that will happen early this month. . . . However, it seems the KHL is having pandemic-related issues. . . . “Currently to the date we have 38 players that have tested positive,” Morozov told RSport on Wednesday. “We also have team staff members have tested positive. Some cases have been very severe and people have been hospitalized. There are people that feel very ill but they are all getting better and there are no worries about players not being able to continue their careers or having any threat to their life.” . . . There are reports that Avangard Omsk has had 20 positive tests, with Spartak Moscow at 15. . . . The KHL also has teams in Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan and Latvia, something that will cause problems because various borders remain closed. The Chinese team Kunlun Red Star already has moved from Beijing to Mytischich, which is on the outskirts of Moscow.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

MLB’s pandemic-related woes continued Friday with the postponement of a game between the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, who came up with two positive tests, and Milwaukee Brewers. The teams are hoping to make up the game with a Sunday doubleheader. Both games would be seven innings in duration. . . . That is barring more positives, of course. . . . The Cardinals were self-isolating in their Milwaukee hotel rooms on Friday. They played the host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday and Wednesday, then had an off-day in Milwaukee on Thursday. . . .

Friday’s MLB news means that six teams — the Miami Marlins, Milwaukee, the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis, the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals all are sidelined, at least for now, due to COVID-19. . . . The Phillies now have had to postpone six games — that’s 10 per cent of their schedule — because of COVID-19. . . . By now MLB has to be asking itself: How much is too much? . . .

The Texas Rangers lost two broadcasters on Friday as Matt Hicks tested positive and Eric Nadel chose to opt out of games, at least through the weekend. . . . Nadel has been the play-by-play voice, with Hicks as an analyst. . . . A radio technician on the Rangers’ crew also tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Buffalo Bills had five players test positive, so they sent all their rookies home on Thursday. Earlier in the week, the NFL said that there were 21 positives in testing done as players reported to training camps. . . . At the same time, at least 32 players have opted out of playing in the 2020 season. There’s a list right here. . . .

Gaby Lopez, 26, withdrew from the Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio, after becoming the first LPGA player to test positive. She was tested on Monday and now is in self-isolation for at least 10 days. . . .

Sergio Perez, who drives on the Formula 1 circuit for Racing Point, will sit out this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silvertsone after testing positive. He believes he contracted the virus after returning to his home in Mexico on a private plane to see his mother. She recently had been released from hospital after being in an accident. . . . Perez also will miss next weekend’s 70th anniversary Grand Prix that also is to be held at Silverstone.


Social


Derek Cornet of larongenow.com reports that “La Ronge councillors have decided to forgive debt owed by the La Ronge Ice Wolves, as well as pause ice fees for the team and other organizations.” . . . The Ice Wolves apparently owed about $20,000. That has been waived, and now the SJHL team won’t have to pay for ice in 2020-21. . . . Cornet’s story is right here.


Duvernay-Tardif a real Canadian hero . . . CHL looking for money from feds . . . Zary: ‘It’s just a waiting game . . .’

Just a few months ago, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a native of the Montreal suburb of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, was on the offensive line as the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. He played every offensive snap in finishing his fifth season as the team’s starting right guard. . . . On Friday, he became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season, choosing to work on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic over football. . . . His contract with the Chiefs called for him to be paid US$2.75 million this season; instead, he will receive US$150,000 from the NFL’s opt-out deal with the NFLPA. . . . Duvernay-Tardif, 29, has his medical doctorate from McGill U in Montreal, but his football career has kept him from a full-time residency. He worked as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal through June and now is waiting for another role. . . . In making his announcement, he wrote: ”Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” he wrote. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”


Rick Westhead of TSN reported on Friday that “The Canadian Hockey League has hired lobbyists in Ottawa to discuss financial aid” as we continue to steer our way through this pandemic. . . . Those lobbyists have met with government officials going back to late June. . . . As Westhead wrote: “It’s unclear whether the CHL will be able to hold a 2020-21 season, given restrictions on large public gatherings and how crucial ticket revenue is to the CHL’s business model.” . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


F Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers is training as though the WHL season is going to Kamloops1start on Oct. 2, but he is a realist and senses that isn’t likely to happen. . . . “I’m training as if I was starting in August,” he told Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV on Kamloops on Friday. “Obviously, we’re not. Honest opinion is we won’t be able to start in October, but I’ve still got to train and still got to have the train of thought that I’m training as hard as I can, and that’s what I can do to be ready no matter when it does start.” . . . The WHL has said that it is aiming for an Oct. 2 start, but it hasn’t yet released a schedule. . . . However, Zary is expecting a later start, but, like everyone else, hasn’t any idea when that might be. “Just the way everyone’s talking and you hear things,” he told Klassen. “Obviously no one can give you a final answer that ‘yeah, it’s happening.’ It’s up in the air with every single thing that’s going on this year. It’s just a waiting game to see what happens.” . . . Zary, who is preparing for his fourth season with the Blazers, will be an early first-round selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft, which now is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10. He had 86 points, including 38 goals, in 57 games when last season was halted in March.


Former Kamloops Blazers general manager Stu MacGregor will be back for a second season as a co-GM of the Thompson zone U18, U16 and U15 minor hockey teams for 2020-21. MacGregor will be teaming up with Jan Antons to run the Kamloops-based teams. . . . MacGregor also is a senior regional scout (west) for the WHL’s Victoria Royals.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Michigan State said Friday that its entire football team was being quarantined for 14 days after one student-athlete and one staff member tested positive. The school had halted workouts on Wednesday after a different staff member tested positive. . . . David Cobb of CBS Sports wrote that “the full-team quarantine is in accordance with athletic department policy. The policy also mirrors guidelines released by the NCAA last week that mandate 14-day quarantines for student-athletes who are found to have been in ‘high-risk’ contact with others who have tested positive. That means other schools are likely to be faced with similar situations.” . . .

The 2020 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix officially was cancelled on Friday. It originally was to have run June 12-14, but had been postponed to Oct. 9-11. . . . The U.S., Mexico and Brazil Formula 1 races also have been cancelled. . . .

Before playing the visiting New York Mets on Friday afternoon, the Atlanta Braves scratched their top two catchers. Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers tested negative but were exhibiting symptoms so were left in Atlanta. It had been hoped that one or both would be feeling better by Friday morning and would then fly to New York. But it wasn’t to be. . . .

D Brett Kulak of the Montreal Canadiens told reporters on Friday that he tested positive after arriving in Montreal for Phase 3 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol. He was back on the ice with the team on Thursday. Kulak said he tested negative, but then had two positives. He’s feeling fine now, but said he experienced headaches, respiratory issues and a lack of energy. . . .

The Falkland, B.C., Stampede has been cancelled, meaning it won’t be held for the first time since the inaugural event in 1919. Normally held on the May long weekend, it was postponed to Aug. 28-30 before being cancelled.


USNTDP experiences positive tests . . . NHL preparing for restart; Flames D-man opts out . . . Giants catcher Posey won’t play

With the NHL announcing Friday that it has a new CBA in place and that almost 80 per cent of its players had voted for a return to play, a story out of Plymouth, Mich., didn’t seem to have the impact it probably should have.

ICYMI, Craig Custance and Katie Strang of the The Athletic reported that “at least three players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program have tested positive for COVID-19, multiple sources have confirmed. . . . The players had been participating in on-ice skills training at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., the venue for USA Hockey’s 2020 World Junior Summer Showcase later this month.”

Custance and Strang also reported that “additional participants in the on-ice skills training who are not members of the USNTDP have also tested positive, according to a source.”

The complete story is right here.

One source was quoted as saying: “It’s hockey players who hang out together. One person got tested, found out they had it and so they all did.”

This, I believe, is the first report of teenage hockey players testing positive, and this has to be ominous for junior hockey owners and operators.

Obviously, if you are going to bring teams of athletes together and have them in close quarters, like in locker rooms and on buses, there are going to be positive tests. That means that if you own a team, say, in the WHL and you are hell-bent on opening the 2020-21 season at some time in the not-too-distant future, your return-to-play protocol better have something in it about dealing with positive tests.

Or you have you fingers crossed, a rabbit’s foot in your hip pocket, and you’re hoping for a miracle.


Dog


Meanwhile, Adam Wodon, the managing editor of College Hockey News, posted a thought-provoking piece on Friday that spells out a lot of things.

He starts:

“The shutdown of Ivy League sports until Jan. 1 and its implications for college hockey are just the first of many shoes to drop in the coming weeks and months.

“Trying to summarize what college sports will look like this fall, seems silly at the moment. It changes day by day, and usually in the wrong direction.

“The trajectory, however, points to a continued steady drip towards the seemingly inevitable: that there will be no college sports in the fall, or, at best, nothing close to how we know it to be, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis.

“College sports departments continue to go through the motions of preparing for the season, what with the social media countdowns to the next game, and so on. But it all seems so pointless. I mean, I get it — what else are those staffs supposed to do? Gotta do something. Can’t all be like me, catching up on my golf game and rewatching Lost.

“Coaches have been going through offseason workouts in all sorts of ways, keeping training facilities open, but with certain distancing measures in place. And so on.

“But nothing anyone says about ‘we plan on this . . .” or ‘we plan on that . . . “ has any real substance at this point, even if they’re sincere in saying it.”

There’s a whole lot more to his piece and it’s well worth your time. It’s all right here.


D Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames has opted out of the NHL’s season. Hamonic cited family considerations in making his decision.


Hey, you want some optimistic news?

Here you go . . .

The 15-team AJHL released its 2020-21 schedule on Friday, with opening night set for Sept. 18. Each team is to play 58 games in the regular season. According to the news release: “The schedule has been created to remove pre-determined blocks of games should the season start be delayed.” . . . The complete news release is right here.

Meanwhile, the 16-team USHL said Friday that it plans to open in the fall “with the intention to play a full schedule.”

But, in Germany, the 14-team DEL season that was to have started on Sept. 18 now has been pushed back to an unspecified date in November.


Flatearth


Michael Bidwill, the owner of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, has been in hospital after testing positive. His condition has improved of late and he may be released sometime this weekend. . . . He is believed to have contracted the virus while travelling in the eastern U.S. . . . Bidwill, 55, isn’t believed to have had any contact with the team’s football personnel.


In a release issued Friday, MLB and the MLPBA said that 71 players and 12 staff members have tested positive since intake screening began on June 27. That is out of 11,149 samples. All told, 66 of the positives came from intake screening. . . .

C Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants won’t play this season. He and his wife adopted twin girls who were born about six weeks prematurely on July 3, so he has chosen to stay with his family rather than play in the pandemic-shortened MLB season. . . . “In the current state we are in now, and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months at a minimum, this just ultimately was not a difficult decision for me,” Posey, 33, said on a ZOOM call. “From baseball, it was a tough decision. From a family standpoint, that I feel I’m making a decision to protect our children, I think it was relatively easy.” . . .

P Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox also has opted out of the approaching MLB season. The right-hander, 24, is seen as one of MLB’s top pitching prospects. . . .


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, posted a terrific piece on Friday detailing difficulties encountered by MLB in getting two plane loads of Dominican players to Miami on July 1. It’s all right here. . . .

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The Pac-12 announced on Friday that fall sports, including football, will be conference only if their seasons are able to start. The cancellations include a Sept. 5 football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and USC. . . .

Dartmouth has dropped a handful of NCAA Division 1 sports, effective immediately. Gone are men’s and women’s golf, men’s lightweight towing, and the men’s and women’s diving and swimming programs. The Ivy League school also shuttered the Hanover Country Club, which was built in 1899. . . .

The 11-member New England Small College Athletic Conference has cancelled all fall sports. Bowdoin College and Williams College had made that move last month. Now the other nine schools — Amherst College, Bates College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University — have chosen to do the same.


Canucks cancel Penticton event . . . Will NFL fans have to sign virus waivers? . . . High River team bows out

 


The Vancouver Canucks have pulled the plug on the 2020 version of the Young Stars Classic that was to have been held in Penticton, B.C., Sept. 11-15. . . . The tournament was to have featured prospects from the Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. . . .

The NBA announced on Thursday that nine of its players tested positive from June 24-29. It has acknowledged that it has had 25 players and 10 staff members test positive. . . . All told, 351 players and 884 staff have been tested. . . .

The NFL is planning on playing a complete season, although it has trimmed its exhibition season, which it hopes to to start on Aug. 20, to a pair of games per team rather than four. At the same time, the NFL really wants to have fans in attendance at its games. The Athletic has reported that the league may ask fans to sign a coronavirus liability waiver before being allowed into a stadium. As John Breech of CBS Sports explained: “By signing the waiver, fans would agree not to hold the NFL responsible if they were to catch COVID-19 while attending a game. Basically, fans would be forfeiting their right to sue the league and would be assuming all health risks that come with being in a stadium during a global pandemic.” . . .


Hornets


FC Dallas arrived at its ‘bubble’ in Orlando on Saturday and had six players test positive. . . . On Wednesday night, The Athletic reported that three more players and a coach also tested positive, although “those four results still must be confirmed by follow-up tests.” If those tests stand, Dallas FC will have had nine players and a coach test positive, all since arriving in Orlando. . . . Does this mean the ‘bubble’ already is contaminated? . . . MLS says not to worry, everything is under control. . . . Thomas Laforgia of Deadspin isn’t convinced: “Here’s the important part, which seems to have gotten lost in the league’s self-congratulatory wash: Only two of the six players tested positive on the day of the squad’s June 27 arrival. The remaining four players spent at least two days among the hotel’s general population — bound to a particular floor, but out of quarantine, in relatively close quarters with teammates. Put in practical terms? Over the next few days, more positive tests are likely to emerge in and around Disney’s ‘Swan and Dolphin‘ resort complex.”

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The Vancouver Whitecaps are to open the MLS tournament on July 9 against . . . Dallas FC. The Whitecaps were to have flown to Orlando on Wednesday but considering all that’s going on there — the Columbus Crew also have had a player who was in the ‘bubble’ test positive — they have delayed their departure. The Whitecaps also had all their players tested again on Thursday. . . . Toronto FC also has delayed its departure and head coach Greg Vanney told The Canadian Press: “There’s concern, no doubt. Because it’s showing that the bubble is not impenetrable and there are some issues that are going on. The question is how quickly can the protocols that are in place down there get things under control so it doesn’t start to spread inside of the bubble. That remains to be seen.”


Rick Pitino now is the head coach of the Iona College Gaels men’s basketball team and the Greek national men’s team . . .

 

——

Boise State has trimmed US$3 million from its budget by dropping its men’s baseball and its diving and swimming programs because of the pandemic. . . . The baseball program had been revived a year ago, after a long absence, and there had been plans to build a new stadium.


If you are on Twitter, there is a good thread here . . .

 

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Meanwhile, college kids in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are throwing COVID parties. . . . “They put money in a pot, and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” Sonya McKinstry, a city councillor, told ABC News. “They’re intentionally doing it.” . . . The city is home to the U of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. . . . This gives new meaning to Roll Tide!


BusinessCard


The National Basketball Coaches Association has expressed concern that some of its members won’t be allowed to work during the NBA’s anticipated restart because of age concerns during the pandemic. However, Rick Carlisle, the association president, said Tuesday: “We’ve been assured by the league that no one will be red-flagged by the league from going to Orlando based on age alone.” . . . According to the NBA, all coaches and staff members, like the players, will be screened and tested.


 


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Dr. Harry Edwards will be nominating Colin Kaepernick for a Nobel Peace Prize. . . . And wouldn’t it be something in Kaepernick was awarded one of those and you know who doesn’t get a Noble Prize?

——

Here’s part of what Dr. Edwards told Ostler: ““A Nobel nomination was always my ultimate goal for Kaepernick, not only because he deserves it, but because he would stand in representation of all of the other unsung athletes who have contributed and sacrificed so much while paving the way and priming the pump for those who would come after.”


The Heritage Junior B Hockey League has lost a second team with the news that the High River Flyers have chosen to sit out the 2020-21 season. “The 2019-20 season was already difficult financially for the club, and the pandemic still affects everyone and everything has not made things any easier,” the team said in a news release. “The main sources of fundraising . . . have all been placed on hold or potentially will be cancelled altogether, and with uncertainty around the amount of fans that will be allowed to be in the arena, along with the potential restrictions around how fans can watch the games, the team’s home-game revenue will be very much affected as well.” . . . Earlier, the Medicine Hat Cubs announced that they won’t be answering the bell for the 2020-21 season whenever that may be.

——

We are starting to get a feel for other junior teams that really are feeling the pinch. The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have asked city council for financial help to the tune of about $44,000 as they try to deal with what was about $60,000 in debt before the pandemic hit. . . . Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders were around $200,000 in the hole when last season began. Yes, that figure is likely greater than that now, which is why they are about to start charging players $2,000 to play for them. . . . Danielle Gordon-Broome of the Swan Valley Star and Times has more on the Stampeders right here and how they got in this deep.


If ever you wondered how July 1 came to be known as Bobby Bonilla Day, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the story right here.


Elephant

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.”


More allegations of abuse in junior hockey . . . Lawyer busy adding players to lawsuit . . . Former NHLer likely to join


A spokesperson with the WHL has told TSN that it would open an investigation after a former player alleged “he was a victim of sexual and physical abuse” during stints with two teams.

According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, the player sent an email of his complaints to the WHL and copied the email to TSN.

In the email, the player wrote:

“The abuse transformed me from a driven, happy, engaged young man and a solid NHL hockey prospect into a black mass of anger, untrust of people, self-isolation and alcohol abuse. The recent CHL allegations of abuse triggered anger in me and brought forward flashbacks and anguish.”

The player went into the brutish details of the complaints in the email, all of which is in Westhead’s story that is right here.

At one point, Westhead writes: “The complainant confirmed the identities of the alleged assailants to TSN. Several have prominent roles in the hockey industry.”


The WHL has had at least one opportunity in years gone by to deal with a player who has said he was humiliated and “physically assaulted” during his WHL career.

In the book Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos, which was published in 2012, Peter Soberlak described some of what happened to him during his first WHL season with his hometown Kamloops Blazers.

“It was really horrible,” Soberlak, who was 16 at the time, said. “In a lot of cases, I feared going on the bus, feared going on road trips . . . just because of the humiliation and constant verbal abuse. . . .

“What I went through in Kamloops destroyed my confidence. I can deal with that now, but it was just horrific for me. It sucked the life out of me. . . . I was physically assaulted.

“You think I have not suffered — have not had repercussions from what I went through there — serious, absolutely long-term, continuous major repercussions of what happened to me in that situation. I guarantee you I have.”

Seen by some observers as the best player in his age group in Canada at one time, Soberlak was out of the game at 23.

“That’s the only thing I am bitter about in my hockey career,” he said. “My first year in Kamloops . . . it was the worst year of my life.”

Soberlak, now 51, has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a minor in sociology, from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s Degree in sport and exercise psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He is a lecturer and works with the athletic department and its teams at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

No one from the WHL has ever contacted him about his allegations in the book of which I was a co-author.


James Sayce, the lawyer working with Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor on their class-action lawsuit against the CHL, has told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News “a lot” of players have joined the lawsuit since it first was filed. . . . Campbell writes: “If the people who run junior hockey in Canada were taken aback by this lawsuit, shame on them. They should have seen this coming because it’s not as though the warning signs were not there. In fact, in filing a lawsuit against the CHL, both Carcillo and Taylor were simply putting on the legal record things they’ve been saying for years now. Carcillo went public with the humiliation he suffered during his rookie season with the Sarnia Sting in 2002-03 two years ago.” . . . Campbell’s latest column is right here.


Dan Fritsche, a former NHLer, says he likely will be joining the class-action lawsuit filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor against the CHL and the three major junior leagues that operate under its umbrella. The lawsuit alleges “hazing, bullying, physical and verbal harassment, physical assault, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.” . . . Fritsche was a rookie on the 2002-03 Sarnia Sting of the OHL, as was Carcillo. . . . “There’s nothing I’ve read that isn’t true,” Fritsche told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. “I was in that toxic atmosphere. I had to go through all of that rookie shit, all the disgusting things they would make us do. It was so awful, and people knew about it who absolutely could have stopped it. They’d put us in the (charter bus) bathroom, butt-ass naked, six to eight of us (rookies) for 45 minutes as we’re coming home from a road trip. They’d throw a coin in there to make us fight over it, naked, and whoever came up with it got to get out first. Stuff like that, just over and over.” . . . If you are an Athletic subscriber, Portzline’s complete story is right here.




An undisclosed number of Minnesota Twins players have tested positive, although none were at the team’s home park, Target Field, or its spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. . . . Derek Falvey, the president of baseball operations, told Fox 9 Sports: “We have players in many different locations. I don’t think this is necessarily a surprise that we may have some positive cases.” . . .

ESPN reported that the NFL has cancelled its Hall of Fame game that was to have featured the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6. . . . It also is believed that the NFL will delay its induction ceremonies that were to have been held on Aug. 8. . . .

The NBA’s Sacramento Kings have at least three players on their roster who have tested positive — F Jabari Parker, C Alex Len and G Buddy Hield. . . . Sara Hodge of CBS Sacramento has reported that a fourth unidentified player also has tested positive. . . .

Orenburg, a team in Russia’s top soccer league, reported Thursday that it has six players and two staff members who have tested positive. . . . The Russian Premier League returned to play last week. . . . Apparently, Orenburg’s entire team tested negative as recently as Sunday. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League, which was to have started its season early in May, is planning on opening a month-long tournament without fans in St. Catharines, Ont., on July 15. A single-elimination playoff will end with a championship game on Aug. 9. . . . Devin Heroux of CBC reports: “All seven teams will stay in a bubble-like setting in St. Catharines, playing games at the Meridian Centre and practising at a nearby facility. League officials said players, coaches and personnel will be separated from the general public and strict screening and COVID-19 protocols will be adhered to under the supervision of medical officials.”



Eric Ditto is returning for his seventh season on the coaching staff of the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League. Ditto is preparing for his sixth full season as head coach and his second as general manager. . . . Anthony Radke will be back for a second season as an assistant coach. . . . Ryan Pilon is the other assistant coach. He joined the Chiefs during last season after serving as an assistant coach with the Beardy’s Blackhawks U18 AAA team.


The RINK Hockey Corp., owner of the Rink Hockey Academy, has bought the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy (POE) and Edge of Excellence (EOE) in a deal that is to close on July 1. The sale is subject to the approval of BC Hockey and the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . There is more right here.


B.C.’s top doc: This pandemic is far from over . . . Nachbaur to coach SC Bern . . . . Guest tells OHL horror story


Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said during a Monday briefing on COVID-19 that gatherings in the province will be limited to 50 people with room for physical distancing for months to come.

B.C. announced 36 new cases for the period encompassing Friday through Sunday, with 182 people ill and 13 of those in hospital. There are four people in intensive care.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top health official, pointed out that new cases continue to pop up.

“This pandemic is far from over,” Dr. Henry said. “There continues to be no effective treatment and the virus will continue in our communities for many months to come.”


A hockey fan from Portland emailed me Monday afternoon with some information from Oregon Live and Seattle Times.

First, from Oregon Live:

“Oregon public health officials announced a record 184 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, bringing the total number of known cases in the state to 5,820.

Monday’s new high in cases solidifies a disturbing trend statewide, which this month includes elevated numbers in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Previously, the number of new cases in the state had never exceeded 100. But in the past nine days, seven have surpassed 100 — 146 on June 7, 114 on June 8, 178 on Thursday, 142 on Friday, 158 on Saturday, 101 on Sunday and 184 Monday.”

FYI, Portland is in Multnomah County. The Portlander added that Clackamas and Washington are the surrounding counties where the (Winterhawks) players “would live, practise and and socialize.”

And from the Seattle Times:

“State health officials confirmed 324 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, as well as four additional deaths.

“The update brings the state’s totals to 26,158 cases and 1,221 deaths, meaning about 4.7% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

“So far, 471,265 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.6% have come back positive. The rate of positive tests in Washington has hovered just under 6% in recent weeks, even as case numbers have been climbing.

“The state has confirmed 8,785 diagnoses and 592 deaths in King County, the state’s most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s death toll.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds are located in King County.


Reports on Monday indicated that “several” players from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have tested positive for the coronavirus. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network were first with the story. . . . Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott was among those who tested positive, although he now is said to be healthy. . . . The Cowboys, citing “federal and local privacy laws,” haven’t identified any of the players. . . . On Monday, Pelissero reported that NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, in a call with agents on Monday, “said the current plan in place is to test players for the coronavirus about three times per week, isolating those who test positive.” . . . Mayer also told agents that there is a “90 per cent chance reliable saliva testing is available before players return to facilities.”



It could be that if you are going to bring a team together in close quarters, you had best be prepared for positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

This is from Jesse Spector of Deadspin:

“Friday brought a report from the New York Post that a major league player and pitching coach have contracted coronavirus.

Also, the Boston Bruins announced that one of their players has tested positive.

So did a D.C. United player.

And three Clemson athletes — two football players and one men’s basketball player. And four Mississippi State football players. And six University of Houston football players, leading that school to suspend workouts.

“Even at the high school level, a football player at Cathedral High in El Paso, Texas, tested positive, halting workouts there.

That’s all from a single, 24-hour period. It doesn’t include other coronavirus cases found in June, like the Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the other Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the Florida State football players. Or the two Texas football players. Or the Pittsburgh Penguins player. Or the golfer and three caddies from the PGA’s developmental tour. Or the FC Dallas player. Or the three Central Florida football players. Or the high school football player in East Texas. Or the Oklahoma State football player. Or the three Auburn football players. Or the Utah Jazz players.”

Or the Arizona Coyotes staff member, who tested positive and is in isolation at his home.

Or the student-athlete from North Dakota State, who is being quarantined for 14 days after testing positive.

On Monday, The Associated reported that at least 45 athletes, coaches or staff members at 17 schools have tested positive since June 1.


From Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “A Zion Williamson rookie card fetched nearly $100,000 on eBay this weekend. Is that more or less than Zion was paid to attend Duke, you think?”



Golf Canada has cancelled all of its amateur golf competitions for 2020. That includes the Canadian women’s amateur, that had been scheduled for Montreal from July 21-24, and the Canadian men’s amateur that was to have been played in Calgary, Aug. 3-6. . . . There is more info right here. . . .

The PGA Championship will be held in August; however, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday that it will be played without fans. . . . The tournament is to be played at Harding Park, Aug. 6-9. . . . It will be the first major of the season on the men’s tour. . . . Originally, the PGA Championship was to have been held in mid-May. . . .

The International Softball Congress has cancelled the 2020 World men’s tournament that had been scheduled for Moline, Ill., Aug. 8-15. The 2021 tournament is scheduled for Kitchener, Ont. . . .

The 12-team WNBA is going to play its 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with each club playing a 22-game regular season with playoffs scheduled for October. Training camps will open there early in July. . . . Its regular season had been scheduled to begin on May 15.


Politics


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.”


Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, has signed a two-year deal as head coach of SC Bern, which plays in Switzerland’s National League. . . . Bern has led all of European hockey in attendance for 19 straight seasons. . . . Nachbaur, 61, spent last season as the head of HKM Zvolen of the Slovak league. In Bern, he takes over from Hans Kossman, who finished last season after the firing of Kari Jalonen.



The junior B Southern Rebels of the Prairie Junior Hockey League won’t play in 2020-21. The Rebels, who are based in Assiniboia, Sask., announced via Twitter on Sunday that they “have requested and been approved for a one-year leave” from the PJHL. . . . In requisting the leave, they cited “the fact that there are more unknowns than knowns” because of the impact COVID-19 has had. . . . With the Rebels sitting out, the PJHL will be down to 11 teams.


match


Headline at SportsPickle: Roger Goodell announces 4-game suspension of Roger Goodell for not realizing racism exists.


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins have added Phil Fife as an assistant coach. He’ll work alongside Jason Tatarnic, the club’s new general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Aren Miller, who is preparing for his eighth season in Estevan. . . . Fife spent last season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. He played two seasons under Tatarnic with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Woodstock Slammers (2010-12). . . . Fife fills the spot created when associate coach Jeff Smith left to take over as GM/head coach of the U18 AAA Estevan Bruins for their inaugural season.



“Michael Jordan and the crew on his 80-foot fishing boat ‘Catch 23’ hauled in a 442-pounder during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament off the North Carolina coast,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In fact, the fish flopped so much they nicknamed it Laimbeer.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has found a bright spot in a shortened MLB season. As she put it, it’s “good news for those who worried the Orioles would lose 100 games this year.”


vodka

B.C. moves to protect amateur sports organizations . . . Cranbrook arena getting spruced up for Bucks . . . Bedard tops in clicks

Here is two minutes 20 seconds of hockey heaven. Watch it before putting your head on the pillow because you will have great dreams . . .


John Horgan, the premier of B.C., announced on Wednesday that “the government has passed an order protecting” amateur sports organizations and their volunteers “from any litigation as a result of COVID-19.” . . . As Patrick Johnston and Harrison Mooney of Postmedia reports, the move comes “after many insurance companies refused to cover leagues for coronavirus liability.” . . . The order, they added, “means sports organizations and organizers cannot be sued if someone contracts or transmits COVID-19 as a result of their participation in organized amateur sport, as long as those sports are following provincial pandemic guidelines.” . . . Jake Cabott, a Vancouver lawyer, said that people involved in amateur sports are going to need to “stay current on public health guidance and follow it. Don’t follow it as closely as your sport will allow. Follow it 100 per cent and modify your sport activities accordingly.” . . . The complete story is right here.


Of all the comments I have seen about the decision by U Sports and three of its conferences to cancel some national championships and suspend some seasons until at least January, I thought Blake Nill, the head coach of football’s UBC Thunderbirds, said it best when he told J.J. Adams of Postmedia that it was the correct decision.

“Ultimately,” Nill said, “universities have to provide leadership. They have to set an example. And this is absolutely about that. This is about universities being responsible given the health crisis. . . . It’s about safety of our athletes, it’s about health, and I’m a big believer that we have to be a flagship. We have to be up there at the front in doing that.

“We just have to get through it. Athletes are built to overcome any challenges and, this is a challenge that we need that kind of mindset for.”

Adams’ complete story is right here.



Whenever the BCHL is able to start a new season, the expansion Cranbrook Bucks are going to play in a spruced up Western Financial Place. It is getting a new watertight roof that is in the process of being installed. Work began on May 5. . . . Bradley Jones of myeastkootenaynow.com reports that the work on the roof isn’t expected to have an impact on the start of a new season. . . . According to Jones, several other upgrades are being made to the arena, which used to be home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice before the team moved to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season. When the Bucks begin play, there will be new boards and glass, a new chiller and heat exchanger on the ice plant, and a new video scoreboard. . . . Just wondering, but does anyone know if the Ice’s owners have settled their last lease agreement with Cranbrook city council? That lease was to run through 2022-23.



A gem from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, in reference to the problems MLB and the MLBPA are having in trying to get a season started: “If Rob Manfred called Tony Clark and suggested they have dinner together tonight, I would not be surprised if both men brought food tasters with them. That kind of distrust must stop sometime or MLB as we have come to know it is not going to exist.”



penguin


MLS is planning a 26-team tournament without fans to run from July 8 through Aug. 11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. . . . The NBA is planning to bring 22 teams into the same complex to begin play with the resumption of its season on July 31. . . . MLS is hoping that it will be able to move back to its regular markets once the tournament is completed. . . .

Manchester United was to have played a friendly with visiting Stoke City on Tuesday, but the game was cancelled after Stoke manager Michael O’Neill tested positive for COVID-19. . . . He had come up negative in five previous tests, but was positive in a test conducted on Monday. . . .

The LPGA has cancelled the Evian Championship that was to have been held in Evian-les-Bains, France, Aug. 6-9. This is the first major tournament cancelled by the LPGA. . . . The LPGA is planning on returning to play with the Marathon Classic in Ohio, July 23-26. . . .

Three of the world’s top soccer leagues are to resume their schedules in the next few days, all of them without fans. The Spanish league is to re-open today (Thursday), with Italy re-starting on Friday as Juventus and AC Milan clash in a semifinal. On June 17, the English Premier League will be back with two games. . . .

The PGA Tour returns today (Thursday) from the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. All players and caddies tested negative for the COVID-19 virus as of Wednesday night. Some players will wear microphones, while CBS-TV’s Jim Nantz will be alone in the broadcast booth. Ian Baker-Finch, Nick Faldo and Frank Nobilo will provide commentary from a studio in Orlando. . . .

The Prince George Cougars have had to cancel their ninth annual Alumni Hospital charity golf tournament that benefits the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation. It had been scheduled for July 10 and 11. The event has raised $558,000 in total, including $75,000 last summer. . . .

The European Badminton Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Kiev, Ukraine, April 21-26, but were postponed. Unable to find suitable dates, the Badminton World Federation pulled the plug.



The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings revealed Wednesday that Jon Rosen “is no longer a member of our organization,” a victim of cutbacks brought on by the pandemic. Rosen, once the radio voice of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, spent eight seasons working with the NHL team as the LA Kings Insider. He did a superb job over those eight seasons; in fact, there were none better in his field. . . . What kind of person is Rosen? The Kings’ news release is right here; make sure you go to the end of it and read Rosen’s statement.


Food


Mike McKenzie now is the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He had stepped in as interim head coach on Nov. 26, replacing the fired Jay McKee when the team was 7-10-4. With him running the bench, they went 33-6-3. . . . “Right now,” McKenzie said in a news release, “this decision makes the most sense for our organization.”



If you are a major junior hockey fan, this story may sound a wee bit familiar. . . . Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday that “Major League Baseball and the 22 teams named as defendants in a landmark lawsuit over minor-league salaries have taken their argument to the U.S. Supreme Court in a final effort to prevent a trial.” . . . Earlier, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the suit could move forward as a class action covering, according to Schulman, “any minor-league who has played in Arizona or Florida — essentlally all who went to spring training.” . . . Schulman added: “The suit, filed in 2004 by Missouri attorney and former Giants pitching prospect Garrrett Broshuis, hopes to compel teams to pay minor-league players at least the state minimum wage during the season and in spring training, when they are not paid aside from meal money.”

Schulman’s story is right here.


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