Reports have major junior leagues now aiming for Dec. 1 . . . Former Blades captain dies . . . Morden team changing nickname, logo

If you own a junior hockey franchise, you have to be watching the goings-on in MLB and wondering.

While the NBA and NHL have their teams all bubbled up and, at least to date, avoiding the coronavirus, you know that you don’t have the resources to attempt anything like that.

But then you look at MLB, which is attempting to do what you are hoping to do at some point this year — bring your team together and then travel in order to play games in various venues.

It isn’t going all that well for MLB, which is forging ahead despite having had two teams — the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals — decimated by the virus and another (Philadelphia Phillies) also been hit.

Through Tuesday, 23 MLB games involving nine teams had been postponed. The season is 13 days old.

At this point, then, you likely are holding your breath and hoping.

Earlier, the QMJHL and WHL had announced proposed starting dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, respectively, for their 2020-21 regular seasons. The OHL hadn’t gone public with any such date.

Now there are reports that the three major junior leagues will announce perhaps as soon as today (Wednesday) that they hope to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on Dec. 1.

Postponing the start by two more months buys them some more time. The leagues will be able to sit back and watch developments, including the possible opening of schools.

The OHL and WHL also have teams located in the U.S., where, you may have noticed, things aren’t going so well. Two more months gives the leagues time to watch for improvements in that area, although under present leadership that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

And, of course, there’s the little matter of the U.S.-Canada border being closed. Do you think it’ll be open again in 2020?

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COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Reds placed 1B Joey Votto, a native of Toronto, on the injury list after he self-reported symptoms of the virus. On Monday, he hit a two-run, go-ahead homer to help the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-2. . . . It turns out that he tested negative and was reinstated. . . .

The much-ballyhooed Field of Dreams game, which was to have featured the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox on Aug. 13, has been postponed to August 2021. A date has yet to be announced. . . .

The Cardinals’ season is on hold after seven players and six staff members tested positive. . . . Six of the players are SS Paul DeJong, RHP Junior Fernández, C Yadier Molina, 1B Rangel Ravelo, SS Edmundo Sosa and RHP Kodi Whitley, each of whom gave the team the OK to release their names. The identity of a seventh player wasn’t released. . . . DeJong and Molina are all-star calibre players. . . . In a statement, Molina said he was “saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place.” . . .

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had some thoughts on the mess in which MLB finds itself. He concluded with this: “Baseball in 2020 reminds me of a guy at a poker table who is losing his shirt but keeps dipping into his bank account for another stake because he is ‘due for some good cards.’ It seems to me that MLB thinks it is due for some good news and just keeps on keeping on. . . . Albert Einstein reminded us that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes.” . . . You should read the entirety of the curmudgeonly one’s latest post right here.

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The NFL’s Detroit Lions moved QB Matthew Stafford from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and placed him on the regular roster, saying that what was reported as a positive test actually was a false-positive. . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars did the same with QB Gardner Minshew after it was determined that he had tested negative. Minshew joked that the virus “took one look at me and ran the other way.” . . .

At least 48 players have opted out of playing in the NFL’s 2020 season. The league has a deadline of Thursday afternoon for players to make that decision. . . . Barry Wilner of The Associated Press has more right here.

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Rafael Nadal, the No. 2-ranked men’s tennis player, won’t play in this month’s U.S. Open, which is to start on Aug. 31. He said that he doesn’t want to travel during the pandemic. . . . The last time a tennis major didn’t feature either Roger Federer, who is out after having knee surgery, and Nadal? That was the 1999 U.S. Open. . . .

Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu, who won the women’s U.S. Open title last year, said that she will be in New York to defend her title. . . . Andreescu, 20, from Mississauga, Ont., is the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. . . .

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The 104th running of the Indy 500 will take place without fans. Roger Penske, who owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said earlier in the year that the race, which was postponed from Memorial Day weekend to Aug. 23, would allow some fans to attend. . . . But with numbers rising in Marion County, Indiana, home of the Speedway, Penske has decided not to allow fans. . . .

The AHL has cancelled its 2020-21 All-Star Classic that was to have been played host to by the Laval Rocket on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Instead, Laval will be the site of the 2021-22 Classic on a date yet to be determined. . . . The AHL is hoping to being its 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 4. . . .

Tennis lost the Madrid Open as the 2020 event, which features men’s and women’s draws, was cancelled. Originally scheduled in May, it had been postponed to September. But an increase in COVID-19 cases resulted in the event being cancelled.

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You will recall that the Houston Astros have been branded as cheaters after getting caught up in a sign-stealing scandal that has some baseball folks claiming the team actually stole a World Series title. . . . The other day, with the host Astros playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are particularly bitter, Houston’s Jose Altuve, who is really struggling at the plate, happened to strike out. Joe Davis, doing the play-by-play for the Dodgers, said Altuve was “perhaps guessing something else.” . . . Former Dodgers P Orel Hershiser, the analyst on the broadcast crew, disagreed. Said Hershiser: “Guessing’s harder than knowing.”



The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes announced Tuesday that head coach Gordie Dwyer has left the organization in the hopes of landing a spot with a pro team. . . . Dwyer took over as head coach on Feb. 9, then went 6-6-0 before the league shut down because of the pandemic. . . . At the time, Dwyer took over from the fired Daniel Renaud, who had been the head coach since 2017. He was 23-28-0 last season. . . . The Cataractes will unveil their new coaching staff on Friday.


The Morden Redskins, a men’s team that plays in the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, has said that it will be changing its nickname and logo, which was fashioned after that belonging to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Last month, Brandon Burley, the mayor of Morden, asked the team to make a change.


JUST NOTES: I haven’t watched a whole lot of the NHL since it resumed playing, but I’ve seen enough to realize that, despite what you might read in the rules book, cross-checking continues to be legal. . . . I need to find someone in Alberta to cut me in on the Edmonton Oilers’ 50-50 draw. If you aren’t aware, the winner of Monday’s draw put $1,629,722.50 into his/her bank account. On Saturday night, Danielle McGale won $381,275. Yes, she has a whole lot of new friends. . . . I was watching the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday afternoon and there was a drone delay. Seriously.


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.


Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone we played in Winnipeg tournament . . . Hey, parents, no social media. OK? . . . PCHA fills out coaching staff


You know what makes me sick? Considering the times in which we now live and the sacrifices that a lot of us are making, a story like this makes me want to puke. It really does. Why are some people so selfish? Why do some people have such a lack of respect for others?

Fiona Odlum and Bonnie Allen of CBC News report:

“Several Saskatchewan hockey teams took extraordinary measures to hide their participation in a Winnipeg hockey tournament in July, including changing their team names, withholding player names on game rosters and forbidding parents from posting on social media.

“Despite the secrecy, the teams maintain they did not violate any rules.”

The North American Hockey Classic featured about 60 minor hockey teams  with players ages seven to 12. The NAHC is owned by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues.

It’s interesting that while five Saskatchewan teams — players ages seven to 12 — travelled to Winnipeg to compete July 16-19, the Regina Junior Pats chose not to take part.

Stacey Cattell, the CEO of the Pats organization, told CBC:

“Our Junior Pats program was notified that interprovincial travel for the purposes of tournaments was prohibited. That was brought to our attention, and we said, ‘No problem, our kids will stay home and practise, and follow the rules.

“We’re not going to do anything to jeopardize the COVID-19 response and the reopening of our province.”

And then there’s Chris Light, who coaches one of the Wheatland teams that took part. According to the CBC story, he “told CBC News he didn’t attend the tournament and was on a fishing trip. A team photo from Winnipeg shows Light at the tournament.”

There are a whole lot of minor hockey parents who should be absolutely furious about this situation. As one Regina minor hockey parent told Taking Note: “They give every hockey parent who has been following the rules and abiding with what is out there a black eye.”

The complete CBC story is right here.

I have one more question: Where was common sense?


City council in Prince George, struggling to figure out a way to minimize the city’s deficit position in these pandemic times, voted on Monday to keep the CN Centre, home to the WHL’s Cougars, closed though the end of 2020.

Council also voted not to open the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena in which the BCHL’s Spruce Kings play.

At the same time, three smaller arenas will open on Aug. 17, one of which is home to the U18 Cariboo Cougars.

On Tuesday, the WHL-Cougars and the Spruce Kings both said they have been told by city officials that their arenas will be available should their seasons get started. The WHL is aiming for an Oct. 2 start to its regular season, with the BCHL planning on Dec. 1.



To recap, MLB had to cancel or postpone — I don’t think it has figured that part out yet — two games on Monday. Miami’s home-opener went by the wayside after the Marlins had a bunch of folks test positive — at last count, there are believed to be 15 players and two coaches.

The Baltimore Orioles, who were to have provided the opposition in Miami, flew home, meaning they wouldn’t be there for a Tuesday game.

Meanwhile, the New York Yankees were to have met the host Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. But the Yankees would have had to use the facilities in which the Marlins had spent the weekend, so Monday’s game in Philly didn’t happen, either.

On Tuesday, MLB announced that the Marlins are done until at least Monday, while the Phillies are on hold until Friday when the Toronto Blue Jays come calling. The Yankees and the Orioles will play each other a time or two this week, then resume their original schedules on the weekend.

Dr. Arthur Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, told Rob Gillies of The Associated Press that “anyone who knows anything about this problem and infectious disease epidemiology could have anticipated this. This plan was designed to fail and they went through with it anyways.”


And then there’s LHP Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox, who has said that he now has a heart condition — myocarditis — with which he was diagnosed after a bout with COVID-19.

Rodriguez, 27, was shut down from baseball activities on Thursday, and later confirmed the myocarditis diagnosis.

“The pitcher added that he feels normal health-wise after developing myocarditis, a condition that inflames the heart muscle and can cause abnormal rhythms,” wrote Bryan Mcwilliam of thescore.com. “Rodriguez said he was told that about 10-20% of people with COVID-19 develop the condition.”

OK. So MLB has a team riddled with the virus and a pitcher who contracted it and was left with a heart condition.

Oh . . . let’s not forget Davey Martinez, the Washington Nationals’ manager. Martinez, 55, has a heart condition and actually underwent a procedure for it in September.

On Monday, in talking about the Marlins’ debacle, Martinez told reporters: “I’m going to be honest with you, I’m scared. I really am.”

And still the show goes on . . .


Here’s Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about the situation in baseball after Monday’s news:

“The fire consuming baseball will likely spread to the NFL, which is scheduled to open training camps this week. Like baseball, football will try to play a sport in the real world, without forcing players into a bubble. Like baseball, the league will test players constantly. And though teams will be using their own designated lab, like baseball, they still are using up supplies like swabs and testing equipment when there are shortages of such things in the real world.

“Unlike baseball, the NFL involves about four to five times the number of humans, greatly multiplying the likelihood of an outbreak. On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings’ infection control officer tested positive for the virus. I’m not making this up.”

Her complete column, which is one in a long line of terrific pieces she has written, is right here.


Jason


The NFL has an opt-out deadline of Aug. 3 and the New England Patriots already have had six players go that route — LB Dont’a Hightower, whose fiancée had a baby on July 16; RT Marcus Cannon, a cancer survivor; S Patrick Chung, RB Brandon Bolden, FB Danny Vitale and OL Najee Toran. . . . Also opting out so far are WR Marquise Goodwin, Philadelphia Eagles; WR Stephen Guidry, Dallas Cowboys; DT Star Lotulelei, Buffalo Bills; DT Kyle Peko, Denver Broncos; OT Andre Smith, Baltimore Ravens; KR De’Anthony Thomas, Baltimore; and DT Eddie Vanderdoes, Houston Texans. . . . There is a list of opt-outs right here.

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Here’s Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, with NFL players about to start reporting to camps:
”This virus is undefeated at totally reshaping the way every other sport has been forced to operate, and had a massive impact on both the volume and location of games. Expecting the NFL to be different, somehow exceptional to COVID-19, never made much sense, and once the training facilities finally start filling up this week that stands to be more obvious than ever.”


Jason Becker, a former WHL player and coach, has taken over as the U18 prep head coach at the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy in Victoria. Last season, Becker was the head coach of the U18 prep team at St. George’s in Vancouver. He also spent time at the Okanagan Hockey Academy and was an assistant for three seasons with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. . . . After playing in the WHL (Saskatoon Blades, Red Deer Rebels, Kamloops Blazers, Swift Current Broncos, 1990-95), Becker, now 46, spent five seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. After playing in Europe, he got into coaching by working for five seasons as an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars. . . . At PCHA, he takes over from Kelly Shields, who stepped aside after seven seasons. Shields remains on staff as associate head coach. . . . Meanwhile, Greg Smith will be back for a fourth season at PCHA. This will be his third as head coach of the U16s. Dan Bell’s third season as head coach of the U15s will be his fifth at PCHA. . . . Mark Kosick is back as the head of player development and skills coach, and Rod Holt has come aboard as recruiting and scouting co-ordinator. For the past five season, Holt has been a B.C. regional scout for the Victoria Royals.



The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League plans to open its regular season on Sept. 29. Each of its 13 teams will play 44 regular-season games. . . . The schedule includes the expansion Chilliwack Jets under general manager/head coach Clayton Robinson.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Lord, the money we do spent on government. And it’s not a bit better than that government we got for one-third the money 20 years ago.”


Beer


The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) has postponed competition in cross-country, football, soccer and volleyball for the fall season. It now is working on spring schedules for those sports, each of which has been designated medium- or high-risk by the NCAA. Golf and tennis, which are low-risk, will play this fall in accordance with health directives. . . .

The Summit League, which includes the U of North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota and South Dakota State, has postponed the start of its sports seasons until Sept. 23. That includes men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. . . . It doesn’t include football. For example, the UND Fighting Hawks play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. . . . UND also announced that it has had 20 student-athletes test positive. . . . Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here. . . .

The Michigan Daily reported Tuesday that the U of Michigan has halted voluntary workouts for ice hockey, volleyball, swimming and diving, and field hockey because of positive tests and contact tracing. The ice hockey team may return to workouts later this week. The university said it has had 12 student-athletes and one staff member test positive. . . . The Daily’s story is right here.


Date

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering what MLB will do about the Marlins . . .

Scattershooting

Go back in time to March 27. The pandemic in which we now find ourselves firmly ensconced was just getting started, at least it was in North America. . . . Now think about April 27 . . . and May 27 . . . and June 27. . . . Today is July 27. . . . Now look around and ask yourself this: What has changed since March 27? . . .

NHL teams, each with as many as 52 people on hand, moved into their ‘bubbles’ on Sunday. Dr. Willem Meeuwisse, the NHL’s chief medical officer, said on Friday: “We don’t expect (the bubble) to be perfect. We expect with the number of people that we’re going to have some positive tests, and we have a method and a process designed in advance to deal with that.” . . .

So the NHL has gone into this part of its bizarre season with eyes wide open, knowing full well that there are going to be positive tests. . . .

Now put yourselves in the shoes of someone who operates a junior hockey team. Do you plan on bringing players, all of them teenagers, most of them away from home, in to training camp in less than two months knowing that there will be positive tests? Do you have a “method and process” in place to handle that situation when it arises? How many positive tests will it take to shut things down?

As Shane Lyons, the athletics director at West Virginia, said last week: “The virus isn’t going away and the virus is going to dictate what we do . . .”


Shoe


If you haven’t heard about what the Miami Marlins are going through, you need to check it out. Since Friday, they have had their starting right-fielder, DH/first-baseman and catcher and one of their pitchers test positive. . . . They went ahead and beat the host Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, but then delayed their flight home, apparently because they are expecting more test results back today (Monday). . . . If you have access to The Athletic, you will want to read the piece written by Ken Rosenthal that is right here. . . . “I think that by any definition, this is an outbreak on their team,” Dr. John Swartzburg, a clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, Division of Infectious Disease, told Rosenthal. “And an outbreak on a team means that the team needs to close down.”


The NCAA’s Sports Science Institute released a report last week that concluded with this:

“At the time of this writing, the rate of spread of COVID-19 has been increasing in many regions of the country. Because of this increase, it is possible that sports, especially high contact risk sports, may not be practiced safely in some areas. In conjunction with public health officials, schools should consider pausing or discontinuing athletics activities when local circumstances warrant such consideration.”

Yes, we all are aware that the numbers in the United States, whose citizens have been left to drown by their federal government, have been haywire for weeks now and don’t seem to be improving.

One of the results is that most Canadians want the border with the U.S. to remain closed at least through the end of 2020.

At the same time, Canada’s numbers, while nowhere near those of our southern neighbours, have been trending the wrong way, too, including in the four western provinces that are home to a whole lot of junior hockey teams.


Backer


Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with a note that will resonate with old-time NFL fans: “The Pentagon team tasked with studying UFOs — the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force — plans to publicly release information on its findings. So maybe we’ll finally get our answer: Did Otis Sistrunk really graduate from the University of Mars?”

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Not that old? Google is your friend, and make sure you find a photo of Sistrunk with the Oakland Raiders.

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Perry, again: “The NFL says it won’t conduct its own investigation into sexual-harassment allegations by Washington front-office types but will instead use the findings of an ‘independent’ probe paid for by team owner Daniel Snyder. ‘Now why didn’t we think of that?’ groaned the Houston Astros.


On the subject of “independent” reviews/inquiries, the CHL announced a few days ago that it has put together “an independent panel that will review the league’s policies and practices in relation to various forms of player abuse.” . . . With all due respect to the three people on the panel, including old friend Sheldon Kennedy, is it really independent when it was put together by the CHL, whose practices over the years are what is being reviewed?


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The president has indicated he won’t watch any sport in which the athletes protest during the anthem. So he won’t be watching baseball, football, basketball or soccer. That will leave him more time to do what we elected him to do — play golf.”

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Once upon a time, actor Tom Hanks hawked stuff in the stands for the Oakland A’s. As he once told Jimmy Kimmel: “I went down to sell peanuts and soda, and thinking it would be like in a TV show where you saw the young kid trying to make a thing. Well, first of all, I got robbed twice. Note to self: Hide those wads of cash. Don’t be walking with a wad of cash in your pocket. Then, I came across professional vendors, who did not like the fact kids were there.” . . . Now the A’s are going to use his voice over the public address system to sell hot dogs, peanuts, programs, etc., never mind that there won’t be any fans in the pews.

Here’s Ostler, again:

“Sad baseball stat: Number of hot dogs sold at the Oakland Coliseum this season by ace vendor Tom Hanks: Zero.

“Maybe that’s because fans know Tom had the ’Rona.”


Having watched a bit of MLB since play began on Thursday . . . The fake crowd noise and the cardboard cutouts in the stands are laughable. . . . Starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base is horrible. Why not just have a home run-hitting contest? . . . The Seattle Mariners won’t be in the playoffs.



I don’t know if you saw Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top doc, throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ opener on Thursday night, but it was just a little bit outside. However, as Alex Brewsaugh noted on Facebook, “Angel Hernandez had it as a strike!”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”


Just the other day, Ed Orgeron, LSU’s head football coach, claimed that America needs football because “football is the lifeblood of our country.” To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune responded: “No, Ed, you need football. It is the lifeblood of Ed Orgeron.”


Rutgers became the second U.S. college to put its entire football program into quarantine on Saturday after it announced that six players had tested positive. . . . Michigan State did the same thing late last week after one player and one staff member tested positive.

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On July 1, Milo Eifler, a linebacker with Illinois, tweeted: “I understand that people want to see us play this season but in reality how can a team full of 100+ student athletes fully function during a pandemic. Trust, my teammates and I want to play. But schools around the country are showing blatant disregard for student athletes.” . . . The school responded by postponing his media availability.

Later, when he was allowed to speak, he offered this: “Yeah, we want to come back and want to play, but we just want to make sure our health and our safety is the priority. . . . It’s hard when you’re taking this process day by day. We got through today, but are we going to get through tomorrow? Sure, I want to go back to workouts, but am I going to be good Friday?”

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On Friday, Michigan State OT Jason Reid tweeted: “Guys are testing positive across the country left and right . . . why is there still discussion on a season? Why is it taking so long to make a logical decision? Hmm let me guess REVENUE #NCAA #BIG10”

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Clemson has had more than 30 players test positive, while West Virginia is at 28.

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Meanwhile, the Kansas Jayhawks have announced that they will play host to the Southern Illinois Salukis on Aug. 29. The Jayhawks were to have played the New Hampshire Wildcats, whose season has been cancelled, while the Salukis were to have met Wisconsin until the Big Ten pulled the plug on out-of-conference games. . . . Also on Aug. 29, the Missouri State Bears will visit the Oklahoma Sooners, which is a week earlier than originally scheduled.


JUST NOTES: Taking Note has been told that the Portland Winterhawks will play all of their 2020-21 home games in Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. In recent seasons, they have split time between there and the Moda Center, which also is home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers. . . . Brock Beck, the 20-year-old son of former New Westminster Bruins D Barry Beck, was Hamilton’s 10th homicide victim of 2020 when he was stabbed to death during what police say was a “street disturbance” on Saturday night. Jeff Mahoney of the Hamilton Spectator has more right here. Barry Beck revealed via Twitter that Brock was his son.


This was a tough weekend as we said farewell to Olivia de Havilland, 104; Regis Philbin, 88; Eddie Shack, 83; John Saxon, 83; and Peter Green, 73. We also learned that former NHL star Dale Hawerchuk, 57, is again in the fight of his life with a reoccurrence of stomach cancer. His son Eric revealed “the resurgence of this terrible disease” via Twitter on Sunday. “We are praying for him and he will continue to fight hard #HawerchukStrong,” Eric tweeted.

Seattle NHL team has nickname; Washington NFL team doesn’t . . . Neepawa MJHL team does but it’s changing it

So . . . on a day when Seattle’s expansion NHL franchise dug into the depths for its nickname — Kraken — the NFL’s Washington franchise announced that it will spend the approaching season as the Washington Football Team. . . . The New York Yankees and host Washington Nationals opened the delayed MLB season with a game that was played in front of empty seats and was shortened by inclement weather, while the visiting San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers played before cardboard cutouts. . . . What a time to be alive, eh?


The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives have begun the process of changing their nickname. . . . Ken Pearson, the club’s general manager and head coach, told CBC News: “We’re just trying to get ahead of the curve here and . . . be ahead of the game.” . . . Neepawa has had a team with that nickname, either in intermediate or junior hockey, since the early 1960s. . . . A decision on a new nickname for the MJHL team is expected before the 2021-22 season.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

OF Juan Soto wasn’t in the Washington Nationals’ opening night lineup Thursday after testing positive. He was placed on the injured list about five hours before game time. . . . Soto, 21, is reportedly asymptomatic and will need two negative tests before he is allowed to return. . . .

OF Hunter Dozier of the Kansas City Royals has tested positive. He said he has a “couple of symptoms” so won’t be available when the team opens the season in Cleveland on Friday. . . . He is the ninth Kansas City player to have tested positive. . . .

Veteran MLB scout Johan Maya died of COVID-19 on Thursday. Maya, 40, had been working for the Arizona Diamondbacks and was in the Dominican Republic at the time of his death. . . .

Former MLBer Mike Napoli, now a quality assurance coach with the Chicago Cubs, has tested positive so has been away from the team. . . .

Two more NHL players have revealed that they tested positive and have recovered. . . . D Anthony Bitetto, who was back on the ice for the first time with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, said he tested positive about a month ago and self-quarantined for 29 days. . . . D Xavier Ouellet of the Montreal Canadiens actually tested negative before coming up positive and never did have any symptoms. He returned to the ice on Wednesday. . . .

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has announced a tentative plan under which some fall sports, including football, soccer and volleyball, will start on March 1. . . . Under the plan, basketball would get going on Jan. 4, with track and field starting on April 26. . . . Other sports like cross-country, slo-pitch, golf and tennis are to begin on Sept. 7. . . . Mick Hoffman, the WIAA executive director, said everything remains fluid. “When you look at dates,” he said, “those are definitely written in pencil.” . . .

Earlier in the week, the Florida High School Athletic Association went against the recommendation of its medical people and said football season would begin with practices starting on Monday. After a whole lot of backlash, the FHSAA reversed its field on Thursday and pushed things back until at least Aug. 24. But like so many other things these days all of that seems to be fluid. . . .

The KHL has made it official. With the Russia-China border closed to people — it’s open to the transportation of goods — a decision was made that Kunlun Red Star Beijing will play its home games for 2020-21 in Mytishchi, which is on the northern outskirts of Moscow. . . . The KHL, unsure of how many teams will play this season, has yet to release a schedule but has said that should happen by month’s end.


Social


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from former MLB owner Bill Veeck: “Baseball is almost the only orderly thing left in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off.”


The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs are looking for a general manager, having revealed on Thursday that they won’t be renewing Darren Kelly’s contract when it expires on Aug. 12. . . . The Frontenacs added a new head coach this summer, with Paul McFarland returning after three seasons as an NHL assistant coach. . . . Kelly had been with the Frontenacs since 2008, including the past three seasons as general manager.


Alexander Gusev, a defenceman on the Soviet Union team that played Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, died on Wednesday, according to his former club, CSKA Moscow. Gusev was 73. . . . He was a contributing factor on the Soviet national teams of the 1970s. . . . Andy Potts of iihf.com has more right here.


Pam

I want Edmonton Rough Riders . . . Good news from NBA bubble . . . But not from the KHL


Town council in Bonnyville, Alta., has upped its sponsorship of the AJHL Pontiacs from $5,000 to $15,000, a move that will allow the team to drop some ticket prices. . . . The AJHL is hoping to open its season on Sept. 18. . . . Chris Lapointe of lakelandconnect.net has more right here.

——

Just wondering . . . who’s next?


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for high school football in Texas, has delayed football season for its schools with the largest enrolments. Instead of starting to practice on Aug. 3, they will begin on Sept. 7, with games to start on Sept. 24. This also means they’ll be playing high school football in Texas into January. . . . The smaller schools will be able to start on time. . . .

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has moved its athletic season, including football, from the fall. The CIF oversees all high school sports in California. There are more than 800,000 high school athletes in the state. . . . CIF now hopes to start its athletic season in December or January. . . . Georgia, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia have delayed fall high school sports; New Mexico, Virginia and the District of Columbia won’t play football in the fall. . . . And then there’s Florida . . .

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has voted to begin the football and girls’ volleyball seasons on time. In doing this, the FHSAA is ignoring the recommendation of its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee: “It is our stance that return to competition for the high-risk sports of football and volleyball is not medically safe.” . . . All of this left Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wondering right here: “Why does the FHSAA bother to have a Sports Medicine Advisory Council?” . . .

There was good news out of the NBA bubble in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, when the league reported that it had tested 346 players in the previous week and didn’t get even one positive. . . . Before teams arrived in Orlando, 25 of 351 players and 10 of 884 staff members had tested positive. . . .

But then there is Avangard Omsk. The KHL team has withdrawn from an exhibition tournament in Sochi, Aug. 4-9, after having 20 people in its organization test positive. There isn’t a player/staff breakdown available, but all were tested during training camp. . . . As well, CSKA Moscow has had seven players test positive. . . .

Former MLBer Jeff Francoeur, now an analyst on the Atlanta Braves’ broadcast crew, has tested positive. He is asymptomatic and in self-quarantine. . . . Todd Kalas, the play-by-play voice on the Houston Astros’ TV team, also tested positive. He, too, is asymptomatic and in self-quarantine. . . .

The Toronto Wolfpack informed the Super League Europe and the Rugby Football League that it won’t be restarting it season so won’t participate if things resume on Aug. 2. . . .

Because of the disruption to the soccer season across the world, the Ballon d’Or, which goes to the world’s best player, won’t be awarded this year. It was first handed out in 1956. . . .

The men’s pro tennis season had hoped to get started with the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 13. That won’t happen, though, as the tournament has been cancelled. . . . The women’s tour is hoping to open in Palermo, Italy, on Aug. 3.

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has cancelled all fall sports for 2020. Yes, that includes football. . . . For now, the conference is hoping football teams will be able to open eight-week training camps in January, leading to some kind of a spring season. . . . The conference features Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Alcorn State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Grambling State, Jackson State, Mississippi Valley State, Prairie View A&M, Southern and Texas Southern.


Briar McNaney is the new head coach of the junior B Columbia Valley Rockies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He takes over from Wade Dubielewicz, who now is the club’s general manager. . . . Dubielewicz spent eight seasons as the head coach, the last three with McNaney as his full-time assistant.


Scattershooting on a Sunday evening while wondering if the virus will leave when cold weather arrives . . .

Scattershooting


With MLB having started exhibition games and with a 60-game regular season soon to begin, Ann Killion, an excellent sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, sums up the situation:

“Who is going to get the coronavirus next? Where is the roulette wheel going to stop? What will the repercussions be for that player’s or coach’s family? Will the games have to abruptly end?

“A welcome distraction?

“Not likely. Not when we know that the baseball players we’re watching are each receiving multiple tests a week so they can play some games that will carry asterisks forever.”

Nail, meet hammer. Killion’s complete column is right here.



With rookies for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs reporting to training camp today (Monday), a number of NFL stars took to Twitter on Sunday to question what is going on concerning safety procedures. . . . Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback, tweeted: “My wife is pregnant. Training camp is about to start. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety.” . . . Nicholas Reimann of Forbes has more right here.


Cats


So . . . Sidney Crosby, one of the NHL’s few true superstars, leaves a Saturday scrimmage early and doesn’t return. Mike Sullivan, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach, says: “We’re to permitted to comment.” . . . There isn’t a league anywhere in the world that does a better job of suppressing information than the GBHL — Gary Bettman Hockey League. . . . And the women and men who cover the GBHL better get used to this because I’m thinking it will be the new norm whenever the virus chooses to leave us.


It’s my understanding that the virus will go away once the weather turns cold.


The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported: “Lindsay Whalen, the Minnesota women’s basketball coach, says she’ll buy hot dogs for the first 500 fans at the Gophers’ home opener this season.” . . . To which Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times responded: “In a related story, Joey Chestnut just bought 75 tickets.”

——

Danica Patrick’s mouthpiece says that the former race-car driver and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers have visited Splitsville. Here are the aforementioned Perry’s thoughts: “Rodgers apologists claim he called an audible; her spinmeisters say they hit the skids.”


The QMJHL announced on Saturday that its plan right now is for each of its 18 teams to qmjhlnewplay 60 games in a regular season that will open on Oct. 1. Training camps will open on Aug. 26 with teams bringing in a maximum of 34 players, down from around 60 in previous times. . . . The league also will be split into three divisions and teams will play only within their own divisions, meaning 12 games against each opponent. . . . The QMJHL hasn’t yet announced a playoff format, nor does it know whether fans will be allowed to attend games. . . . The QMJHL features six teams in the Maritimes, who would play in one division, with the other two divisions comprising the 12 Quebec teams. . . . If you were wondering, the Quebec Midget AAA League says it will start its regular season on Sept. 11.


Curtis Toneff, an assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos, has been suspended by the SJHL team, which said he “will have no further association” with the team until further notice. Toneff is facing an undisclosed criminal charge by the RCMP and is looking at a court date somewhere down the road. . . . Toneff, 27, is from Nanaimo, B.C. He joined the Broncos’ staff prior to last season after spending two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


Knife


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “The taxpayers are sending Congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it, but they keep coming back.”


Headline at fark.com: Astros owner wants fans in the stands wo he can sell overpriced, watered down cold beer.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) has trimmed its Baltimore Orioles broadcast crew because of the pandemic, meaning play-by-play man Gary Thorne and analyst Jim Palmer won’t be on the air when things get restarted. Rick Dempsey, Brian Roberts and Gregg Olsen also won’t be taking part. . . .

Former MLB P Bob Walk, now a broadcaster with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is recovering after testing positive.

1B/DH Jose Martinez was on the field with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. He had been out while quarantining following a positive test. . . .

P Collin McHugh of the Boston Red Sox, who has had elbow issues of late, has opted out of the season. He likely was headed to the injury list, but will spend time with his family. . . .

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus said Sunday that he and his wife Barbara, both of whom are 80, tested positive in March. Jack had some symptoms into late April, while Barbara was asymptomatic. . . .

Brandon Banks, the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2019, said via Twitter on Sunday that he won’t play in 2020 if there is a season. A wide receiver and kick returner, Banks tweeted that “Idk what they gonna do but I won’t put on a helmet til 2021.”



Gregor Chisholm, a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star, after the Canadian government refused the Blue Jays’ request to play home games in Toronto: “This was never about the sport itself. The Jays got caught up in something much bigger than a game. This is about Canada wanting to continue to distance itself from a dysfunctional neighbour who seems to have lost touch with reality.”

——

So . . . why didn’t Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, invite the Blue Jays to play their home games out of Edmonton’s RE/MAX Field? It seats 9,200, but who cares because fans wouldn’t be allowed. Imagine the smile on Kenney’s face if he had the NHL and MLB in Alberta’s capital at the same time.

——

With the Blue Jays on the move, apparently to Buffalo or Dunedin, Fla., let’s check out the standings in the Strat-O-Matic simulation league. . . . The Blue Jays were shelled 12-1 by the visiting Cleveland Indians on Sunday, falling to 46-54 and leaving them 13 games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (59-41). The New York Yankees (52-46) are six games back in second place. . . . The other MLB division leaders — Cleveland (61-39), Houston Astros (65-33), Washington Nationals (58-42), Milwaukee Brewers (53-45) and Los Angeles Dodgers (64-36).


After organizers cancelled the 2021 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wondered: “If the Rose Parade is a public-health risk not worth taking, would a Rose Bowl game played in the same venue make sense?”



Hook

Tale of three WHL cities: P.G. closes arenas, P.A. sets opening date, things messy in Portland


The City of Prince George announced Tuesday that it has closed all arenas indefinitely as it works to cope with a budget that it says could come up $9 million short because of the pandemic. . . . Arenas had been on schedule for an Aug. 4 opening. . . . The city has laid off or terminated about 130 workers. . . .

Meanwhile, in Prince Albert, the city has said it hopes to have ice in the Art Hauser Centre, the home of the WHL’s Raiders, later this month, and hopes that the arena is ready for hockey camps by Aug. 10. . . .

Here’s something that caught my eye in The New York Times earlier this week, all of which should be of interest to the WHL and its fans . . .

“The state (of Oregon) set a record on Thursday with 389 new infections.

“If the spread of the virus continues at its current rate, Oregon Health Authority models predict that Portland hospitals will hit capacity in a month, and hospitals throughout the state will be overwhelmed within 90 days. . . .

“As serious as the recent caseload has been, many fear that the upcoming harvest season could make things even worse, as additional agricultural workers pour in and processing plants kick into high gear.”



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers, who died in a plane crash in 1935: “Last year we said, ‘Things can’t go on like this,’ and they didn’t. They got worse.”


Chicken


Dan Wolken, writing in USA TODAY, about the SEC, football and the pandemic:

“For all the airtime devoted to COVID-19 misinformation merchants who cherry-pick statistics to suggest this virus is no big deal and engage in performative whataboutism to try and discredit public health officials, the virus will determine whether SEC football is played — not the other way around. . . .

“ . . . the arrogance with which too many people in this country approached COVID-19 from the beginning has also been a hallmark of the conversation around college football. Too many administrators have spent the last four months offering nothing but happy talk and publicly presenting the rosiest possible scenario rather than speaking directly to the massive challenges of pulling off a season in a college environment where any type of bubble isn’t possible and there’s no financial incentive for the players to take the kinds of health risks their professional counterparts are being asked to take.

“In fact, the mere suggestion that college football wouldn’t go off as planned has been met with outrage.”

Wolken’s complete column, and it’s dynamite, is right here.


Boxes


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

City officials in Philadelphia said Tuesday that fans won’t be allowed in any facilities for sporting events in 2020. . . .

The Rose Parade, a New Year’s Day fixture in Pasadena, Calif., has been cancelled for 2021. First held in 1891, it has been held every year since then with the exception of 1942, 1943 and 1945, because of the Second World War. . . . It usually draws about 700,000 spectators. . . .

USA Hockey has cancelled the 2020 World Junior Summer Showcase that was to have been held in Plymouth, Mich, from July 24-31. Canada, Finland and Sweden pulled out of the event earlier, but USA Hockey had hoped to bring in 44 players and evaluate them. It’s all part of the selection process in picking the team that will play in the World Junior Championship that is, at least for now, scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

The NFL’s Green Bay Packers will hold their training camp at Lambeau Field, but fans won’t be allowed in for practices. There also won’t be any fans allowed for Packers Family Night or any home exhibition games. . . .

Former MLB C Tim McCarver has opted out, so won’t be part of the Fox Sports Midwest TV crew doing St. Louis Cardinals games this season. McCarver, 78, made the decision after consulting with his doctor. . . .

NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan, the driver of the No. 90 car, has tested positive and is in quarantine. Gaughan, who last raced on June 22 at Talladega, tested positive on Friday. . . .

F Harrison Barnes of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings revealed on Monday that he has tested positive. . . .

The Associated Press reported on Monday that “about 10” MLB umpires have opted out of the season “because of concerns over the coronavirus.” . . . By Wednesday, that number was up to 11.


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Two teams — FC Dallas and Nashville SC — had to pull out of the MLS is Back Tournament after too many players tested positive for coronavirus. On second thought, just call it the Well, Most of MLS is Back Tournament.”


Meeting

NEVER arrives in Washington . . . WHL’s Chiefs would consider change “if requested” . . . Evason gets full-time Wild gig

Daniel Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, told USA Today in 2013: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Well, it seems that NEVER arrived on Monday.

The team announced on July 3 that was undertaking a review of the situation involving its nickname. On Monday, it announced “we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.”

A new nickname will be revealed at some point once all the legalities have been dealt with.

Just don’t think for a moment that this was done for any reason other than MONEY.

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and he has more on the name change right here.


Mood


Closer to home, the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs say they would be receptive to calls for a change to their nickname, but that there haven’t been any such requests.

From a Chiefs’ statement: “We have not heard calls from local tribal leaders to change our name, but would certainly consider a name change if requested. The Spokane Chiefs stand together with our friends in the Native American community.”

As Dave Nichols of the Spokane Spokesman-Review explained in a recent story: “Locally, Eastern Washington is home to several Native American tribes and Spokane’s two professional teams — the Spokane Indians and Spokane Chiefs — as well as several high schools in the area, use Native American terms and imagery for branding.”

The Chiefs and Indians are owned by Brett Sports and, as Nichols wrote, “have had a long-standing relationship with Native American groups in the area.”

With the NFL’s Washington franchise having made the move and the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos sounding like they will do the same, you know that there is pressure on other teams, like the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. But what of teams at lower levels, like the Chiefs, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL?

Nichols quoted the WHL team’s statement:

“The Spokane Chiefs Hockey Club is committed to honoring Native American culture of the Inland Northwest.

“We are proud to have partnered with local tribes in a variety of past events to highlight tribal heritage in an appropriate, respectful manner. Our team has been proactive in excluding any Native American mascots, chants or characterizations at our events.

“We have received positive, influential feedback from local tribal leaders regarding our representation of Native American culture and will continue to be receptive to any feedback or concern. We will always listen to our community.”

The statement doesn’t appear to have been posted on the Chiefs’ website.

Nichols’ complete story is right here.



The Victoria Royals haven’t announced it, but it seems they have parted company with Matt Auerbach, who had been their head equipment manager. His photo disappeared from the team’s website a while back, late one Friday afternoon. . . . Auerbach had been with the Royals for 14 seasons, going back to their days as the Chilliwack Bruins. . . . He was celebrated in Victoria on Oct. 26, 2019, on the occasion of his 1,000th game with the franchise. The Royal beat the Kamloops Blazers, 2-1, in that one. . . . The Royals didn’t respond to a request for comment from Taking Note.


Sock


Dean Evason, a former WHL player and coach, was promoted from interim to full-time head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild on Monday. He had taken over from the fired Bruce Boudreau on Feb. 14. . . . The Wild is preparing to meet the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-five series on Aug. 2 in Edmonton. . . . Evason played with the Spokane Flyers and Kamloops Jr. Oilers (1980-84). He later coached the Kamloops Blazers (1999-2002), Vancouver Giants (2002-04) and Calgary Hitmen (2004-05).


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The 24 NHL teams who are continuing with this season, opened training camps on Mondays. . . . The Pittsburgh Penguins held out nine players “due to potential secondary exposure to an individual who had contact with a person who has tested positive . . .” Those players will be held out until it is deemed safe for them to skate. . . . Mike Kitchen, an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers, and F Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks have opted out. . . . The NHL, which has put a lid on injury and illness information, released its weekly testing update on Monday, revealing that eight more players have tested positive at team facilities. One other player tested positive prior to reporting. . . . That means the NHL has reported 43 positives, with 30 of those coming out of team facilities. . . . The Athletic’s Arpon Basu reported Sunday that three players with the Montreal Canadiens had tested positive. On Monday, D Josh Brook, D Brett Kulak and D Xavier Ouellet weren’t on the ice, but there was no comment from the team on their status. . . .

Alexei Morozov, the president of the Russian-based KHL, reported six positive tests among players on Monday. There are three players from Torpedo HC, two from Severstal and one from Spartak HC who are positive. . . . One player from Amur HC is in hospital with what has been diagnosed as double pneumonia. His two roommates have been quarantined. . . . The KHL is hoping to open its season on Sept. 2.

——

Australian Rules Football has been hit hard by COVID-19. . . . Melbourne, home to nine of the AFL’s 18 teams, is in lockdown. One other team is in Geelong, not far away. That means there are 10 teams in the State of Victoria. . . . After Friday games, the AFL moved all 10 teams — six to Queensland and two to Sydney, with two others to play in Western Australia. . . . The AFL has played six rounds of its schedule; the hope is to move the teams back after Round 9. . . . But here has been a COVID-19 spike in New South Wales, and the AFL now may have to get its four teams — the two from Melbourne (Hawthorn and Melbourne), Sydney and Greater Western Sydney — out of there. If that happens, those teams are expected to be moved to Queensland. . . . Thanks to The MacBeth Report for keeping tabs on the AFL. He watched a game on Friday during which “the announcers said last weekend was the first time in the history of the league that no games were played in Victoria during a regular-season round. The league was founded in 1897.”

PG Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets, one of the NBA’s true superstars, has tested positive. He was one of 19 NBA players to test positive so far this month before the teams travelled to Orlando, Fla., in hopes of restarting the season on July 30. . . . The NBA had 25 positives tests in the first phase of testing last month. . . .

P Jordan Hicks of the St. Louis Cardinals has opted out, citing pre-existing health concerns. Hicks, 23, has Type 1 diabetes. He had Tommy John surgery on June 26, 2019, but was working out at Busch Stadium. . . .

The Patriot League became the second NCAA Division 1 conference — after the Ivy League — to cancel fall sports. Conference officials said they will make decisions about winter and spring sports “at a later date.” The Patriot League includes American, Army, Boston U, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola (Maryland) and Navy. . . . As well, Fordham and Georgetown are football-only members. . . . Army, Holy Cross, Colgate and Boston U have hockey teams.


Equator

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.