CFL commish admits season may not happen . . . Oregon gatherings gone through September . . . WHL salutes Kennedy


The news was anything but good for followers of the CFL and WHL on Thursday.

Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner, was in Ottawa, appearing before a House of Commons standing committee on finance. The CFL is asking for as much as $150 million in financial aid to help it survive the pandemic.

At one point, Ambrosie said the CFL’s future is “very much in jeopardy.” He also said that “our best-case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season. And our most likely scenario is no season at all.”

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the home state of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, Gov. Kate Brown announced some guidelines, one of which involves the cancelling of all concerts, sporting events and large gatherings through the end of September.

You have to think chances are pretty good that Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, will issue similar guidelines at some point.

The 22-team WHL has four teams in Washington state.

These guidelines likely refer to teams playing in front of fans. But the WHL is a ticket-driven league and it is hard to imagine its teams playing in empty arenas for any length of time.


Sheldon Kennedy has been honoured by the WHL with its Governors Award. . . . According to a WHL news release, the award “is the highest honour the WHL bestows on whlan an individual who has been associated with the league.” The award “is presented annually to an individual who, through their outstanding hockey and overall contributions to the game, has impacted on the growth and development of the WHL.” . . . Kennedy, now 50, is from Elkhorn, Man. He played three (1986-89) seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, survived a bus accident in which four teammates died, and was a key contributor to the team that won the 1989 Memorial Cup. After Kennedy’s pro career ended, it came to light that he had been sexually abused by general manager/head coach Graham James while with the Broncos. Kennedy moved on from that to found, with Wayne McNeil, the Respect Group Inc., and to campaign endlessly for the safety and empowerment of young people and young athletes. . . . The WHL’s news release is right here.


James Patrick, the head coach of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, is among the U of North Dakota’s Hall of Fame class of 2020. Patrick, a defenceman, played two signs with what was then the Fighting Sioux. As Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald points out: “No former UND player has played more NHL games (1,280) or seasons (21) than Patrick, who suited up for the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres. Patrick wore an ‘A’ for both the Rangers and Sabres.” . . . The Hall of Fame induction is set for Oct.9 as the Fighting Hawks football team meets visiting Missouri State.


Even the geese have had enough . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “The country’s present supply of foreign news depends largely on how best a number of dry goods merchants in New York think they can sell underwear.”


Swear


Tennis Australia is looking ahead to the 2021 Australian Open and wondering it it will even take place. “Worst-case scenario is no AO,” Craig Tiley, who heads up Tennis Australia, told the Australian Associated Press. “Our best-case scenario at this point is having an AO with players that we can get in here with quarantining techniques and Australian-only fans.” . . . ICYMI, Wimbledon has been cancelled for 2020, and the French Open, which had been scheduled for May 27 through June 7, now will run from Sept. 27 through Oct. 11. The French Tennis Federation had announced earlier that it would run from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4, but moved it back another week on Tuesday. . . . The U.S. Open is scheduled to open on Aug. 24, but that still is up in the air with an announcement due at some point in June. . . .

NBA teams have the OK from the league to open practice facilities, with some restrictions, of course, but Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, isn’t interested just yet. . . . “The problem obviously is that because we can’t test people, then we can’t assure everybody’s safety, whether they’re basketball players or anybody else,” Cuban told The Athletic’s 77 Minutes in Heaven podcast. “Even though we can try to take all different kids of precautions, it’s just not worth it — particularly when our guys are staying in shape and they’re going outside and shooting on outdoor hoops and working out in various ways. So I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward.”



Jason Tatarnic is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Tatarnic, 47, spent eight seasons (2005-13) as head coach of the Maritime Junior League’s Woodstock Slammers, before moving west as GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs for four seasons (2014-18). . . . The Chiefs dismissed him a few days before the 2018 RBC Cup, the national junior A tournament in which they were the host team. In fact, the Chiefs went on to win the tournament. . . . After that, Tatarnic went to work with Hockey Pathways, which bills itself as a family advisory service whose mission “is to get you to the next level.” . . . In Estevan, Tatarnic takes over a franchise that is to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup. . . . He takes over the Bruins from Chris Lewgood, who was fired on April 15 despite getting the team to the playoffs in each of his seven seasons. That included a seven-game loss in the SJHL final in the spring of 2018.


Call

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

——

One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.