Lisowsky, Robins help Blades get back on track . . . Ripplinger moves up in Moose Jaw . . . Nevill, former WHL scout, dies at 81



F Brandon Lisowsky broke a 3-3 tie in the third period to help the Saskatoon BladesBlades to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . Lisowsky’s fifth goal of the season came  at 12:50 and F Caiden Daley (6) added the empty-netter. . . . The Raiders (4-8-2) had erased a 3-1 deficit on PP goals from F Reece Vitelli (4) at 14:23 of the second and F Dallyn Peekeekoot (2) at 16:01. . . . Peekeekoot added two assists to his goal. . . . F Tristen Robins had a goal, his eighth, and three assists for the Blades (10-2-2), who had lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Saskatoon is 3-0-0 against Prince Albert in the Regina hub.


The Frozen Four, which ends Saturday with the NCAA declaring a men’s hockey champion, played its semifinals on Thursday in Pittsburgh. . . . The UMass-Amherst Minutemen got past the defending-champion U of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, 3-2 in OT, in the nightcap. . . . F Garrett Wait got the winner at 14:30 of the first extra period . . . UMass had a 13-2 edge in shots in OT after being outshot 36-15 in regulation. . . . The Bulldogs were without Ryan Fanti, their sophomore starting goaltender due to COVID-19 protocols. Freshman Zach Stejskal got the start. . . . The Minutemen were without starting G Filip Lindberg, third-stringer Henry Graham and F Carson Gicewicz, their leading goal scorer. Equipment manager Zac Steigmeyer was added to the roster and backed up senior Matt Murray. . . . After Thursday’s game, UMass revealed that Lindberg, Graham and Gicewicz have cleared protocols and will rejoin the team today. If they test negative today and Saturday morning, they will be good for the final. . . .

In the first semifinal, F Nolan Walker broke a 4-4 tie with 53.2 seconds left in the third period to give the St. Cloud State Huskies a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota State Mavericks. . . . For more on the Frozen Four, visit collegehockeynews.com.


Mars


Jason Ripplinger is the new general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors. MooseJawRipplinger, 45, joined the Warriors prior to the 2017-18 season as assistant general manager. . . . Prior to that, he spent 16 seasons with the Vancouver Giants, first as a scout and then as director of player personnel. . . . In Moose Jaw, he takes over from Alan Millar, who has left the Warriors to join Hockey Canada as director of player personnel for the Program of Excellence.


Former NHL coach Dave Allison is expected to be named general manager and head coach of the Fort Frances Lakers of the seven-team junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League. Allison, a 61-year-old native of Fort Frances, has been coaching since 1986. . . . He spent part of the 1995-96 season as head coach of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, having replaced Rick Bowness in midseason. . . . In recent years, Allison spent four seasons (2014-18) as head coach of the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers and two seasons in Europe. He started this season as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia, but was replaced in January. . . . In Fort Frances, Allison replaces Bernie Lynch, who was fired on Jan. 2 due to what the team said was “a clear breach of applicable codes of conduct.”


Bob Nevill, once a scout with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, has died in Brandon. He was 81. . . . He was a well-known figure on Brandon’s sporting scene, having been an assistant coach with Brandon U’s basketball teams and later a basketball official. He also coached high school football in Brandon with the Crocus Plains Plainsmen. . . . Nevill’s son, Rhett, played 32 games on defence with the Rebels in 1998-99.



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.


DUI

Blazers’ owner: It’s disappointing, but people are dying from this . . . German junior team hit with eight positives; Sweden has two more


The Kamloops Blazers were 41-18-4 and enjoying a 14-point lead atop the WHL’s B.C. Division when the pandemic brought a premature end to the season in March.

They were poised to have their best regular season since 2012-13, when they Kamloops1finished 47-20-5. (In 2016-17, they went 42-24-6, for 90 points, a number last season’s team was within easy reach of with five games remaining.)

The point is that no one has more reason to be upset with how things went down in March than fans of the Blazers, who had waited a long time for a team that could bring them out of their seats. The same could be said for the players and, yes, ownership, too. But, as majority owner Tom Gaglardi points out, this situation really is all about perspective.

“It’s super disappointing, but you have to let go of what you can’t control,” Gaglardi told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “There are people dying from this, people that are losing livelihoods, that are struggling to get by. The Blazers’ winning window, it’s super discouraging, but you have to look at the things that really matter. We’re all frustrated, but the leagues that rushed out and tried to play have all failed.”

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars, added: “It’s challenging, but boy, oh boy, is this a league that is determined to find a way. We are trying everything, but we’re not getting a lot of help. We’re not getting help from the public, in terms of managing the virus. It’s growing. The governments are not blessing our plans, but we’re trying.

“I think we will have a season. I really do. I’m a guy that believes we’ll find a way.”

At one point in the interview, Hastings asked about lost revenue and the state of the franchise.

“If the club didn’t have solid sponsorship, in terms of its ownership,” Gaglardi replied, “it would be in a lot worse shape. The business is in terrible shape, obviously, having lost all that revenue and continuing to lose revenue and carry costs. Fortunately, the Blazers are going to survive COVID-19. I think all the clubs around the league will survive it, too.

“This will easily jump into seven figures of damages and bills to pay when we get going again, so it’s devastating.”

While Gaglardi is the franchise’s majority owner, former NHLers Shane Doan, Jerome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor are the other co-owners.

“It wasn’t exactly a real solid business in the first place,” Gaglardi added, “but it’s going to mean some tough decisions. It’s already meant tough decisions. We’ve had to thin down our staff. We’re just trying to stay around. Luckily, bankers have been supportive and done whatever they can to help us through. We’ll survive, but it’s devastating.”

Hasting’s interview with Gaglardi is right here.



It seems that the virus has found the teams that are holed up in Edmonton awaiting the start of the 2021 World Junior Championship. Eight players off the 2021WJCGerman team have tested positive, as have two management people with Team Sweden.

The 10 teams all were to have come out of quarantine on Friday to begin on-ice preparations. However, the Germans now will quarantine until Thursday. Most of the Swedes will stay in quarantine until Monday. Those who had previous positive tests don’t have to because those infections, according to Hockey Canada, “provide a personal immunity and no threat of infection to others.”

Ryan Allenby, a Team Sweden doctor, ran practice on Friday for the seven players who were cleared to skate. Don’t forget that before even leaving for Canada on Sunday, the Swedes had to drop four players and four coaches, including head coach Tomas Monten, because of positive tests.

Canada and Sweden are scheduled to play an exhibition game on Monday.

The Germans are scheduled to open the tournament against Finland on Dec. 25 and then play Team Canada on Dec. 26. Having to quarantine until Thursday means the Germans will have to scrub exhibition games against Austria and Czech Republic.

Chris Peters of ESPN, who follows this tournament closely, tweeted Friday: “Germany and Sweden shared planes with other countries. Team sources indicated they were concerned with the travel set-up after they saw size of the planes. Sweden was on same flight with Finland and Russia and it looked pretty crowded based on social media posts.”

As near as I can tell, the Germans flew over with the Swiss team. The third flight carried Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Mark Masters of TSN has more WJC news right here.



Christmas2020

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News, 11:36 a.m. PT: Canada’s total COVID-19 death toll has passed 14,000. Nationally, there have been 493,308 confirmed cases.

CBC News: Number of new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba jumps to 350 after 6 straight days of recording less than 300. The province is also reporting 10 additional deaths.

Anya Nazeravich, CJOB Winnipeg: Manitoba has 350 new cases of COVID-19. . . . Deaths: 547. . . . Hospitalizations: 305. . . . ICU: 43. . . . TP: 13.6% . . . TP in Winnipeg: 13.1%. . . . Active: 5,602. . . . Tests on Thursday: 2,167.

650 CKOM: Saskatchewan reported two more deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday. The province also reported 245 new cases and 485 recoveries, dropping the active caseload to 3,736.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: With 485 more recoveries Friday, the province’s active case number is 3,736, which is the lowest it’s been since Nov. 29.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,413 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 new deaths related to the illness. There are 19,607 known active cases in the province. 759 COVID-19 patients are in Alberta hospitals, including 141 in ICU. The province has a 7.4% positivity rate.

Dave White, CBC: Two of Friday’s 25 reported deaths involve a woman in her 20s from the Calgary zone and a man in his 40s from the Edmonton zone with no known co-morbidities.

CBC News: B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced 624 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday.

CBC News: 2,290 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, the 4th day in a row above 2,000 and the 2nd-highest daily number of the pandemic. There are 40 more deaths, with 877 people in hospital and 261 in intensive care. 68,246 tests were completed; 3.9% were positive. 

CBC News: Quebec reports 1,773 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the province’s 7-day average up slightly to 1,825. Health authorities say there have also been 36 additional deaths.

CNN, 5 p.m. PT: 17.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, 5 p.m. PT: 313,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

The New York Times: Officials in New York State announced 12,606 new cases on Friday, The Times found, a single-day record that exceeds a previous high of 12,274 cases recorded on April 4, when testing was less widely available and significantly fewer tests were being conducted. But there was also a rare bit of good news: The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state decreased on Thursday for the first time since late October, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday.

——

The 14-team Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association has cancelled its 2020-21 season. It had hoped to begin a delayed season in the spring. . . .

While I have mostly ignored NCAA basketball, it would seem that it has served up quite a buffet for the virus. On Thursday, Kelvin Sampson, the men’s coach at the U of Houston, said his entire roster has tested positive. According to the Washington Post, the team has had 15 players and some coaches test positive so far this season. Take a break? Pause the season? Are you kidding! While a Saturday game with Alabama won’t happen, Sampson hopes to have eight or nine players back in time to play Alcorn State on Sunday. . . . Meanwhile, Louisville head coach Chris Mack says 90 per cent of his team has had the virus and has recovered. . . .

If you haven’t already, search out Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and read up on his views of this NCAA basketball season. . . .

Al Michaels won’t be calling an NFL games this weekend — he was to have done Cleveland-New York Giants — after NBC pulled him “in accordance with NBCUniversal COVID-19 safety protocols.” . . . That means we’ll get Mike Tirico calling the play of that game on Sunday night, alongside Cris Collinsworth and with Michele Tafoya on the sidelines. . . . Tirico was to have handled Carolina-Green Bay, but has been replaced by Joe Davis, who will work with Kurt Warner. . . . BTW, Michaels reports that he feels fine. . . .

Santa Clara County has extended its ban on contact sports that was to have ended on Monday, meaning the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers will continue to play ‘home games’ at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. That includes their final regular-season game on Jan. 3 against the Seattle Seahawks. . . .

All participants in the Australian Open (Feb. 8-21) are going to have to spend two weeks in quarantine in Melbourne before the tournament opens. They will be allowed to train for up to five hours at Melbourne Park during the quarantine. . . .

The Heritage Junior Hockey League, with 14 junior B teams in Alberta, announced Friday that it has “decided all January games will be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” . . . From a release: “After the Alberta government and Hockey Alberta have given further instruction, team officials will once again meet virtually to map out the first few months of 2021.”


Peephole


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: D Nathan Paetsch, who played four seasons in the WHL (Moose Jaw, 1999-2003), announced his retirement Thursday, ending a pro career that began in 2003-04 with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and included 167 NHL games over five seasons. Paetsch, 37, is a native of Humboldt. He got into 258 regular-season and 34 playoff games with Moose Jaw. . . . The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs have hired former WHL G Mackenzie Skapski as their goaltending coach. Skapski, 26, is from Abbotsford, B.C. He played three seasons (2011-14) with the Kootenay Ice (hey, remember them?). His pro career included two games with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Skapski last played in 2018-19 with the Slovakian team HKM Zvolen. You may recall that Skapski reached the NHL just five years after suffering broken bones in the left side of his face and assorted other injuries after the bus carrying he and his U-18 Fraser Valley Bruins to Williams Lake hit black ice and ended up on its side in a ditch. . . .

Former WHL D David Wilkie picked up his 100th regular-season victory as the head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers on Friday night. According to a tweet from the team, the only Omaha coach to have gotten there quicker was Bliss Littler. Wilkie played four seasons in the WHL (Seattle, Kamloops, Regina, 1990-94). . . . The junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have shuffled the chairs, with Ron Sleeman coming in as general manager, replacing Wayne March, who has been with the club since its inception. Gerald Bouchard is the team’s new head coach, replacing Tyler Gunn, who joined the team on May 8, 2019. The Eagles, who went 15-32-1-1 last season, were 1-1 when this season was put on hold.


Bobsled

Will WHL change bantam draft age? . . . Lowry thinks NBA headed for positive season . . . Sorry! More ugly COVID-19 numbers


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, appeared on The Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 in Edmonton on Wednesday night and, at one point, suggested that the annual bantam draft might be pushed back a year. . . . On Thursday, Gregor, writing at oilersnation.com, expanded on that story, and it’s all right here. . . . “The WHL has a wonderful opportunity to make the correct decision and permanently increase the draft age,” Gregor writes. “Doing it for only one year would be close-minded, stubborn and with the new NCAA rule changes completely unnecessary.”


The NBA’s regular season is set to begin on Tuesday night and, yes, things are going to be interesting. . . . Just in case you’re wondering whether the NBA has normalized COVID-19, PG Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors said Thursday that it’s a given there will players testing positive during the season. During a Zoom call with reporters, Lowry said: ”It’s going to happen and we have to adjust, and when it happens, no one’s going to know how guys get it, or coaches get it, or whoever gets it. No-one’s going to understand how it happened . . . it’s going to be like, ‘Damn, OK.’ But the players, the team, the coaches, the league, will have to go on, make adjustments and figure it out as we go and it will be a different year. It’s going to be a tough year, but we got some of the best people in the world working with us, working for us.” . . .  With the teams in training camps and playing exhibition games, the NBA had only one player out of 549 test positive from Dec. 10-16.


Weed


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Canada reported a total of 7,008 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, which is the highest single-day increase the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 74M: Johns Hopkins University.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 221 new cases. That’s the lowest daily total since November 3. The province is also reporting 14 additional deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 238 new cases, just above the province’s 7-day average of 231. There have been 7 additional deaths.  Nationally, there are 486,393 cases; 395,980 people have recovered while 76,548 cases are active. The death toll stands at 13,865. . . . Sask. reduces self-isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 to 10 days. All international travellers must still self-isolate for 14 days.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw: Over the last 24 hrs, we ID’d 1,270 new cases & completed about 17.5K new tests.  Our positivity rate stands at about 7.3%. 749 ppl are in hospital, incl 139 in ICU. AHS is taking steps to increase capacity & expand the number of acute care & ICU beds. . . . Sadly, 16 new deaths were reported in the last 24hrs. My thoughts are w/ those grieving their loss. Each death is a reminder it is vital to reduce spread quickly. In less than 10 months, more ABs have died from COVID-19 than from influenza in the last 10 yrs combined.

CBC News: Alberta reports record-breaking 30 COVID-19 deaths over past 24 hours. Total number of deaths since pandemic began reaches 790.

CBC News: B.C. reports 673 new COVID-19 infections, 21 more deaths and 587 recoveries, for a provincial total of 44,776 cases, 713 deaths and 32,963 recoveries.

CBC News: Ontario’s hospitals are calling for new 28-day lockdowns in all regions currently in the red tier of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework. . . . Ontario reported a record-high 2,432 new cases on Thursday.

CBC News: 1,855 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec compared to the 7-day average of 1,817. Health authorities in the province are also attributing 22 additional deaths to the virus.

KOIN News: Gov. Brown extends Oregon state of emergency into March 2021.

NBC News: The U.S. reported 243,645 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, setting a single-day record.

Dr. Tom Frieden: The US reported more Covid deaths Wednesday than Japan has since the start of the pandemic.

CNN: 310,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

Los Angeles Times: Unions for teachers, nurses, grocery and hotel workers call for L.A. County shutdown in January.

ABC7 Eyewitness News: ICU capacity drops to 0% in Southern California as state reports 379 new COVID deaths, shattering daily record.

CBC News: French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said. He plans to continue to work while in isolation for seven days.

——

Canada West, which has 17 member schools, has cancelled the 2020-21 swimming and track and field championships, while deferring a decision on its curling championships, which are scheduled for Edmonton in March. . . . The U of Calgary was to have played host to swimming, with the U of Manitoba handling track and field. . . .

The New York Giants will be without CB James Bradberry when they play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night. The Browns’ shutdown corner went on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Thursday. . . . The Giants also will be without Jason Garrett, their offensive co-ordinator, after he tested positive. That means that former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, who coaches the tight ends, will call the plays for the Giants on Sunday night. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders were without Greg Olson, their offensive co-ordinator, on Thursday night as they dropped a 30-27 OT decision to the Los Angeles Chargers. Yes, he tested positive. . . .

The Baltimore Ravens placed three wide receivers — Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and James Proche — on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. All three played in Monday’s victory over the Cleveland Browns. . . . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed RB Ronald Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . It isn’t known if any of the four tested positive or were identified as close contacts of someone who did. . . .

No. 12 Coastal Carolina won’t get a chance to improve to 12-0 on Saturday because the Chanticleers have run into COVID-19 problems. It was to have played No. 19 Louisiana (9-1) in the Sun Belt’s championship game. . . . The conference has declared the teams to be co-champions. . . . Also cancelled is Saturday’s scheduled game between the Michigan State Spartans and Maryland Terrapins, who had stopped all team activities. It is the second time in a month that a game between these two teams wasn’t played. Two other Big Ten games also have been cancelled — Michigan-Iowa and Indiana-Purdue.

Scott Van Pelt, who anchors ESPN’s nightly SportsCenter, revealed Thursday that he has tested positive. “Won’t be doing shows for a bit after a positive Covid-19 test,” he tweeted. “Thankfully, no fever & I feel fine. Just can’t smell or taste anything which was my clue to go get a test.”



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.



Poe

Toigo: Pandemic fallout won’t be pretty picture . . . Hamilton: We are in full support of what’s going on . . . Robison: Bantam draft may be delayed

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, said on Wednesday that the fallout in junior hockey from COVID-19 may take a year or two to be seen but that “it’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

Appearing on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver, Toigo said:

“At some point, there’s going to have to be some government support for these Vancouverthings to survive, and without that I think you’re going to see failures across the country from (junior A) to major junior to junior B. It’s inevitable.

“From our perspective, we were already down half-a-million dollars when (last season) ended because we didn’t get the last home games in which is where you start to break even. All these things are more or less designed to break even if everything goes right, and then if you get a run in the playoffs you can recover some of the money.

“Most teams in general, not just the Western Hockey League, the BCHL, across the board, people don’t get into this to make a living. . . . These aren’t great models from an economic perspective. Now when you take all the revenue away but keep most of the expenses, it’s not a good scenario for any business.”

The end result, according to Toigo, could be disastrous.

“You might not see it this year,” he said. “It might take a year or two where a lot of these things will come to fruition. It’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

Toigo pointed out that he and the other WHL operators are hardly alone in having to face this pandemic.

“It is a scenario that virtually all walks of life are dealing with,” he said. “Every business is dealing with it. The catastrophic impact on small businesses across this province is something we are going to feel for many many years to come, and junior hockey is just one of those that are caught up in it.”

Toigo’s appearance is available right here.

——

Bruce Hamilton, the Kelowna Rockets’ president and general manager and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, agrees with Toigo in terms of what’s ahead.

“We are going to have some teams that are going to really struggle,” Hamilton KelownaRocketstold Travis Lowe of Global News.“It’s up to the rest of us to help make sure that they make it through.”

But, at this point in time, Hamilton said, “We just don’t see there being any way that we can safely have our players back here.”

Hamilton also pointed out that the WHL and its teams aren’t about to question any of the public heath officials or the regulations that have been put in place in any of the six jurisdictions in which the league operates.

“We fully understand and fully, fully support what is going on,” Hamilton said.

There was a time when the WHL had hoped to open a regular season on Oct. 2. It later changed that date to Dec. 4 and then to Jan. 8. On Tuesday, the league announced that it has moved on from that date and that it now doesn’t have a starting date. Instead, its board of governors will meet in January and assess things at that point.

“I think we are being wise to not name a date,” Hamilton told Lowe. “To me, that becomes an issue for the players . . . they get their hopes up.”

Meanwhile, the OHL is hoping to open its regular season on Feb. 4.

The QMJHL tried to get its regular season started in October, and has gone in fits and starts. Like so many other leagues, it now is back on hold and is hoping to resume play in January. When it does get back on the ice, it could be in some sort of bubble format.

There are 12 Quebec-based teams in the league and seven of them want to play host to bubbles — the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Drummonville Voltigeurs, Quebec Remparts, Rimouski Oceanic, Shawinigan Cataractes and Victoriaville Tigres.

These days, however, there’s more to life than playing hockey.

As Rockets head coach Kris Mallette told Lowe: “There’s a bigger issue at hand. This pandemic is not going away.”

Lowe’s story is right here.

——

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said on Wednesday that the league’s is considering moving the bantam draft back on year because of what the pandemic has done to this season.

“Yes, absolutely,” Robison said on The Jason Gregor Show (TSN 1260, whlEdmonton). “It’s hard to evaluate players (and) it’s hard for players to develop under these circumstances. We are considering delaying the draft.

“We haven’t arrived at a decision on that but I think in fairness to the players and the system generally that is something we are seriously considering and we will hopefully make a decision real soon.”

Robison pointed out that scouting has “represented a challenge.” But, he said, the WHL wants to “do it right and give the players every opportunity.”

Under normal circumstances, the bantam draft is held on the first Thursday of May, although the 2020 draft was held virtually on April 23.

During his appearance, Robison also said that the WHL hasn’t had any conversations about scrapping the season, and added that there isn’t a drop-dead date by which time such a decision would have to be made.

“We’re just trying to find a window of time that’s going to make sense,” he said. “Our goal is to have all teams, all divisions playing. Our hope is to get everyone started. We may have to stagger our start. We’re not quite sure what that will look like. We’re prepared to do anything, quite frankly, to get the season in and find a way to make it a representative season for the players and our teams.”

In the end, Robison said, the league is well aware that a final decision will come down to the health authorities.

“We are in discussion with the health authorities in order to return to play,” he explained. “Our protocols are a little bit more extensive than the other levels of hockey, if you will. We have not received final approval from all jurisdictions in order to play. It’s a health-and-safety issue first and foremost for our players, and we want to make sure we do it right. We want to have a testing base and a protocol solution and we’re working through these with the various health authorities.”

The WHL announced on Tuesday that it wasn’t going to start its next season on Jan. 8 as it had hoped. Had it been able to go then, it likely would have had a 50-game regular season.

Now, with no start date even pencilled in, Robison said a determination hasn’t been made as to how many games is needed to have a season.

“We aren’t going to be in a position to deliver (50 games),” he said. “We’ve got to make a determination on whether we can play four full rounds of playoffs and a Memorial Cup. Once we have all that information we’ll set our schedule. But it’ll all depend on what our start date is . . . and what our end date will be.”

At the moment, restrictions in at least two provinces — Alberta and Saskatchewan — have been extended into mid-January. Whenever restrictions come off, Robison there will be about a three-week time frame before a regular season could start. That would include getting players into isolation, a testing procedure and holding some kind of training camp.

“There is a bit of a process we have to go through in preparation to start,” Robison said, adding that the WHL isn’t “in a position to project with restrictions into Jan. 15.”

Robison also touched on the financial picture involving the 22-team league.

“They’re all in a very difficult position,” he said. “This is something that is very challenging for a lot of organizations, a lot of teams at this stage. They’ve been holding on waiting to start play. They’ve got ongoing costs associated with that.

“Let’s not forget that we had to cancel the balance of our season, including the end of the regular season and playoffs and the Memorial Cup that we were scheduled to host (in Kelowna). A significant amount of losses has been accumulated by the teams to date.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for them to envision moving forward, especially when we’re a ticket-driven league and at this particular stage we are not envisioning spectators to be permitted. The whole financial equation is a very difficult one for our teams.”

The complete interview is available right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Earl Seitz, the long-time sports anchor at CFJC-TV in Kamloops, opened his Wednesday evening sportscast with this:

“We hear about the impact that no hockey, no sports, is having on the mental health of some.

“Can’t disagree with that.

“But to put it in perspective — think of the seniors, the elders, who are dying by the hundreds, the thousands, from Covid-19 — and because of restrictions are alone without the presence of loved ones there to comfort them in their final hours.

“Or those loved ones who will live with the anguish of not being able to be there with a mother, a father, a grandparent or wife or husband in their final hours.

“Hockey and sports will be back — those who are dying from Covid-19 won’t be.”

——

——

Skylar Peters, CJOB Winnipeg: 15 more Manitobans have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the province reported 292 cases Wednesday. . . . Total: 21,286. . . . Active: 5,797. . . . Deaths: 523. . . . Hospitalized: 328. . . . ICU: 46. . . . WPG test positivity rate: 13.7%. . . . Prov. test positivity rate: 13.6%.

CBC News: 169 new COVID-19 cases reported in Saskatchewan, the 2nd day in a row the number of cases has been below 200. That’s hasn’t happened since November 24-25.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,270 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths. Dr. Hinshaw points out that more Albertans have died from COVID-19 in 10 months, than from influenza over the past 10 years combined.

Kamloops This Week: B.C. health authorities are reporting 640 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 further deaths due to the disease. . . . Those new cases include 91 in the Interior Health region, which now has 843 active cases, including 28 in hospital and seven of those patients in critical care units. . . . In total, there are 9,950 active cases in the province. Of those, 362 are in hospital, including 91 in critical care. The province has now had 44,103 confirmed cases. Of those, 32,375 have recovered and 692 have died.

CBC News: Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 more deaths from the illness on Wednesday as hospitalization figures reached second-wave highs.

CBC News: 1,897 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, well above the 7-day average of 1,791. 43 additional deaths are also reported. The number of people in hospital rose by 16 to 975; 128 are in intensive care.

CBC News: New household gathering limits announced for all of Nova Scotia during Christmas period.

CNN: The United States reported at least 3,453 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

Jim Acosta, CNN: A devastating day in the pandemic for the US. So far today (Wednesday), Johns Hopkins has reported 242,490 new cases and 3,518 reported deaths (10:20pm eastern). This is the highest single day reporting of daily new deaths since the pandemic began.

——

The start of the Australian Open has been pushed back three weeks to Feb. 8. It was to have opened on Jan. 18 in Melbourne.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: The NHL’s Calgary Flames have moved Jason LaBarbera from the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen to be their goaltending coach. LaBarbera spent four seasons as the goaltending coach with the Hitmen, who are owned by the Flames. LaBarbera, 40, also is Hockey Canada’s goaltending coach, so is in the Edmonton bubble with the national junior team. He played four seasons in the WHL (Tri-City, Portland, Spokane, 1996-2000). . . . The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves need a head coach after Cory Stillman left to join the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes as an assistant coach. He had been the Wolves’ head coach for three seasons. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as the Carolina Hurricanes’ director of player development.

WHL dumps Jan. 8 start date; all will be quiet for next month . . . How/why did we start to normalize the numbers? . . . USTA out of Frisco Bowl, into First Responder Bowl

There won’t be many of us doing this over the next 10 days, but here’s a Christmas song that I really, really enjoy . . .


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the WHL for doing the right thing in not only whlscrubbing its Jan. 8 start date, but also for not coming up with another proposed start date.

The 22-team league, which has teams in four provinces and two states, announced Tuesday that “with public health restrictions in place across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S., the WHL is not in a position to start its regular season as planned on Jan. 8.”

This decision was made, according to a statement, “following further consultation with regional health authorities.”

What’s next for the WHL? According to the statement, its board of governors ”will meet in January to consider potential start dates.”


If you stop by here on a regular basis, you will have noticed that I didn’t post anything, not even a COVID-19 update, on Monday.

Well, I did edit a Mondays With Murray piece and posted that, but that was it.

CovidI actually started to put together a regular week-day piece, but I found that as I pulled in the COVID-19 numbers I only got more and more frustrated. No matter how you look at the numbers, there really isn’t an end in sight.

Yes, one vaccine is here and more are on the way. But it’s not a magic elixir that is going to make things better overnight. Yes, we are going to need still more patience.

Earlier on Monday, I had spoken with the owner of a small business in Kamloops and he, like me, figures we’re in this until the summer months get here. Even though it didn’t have to be that way.

And then I spoke with a friend in Regina, who told me about the clown show that hit Regina on Sunday in which the two lead clowns weren’t even from Regina. We talked, too, about the restrictions that are coming to Saskatchewan. It was, we agreed, like in so many other Canadian jurisdictions, too little, too late. And, we agreed, it didn’t have to be like this. If only the politicians had acted sooner, we agreed.

But, still, I was going to write something. I was going to cobble something together and get it on the site.

But then . . .

I had been told on Friday about a B.C. junior hockey team whose 19- and 20-year-olds had skated together that day. If, indeed, that happened it would have been in direct contravention of restrictions that had been put in place by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) earlier in the month, one that prohibited such players from participating in indoor or outdoor sports.

On Monday, as I was getting my thoughts together, I got another text, this one informing me that same team had held a “full team practice” earlier in the day. As the source put it: “Other teams have gone home and they are practising!”

And then I saw the ‘woe is me’ piece that the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers — who aren’t the team referred to above — posted on their website. Well . . . that was enough to shut down my brain and open John Grisham’s latest novel.

At one point, Clippers owner Wes Mussio is quoted (on the Clippers’ website, not in the Grisham book):

“I’ve heard from many hockey fans that coming to a Clippers game is the highlight of their week and without hockey, their mental health is declining. I don’t blame them because this is our national sport and not being able to enjoy it is a tremendous sacrifice.”

Nowhere in the Clippers’ statement is there even one word about the safety of their community, or even a mention of families who have lost loved ones, or anything about people in hospitals. Nothing about healthcare workers. Nada about teachers. Retail workers? Forget it.

Nowhere is there anything about using these times as a teaching moment. Nothing about accountability. Nothing about being socially responsible. Not a word about trying to keep a community safe. Crickets about what the players can take out of living through this kind of adversity and having to deal with it.

In the meantime, the Canadian death toll from this pandemic reached 13,659 on Tuesday. The number of positive cases went over 475,000, an increase of 6,733 in the previous 24 hours.

At the same time, there have been 42,943 positive cases in B.C., and 647 deaths.

BCHL rosters include a number of American players. There have been 16.8 million positive cases and 304,000 deaths in their country.

But somehow we seem to have normalized all of this. Somehow these numbers have become just that — numbers.

How did that happen? By now most of us know someone who is or was ill, or someone who has lost a loved one to this virus, someone whose Christmas dinner table will have an empty space. We’ve read the stories about those families, or about the long-termers, those people who had the virus, some of them months ago, and continue to suffer. So how do so many people either ignore what’s going on or pretend it isn’t happening?

Perhaps some of them get their cues from what is going on in the U.S., especially in the NFL, the NBA and NCAA basketball and football, where the risk seems to be looked upon as though a positive test is nothing more than a mosquito bite.

Look, as much as I want to see junior hockey players back on the ice, the reality is that it isn’t going to happen until the numbers come down . . . way down. The virus will decide when junior hockey returns.

Having been around junior hockey for the better part of 50 years now, I fully understand the role it plays in so many communities. And I know how much it means to young players to be on the ice, all the while trying to carve out their future. But to suggest that it is an essential service or that the mental health of “many” fans is “declining”  because it is missing in action. . . please, get a grip.

Oh, and wear a mask!



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba reports 272 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the 7-day average up slightly to 309. There are also 9 more deaths being attributed to the virus, raising the province’s death toll to 508.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 194 new COVID-19 cases; it’s the 1st time in a week the daily total has been below 200. 7 additional deaths are also attributed to the virus.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,341 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths. There are 742 people in hospital and 137 in ICU, both an all time high for the province.

CBC News: Health-care worker becomes first in B.C. to receive COVID-19 vaccine as province reports 522 new coronavirus cases and 21 more deaths. . . . A cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Big White resort community near Kelowna B.C. has grown to 60 confirmed cases. Large number of people in shared homes and social gatherings to blame for spread, says Interior Health.

CBC News: Ontario reports 2,275 new COVID-19 cases, the 1st time the province has had more than 2,000. It pushes the 7-day average to 1,926. (Note: The health minister’s office says today’s number may be higher due to a change in the way data are tabulated.) . . . Changes to how Public Health Ont. collects, analyzes cases mean today’s figure has 2.5 extra hours of data from several health units, artificially inflating the number — but by how much not yet clear. 20 more deaths, 39,600 tests completed. . . . Hospitals across Ontario have been ordered to brace for a spike in COVID-19 patients. A memo from Ontario Health obtained by CBC News tells hospitals to prepare to activate emergency plans immediately.

CBC News: 1,741 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, health authorities say. That nudges the province’s 7-day average up to 1,790. 39 additional deaths are also being attributed to the virus. . . . Quebec looking to use Christmas break as way to slow down surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations. Schools, offices, non-essential businesses to close until Jan. 11 to help curb spread of 2nd wave.

Klamath Alerts: COVID-19 has claimed 54 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,214 the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,129 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 96,092.

Seattle P-I: The number of confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday climbed to 205,069, including 2,953 deaths, according to the Washington State Department of Health. As of Monday, there were 54,849 cases in King County according to King County Public Health’s dashboard. That included 948 deaths.

——

The BC Senior Games Society has postponed the 2021 55+ BC Games that were to have been held in Victoria, from Sept. 14-18. Those Games will be moved to the fall of 2022 and be held in Victoria. The 2022 Games that were to have been held in Abbotsford now will be there in 2023. . . .

For the period Dec. 6-12, the NFL announced that it had 14 players and 31 staff members test positive. . . . During that time, 41,857 gets were given to 6,960 players and personnel. . . .

The Seattle Seahawks announced that “as case counts . . . remain high in Washington state, we will continue to play without fans in attendance at our final regular-season home game on Dec. 27 vs. the L.A. Rams.” . . .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, played kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion and long-snapper Zach Triner on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Tuesday. It isn’t yet known if they will be out for Sunday’s game. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders will be without WR Henry Ruggs III on Thursday when they meet the Los Angeles Chargers. He went on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

The Winter X Games are scheduled to go ahead as planned, running from Jan. 29-31 in Aspen, Colo., but there won’t be any fans in attendance. The Games are operated by ESPN. . . .

Vanderbilt won’t be playing at the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday as the Commodores are dealing with an outbreak. That means the career of Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller is over after two games. The first woman to play in a Power Five game kicked two extra points in her second game on Saturday against Tennessee. . . .

The first bowl game of the Christmas season was schedule for Saturday between SMU and the U of Texas at San Antonio. However, the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, was cancelled on Tuesday because of an outbreak in the SMU program. Don’t dry for USTA, though. The Roadrunners now have accepted an invitation to play in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU. An opponent has yet to be announced. . . .  SMU ended up losing three games to the virus this season. . . . Meanwhile, Michigan continues to have COVID-19 issues and has cancelled it’s Saturday game at Iowa. Michigan AD Warde Manuel said that between the virus, contact tracing and injuries the Wolverines are without more than 50 players. Michigan ended up cancelling its last three games.


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.


 

Team Canada has roster set for WJC . . . QMJHL looking at more bubbles . . . Canada extends border restrictions


With the 10 teams that are to compete in the 2021 World Junior Championship to move into the Edmonton bubble on Sunday, Team Canada made its final 2021WJCseven cuts on Friday at its selection camp in Red Deer, getting its roster down to 25. . . . The roster includes six players who won gold at the 2020 World Junior Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic: F Quinton Byfield (Sudbury Wolves), D Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants), F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes), D Jamie Drysdale (Erie Otters), F Connor McMichael (London Knights) and F Dawson Mercer (Chicoutimi Sagueneens). . . .

The roster includes nine players from WHL teams: G Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers), G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars), Byram, D Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert Raiders), D Kaedan Korczak (Kelowna Rockets), D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings), Cozens, F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) and F Connor Zary (Kamloops). . . . F Kirby Dach played for the Saskatoon Blades before cracking the roster of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks as an 18-year-old prior to last season. . . . Of Team Canada’s 22 skaters, only two aren’t NHL first-round selections. Korczak was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round in 2019, and D Jordan Spence of the Moncton Wildcats was taken by the Los Angeles Kings in that draft’s fourth round. . . .

Players dropped by Team Canada on Friday: F Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan Cataractes), F Graeme Clarke (Ottawa 67’s), D Lukas Cormier (Charlottetown Islanders), F Greg Goncalves (Everett Silvertips), F Seth Jarvis (Portland Winterhawks), D Ryan O’Rourke (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), F Samuel Poulin (Sherbrooke Phoenix), F Jamieson Rees (Sarnia Sting) and D Donovan Sebrango (Kitchener Rangers). . . .

The tournament is scheduled to open with a Christmas Day triple header —  Slovakia-Switzerland, 11 a.m. Pacific; Finland-Germany, 3 p.m.; U.S.-Russia, 6:30 p.m. Canada is to open its schedule on Dec. 26 against Germany at 3 p.m. Pacific. . . . There is a complete schedule right here. . . .

TSN also will show 10 pre-tournament games, starting with two on Dec. 20 — U.S.-Switzerland, 5 p.m. Pacific, and Finland-Czech Republic, 8:30 p.m. . . . Canada will play Sweden on Dec. 21, at 5 p.m. Pacific. . . . TSN’s pre-tournament schedule is right here.


Jonathan Habashi of the Drummondville Express reports that the city’s Marcel-qmjhlnewDionne Center, home to the Voltigeurs, “could be the scene of a bubble in the QMJHL” after the regular season resumes following the pandemic-forced break that now is in place. . . . According to Habashi, one scenario has five teams playing 12 games over a nine-day stretch. . . . Last month, seven teams spent 11 days playing in a Quebec City bubble. . . . More from Habashi, via Google Translate: “Other organizations, including the Saguenéens de Chicoutimi, have already expressed their interest in hosting a bubble. According to the plan established by the QMJHL, the 18 teams on the circuit will return to action, each playing two games in three days, from January 22 to 24, in six different cities, including four in Quebec. Subsequently, the QMJHL intends to create three bubbles of four Quebec teams who would each play six games in nine days, from January 30 to February 7.” . . . Habashi’s complete story is right here.


The ECHL has created what it is calling the Commissioner’s Exempt List. It is, echlaccording to the league, “for players who have been deemed ineligible to play due to ECHL Covid-19 and Return-to-Play protocols.” . . . The league explains that “being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List does NOT necessarily mean a player has tested positive. It could also mean the player has had close contact with someone who tested positive or is awaiting testing because of virus symptoms.” . . . Some ECHL teams opened the regular season on Friday night. The Kansas City Mavericks had to sign G Sean Bonar to a PTO on an emergency basis earlier in the day, because both of their goaltenders — Taran Kozun and Andrew Shortridge — are on the exempt list. Bonar had been released by the Jacksonville Icemen on Wednesday. The host Indy Fuel beat the Mavericks, 4-3 in a shootout. Kansas City didn’t list a backup goaltender on the game sheet.


Stock


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: 6,768 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across Canada today. Nationwide, there have been a total of 448,841 cases and 13,251 deaths. There have been 362,293 recoveries, and 73,297 cases are currently active.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 447 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 new deaths related to the illness. There are 297 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 40 in intensive care. Manitoba’s 5-day test positivity rate is 13.8%. 2,723 tests were completed Thursday.

680 CJOB Winnipeg: Manitoba’s chief public health officer says the province’s COVID-19 death rate has increased by more than nine times since Thanksgiving.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 246 new cases of COVID-19. There are 133 COVID-19 patients in Saskatchewan hospitals, including 27 people in intensive care.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,738 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional deaths related to the illness. The province’s test positivity rate is 8.3%.

CBC News: B.C. is reporting 737 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 9,589 known active cases There have been 11 new COVID-19 related deaths in the province. There are 342 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals, including 87 in intensive care.

CBC News: Ontario reports 45 additional COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily toll since October 2. There are 1,848 new cases; 469 in Toronto, 386 in Peel Region, and 205 in York Region. Ontario processed 63,051 tests (highest so far); test positivity rate is 3.2%. . . . Clarification: A previous tweet said the 45 lives claimed by COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday is the highest daily total since Oct. 2. In fact, that total reflected a data correction including previously unreported fatalities. The last day Ontario had 45 or more deaths was June 4.

Global Montreal: Quebec is reporting 1,713 new COVID-19 cases and 53 additional deaths as hospitalizations jumped Friday.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 8 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 78 known active cases. There has been a new COVID-19 related death in the province, the 8th since the start of the pandemic.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 65 known active cases in the province. 5 cases are in the Central Zone, 3 in the Western Zone and 1 in the Northern Zone. There are currently no COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals.

CBC News: 1 new COVID-19 case has been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. The new case is in the Western health region and is being investigated. The province’s known active caseload remains at 20, as 1 new recovery was also announced Friday.

CBC News: 16 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nunavut. There are 56 known active cases in the territory, all in the community of Arviat.

Tom Tapp, deadline.com: The number of daily new Covid-19 cases in California jumped 20% in the past 24 hours to a new all-time high of 35,468. It’s the third record number of new cases in the past week. The state has also seen records fall in terms of deaths — that was 220 yesterday — and hospitalizations — at 12,940 on Friday — and ICU capacity — with just 9% left statewide.

The New York Times: More than 6,600 college athletes, coaches and staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus, a New York Times analysis found. The actual tally is assuredly far larger, with dozens of schools releasing limited or no data for their athletic programs. . . . The Times was able to gather complete data for just 78 of the 130 universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of college football. Some of those schools released the pandemic statistics only in response to requests filed under public records laws.

——

The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League is on hold until at least Jan. 10. In a brief statement, the league said it “will be evaluating our ‘go-forward’ plan at that time. . . .

The Regina High Schools Athletic Association has continued its hold on all winter sports until at least February. . . .

Eli Gold, who has called 409 straight Alabama Crimson Tide football games, will have the streak end today (Saturday) because he and his wife have tested positive. Gold, 66, hasn’t missed a game since 1987. . . . Alabama (9-0) is scheduled to visit Arkansas (3-6) today. . . .

The U of Alaska-Fairbanks has opted out of the 2021 NCAA hockey season. From a statement: “The announcement on hockey was made in conjunction with a decision to suspend competition in men’s and women’s basketball at the school as well due to health and safety concerns.” . . . The U of Alaska-Anchorage shut down its program earlier this year. . . . This means that the WCHA will have eight teams when it begins conference play in January. . . . There now have been 10 NCAA Division I hockey teams opt out of this season.


The 2021 Kamloops Kidney Walk will be held virtually, as it was in June. Yes, Dorothy will be taking part, as she has since 2014. . . . She already has registered and her granddaughters, Averi and Kara, have joined her team. If you are interested in making a donation — perhaps you are looking for a tax receipt for this year’s filing — you are able to do so right here.

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Drawer

Free Press columnist calls for stiff discipline . . . MJHL all done for 2020 . . . Heward leaving Giants after two seasons

The owner of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and two MJHL franchises — 50 Below Sports and Entertainment — is in the eye of the storm after the two junior A franchises were caught violating COVID-19 protocols as set down by the provincial government.

And now at least one Winnipeg writer — columnist Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press — is calling for stiff discipline.

In a column headlined ‘Throw the book at league’s code-red violators,’ McIntyre calls what happened “a cold, calculated disregard for public health protocols in the middle of a global pandemic that is as brazen as you’ll see.

“The pathetic attempt to cover it up, using teenage hockey players as pawns, was even worse.”

In case you missed it, the Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze practised in Warren, a community about half an hour northwest of Winnipeg, despite the city having been placed in a critical zone by health officials. The MJHL also had told its teams they weren’t to “travel outside the region to participate in sanctioned hockey activities.”

Winnipeg media received an anonymous email that included video showing the teams skating at the arena in Warren. The president of that arena, Rhys van Kemenade, is 50 Below’s director of teams and tournaments.

A parent of one of the players involved told McIntyre that the player went along because he “didn’t want to get benched.”

“Kids didn’t have a lot of choice,” the parent said. “Coach tells you to show up, well, you show up. Or you’re in the doghouse. You know your hockey. Coaches at this age have all the power. And if a parent said ‘You can’t go!’, they become a problem parent. Most of those kids are adults, but I am a little dumbfounded by the whole thing.”

That same parent also explained to McIntyre that “Blues and Freeze players pay lots of cash to play, and there is an item in the contract that says fees are based on ‘training,’ not number of games played. So if teams still had skill sessions or ‘training,’ they continue to collect fees.”

McIntyre’s column is right here.

Meanwhile, Don McIntosh, the president of the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League, told Jason Bell of the Free Press that he isn’t at all pleased with what went on.

“All of us will be painted with the same brush,” said McIntosh, a longtime hockey executive in his fifth season with the AAA league. “That’s the real frustration. Our league has busted our butts on mitigating risk. This is important stuff.”

McIntosh added that he “used to sit on the board of Hockey Manitoba and dealt with numerous issues. If you use an ineligible player or forge a game sheet, you can get substantive fines for that. To me, this is beyond that.

“They caught them live. There it is for all to see. This thing is way, way out of line.”

Bell’s piece is right here.

If you’re wondering, Hockey Manitoba and the MJHL are investigating.

To the best of my knowledge, nary a word has been heard from anyone involved with 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which would include Greg Fettes, the chairman, and Matt Cockell, who is president and general manager of the Ice and president and governor of both the Blues and the Freeze.

You may recall that Fettes and Cockell were front and centre in the Kootenay Ice’s operation in Cranbrook, prior to the franchise’s relocation to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season.

BTW, does anyone know if the Ice has settled its lease with Cranbrook city council yet?

——

The MJHL announced on Thursday that it is shutting things down for the remainder of 2020. The province of Manitoba is at critical level and all kinds of public health orders are in place at least until Dec. 11. The MJHL hopes to be able to resume activities on Jan. 1. . . .

Meanwhile, in the SJHL, the Flin Flon Bombers and Kindersley Klippers won’t be playing this weekend, after all. The teams had been scheduled to play a weekend doubleheader in Flin Flon. But with Manitoba locking things down on Thursday, a decision was made to play the games in Kindersley on Friday and Saturday. . . . On Thursday, however, it was decided to postpone the games.


The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce a new associate coach today Vancouver(Friday). The WHL team announced Thursday that Jamie Heward, their associate coach for the past two seasons, is leaving the organization “to pursue a different hockey opportunity.” He is expected to join the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights as an assistant coach under Manny Viveiros. . . . The two of them spent two seasons together with the Swift Current Broncos, winning a WHL title in the spring of 2018. . . . The Silver Knights, who are preparing for their first season, are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. The Silver Knights are to play out of Paradise, Nev. . . . The Giants’ new associate coach will be working with head coach Michael Dyck, who will be spending about seven weeks bubbling up with Canada’s national junior team at its selection camp in Red Deer and then at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton. The selection camp gets started on Monday. . . . The WJC is to end on Jan. 5; the WHL says it will start its regular season on Jan. 8.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

There is good news as former WHL/NHL D Blake Wesley, who spent more than a month fighting COVID-19 in Austria, says he is “back in action.”

On Wednesday, Wesley took to his Facebook page to let us know that he had his ninth COVID screening earlier in the day.

“I’m back in action!!!!” he wrote. “My COVID screening was negative.

It was his first negative since Oct. 5.

“It’s a blessing,” he wrote, “and reduces some anxiety and fear.”

Wesley, 61, played three seasons (1976-79) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 298 regular-season NHL games. These days, he is coaching at a hockey academy in Sankt Pölten, Austria.

If you aren’t aware of what Wesley went through battling the virus, click right here and see what I wrote last week.

——

I tried. I really did. With the entire province of Manitoba having been declared a critical zone as of Thursday, I tried to figure out what that meant in terms of travel. Here’s part of what I found about the Manitoba restrictions in the section under Travel and Self-Isolation:

“In general, anyone arriving in Manitoba is required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, there are exceptions to this requirement specified in the order.

“In particular, Manitoba residents who have travelled to “western Canada* or “northwestern Ontario** are exempt from the self-isolation requirements when they return to Manitoba if they have not travelled outside of western Canada or northwestern Ontario and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. Residents of western Canada or northwestern Ontario are also exempt, if they have not travelled to another country or any part of Canada outside of western Canada or northwestern Ontario in the 14-day period immediately before entering or arriving in Manitoba and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.

“*Western Canada means British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. (as defined in the order).

“**northwestern Ontario means that portion of Ontario that is located west of Terrace Bay (as defined in the order).”

What followed that was a list of exceptions to the requirements, including “professional athletes and team members (players, coaches, managers, training and technical staff and medical personnel) employed by or affiliated with a professional sports team from Manitoba are also exempt from the self-isolation requirements as well as film production crew members (cast and crew) if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.”

There was more, a lot more, but by now my eyes were starting to roll back in my head.

Those Manitoba restrictions are right here.

And then the Alberta government brought down some restrictions of its own. So minor hockey has been shut down for a couple of weeks in some cities, but the AJHL is scheduled to open its season tonight (Friday). Meanwhile, the 10-team Okotoks Ladies Classic, a curling event that drew some high-end rinks skipped by the likes of Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan, Casey Scheidegger and Corryn Brown, was halted Thursday afternoon shortly after it got started.

Judging by reactions on social media there surely is a lot of confusion in provinces, including B.C., over restrictions and recommendations. You are left to wonder if the politicians and health officials are muddying the water on purpose are whether they simply no longer know how to communicate on the same level as the little people.

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The Ivy League has cancelled its winter sports season, and postponed spring sports through February 2021. That means that Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale won’t be playing hockey this season. . . . They join Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as NCAA Div. 1 teams to have had their hockey seasons cancelled. . . . College Hockey News has more right here. . . .

Governors in seven northeastern states have shut down interstate youth hockey competitions through the end of 2020. “All interstate hockey competitions for public schools, private schools and youth leagues in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey have been suspended beginning Saturday and until Dec. 31 at the earliest,” KC Downey of WCVB-ABC reported. . . . Downey also reported: “The coronavirus-related safety measure does not cover collegiate hockey teams, professional hockey teams or the U.S. national hockey teams, officials said, but those teams will be subject to existing COVID-19 safety protocols.” . . .

CB Iman Marshall of the Baltimore Ravens tested positive on Thursday, so is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He hasn’t played after suffering a knee injury early in training camp. . . . CB Marlon Humphrey came off the list on Wednesday after 10 days in quarantine. He is expected to play against the host New England Patriots on Sunday night. . . .

I don’t have any numbers today. Oh, I saw them. But they’re just too depressing — also frustrating — and there are far too many signs that not everyone is prepared to pull the rope in the same direction. Saskatchewan is expected to introduce measures of some sort today, meaning all four western provinces will be living with pandemic-related restrictions of one degree or another. The way things are going, I would suggest there will be more restrictions coming as B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan move closer to Manitoba’s lockdown.


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