B.C.’s WHL, BCHL teams are looking for $9.5 million from gov’t . . . We remember Mickey Mouse Night at the Crushed Can . . . Hey, whatever happened to Doyle Potenteau?

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Walter Gretzky would have loved this little guy’s approach to the game . . .


As the sun set on Thursday, there didn’t seem to be anything new to report on bchlthe BCHL, its 17 teams and a potential return to play. . . . During Question Period on Wednesday in Victoria, Shirley Bond, the interim leader of the B.C. Liberals and the MLA for Prince George-Valemount, asked: “Simple question, hopefully a very simple answer: Will the premier provide B.C.’s local hockey teams with the $9.5 million in funding they need to survive the hockey season? They are asking for $9.5 million so that WHL teams and B.C. Hockey League teams, like the premier’s own Victoria Grizzlies and my Prince George Spruce Kings, can survive.” . . . Premier John Horgan, the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island, replied: “There’s going to be more news about both hockey leagues. They provide an economic benefit. Certainly the WHL restart will be a bonus for Kamloops and Kelowna. But it will also be a difficult time for those teams, because outside of those two cities, they will not be having revenue coming in. We understand the issue. We’ve been working on it for a number of months. I regrettably have to say, ‘Stay tuned’ at this point.” . . . Bob Mackin of theBreaker.news obtained a letter written last week by Chris Hebb, the BCHL’s commissioner, to government and health officials. In his report, Mackin wrote: “If (the) BCHL does not get the go-ahead by March 3 for the its return-to-play plan, Hebb wrote that a motion will be prepared for team owners to vote March 4 to cancel the season.” . . . Apparently, that didn’t happen on Thursday. . . .  Jay Janower of Global tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that “it’s my understanding that as of right now, league will continue to hold its vote on cancelling the season on Friday.” . . . That, of course, would be today. The waiting game continues.


Trees


It was on Feb. 25 when I wrote this:

“We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days.”

It turns out I wasn’t alone with that thought.

Steve Ewen, who covers junior hockey, the Vancouver Giants in particular, for Postmedia, wrote this on Wednesday:

“The WHL fanned on a glorious opportunity to show they believe intentions outweigh outcomes. . . .

“No one official has ruled it out, but playoffs aren’t likely. This is going to be an exhibition season. At its very best, it’s giving players something to grasp onto in the midst of this pandemic chaos. For some, it’s also a chance to show their wares for NHL teams or minor-pro clubs, or even Canadian universities moving forward.

“So why did the WHL stick to the traditional roster construction and only allow three 20-year-olds per team? Why not give teams a fourth or even a fifth 20-year-old so they can bolster the resume of some older players who have been loyal to the league in this very tricky time?”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.



What ever happened to . . . Doyle Potenteau?

Potenteau spent a lot of years at the Kelowna Daily Courier and was a regular on the WHL beat as he wrote and wrote and wrote, mostly about the Kelowna Rockets.

At one point, he started up an on-line publication — DubNation — that was all WHL all the time, and really was ahead of its time.

He left print journalism a while back — he had left sports and was the Daily Courier’s managing editor — and now is in TV with Global Okanagan out of Kelowna. That’s him in the above photo — top row, second from right.


The 2022 Arctic Winter Games have been postponed. They were to have been held in Wood Buffalo, Alta., from March 6-12, 2022. The Games that attract about 2,000 international participants normally are held every two years. The 2020 Games were to have been held in Whitehorse but were cancelled a week before opening. Organizers didn’t want a repeat of that so made the decision well in advance.



It is readily apparent that the medical profession continues to learn new things about COVID-19 as we move through this pandemic. On Thursday, there were reports about a peer-reviewed study of pro athletes returning to play after dealing with the coronavirus that found few cases of myocarditis or pericarditis. . . . Thomas Ketko of Sportsnet reported that “several professional North American sports leagues collaborated on the effort, including the NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, WNBA and MLS. A total of 789 athletes who had COVID-19 participated in the study, which took place between May and October 2020 and sought to gauge how often the leagues’ return-to-play cardiac screening techniques found instances of inflammatory heart disease.” . . . Only five of those athletes were found to have inflammation of the heart. . . . Ketko also reported that “prior studies on the risk COVID-19 poses to the heart drew more uncertain conclusions, too.” For example, one earlier study found that 60 of 100 people who had tested positive had at least some signs of myocarditis. . . . Yes, the learning continues. . . . Ketko’s complete story is right here.


Bernie Lynch, a former WHL coach (Regina Pats, 1988-89), has been suspended by the junior A Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. According to a report from CBC News, Lynch was suspended on Jan. 2 via a letter that referenced “inappropriate” emails and conduct. He also was ordered to have no further contact with the players. . . . The CBC report also notes that “more than two months later, neither the team nor the league has publicly disclosed this.” . . . According to the CBC story, “Hockey Canada says it has launched an investigation, under the guidance of Glen McCurdie, its vice-president of insurance and risk management. Yet neither the player nor his parents have been contacted. Nor, apparently, has Lynch.” . . . The entire CBC story is right here.


Hello there, ESPN. It’s been a long winter so I really have been looking forward to watching some baseball. But I have tried to watch two of your telecasts in the last few days — Cubs and Mariners, then Nationals and Mets — but have bailed on both of them. I want to watch baseball with the accompanying play-by-play and commentary, and not be subjected to a bunch of interviews over top of the play. Please stop trying to re-invent the wheel. . . . Thank you for listening!


Bacon


The IIHF’s nine-team 2021 women’s world championship that is scheduled to be held in Halifax and Truro, N.S., has been moved to May 6-16. It had been scheduled for April 7-17 in those communities. . . . The 2020 tournament was to have been held there but was cancelled. . . . The IIHF is hoping that a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend games.


Some NCAA hockey teams are dealing with virus-related issues. . . . Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) reported via Twitter on Thursday: “Merrimack won’t be able to continue with its season. Games vs. UVM (the U of Vermont) this weekend are canceled and per a source, Merrimack won’t compete in the HEA playoffs, which is scheduled to begin with the first round on Wednesday.” . . . St. Lawrence U cancelled its last four regular-season games, all of which were to have been against Clarkson. . . . Earlier, Colorado College had cancelled its final two games, both against Denver, that had been scheduled for last night (Thursday) and Saturday. . . . College Hockey News has more right here.


Restrictions are being loosened in Nova Scotia, meaning the province’s three QMJHL teams will be allowed to play home games again. The Halifax Mooseheads are scheduled to play at home three times in the next 10 days, while the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have one home game scheduled.



DrGoogle


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Phil Andrews is returning as the radio voice of the Regina Pats on 620 CKRM. He had been the play-by-play voice since 2011, and took over as director of media and communications in 2016. He left that post in July and the position was filled by the hiring of Evan Daum, who will serve as the analyst on Pats’ broadcasts. CKRM will carry 19 of the club’s 24 games in the upcoming developmental season, with five weekdays games available on the station’s website. . . . The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers have signed Justin Falk as assistant general manager/assistant coach. A 32-year-old native of Snowflake, Man., Falk will work alongside GM Jeff Jeanson and head coach Kelvin Cech. Falk played in the WHL (2005-08) with the Calgary Hitmen and Spokane Chiefs before going on to a pro career that included stints with five NHL teams. He last played in 2018-19, when he spent time with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles and Belleville Senators and the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. . . . The Flyers also announced that Mike McAulay has added the director of player personnel duties to his previous job as head scout.


Pizza

Toigo suggests Giants’ camp may be delayed . . . Also says second wave could be devastating, and WHL won’t play without fans

From Wednesday’s Regina Leader-Post . . .


If you hadn’t already guessed, the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season doesn’t seem likely to start on time, which under what used to be normal circumstances would be in late September.

Yes, that is more than four months away and, yes, there are whole lot of unknowns in these days of a pandemic. But the Vancouver Giants already are looking at pushing back Vancouverthe start of their training camp.

Ron Toigo, the Giants’ majority owner and president, said Wednesday that training camp may not start on Sept. 1, a date that already had been moved back a few days.

Appearing with James Cybulski and Perry Solkowski on Sportsnet 650, a Vancouver radio station, Toigo said: “It’s looking less likely that that will be your starting date.”

Earlier in his appearance, Toigo, who is on the WHL’s executive committee, said that for now they are watching to see what happens with Major League Baseball and the NFL.

“We talk probably weekly about different scenarios,” he said. “The position we’re taking . . . sit back and watch for a while. I think the NFL will dictate a lot of things that happen. They’ve got all the resources. They have all the influence. We’ll follow what happens there. Major League Baseball will certainly have a lot of influence on what happens . . . find a path to making this thing work somehow.

“At our level there really isn’t a lot we can do except sit back and watch and wait.”

Toigo was adamant that the WHL, unlike the big four pro leagues, won’t play without fans in attendance.

The WHL, he said, is “completely” a gate-driven league. “If we can’t get gate revenue then we can’t operate. If we carry on the way we’re going we’re losing significantly hundreds of thousands of dollars as time goes on. If we go the whole year, it’ll be into the millions. It’s not sustainable for a long period of time, that’s for sure.”

As for delaying the start of the regular season, Toigo said: “If we had to do something like that you can . . . probably start in the new year and get a relatively decent season in, and still be able to operate.”

In terms of B.C., Toigo pointed out that the province has done a good job, that “it looks like this wave is under control and could disappear over the summer.”

But, he added, “the second wave is what everybody’s fear is and what happens then. If you’ve got to retrench and shut things down again then I think we’re all in trouble for quite some time.”

At this point in time, Toigo doesn’t see any WHL teams in danger of folding.

“I don’t see it but who knows?” he said. Then, in reference to the Portland Winterhawks being in receivership, he added: “Who saw Portland coming with their scenario, but it had nothing to do with the hockey. It was more to do with the oil industry and (owner Bill Gallacher’s) challenges on that side of it. When oil goes from $100 to $10 if you’re in that business you’re going to feel it no matter how big your are.

“I don’t think anybody is safe if a second wave comes. I don’t care what league you’re talking about — NHL, CHL, CFL — I think they’re all going to be challenged and there will be some that don’t survive.”

In the end, as Toigo put it: “The best scenario is they come up with a vaccine or some way of dealing with this.”

The complete interview is right here.


Weather


Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, is bound and determined that his league is going to finish its 2019-20 season on the ice.

On Tuesday, during a virtual town hall played host to by the San Jose Sharks for the NHLbusiness community, Bettman said shutting things down is “not something I’m even contemplating.”

He added: “I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done.

“I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”

The NHL shut things down on March 12 and since then there has been all kinds of speculation about how and when it will get up and running.

Meanwhile, B.C. Premier John Horgan suggested on Wednesday that his province could play host to all 31 NHL teams as they finished the regular season.

Horgan earlier had offered Vancouver as a hub for Pacific Division play, including the Canucks. On Tuesday, he spoke with Bettman and Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner.

“I believe we’re in a good place to host, that’s why I contacted the commissioner,” Horgan said. “The Canucks have been working very co-operatively with my minister. We’ve heard from others around the league that have other ideas about perhaps having all of the games played in British Columbia.

“We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George . . . Cranbrook has an outstanding facility as well. We have hotel space.”

Look, the NHL may somehow find a way to complete its season, although the odds are stacked against it. But all 31 teams in B.C.? Sorry, that isn’t going to happen.


When the AHL cancelled the remainder of its 2019-20 season on Monday, it had 31 teams. AHLDave Andrews, the soon-to-retire president, said Wednesday that if the league has to return without fans some teams may not answer the bell. . . . ”We have a very strong league in terms of our ownership,” Andrews told the ESPN On Ice podcast. “We have 19 NHL-owned teams and 12 independently-owned teams. And the independently owned teams are in very good financial condition, even after what happened in this 2019-20 season,” he said. “But if their businesses aren’t viable, if they have to play in front of an empty building for six months, some of those teams will likely choose not to play.” . . . Andrews also said that the AHL is preparing schedules that will begin in October, November, December and January. . . . More on the story right here.


BestMan


The junior A Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled the remainder of its season on March 13. On Wednesday, Kim Davis, the league’s outgoing commissioner, explained in a mjhlstatement what has been happening behind the scenes in terms of preparing for next season.

For starters, the MJHL has been working to access “any and all federal and provincial financial assistant programs that have been made available to small businesses.” According to Davis, the league office and member teams have applied for various programs and “some have accessed these funds already, which is reassuring.”

Davis also said that the 2020-21 regular-season schedule is a work in progress; in fact, it would be fair to say it is ‘works’ in progress because there is more than one scenario.

“These scenarios have been extensive and range from the development of a normal 60-game schedule starting in September down to a 30-game schedule starting in December and several options in between,” he said.

Davis added that the MJHL is developing what he called Return to Play Protocols, which “will be extensive and will range from how fans enter and exit the building and all interactions once they are within the facility to how the two competing teams will prepare for a complete on the ice and everything in between.”

As well, he said, “The MJHL has been informed by the Provincial Public Health Office that the Return to Play Protocols we design must be approved by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer before league play can resume.”

Davis’s complete statement is right here and it’s quite possible that the insight it provides is applicable to all junior leagues at the moment.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one for A.J. Liebling: “News is like the tilefish which appears in great schools off the Atlantic Coast some years and then vanishes, no one knows whither or for how long. Newspapers might employ these periods searching for the breeding grounds of news, but they prefer to fill up with stories about Kurdled Kurds or Calvin Coolidge, until the banks close or a Hitler marches, when they are as surprised as their readers.”


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Ranger