Rockets dinged by positive test . . . Brandon to get hockey academy, rink . . . P.A. moves closer to three new arenas

Someone within the Kelowna Rockets organization has tested positive for RocketsCOVID-19, with one other individual identified as a close contact. The WHL announced Thursday that “the positive test result was discovered during the initial return-to-play testing phase.” . . . That means that person will self-isolate, as will the person who was found to be a close contact. . . . The Rockets hadn’t yet moved into team activities, so at this point their schedule won’t feel any impact from these positive tests. . . . The Rockets and Victoria Royals are headquartered in Kelowna as the five B.C. Division teams prepare for a return to play. The Rockets’ players are with billets, while the Royals are staying in a hotel owned by the GSL Group, which also owns the WHL team. . . . The Royals and Rockets are scheduled to meet in Kelowna on March 26 in the division’s first game of the developmental season. At this point, the Rockets’ schedule hasn’t needed to be changed. . . .

The three other B.C. teams — the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants — are centred in Kamloops. The Blazers are with billets; the Cougars and Giants are in a hotel owned by Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . The Blazers, Cougars and Giants have been cleared to begin skating and, in fact, were on the ice for the first time in Kamloops last night. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted Thursday that Giants F Cole Shepard has an undisclosed injury and that GM Barclay Parneta has said Shepard, 19, isn’t likely to play in this 24-game set. Shepard has 11 goals and 18 assists in 2019-20 after having hip surgery in May 2019. That was his first season with Vancouver after playing with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.


Ladder


F Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks was tied for the AHL scoring lead with 11 points in nine games when he had to leave the Chicago Wolves, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

F Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers had seven points in nine games with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, when he had to leave, too.

Obviously, both were doing just fine in their first tastes of pro hockey. But under the terms of the NHL-CHL agreement (aka the pro-junior agreement) Jarvis and Zary had to return to their WHL clubs. Drafted players under the age of 20 have two options — play in the NHL or return to major junior.

However, there could be interesting times ahead for that agreement, which expired after the 2019-20 season, but was extended for a year because of the pandemic.

There long has been a feeling among NHL executives and scouts that exceptional 18- and 19-year-old players should be allowed to play in the AHL once they are seen as having nothing left to prove in major junior. At the same time, major junior operators don’t want anything to do with such exceptions because they don’t want to prematurely lose their best players.

This is going to be worth watching over the next while.

Frank Seravalli has a whole lot more on this situation right here.


Drivers


Jared Jacobson isn’t about to let the ice melt under his feet. The new owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings — he purchased the WHL team from Kelly McCrimmon in September — is building a new ice surface in Brandon and also will open a hockey academy in the city. . . . Jacobson is CEO and president of the Jacobson and Greiner Group of Companies. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun reports that the new facility that will be home to the Western Canadian Hockey Academy “will include a National Hockey League-sized ice surface, three shooting bays on ice, a performance centre, middle-years classroom, six-lane 100-metre track and on-ice video training.” . . . Jacobson is hopeful that this will do something to keep younger hockey players at home longer. As he told Bergson: “For me it’s about developing players and keeping people in the centres they grew up in. Time flies by for families, and I just look at when kids are 12, 13, 14, it’s tough to leave home . . . I just wanted to look at a hybrid model to help the mid-market centres keep kids if they want to have another choice in their years of hockey to stay local and develop. I think it’s just a great fit, and it’s been well received by Hockey Brandon. I’m so happy for that because we wanted to create an opportunity, not a conflict.” . . . Players who attend WCHA will play for their minor hockey teams. The academy will ice teams — the Wolves — in the spring. . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.


Hey, who knew that Saskatchewan was a province of such riches?

No sooner had I wondered here yesterday whether Regina or Saskatoon would be the first city with a new arena than I received a note informing me that “you forgot the third entry in the race: PA. They might even be in the lead.”

Yes, it’s true. And, yes, Prince Albert is in the lead. And it isn’t close!

Prince Albert is working towards a facility that will include three arenas — one with 4,500 seats and two others, each with an NHL-sized ice surface and perhaps 800 seats. Also included will be an aquatic centre with wave pool, water slides and a whole lot more.

That is Phase 1 of the project, and it might be ready late in 2023.

Phase 2 will include a new home for the WHL’s Raiders, with 20 corporate boxes and a banquet room. Opening date? Sometime in 2024.

The total cost is likely to run around $140 million.

Work already has started on getting the site ready for construction, which is to begin late this fall.

Now back to Saskatchewan and all that money . . .

You will recall that Regina now is home to Mosaic Stadium, a football facility that opened in 2017 and cost in the neighbourhood of $278 million. . . . And let’s not forget Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw that opened in 2011 — yes, it already has been almost 10 years — and cost $61.2 million to build.

Hey, Swift Current, are you getting in on this, too?


Toby Boulet sees the contradiction and, seriously, it’s hard not to. While the Alberta government studies a private member’s bill that would raise some speed limits to 120 km/h from 110 km/h, another private member’s bill that would promote organ and tissue donation didnn’t make the cut so won’t get to the floor this spring. . . . In fact, as Boulet said, “It’s not going to happen for a long, long time.” . . . Unfortunately. . . . Yes, one bill is certain to lead to more accidents and deaths, while the other would save lives, providing people with the opportunity to enjoy extended lives. . . . Boulet has been a leading proponent for organ donation in Western Canada since his son, Logan, died as a result of the bus crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos on April 6, 2018. Logan had registered as an organ donor and his organs went to six people. . . . Colette Derworiz of The Canadian Press has more on this story right here.


The AJHL announced Thursday night that it has “completed a fourth round of testing in its return-to-play plan with no positive COVID-19 results across 391 players and staff.” . . . There have been 1,532 tests conducted to day and the weekly tests will continue through the end of the season.


The QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar had two players come up positive on Thursday, so the team has had to pull out of a protected environment event — that’s what the league calls its scheduled events where three or four teams play in one city — that was to run in Sherbrooke from March 19-24. The Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Sherbrooke Phoenix now will play each other four times over that stretch. . . . Meanwhile, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will be without general manager/head coach Mario Pouliot indefinitely after he suffered a heart attack. Brad Yetman has taken over as the interim head coach.


Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 622 cases of #COVID19 announced in B.C. today, as the province is now at its highest rolling average of new cases since January 12. . . . Hospitalizations up to 286, a 32% increase in one month. . . . Eight new deaths.

——

CBC News — Alberta reports 505 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. The province has identified 91 new variant of concern cases which account for 12% of all active cases.


March Madness got rolling in Indianapolis with play-in games on Thursday, but it is without six game officials who were to have worked the tournament. One of them tested positive and contact tracing impacted the other five. . . . The NCAA had four other officials on standby, so those four now are in the regular rotation.



The AHL’s Utica Comets were to have met the visiting Rochester Americans tonight (Friday), however the game has been postponed. According to the league, the move was made due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Comets, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. In this pandemic season, the Canucks also are sharing the Comets with the St. Louis Blues.




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 Northern Alberta Xtreme announced Thursday that Adam Stuart has taken over as the head coach of the academy’s U15 team for 2021-22. He had been on the staff of the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks after working for two seasons as an assistant coach with Edge Academy’s U18 prep team. . . . Kevin Undershute, who played four WHL seasons (2004-08) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks, has signed on as an assistant coach alongside Stuart.


Wings

Let’s all strive to ‘Be Like Scott’ . . . Ice coming out of Pats’ home arena . . . Ex-Hurricanes defenceman dies at 37

It was in 1992 when Gatorade launched its “Be Like Mike” advertising campaign, one that was wrapped around then-NBA star Michael Jordan.

Here we are, almost 30 years later, and all I want is to Be Like Scott.

That would be Scott Thomas.

As hard as it may be to believe, almost three years have slid by since the bus crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Thomas and his wife, Laurie, lost their son Evan in the crash. He was one of the 16 people who died as a result of the bus colliding with a big rig while en route to Nipawin for a playoff game.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck’s driver, is serving an eight-year sentence, and will be eligible to apply for parole in September. He also is waiting for a decision on whether he will be deported.

Not only does Scott Thomas think that shouldn’t happen, he has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s staying in Canada to the Canadian Border Services Agency. Thomas also has been in communication via email with Sidhu and his family.

“I don’t have the energy for hatred, our family just doesn’t,” Thomas told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News. “For me to go on and function and to be the best father I can be to the one daughter I have left and to leave this place with a positive impact and do something for our son’s legacy . . . for us to move forward, the best thing for us to do is forgive. There are days when I want to scream and there are days I do scream at the world, but for us to move forward, the easiest path to that is forgiveness and compassion.”

Pat McKay of CTV has a story right here, and Campbell’s piece is right here.

Take a few minutes out of your day and read them both. You’ll be a better person for having done it.

Let’s not forget, too, that Scott Thomas continues to advocate for standardized training across Canada for semi-truck drivers. You can bet that we’ll be hearing from him on that subject again and again and again, all the while wondering why politicians don’t sit up and take notice.


Bighorns
This was the scene just a few kilometres east of downtown Kamloops on Friday afternoon as five male bighorn sheep were on the prowl above the South Thompson River.


The Regina Exhibition Association announced Friday that the ice is being taken out of the Brandt Centre, the home of the WHL’s Regina Pats. . . . Under the present public health restrictions in Saskatchewan, the Brandt Centre is closed through Jan. 29. . . . . In making Friday’s announcement, the association suggested to renters that “if the ice is installed for any reason over the next three months, ice may become available to rent.” . . . Should the WHL get to play the 24-game schedule that it has said it is “committed” to, games almost certainly will be played in empty facilities. Without ice in the Brandt Centre, the Pats could play next door in the Co-operators Centre. . . .

Earlier in the week, the Edmonton Oil Kings told season-ticket holders that if they get to play games this spring they’ll be in the Downtown Community Arena rather than Rogers Place, which also is home to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . The Spokane Arena, home of the WHL’s Chiefs, is to be used as a mass vaccination site starting on Wednesday.


In the midst of a global pandemic that is not showing any signs of abating, we take a look at messaging from a pair of under-18 hockey leagues.

In Saskatchewan, the under-18 female and male leagues have postponed their seasons, and it sure sounds as though the boys might be finished for this season.

“Due to the ongoing pandemic and health restrictions, the SU18AAAHL schedule will be postponed effective Jan. 19, 2021,” reads a release on the league’s website. “If public health measures allow for a return to game play at any time, the executive will meet and review game play options for any teams that wish to continue. “

Among the reasons for the decision: “Provide parents the freedom to move their son(s) home for personal reasons. For some parents this will take some pressure off their decision. . . . Provide billets the option to continue hosting players during the COVID-19 19 crisis. This will give them a freedom to evaluate their involvement.”

Meanwhile, next door in Manitoba, the male U18 AAA league has sent what it calls an “open letter” to Premier Brian Pallister, Heather Stefanson, the minister of health and senior services, and Dr. Roussin, the province’s chief health officer. In the letter, signed by Levi A. Taylor, the commissioner, the league makes a case for why it should be allowed to return to play.

At one point, the letter claims that “the continued prohibition of social interaction and limitation of permitted physical activities has caused immeasurable harm to the children of this province.”

Later, there is this: “The Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League calls on you to reopen recreation facilities, gyms, and fitness centres for use by children and youth. It can be done (safely), and it must be done now to curtail the harms inflicted.”

The complete letter is right here.

As of Friday morning, there had been 28,260 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Manitoba, with 795 deaths. . . . Saskatchewan’s totals were 21,643 and 247.



Energy


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — 173 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, above the province’s 7-day average of 160. 2 additional deaths are also being reported. On the vaccine front, 23,884 doses have been administered so far.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reported 312 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday along with eight additional deaths.

CBC News — Alberta reports 643 new COVID-19 cases, 12 additional deaths.

CBC News — Nine additional deaths, 508 new COVID-19 cases reported in British Columbia on Friday.

CBC News — Ontario is reporting 2,662 new cases of COVID-19 and 87 new deaths. 779 of the new cases are in Toronto, 542 are in Peel and 228 are in York Region.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 and has added 88 deaths to its tally, 18 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

CBC News — 30 new COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick. This is the 4th time in a week the number has exceeded 30; the 7-day average for new cases in 29.

CBC News — Full lockdown announced in New Brunswick’s Zone 4 Health Zone. All schools to move to virtual learning, non-essential businesses to close, indoor formal gatherings not allowed. 19 of the 30 new cases on Friday are in Zone 4, which is the province’s northwest and includes Edmundston.

CBC News — Nunavut has its 1st new case of COVID-19 since Dec. 28. The new case is in Arviat. The person is asymptomatic and self-isolating.

KTVZ-TV — Oregon reports 22 more COVID-19 deaths, death toll at 1,865; 877 new cases, total at 136,839. . . . Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 270,453 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

The Olympian — The Washington State Department of Health on Friday reported 2,162 news confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 49 new deaths. Statewide totals . . . are at 298,249 cases and 4,114 deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Friday, 4 p.m. PT — Total cases: 737,407. . . . Active cases: 65,750. . . . Deaths: 18,828.

CNN, Friday, 4:31 p.m. PT — 413,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Friday, 7:21 p.m. PT — 24.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

The New York Times — Since March of last year, at least 424,000 more Americans have died than would have in a normal year, showing that the true toll of the pandemic may be higher than previously known.

——

Former MLB player and manager Davey Johnson is back in his Florida home after spending time in hospital with COVID-19. Johnson, now 77, was the New York Mets’ manager when they last won the World Series, in 1986. He played for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs (1965-78). He managed the Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals (1985-2013. . . .

Matt Norlander, CBS Sports: “Multiple conference commissioners and athletic directors told CBS Sports in the past week-plus that there is a growing sense of nervousness over the stability of the college basketball season. . . . With Joe Biden now holding office, high-ranking NCAA officials are in wait-and-see mode about monitoring case counts across the country and bracing for the possibility of federal shutdowns that could impact dozens if not hundreds of schools — prompting a midseason pause in the process.” . . .

After having their first four NHL regular-season games postponed after at least 17 players tested positive, the Dallas Stars were in action on Friday night. They were without F Blake Comeau, who was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the day, as they beat the visiting Nashville Predators, 7-0. . . . The Detroit Red Wings added F Filip Zadina to the list on Friday, too. He joined teammates F Robby Fabbri, F Adam Erne and F Sam Gagner, and D Jon Merrill on the list. . . . The Washington Capitals were without F Alex Ovechkin, F Evgeny Kuznetsov, D Dmitry Orlov and G Ilya Samsonov as they beat the visiting Buffalo Sabres, 4-3 in OT, on Friday night. All four, one of whom reportedly tested positive, will miss three more games as they all are on the COVID-19 list. . . .

The Memphis Grizzlies have had four straight games postponed, bringing the NBA’s total of such games to 20. The Grizzlies were to have met the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday and last night (Friday) and were to have played the Kings in Sacramento on Sunday and Monday. . . .


Glasses


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.


Clay Plume, who spent three seasons in the WHL, died on Tuesday. He was 37. Plume was from Standoff, Alta. . . . Plume, a defenceman, spent two-plus seasons (2001-04) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before finishing the 2003-04 season with the Prince George Cougars. In 181 regular-season games, he has 22 goals and 43 assists. . . . He went on to play one season in the ECHL and six in the CHL. . . . Plume played 24 games over the past two seasons with the senior AA Fort Macleod Mustangs of the Alberta-based Ranchland Hockey League. . . . Dale Woodard of the Lethbridge Herald has more on Plume right here.


JUST NOTES: F Nigel Dawes, who doesn’t get nearly enough plaudits when the conversation turns to great WHLers, picked up the 500th regular-season point of his KHL career in a 4-3 OT loss to host Lokomotiv on Friday. Dawes, 35, is in his 10th KHL season, but his first with Ak Bars Kazan. This season, he has 22 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. He had a goal and an assist on Friday, leaving him with 501 points, including 266 goals, in 536 games. In his WHL career, he put up 272 points, 159 of them goals, in 245 games. He played four seasons (2001-04) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . The QMJHL returned to action with four games on Friday night, its first action since Nov. 29. Playing what it calls a “controlled environment” rather than a bubble, there were games in Shawinigan, Drummondville, Rimouski and Chicoutimi. There will be games in the same venues Saturday and Sunday.


Alarm

WHL board chairman suggests late February or early March for start . . . Five WHL players off to USHL . . . City of Cranbrook suing WHL, Ice owners

How does the Prince George Cougars of Kamloops sound? Or how about the Victoria Royals of Kelowna?

The WHL announced on Friday that it has a “commitment” to play a 24-game WHL22021 schedule. The league didn’t announce any other particulars, other than pointing out that “he start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction, and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and the owner/general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told Travis Lowe of CHBC-TV in Kelowna that the people running the show “thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,”

Taking Note was told Tuesday afternoon that one plan the WHL has looked at would have players reporting to teams on Jan. 22 in the hopes of starting a season on Feb. 8. However, that seems awfully far-fetched if only because, for example, the restrictions that presently are in place in B.C. are there until at least Feb. 5.

Hamilton told Lowe that a new season “probably” wouldn’t get started “until the end of February, early March.”

Lowe also reported: “According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete. Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.”

Hamilton also told Lowe that “we may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into (Kelowna) and then limit the travel.”

A source told Taking Note that one option that has been discussed would have the Cougars spend the season playing out of Kamloops, with the Royals doing the same out of Kelowna.


Last week, the USHL’s Lincoln Stars added four players to their protected list, PortlandAlternateall of them American-born skaters off the roster of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. On Tuesday, the Winterhawks released those four to play for the Stars. F Cross Hanas, 19, who is from Highland Village, Tex.; F Clay Hanus, 19, from Excelsior, Minn.; F Jack O’Brien, 17, from Denver; and F James Stefan, 17, from Laguna Beach, Calif., will stay with Lincoln until the Stars’ season ends. . . . “With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. . . .

Meanwhile, F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs has been given his release to play for the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho. . . .

On Jan. 5, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. However, Savoie’s name has yet to appear on that roster. He is from St. Alberta, Alta. Savoie played six games this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, putting up three goals and three assists.


If you have been holding out hope that fans will be allowed into arenas to watch games when/if the WHL gets a season started, it really doesn’t seem likely to happen.

For proof, here’s part of message from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to their fans: “The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has been working with the Ticket Centre and our ticket provider to begin the process of issuing full refunds to everyone who purchased 2020-21 season tickets.”


The WHL and the Winnipeg Ice are being sued by the City of Cranbrook. . . . Karin Larsen of CBC News reports that “a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says both the Winnipeg Ice (formerly Kootenay Ice) and WHL are responsible for breaking an arena deal that was supposed to run through June 2023. The claim says the city is out approximately $178,000 per year as a result.” . . . The Kootenay Ice franchise was purchased by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is based in Winnipeg, from the Chynoweth family. The Ice played two seasons in Cranbrook under new ownership before moving to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 season. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Carlin


With its 2021 regular season to start Wednesday night, the NHL revealed NHLTuesday that 27 players, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, tested positive during the training camp period from Dec. 30 to Monday. . . . According to the NHL, about 12,000 tests were conducted on more than 1,200 players. . . . The other 10 positives tests involve players from eight other teams. . . . The NHL has said it will provide “regular updates on the results of tests administered to players, including the identities of the players” with the start of the new season. . . . The Stars have returned to the practice ice, although more than a dozen players were unavailable on Tuesday, but their first three games have been postponed. They also have had an undisclosed number of staffers test positive. . . .

D Jordie Benn and F J.T. Miller won’t play for the Vancouver Canucks when they open their NHL season Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks aren’t saying why, but Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver tweeted that the two are out “due to COVID-19 concerns” and that they will be out “for a couple of weeks.” Sekeres added: “Both players are quarantining. Miller had been staying at Benn’s Vancouver residence.” . . . Richard Zussman of Global BC reported via Twitter that he has been told either Benn or Miller “tested positive for COVID, then negative, then positive again and when tested a fourth time tested negative. The other is a close contact.”


Spidey


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister — Update on the Canada-US border: We’ve extended the current border measures by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until at least February 21st. We’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

680 CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and said eight more Manitobans with the virus have died. It’s the first time the province’s list of new daily infections has dropped below 100 since Oct. 19.

CBC News — 248 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan. It’s the 1st time in a week the province has recorded fewer than 300 new daily cases. Health authorities also report 5 additional deaths from the virus. . . . The provincial government has extended current COVID-19-related public health orders until at least Jan. 29, due to current transmission rates.

CBC News — Alberta again breaks COVID-19 record with 38 deaths reported in single day. The province reported 652 new cases, 819 hospitalizations and 132 patients in ICUs. . . . Deaths from the illness are reported as Alberta Health compiles data, meaning not all 38 happened on the same day. The latest report includes deaths reported to the province from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12. But provincial numbers released over the last two days show that at least 21 people died from COVID-19 on Sunday alone. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now stands at 1,345.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 446 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 58,553 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 368 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 72 of whom are in intensive care. . . . There are 7,238 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 51,144 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,019 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News — Ontario reports 41 more deaths and 2,903 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the 1st time the number has fallen below 3,000 since January 3.

CBC News — Quebec reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 47 additional deaths. It’s the 2nd day in a row where the number of new cases is below 2,000; it was above 2,000 for the previous 8 days.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC — No surprise the Canada/US border will remain closed. Here are the latest weekly (Jan. 4-11) COVID-19 stats for Washington state: 217 deaths. 20,251 cases. 818 hospitalizations.

CNN, Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT — So far today, Johns Hopkins University has reported 212,766 new cases and 4,212 new deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 22.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 380,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

The number of postponements in this young NBA season has reached six, with the latest casualty a Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Due to protocols, the Wizards don’t have the necessary eight players able to play. . . . Three of the postponed games have involved the Boston Celtics, including one that had been scheduled for Chicago on Tuesday night. . . . Five of the NBA’s six postponements have occurred since Sunday. . . .

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also have come up with some new rules aimed at keeping numbers down. From The Associated Press: “For ‘at least the next two weeks,’ the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games. . . . Players also no longer will be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road. . . . Also from The AP: “Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a ‘cool down chair’ without a mask — but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.” . . .

As if the NBA doesn’t have enough on its plate, Brian Windthorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Tuesday that sources have told them “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time. That story is right here. . . .

Pro golfer Jhonattan Vegas has tested positive so has withdrawn from the Sony Open that is to open in Honolulu on Thursday. . . .

The Czech Republic pulled out of the world handball championship after 13 of its 21 players and a number of coaches tested positive. The event was scheduled for Egypt, Jan. 13-31.


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 ECHL has sold two expansion franchises to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by Dean MacDonald. The new teams will begin play in 2021-21 in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Que.  Deacon Sports and Entertainment also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. From an ECHL news release: “Coralville will play out of Xtreme Arena, a 5,100-seat venue which was completed in September 2020, while Trois-Rivières will play out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a new construction that will host 4,390 fans.”


John

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.

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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

WHLer says he was subjected to racial slurs in SJHL game . . . AJHL has positive test in Calgary . . . Sasakamoose in ICU battling COVID-19


F Kishaun Gervais of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, who is on loan to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, has said he was the subject of racial slurs during a SJHLgame against the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., on Monday night. . . . “This definitely hurt,” Gervais, a 19-year-old from Kamsack, Sask., wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve put up with a lot of racism in my life and I’ve tried to be a positive influence to bring change to it so this obviously set me off. I will never be ashamed of my Jamaican and Native descent, l am proud of who l am and l will continue to try be a positive voice for racial equality.” . . . Rob Palmarin, the school’s president, told CTV News Regina that the incident was a “one-off,” adding that “if it happened, there’s definitely no place for this type of unacceptable behaviour, period. If it happened, we’re still investigating the person or persons responsible for the action, they will be held accountable.” . . . Bill Chow, the SJHL’s president, said he spoke with Gervais’ family and “they just want to move on from here and that’s their wishes, so that’s what we’ll do.” . . . The Terriers won the game 5-4 in a shootout with Gervais scoring the only goal of the circus. He was given a misconduct immediately after scoring because, according to assistant coach Scott Musqua, he made a “shushing gesture” to the students who had been riding him. . . . Michaela Solomon and Claire Hanna of CTV Regina News have more on this story right here.


The AJHL announced Friday that it has had a player with a second team test ajhlpositive. . . . This time it was a player with the Calgary Canucks. On Thursday, the league announced that a player with the Canmore Eagles had tested positive. . . . The Canucks were to have visited the Brooks Bandits on Friday night with the Bandits in Calgary on Saturday. Both games, according to the online schedule, have been “cancelled.” . . . The Canucks last played on Monday against the visiting Okotoks Oilers, whose Sunday game at home to the Camrose Kodiaks has been “postponed.” . . . Brooks’ home-and-home series with Canmore scheduled for Nov. 27 and 28 also won’t happen. . . . Also off the schedule: A home-and-home between the Olds Grizzlys and Drumheller Dragons on Friday and Saturday. The Dragons had played visiting Canmore on Nov. 14. . . . Calgary’s home-and-home series with Olds scheduled for Nov. 27 and 28 remains on the schedule.



After receiving further clarifications regarding province-wide restrictions kijhlbeing implemented by the B.C. government and health officials, the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has chosen to suspend play through Dec. 7. . . . Clarification came in the form of a release from viaSport that included this: “Games, competitions, training and practice, such as those outlined in the viaSport Phase 3 Guidelines, can continue without spectators and restricted to your local community. Until the written order and public health guidance are released we recommend that you err on the side of caution and stay close to home for now.” . . . Six games were played on Friday night, while one other — Revelstoke Grizzlies at Golden Rockets — was postponed as Golden town officials awaited further clarification. . . . The league has 17 teams taking part this season. Those teams all will be allowed to practice in their home communities during the pause in the schedule. . . .

Meanwhile, the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials announced via Twitter on Friday night that their Saturday game against the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings has been cancelled “due to the province’s most-recent health order.” . . . According to the BCHL online schedule, the Trail Smoke Eaters’ game at the Cranbrook Bucks also won’t be played. . . . On Nov. 8, the league cancelled games involving the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen, Powell River Kings and Surrey Eagles for two weeks. Those teams are located in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions and all were placed under restrictions from health officials.

——

“Whenever an organization is the victim of theft, the impact can be deep and long lasting,” writes Jamie Strashin of CBC News. “When money is stolen by an employee or volunteer, it can take years to rebuild trust with the community.

“That’s certainly the case for youth sports organizations, which every year provide countless programs and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Canadian families.

“An investigation by CBC Sports reveals that in the past decade nearly $8 million has been stolen from dozens of sports leagues and associations across Canada, almost all of it by someone inside the organization, leaving it and the families who participate devastated.”

Strashin has put together quite a story, all of which is right here. It includes interactive maps showing details on various incidents in which money went missing.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Fred Sasakamoose, a beloved former NHL player, is in ICU with COVID-19, Sasakamooseaccording to Jordan Wheeler, a writer from the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan. . . . Sasakamoose, who is to turn 87 on Christmas Day, was the first Canadian indigenous player to reach the NHL. After playing junior for three seasons with the Moose Jaw Canucks, he went on to play 11 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1953-54. . . . According to a Facebook post, Sasakamoose “had symptoms for a couple of days, was admitted (Friday) to a local hospital and confirmed that his test was positive.” . . . The post continued: “We are asking people, the hockey community and fans to think about Fred at this time. Chief Thunderstick needs your prayers at this moment for a full recovery!” . . . Sasakamoose’s biography, which is titled Call Me Indian: From the trauma of Residential School to becoming the NHL’s first Treaty Indigenous Player, is expected to be published on April 6.

——

Daily Hive Vancouver: ”A normal Christmas is, quite frankly, right out of the question” — Trudeau.

——

With the New Brunswick government having declared the Moncton health region an orange zone because of rising case numbers, the QMJHL’s Wildcats have had to postpone weekend games. They were to have played host to the Cape Breton Eagles on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . Under present restrictions, the Wildcats are allowed to practice but can’t play games. . . . Hockey New Brunswick confirmed that a  coach with a U-13 team in Greater Moncton has tested positive. The team has been shut down for two weeks while coaches and players self-isolate. . . .

Meanwhile, Saint John also had been declared an orange zone, so the QMJHL’s Sea Dogs won’t be able to resume play until there is a change in that status. . . . The Sea Dogs, of course, have paused activities due to a positive test for a staff member who, according to the team, “is sick and in isolation.” The team also reported that this case “is not travel-related. The staff member has not been outside the Atlantic bubble since prior to training camp”. . . .

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 9 more COVID-19 cases, one of the highest daily totals since the pandemic began; there have been eight days when the daily cases totalled 10 or more.

——

CJOB Winnipeg: A man in his 20s from Winnipeg has become Manitoba’s youngest victim of COVID. His death is one of nine reported Friday as health officials say 438 new cases have been identified.

CBC News: Manitoba announces 438 new cases of COVID-19, a jump from the previous 7-day average of 368. The province is also reporting 9 more deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 153 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 new death related to the illness. The province has now seen a total of 5,804 cases, including 33 deaths and 3,626 recoveries.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: After dropping for the first time in five days yesterday, active cases reach a new high of 2,145. . . . Hospitalizations are up to 85 in Saskatchewan, which is also a new record. Some good news is ICU patients is down two after two days of new record highs.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases. The province has confirmed 1,155 new cases and 11 additional deaths. There are 10,655 active cases in the province. 310 people are in hospital, including 58 in intensive care.

CTV News: Alberta is the sole province without a mask mandate.

Provincial Health Services Authority of B.C.: 516 new cases for a total of 25,474 cases. There are 227 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 57 of whom are in intensive care. There has been 10 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 331 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,418 new cases of COVID-19. That surpasses the average of the previous 7 days, which was 1,370. 400 of the new cases are in Peel Region, 393 are in Toronto and 168 are in York Region. . . . Ontario reports 8 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,415 cases resolved — 48,173 tests completed. 518 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 142 in ICU.

CBC News: 32 additional deaths in Quebec are being attributed to COVID-19. The province is also reporting 1,259 new cases, up from the previous 7-day average of 1,221.

CBC News: Nunavut reports 10 new cases of COVID-19. All are in small fly-in communities on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay. 6 are in Rankin Inlet, 3 are in Whale Cove, and 1 is in Arviat. Nunavut is now up to 84 cases, just 2 weeks after it confirmed its 1st case.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 5 new cases of COVID-19, all in the Central Zone. 2 are connected to previously reported cases; the other 3 are still being investigated. The province now has a total of 28 active cases.

CBC News: Nova Scotia announces new gathering limits for the greater Halifax area. Starting Monday, social circles will be limited to 5 people and informal events will be limited to 25 people. The measures are set to continue until Dec. 21.

CBC News: 3 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 1 is a close contact of a previously announced case, 1 is travel-related and the remaining case is under investigation. All 3 are self-isolating. N.L. has 13 known active cases.

oregonlive.com, from Thursday: 20 die in record one-day coronavirus death toll for Oregon; news cases come in at highest ever: 1,225.

KATU-TV: Providence to stage temporary morgues, surge tents as Oregon sees COVID-19 spike.

KOMO News: For the third time this week Washington state added over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, continuing an alarming trend before the holiday season.

——

The junior B Keystone Junior Hockey League, a five-team circuit in Manitoba, has decided it won’t try to start its season until hopefully Jan. 1. . . . Carter Brooks of gameonhockey.ca has more right here.

The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to play the Broncos in Denver on Sunday. On Friday, the Broncos announced that it will the last home game this season at which fans will be permitted to attend. There will be fewer than 6,000 fans at Sunday’s game. . . .

The Minnesota Golden Gophers had 20 players out with injuries or COVID-19 as they beat the visiting Purdue Boilermakers, 34-31, on Friday night. Brian Callahan, the offensive co-ordinator, and two other staff members also sat this one out after testing positive. . . . Minnesota wouldn’t specify how many of those 20 players had tested positive. . . .

The Washington State Cougars won’t be playing at the Stanford Cardinal today (Saturday). The game was cancelled on Friday after the Cougars said they would be able to have the minimum number of scholarship players available due to positive tests and contact tracing. Four of those positive tests came Friday morning, and one was starting QB Jayden de Laura. . . . The Cougars are scheduled to play the Washington Huskies in the annual Apple Cup game on Nov. 27.


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.



 

CHL hires lobbyists in hopes of landing federal aid . . . Some NCAA teams adjusting schedules. . . . Saskatchewan hockey league done

The Canadian Hockey League, which last week announced it had agreed to pay $30 million to settle a minimum wage-related class-action lawsuit, is lobbying Canada’s CHLfederal government for financial aid to help it and its 52 Canadian teams through these trying pandemic times.

Marco Vigliotti of ipolitics.ca reports that “Susan Smith, Raphael Brass and Tim Barber of Bluesky Strategy registered” as lobbyists on behalf of the CHL.

According to its website, the Ottawa-based Bluesky Strategy Group delivers “public affairs, strategic communications, government relations, and media relations advice and execution.”

Smith and Barber are co-founders of Bluesky; Brass is a senior consultant.

On Friday, the CHL brought an end to a lawsuit that had been filed against it in 2014 by agreeing to pay $30 million. In that lawsuit, former players were asking for major junior hockey players to be declared employees, rather than student-athletes, and as such fall under various employment standard regulations including minimum wage and overtime pay.

In its statement on Friday, the CHL stated: “This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs. It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.”

From the other side, Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The CHL and the three leagues that operate under its umbrella — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — aren’t strangers to lobbying governments.

In the early years of the lawsuit, they all worked to get provincial and state governments to provide exemptions from minimum-wage legislation.

Exemptions were provided by the governments of Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Washington state, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Michigan. Oregon legislators refused to provide an exemption.

David Branch, the OHL commissioner and at the time the CHL’s president, registered as a lobbyist with the Ontario government on Sept. 11, 2018. Two months later, the government announced that it was excluding OHL players from employment standards legislation.

That came two years after B.C’s cabinet, then under Liberal control, had done the same thing for the WHL.

Vaughn Palmer, a political columnist with the Vancouver Sun, wrote on Oct. 22, 2016:

“The Liberals made the change after extensive lobbying from the league, which was facing a court challenge on the failure to pay minimum wage and concerned about economic pressures on its teams were they obliged to pay up.

“The Liberals bought the argument but did so in the quietest fashion. The waiver was approved by cabinet order on Feb. 15, with no followup press release nor much else to draw attention to what they’d done.”

Five days after Palmer’s column appeared, The Sun’s Ian Mulgrew reported that the WHL “did not register as a lobbyist before leaning on B.C.’s cabinet to exempt major junior players from the minimum wager law . . .”

According to Mulgrew, Erin Beatty, communications director for the B.C. Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, said the regulator was “acting on the potential incident of non-compliance in this case.”

It would seem that whatever investigation was held didn’t go anywhere, and The Sun never followed up.

The $30-million settlement revealed on Friday won’t become official until it is approved by the court, which should happen later this summer. It’s believed that $15 million of that sum will be covered by insurance, leaving the CHL’s 52 Canadian teams each to pay about $288,000.

On April 17, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced that the government was committing $500 million to arts, culture and sports sectors.

The CHL joins other sports groups including the CFL, soccer’s Canadian Premier League, the Canadian Elite Basketball League and various hockey leagues in working to get financial aid from government.


Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, announced Tuesday that the U.S.-Canada border will remain closed to non-essential travel for another month, taking it to around June 21. In April, the closure had been extended to May 21. . . . The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 18. . . . Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said later in the day that he believes the closure will be needed long past June 21. . . . “I’m not convinced there is much chance that it will clear sufficiently in the next month to change at least my mind about whether we should open the border,” Dix said. “I think it’s going to be significantly longer than that for visitors.”


Some NCAA hockey teams are beginning to make adjustments to their schedules brought on by budget cuts implemented because of the pandemic. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reports that “college hockey teams are already starting to call of non-conference road trips that require airplane flights because of anticipated budget crunches due to the coronavirus pandemic.” . . . His complete story is right here.


Ironing


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.


The Triangle Hockey League, long a fixture on the Saskatchewan winter sports scene, is no more. According to the league, the decision was made at a meeting on Saturday. . . . The league had five teams last season — the Bredenbury Cougars, Esterhazy Flyers, Hudson Bay Hunters, Ochapowace Thunder and Theodore Buffalos. The Rocanville Tigers were a league member although they sat out last season. . . . The THL had been without an executive board since February; it also looked like there may be issues getting on-ice officials for a 2020-21 season.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”


Horse


Soccer’s English Premier League, idle since March, is slowly resuming training in the hopes of resuming its season. On Tuesday, the results were announced from the 748 people who were tested for the coronavirus on Monday and Tuesday. Six people were found to be positive and will be self-isolated for a week. More test results are expected to be announced on Tuesday. . . .

The Belmont Stakes, normally the third event in thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown, now will be the first leg. It is scheduled for June 20 and will be run without spectators. . . . The Kentucky Derby, usually the first leg, was postponed to Sept. 5 and the Preakness, normally No. 2, is scheduled for Oct. 3. . . .

The Western Lacrosse Association and the Major Series Lacrosse have both cancelled their 2020 seasons. The WLA is based in B.C.; MSL is an Ontario-based league. . . . That means that the Mann Cup, which goes annually to Canada’s top senior men’s lacrosse team, won’t be contested. . . .

The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner and ceremony that had been scheduled for Sept. 26. According to a news release, “The 2020 induction class will be carried forward as the Class of 2021.” It will take place at some point in September 2021.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night after getting a taste of MLB with Vin and Joe . . .

Scattershooting


Jeff Wright, the vice-president of the junior B Nelson Leafs, has said that the 20 teams in kijhlthe Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have been given the option to sit out the 2020-21 season if finances dictate it. . . . “We don’t want to lose anybody if we don’t have to,” Wright told Tyler Harper of Black Press. “We’re willing to assist them.” . . . At the same time, Leafs president Corey Viala told Harper that he wouldn’t be surprised if the KIJHL season didn’t start until sometime after September. . . . “I’ll be quite honest,” Viala said. “I cannot see us having a league next (season) unless things change, and I’m not really sure how much things need to change in order for us to be back on the ice for next (season).” . . . Harper’s story is right here.


A tweet from @AndyHermanNFL after the Green Bay Packers drafted QB Jordan Love to back up Aaron Rodgers: “Just realizing that the Packers’ current QBs are A-Rod and J-Lo.”


There has been speculation that the NHL’s best-case scenario has players back in their NHLteam’s home facilities on May 15 for what likely would be a three-week training camp before the resumption of a regular season. Chances are that games would be played without fans in five or six different arenas. . . . However, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said Sunday in his daily briefing that players coming into Canada would have to self-quarantine for two weeks. . . . “I think it’s a question we’ll have to look into,” Trudeau said. “Certainly at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.” . . . Of course, some kind of a deal would have to be struck to allow those players to return to Canada, because the border with the U.S. remains closed to non-essential travellers. . . . I believe that the last extension of that closure is to run through May 20. With the way the numbers are running amok in the U.S., it’s hard to see the Canadian government wanting to re-open the border anytime soon.


The  Burnaby Winter Club had suspended its operations because of the pandemic and a closure order from the Fraser Health Authority that is in force until May 31. But BWC now has informed members that it has the OK to re-open on Wednesday under a few conditions, including physical distancing practices as well as limiting the number of skaters and instructors on an ice surface at any one time. . . .

The U.S. Tennis Association has come up with a plan under which the U.S. Open could move across the continent from New York City to Indian Wells in California’s Coachella Valley. . . . If the pandemic prevents the Open from being played at the Billy Jean National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y., from Aug. 24 through Sept. 13, it could be moved to the Indian Wells Tennis Centre and played there at some point in the fall. . . .


“U.S. sprinter Deajah Stevens has been provisionally suspended for being unavailable for drug testing,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In other words, you can hide but you can’t run.”


With NASCAR planning on opening with four races in 11 days, Perry notes that “Kawhi Leonard is urging drivers to take a couple of races off in the name of load management.”


The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers announced Sunday that assistant coach Geoff Grimwood has resigned in order to sign on as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. . . . Grimwood started last season as the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. He left on Dec. 6, saying that he wanted to “take some time away from the game.” He joined the Flyers on Jan. 9, working there alongside head coach Kevin Cech. . . . Grimwood will replace Mike Vandekamp with the Capitals. Vandekamp left to take over as GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm.


Sitting here watching the Montreal Expos — the return of Tim Raines — and the host New York Mets in a game from May 2, 1987. It’s Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola and, oh my, it’s enjoyable. . . . So let’s scoot over to see how the 2020 season is going at Strat-O-Matic where the simulation is in full swing. . . . On Sunday, the New York Yankees moved into first place in the AL East with a 5-3 victory over the host Toronto Blue Jays. RHP Gerrit Cole had 10 Ks in 5 1/3 innings but didn’t get a decision. . . . The Yankees (22-13) hold a half-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (22-14). Toronto (14-20) is last in the East, 7.5 games back. . . . Other division leaders: Minnesota (21-13), Houston (22-12), Washington (22-11), Chicago Cubs (22-13) and Los Angeles Dodgers (21-12). . . . You are able to find it all right here. . . . Meanwhile, Raines had quite a comeback game, with a grand slam, a triple, two singles, a walk and a stolen base. Yes, the Expos won — 11-7 in 10 innings. It was Raines’ first game that season, the one that you may recall followed the offseason of collusion, after he signed a new contract.


With lots of talk about the NBA perhaps taking its season to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., comedy writer Brad Dickson went to Twitter with: “This is gonna be so embarrassing when Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs defeat the Golden State Warriors.”


There is a whole lot of chatter about MLB starting up in the not-too-distant future. But the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Nick Canepa suggested that no one rush into it. As he pointed out: “If you’ve never seen the floor of a baseball dugout after a game, know this: It’s a virus and bacteria Petri dish.”


Oil

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while feeling part of One World: Together at Home . . .

Scattershooting


There was an interesting development in B.C. on Saturday as Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said in her daily pandemic-related briefing that “realistically, we will not be having those big events where people gather together this summer.”

She added: “I would tell people to think small. We are not going to be having large gatherings.”

While suggesting there may be an easing of some restrictions in mid-May, she said: “We can’t lose sight that we continue to have people who are affected by this, we continue to have outbreaks, we continue to have transmission, and so we are not at the point yet where we can let (down) our guard. . . . The storm is still raging, and tragically we see that in the fact that people are still dying from this virus in B.C.”

While Dr. Henry doesn’t appear to have defined the beginning and end of summer, it seems that the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), the West Coast’s biggest annual show, is in for change. This year, it is scheduled to open on Aug. 22 and run through Sept. 7.

On Saturday, the PNE issued a news release that read, in part:

“Because of COVID-19, this summer will look different at the PNE. The opportunities to celebrate will be different and we absolutely recognize that our plans for the PNE Fair and Playland will need to adjust accordingly. . . .

“So stay tuned, the events may be smaller, and protocols may be different, but we have a few bright ideas up our sleeve for when the time is right.”

Dr. Henry explained: “We do not have enough herd immunity or community immunity to protect everybody and allow that type of event to happen. So I think we’ll see be seeing, globally, those types of events — large parades, large mass gatherings where we all come together — those will not be happening this summer.”

That wouldn’t seem to bode well for any sports leagues/teams that operate in the summer months in B.C., including the Vancouver Whitecaps, B.C. Lions and Vancouver Canadians. As much as we all want to see junior hockey up and running again, you really have to wonder what the future holds, especially considering that major junior, junior A and junior B teams normally would open camps in August.

B.C. is home to five WHL teams, 17 junior A teams, all of them in the BCHL, and 19 junior B teams in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

Still, hockey fans have to get through four months to get to mid-August and a lot can happen between now and then. Right?


TurnSignal


Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, announced on Friday that the federal government was making $500 million in relief aid available for arts, culture and sports. . . . Lance Black, the president of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies, told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist: “We definitely need to get that help.” . . . Black added: “We are hurting because our sponsors are hurting. This is the time of year we would be out selling advertising. We need the money but no one is buying advertising.” . . . Junior A and junior B teams also won’t be gaining revenue from spring camps, all of which have been cancelled. . . . Dheensaw’s complete story is right here.



The 53rd annual IMG Academy Junior World Championships golf tournament, scheduled for July 4-10 in San Diego, has been cancelled. It draws more than 1,200 golfers on an annual basis. . . .

Soccer’s English Premier League has been shut down for about a month now with no end in sight. . . . Karren Brady, West Ham’s chief executive, writing in The Sun newspaper: “Players will have been able to retain some physical fitness at home. But if social-distancing rules are still in place, physical match-play training will not be allowed — you can’t tackle from two meters away. So, how match-fit will players be if the season commences, as we all hope it will, by mid-June?” . . .

The NBA revealed that players will taking a 25 per cent cut in pay. The first slash will be evident in the payments of May 15. The NBA regular-season would have ended on Wednesday had play not been suspended with 259 games yet to be played. . . .

The MLS announced that it won’t re-open until at least June 8. It has been out of action since March 12. . . .

More golf tournaments have been cancelled, this time in Europe. The BMW International that was to have been played in Munich, from June 25-28, and the Open de France that was scheduled for the following week have been postponed. . . . Large public gatherings have been banned in France through mid-July and in Germany through Aug. 31. . . . The Scottish Open (July 9-12) also has been postponed.


Clinton


Hannah Keyser, a baseball writer for Yahoo, watched the movie Hoosiers for the first time the other night. Her reaction: “I was not prepared for this much upper thigh.”



Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “I began social distancing years ago when somebody would approach and try to tell me about his fantasy football team.”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with some news from the Little Apple: “Forbidden Spirits Distilling near Kelowna offered the locals free coronavirus disinfectant, but the jockeying in line quickly devolved into fistfights. In other words, they scheduled a hand-sanitizer giveaway — and a hockey game broke out.”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought For the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”


Dale Lambert is the new head coach of the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Lambert, 60, had an extensive playing career in England. He is a brother to Ross and Lane Lambert, the latter the associate coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders. . . . Lane (1981-83) and Ross (1982-83) both spent time with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. . . . Dale will take over from long-time Contacts’ head coach Marc Chartier, another former Blades player.


Men

One hockey academy on outside looking in . . . Time to think about Christmas shopping? . . . TRU v-ball team adds hockey bloodlines


With all that has happened over the past few weeks, and the way things seem likely to continue for the next while, you really have to wonder how much trepidation there is in the business of hockey academies.

With unemployment rates skyrocketing, many small businesses struggling, with more of them shuttering every day, and with some borders closed and a lot of other travel not recommended, you really wonder what our world is going to look like six months from now, a year from now . . .

Whenever we are able to come out the other end of this situation are families going to have the money necessary, in most cases more than $20,000 a year, to have children attend hockey academies?

Meanwhile, the West Vancouver Hockey Academy, which started in 2015 and operated out of Sentinel Secondary and the Hollyburn Country Club, is done, at least for one season. That decision didn’t have anything to do with the finances of parents.

In January, the West Vancouver School District told the academy’s owner, the Spartan Sport Group (SSG), that it wasn’t renewing its agreement for 2020-21. After getting that news, SSG had hoped to cut a deal with Seycove Secondary in North Vancouver, but that isn’t going to happen.

Earlier this week, Jane Seyd of the North Shore News reported that a letter to Seycove parents from North Vancouver school superintendent Mark Pearmain informed them that a decision on an agreement has been suspended.

The West Van Warriors were part of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, with teams at the midget prep, elite 15, bantam prep and bantam varsity levels.

One of West Van’s student/athletes was Connor Bedard, a 15-year-old from North Vancouver who has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and is expected to be selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

Seyd and Andy Prest reported in February that money didn’t have anything to do with the West Vancouver School District’s decision on West Van.

A letter to parents stated that the decision was due to “concerns about academic success, and other challenges such as student programming and scheduling as well as the increased enrolment at Sentinel.”

Seyd and Prest reported that “fewer than half the players” attending the academy were from North or West Vancouver, “with several coming from across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley and others from more distant locales such as Vancouver Island, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Denver and Beijing.”

In the end, though, it could be that West Van was done in, at least in part, by COVID-19. At least one meeting that was to have been held involving Seycove parents was postponed because of the physical distancing restraints now in place. According to Seyd, Pearmain told parents that things have been suspended because officials haven’t been able to have a proper consultation process.

Seyd’s complete story is right here.


Dense


I am here to tell you that Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, was at his best in his Thursday rant. He wrote a lot about changes he would like to see come to his favourite sports once they are back in our lives. . . . Changes like:

“In MLB — and even in some minor league games — players come to bat with walk-up music.  It is stupid and not part of the game.  Any player who allows walk-up music to be played for him should also expect to hear Chopin’s Funeral March played for him every time he makes an out. . . .

“Any golf writer who focuses on anything Tiger Woods says or does in a tournament where Woods is 15 shots off the lead should be banned from covering golf and made to cover camel racing in Saudi Arabia.”

He was on his game and it’s all right here.

——

The curmudgeonly one’s Thought for the Day comes from Will Rogers: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”


ICYMI, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his daily address, told us Thursday morning:

“Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this. . . . That will be a very long way off.”

Then, in French, he added: “We will have to remain vigilant for at least a year.”

Might be a good time to think about starting your Christmas shopping because delivery times may be about to get lengthier than they already are.


Bass


Santa Clara County in California is home to the San Francisco 49ers (NFL), San Jose Sharks (NHL) and the San Jose Earthquakes (MSL), as well as three major universities. . . . On Tuesday, Jeff Smith, the SCC executive officer, told his board of supervisors that “I don’t expect we’ll have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’ll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not going to be something that is easy to do.”

FYI, American Thanksgiving will arrive on Nov. 28.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Smith added:

““When the orders are weakened, it’s pretty much guaranteed there will be new infections because, at least at this point, there’s no herd immunity for those who are uninfected.

“There will definitely be individuals who will get sick. And because there are individuals who get sick, there will be individuals who die after the order is released, unless we come up with a foolproof immunization, which is highly unlikely.”


One of these days, the NHL will get around to cancelling what is left of its 2019-20 season, including the playoffs. Around that same time, perhaps even on the same day, the NBA will follow suit.

After that, it will be Major League Baseball’s turn, although the boys of summer likely will hold out a lot longer just in case Agent Orange was right when he said the virus will die off in the heat.

Then it will be the turn of the big dog — football.

The college football season is about 140 days away. Mike Gundy, the head coach at Oklahoma State, shot holes in both his feet this week when suggesting he wanted to get his program up and rolling on May 1. Uhh, that’s not going to happen, as Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated points out right here.

In another SI piece, this one by Forde and Ross Dellenger, it becomes evident that athletic directors throughout the NCAA are beginning to face up to the fact that football, the engine that drives everything in their world, may well be about to go away for at least part of a season and maybe for the whole thing.

But no matter how you look at it, the numbers in this piece right here are mind-boggling and you have to wonder if college football — indeed, college sports — will ever get back to such a level again.


Here is Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports with one of the decisions many of us are faced with on a daily basis in these strange times:

“If you’re working from home, when do you prefer to brush your teeth? I feel like that’s the most difficult decision I have to make each day. I could brush them first thing in the morning but I know I’m going to be drinking coffee right after that so, like, what’s the point? But sometimes I drink coffee right up until lunch, and by the time lunch rolls around I’m not thinking about brushing my teeth. So basically what I’m saying here is that I keep forgetting to brush my teeth lately. I am a disgusting troll.”


The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball announced an interesting signing on Thursday in the person of Maxim Turgeon, a 6-foot-6 outside hitter/middle from Calgary. . . . His father is former NHLer Sylvain Turgeon, an an uncle is another former NHLer, Pierre Turgeon. . . . Two of Maxim’s former teammates with the Canuck club in Calgary also are playing at TRU.


Fish

Trudeau: Today, we remember . . .


Michael McCann is the legal analyst for Sports Illustrated and writes regularly for SI’s website.

In his latest piece, he writes about the legal implications involved in a return to play by professional sports leagues.

It really isn’t as simple as bringing players back to a central location, holding some sort of training camp, and then playing games. Oh no! There’s a whole lot more to it than that in these bizarre times.

You can give him a read right here.

——

And what if Major League Baseball ends up opening its season by having teams play in facilities without any fans.

Well, there is precedent from 2015 . . .

As Bruce Jenkins wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Kurkjian, the longtime baseball writer/analyst with ESPN, was in Baltimore when baseball got a taste of the no-fans experience. It was the spring of 2015 and the city was in chaos over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered severe spinal-cord damage while in police custody. Violent protests raged over the issues of race, justice and police brutality, and it was determined that if the April 29 game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox were to be played at Camden Yards, the public could not be allowed inside.

“Strangest day I’ve ever known in sports,” Kurkjian said in a telephone interview this week. “Chris Davis hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and you could hear the sound of it landing. He rounded the bases in total silence in his home ballpark. (Manager) Buck Showalter told me he could hear every word the TV guys (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer) were saying. And Buck didn’t need the bullpen phone. He just yelled down there, ‘Get (Zack) Britton up!’”

Kurkjian admitted it was “pretty cool, for that day. But if it happens several times in a week, it’s no longer a novelty. After that, I think we should all be pretty careful.”


Survival


While we don’t have any idea when professional golf will return, the British Open officially was cancelled on Monday. It had been scheduled for Royal St. George’s from July 16-19, and now is set for July 15-18, 2021. The 2022 Open Championship, the 150th, is to be played at St. Andrews. . . .

The Masters, which was to have been played this week, has been rescheduled for Nov. 12-15 at Augusta. . . . The U.S. Open is to be played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Aug. 6-9, with the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Sept. 17-20. . . .

If you’re wondering about the Canadian Open, it remains on the PGA schedule at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, June 11-14.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “I agree with my esteemed (and sometimes steamed) fellow columnist, Bruce Jenkins, that it will be weird if the NBA plays games without fans, because of the lack of crowd noise. But there would be two benefits. We’d get to hear the game — the squeaks, the growls, the talking, the swearing. And we would be spared the incessant PA sound effects during play, which add nothing to the experience for fans in the arena or watching on TV.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, brings us his Thought of the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Truth is might and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”

——

BTW, The Sports Curmudgeon was at his best in Monday’s rant, where he speculates about what we will see when we emerge from this tunnel.

He points out that even with all that we are missing — from March Madness to the NHL to the NBA and on and on — “the world goes on; and as time passes without the presence of these pleasant activities, people may very well come to a point where sports reside on a lower tier of their life-importance construct. If — I said IF — that comes to pass in a significant number of people, that may mean a much smaller demand for high priced tix and a much diminished willingness to approve spending large blocks of taxpayer money to build sporting venues. If interest diminishes, TV ratings would likely drop too and that will make ever-increasing TV rights deals a bad revenue projection for leagues and owners.”

He’s got more to say on the subject and it’s all right here.


Shower


Veteran junior coach Mike Vandekamp has left the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals to join the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm, signing a three-year deal as general manager and head coach. . . . Vandekamp spent two seasons as the Capitals’ GM and head coach. . . . Whenever the next season begins, it will be Vandekamp’s 26th as a junior hockey coach. . . . Vandekamp is returning to Grande Storm, where he coached the Storm for four seasons (2007-11), going 154-72-19 and winning the AJHL title in 2009. He has spent the past nine seasons in the BCHL. . . . In Grande Prairie, he takes over from Ryan Aasman, who stepped in as interim head coach on Dec. 17 after the firing of Matt Keillor.