OHL aiming for Dec. 1 start . . . 2021 Memorial Cup gets June 17 start . . . WHL update expected today

The OHL announced Wednesday that it is hoping to begin a 64-game regular schedule on ohlDec. 1. It would end on April 29, with 16 of its 20 teams moving into playoffs. . . . The OHL also revealed that the plan is for the 2021 Memorial Cup to be played from June 17-27 with either the Oshawa Generals or Soo Greyhounds the host team. . . . Here’s David Branch, the OHL commissioner, in a news release: “Players will remain at home until the season resumes and teams will work closely with them on both their academic studies and overseeing their on- and off-ice development. In addition, the league will liaise with our facilities to ensure that our venues are safe for our return to play.”

The WHL, which earlier said that it hoped to begin play on Oct. 2, is expected to announce today — governors chatted on Wednesday — that it has moved that date to early December. I am told that date could be Dec. 4 and that the WHL schedule is expected to include 68 games for each of the 22 teams. Teams will spend the first two months playing inside their own divisions. . . . Of course, among a whole lot of other things, like testing and tracing, the WHL still will have to solve the U.S.-Canada border conundrum and the fact that, at least in B.C., large gatherings aren’t likely to be allowed by health officials until at least the new year.

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What follows are 2020-21 starting dates as proposed by various hockey leagues:

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: ??

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Sept. 25

USHL: ??

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: Sept. 7 (48 games), Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40), Dec. 14 (32)

WHL: Oct. 2

(NOTE: These were compiled off the Internet and from news releases. Feel free to email greggdrinnan@gmail.com with additions or corrections.)


Pandemic


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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The ECHL was to have started its 2020-21 regular season on Oct. 16. It announced Wednesday that it now hopes to get started on Dec. 4, with teams playing a full 72-game schedule. . . .

The NBA announced Wednesday that it conducted 343 tests over the previous week with no positives. In the two weeks before that it conducted 344 and 346 tests without any positive tests. . . . The NBA has its teams in a bubble in Orlando, Fla., as it works toward finishing its season. . . .

The U of Connecticut has cancelled its 2020 football season, citing the coronavirus pandemic. UConn, which left the American Athletic Conference after last season (when it finished 2-10), was to play this season as an independent. . . . It is the first FBS school to cancel its season. . . . The Huskies’ roster includes two Canadian quarterbacks — Jack Zergiotis of Montreal and Jonathan Senecal of Quebec City. . . . Here’s David Benedict, the school’s athletic director, in a news release: ”After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season. The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.” . . .

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The U of Louisville has suspended all activities involving its men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball teams after 29 players on the four teams tested positive. A number of other teammates and student-athletes from other sports are in quarantine after contact tracing. The primary source of the outbreak apparently was an off-campus party. . . .

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Fiji


Enio Sacilotto has taken over as the head coach of the Vancouver Northwest Hawks U15 AAA team. . . . Sacilotto, 62, spent the past three seasons at the West Van Academy. . . . He has extensive coaching experience in Europe, including with the Croatian national team program. . . .  He also spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals.


The Regina Pats announced on June 29 that Phil Andrews, their director of media and communications, was leaving the club effective July 31. On Wednesday, Andrews, who also has been the club’s play-by-play voice, tweeted that he will be hanging around for a while longer. . . . It seems that he will be with the Pats until the whole pandemic thing gets sorted out and there is more definition surrounding the start of a new season.


Old

Team takes leave with border closed . . . KHL has 38 positive tests, no schedule . . . Will MLB season end Sunday?

The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Buffalo Jr Sabres have decided not to play in 2020-21 JrSabresdue to “issues related to border travel with COVID-19,” according to a news release. From an OJHL release: “The team and the league have been in communication for a number of weeks as the situation of travel between Canada and the United States continues to be monitored.  With so much uncertainty as to when the border will be open to allow for OJHL teams to travel inter-country between the US and Canada, the collective decision has been made to have the Jr Sabres take a leave of absence for the 2020-2021 season.” . . . Larry Playfair, who played two seasons 1976-78) with the Portland Winterhawks, is Buffalo’s governor. . . .

The Jr Sabres are believed to be the first team to withdraw from play because the U.S.-Canada border is closed and appears likely to remain that way indefinitely. . . . A number of Canadian-based leagues, including the OHL, WHL, BCHL and KIJHL, include teams that play in U.S. cities.


Scott Moe, the premier of Saskatchewan, has expressed his disappointment in the five minor hockey teams from that province who travelled to Winnipeg for tournament play, July 16-19. . . . “I’m just disappointed that a few teams would put the entire safe restart of the province at risk,” he said. “Here is a prime example of a group of people putting their own self-interests ahead of the greater public health and safety of their neighbours, of their family and of their community.” . . . Bryan Eneas of CBC News has more right here.

Stupid

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, gave some space in a post this week to the Saskatchewan stupidity. And he hit the nail on the head with this:

“What is the lesson for those kids (ages 7-12) to learn here? If there is a rule or regulation that gets in your way, then what you should do is to figure out a way to circumvent that rule/regulation in such a way that you are not likely to get caught?”


Alexei Morozov, who played seven NHL seasons (1997-2004) with the Pittsburgh Penguins, now is the president of the Russia-based KHL. The league plans on opening on KHLSept. 2, although it has yet to release its regular-season schedule. Morozov, 43, said that will happen early this month. . . . However, it seems the KHL is having pandemic-related issues. . . . “Currently to the date we have 38 players that have tested positive,” Morozov told RSport on Wednesday. “We also have team staff members have tested positive. Some cases have been very severe and people have been hospitalized. There are people that feel very ill but they are all getting better and there are no worries about players not being able to continue their careers or having any threat to their life.” . . . There are reports that Avangard Omsk has had 20 positive tests, with Spartak Moscow at 15. . . . The KHL also has teams in Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan and Latvia, something that will cause problems because various borders remain closed. The Chinese team Kunlun Red Star already has moved from Beijing to Mytischich, which is on the outskirts of Moscow.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

MLB’s pandemic-related woes continued Friday with the postponement of a game between the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, who came up with two positive tests, and Milwaukee Brewers. The teams are hoping to make up the game with a Sunday doubleheader. Both games would be seven innings in duration. . . . That is barring more positives, of course. . . . The Cardinals were self-isolating in their Milwaukee hotel rooms on Friday. They played the host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday and Wednesday, then had an off-day in Milwaukee on Thursday. . . .

Friday’s MLB news means that six teams — the Miami Marlins, Milwaukee, the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis, the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals all are sidelined, at least for now, due to COVID-19. . . . The Phillies now have had to postpone six games — that’s 10 per cent of their schedule — because of COVID-19. . . . By now MLB has to be asking itself: How much is too much? . . .

The Texas Rangers lost two broadcasters on Friday as Matt Hicks tested positive and Eric Nadel chose to opt out of games, at least through the weekend. . . . Nadel has been the play-by-play voice, with Hicks as an analyst. . . . A radio technician on the Rangers’ crew also tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Buffalo Bills had five players test positive, so they sent all their rookies home on Thursday. Earlier in the week, the NFL said that there were 21 positives in testing done as players reported to training camps. . . . At the same time, at least 32 players have opted out of playing in the 2020 season. There’s a list right here. . . .

Gaby Lopez, 26, withdrew from the Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio, after becoming the first LPGA player to test positive. She was tested on Monday and now is in self-isolation for at least 10 days. . . .

Sergio Perez, who drives on the Formula 1 circuit for Racing Point, will sit out this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silvertsone after testing positive. He believes he contracted the virus after returning to his home in Mexico on a private plane to see his mother. She recently had been released from hospital after being in an accident. . . . Perez also will miss next weekend’s 70th anniversary Grand Prix that also is to be held at Silverstone.


Social


Derek Cornet of larongenow.com reports that “La Ronge councillors have decided to forgive debt owed by the La Ronge Ice Wolves, as well as pause ice fees for the team and other organizations.” . . . The Ice Wolves apparently owed about $20,000. That has been waived, and now the SJHL team won’t have to pay for ice in 2020-21. . . . Cornet’s story is right here.


Nicknames: To change, or not to change, that is the question . . . Top NASCAR driver tests positive . . . Hockey Canada cancels U-17 WHC

In a recent editorial, the Washington Post called for Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, to change the NFL team’s nickname.

Asked by USA Today in 2013 if he would change the name, Snyder replied: “NEVER — you can use caps.”

But now, with Black Lives Matter front and centre, the pressure is on again.

From The Post’s View:

“Already, institutions across the board have been forced to take stock of how their practices and policies and — yes — even the names and symbols of their products have contributed to racial misunderstanding and prejudice. Quaker Oats announced it was getting rid of Aunt Jemima from its syrup and pancake mixes, and Uncle Ben and Mrs. Butterworth seem sure to follow. . . . Events DC, which manages RFK Stadium in Washington, removed a statue of George Preston Marshall, who as owner of the local football team refused to allow black players for as long as he possibly could. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently admitted to — and apologized for — not listening to players about systemic racism and police brutality against African Americans. He also must know it is wrong for a team to have a name that the dictionary defines as a racial slur and that no one would ever use to address a person who is a Native American.

“This should be an easy call. Mr. Snyder — or, if Mr. Snyder refuses to back down from his declaration of ‘NEVER,’ the NFL — should take advantage of this singular moment in history to get on the right side of history. Change the name. NOW.”

It seems that a name change is imminent, what with various sponsors and other businesses with ties to the NFL team now applying pressure.

FedEx, which agreed to a naming rights deal for the stadium in which the team plays, has asked Snyder to change the name. Frederick W. Smith, FedEx’s CEO and chairman, is a minority owner of the team.

Nike has taken the team’s merchandise from its online store, but has yet to offer an explanation.

Officials with Pepsi and Bank of America also have indicated that they want to see a name change.

“It’s not hard to change the name,” Tony Dungy, who is well-respected in NFL circles, told William C. Rhoden of The Undefeated.

Meanwhile, you can add Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream to the list of name-changers, too, because management told Reuters the other day that it will change the brand name of its Eskimo Pie ice cream stick.

Yes, the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos are facing pressure — again — to come up with a new nickname.

Simon Fraser University, which is located in Burnaby, almost surely will be changing its nickname — Clan — at some point in the coming months after 97 per cent of student-athletes voted to get rid of it. The athletes, it seems, are tired of being asked about the nickname, especially when they journey south to play against U.S. schools.

And the Cleveland Indians say they are ready to discuss a change. They issued a release on Friday that read, in part: “We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

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Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, on the nickname situation involving the Washington NFLers: “It’s been theorized that a fan boycott might convince Snyder to change the team’s name. But judging from attendance at FedEx Field the last few years, how could anybody tell if there was a boycott?”

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With all of that, allow me to place this on the table . . .

There are four WHL teams with nicknames and logos that refer in one way or another to Native American or Canadian First Nations peoples — the Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs.

In November 2014, the Prince Albert Raiders received some heat when they unveiled a new mascot — Boston Raider — that was sponsored by a pizza joint. But, as Adam Proteau wrote in The Hockey News, “The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage.”

The mascot, which also paid tribute to the Raiders’ original logo, quickly and quietly disappeared, with the club apologizing to anyone who may have been been offended.

The Raiders really didn’t mean anything with what they felt was a simple marketing move.

The WHL franchises in Moose Jaw, Portland, Seattle and Spokane aren’t trying to be offensive with their nicknames, either.

But with all that’s going on right now, should they be changing their nicknames to, as the Washington Post editorial read, “get on the right side of history,” or is it OK to maintain the status quo?

Maybe the WHL and one, two three or all of those franchises should take action now and, in doing so, get in front of things . . . instead of having to react at a later date.

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Prescrip


Jimmie Johnson, with seven NASCAR titles under his belt, has tested positive and will miss this weekend’s races at Indy. He will have to have two negative tests within a 24-hour period before being allowed to return to racing. . . . Going into this weekend, Johnson had made 663 consecutive starts. In fact, he has never missed a start in his career. . . . According to Jeff Gluck, who covers NASCAR like a blanket for The Athletic, Johnson “got tested (Friday) after learning wife Chani tested positive.” . . . Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. . . .

Jeremy Rutherford and Scott Burnside of The Athletic reported Friday evening that, according to sources, the NHL’s St. Louis Blues have cancelled practices at their facility because of “multiple” positive tests. . . . The Blues skated on Thursday at the facility, but not on Friday. . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled the 2020 World U-17 Hockey Challenge that was to have been played in Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. . . . The 2021 event will be held in those communities. . . . Hockey Canada also said that its remaining 2020 schedule remains unchanged, including the National Women’s U-18 Championship, Nov. 2-8, in Dawson Creek, B.C.; the Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 6-12, in Bridgewater, N.S.; the World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 13-20, in Cornwall, Ont.; and the 2021 World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer. . . .


MLB and the MLBPA announced Friday that positive tests total 31 players and seven staff members with teams having opened workouts to prepare for a July 23 opening day. . . . Identities of those testing positive aren’t being released, although OF Delino DeShields Jr. of the Cleveland Indians gave the team permission to reveal that he tested positive. . . . The Minnesota Twins said they have had four players test positive, including C Willians Astudillo, P Edwar Colina and INF Nick Gordon. The identity of the fourth player wasn’t released. . . .

The 2020 All-Star Game that was to have been played at Dodgers Stadium has been cancelled. The game had been scheduled for July 14. . . . This will be the first year since 1945 that an all-star game hasn’t been played. . . . The 2021 game is scheduled for Atlanta, and the 2022 game now is to be played in Los Angeles.


Psychic


“As organized sports attempt to return during the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes, coaches, spectators and bystanders will all be expected to sign liability waivers,” writes Michael McCann of Sportico. “Everyone associated with the games will have to accept, in so many words, that he or she (1) assumes the risk of contracting COVID-19 through their participation and (2) agrees that the organizer—be it a league, team, venue, college or even high school—would not be liable for any COVID-19 related harms.

“This is not just true of players, coaches and referees. According to The Athletic, the NFL is weighing the possibility of mandating that ticket-holders sign COVID-19 waivers as a condition of stadium entry.”

McCann is an attorney and law professor who writes on sports and law. In this piece right here, he writes on the potential legality of these waivers in the U.S.



Had to go to a small grocery store on Friday afternoon. Might have been two dozen people in it. I saw one mask. I was wearing it. . . . Come on people. Be better. . . .

If you’re wondering what we’re dealing with here, go to Twitter and check out the thread accompanying the tweet below . . .


Cat