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.


NEVER arrives in Washington . . . WHL’s Chiefs would consider change “if requested” . . . Evason gets full-time Wild gig

Daniel Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, told USA Today in 2013: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Well, it seems that NEVER arrived on Monday.

The team announced on July 3 that was undertaking a review of the situation involving its nickname. On Monday, it announced “we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.”

A new nickname will be revealed at some point once all the legalities have been dealt with.

Just don’t think for a moment that this was done for any reason other than MONEY.

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and he has more on the name change right here.


Mood


Closer to home, the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs say they would be receptive to calls for a change to their nickname, but that there haven’t been any such requests.

From a Chiefs’ statement: “We have not heard calls from local tribal leaders to change our name, but would certainly consider a name change if requested. The Spokane Chiefs stand together with our friends in the Native American community.”

As Dave Nichols of the Spokane Spokesman-Review explained in a recent story: “Locally, Eastern Washington is home to several Native American tribes and Spokane’s two professional teams — the Spokane Indians and Spokane Chiefs — as well as several high schools in the area, use Native American terms and imagery for branding.”

The Chiefs and Indians are owned by Brett Sports and, as Nichols wrote, “have had a long-standing relationship with Native American groups in the area.”

With the NFL’s Washington franchise having made the move and the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos sounding like they will do the same, you know that there is pressure on other teams, like the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. But what of teams at lower levels, like the Chiefs, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL?

Nichols quoted the WHL team’s statement:

“The Spokane Chiefs Hockey Club is committed to honoring Native American culture of the Inland Northwest.

“We are proud to have partnered with local tribes in a variety of past events to highlight tribal heritage in an appropriate, respectful manner. Our team has been proactive in excluding any Native American mascots, chants or characterizations at our events.

“We have received positive, influential feedback from local tribal leaders regarding our representation of Native American culture and will continue to be receptive to any feedback or concern. We will always listen to our community.”

The statement doesn’t appear to have been posted on the Chiefs’ website.

Nichols’ complete story is right here.



The Victoria Royals haven’t announced it, but it seems they have parted company with Matt Auerbach, who had been their head equipment manager. His photo disappeared from the team’s website a while back, late one Friday afternoon. . . . Auerbach had been with the Royals for 14 seasons, going back to their days as the Chilliwack Bruins. . . . He was celebrated in Victoria on Oct. 26, 2019, on the occasion of his 1,000th game with the franchise. The Royal beat the Kamloops Blazers, 2-1, in that one. . . . The Royals didn’t respond to a request for comment from Taking Note.


Sock


Dean Evason, a former WHL player and coach, was promoted from interim to full-time head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild on Monday. He had taken over from the fired Bruce Boudreau on Feb. 14. . . . The Wild is preparing to meet the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-five series on Aug. 2 in Edmonton. . . . Evason played with the Spokane Flyers and Kamloops Jr. Oilers (1980-84). He later coached the Kamloops Blazers (1999-2002), Vancouver Giants (2002-04) and Calgary Hitmen (2004-05).


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The 24 NHL teams who are continuing with this season, opened training camps on Mondays. . . . The Pittsburgh Penguins held out nine players “due to potential secondary exposure to an individual who had contact with a person who has tested positive . . .” Those players will be held out until it is deemed safe for them to skate. . . . Mike Kitchen, an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers, and F Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks have opted out. . . . The NHL, which has put a lid on injury and illness information, released its weekly testing update on Monday, revealing that eight more players have tested positive at team facilities. One other player tested positive prior to reporting. . . . That means the NHL has reported 43 positives, with 30 of those coming out of team facilities. . . . The Athletic’s Arpon Basu reported Sunday that three players with the Montreal Canadiens had tested positive. On Monday, D Josh Brook, D Brett Kulak and D Xavier Ouellet weren’t on the ice, but there was no comment from the team on their status. . . .

Alexei Morozov, the president of the Russian-based KHL, reported six positive tests among players on Monday. There are three players from Torpedo HC, two from Severstal and one from Spartak HC who are positive. . . . One player from Amur HC is in hospital with what has been diagnosed as double pneumonia. His two roommates have been quarantined. . . . The KHL is hoping to open its season on Sept. 2.

——

Australian Rules Football has been hit hard by COVID-19. . . . Melbourne, home to nine of the AFL’s 18 teams, is in lockdown. One other team is in Geelong, not far away. That means there are 10 teams in the State of Victoria. . . . After Friday games, the AFL moved all 10 teams — six to Queensland and two to Sydney, with two others to play in Western Australia. . . . The AFL has played six rounds of its schedule; the hope is to move the teams back after Round 9. . . . But here has been a COVID-19 spike in New South Wales, and the AFL now may have to get its four teams — the two from Melbourne (Hawthorn and Melbourne), Sydney and Greater Western Sydney — out of there. If that happens, those teams are expected to be moved to Queensland. . . . Thanks to The MacBeth Report for keeping tabs on the AFL. He watched a game on Friday during which “the announcers said last weekend was the first time in the history of the league that no games were played in Victoria during a regular-season round. The league was founded in 1897.”

PG Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets, one of the NBA’s true superstars, has tested positive. He was one of 19 NBA players to test positive so far this month before the teams travelled to Orlando, Fla., in hopes of restarting the season on July 30. . . . The NBA had 25 positives tests in the first phase of testing last month. . . .

P Jordan Hicks of the St. Louis Cardinals has opted out, citing pre-existing health concerns. Hicks, 23, has Type 1 diabetes. He had Tommy John surgery on June 26, 2019, but was working out at Busch Stadium. . . .

The Patriot League became the second NCAA Division 1 conference — after the Ivy League — to cancel fall sports. Conference officials said they will make decisions about winter and spring sports “at a later date.” The Patriot League includes American, Army, Boston U, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola (Maryland) and Navy. . . . As well, Fordham and Georgetown are football-only members. . . . Army, Holy Cross, Colgate and Boston U have hockey teams.


Equator