WHL named in another proposed class-action suit . . . Former player Kobe Mohr involved in this one . . . Pats’ pick to skate in Sweden

Sheesh, it really can’t be much fun being the owner of a WHL team these days. For starters, you don’t know whether to be selling sponsorships, advertising and season tickets because you aren’t able to guarantee a starting date for a new whlseason. You are hoping to begin regular-season play on Dec. 4, but there aren’t any guarantees.

On top of that, you likely still are counting up the losses from not having been able to finish the 2019-20 season, thanks to the pandemic that doesn’t appear anywhere close to going way.

And now the WHL finds itself involved in yet another proposed class-action lawsuit, this one apparently having been filed this week.

Kobe Mohr, a former WHL player, is among those fronting this one that names the NHL, AHL, ECHL, OHL, QMJHL and WHL. Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star reports: “A proposed $825-million class-action claim alleges a conspiracy among the world’s top professional and amateur hockey leagues to exploit dream-chasing teenage players with one-sided contracts containing abusive restrictions on their young careers.”

Mohr, now 21, played with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors (2014-20). He totalled 35 goals and 66 assists in 265 regular-season games, after being selected by Edmonton with the 20th pick in the 2014 bantam draft.

The WHL now finds itself entangled to one degree or another in four separate class-action lawsuits in various stages of progression through the legal system. Two others — one involving concussions and the other regarding alleged hazing and other physical and mental abuses — are early in the process. . . .

The other, which involved a claim for past and present-day players to be paid minimum wage and other perks, was settled by the CHL for $30 million earlier this year, but the settlement still needs judicial approval. Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that an Ontario judge spent part of yesterday hearing arguments “about whether to approve” the settlement. According to Westhead, Justice Paul Perell said there are “objectors” to the settlement and that “a trade association called the World Association of Ice Hockey Players Unions has filed ‘an aggressive intervenor’ application with the courts to overturn” the settlement.

Ted Charney, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, asked the courts to approve the settlement, saying, according to Westhead, that “a settlement wouldn’t bar new federal court case because the new case alleges a conspiracy to breach the Competition Act, not employment standards laws.”

When Tuesday’s hearing concluded, judgment was reserved.


Asteroid


F Connor Bedard, who was selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, will be travelling to Sweden so that he can skate with HV71’s junior team in Jönköping. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player in history to have been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada in order to allow him to play regularly in the WHL as a 15-year-old. . . . Because he won’t be playing in games in Sweden, the Pats didn’t have to issue a release. The WHL hopes to start its regular season on Dec. 4, by which time Bedard will have returned to Canada.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The United Kingdom’s 10-team Elite Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has suspended play because of the pandemic. The season was scheduled to begin on Dec. 5. . . . “We’ve been very open that we need to have fans back in our arenas for us to begin playing again,” Tony Smith, the league’s chairman, said. “We operate around 75 to 100 per cent capacity at our venues and this is the level of crowds we would need in order to go ahead at any point, which isn’t a realistic option right now.” . . . The average attendance at league game last season was 3,043. . . .

The World Series will be played in one venue for the first time since 1944. The American and National League winners will play a best-of-seven championship series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, with Game 1 scheduled for Oct. 20. . . . In 1944, the World Series was played in St. Louis, with both teams from that city. The Cardinals beat the Browns, 4-2. . . . Leading to the World Series, the American League Championship Series will be played at Petco Park in San Diego, with the NLCS at Arlington. . . . Prior to that, the AL Divison Series is to be played in San Diego and Los Angeles, with the NLDS in Arlington and Houston. . . .

The Texas Tech Red Raiders had five positives last week, bringing the team total to 75 since mid-June when testing began as football players returned to campus. The team is carrying more than 120 players. . . . The school has had 116 positives among its student-athletes. . . .

Ed Orgeron, the head football coach at LSU, told reporters on Tuesday that most of his time has had the virus. “Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” he said. “I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not our for games.” . . . Alex Scarborough of ESPN pointed out: “LSU, like many programs in the SEC and nationally, has not provided regular reports on the number of players who have contracted the novel coronavirus.” . . .

The Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) cancelled university sports for the fall semester on Monday. This means none of Canada’s four university conferences will play football this fall. The Quebec conference has five teams. . . . U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, had cancelled its national semifinals and final in June. . . .

Organizers of the 2021 Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament have cancelled it. The tournament was to have run from Dec. 30 through Jan. 3. . . . Tournament chairman Jan Antons told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “We still don’t know what games are going to look like, when games are potentially going to start and, overall, the main concern was still the health and safety of our players, bringing players in from other provinces and dealing with the 50-person gathering-size limit. It would make it very difficulty to run a tournament at the level we’re used to. We want to make sure KIBIHT remains one of the top-notch tournaments in Canada. . . . there is just too much unknown right now. It’s still a very hard decision.”


Sign


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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 WHL’s four community-owned teams each holds an annual general meeting that is open to shareholders. The Moose Jaw Warriors announced Tuesday that they will hold their AGM on Sept. 29. The Swift Current Broncos said earlier that their meeting also will be held on Sept. 29, with the Prince Albert Raiders having said they will hold their AGM on Oct. 7. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes have said their AGM will be held in November, but they have yet to announce an exact date. . . . I don’t know what it is — maybe NHL teams have come down with the ‘Bubble Blues’ — but the games are getting less and less watchable. Too many bodies in the area in front of both nets, not enough shots getting through, not enough offence, not enough goals. Whatever it is, it isn’t good for the NHL game. . . . Did you get your fill of football on Monday night? ESPN’s MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick — they did the second game — were OK, but the Game 1 pairing of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit was outstanding. Fowler and Herbstreit have worked together as ESPN’s No. 1 college football pairing. They are comfortable with each other and it showed.


Hearing

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while thinking about the weather in Denver . . .

Scattershooting


The MacBeth Report continues to keep both eyes on happenings in Europe and beyond.

Some KHL-related notes from a Friday filing . . .

“Ak Bars Kazan opened the season in Riga against Dinamo Riga. However, one of the referees tested positive for COVID-19, so the start of the game was delayed until a new officiating crew could be found. Per Aivis Kalnins, an all-Latvian crew worked the game.

“Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk head coach Vyacheslav Butsayev told TASS Thursday that they intended to play with a short lineup Friday night at home against SKA St. Petersburg (2-1 loss) but did not say why. Neftekhimik dressed 20+2, the full lineup, but only the two goalies, three defencemen, and five forwards are officially on the Neftekhimik roster. They dressed four defencemen and two forwards from their farm club and one defenceman and five forwards from their junior club. Butsayev himself didn’t coach. It was announced before the game that Butsayev and two assistant coaches would not be coaching tonight ‘in connection to recover from a previous illness.’ The coach was head coach of their junior team, Vyacheslav Kasatkin.

“Amur Khabarovsk also has been hit with an outbreak. Head coach Pavel Torgajev on Wednesday: ‘We have already reported that a number of players have passed the initial positive tests for COVID-19. Over the past few days, there are more of them, some results have been confirmed. Players with positive test results are isolated, under medical supervision. There are players who have already recovered, which is confirmed by the tests done the day before, but in accordance with the league protocols, they need to wait for the second negative test. Only then will they be able to join the team. Therefore, at the start of the season, we will not be able to play with the optimal lineup. We have attracted the players of the youth team, this is a great chance for them. Everyone who goes on the ice will fight, everyone missed hockey, and for the ‘youth’ this is a great opportunity to try themselves at the adult level.’

Amur dressed a full 20+2 line-up Thursday at Cherepovets (6-4 loss to Severstal) but five skaters and the back-up goalie were from their junior team and four skaters and their starting goalie were from their farm club.

Per Amur’s website, the club’s charter flight left Khabarovsk 8 PM local time Wednesday for Cherepovets. 5,292 miles, about 8 hours flying time. There is a seven-hour time difference between the two cities, so when they arrived in Cherepovets, it was around 9 PM Wednesday there, 4 AM Khabarovsk time. Game time in Cherepovets was 7 PM Thursday, which was 2 AM Friday Khabarovsk time.”

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The KHL team Avangard Omsk unveiled its new uniforms the other day. If you haven’t seen it already, you don’t want to miss head coach Bob Hartley — yes, the former NHL coach — as he does the introduction. When he’s done as a coach, he may have a career as a pitchman. . . . It’s all right here.



Manager Gabe Kapler and his San Francisco Giants were leading the Colorado Rockies, 18-2, in the seventh inning the other night when he chose to challenge a play at first base. That got Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times to wonder: “So why isn’t there an unwritten rule about that?”

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One more from Perry: “The entire Alaska-Fairbanks hockey team was placed in quarantine after six partying players tested positive. In other words, COVID-19 just went on the power play.”


Recipes


The MJHL has sold an expansion franchise to Winnipeg-based 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the league’s Winnipeg Blues. This means that the 12-team MJHL has two franchises in the Manitoba capital both of them owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the team is to be called the Freeze. Josh Green, an assistant coach with the Blues two seasons ago and with the Ice in 2019-20, is expected to be the head coach, with former WHL G Sonny Mignacca as his assistant. . . . According to Sawatzky, Jake Heisinger, the Ice’s assistant GM and vice-president of hockey operations, is expected to be the Freeze’s GM. . . . The MJHL is aiming to start a 40-game regular season on Oct. 9. Training camps can begin on Sept. 18, with rosters limited to 34 players. . . . The Freeze had a protected list of 33 players prior to the MJHL announcing its presence. As well, the Freeze is opening a three-day prospects’ camp today.


Quesadilla


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL said Monday that is has gotten through six weeks of bubble play without a positive test. There were 2,534 tests conducted for the period Aug. 30 through Sept. 5. . . .

The UFC was forced into holding a short card on Saturday night in Las Vegas after two bouts, and perhaps a third, were cancelled because of positive tests. In the end, it was able to hold on seven bouts on the card. . . . There is more right here.

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If you are a junior hockey fan, you may be interested in reading what teams in the KHL will have to go through in order to play in Helsinki, Finland, and what that city’s team, Jokerit, will have to do to play in Russia, all of this thanks to The MacBeth Report . . .

Arrangements have been finalized that will allow Jokerit to play its 2020-21 home games at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. For a while, it appeared that Jokerit would play its home games somewhere in Russia.

However, according to Jokerit’s website, the team and the KHL have

put together a model that enables foreign teams to travel safely to Finland.

On Sept. 1, the KHL began coronavirus tests for all team members as well as club staff. These are conducted every five days.

Here’s a look at steps that are being taken in order to play these games . . .

Visiting teams arrive in Helsinki on their own charter flights. They are transported from the airport by private bus to the hotel, where they are provided with their own secluded facilities to stay and dine. During their 1-2 day visits to Helsinki, team representatives will not leave the hotel premises, outside the restricted area of ​​Hartwall Arena, or the airport.

The teams move from the hotel by their own bus to the arena, where a so-called clean area is used on ice level. This area can only be accessed by persons subject to KHL corona testing and their identities, as well as a valid negative corona test result is confirmed by displaying a QR code. Without a negative test result, one cannot enter the clean area. After the games, the teams will take their own bus to the airport and leave the country.

Jokerit has the same practices on their own away game trips in both the arenas and the hotels. In the hotels, a separate floor is reserved for the team and meals are also held separately from other hotel guests. Team representatives will not leave the hotel other than by public transportation to the arena or airport. When traveling, protective masks are used both

on the plane and on the fields. When arriving at the arena, a mask must also be worn both in Finland and abroad.

The safety of the public is guaranteed in home matches in accordance with safety regulations.

Jokerit is top play its first home game on Wednesday against against Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.

Here is what goes into ensuring the safety of spectators . . .

  • The hall has a total of nine auditorium blocks upstairs and downstairs, each with its own entrance and its own toilet facilities.
  • A maximum of 500 spectators, up to a maximum of 50 per cent of full capacity, may be accommodated in a single auditorium block.
  • You cannot move between the auditorium blocks.
  • There are no numbered seats on the entrance tickets so that safety distances can be observed in the auditorium. Jokerit will notify each of its season-ticket holders individually how they can redeem their tickets and how they can get a seat as close as possible to the place they purchased.
  • Hand sanitizer is available at the entrances to Hartwall Arena and in all of the arena’s restaurants.
  • Cleaning during the event will be intensified and safety-related issues will be announced on screens and in announcements.
  • The use of a face mask during the event is recommended. Jokerit fabric face masks can be purchased at the Jokerit fan store.
  • In Finland, there are restrictions on indoor public events, and within these, a maximum of 4,500 spectators can currently attend Jokerit home matches at Hartwall Arena. In addition, spectators can be taken to the suites.

——

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.


Headline at fark.com: Washington releasing running back Adrian Peterson for fear his off-field reputation might taint an otherwise stellar organization.



Slots

Will we see baseball, football in 2020? . . . Jays fall to 0-2 as Devers homers again . . . BCHL team has new head coach

Had this pandemic not reared its ugly head, the MLB season would be heading into its third day. As it stands, though, there isn’t any baseball and now there are rumblings that perhaps the 2020 season may not get off the ground at all.

On Friday morning, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweeted that “the players and league agreed the 2020 MLB season won’t begin until:

“There are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans;

“There are no travel restrictions;

“Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans.”

At the same time, he noted, there is a caveat to the first of those, that being that “they will consider playing games at neutral sites . . . and will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums and just how proper a solution it may be for both sides and especially fans.”

If you have been paying attention, I think you will agree that New York City, for one, is a long, long way from being ready to play host to baseball games. And, on the West Coast, Los Angeles County closed its beaches on Friday.

I’m thinking it could be a year before anyone yells “Play Ball” again.



Our Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, quotes H.L. Mencken: “The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”


The Toronto Blue Jays are 0-2 after dropping an 8-6 decision to the visiting Boston Red Sox on Friday. . . . Boston got another home from 3B Rafael Devers, who has three in two games. . . . LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had two hits and three RBI for the Blue Jays. . . . This game was part of the simulated season being played out by the gang at Strat-O-Matic. . . . There’s more on all of that, including standings and boxscores, right here.


Kirk Herbstreit, one of TV’s top college football analysts, is wondering if there will be college or pro football this year. In fact, he appeared on ESPN’s Freddie and Fitzsimmons show on Thursday night and offered up this:

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens.

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

The NCAA football season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29. Players would have to be in training camps in late July to make that starting date.


Hook


If you are a follower of the WHL you will be aware that the league held its inaugural U.S. Challenge Cup — a bantam AAA tournament — in Kent, Wash., in late February.

The WHL followed that up by holding a two-round draft of U.S. prospects on Wednesday.

If you’re wondering “Why now?”, consider that the NCAA changed some of its recruiting rules in April. For starters, the NCAA no longer allows “recruiting conversations” between a coach and prospect prior to Jan. 1 of a prospect’s Grade 10 year. As well, coaches have to wait until Aug. 1 prior to a prospect’s Grade 11 year to make a verbal offer.

On Thursday, Darryl Wolski of 2112 Hockey Agency tweeted a couple of times in explaining this:

“High school students may not have recruiting conversations with college coaches prior to Jan. 1 of their sophomore (Grade 10) year. Students may hear from college coaches or reach out to them on their own. Schools may make verbal offers to prospects beginning (Grade 11).”

What this means, Wolski tweeted, is that “WHL teams should have roughly 8 months to attempt to sign players to WHL/CHL education agreements before NCAA teams can speak to any of those drafted or undrafted players.”


I was heading for bed on Thursday night when — Hot Damn! — I discovered that Bob Dylan had released a new song. . . . Murder Most Foul is almost 17 minutes in length, so is that still a song?

Anyway . . . if you haven’t heard it, you are able to give it a listen right here, where you also will find a neat story touching on 20 references Dylan makes in the song.


Noose


Three prominent sports broadcasters have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at one stage or another of dealing with it. . . .

Gord Wilson, a colour analyst on Ottawa Senators broadcasts on TSN 1200, learned Friday that he has the novel coronavirus. Wilson, 59, was in California with the Senators, from March 6-12, and started feeling ill upon his return home. He now is self-isolating at home. . . . Wilson is the third of 52 people who were on the Senator’s charter flight from L.A. to Ottawa on March 12 to have tested positive. The other two were Senators players. . . .

John Kelly, the TV play-by-play voice of the St. Louis Blues, has been in self-isolation since March 13. He tested positive but now is symptom-free and feeling well. . . .

Doris Burke, an ESPN analyst on NBA telecasts, is symptom-free after having been ill for several days. She learned on Wednesday that she had tested positive. She first felt ill on March 11 while in Dallas and was sick in bed three days later. . . .



In B.C., the City of Burnaby has cancelled its Canada Day plans. As Dustin Godfrey of Burnaby Now writes: “The move comes as part of an ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak and reinforces the notion that social distancing measures will be in place for months rather than weeks.” . . .

The 47th annual Kamloops International Baseball Tournament (KIBT) has been cancelled for 2020. The eight-team affair had been scheduled for July 9-12. . . .


After two seasons as general manager and head coach, Tyler Kuntz has left the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . Brock Sawyer, who has been on staff for the past six seasons, has been named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . For the past two seasons, Sawyer has been associate GM and associate head coach. . . . “I have decided I need to do what is best for my family,” Kuntz said in a news release. “These past couple of years have taken a toll and, as much as I love the organization, the players and the city of Powell River, it just isn’t feasible to continue to commute to see my young family.” . . .


The junior A Nepean, Ont., Raiders are looking for a head coach. If you’re interested, the details are right here.