Scattershooting on a Sunday night before taking a Christmas break . . .

Scattershooting2

Merry Christmas . . .


OK, this is it from here for a while folks. I’m taking some time away — Less time here, less time on social media . . . you know, just away . . . more time between some book covers . . . more time doing crosswords . . . 

I have watched for almost two years as we have spun our wheels, like a gerbil on a running wheel, and gotten absolutely nowhere. This pandemic is almost two years old and where are we compared to March or April of 2020?

Restaurants open. Restaurants closed. Restaurants . . . uhh, not sure. . . . Capacity at the local arena is 50 per cent. Capacity is 100 per cent. Capacity is 50 per cent. . . . It just goes on and on and on . . .

Rinse . . . repeat . . . rinse . . . repeat . . . rinse . . . repeat. Over and over and over, again. And here we are, with 2021’s clock ticking down, starting to think about whether this will ever end. And all the while people are dying and healthcare workers are burning out and still we spin our wheels.

Rinse and repeat . . . rinse and repeat . . .

Hey, has there been anything more bizarre than watching the NBA and NHL trying to keep from pausing their seasons?

The answer to that is: Yes, the decision by the NFL to cut back on the testing of asymptomatic players and staff members. That move is right out of the orange guy’s playbook from May 2020. You might remember that proclamation: “If we don’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”

While you think about that, take a minute to think about this from a thread tweeted by Dr. Katharine Smart (@KatharineSmart), a pediatrician from Whitehorse who is president of the Canadian Medical Association: “We need to get serious about vaccination, the consequences of choosing to be unvaccinated, third doses, proper masks, rapid tests and limiting contacts. I can’t state this strongly enough — our system is breaking and so are the people in it.”

The good doctor is absolutely correct. We are almost two years into this mess and we have people among us who still aren’t taking this serious.

Is it any wonder we’re still treading water?


I also will spend the next while searching for an NHL team for which to cheer. My lifelong love affair with the Detroit Red Wings — it started with Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Roger Crozier, Bill Gadsby et al — is over, broken beyond repair because their roster is home to the only unvaccinated player in the entire NHL. . . . For now, while I may no longer have a favourite team, I do have a favourite player. That would be Mason Geertsen, a product of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings.


Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette:

“We are nearly two years into this miserable plague, caught in an ellipse of hope and despair that has left everyone drained and weary and cranky. Just when you thought you were free, it comes back again, like a drunken party guest who missed his cab and decided to spend the night snoring on your couch.

“Once respected people in the world of sports are making public fools of themselves, in such a way you wonder if the pandemic hasn’t affected their judgment.

“Our old friend Richard Pound, once a maverick who didn’t kowtow to anyone, now falls in with the IOC party line despite China’s abysmal record on human rights, calling China’s critics ‘silly.’

“Steve Yzerman, one of the brighter fellows in the NHL, betrays an understanding of this plague on par with an evangelical pastor in the Florida panhandle.”


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, making a point about the NBA schedule, a point that could easily be transferred to the WHL:

“The NBA often promises a more relaxed schedule but never really delivers. Back-to-back games remain far too prevalent in the league, and playing three road games in four nights — the workload the Warriors are facing right now — is simply inexcusable.

“Old-school players scoff at the complaints, recalling the days when the schedule and travel demands were far more taxing than today’s, but the scientists have made themselves known. Fatigue is a serious problem for overworked players, presenting health concerns and a less-than-energetic performances on the court. Owners’ greed will prevail, preventing something sensible — like a 58-game schedule, teams facing each opponent twice. So instead, we sometimes get lacklustre play and some grave disappointments, leaving fans a bit short of what they were expecting.”


Laddie


Old friend Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, is a huge football fan, CFLand he watched last Sunday’s Grey Cup game while comfortably ensconced in his home in the Washington, D.C., area. He actually spent Sunday watching NFL games, of course, while recording the Grey Cup game for Monday viewing. . . . He then took to the keyboard and provided some thoughts on what he had seen. All of that is right here. . . . There is a message for the CFL in his writing, too. He likes a whole lot of what he sees in the Canadian game, so leave it alone. . . . And if you aren’t already checking out his stuff, you should. He normally provides food for thought five days a week.


Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, on Urban Meyer, one day before he was fired by the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars: “He’s as close to a legitimate head coach as a grackle is to an attack helicopter.”


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “In a dive bar somewhere, Jon Gruden and Urban Meyer are having a beer and drawing up plays on cocktail napkins, plotting their next gigs.”



Here’s the lede on Kurt Streeter’s Friday Sports of The Times column in The New York Times:

“In the midst of a new wave of coronavirus infections sweeping the globe, sports officials are scrambling to figure out how to keep their seasons going with schedules intact, to maintain the normal churn of competition and revenue.

“They shouldn’t dither with such foolishness.

“It’s time to press pause on games, matches and meets. If we’re genuinely interested in public health, genuinely invested in slowing the virus and saving lives, we need to look at the storm that has gathered and take shelter from it.

Come back in February, or later. By then, if we play this right and we’ve collectively worked to slow the spread and proliferation of variants, we can get back to the games. Only this time with a renewed sense of diligence and tighter restrictions.”

He’s not wrong, but, you know as well as I do that it’s the money. It always is.



Flatearth


Hockey Canada is expected to announce today (Monday) that it has pulled its entry from the Spengler Cup because of the pandemic situation. The Spengler Cup, which is held in Davos, Switzerland, runs from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31. Canada has won the tournament four of the last five times it has been held. . . . Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) tweeted Sunday afternoon that Canadian head coach Claude Julien had already returned home. Julien’s staff was to have included Nolan Baumgartner, Jeremy Colliton and Ben Cooper, all of them former WHL players and/or coaches. . . .

If you’re wondering about the World Junior Championship that is to open in Red Deer and Edmonton on Boxing Day, the teams all are in Alberta and there have been only negative tests to date.

The plan is to play all games with capacity crowds in both cities . . . although, as we have seen in so many instances, COVID-19 may have something to say about that.


The junior A Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League revealed Friday that five organizations have had to forfeit 30 games because of “utilizing ineligible players/staff who did not meet the requirements of the GOJHL Vaccination Policy. . . . From a news release: “The sanctions are issued in accordance with the GOJHL’s regulations for ineligible players along with Ontario Hockey Federation regulations.  All games will revert to a 5-0 loss.  In the cases where both teams had ineligible participants, no points will be awarded.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Meanwhile, minor hockey associations in Brandon and Portage la Prairie say they will be cracking down on unvaccinated parents who manage to sneak into arenas to watch their children play. The associations have said that if an unvaccinated parent is found to be inside an arena, the child will be dropped from that team’s roster and there won’t be a refund issued. . . . I know. I know. You’re shocked to hear that minor hockey parents would act in such a fashion.


Dave Lowry, a former WHL player and coach, will be the head coach of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets at least through the end of this season. He took over on Friday after Paul Maurice stepped down, saying the Jets needed to hear from a new voice. Maurice was in his ninth season as the club’s head coach. Lowry, 56, has been a WHL head coach with the Calgary Hitmen (2008-09), Victoria Royals (2012-17) and Brandon Wheat Kings (2019-20). He is in his third season on the Jets’ staff. . . . The Jets dropped a 5-2 decision to the Washington Capitals in Lowry’s debut as head coach later Friday, but he got his first victory on Sunday, 4-2 over the visiting St. Louis Blues.


The Saskatoon Entertainment Group, owners of the Saskatoon Blades and lacrosse’s Saskatchewan Rush, is taking on managing rights for events in the SaskTel Centre via a five-year deal that is effective Jan. 1. SEG, under owners Mike Priestner and his son, Colin, will pay the Saskatchewan Place Association “the greater of either $1.35 million, or a combination of 15 per cent of gross food and beverage profits, $2 from every ticket sold and half of all revenues from sponsorship, naming rights, parking and eligible gaming,” according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. According to the newspaper, “SEG will also put a maximum of $1 million into upgrades at the stadium, with SPA to match whatever money they invest.”


CatWins


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.

www.transplant.bc.ca/health-info/organ-donation/living-donation


Merry Christmas . . .

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering when to get out the snow shovel . . .

Scattershooting

The SJHL revealed Friday night that it has been given the OK for its teams to SJHLplay games “effective immediately.” Teams will be permitted to have a maximum of 150 fans at games, all of whom must wear masks. The league released a 24-game exhibition schedule Saturday night, with the first game scheduled for Thursday when the La Ronge Ice Wolves are to visit the Flin Flon Bombers. The two teams will meet four times in 10 days. Exhibition games will be played through Nov. 1.

With the Bombers being included, it tells us that the SJHL has received an exemption from government and health officials for the Bombers to travel in from Manitoba and for Saskatchewan teams to go into Manitoba. This isn’t a surprise, what with Flin Flon located pretty much atop the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border.

But remember that the Saskatchewan government has told curlers they aren’t to travel outside the province for games, nor are curlers from other provinces to travel into Saskatchewan for competition.

The WHL, which is planning on opening its regular season on Jan. 8, wants to have its five Saskatchewan teams play in a division with the two Manitoba teams — the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice. But the WHL needs clearance for interprovincial play in order for that to happen.

Benny Walchuk of GX94 in Yorkton talked with Bill Chow, the SJHL president, and that interview is right here.


The BCHL has almost all of its teams playing exhibition games at the moment Wenatcheeas they prepare to open the regular season on Dec. 1. The exception is the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, which isn’t involved because of U.S.-Canada border restrictions. . . . Instead, the Wild has scheduled a series of six scrimmages in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho about a three-hour drive from Wenatchee. . . . According to the Wild, the scrimmages will include “10-16 Western Hockey League players joining the Wild camp on a limited basis to participate in the scrimmages.” . . . Those scrimmages are scheduled for Oct. 22, 12:15 p.m.; Oct. 23, 7:15 p.m.; Nov. 6 and 7, and Nov. 13 and 14. Times for the latter four are TBA.



Nick Saban, the head coach of the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, tested positive earlier in the week. But Saban, 68, turned in three negatives before Saturday so was on the sideline on Saturday night in a 41-24 road victory against No. 3 Georgia. Yes, that was Saban with his mask down around his chin getting in the face of an on-field official.

On Friday, Kurt Streeter of The New York Times wrote, in part:

This is, of course, an unpredictable disease. Saban is 68 years old, a particularly vulnerable age for this virus. But that does not seem to matter to major college football, which keeps twisting itself into knots, straining to rationalize playing games amid a pandemic that has led to at least 217,000 deaths in the United States — with no end in sight.

Even with infection hitting its most famous coach, the mind-set of the college game’s most vigorous enablers has not altered. They are bent on moving forward.

“He knows the risks,” they say. “Let’s keep going.”

“Move on.”

Streeter’s column is right here.


Here’s Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post in a column that explains who/what is in charge of the sports world these days:

What a tonic it would be to attend a live sporting event that features a prominent franchise.

“The problem, though, is that nobody calls the shots.

“Airborne particles that we cannot see will dictate a future we still cannot envision.

“Who knows what next week will bring, let alone next month or next year?

Take a look at the daily COVID figures, from coast to coast, and sigh.

“A long winter looms.”

The complete column is right here.


Snow

. . . or it could be you any morning this month!


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Here’s Brad Dickson, a humorist who used to be a columnist with the Omaha World-Herald: “The mayor and county health director held a press conference where they said go ahead with your Halloween parties and trick or treat ‘just be smart about it.’ At what point do people stop getting the benefit of the doubt about being smart on Covid?”

——

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) has scheduled its regular season to open on Dec. 1 with all eight of its teams in a bubble in Omaha, Neb. The 26-game season will be split into two parts, with each team playing 10 games in the first three weeks of December in Omaha. . . . In the New Year, each team will play 16 games — eight home and eight away. . . . The NCHC comprises Colorado Springs, Denver, Miami, Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota, Omaha, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan. . . . From a news release: “Overall medical support and COVID-19 testing for all participating student-athletes, staff and officials in the Pod will be conducted through the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), located in Omaha. Medical protocols and testing strategies for the entire season are currently being developed with top medical professionals from UNMC and the Global Center for Health Security.” . . . That news release is right here. . . .

The 11-team Atlantic Hockey Association is to open its regular season on Nov. 1. Each team will play 24 games and will have the ability to add four games. . . . From the Colonial Sports Network: “In an attempt to limit exposure of travel during the season, the AHA has divided 10 teams into eastern and western pods, with five teams in each geographical pod and Air Force standing alone on the outside looking in. The eastern pod consists of AIC, Army, Holy Cross, Bentley and Sacred Heart. Robert Morris finds itself in the western pod, joined by Canisius, Mercyhurst, RIT and Niagara.” That leaves Air Force to bounce back and forth between pods. . . .

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times checks in: “Attention, Dan Mullen (the Florida football coach who wanted to ‘see 90,000 (fans) in The Swamp’ for the LSU game — only to have to postpone it because so many of his players tested positive for COVID-19): Your Karma of the Year Award awaits you down at the front desk. A gentle reminder: Just be sure when you come to pick it up you’re wearing a mask.” . . . More from Ms. Karma: Mullen announced on Saturday that he also has tested positive. . . .

Oulun Kärpät, a team in the Finnish Liiga, has been quarantined until Oct. 24 after one of its players tested positive. The test came back on Friday night. At least three games will have to be rescheduled. . . .

At least one ringette and two minor hockey organizations in Ottawa have suspended play until current restrictions are lifted. The Nepean Minor Hockey Association, West End Hockey League and the City of Ottawa Ringette Association have shut down. . . . At the time they suspended operations, 10 skaters, including coaches, were allowed on the ice at any one time, with only practices without spectators permitted. All dressing rooms are closed so players had to arrive with their gear on. . . . Hockey Eastern Ontario, which oversees the region’s amateur hockey, has had an undisclosed number of positive tests show up in players and volunteers. In a statement, Ottawa Public Health said, according to CBC, that recent contract tracing investigations have “identified confirmed transmissions and outbreaks between staff and players.” . . . The CBC piece is right here. . . .

Things have reached the point in Winnipeg where officials are talking about shutting down arenas if hockey fans and players don’t do a better job of following public health orders. “The warning comes as the city battles the worst surge of COVID-19 cases in the province since the beginning of the pandemic,” writes Sara Petz of CBC, “prompting Mayor Brian Bowman to urge people to think of others, and wear a face mask.” . . . At one point in a Friday news conference, Mayor Bowman said: “Wear a friggin’ mask.” . . . That story is 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.


JUST NOTES: In the past few days, the telephone scammers have been on the line from California, Idaho, Maine, Montana and New Jersey? Or might it be Agent Orange trying to get my vote? . . . He’s got endorsements from the Taliban and Kirstie Alley so how can anyone be undecided? . . . Wondering how many games your favourite WHL team might play in the 2021 season? Andy Beesley, the Prince George Cougars’ vice-president of business, told Hartley Miller of mypgnow.com and the GOAT 94.3: “As a baseline, I would expect to have 30-plus games, probably 34 games is a very minimum amount, maybe up to 50, but those details are yet to be determined.” . . . Bob Tory, the GM of the Tri-City Americans, told Myck Miller of KEPR-TV that “all our players have had their medicals done . . . we’ve been fortunate. We haven’t had one player test positive.” Tory said that while the Americans would love to have a full house for their opener in January, he isn’t counting on it. “No . . . we’re hoping that that’s the case,” he said. “But we have to prepare for the fact that we might have to start the season with no fans and then hopefully . . . if that’s successful they allow 25 per cent then 50 and then maybe full attendance.”


YardSale

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