NFL to be hard on unvaccinated . . . Bergson 17-parter on Wheaties arrives Monday . . . Ice inks two imports

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in the locker room of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills?

The NFL on Thursday informed its teams that it won’t be postponing any games that can’t be played for COVID-related reasons because there isn’t room in the 18-game schedule. The NFL also said that if a team can’t field a team because of virus spread within unvaccinated players, then that team will forfeit the game and be given a loss in the standings, something that could have rather expensive playoff implications.

As well, the NFL said the forfeiting team would be responsible for all expenses incurred by the other club and that players from both teams wouldn’t be paid for the missed game. The forfeiting team also could be disciplined by Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.

That brings us to the Bills . . .

Here’s a tweet from OG Jonathan Feliciano, out of the U of Miami: “It’s been proven that COVID was made in lab. Fauci also a part of Pfizer . . . that’s why ppl don’t want to get the vaccine. Sad to come to the realization that you can not trust the government. #dontshootthemessenger.”

And then there was this one from WR Cole Beasley, an SMU product who has been spewing anti-vaxx stuff for a while now: “The players association is a joke. Call it something different. It’s not for the players. Everyone gives me the 98 percent of people who are vaccinated don’t get cover again. The odds of me getting in the NFL and playing for 10 years are lower than that and I’m here.”

Meanwhile, DE Jerry Hughes Jr., who played at TCU, came at it like this: “Sooo the top scientists in the entire world got together to figure out how to combat Covid-19. And when they came up with a vaccine, you question them. They are trying to save lives and you have doubt.”

Yes, these could be interesting times around the Bills, who are scheduled to open camp on Wednesday.

And then there was WR DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals, who fired off this tweet: “Never thought I would say this, But being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the @NFL.”

Shortly after, Hopkins deleted that tweet, and added this one: “Btw I got about 9 more years in me, y’all have a good day”

That second tweet might have something to do with the fact that were Hopkins to leave the NFL, he would have to repay the Cardinals US$22 million in unearned signing bonus money.

BTW, last week The Associated Press reported that the NFL had four teams that didn’t have as many as 50 percent of their players vaccinated, although it now says those teams have surpassed that mark. USA TODAY reported that 78 percent of NFL players have had at least one shot.

Earlier, the NFL had told its teams that unvaccinated players will be subjected to daily testing; will have to wear masks inside the team facility; won’t be allowed to leave the team hotel while on the road other than for the game; and won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates on the road or at the team facility.


Organizers announced 19 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday that have been linked to the Tokyo Olympics. With the Games about to get into high gear, the total since July 1 rests at 106. . . .

Remember that it was IOC president Thomas Bach who said a while back that there was “zero risk” of there being any spread because of these Games. . . .

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, who is in Tokyo: “As the circus gets under way, the citizens of Tokyo are going about their business in this city, which is somewhat muted under a state of emergency. There are no visible protests, but the displeasure is clear. It has been measured by polls that show how opposed the public is to these Games. Perhaps the most damning development is that Toyota pulled all its Olympic-related advertising in the country. One of the most important corporations in Japan doesn’t want to give any implication of endorsing these COVID Games.”


Phil Hoad, at theguardian.com: “From Wednesday, showing either a health pass, or proof of a negative PCR test dated to within 48 hours, is obligatory in France for anyone wishing to access any cultural or leisure facilities with a capacity of more than 50 people. This includes cinemas, art galleries, libraries, museums, sports centres and work-related events. Cafes, restaurants and trains will fall under the measures at the beginning of August.

“The measures are part of President Macron’s push to reignite France’s flagging vaccination drive amid a fourth wave of the pandemic. With 18,000 cases reported in the 24 hours prior to 20 July, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal described the Delta variant-driven surge as ‘stratospheric’; the national week-on-week infection rate has jumped 125% to 86 per 100,000, well above the national alert threshold of 50.”

The New York Times: “Italy said it will require vaccination proof or a negative Covid test for many social activities, including indoor dining and attending shows, as debate grows over limits being placed on the unvaccinated. France made a similar announcement last week.”


If the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings aren’t the greatest team in WHL history, Brandonthey certainly are in the discussion. Perry Bergson covers the Wheat Kings for the Brandon Sun and is about to unleash a 17-part series on that team, one that went 58-5-9 — the 9 representing ties (remember them?) — and earned 125 of a possible 144 regular-season points. . . . The Wheat Kings won the WHL title that season, but lost the Memorial Cup final in OT. . . . The series will include a capsule on each of the 104 games the team played that season. . . . Bergson, who finished the writing part on Wednesday at 6 a.m., will have a new feature each day as he looks at the 21 players and the late Dunc McCallum, who was the team’s coach. Bergson also has been into The Sun’s photo files and the series will include previously unpublished pics. . . . It all starts on Monday. Watch for it!


Murphy


As I do from time to time, I would like to point out that the cartoons that appear on this website are provided by Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. . . . Thanks a bunch, Jack. . . . And if you haven’t already you should check out his rants at sportscurmudgeon.com. It’s well worth a daily visit.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed D Martin Bohm and D Maximilian Streule to WHL Winnipegcontracts. . . . Both were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Bohm, 18, is from Czech Republic. From a news release: “Bohm played for Bili Tygri Liberec in the Czech U20 league where he scored three goals and added seven assists in eight games. He also spent time playing for HC Benatky nad Jizerou in the Czech2 league where he scored two goals in 17 games.  Bohm has represented the Czech Republic at the U16 and U18 levels.” . . . Streule, 17, is from Switzerland. He played last season with the GCK Lions in a U20-Elit league, putting up five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


Stabbing


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JUST NOTES: Kris Mallette, the head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, has been added as an assistant coach for Hockey Canada’s U-18 team’s summer development camp. He replaces Dennis Williams, the GM/head coach of the Everett Silvertips, who now is an assistant coach with the national junior team. . . . Carter Duffin has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as assistant general manager and assistant coach. He spent the past three seasons as the GM/head coach of the junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . .

Kelly Buchberger, whose contract as the head coach of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans wasn’t renewed, has joined the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, as an assistant coach. Buchberger, who spent three seasons with the Americans, signed a three-year deal with Laval. . . . The Americans haven’t yet introduced their next head coach. . . .

Daniel Renaud has signed on as the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes. Renaud was the Cataractes’ head coach for three seasons (2017-20) before moving on to become head coach of the Val-d’Or Foreurs. Jason Clarke, former GM/head coach of the Carleton Place Canadians of the junior A CCHL is joining Shawinigan as an assistant coach. . . Darryl Robinson has taken over as the director of scouting for the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles. He joined the Eagles’ scouting staff in 2020 after working with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs.


Stab

Ticket prices set for 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . Pitter, patter: Bartel back for three more seasons. . . . Oil Kings, Giants have 3-2 leads


ThisThat

The host committee for the 2020 Memorial Cup in Kelowna held a news conference on Friday at which it unveiled the tournament’s logo and ticket prices.

The tournament is scheduled to run from May 22 through May 31, with a maximum of KelMemCupnine games including a possible tiebreaker on May 28.

For now, ticket packages are available to Kelowna Rockets’ season-ticket holders who are renewing for the 2019-20 season, and for fans wanting to become season-ticket holders. One adult season-ticket will set you back $591.50 plus taxes and fees.

So . . . what are Memorial Cup ticket prices in Kelowna’s 6,886-seat Prospera Place, you ask?

From a news release:

“2020 Memorial Cup ticket packages are $567 plus applicable taxes and fees to attend all six round-robin games, possible tiebreaker game, semi-final and final game.”

The 2019 Memorial Cup tournament is scheduled to be held in the 11,093-seat Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, from May 17 through May 26.

The QMJHL’s Mooseheads offered lower-bowl ticket packages to their “full season-ticket members and 15-game pack holders” for $320 plus taxes, with higher seats at $270, plus taxes. Ticket packages for the general public are going for $350 and $450, plus taxes.

The news release from the Kelowna host committee is right here.

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The Kelowna Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, didn’t qualify for the KelownaRocketsWHL playoffs this season, finishing fourth in the B.C. Division after losing a tiebreaker, 5-1, to the Blazers in Kamloops.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, had a message for fans during Friday’s Memorial Cup-related news conference in Kelowna.

“Before we close the door on this season,” Hamilton said, “I want our fans to know that I understand and share in their disappointment of this (season’s) final results. The next couple months are going to be very busy for myself and our scouting staff, but we are excited about the challenge that lies ahead of us to add some new players to our roster.”

Hamilton went on to say: “When I look at our hockey club, I feel we need to add probably four players, and we’re into that already. I’m confident that we’ll get the players we need to make us even more competitive.”

The Rockets hold the fifth-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft that is scheduled to be held in Red Deer on May 2. It is expected that Hamilton will trade that pick and more in order to get an impact 18- or 19-year-old top-end defenceman or scorer.

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Pitter, patter . . . let’s get at ’er . . .

Also on Friday, the Kelowna Rockets and radio station AM 1150 announced a broadcast agreement that will run through the 2021-22 WHL season.

The contract includes the return of Regan Bartel as the Rockets’ radio voice.

Bartel will be in his 20th season as the voice of the Rockets in 2019-20. It also will be his 25th season of calling WHL games, as he worked Swift Current Broncos’ games before moving to Kelowna.


If you were watching the Canada-Russia game from Kamloops on Nov. 5, you may MooseJawWarriorsremember seeing F Justin Almeida of the Moose Jaw Warriors leave after his first shift. It turns out that he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder, something that would plague through the remainder of the season. . . . Almeida, 19, chose not to undergo surgery, which likely would have ended his season, and went on to lead the WHL in assists (78) and finish third in the scoring race, with 111 points. . . . He also signed an NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com has Almeida’s remarkable story right here.


D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors has joined the AHL’s Laval Rocket and could make his pro debut today against the host Toronto Marlies. . . . Brook’s Warriors were eliminated from the WHL playoffs this week by the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Brook had 16 goals and 59 assists in 59 games with the Warriors this season. . . . Brook, who will turn 20 on June 17, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed with the Canadiens. . . .

Meanwhile, two forwards from the Red Deer Rebels, who lost out to the Prince Albert Raiders, will be joining the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. . . . Brandon Hagel, who signed a free-agent deal with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, completed his junior eligibility this season by scoring 41 goals and adding 61 assists in 66 games. . . . F Reese Johnson, who also played out his eligibility this season, had 27 goals and 26 assists in 67 games with the Rebels. He also has signed a free-agent deal with the Blackhawks.


Cam Keith has joined the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as associate general manager and head coach. He spent this season with the Chilliwack Chiefs, as their associate GM and associate head coach. . . . Before that, he spent two seasons (2016-18) as GM/head coach of the Trail Smoke Eaters.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: There were two games on Friday night. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings won at home, beating the Medicine Hat Tigers, 5-4, to take a 3-2 lead in the series. The Oil Kings get their first opportunity to clinch on Sunday in Medicine Hat. . . . In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 3-2, and now lead that series, 3-2. Game 6 is set for Kent, Wash., tonight. . . .

There are four other games scheduled for tonight. . . . The Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes are tied, 2-2, as they go into Game 5. They’ll play in the Nicholas Sheran Arena because the world men’s curling championship is being played in the Enmax Centre. . . . In Spokane, the Chiefs hold a 3-1 lead over the Portland Winterhawks, who may — or may not — have F Cody Glass in their lineup for the first time in the series. . . . The Everett Silvertips, with a 3-1 lead, will entertain the Tri-City Americans. . . . In Victoria, perhaps the most bitterly contested of the first-round series will resume with the Royals and Kamloops Blazers tied, 2-2.

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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored four times on 18 first-period shots en route to a 5-4 EdmontonOilKingsvictory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Oil Kings lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 in Medicine Hat on Sunday. . . . F Andrei Pavlenko (1) got Edmonton started just 16 seconds into the game. . . . D Linus Nassen (3) tied it for the Tigers, on a PP, only 23 seconds later. . . . F Andrew Fyten (2) gave the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead at 5:08. . . . The home team went up 3-1 at 7:57 when F Trey Fix-Wolansky (1) scored, then made it 4-1 at 18:49 on a goal by F Scott Atkinson (1). . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (2) scored for the Tigers 41 seconds into the second period, but Fix-Wolansky (2) got that one back at 12:31. . . . At that point, Edmonton held a 5-2 lead. . . . F James Hamblin (3) pulled the Tigers to within two goals at 8:12 of the third period, and Chyzowski (3) made it 5-4 at 11:22. . . . But that was as close as the Tigers would get. . . . The Oil Kings got 27 saves from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . G Mads Søgaard stopped 34 shots for the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-4. . . . F Josh Williams was scratched by the Oil Kings, meaning that F Dylan Guenther, the first-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, was in the lineup for a second game. . . . If it comes down to Game 7, it would be played in Edmonton on Tuesday night.


D Dallas Hines broke a 2-2 tie early in the third period and the Vancouver Giants went on Vancouverto a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 scheduled for tonight in Kent, Wash. . . . Last night, Vancouver opened up a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from D Dylan Plouffe (4), at 7:06, and F Jadon Joseph (4), on a PP, at 12:58. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman (3) cut the deficit to one, on a PP, at 14:14, and F Noah Philp (2) tied it, on another PP, at 3:57 of the second period. . . . Hines, a mid-season acquisition from the Kootenay Ice, scored his second goal of the series at 4:43 of the third period, and it stood up as the winner. D Bowen Byram took the puck to the net on the right side. Hines skated in from the left point and got there in time to bang in the rebound of Byram’s shot. . . . Seattle was 2-5 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-4. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner stopped 25 shots, five fewer than Seattle’s Roddy Ross. . . . Seattle F Nolan Volcan played in his 54th playoff game to set a franchise record. He had shared the record with F Scott Eansor (2013-17). . . . The Thunderbirds were without D Cade McNelly, who completed a two-game suspension, and F Sean Richards, who is under indefinite suspension. . . . F Aidan Barfoot and F Justin Sourdif were among the Giants’ scratches. Sourdif was injured in Game 1, while Barfoot was hut in Game 4 on a hit from behind by Richards. . . . If these teams need a Game 7 to settle things, it would be played in Langley on Tuesday night.


Tweetoftheday

The mayors of Moose Jaw and Saskatoon made a small wager on the outcome of the first-round series between the Warriors and Blades. This is the end result:

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