U Sports, conferences deal with unknown by cancelling events, sports . . . Chiefs sign familiar faces

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Dorothy and I were joined by a special guest, our granddaughter Kara, for a walk on Sunday.

That’s it for the Kidney Walk for another year. The 2020 version was of a virtual variety and it was held on Sunday.

Thanks to all of you who joined Dorothy’s team by supporting her with a donation. At this point, she has raised $3,080.

This was her seventh year of taking part in the Kidney Walk, and people like you have donated $19,686 through her to the BC/Yukon branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The money raised goes to help people dealing with kidney disease handle the financial costs that come with the fight.

Again, thank you so much for putting so many smiles on Dorothy’s face. Hopefully, we’ll see you in 2021.

In the meantime, please stay safe.


As expected, U Sports and three of its conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — cancelled almost all Canadian university athletic activity until at least January.

It is expected that Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec will follow suit.

U Sports, the governing body of university sport in Canada, cancelled national Usportschampionships in men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s rugby, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey. It also cancelled the Mitchell and Uteck Bowls and the Vanier Cup, the semifinals and championship game for men’s football that has been decided every year since 1965.

It then remained for the conferences to deal with sports at their level, including regular-season play and playoffs. Canada West, along with the Atlantic and Ontario conferences, announced that they are shutting down most sporting activity until at least January.

Canada West will decide on its fall sports of cross-country, golf and swimming by July 15.

Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s CWbasketball are done until at least January.

Canada West has said that it will decide by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will start up in January. Also to be decided by Oct. 8 is whether men’s and women’s wrestling, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s curling, and women’s rugby 7s will begin in January.

“While cancellation isn’t the outcome anyone associated with university sport wanted, I’m confident in the fact that this difficult decision is in the best interests of our student-athletes,” U of Victoria athletic director Clint Hamilton, who is Canada West’s president, said in a news release. “Health and safety is at the forefront of everything we do and simply put there was no way to adequately ensure the safety of everyone involved in university sport during competition this fall.”

Canada West’s 17 member schools voted unanimously on this strategy on Friday. The U Sports, Atlantic and Ontario conference’s decisions were made by their boards of directors.

Canada West had struck a COVID-19 Task Force to steer it through these pandemic-riddled times. That task force recommended the cancellation of competition through year’s end. That recommendation preceded the unanimous vote.

“The Task Force undertook significant discussion and research to inform our recommendations with public health considerations, specifically minimizing risk for both individual participants and the general public, at the core of our work,” said Dr. Steve Martin, who is UVic’s varsity sports medicine physician and Canada West’s rep on the U Sports medical committee. “By and large, sport competition provides a high-risk environment for the transmission of COVID-19. While other areas of society continue to mitigate risk through new guidelines, sport provides a challenge in this regard as any risk mitigation would render many sports unrecognizable.”

The Canada West news release also pointed out that “while professional sports leagues continue to explore options for a return to competition, the resources they will have at their disposal to minimize the risk of infection will not be the reality for Canada West members when the transition from training to competition eventually occurs.”

Also from Canada West’s news release: “Student-athletes in sports without U Sports national championships this season will not be charged eligibility and will remain eligible for athletic financial aid (scholarships).”

Meanwhile, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association has shut down its intercollegiate sports schedule for the fall semester, a move that involves cross-country, golf, rugby, rugby sevens, baseball, soccer and softball. It has 27 member schools.


During a daily briefing on Monday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, noted that while things appear headed in the right direction here, the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been increasing in the American states of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada, something he finds concerning.

“I don’t see that as practical,” he said of opening the U.S. border to non-essential travel. “I don’t see as practical either to have Canadians either visiting and then coming back.

“I don’t see it as practical for people visiting from the United States.”

These statements have to be disconcerting to say the least to junior hockey leagues with any cross-border connections.

The WHL, of course, has five teams in the U.S. — four in Washington and one in Oregon — and has a number of American players on team rosters. The BCHL has one U.S. franchise, the Wenatchee Wild, and its rosters are populated with American players.

On Monday, Canada’s federal government announced a loosening on border travelling that will allow families who have been separated to re-unite, with anyone entering Canada having to self-isolate for 14 days.

The most-recent ban on non-essential travel across the border is to reviewed before June 21.


Editor


During the last week of May, The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists “when they expect to resume 20 activities of daily life, assuming that the pandemic and the public health response to if unfold as they expect.”

Respondents took into consideration their own situation, such as where they live and what the coronavirus impact is in their area.

When asked when they might “see a doctor for non-urgent appointment,” 60 percent said this summer, with 29 percent option for three to 12 months, and 11 percent saying a year or more.

Asked about getting a haircut at a salon or barbershop, 41 percent said this summer, 39 per cent said three to 12 months, and 19 percent said a year or more.

The question about eating at a dine-in restaurant resulted in 16 percent saying this summer, 56 percent saying three to 12 months, and 28 percent saying a year or more.

The biggest number in the survey showed up when they were asked when they might “attend a sporting event, concert or play.” A full 64 percent said it would be one year or more, with three percent saying this summer, and 32 percent saying three to 12 months.

“They mostly agreed that outdoor activities and small groups were safer than being indoors or in a crowd,” the story reads, “and that masks would be necessary for a long time.”

Steve Mooney of the U of Washington told The Times: “This is as much about feelings of social responsibility as about personal infection risk. Large-scale gatherings are a contact tracing nightmare and seem like they should be shut down until we have a really good sense of what’s safe/how to screen people.”

Tammie Nelson of the Marion County Public Health Department said she would considering attending events in the fall. “I would do this IF social distancing was enforced and everyone attending was required to wear a mask,” she said.

The story, with graphics, is right here.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, returned to the world of the Internet on Monday after a few days of battling modem-related issues.

He came back with an update on a defamation lawsuit that had been filed by former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra against one-time teammate Ron Darling over something the latter had written in a book.

The case was heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, the Hon. Robert D. Kalish presiding.

The curmudgeonly one reports that this was part of the judge’s ruling:

“Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug-abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation — largely due to his autobiography — of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires . . . Considering this information, which was presumably known to the average reader of the book, this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference in the book has not exposed Dykstra to any further ‘public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace,’ or ‘evil opinion of him in the minds of right-thinking persons,’ or ‘deprivation of friendly intercourse in society.’ ”

For more on this and some good stuff on happenings involving Drew Brees, click right here.

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And here is the curmudgeonly one with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.”


Grammarman


With no active COVID-19 infections remaining in the country, New Zealand Rugby has given the all-clear for fans to return to its rugby stadiums. Matches are to resume this weekend and there won’t be any size restrictions placed on crowds for games in Dunedin on Saturday and Auckland on Sunday.



The Spokane Chiefs have signed five members of their front office to contract extensions, SpokaneChiefsthe length of which weren’t revealed. . . . Jim Hammett, the assistant general manager, and goaltending consultants Lucas Gore and Jesse Plewis were re-signed, as were equipment manager Tim Lindblade and education advisor Joe Everson. . . . Hammett, who runs the club’s scouting department, is entering his second year with the Chiefs, as are Gore and Plewis. . . . Lindblade is preparing for his eighth season in Spokane, while Everson has been with the Chiefs, in one capacity or another, for 30 years. He has been the education advisor for the past 12 seasons.


Flowers

Lawsuit info for players on WHL site. . . . Oil Kings get forward from Americans. . . . Raiders set to open Memorial Cup tonight


MacBeth

D Mathew Berry-Lamontagna (Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with HK Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Simon Fraser University (BC Intercollegiate), he had four goals and 16 assists in 24 games. He was named the BCIHL’s MVP and top defenceman, and was a first team all-star. . . .

D Shaun Heshka (Everett, 2003-06) had his contract option year exercised by Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga). This season, he had eight goals and 20 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Mikhail Fisenko (Vancouver, Calgary, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL), he had four goals and four assists in 53 games. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-season contract with the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). This season, with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games, and six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . .

F Troy Bourke (Prince George, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), he had one goal and five assists. In 30 games with the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL), he had 11 goals and 34 assists. He led Orlando in assists and was second in points. . . .


ThisThat

The WHL’s website has a new section. If you visit the website and click on the tab titled whlTHE WHL, you will note that the top item is WHL Class Action Lawsuit.

Included therein is a Notice of Certification and an Opt-Out Form.

Of course, this all has to do with the class-action lawsuit that has been filed against the CHL, including the WHL, as the notice on the website reads, “alleging that the class members are employees of their clubs and/or of the WHL and CHL, and are therefore entitled to employment benefits including minimum wage and overtime pay.”

The information on the website is aimed at players who were or are with teams located in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan during time periods that are specified in the posted information.

The notice reads: “If you fall within one or more of these definitions, you will be included in the class action unless you choose to opt out of the class action by following the steps listed below.”

Players have until July 14 to make a decision.

In other words, if you are or were a WHL player, you need to visit the WHL website and take a look right here.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired F Riley Sawchuk, 20, from the Tri-City Americans EdmontonOilKingsfor a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . This season, Sawchuk, who is from Prince Albert, had 20 goals and 33 assists in 67 games. In 195 regular-season games, all with the Americans, he had 37 goals and 47 assists. . . . The Americans selected Sawchuk in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Sawchuk’s departure leaves the Americans with five 1999-born players on their roster — F Krystof Hrabik, who is from Czech Republic, F Kyle Olson, D Riley Bruce, D Dom Schmiemann, and G Beck Warm. . . . The Oil Kings may lose their top three scorers from this season — F Quinn Benjafield and F Vince Loschiavo have completed their junior eligibility, while F Trey Fix-Wolansky, 20, has signed with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Sawchuk joins F Zach Russell, D Will Warm, D Parker Gavlas, D Conner McDonald and G Dylan Myskiw as potential 20-year-olds on Edmonton’s roster.


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The Memorial Cup opens in Halifax today (Friday) with the WHL-champion Prince Albert PrinceAlbertRaiders meeting the host Mooseheads. . . . The Raiders will be trying to snap a 10-game losing streak by WHL champions that goes back to 2015 when the Kelowna Rockets beat the host Quebec Remparts, 9-3, in the semifinal on May 29. The Oshawa Generals beat the Rockets, 2-1 in OT, in the final two days later to start the WHL’s lengthy skid. . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings went 0-3 in 2016, followed by the Seattle Thunderbirds (0-3, 2017) and Swift Current Broncos (0-3, 2018). . . . Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt is behind the bench for a sixth time at the Memorial Cup. He was there with the 1997 Lethbridge Hurricanes, the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Kelowna Rockets, and the 2016 Red Deer Rebels. He was the head coach of the 2005 Rockets; in the other instances, he was an assistant coach. . . . There is speculation that the Kamloops Blazers, looking for a coach to replace Serge Lajoie, want to chat with Truitt once the tournament is over. . . .
If you haven’t seen this piece right here by Jason Gregor, do yourself a favour and give it a read. He was in the stands for Game 7 on Monday in Prince Albert. A radio guy in Edmonton, Jason doesn’t often get to be a fan. But he was on this night because he had a nephew in the game. Oh, and Noah Gregor scored twice and set up the OT winner.


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Niall Crocker, who was a first-round pick, 22nd overall, in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Crocker, from Delta., B.C., will turn 15 on July 31. He had 18 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team.


The Everett Silvertips have signed G Keegan Karki, 19, who is a native of Sartell, Minn. According to eliteprospects.com, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Karki played only five games this season — three with the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays and two with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. . . . Karki had committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks more than three years ago, but later was decommitted. He also had a stint with the U.S. National Development Team Program.


Gary Samis, who had been the corporate sales manager with the Prince George Cougars, has died. Samis was 67 when he died in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. . . . Hartley Miller has more right here.


Curtis Brolund has been named the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Manitoba AAA U-18 Hockey League. The league previously was known as the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Brolund, who played two seasons with the team, has been an assistant coach with the Wheat Kings for eight seasons. . . . Brolund takes over from Ken Schneider, who stepped in on an interim basis after head coach Chris Johnston was fired early in January.


Dennis Kubat is the new head coach of the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Kubat was an assistant coach with the Trojans this season. . . . Kubat, 31, is from Outlook, Sask. . . . The Trojans also have named Cole Simpson as general manager. Simpson, 33, is from Tisdale. A defenceman in his playing days, he played four seasons (2004-07) in the WHL, splitting time with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Trojans chose not to renew the contract of Darrell Mann, who had been their GM and head coach, after their season ended.


The Kamloops Minor Hockey Association has hired Aaron Keller has its technical director and coach co-ordinator. . . . According to a news release, Keller’s “focus will be the development of KMHA’s players through the development of its coaches.” . . . Keller played in the KMHA before spending four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers and helping them win two Memorial Cup titles. He later spent 17 seasons playing professionally in Japan. Since returning from Japan, he has helped the Blazers’ coaching staff. . . . As well, the KMHA has added Lucas Gore as its goaltending coach. Gore, from Kamloops, played three seasons (2008-11) with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins.


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