Paying tribute to ex-Wheat Kings d-man Dietrich . . . WHL planning B.C. bubbles . . . QMJHL has positive test in “protected environment”


NoGuaranteesDon Dietrich, who played three seasons (1978-81) with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He and his wife, Nadine, have three sons, and the family has set up a Facebook page that is titled Don Dietrich — Tribute Page. The page includes this note:

“For those that don’t know, Don has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We have had so many people reach out to us to share stories of Don and the impact that he has had on their lives. He has thoroughly enjoyed hearing from everyone, so we wanted to give people the opportunity to share some of their own stories and experiences that they have shared with him. Please feel free to share your stories, photos, videos, memories and kind words with us on this page so he can see them all!”

The tributes that are pouring in include this one, from Norm Harris:

“Back in the ’80s the hockey fans in southern Maine had an AHL team, the Maine Mariners. We considered the players royalty.

“Our local high school team wasn’t very good. In 10 years they never had a winning season. It was just a bunch of country kids who grew up on the ponds who could now play in an arena. The winter of 1992-93, Don started to show up to our hockey board meetings as he had decided to settle in the area after his career was winding down. He convinced us to start a learn-to-skate program for the elementary kids so we would have a feeder system.

“The following year we needed a head coach for our high school team. Don stepped up to the plate. The players were so used to coaches who did more yelling and boasting about their own achievements than actually coaching. Don came in and started to teach not only the players but us other coaches from the learn-to-skate program, middle school and the high school assistant. Don would break down why you do certain things that past coaches never brought up.

“Each year that he coached the team’s record improved. Then he got sick and moved back home. The year after he left, the team made the playoffs for the first time and had won three-quarters of its games. It was all a because of Don’s vision.

“He showed us why we treated those pro players as royalty. He knew what it took to get the best not only out of a single player but an organization as well.

“We hold a school alumni game every year. Don graciously came to one a few years back which was a long trip for him. He came down and spent time in the locker room with his old players and worked a few games back on the bench. Before he left he gave back once again to the Bonny Eagle hockey program by donating a few of his books (No Guarantees)

“That year we not only had the most alumni come out to play but we packed the stands with fans as well. Many just to see Don.

“Thank you, sir, for all you have done.”

If you’re on Facebook, take a few minutes and check out this page. You will be blown away by the number of lives that have been touched by Don. If you have a memory or two or even a photo please feel free to post before leaving.


Drumsticks


The GoFundMe page that was set up to benefit the Sopotyk family remains open and has gone past $190,000. Tyrell Sopotyk, who played the past two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, was injured in a snowboarding accident in January and remains in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . The page was set up by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, who has been friends with Sopotyk since childhood. . . . If you haven’t yet contributed to the fund and would like to, the page is right here.


The WHL hasn’t yet released a schedule for games to be played by its five Alberta-based teams starting later this month or early in March. And it appears that it is gearing up to approach health officials in B.C. and Washington state in the hopes of getting the OK to get more teams back on the ice. . . . The B.C. plan is to include bubble-type situations in Kamloops and Kelowna. It will be interesting to see how a plan for games in Kamloops might be welcomed by provincial health officials because the virus has found us in a big way in 2021. . . . There have been 81 cases reported in Royal Inland Hospital, with 51 of those being staff. On top of that, one of the high schools — Sa-Hali secondary — has experienced exposures with at least 12 positives — nine staff and three staff. The school has at least 200 students and 18 staff now in self-isolation. . . . Kamloops This Week has more right here. . . . Marty Hastings of KTW has more on the WHL’s B.C. Division plan right here.

——

Meanwhile, in the QMJHL, the Victoriaville Tigers, who have been playing in what the league calls a “protected environment” in Chicoutimi, have had a player test positive. All players and staff will isolate for 14 days and the team has left the protected environment. . . . The league is awaiting more results before releasing an updated schedule.


A report on harassment and bullying in major junior hockey is now in the hands of the president of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL),” report Nicolas Steinbach and Francois Le Blanc of Radio-Canada. “Dan MacKenzie confirmed to Radio-Canada that he had received the document, which has not yet been made public. The independent committee led by former Premier of New Brunswick, Camille Thériault, submitted its report at the end of December.” . . . McKenzie, in an email, told Radio-Canada: “We are in the process of reviewing and determining the next steps. This is an important issue, but we also need to manage the impacts of the pandemic and we are focused on getting our players, CHL staff and community back to safe play. It’s hard to put an exact date, but we’re hopeful that we can answer questions this spring.” . . . Three independent commissioners, including former WHLer Sheldon Kennedy, were appointed to looking into the situation after a class-action lawsuit was filed on June 19. Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Taylor Garrett, who played in the WHL, filed the suit. . . . The Radio-Canada story is right here.


Curve

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: As of 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 786,419 cases of COVID-19 — with 49,562 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,215.

CNN, Tuesday, 2 p.m. PT — 26.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:59 p.m. PT — 446,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

The New Jersey Devils had 14 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday — F Jesper Bratt, D Connor Carrick, G Aaron Dell, F Jack Hughes, F Andreas Johnsson, F Janne Kuokkanen, F Michael McLeod, F Kyle Palmieri, D Damon Severson, D Ty Smith, D Matt Tennyson, D Sami Vatanen, G Pavel Zacha and F Travis Zajac. . . . G Mackenzie Blackwood came off the list earlier in the day. . . . The NHL has said that the Devils won’t play again until at least Saturday. . . . The Buffalo Sabres, who played the Devils on Saturday and Sunday, put F Taylor Hall and D Rasmus Ristolainen in the protocol list on Tuesday. The Sabres, who won’t play again until Monday at the earliest, are reported to be unhappy with the NHL, which allowed Sunday’s game to go ahead despite Palmieri having gone on the list after playing in Saturday’s contest.

The Detroit Pistons were back in action on Tuesday, after having a Monday game against the host Denver Nuggets postponed. Last night, the Pistons went into Salt Lake City and played the Utah Jazz. . . . The Monday game was scratched because of contact tracing in the Detroit organization. . . .

Hockey Alberta announced on Tuesday that it has ended its 2020-21 season, meaning its all over for tiered, AAA and AA hockey in that province. However, the association hasn’t given up on having some kind of spring development season should government clearance come at some point. . . .

The Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association has cancelled all provincial basketball championships for this school year.


——

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.


Disk

Lori Sopotyk: ‘They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again’ . . . Joseph wants semi driver deported . . . Virus hits Vegas coaching staff


“They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again,” Lori Sopotyk told Mart Hastings of Kamloops This Week on Tuesday. “He’s paralyzed from the belly button down and it’s a long, long journey ahead for all of us. That was the first thing out of his mouth, his hockey, that he would never skate again. And he felt like he had let everyone down.” . . . Lori was referring to Kyrell, her 19-year-old son, who was injured in a snowboarding accident near North Battleford, Sask., on Friday and is in a Saskatoon hospital. He played the last two seasons (2018-20) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . .

A GoFundMe page, launched by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, has surpassed $160,000. It is right here should you wish to donate.


Chris Joseph, a former WHL/NHL defenceman, and his wife, Andrea, lost their son, Jaxon, in the accident that occurred almost three years ago when a semi-trailer pulled out onto a Saskatchewan highway in front of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus. But unlike Scott Thomas, who also lost a son in the accident, Joseph doesn’t want Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to be allowed to remain in Canada whenever he is freed from jail. Thomas, whose son, Evan, died in the crash, has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s plea to avoid deportation. . . . “As much as I can admire someone who finds that forgiveness,” Joseph told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, “I personally don’t have it yet, don’t know if I’ll ever get it to be quite honest. Everyone’s forgiveness journey is their own journey. I just can’t understand why you cannot forgive while he’s on a plane back to India.” . . . One thing that Joseph and Thomas can agree on, meanwhile, is the need for a serious upgrade to some of the rules and regulations around Canada’s trucking industry. . . . Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Just wondering, but what have you accomplished during this pandemic? Trent Miner, a goaltender with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, has been studying and working towards a private pilot’s licence. “I always wanted to do this,” Miner, 19, told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, “but obviously didn’t have any time to get into it until this summer.” . . . Miner started the process by taking lessons at the Brandon Flight Centre in May. Now the only thing standing between him and his licence is a written exam. . . . These days, Miner is in camp with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Bergson’s story is right here.


Here’s a snippet of the Tuesday morning post from Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon):

“If 2021 were destined to be a ‘normal sports year’ teams would be setting up facilities in Florida and Arizona for the onset of spring training about now. Instead, there are reports this morning that Arizona officials have sent a letter to MLB asking for a delay in the start of spring training there because of the high rate of COVID infections in Maricopa County. The report I read in the Washington Post said that the officials there do not have the authority to order such a delay, meaning this could evolve into a negotiation with MLB. Unfortunately, any negotiation with MLB will have to involve the MLBPA as well; history tells us that those two entities have difficulty agreeing on even basic things like Tuesdays always following Mondays.”

You are able to catch all of his musings at sportscurmudgeon.com.


The latest 31 Thoughts from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman includes lots on the weekend deal between the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets, and also some interesting stuff with former Everett Silvertips D Shaun Heshka. It’s all right here.


With one member of the Vegas Golden Knights’ coaching staff having reportedly tested positive, the NHL team had to sideline all of its coaches, at least for Tuesday night’s game against the visiting St. Louis Blues. As a result, Kelly McCrimmon, the former owner/general manager/head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, made his NHL coaching debut. He is the Golden Knights’ general manager. . . . On the bench with McCrimmon were Manny Viveiros, a former WHL coach and player who is the head coach of the team’s AHL franchise, the Henderson Silver Knights; Jamie Heward, a former WHL player and coach who is an assistant coach with Henderson; and former NHL player Joel Ward, also an assistant in Henderson. . . . The Blues won the game, 5-4 in a shootout. The Golden Knights hit four posts in regulation, one in OT and another in the shootout. . . . F Brayden Schenn, who spent three seasons (2007-10) with McCrimmon’s Wheat Kings, scored the shootout winner. . . . The Golden Knights’ coaching staff comprises head coach Peter DeBoer; assistants Ryan Craig, Ryan McGill and Steve Spott; goaltending coach Mike Rosati; and video coach Tommy Cruz.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Anyone entering Manitoba, including people coming from Western Canada, will have to self-isolate for 14 days starting Friday. . . . The travel restriction is designed to stop non-essential travel, by land or by air, and applies to people visiting the province and returning Manitobans.

CBC News — Sask. extends public health orders as daily death toll reaches new high. The measures will remain in effect until Feb. 19. They were set to expire on Jan. 29.

CBC News — Saskatchewan saw its deadliest day of the pandemic, with a record-high 14 fatalities reported on Tuesday. The previous record came on Dec. 21, when 13 people died after being diagnosed with the virus. The province has now reported 268 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic came to the province. Of those, 115 deaths have happened in 2021.

If you’re wondering how the NCAA men’s basketball season is going, check out this piece right here by Ryan Young of yahoo!sports.

The New York Times — The coronavirus death toll in Britain surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he accepted responsibility as fatality rates continue to soar. “I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost,” he said.

AFP News Agency, Tuesday, 1:39 p.m. PT — Global coronavirus cases pass 100 million mark, AFP tally shows.

Ron Johnson, who got into five games with the Montreal Expos in 1984, has died in Tennessee from complications related to COVID-19. He was 64. Johnson spent 25 seasons as a minor league manager, most recently with the Triple-A Norfolk Admirals, who are affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles.

Sekou Smith, who worked as an analyst for NBA TV, died Tuesday after contracting COVID-19. He was 48.


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 ECHL is expected to announce today (Wednesday) that it will have a franchise in Savannah, Ga., in time for the 2022-23 season. The team will play out of the Savannah Arena, a facility that is under construction.

Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

——

The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

——

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


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: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

Blazers’ owner: It’s disappointing, but people are dying from this . . . German junior team hit with eight positives; Sweden has two more


The Kamloops Blazers were 41-18-4 and enjoying a 14-point lead atop the WHL’s B.C. Division when the pandemic brought a premature end to the season in March.

They were poised to have their best regular season since 2012-13, when they Kamloops1finished 47-20-5. (In 2016-17, they went 42-24-6, for 90 points, a number last season’s team was within easy reach of with five games remaining.)

The point is that no one has more reason to be upset with how things went down in March than fans of the Blazers, who had waited a long time for a team that could bring them out of their seats. The same could be said for the players and, yes, ownership, too. But, as majority owner Tom Gaglardi points out, this situation really is all about perspective.

“It’s super disappointing, but you have to let go of what you can’t control,” Gaglardi told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “There are people dying from this, people that are losing livelihoods, that are struggling to get by. The Blazers’ winning window, it’s super discouraging, but you have to look at the things that really matter. We’re all frustrated, but the leagues that rushed out and tried to play have all failed.”

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars, added: “It’s challenging, but boy, oh boy, is this a league that is determined to find a way. We are trying everything, but we’re not getting a lot of help. We’re not getting help from the public, in terms of managing the virus. It’s growing. The governments are not blessing our plans, but we’re trying.

“I think we will have a season. I really do. I’m a guy that believes we’ll find a way.”

At one point in the interview, Hastings asked about lost revenue and the state of the franchise.

“If the club didn’t have solid sponsorship, in terms of its ownership,” Gaglardi replied, “it would be in a lot worse shape. The business is in terrible shape, obviously, having lost all that revenue and continuing to lose revenue and carry costs. Fortunately, the Blazers are going to survive COVID-19. I think all the clubs around the league will survive it, too.

“This will easily jump into seven figures of damages and bills to pay when we get going again, so it’s devastating.”

While Gaglardi is the franchise’s majority owner, former NHLers Shane Doan, Jerome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor are the other co-owners.

“It wasn’t exactly a real solid business in the first place,” Gaglardi added, “but it’s going to mean some tough decisions. It’s already meant tough decisions. We’ve had to thin down our staff. We’re just trying to stay around. Luckily, bankers have been supportive and done whatever they can to help us through. We’ll survive, but it’s devastating.”

Hasting’s interview with Gaglardi is right here.



It seems that the virus has found the teams that are holed up in Edmonton awaiting the start of the 2021 World Junior Championship. Eight players off the 2021WJCGerman team have tested positive, as have two management people with Team Sweden.

The 10 teams all were to have come out of quarantine on Friday to begin on-ice preparations. However, the Germans now will quarantine until Thursday. Most of the Swedes will stay in quarantine until Monday. Those who had previous positive tests don’t have to because those infections, according to Hockey Canada, “provide a personal immunity and no threat of infection to others.”

Ryan Allenby, a Team Sweden doctor, ran practice on Friday for the seven players who were cleared to skate. Don’t forget that before even leaving for Canada on Sunday, the Swedes had to drop four players and four coaches, including head coach Tomas Monten, because of positive tests.

Canada and Sweden are scheduled to play an exhibition game on Monday.

The Germans are scheduled to open the tournament against Finland on Dec. 25 and then play Team Canada on Dec. 26. Having to quarantine until Thursday means the Germans will have to scrub exhibition games against Austria and Czech Republic.

Chris Peters of ESPN, who follows this tournament closely, tweeted Friday: “Germany and Sweden shared planes with other countries. Team sources indicated they were concerned with the travel set-up after they saw size of the planes. Sweden was on same flight with Finland and Russia and it looked pretty crowded based on social media posts.”

As near as I can tell, the Germans flew over with the Swiss team. The third flight carried Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Mark Masters of TSN has more WJC news right here.



Christmas2020

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News, 11:36 a.m. PT: Canada’s total COVID-19 death toll has passed 14,000. Nationally, there have been 493,308 confirmed cases.

CBC News: Number of new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba jumps to 350 after 6 straight days of recording less than 300. The province is also reporting 10 additional deaths.

Anya Nazeravich, CJOB Winnipeg: Manitoba has 350 new cases of COVID-19. . . . Deaths: 547. . . . Hospitalizations: 305. . . . ICU: 43. . . . TP: 13.6% . . . TP in Winnipeg: 13.1%. . . . Active: 5,602. . . . Tests on Thursday: 2,167.

650 CKOM: Saskatchewan reported two more deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday. The province also reported 245 new cases and 485 recoveries, dropping the active caseload to 3,736.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: With 485 more recoveries Friday, the province’s active case number is 3,736, which is the lowest it’s been since Nov. 29.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,413 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 new deaths related to the illness. There are 19,607 known active cases in the province. 759 COVID-19 patients are in Alberta hospitals, including 141 in ICU. The province has a 7.4% positivity rate.

Dave White, CBC: Two of Friday’s 25 reported deaths involve a woman in her 20s from the Calgary zone and a man in his 40s from the Edmonton zone with no known co-morbidities.

CBC News: B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced 624 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday.

CBC News: 2,290 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, the 4th day in a row above 2,000 and the 2nd-highest daily number of the pandemic. There are 40 more deaths, with 877 people in hospital and 261 in intensive care. 68,246 tests were completed; 3.9% were positive. 

CBC News: Quebec reports 1,773 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the province’s 7-day average up slightly to 1,825. Health authorities say there have also been 36 additional deaths.

CNN, 5 p.m. PT: 17.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, 5 p.m. PT: 313,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

The New York Times: Officials in New York State announced 12,606 new cases on Friday, The Times found, a single-day record that exceeds a previous high of 12,274 cases recorded on April 4, when testing was less widely available and significantly fewer tests were being conducted. But there was also a rare bit of good news: The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state decreased on Thursday for the first time since late October, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday.

——

The 14-team Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association has cancelled its 2020-21 season. It had hoped to begin a delayed season in the spring. . . .

While I have mostly ignored NCAA basketball, it would seem that it has served up quite a buffet for the virus. On Thursday, Kelvin Sampson, the men’s coach at the U of Houston, said his entire roster has tested positive. According to the Washington Post, the team has had 15 players and some coaches test positive so far this season. Take a break? Pause the season? Are you kidding! While a Saturday game with Alabama won’t happen, Sampson hopes to have eight or nine players back in time to play Alcorn State on Sunday. . . . Meanwhile, Louisville head coach Chris Mack says 90 per cent of his team has had the virus and has recovered. . . .

If you haven’t already, search out Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and read up on his views of this NCAA basketball season. . . .

Al Michaels won’t be calling an NFL games this weekend — he was to have done Cleveland-New York Giants — after NBC pulled him “in accordance with NBCUniversal COVID-19 safety protocols.” . . . That means we’ll get Mike Tirico calling the play of that game on Sunday night, alongside Cris Collinsworth and with Michele Tafoya on the sidelines. . . . Tirico was to have handled Carolina-Green Bay, but has been replaced by Joe Davis, who will work with Kurt Warner. . . . BTW, Michaels reports that he feels fine. . . .

Santa Clara County has extended its ban on contact sports that was to have ended on Monday, meaning the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers will continue to play ‘home games’ at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. That includes their final regular-season game on Jan. 3 against the Seattle Seahawks. . . .

All participants in the Australian Open (Feb. 8-21) are going to have to spend two weeks in quarantine in Melbourne before the tournament opens. They will be allowed to train for up to five hours at Melbourne Park during the quarantine. . . .

The Heritage Junior Hockey League, with 14 junior B teams in Alberta, announced Friday that it has “decided all January games will be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” . . . From a release: “After the Alberta government and Hockey Alberta have given further instruction, team officials will once again meet virtually to map out the first few months of 2021.”


Peephole


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: D Nathan Paetsch, who played four seasons in the WHL (Moose Jaw, 1999-2003), announced his retirement Thursday, ending a pro career that began in 2003-04 with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and included 167 NHL games over five seasons. Paetsch, 37, is a native of Humboldt. He got into 258 regular-season and 34 playoff games with Moose Jaw. . . . The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs have hired former WHL G Mackenzie Skapski as their goaltending coach. Skapski, 26, is from Abbotsford, B.C. He played three seasons (2011-14) with the Kootenay Ice (hey, remember them?). His pro career included two games with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Skapski last played in 2018-19 with the Slovakian team HKM Zvolen. You may recall that Skapski reached the NHL just five years after suffering broken bones in the left side of his face and assorted other injuries after the bus carrying he and his U-18 Fraser Valley Bruins to Williams Lake hit black ice and ended up on its side in a ditch. . . .

Former WHL D David Wilkie picked up his 100th regular-season victory as the head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers on Friday night. According to a tweet from the team, the only Omaha coach to have gotten there quicker was Bliss Littler. Wilkie played four seasons in the WHL (Seattle, Kamloops, Regina, 1990-94). . . . The junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have shuffled the chairs, with Ron Sleeman coming in as general manager, replacing Wayne March, who has been with the club since its inception. Gerald Bouchard is the team’s new head coach, replacing Tyler Gunn, who joined the team on May 8, 2019. The Eagles, who went 15-32-1-1 last season, were 1-1 when this season was put on hold.


Bobsled

Cougars’ executive: Virus and health officials in control . . . Canucks’ owner cans anthem singer . . . Wheat Kings add coaches


Hartley Miller, the analyst on Prince George Cougars’ home broadcasts and the king of radio in that city, weighs in right here on the pandemic-related road that the WHL is travelling. . . . Miller’s column includes a statement from Andy Beesley, the Cougars’ vice-president of business. In that statement, Beesley hits the nail smack on the head with this: “It is clear to everyone that the COVID virus and our Public Health Professionals will ultimately dictate what we can and can’t do.”

Beesley also said: “We believe the league will provide an update to our planning sometime within the next two weeks.”

Meanwhile, Don Moores, the Kamloops Blazers’ president and chief operating officer, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that “at this point, we’re still firm in that date (Jan. 8) and if we have to move from it, we’ll from there. We are still trying to remain fluid with it and watch what’s going on.”

Hastings’ story is right here.



The BCHL’s Penticton Vees, who had one player test positive last week, said pentictonFriday that “all close contacts of the players, including Vees players and staff” have tested negative. . . . All close contacts will remain in quarantine until early next week when their 14 days will be up. . . . The BCHL, which is on pause right now, has had two positive tests to date. A player with the Surrey Eagles tested positive in October. . . . The league had hoped to resume play on Dec. 8, but those plans will have to change after restrictions that were handed down by the Provincial Health Office this week.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced Friday kijhlthat it has dropped all regular-season games through Dec. 31 due to “ongoing provincial restrictions limiting game play, team practices and participation of players over the age of 18.” . . . The 17 teams that are taking part this season are free to “conduct on-ice activities that abide by the Provincial Health Order” until Dec. 19, which signals the start of the league’s Christmas break. . . . The KIJHL had just gotten its regular season started — teams have played two, three or four games — when it had to shut things down.



How do you think the approaching NBA season might go? Here’s part of what Bill Reiter of CBS Sports wrote on Thursday:

“Though the league has prohibited team employees from discussing the reality, in private conversations there is a shared certainty that there will be many, many problems this upcoming season as players and team employees test positive and potentially whole teams are rendered unavailable for long stretches.”


Fisherman


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 9 new deaths linked to COVID-19. There are 320 new COVID-19 cases in the province, while 2 cases were removed from Manitoba’s total due to data correction. 361 people are in hospital, including 55 people in intensive care.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 283 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 new deaths related to the illness. There are 4,116 known active cases in the province, of which 126 are currently in hospital. Saskatchewan’s 7-day average of daily new cases is 262.

CBC News: Canada surpasses 400,000 mark for number of COVID-19 cases with addition of 283 in Saskatchewan. To date, the country has seen 400,031 cases. Of them, 318,053 people have recovered and 69,508 cases are still active. There have been 12,470 fatalities.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,828 new cases of COVID-19. There are now 18,243 known active cases in the province. 533 people are in hospital, including 99 in intensive care. Alberta is also reporting 15 new deaths related to COVID-19. . . . Alberta’s COVID-19 test positivity rate hits ‘grim milestone’ at more than 10%.

CBC News: B.C. is reporting 711 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 new deaths related to the illness. There are 9,050 known active cases in the province. 338 people are in hospital, including 76 in intensive care.

CBC News: Ontario reports 25 additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,780 new cases. The province’s average for the previous 7-days was 1,769. 633 of the new cases are in Toronto, 433 are in Peel Region and 152 are in York Region. More than 56,000 tests were completed.

CBC News: 28 more coronavirus fatalities are being reported in Quebec, along with 1,345 new COVID-19 cases. That’s a little below the province’s 7-day average of 1,377.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 117 known active cases in the province. 11 of the new cases are in the Central Zone, 3 are in the Northern Zone and 1 is in the Western Zone. No one is currently in hospital.

oregonlive.com: Oregon shatters daily coronavirus records: 2,176 cases, 30 fatalities. Previous one-day records were 1,669, less than a week ago, and 24, on Tuesday. Number of fatalities surpasses 1,000.

Washington State COVID-19 Bot: Washington State COVID-19 numbers for Wednesday, December 02, 2020: 2095 new positive case(s); 241 new hospitalization(s); 50 new death(s).

Forbes: COVID-19 Superspreader Wedding in Washington State Linked to 7 Deaths of People Who Didn’t Even Attend.

The New York Times: On Thursday, a single-day record was set in the U.S., with more than 217,000 new cases. It was one of many data points that illustrated the depth and spread of a virus that has killed more than 278,000 people in this country.


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.



Last week, the Brandon Wheat Kings promoted assistant coach Don BrandonWKregularMacGillivray to head coach, replacing Dave Lowry, who has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant coach. . . . On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced that they have added Todd Miller and Daniel Johnston to their coaching staff. . . . Miller, 42, is on board as an assistant coach and will be on the bench with MacGillivray. He was an assistant coach with the OHL’s Barrie Colts for 11 seasons and stepped in as head coach after Warren Rychel was fired in January. . . . Johnston, 28, is the Wheat Kings’ first video coach. He played 253 games over six seasons in the WHL (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-13) before going on to play five seasons in the ECHL. . . . Mark Derlago remains on staff as an assistant coach and Tyler Plante is the goaltending coach.


Rare

WHL backs up proposed start to Dec. 4 . . . Aiming to play 68 games in 147 days . . . Still lots of questions without answers

Under what once was considered normal circumstances, the 22-team WHL would start a regular season in late September. Each team would play 68 regular-season games, with whlplayoffs — four rounds of best-of-seven series — beginning in late March.

In other words, teams would take six months to play those 68 games. In 2018-19, the teams played the regular season in 178 days, then took 53 days to complete the playoffs.

Then, like the big, bad wolf, along came the coronavirus and the resulting disruption of all things normal.

A few weeks ago, the WHL announced that it hoped to open its 68-game regular season on Oct. 2.

On Thursday, the goal posts moved again; now the WHL is targeting Dec. 4 as opening day, and continues to say it plans on having each team play 68 games.

While the WHL didn’t reveal a closing date, the OHL on Wednesday said that it hopes to play a 64-game season from Dec. 1 through April 29, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for June 17-27.

Presumably the WHL will be following a similar blueprint, meaning it will have to play its regular season in five months. Should it get to open on Dec. 4 and play through April 29, each of its teams would play 68 games in 147 days — 31 fewer days than it took to play the same number of games in 2018-19.

That means teams would be playing as many as four games a week. There likely would be an increase in the dreaded three-in-three weekends. You may recall that decreasing the number of tripleheader weekends was one of the reasons given when the league shortened its schedule from 72 games.

A Dec. 4 start surely would mean a shorter Christmas break — the league stopped for 10 days in 2018-19 and nine days in 2019-20.

But let’s be honest. There aren’t any guarantees there will be a season.

As the WHL’s news release read, all of this “remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial/state jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

The WHL’s announcement didn’t mention the situation involving the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, something that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2020, at least not at B.C. crossings. That would lead to teams playing inside their own divisions for the early part of a schedule.

The news release also didn’t mention players and school. The OHL said Wednesday that it will have its players stay home and start school there, so it likely is safe to assume that the WHL do the same as everyone awaits further developments.

The most important thing to remember is that everything — and I do mean everything — is fluid.

What follows are some thoughts from a few WHL officials, all speaking after Thursday’s announcement . . .

Gord Broda, the president of the Prince Albert Raiders, who are the WHL’s defending Raiders50champions, told Trevor Redden of panow.com: “As frustrating as this (process) has been, I just can’t emphasize enough that as a league, safety is at the forefront. Safety for our players, safety for the people in our buildings when we get going, safety for our fans. We’re at a time where patience is necessary.”

Broda also said: “I’ll speak for the Prince Albert Raiders only, even at 50 per cent capacity, we’re going to have financial shortfalls. I think it’s a realistic goal as a starting point to maybe work with our medical authorities and hopefully they find that an acceptable capacity level. And at the same time at least it’s a reasonable start from a financial perspective. It’s going to be financially very challenging to have reduced capacity in all the buildings. We all know we’re a ticket-driven venue and we’ve got to have fans in the seats.” . . .

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “Being fluid is really important. If the border remains closed, we’ll have to deal with it. If it opens and there are restrictions we have to adhere to, we’ll see if that’s workable and make those decisions as we go.” . . .

Brent Sutter, owner, president, general manager, and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, Red Deertold Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate: “We gotta have people in the building, no question. We have to have some kind of attendance and that’s our goal right now. And yet we’ll just have to see where it goes because it continues to move. It’s a moving target that’s changing all the time. It changes from week to week. You look at the other leagues — junior A leagues, American Hockey League, National Hockey League — no one is going to be playing in November.”

Ron Robison, WHL commissioner, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity. We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer of the Everett Silvertips, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “The anticipation was that we would be further ahead with (the pandemic) within not only Washington and Oregon, but the four western provinces. The more we looked at things and the way (Washington) is in a holding pattern with Phase 2 (of the state’s reopening plan), it was probably the only decision we can look at. They’re talking about us in Washington not looking at hosting events until Phase 4, so this makes the most sense now. It gives us time to work through things.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The Canadian Junior Football League announced Thursday that it has cancelled its 2020 season and has turned its attention to getting a 2021 season off the ground. . . . The CJFL is the governing body for 18 teams in six provinces that play in three conferences. . . .

The U of Alberta’s men’s and women’s hockey teams have been reinstated by Canada West, so will be eligible to play should the conference start up again in January. The reinstatement comes after the programs received a financial infusion from almuni. . . . The athletic department announced on June 17 that it was suspending all Canada West competition for 2020-21 for financial reasons. . . .

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has cancelled football’s 2020 season, while pushing girls volleyball, cross-country and cheerleading to January. . . . The only sports left on Hawaii’s fall high school sports calendar are air riflery and bowling. . . . Delaware also has cancelled its high school football season. There are 12 states who have done that, while at least 28 others have postponed the start of the football season. . . .

The U of Louisville booted three players off its men’s soccer team and suspended three others for their roles in a Saturday off-campus party that resulted in 29 positive tests within the school’s athletic department. The three who were kicked off the team apparently organized the party. Players from both soccer teams, as well as the field hockey and volleyball teams, tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Green Bay Packers said Thursday that they will play their first two home games without fans. That will be re-evaluated after the two games. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders had announced earlier that they will play the entire season without fans in their brand new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to open on Sept. 10. . . . Since July 21, when rookies reported to training camps, the NFL has had at least 56 positive tests. . . . The NFL had 66 players opt out of the season by Thursday’s deadline. A complete list 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.



Tinfoil

CHL facing another potential class-action lawsuit . . . Most everything with WHL these days is fluid . . . Former WHL owner, GM, coach dies at 79

These have to be tough days to be the owner of a WHL franchise, don’t they?

The WHL is only a few weeks removed from the CHL, the umbrella under which it, the whlOHL and the QMJHL operate, having settled a civil suit for $30 million. In that suit, players, former and present, were, among other things, asking to be paid minimum wage under labour legislation in various jurisdictions. While not admitting to any wrongdoing or agreeing to pay minimum wage, the CHL settled, with insurance covering half the tab and each of the Canadian teams believed to be on the hook for more than $280,000.

And there is another WHL-related lawsuit before the courts, this one involving concussions, with the parties waiting to see if it will be certified as a class-action.

And another lawsuit dropped on Thursday, this one also seeking to be certified as a class-action. It carries the signatures of two former major junior players — Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Garrett Taylor, who split a couple of seasons (2008-10) between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — and is looking for more co-signees.

This one could prove to be particularly ugly because, as you will see by reading this piece right here from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, Carcillo and Taylor are alleging that they were subject to abuse that is, to be honest, beyond description.

(BTW, you may recall that Taylor and his mother, Kim, were among those who appeared before an Oregon Senate committee on workforce on Feb. 27, 2018. They were opposing a proposed bill that would have exempted the Portland Winterhawks from state labour legislation. Ultimately, that request was denied.)

Geez, we haven’t even mentioned the hot mess that former OHL player Eric Guest hit that league and his old team, the Kitchener Rangers, with earlier in the week. The allegations, which included the forced ingestion of cocaine, are beyond messy, and the league, the team and the RCMP now are said to be conducting investigations.

And let’s not forget about the pandemic, you know, the coronavirus, COVID-19, and all that goes with that.

On Wednesday, following the completion of its annual meeting, the WHL issued a news release in which it said it “has targeted a start date of Friday, Oct. 2, for the 2020-21 regular season, but this date remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from government and health authorities in each of the six jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

Those would be Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Washington and Oregon. To this point, the citizens of the four Canadian provinces have done a good job of battling this virus. As for the two states, well, let’s just point out that Canada has closed its border with the U.S. until at least July 21 for a reason. And Canadians, especially those in B.C., are pleading with the feds to keep it closed for a whole lot longer.

On Thursday, Ron Robison, the WHL commish, was on a Zoom gathering with various media types and it is obvious that a proposed starting date really is a moving target.

At his point, the WHL hopes to have a 68-game regular season, but . . .

It hopes to open training camps on Sept. 15, but . . .

It’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s all in the hands of the medical community and, as Rafferty Baker of CBC News, reports right here, people like Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, aren’t ready to commit to anything just yet.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week was on the Zoom call and his report is right here. . . . The word “fluid” appears on more than one occasion and for good reason.

How fluid are things?

Don Moores, the Kamloops Blazers’ president and chief operating officer, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV this week that the club isn’t even selling season tickets.

Moores explained: “We actually haven’t sold any season tickets yet. One of the things we don’t want to do is over-promise and under-deliver. It’s important for us to make sure that we know what we’re going to have and what that season will look like before we move ahead with that.”

As for the Winterhawks, who aren’t believe to be experiencing financial difficulties but are in receivership, Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison “said there has been a lot of interest in acquiring the club.”

Danzer’s piece is right here.


Earlier in the week, the University of Alberta stunned the Canadian sporting community by announcing it has cancelled the 2020-21 seasons for it’s men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and volleyball teams.

Ian Reade, the school’s athletic director, made the announcement, stating in a news release that “the Athletics budget is no longer able to support participation in the 2020-21 season.”

As The Canadian Press reported: “Earlier this year, the provincial government announced cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant and ordered universities to immediately begin balancing their budgets and reducing expenditures.

“Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a ripple effect on revenues.”

In April, the U of Lethbridge dropped men’s and women’s hockey from its program for financial reasons. Might there be more cuts on the way?

With two Alberta schools already having made moves, you are excused for wondering how things are with the U of Calgary, MacEwan U and Mount Royal U, the three other Canada West members based in Alberta.

Of course, it could be that there won’t even be basketball, hockey or volleyball seasons.

U Sports, which oversees Canadian university sports, and three of its four conferences announced last week that football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s field hockey and women’s rugby wouldn’t be played during the first term.

Canada West has said it will make a decision by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will be played after Jan. 1.

Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia has more on the U of Alberta story right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”


Robbers


You may be aware that the Buffalo Sabres’ owners staged a massive house-cleaning this week, sweeping out more than 20 people from the hockey operation, including general manager Jason Botterill. . . . Also caught up in the mess were two men with ties to the WHL. . . . Mark Ferner played with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers/Blazers. He also coached in Kamloops and with the Everett Silvertips. . . . Randy Hansch played with the Victoria Cougars and the Blazers. He later was the Blazers’ director of player personnel before spending 11 seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings, first as assistant GM/director of player personnel, then as general manager.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff returned to the NFL team’s facility on Monday. By Thursday, one assistant coach had tested positive for the coronavirus, although he was asymptomatic, and was placed in quarantine. Two other assistant coaches also have bee quarantined.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, on Thursday that he doubts the NFL will be able to have a season without placing teams in bubbles much like the NBA has planned for next month in Orlando, Fla.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci said. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NFL doesn’t have any interest in the bubble format.

Dr. Allen Sill, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that “we do not feel it’s practical or appropriate to construct a bubble. Anyone who tests positive will be isolated until medically appropriate to return.”


Real Turcotte, at one time a WHL owner and coach, died Monday after fighting congestive heart failure. He was 79. . . . Turcotte was born in East Angus, Que., but made a real mark as a coach in the Detroit area. . . . He was the owner and general manager of the Nanaimo Islanders for their only season (1982-83). He took over as head coach when he chose to replace Les Calder during the season. . . . Turcotte was the father of Alfie Turcotte, who played with the Islanders and Portland Winter Hawks (1982-84) and was selected 17th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 1983 draft. . . . There is an obituary right here.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual meeting on Saturday and revealed in a Wednesday news release that it is aiming for open its regular season on Oct. 2. . . . As with so many other leagues, however, that is contingent on a number of things. As the league said in a news release: “As has been the case since the league’s 2019-20 season was cancelled on March 13, all decisions related to Return to Play will be made with the health and safety of players, staff, fans, volunteers and sponsors as our top priority.” . . . In that same release, Jeff Dubois, the league’s commissioner, said: “There are still a number of obstacles for us to navigate ahead of resuming league play this fall, but I’m confident that we’re trending in a positive direction.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Herman

No large gatherings in Alberta through August . . . Calgary and Edmonton lose major events . . . WHL planning to open on schedule

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, has said that restrictions on large gatherings in that province will run through the end of August.

Since Thursday, a number of events scheduled for Edmonton, including K-Days, and the city’s folk and jazz festivals, have been cancelled.

On Thursday, the Calgary Stampede and that city’s folk music festival were cancelled. On Friday, the City of Calgary extended its ban on large public gatherings and events through Aug. 31.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come, and the relatively low case numbers we’re seeing in many parts of the province are the result of our collective efforts and sacrifices,” Hinshaw said in her daily briefing. “COVID-19 is still with us, and it spreads rapidly through social interactions.

“We have had several instances in the province of social gatherings where one person passed the virus on to many others at a single event before the individual knew they had COVID.”

She mentioned a bonspiel in Edmonton that included 73 attendees, 40 of whom later tested positive for COVID-19.

“Unfortunately,” she added, “this virus does not respect our feelings. I am keenly aware of the depth to which these measures are affecting everyone. I do not take them lightly. I ask you to do the same.”

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from Rod Pedersen, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told him that the league plans “to open the 2020-21 season on schedule and the June 27 import draft is unchanged.”

That, of course, is what Robison would be expected to say.

The WHL hasn’t yet released its 2020-21 regular-season schedules, but chances are it would begin the weekend of Sept. 25, about five weeks after teams will want to open training camps.

However, you would hope that the WHL has Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and maybe a few others . . . you know, just in case.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, with 19 teams in B.C. and one — the Spokane Braves — in Washington, normally would open its regular season in mid-September. Steve Hogg, the general manager of the Summerland Steam, has told John Arendt of Black Press that “we have full plans on having a league,” but that it might not get rolling until mid-October.

You also are free to wonder if the annual CHL import draft really will be held on June 27. It normally is held a day or two after the NHL draft, which, this year, is scheduled for June 26 and 27 in Montreal.

But . . . hold on . . . there are rumblings that the NHL may postpone its draft because there will be a whole lot to sort out if it is to be held prior to the end of the regular season. And you will recall that the NHL’s regular season remains in a holding pattern.



The Bellingham Bells of baseball’s West Coast League have cancelled their 2020 season, but the league says its remaining 11 teams are preparing to open on June 5. . . . The league includes two Canadian teams — the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats. . . . The Bells’ hand was forced when the city shut down all activities in its facilities through Aug. 31. . . .

The 10-team Cape Cod Baseball League, perhaps the top summer league for college players, has cancelled its 2020 season. The league has been around since 1885 and has played every season since 1945. . . . Its season was to have opened on June 13, with playoffs starting on Aug. 4. . . .

The 12-team Western Canadian Baseball League is expected to cancel its 2020 season after officials meet on Wednesday. The 12-team league features teams in Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton, all in Saskatchewan, and the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks. . . .

Organizers have cancelled the World Triathlon event that was scheduled to be held in Edmonton. The Grand Final of the ITU World Triathlon group was set for Aug. 17-23. . . . Reid Wilkins of Global News has more right here, including news that the Prairie Football Conference, which is scheduled to begin play in mid-August, is looking at a delayed start.



A nondescript wooden cudgel discovered in a Vermont home in 1980 — and just sitting in an umbrella stand ever since — turned out to be a circa-1850s hockey stick now up for auction online. It’s been appraised at $3.5 million,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Proving once again that it pays to forecheck.”


Pizza


Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “The PGA Tour is planning a mid-June return with no fans, assuring the look and ambiance of it will have all the excitement of a Tuesday practice round. Meantime, GolfTV reported exclusively that the gum Tiger Woods chews on a golf course is orange-flavored Trident. Run to the store and start hoarding!”



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Khrushchev, too, looks like the kind of man his physicians must continually try to diet, and historians will someday correlate these sporadic deprivations, to which he submits ‘for his own good,’ with his public tantrums. If there is to be a world cataclysm, it will probably be set off by skim milk, Melba toast, and mineral oil on the salad.”


Wasps


Nick Deschenes has signed on as the head coach and director of player personnel with the junior B Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . He has spent the past four seasons working with minor hockey programs and academies near his home in West Kelowna. . . . Prior to that he spent one season (2012-13) as the GM/head coach of the KIJHL’s Grand Forks Border Bruins and the next two as the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Deschenes takes over the Steam from Ken Karpuk, who departed after one season. . . . Tim Hogg, the play-by-play voice of the Steam has more right here.


Barry Petrachenko spent 20 years running BC Hockey. On Monday, the province’s hockey CEO lost his job. . . . If you’re wondering what happened, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has the story right here.


StayAway

Chasing a story in Pats’ shower. Yes, those really were the days . . . Is international tennis season over? . . . Hay still not ready to retire


It’s like a bad dream that just won’t go away. It pops up every year or two, from out of the mist of time. Still, it makes me laugh every single time it appears. Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself . . .

As for my broadcast partner from back in the day, well, I’m not so sure. LOL!

Those were the days when Peter was working at CK Radio in Regina, alongside Roger Millions. I was at the Regina Leader-Post. Believe it or not, Peter and I were the radio voices of the Regina Pats. Were we any good? I don’t know, but Troy Mick once refused to talk to us, a boycott that ended one night when he scored in OT to win a playoff game.

I don’t have proof that this particular ad resulted in an uptick in listeners, but I don’t have any evidence that it didn’t. So I have always assumed that it did. Although, had it been successful you might have thought there would be another ad done up, perhaps with us on the roof of the team’s bus as it hit the road . . . or perhaps Peter had the whole idea killed.

Anyway . . . whenever this photo rears its handsome head, there always are people wondering about the two young men peeking through the steam. They were two of the Pats fine defencemen — Terry Hollinger, on the left, and Jamie Heward on the right. Yes, that is the same Jamie Heward who now is on the Vancouver Giants’ coaching staff.

BTW, I no longer have any of the autographed pictures left, but I’m not sure if my ex-partner has any remaining. Should you bump into him, though, I would suggest you not ask him.

One other thing about that photo. . . . Back in the day, the media could get into a team’s shower. Now the WHL and its teams won’t allow the media in the dressing rooms.


The City of Toronto has postponed or cancelled all city-led events through June 30. . . . You have to think it would be kind of hard for the Toronto Blue Jays to play home games with something like this in place. Consider that between April 26 and June 30, the original MLB schedule called for the Blue Jays to play 44 home games. . . . You have to think it would be tough, too, for the Toronto Maple Leafs to play home games before June 30 under these circumstances. . . .

The Canadian Open, scheduled for June 8-14 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, is expected to make an announcement later in the week. You have to know that it won’t be held as scheduled. . . .


Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s chief executive, has told the Sydney Morning Herald that the international tennis season may well be over. The ATP and WTA have put things on hold until June 7, but Tiley expects the pause to last a lot longer. “My personal view is I think for tennis to come back this year is going to be tough,” Tiley said. “It relies on global travel, and I think that’s probably the last thing that’s going to come back. I think sports that have a domestic focus are in a strong position and sports that have a global focus are more challenged.” . . . 


I’m watching Game 3 of the 1992 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays. I had forgotten just how good Toronto 2B Roberto Alomar was. He really was smooth and made it look easy. . . .


Webster Garrison, a minor league manager with the Oakland A’s, is in a Louisiana hospital and on a ventilator because of the coronavirus. Garrison, 54, “is fighting hard and making small milestones,” his fiancee, Nikki Trudeaux, posted on Twitter. . . . Garrison was the Vancouver Canadians’ manager in 2001, when they played their second season in the Class-A Northwest League. . . .


Here’s the Thought of the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, this one via H.L. Mencken: “It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favour of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.”


Don Hay is back at his Kamloops home for the offseason and is hoping that his time in PortlandPortland isn’t anywhere near over. On Tuesday, Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he is hoping for a third season as an assistant coach with the Winterhawks. . . . “I’m on a year-to-year contract and that’s OK,” Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, told Hastings. “I’d like to go back for another year and see how our team does. I’ve enjoyed working with (general manager/head coach) Mike Johnston and (associate coach) Kyle Gustafson. I’m looking forward to another year.” . . . It was almost two years ago when Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, announced at a rather bizarre news conference that Hay was retiring. Hay wasn’t at that news conference and, in fact, one day later he addressed the media and made it clear that he wasn’t ready for retirement. . . . If you click right here, you will find the column that Hastings wrote almost two years ago that summed up the situation awfully well. . . .


The Toronto Blue Jays jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, but had to go to extra innings for an 8-7 victory. . . . Bo Bichette got the GWRBI when he hit into a fielder’s choice in the 11th inning. . . . The Blue Jays had opened the season by losing their first five games. . . . Toronto also made a roster move, sending down LHP Thomas Pannone and adding LHP Marc Rzepczynski. . . . It’s all part of a simulated season being played out by the gang at Strat-O-Matic. It’s all right here, including boxscores, leaders and standings.



The Western Lacrosse Association has postponed the start of its 2020 season. The WLA’s 52nd regular season was scheduled to begin on May 21. The seven-team WLA features the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies and Victoria Shamrocks. . . .


CHL cancels playoffs, Memorial Cup; next tournament set for OHL in 2021 . . . Winterhawks lay off employees; more to come

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The University of Toronto Schools won the 1919 Memorial Cup, the first time the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association had put the trophy into competition. It was to go to the champion of junior hockey.

The Memorial Cup has been awarded every single year since then — not even the Second 2020MCWorld War could get in the way.

However, it won’t be awarded in 2020, the COVID-19 virus haven’t knocked the major junior hockey season for a loop.

The 60-team CHL announced Monday afternoon that the major junior hockey season is over. That means that there won’t be any playoffs in the OHL, QMJHL or WHL.

Nor will there be a Memorial Cup tournament. This year’s four-team affair was to have been played in Kelowna, March 22-31. Interestingly, it would seem that the 2021 Memorial Cup won’t be decided in Kelowna, but in an OHL city.

The last line of the CHL’s Monday statement:

“We look forward with hope that next season will provide new opportunity to celebrate, and that the MemorialCup will be presented at our prestigious national championship, hosted by the OHL in May 2021.”

The CHL follows a three-year rotation among the three leagues. The QMJHL is to be the host in 2022, with the WHL back for 2023.

According to the Kelowna Daily Courier, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president KelownaRocketsand general manager, said that the city “may not have had the steam to muster a tournament in 2021.” The newspaper added that “it could tax volunteers, staff, players and sponsors too much.”

Hamilton also expressed doubts that he and his hockey staff would be able to ice a Memorial Cup-calibre team.

According to the newspaper, “Hamilton said he’d also been building a team that could compete for a national title this season, and he’s losing too many veterans to be ready for next spring.”

After cancelling the remainder of the regular seasons on March 12, the CHL said in a news release on Monday that it “continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played. Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.” . . .

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Losing a handful of regular-season games and the playoffs is going to hurt a few WHL teams. When WHL teams are preparing their budgets, they usually look upon playoff Lethbridgerevenue as gravy. But how much gravy might that be?

Well, let’s take a look at the Lethbridge Hurricanes, one of the WHL’s community-owned teams, which means they hold an annual general meeting and announce profits and/or losses.

After the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes announced a net profit of $422,443, with playoff revenue of $885,558. That came after a playoff run that included 16 games, nine of them at home.

One year earlier, the Hurricanes had played 10 home playoff games during a 20-game run. At the 2017 AGM, they announced a profit of $737,710, with playoff revenue at $685,000.

A year ago, the Hurricanes’ playoff run was short-circuited when they lost a first-round series in seven games. Four of the games were played in Lethbridge, some of them in the 1,200-seat Nicholas Sheran Arena because the world men’s curling championship was being played in the ENMAX Centre. At the 2019 AGM, the team announced a profit of $282,168, with $336,397 in playoff revenue, some of that was compensation from the City of Lethbridge for having been forced from their home arena.

Yes, there was a lot of money — A LOT OF MONEY — at play in the decision to pull the plug on the playoffs. The story will become more explicit when the Hurricanes hold their 2020 AGM.

The WHL’s other publicly owned teams are the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. The Raiders are the WHL’s defending champions and finished atop the East Division this season. The Warriors and Broncos wouldn’t have qualified for this season’s playoffs. . . .

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The Portland Winterhawks have laid off employees from their front office and from their Portlandhockey staff, Taking Note was told on Monday morning. . . . The Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers both have laid off staff and implemented pay cuts. . . . According to one WHL insider, the league, with the playoffs and Memorial Cup having been cancelled, also is expected to lay off some of its office staff. . . . The 22-team WHL suspended its regular season on March 12 and then cancelled it on March 18. The Winterhawks finished atop the U.S. Division and won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions; the Blazers finished first in the B.C. Division. . . . On Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week wrote that Blazers president Don Moores, in a text, had confirmed the “layoffs and pay cuts and opted to make no further comment.” . . . 



Dick Pound of Montreal, a longtime influential IOC Committee member, told Christine Brennan of USA TODAY on Monday: “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.” . . . Her story is right here. . . .



Here’s how Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times began his Monday column:

We are surrounded by a cacophony of chaos, our lives filled with words of warning and dread and doom.

“I need a sound of spring. This being the formerly opening week of the postponed baseball season, I crave the melodious tones of the ballpark, the bunting, the hope.

“So, what the heck, I call Vin Scully.

“And, wouldn’t you know, he answers on the first ring.”

This is what we need in these trying times, and it’s all right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has his thought for the day, courtesy of H.L. Mencken: “Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.” . . .


During a brief drive on Sunday afternoon, I spotted two curb-side signs advertising Garage Sale. . . . Seriously! . . . Yeah, like I want to buy and bring home garage sale items during a pandemic. Yikes! . . .


Spruce Meadows, one of the world’s best show-jumping facilities, announced Monday that it has cancelled its summer season, clearing its calendar through July 5. The cancellations include four tournaments that had been scheduled over a five-week span, starting on June 4. . . . The Masters, scheduled for Sept 9-13, remains on the calendar, at least for now. . . .