Rossi: “Every day I woke up . . . I was so glad I woke up” . . . Canada has Wright stuff in routing Sweden . . . WHL’s Americans cleared to return


The Minnesota Wild selected Austrian F Marco Rossi with the ninth overall Wildselection of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He began the 2020-21 season with the Swiss League’s ZSC Lions, which is where he was when he contracted COVID-19 in November. . . . He later was cleared to play for Austria in the World Junior Championship in Edmonton, where he got into four games. . . . “The doctors told me if I played one more game in the World Junior Championship, this could have ended completely different,” Rossi told Michael Russo of The Athletic. “I’m thankful to God that he supported me. . . . I’m just happy that I’m still alive.” . . . After the WJC, Rossi had planned to take part in Minnesota’s training camp, but he didn’t get through the cardiac screening part of his medical — he was found to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that can come from COVID-19. So he was sent home to Austria. . . . “Every time before I went to sleep, I was so scared that I won’t wake up anymore,” Rossi told Russo. “Every night, before sleep, I was really sad and always crying because I was scared of that. I told my parents, ‘Could you sleep right next to my bed and be here ’til I fall asleep?’ And every day I woke up in the morning, I was so glad that I woke up. It was really hard.” . . . Rossi, who is 19 years of age, is believed to be on the road to recovery, but he still hasn’t been given clearance to resume training. . . . If you have a subscription to The Athletic, you are able to find Russo’s story there.


Canada opened the IIHF U18 World Championship in Plano, Texas, with a U18resounding 12-1 victory over Sweden in Group A on Tuesday night. Andrew Podnieks of iihf.com reports that “it was the most lopsided loss at the U18 in Sweden’s history. Canada had beaten Sweden, 8-1, in 2003.” . . . Canada took control with four first-period goals, then added four more in the second. . . . Canada, which got three goals from F Shane Wright, its captain, plays again Wednesday, this time against Latvia (TSN, 6 p.m. PT). . . . In other Tuesday games, Finland beat Russia, 4-3, and Team USA beat Germany, 5-3, in Group B. In Group A, Belarus dumped Switzerland, 7-1. . . . In Wednesday’s only other game, Czech Republic and Finland will meet in a Group B assignment.


Phone



The WHL’s Tri-City Americans were back on the ice on Monday and have been Americanscleared to return to game action after experience two positive tests in their group. The first positive test was discovered on April 16, with another one popping up while everyone was in isolation. . . . All individuals tested negative in the last go-round so the team was cleared to get back into game action. Their first game back is scheduled for Wednesday against the host Spokane Chiefs. . . . The WHL won’t be rescheduling the five Americans games that were impacted. That means that if there aren’t any further disruptions, the Portland Winterhawks are the only U.S. Division team that will play 24 games. the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds will each get in 23; the Chiefs 21; and the Americans 19.

Meanwhile, there were four games played last night, with two teams completing their developmental seasons in the Regina hub . . .

The Winnipeg Ice scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 6-4 Winnipegvictory over the Regina Pats in the Regina hub. . . . The Ice (18-5-1) finished its season with points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Pats (9-12-3) lost their last two games. . . . Winnipeg got started with first-period goals from F James Form (3) and D Mike Ladyman (3), with F Conor Geekie (9) making it 3-0 at 2:50 of the second period. . . . F Zack Smith scored while shorthanded for Regina at 15:55, but the Ice iced it with the game’s next two goals — from F Michael Milne, on a PP, at 17:28 of the second and F Zach Benson (10), at 1:22 of the third. . . . F Carter Messier (5) scored for Regina at 6:12, with Milne (6), who also had an assist, getting his second goal at 9:47 for a 6-2 lead. . . . Smith completed his first career three-goal game with two PP goals, at 17:11 and 17:32. Smith, who also had one assist, finished with seven goals. . . . G Carl Stankowski of the Ice, who backstopped the Seattle Thunderbirds to a WHL title at 16, stopped 24 shots in his final WHL game. He turned 21 on March 9. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs had one assist to run his franchise-record point streak to 23 games. He finished with 43 points and leads the Regina hub by six points over F Ben McCartney of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who has one game remaining. . . .

G Dustin Wolf stopped 37 shots to lead the visiting Everett Silvertips to a 3-2 Everettvictory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett (14-3-0) has won five in a row and leads the U.S. Division by nine points over Portland (8-6-3). . . . F Jacob Wright (7) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 2:43 of the second period, with Portland F Tyson Kozak (2) equalizing on a PP at 8:51. . . . Everett got the next two goals, with F Gage Goncalves (11) notching its first shorthanded goal this season 39 seconds into the third period and F Cole Fonstad (12) stretching the lead at 5:40. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (4) pulled Portland to within a goal at 14:40. . . . This season, Wolf is 13-2-0, 1.67, .945. . . . Associate coach Kyle Gustafson ran Portland’s bench with Mike Johnston, the general manager and head coach, in Texas watching the IIHF U18 World championship. . . .

F Josh Pillar scored twice and G Dylan Garand stopped 38 shots to lead the KamloopsKamloops Blazers to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Kamloops (12-2-0) has won five straight. . . . Vancouver (9-6-0) has lost three in a row. . . . D Tanner Brown (1) gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 13:25 of the second period. . . . Pillar tied the score at 14:36, then snapped the tie with his seventh goal, on a PP, at 7:38 of the third. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-for-6. . . . The Giants held 11-2 and 14-9 shot advantages in the first two periods respectively, but could only get one behind Garand, who now is 10-2-0, 2.16, .918. . . . Vancouver got 21 stops from G Trent Miner, who is 6-5-0, 1.61, .935. . . .

In Kelowna, the Rockets scored three times in the second period as they skated Rocketsto a 4-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Rockets, designated as the visitors for this one, are 6-2-0 and have won three straight. . . . The Royals (1-13-1) have lost 10 in a row. . . . Kelowna opened a 3-0 lead on a goal by F David Kope (3) just 26 seconds in and second-period scores by F Mark Liwiski (6), on a PP, and F Scott Cousins (1). . . . Cousins, an undrafted skater who turned 17 on Jan. 6, scored his first WHL goal in his sixth game. . . . D Matthew Smith (1) got Victoria on the board, on a PP, at 14:09 of the second period, but F Trevor Wong (6) got that one back, on a PP, at 15:36. . . . Kelowna D Tyson Feist (2) got the empty-netter. . . . Kope added two assists for a three-point outing. . . . The Rockets gave G Nicholas Cristiano, 16, his first WHL start, while the Royals did the same with Keegan Maddocks, 18. Both are from Langley, B.C. . . . Cristiano finished with 31 saves, one more than Maddocks. . . . Kelowna was 2-for-5 on the PP; Victoria was 1-for-9.


The AJHL announced its latest set of games on Tuesday, shortly after revealing that it had shut down the Whitecourt Wolverines and Bonnyville Pontiacs for 14 days. That move came after there was a positive test in the Wolverines’ cohort. They had played Saturday and Sunday in Bonnyville. . . . On Sunday, the AJHL suspended all Okotoks Oilers team activities for 14 days because of a positive test, and that came two days after the same thing occurred with the Drumheller Dragons. . . .

Meanwhile, the BCHL announced that its season will conclude without playoffs. It is playing in cohorts in five pods and the schedule is to wrap up on May 11. From a news release: “Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in the province and the challenges that changing cohorts would have presented, the league determined it was not feasible to conduct a postseason.”


Suez


Please don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. Go ahead, make her day!

——

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.


Texting

WHL’s B.C. teams closer to playing . . . Oilers new goalie had myocarditis . . . Junior A league cancels season

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told media on Monday afternoon that the WHL2WHL’s return-to-play protocol for its five B.C. Division teams has been approved. Richard Zussman of Global BC tweeted that Dix said he “expects the season to go ahead. Says there are some health authority issues still being worked out, but the season will be played.” . . . Postmedia’s Steve Ewen reported: “Through the negotiations, there had been some suggestion from the health authority about a one-city hub. There’s been talk as well through the process of a 24-game season spread over six weeks. WHL officials weren’t sure Monday what exactly had been approved.” . . . Ron Toigo, the Vancouver Giants’ majority owner, told Ewen: “We’re definitely going in the right direction.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here. . . .

Wondering why the WHL apparently has received clearance to play, while the BCHL continues to wait? It might have to do with the WHL hubs in Kamloops and Kelowna both being in the Interior Health Authority, while the BCHL wants to play in five hubs which means it will be dealing with more than one health authority. . . . Also, WHL teams are to stay in hotels; the BCHL plan apparently calls for the use of billets. . . .

The WHL reported on Friday that it hadn’t received any positives from 481 tests done on its five Alberta teams. The schedule involving those teams began on Friday. The five Saskatchewan-based teams and two from Manitoba have gathered in Regina and will begin play on March 12. The five U.S. Divisions are scheduled to start up on March 18. . . .

B.C. health officials don’t report COVID-19 numbers during weekends — it is the only jurisdiction in Canada that chooses not to — and on Monday it was announced that the province experienced 1,478 news cases over the previous three days. Eight weekend deaths brought B.C.’s total to 1,363.



Selfish


The Edmonton Oilers claimed G Alex Stalock on waivers from the Minnesota Wild on Monday, despite the fact that he hasn’t played all season. Stalock was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November, then was listed by the Wild as being out with an upper-body injury. . . . Stalock told Michael Russo of The Athletic that he was found to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can come along with COVID-19. Upon being diagnosed, he was told to rest for six weeks. . . . Here’s what he told Russo: “Those first couple weeks were scary. You go on the internet and read stuff and you’re like, ‘Holy shit.’ I was completely asymptomatic, but they think because I had no symptoms and had it in my system that because it was right at the time where we were ramping things up with skating and working out and ramping up for the season that my heart was working and working and working and started to get stressed and swell because of the virus in my system.” . . . Stalock also said: “It was mentally draining and very frustrating. Every doctor you talk to, they’re like, ‘This is so new, we don’t know what can happen.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, that doesn’t help.’ “


The seven-team junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League’s board of governors announced on Monday that it has “discontinued its effort to resume play in 2020-21 . . . effective immediately.” . . . From a news release:

“Throughout the entire return-to-play process, the league has never sought exemptions from public health guidelines and recommendations. The stark reality is that the Thunder Bay District and Northwestern region is currently amongst the hardest hit in the province — perhaps even the country — with virus activity and trending in the wrong direction.

“The SIJHL is confident that its strict safety protocols mitigated risk and ensured the league has not contributed to the spread of the virus, it is simply no longer reasonable to hold out hopes that the region will revert to an environment that permits return to play in time to resume any sort of meaningful competition this season.”


Speed


In the world of NCAA men’s hockey, a series between visiting Denver U and Colorado College that was to have been played Thursday and Saturday has been cancelled. Why? Positive tests, contact tracing and quarantining in the Colorado College program. The NCHC playoffs are scheduled for March 12-16 in Grand Forks. The cancellations meant teams haven’t played the same number of games, so playoff seedings were determined by points percentage. Colorado College’s status — it is the No. 7 seed — will be monitored over the next few days.


The Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons were to have played an NBA game in Tampa tonight, but it was postponed and now it’s hoped that they will be available to play on Wednesday night. According to the NBA, the move was made because of “positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization.” . . . A game between the Raptors and Chicago Bulls that was to have been played Sunday also was postponed, and Toronto played without F Pascal Siakam, head coach Nick Nurse and five members of his staff on Friday,


Tim McCarver, a former MLB catcher, opted out of his job as an analyst on Fox Sports Midwest’s telecasts of St. Louis Cardinals games last season. McCarver, 79, likely won’t be taking part in telecasts again this season. “Everything is fine with me, I’m very healthy — and plan on keeping it that way,” McCarver told Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I just have to use common sense.”


James Bradshaw, The Globe and Mail — CIBC has pushed back its return-to-office plans again, telling employees currently working remotely that most of them shouldn’t expect to come back until the end of June, at the earliest.


The AJHL will resume its season on March 12 with its 13 remaining teams playing in five cohorts. The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats have opted out. . . . Teams will play on weekends through April 14, without fans, then pause, change groups and start up again. . . . The first round of COVID-19 testing didn’t return any positives from 367 players and staff.


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.


Pinging

NHL revamps playoff format for Covid Cup playoffs . . . But will there be games? . . . Royals hope Price is right

The unfortunate thing about Gary Bettman, the commissioner of all things NHL, telling us a whole lot of non-specific things on Tuesday afternoon is that we now are faced with another couple of months of this stuff.

Why?

Because nobody knows a whole lot about anything right now.

This pandemic-causing virus is brand new, which is why it’s the novel coronavirus. NHLScientists and the medical community are learning about it as we move along.

So, on Tuesday, Bettman told us that the NHL’s 2019-20 regular season is over and that there is to be some kind of convoluted Stanley Cup playoff featuring 24 teams, up from the 16 that would have made it in a ‘normal’ season, with all games played without fans in the stands. (I’m wondering if the players from the seven teams that didn’t make it are breathing sighs of relief.)

Bettman talked about the draft lottery and the draft, and that these playoffs may not get started until sometime in August, which would mean a Stanley Cup presentation two months after that, which would mean the 2020-21 regular season wouldn’t start until January.

(Whoever comes out of this as the Stanley Cup champion gets a gigantic asterisk. Right? And if that happens to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn’t officially bring an end to that championship drought that has been ongoing since their last title in 1967. Right?)

Bettman also said that this push to decide a Stanley Cup winner isn’t about the money, and if you believe that you just haven’t been paying attention. Because that’s all that it’s about; it always is.

Bettman also said that the playoffs will go ahead in two hub cities, with half the teams in one and the other half in the other. As Bettman spoke, there apparently were 10 cities under consideration.

But it became evident later that the NHL will have to drop Vancouver from that list because the province of B.C. doesn’t seem likely to drop its demand that incoming international travellers self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer, said later Tuesday afternoon that, although she hasn’t seen an NHL plan yet, “We’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk.”

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, offered: “If in fact we are not able to really find an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in, and not be able to do a strict quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city.”

If it comes down to Dr. Henry vs. the NHL, my money is on B.C.’s top doc. If you aren’t aware, she’s a star out here. A shoe company put out a line of shoes in her honour and they sold out in minutes, at a suggested retail of $339 a pair, crashing the website in the process. T-shirts with her likeness on them have raised more than 10 grand for charity.

Oh, and did I mention that, despite all of the positive spin we heard yesterday, all of this might not happen at all.

So for the next few weeks we are going to see a barrage of stories and reports on all of this, including playoff previews, speculation on what team rosters will look like and on and on.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday evening, the virus-related death toll in the United States was at 94,702, according to statistics kept by John Hopkins University. The number of deaths in Canada was at 6,639. That figure worldwide is somewhere around 350,000.

No one was talking about any of that on Tuesday in all the chatter about the NHL’s possible return to play.

——

The most sensible comments I have seen to date on the NHL’s plan to return to play have come from Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk. He is the Wild’s representative on the NHLPA’s executive board.

The executive board voted 29-2 last week to accept the 24-team format as presented by the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean the NHL is anywhere close to returning to the ice.

In speaking with Michael Russo of The Athletic on Monday, Dubnyk said: “We voted strictly on the format. In other words, ‘If we are to come back, this is how it’s going to be played.’ But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet. Nothing else has been voted on … yet.”

Dubnyk also said:

“I think it’s really important to start having these conversations with as many players as we can about, ‘Guys, what scenarios are we OK with?’ From what it sounds like, it’s going to be some sort of hub city scenario, so we’ve got to talk about that. How long are guys OK with being away for? When we are in this city, are we locked in our hotel room? Going from the hotel room to the rink and back only, are guys OK with just doing that? Can our families come with us, or if there’s a family emergency and we leave the bubble (to go back into society), can we return to the bubble or are we done? What’s the food situation? Like, can we only eat in our hotel rooms? How often are we tested? Who pays for that? What’s the damage economically to the sport?

“All of these things, and there’s so many variables, need to be talked about and we’ve got to start getting a grasp on it now so that it doesn’t just hit us in the face all of a sudden. This stuff hasn’t been discussed with the players. Everything’s just been so hypothetical.”

Dubnyk also admitted to Russo that he wonders “if this is going to truly happen unless things relax enough where that bubble doesn’t necessarily need to exist as tightly as we think it does right now. Even with the players, it’s like, if your wife’s having a baby or something and you have to leave, do I have to miss an entire series now or suddenly quarantine for two weeks?

“That’s why I just feel like it doesn’t seem feasible to make this happen unless those rules relax by the time we’re going to play later this summer. There’s just so much stuff that hasn’t been figured out yet that we’ve got to start figuring out what are we OK with or not OK with, and then once that’s discussed, have another vote.”

Russo’s complete story is right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.



Rory McIlroy has told the BBC that he doesn’t believe the 2020 Ryder Cup will be played. It is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan, Wisc. . . . McIlroy would like to see the event moved to 2021. . . .

Japan’s Nippon Professonal Baseball season is set to start on June 19, but without fans in attendance. The league, which was to have started play on March 20, has yet to release its schedule, but is hoping to have each of its 12 teams play about 120 games, down from 143. . . .

The Alpine skiing world championships are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, from Feb. 7-21. However, the Italian Winter Sports Federation already is talking about postponing them until March 2022, which would be one month following the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games that are scheduled for Feb. 4-20. . . .

The EuroLeague, Europe’s top men’s basketball league, has cancelled its season, which had been on pause since March 12. The league comprises 18 teams from 10 countries. . . .

The 2021 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Vail, Colo., from March 1-6. . . .

The AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons have had adjustments made to their rent by the town council. According to a news release from the town, Dragons owner Blair Christianson had made a presentation to council on May 11 that explained the team is likely to lose about $330,000 because of the pandemic and that without some aid the team wouldn’t be viable. On Monday, Mayor Heather Colberg said the “adjustments to the fee structure will have a financial impact of $66,291.50 over four years.” . . .

The 11-team Western States Hockey League announced Tuesday that it won’t play in 2020-21 because of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic. The WSHL includes four teams in Alberta — the Barrhead Bombers, Cold Lake Hornets, Edson Aeros and Hinton Timberwolves — and two in Washington state — the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems. . . . The WSHL, a pay-to-play league, bills itself as junior A but to say it has had trouble gaining traction would be something of an understatement. . . .



Dan Price, who joined the Victoria Royals as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 VictoriaRoyalsseason, now is the WHL team’s general manager and head coach. He has completed three seasons as the team’s head coach. He takes over as GM from Cam Hope, who was fired on April 29 after eight seasons in the office. The Royals made the playoffs in each of those eight seasons, but never were able to get out of the second round. . . . The Royals are 105-81-18 in Price’s three seasons as head coach. . . . Price, 45, holds a law degree from the U of Saskatchewan. . . . His only experience as a general manager is from three seasons (2009-12) as the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . There now are six WHL teams with one man holding the titles of general manager and head coach. The others are Dean Brockman, Swift Current Broncos; Willie Desjardins, Medicine Hat Tigers; Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks; Mark Lamb, Prince George Cougars; and Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels.


Casinos


It seems that John Pateman is more convinced than ever that his Prince George Cougars PrinceGeorgeare on the right track. He just doesn’t know when the WHL team is going to get started on that track. . . . “To me, the million-dollar question is when are we going to be playing games,” Pateman, a co-owner and the franchise’s president, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “Certainly in our league, our main sources of revenue are certainly the fans and corporate sponsorships for rink boards and all that, but you have to have fans. What everybody is attempting to do is prepare for every option that’s out there so when we know what’s going to happen we’re fully prepared.” . . . Pateman and the ownership group there purchased the Cougars after the 2013-14 season, so they are waiting for their seventh season as owners to begin. The Cougars wouldn’t have been in the playoffs last season, had the pandemic not wiped out everything, and Pateman has said they were 1,500 fans per game from breaking even. Still, he told Clarke, “In the last two seasons, I feel we’ve really started to head in the right direction.” . . . The complete story is right here.



The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have signed associate coach Gaelan Patterson to a one-year extension. Patterson, who is from La Ronge, is preparing for this third season with the Ice Wolves. . . . Patterson, 29, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon seasons (2015-18) in Europe.