Blake Wheeler, the captain of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, tweeted in the direction of Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, on Sunday, saying it’s “time for universal mask mandate. Why not? Let’s take care of each other.” . . . Of course, the mouth-breathers were out in full force, one of them referring to Wheeler as a “moron.” . . . Wheeler responded: “I live here all the time my friend. Not left or right, not liberal or conservative. I do care about people, especially here in Winnipeg. I may be a moron, but I’m still going to wear a mask to make sure I keep people like you safe.” . . . Suddenly, I now am a big Blake Wheeler fan. . . . Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more on the Wheeler story right here.
In the early days of September much was made of an announcement by Karlskrona KH, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra, that it had signed a pair of WHL players to one-year contracts. Erik Belin, Karlskrona’s general manager, said the signings of F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings was “the coolest news” that his team “has ever launched!” . . . Well, it turns out that neither Brandon nor Winnipeg was eager to issue releases to the players, something that was needed in order for them to play games with Karlskrona. Were the players just to practise with Karlskrona, releases wouldn’t have been needed.
Alexandre Pratt of lapresse.ca reports that the 12-team QMJHL has asked the National Assembly of Quebec for about $20 million in subsidies to help it through the pandemic. Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible, turned around and asked the QMJHL to work harder to get rid of fighting. According to Pratt, there now is one fight every four games in the QMJHL; Charest is of the opinion that is one too many. . . . Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s long-time commissioner, suggested to owners that they give a fighter major and misconduct penalties, meaning he would sit out 15 minutes rather than five, and that a player be suspended after five fights, rather than 10 as it now is. That didn’t get enough votes to pass so nothing changed, except that Pratt reports that Charest and Courteau both are unhappy. . . . Pratt’s complete column is right here.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
The NHL now is through eight weeks of its Phase 4 Return to Play and hasn’t had even one positive test. In the most recent week (Sept. 13-19), 1,127 tests were performed without any positives. . . . The NFL announced that it administered 36,664 tests to 7,845 players and team personnel last week — 14,074 to 2,438 players and 22,590 to 5,407 personnel. There weren’t any positives for players, but there were five for other personnel. . . .
The football game between the host Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that was to have been played on Saturday has been postponed. The reason? The Fighting Irish had seven of 94 tests conducted Monday come back positive. The school has paused all football-related activities as it awaits more testing. . . . According to Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports, the NCAA now has had 16 games postponed by COVID-19 concerns. . . .
Andrelton Simmons, the Los Angeles Angels’ starting shortstop, has opted out of the remainder of the MLB season. Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times reported that Simmons opted out “because of COVID-19 concerns, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.” . . . Simmons, 31, was hitting .297 in 30 games. He missed 22 games with an ankle injury. . . .
Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, said on Tuesday that he expects the next season to begin at some point in January. Silver told Bob Costas in an interview aired on CNN: “I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January. The goal for us next season is to play a standard season . . . 82-game season and playoffs. The goal would be to play games in home arenas, in front of fans, but there’s still a lot that we need to learn.” . . .
The 2021 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks Arena, May 1-9. . . .
The 2020-21 Mac’s Tournament, one of Canada’s top minor hockey tournaments, has been cancelled. The tournament, for midget-aged players, is held in Calgary on an annual basis, running from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. . . .
Meanwhile, in the KHL, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl forfeited its Tuesday game when it failed to show up for a road game against Kunlun Red Star in Mytishchi. The game already had been moved from Monday to Tuesday so that, according to a KHL release, the clubs had “time to resolve their organizational duties.” The release also stated that “there are discrepancies between the COVID-19 test results carried out independently by Lokomotiv and carried out in the KHL’s laboratories.” . . . RIA Novosti reported that “about 30 hockey players” from Lokomotiv had tested positive. A source told RIA Novosti that “the number of positive results based on the results of testing conducted by the league is significantly less.”
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Bill Rotheisler has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . He is hardly a stranger to the KIJHL, having stints as GM and head coach the Castlegar Rebels and Princeton Posse on his resume. . . . Rotheisler, a cancer survivor, takes over from Nick Redding, who is from Spokane and had to step down because of the U.S.-Canadian border being closed to non-essential travel. . . . In early December 2019, Rotheisler was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in his esophagus. At the time, he was an associate coach with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder.
The NAHL’s Jamestown Rebels won’t operate in 2020-21. The team has said that it will return for the 2021-22 season. . . . From an NAHL news release: “Currently, the State of New York does not allow for scrimmages or games to played in the sport of ice hockey, which has been placed in the ‘high risk’ category by the Governor.” . . . The NAHL now has had four teams opt out of a 2020-21 season, the others being the Springfield Jr. Blues, Kansas City Scouts and Corpus Christi IceRays. . . . Meanwhile, the NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs have announced that they will play the first two months of the 2020-21 season out of Marshall, Minn.
JUST NOTES: Former WHL D Micki DuPont is the new head coach of the U15 team at the Edge School for Athletes in Calgary. DuPont, 40, is from Calgary. He played four seasons (1996-2000) with the Kamloops Blazers and was the CHL’s top defenceman for 1999-2000. He went on to a lengthy pro career, most of it in Europe, and retired after 2018-19. . . . The junior B Saanich franchise that plays in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday that its new nickname is Predators. The team had announced in July that it no longer would be going by Braves.