Tough COVID-19 day for NHL . . . WHL close to Saskatchewan return? . . . NLL gives up on having spring season

The NHL had a rough day on Wednesday as COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc with American teams.

The latest team to feel its bite is the Minnesota Wild, which has had its games NHLpostponed at least through Tuesday after adding five players to the COVID protocol list. Those five players — F Nick Bjugstad, F Nick Bonino, F Joel Eriksson Ek, F Marcus Johansson and D Jared Spurgeon — all played in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. . . . The Wild had put F Marcus Foligno on the list prior to Tuesday’s game. . . . The teams were scheduled to meet again on Thursday, but it will be the 18th game postponed this season which is barely three weeks old. . . . The Avalanche put F Tyson Jost on the COVID list on Wednesday. So a lot of eyes are watching the Avalanche as things move forward. . . .

As of Wednesday evening, the COVID protocol list included 40 players, 17 of them from the New Jersey Devils. They added three more players to the list yesterday. . . .

The Vegas Golden Knights returned to the practice ice on Wednesday morning, but head coach Pete DeBoer and assistants Ryan Craig and Ryan McGill weren’t there. Neither was D Alex Pietrangelo, who is on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . . The Knights, who haven’t played since Jan. 26, are scheduled to return Friday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.


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The QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Victoriaville Tigres have been put qmjhlnewinto 14-day quarantines, thus bringing to an end the four-team “protected environment” games that were being played in Chicoutimi. . . . The Tigres have experienced four positive tests so all players and staff are in quarantine. The Sagueneens had to follow suit having last played the Tigres. . . . The other two teams in the bubble — the Val-d’Or Foreurs and Gatineau Olympiques — met last night, instead of on Feb. 7 as had been scheduled, and the other games were postponed.


Conspiracy


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.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Wednesday, 4 p.m. PT —789,651 cases; 48,221 active; 20,355 deaths. 

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

CNN, Wednesday, 6:14 p.m. PT 450,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

The National Lacrosse League announced Wednesday that it has given on plans to hold a shortened season this spring “due to uncertainties arising from the ongoing pandemic.” The league said it now will “move to start a traditional season in the fall of this year.” . . . In a news release, Nick Sakiewicz, the NLL commissioner, said: “We have gone through many scenarios, including playing a bubble season in Canada in April, but the logistical challenges, including the recently announced tighter travel and quarantine restrictions across the Canadian border have required us to pivot. We have decided to focus on playing a full season in our markets, starting in the fall of this year.” . . .

Hockey Calgary has cancelled the remainder of what it called its “traditional hockey season,” effective Feb. 3. It says it will focus on providing development. . . .

The American Collegiate Hockey Association has cancelled its 2021 national championship events for men’s Division 3 and women’s Division 2 due to the pandemic. . . . Craig Barnett, the ACHA’s executive director, said in a news release: “While we had hoped to have Nationals for both the M3 and W2 divisions this season, there simply are not enough teams playing at each level in the midst of the pandemic to warrant having a Nationals event.” . . . Brandon’s Assiniboine Community College Cougars play in the ACHA. . . .

From CBC Sports’ The Buzzer, by Jesse Campigotto: “All of (Thursday’s) Australian Open tuneup matches were cancelled. A worker at a hotel in Melbourne where some 600 players and support staff are quarantining tested positive for the coronavirus. So play was suspended for at least a day at the six warmup events currently taking place ahead of the Feb. 8-21 Grand Slam. Everyone is being tested before organizers decide what to do next.” . . .

B.C. School Sports has cancelled its 2021 winter season tournaments. The move was made official in a memo that went out to schools earlier this week. That means no provincial basketball championships at the Langley Events Centre this spring.


Child


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.


Tex

COVID-19 takes beloved Regina sportscaster . . . Darby Mills loses her father, ex-General, to virus . . . Remember MacTavish vs. Harvey?

I spent 17 years in the Regina Leader-Post’s sports department and had the good fortune of spending time in Warren Woods’ company on more than one occasion. He really was one of those people who had the ability to lift a room. His smile. His laugh. His demeanour. He didn’t work at it; he was just Woodsy.

When you hear the name ‘Woodsy,’ you don’t picture some miserable SOB who prefers the clouds to the sunshine. You think of someone with a lifelong smile and an infectious laugh — well, Woodsy had the smile but his laugh was more of a cackle.

When I was told in early December that Woodsy was in a Regina hospital after having contracted COVID-19, I just knew that he would laugh/cackle and the virus would run for the hills. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Woodsy, 66, died in a Regina hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

The Regina sporting community — indeed, all of Saskatchewan — will be a long time getting over this loss.

Now . . . if you think this pandemic is a hoax, I’ve got news for you. It’s real and we’re in it for a while yet. So wear a mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Again and again and again. Just do your part.

Woodsy’s memory and those of so many others deserve nothing less.

If you didn’t know Woodsy, Rob Vanstone will introduce you to him via the tweet below.


Back in the day, Stan Mills played junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals, alongside the likes of Harry Sinden, Alex Delvecchio and Lou Jankowski. But you perhaps know more about Stan’s daughter, Darby, a Canadian rocker who came to fame with the Headpins. . . . These days, Darby is mourning the loss of her father. Stan, 90, who had dementia, died on Jan. 14 in a long-term care home in Vernon, B.C. He was a COVID-19 victim, gone five days after being diagnosed. . . . “He was a great man and he worked his whole life to supply his four children with everything he and mom possibly could,” Darby told Megan Turcato of Global News. “(He was) just a wonderful guy that we are all going to miss greatly, for sure.” . . . Having lost her father, Darby wants people to know that this pandemic is real. “Before you lose someone to this . . . wash your hands, throw on a mask,” she said. . . . Turcato’s story is right here, and there is a great photo at the bottom of it that shows Stan moments after scoring a goal against Guelph during the 1950-51 OHA season.


One of the great moments in NHL history occurred 18 years ago — on Jan. 20, 2003. That was the night when Craig MacTavish, then the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, reached up and . . . well, you should watch the video. . . . As a point of interest, the coach to MacTavish’s left, the gentleman wearing the headset, is Billy Moores, one of hockey’s truly good guys. Moores spent 17 seasons on staff with the U of Alberta Golden Bears, but left for one season (1985-86) to work as general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Regina Pats.


Beauty


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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CBC News — The Dutch government has proposed the first countrywide curfew since the Second World War and a ban on flights from South Africa and the U.K.

Skylar Peters, CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba is reporting 154 new cases of COVID-19, and 6 new deaths Wednesday. . . . Totals — Cases: 27,893 . . . Active: 3,137 . . . Deaths: 788 . . . Hospitalized (infectious/total): 129/273 . . . ICU: 25/36 . . . Winnipeg test positivity rate: 6.7% . . . Provincial test positivity rate: 9.5%.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 234 new cases of COVID-19 and  4 additional deaths. . . . Superspreader event at Saskatoon karaoke bar now linked to over 80 COVID-19 cases. Crackers Restaurant was closed after an outbreak linked to the establishment was declared Jan. 10.

CBC News — Alberta reported 21 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 669 new cases of the illness. Laboratories conducted about 14,900 tests over the past 24 hours putting the positivity rate at about 4.5 per cent.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 500 new cases of COVID-19 in BC, for a total of 62,412 cases in British Columbia. There have been 14 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,104 deaths. There are 4,345 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. There are 320 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 66 of whom are in intensive care.

Daily Hive Vancouver — British Columbians petition government to close provincial border. . . . The petition asks Premier John Horgan to ban recreational travel into the province for one month to curb COVID-19 transmission at a time when officials believe new variants could be circulating in the community. . . . It has more than 5,000 signatures so far, and many of the supporters say they’re tired of seeing people from places like Ontario come to BC for vacation at a time when locals are adhering to public health restrictions.

CBC News — Ontario reports another 2,655 cases of COVID-19 and 89 deaths. 54,307 tests completed, 4.9% positivity rate.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,502 new COVID-19 cases and 66 more deaths.

CBC News — The British diplomat whose kidnapping in 1970 by radical Quebec separatists triggered the October Crisis has died. James Richard Cross was 99. His death, from COVID-19 on Jan. 6, was confirmed Wednesday by his son-in-law, John Stringer. Cross spent 59 days in captivity after armed members of the Front de libération du Québec barged into his Montreal home on Oct. 5, 1970.

CBC news — New Brunswick Public Health reports 21 new COVID-19 cases, with new cases in five of the province’s seven zones, and declares an outbreak at a special care home in Edmundston.

CNN, Wednesday, 2:56 p.m. PT — 405,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Wednesday, 7:27 p.m. PT — 406,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Wednesday, 8:02 p.m. PT — The United States reported at least 4,229 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the second highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

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The NHL has postponed the Carolina Hurricanes’ games through Saturday as the team deals with COVID-19 and protocols. The Hurricanes, who beat host Nashville, 4-2, on Monday, were to have played the Predators again on Tuesday but that game was postponed. Now two games against the visiting Florida Panthers that had been scheduled for Thursday and Saturday have been scratched and Carolina’s training facility has been closed. The Hurricanes next are scheduled play on Tuesday and Thursday nights when they are to entertain the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . .

Later Wednesday, the NHL added four players from the Washington Capitals, including F Alex Ovechkin, to the COVID-19 list and fined the team $100,000 for violating protocols. F Evgeny Kuznetsov, D Dmitry Orlov and G Ilya Samsonov also went on the list. The Capitals were fined for “social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings.” . . . The players reportedly gathered in a hotel room during a recent road trip and that isn’t allowed under the NHL’s protocols. According to those protocols, each player is “required to stay in a single occupancy room, and no individual shall permit guests or other personnel in their room.” . . . Washington is next scheduled to play on Friday against the visiting Buffalo Sabres. As of Wednesday night it wasn’t clear if the four players would be able to play. . . . The Capitals share their playing facility with the NBA’s Washington Wizards, who were back at practice Wednesday after going through an outbreak that resulted in five postponements. . . .

The number of NBA postponements reached 16 on Wednesday when the league postponed that night’s game between the Memphis Grizzlies and host Portland Trail Blazers. . . . The Grizzlies were involved in contact tracing and didn’t have eight healthy players for the game. . . . Fifteen of the postponements have come since Jan. 10. . . . Whoops! Make that 17 total postponements. Late Wednesday night word came that Friday’s game between the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks has been scrubbed. The Wizards, who had six straight games postponed, have six players out because of protocols.


——

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.

——

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Tears

WHL board chairman suggests late February or early March for start . . . Five WHL players off to USHL . . . City of Cranbrook suing WHL, Ice owners

How does the Prince George Cougars of Kamloops sound? Or how about the Victoria Royals of Kelowna?

The WHL announced on Friday that it has a “commitment” to play a 24-game WHL22021 schedule. The league didn’t announce any other particulars, other than pointing out that “he start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction, and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and the owner/general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told Travis Lowe of CHBC-TV in Kelowna that the people running the show “thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,”

Taking Note was told Tuesday afternoon that one plan the WHL has looked at would have players reporting to teams on Jan. 22 in the hopes of starting a season on Feb. 8. However, that seems awfully far-fetched if only because, for example, the restrictions that presently are in place in B.C. are there until at least Feb. 5.

Hamilton told Lowe that a new season “probably” wouldn’t get started “until the end of February, early March.”

Lowe also reported: “According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete. Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.”

Hamilton also told Lowe that “we may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into (Kelowna) and then limit the travel.”

A source told Taking Note that one option that has been discussed would have the Cougars spend the season playing out of Kamloops, with the Royals doing the same out of Kelowna.


Last week, the USHL’s Lincoln Stars added four players to their protected list, PortlandAlternateall of them American-born skaters off the roster of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. On Tuesday, the Winterhawks released those four to play for the Stars. F Cross Hanas, 19, who is from Highland Village, Tex.; F Clay Hanus, 19, from Excelsior, Minn.; F Jack O’Brien, 17, from Denver; and F James Stefan, 17, from Laguna Beach, Calif., will stay with Lincoln until the Stars’ season ends. . . . “With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. . . .

Meanwhile, F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs has been given his release to play for the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho. . . .

On Jan. 5, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. However, Savoie’s name has yet to appear on that roster. He is from St. Alberta, Alta. Savoie played six games this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, putting up three goals and three assists.


If you have been holding out hope that fans will be allowed into arenas to watch games when/if the WHL gets a season started, it really doesn’t seem likely to happen.

For proof, here’s part of message from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to their fans: “The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has been working with the Ticket Centre and our ticket provider to begin the process of issuing full refunds to everyone who purchased 2020-21 season tickets.”


The WHL and the Winnipeg Ice are being sued by the City of Cranbrook. . . . Karin Larsen of CBC News reports that “a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says both the Winnipeg Ice (formerly Kootenay Ice) and WHL are responsible for breaking an arena deal that was supposed to run through June 2023. The claim says the city is out approximately $178,000 per year as a result.” . . . The Kootenay Ice franchise was purchased by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is based in Winnipeg, from the Chynoweth family. The Ice played two seasons in Cranbrook under new ownership before moving to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 season. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Carlin


With its 2021 regular season to start Wednesday night, the NHL revealed NHLTuesday that 27 players, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, tested positive during the training camp period from Dec. 30 to Monday. . . . According to the NHL, about 12,000 tests were conducted on more than 1,200 players. . . . The other 10 positives tests involve players from eight other teams. . . . The NHL has said it will provide “regular updates on the results of tests administered to players, including the identities of the players” with the start of the new season. . . . The Stars have returned to the practice ice, although more than a dozen players were unavailable on Tuesday, but their first three games have been postponed. They also have had an undisclosed number of staffers test positive. . . .

D Jordie Benn and F J.T. Miller won’t play for the Vancouver Canucks when they open their NHL season Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks aren’t saying why, but Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver tweeted that the two are out “due to COVID-19 concerns” and that they will be out “for a couple of weeks.” Sekeres added: “Both players are quarantining. Miller had been staying at Benn’s Vancouver residence.” . . . Richard Zussman of Global BC reported via Twitter that he has been told either Benn or Miller “tested positive for COVID, then negative, then positive again and when tested a fourth time tested negative. The other is a close contact.”


Spidey


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister — Update on the Canada-US border: We’ve extended the current border measures by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until at least February 21st. We’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

680 CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and said eight more Manitobans with the virus have died. It’s the first time the province’s list of new daily infections has dropped below 100 since Oct. 19.

CBC News — 248 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan. It’s the 1st time in a week the province has recorded fewer than 300 new daily cases. Health authorities also report 5 additional deaths from the virus. . . . The provincial government has extended current COVID-19-related public health orders until at least Jan. 29, due to current transmission rates.

CBC News — Alberta again breaks COVID-19 record with 38 deaths reported in single day. The province reported 652 new cases, 819 hospitalizations and 132 patients in ICUs. . . . Deaths from the illness are reported as Alberta Health compiles data, meaning not all 38 happened on the same day. The latest report includes deaths reported to the province from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12. But provincial numbers released over the last two days show that at least 21 people died from COVID-19 on Sunday alone. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now stands at 1,345.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 446 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 58,553 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 368 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 72 of whom are in intensive care. . . . There are 7,238 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 51,144 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,019 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News — Ontario reports 41 more deaths and 2,903 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the 1st time the number has fallen below 3,000 since January 3.

CBC News — Quebec reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 47 additional deaths. It’s the 2nd day in a row where the number of new cases is below 2,000; it was above 2,000 for the previous 8 days.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC — No surprise the Canada/US border will remain closed. Here are the latest weekly (Jan. 4-11) COVID-19 stats for Washington state: 217 deaths. 20,251 cases. 818 hospitalizations.

CNN, Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT — So far today, Johns Hopkins University has reported 212,766 new cases and 4,212 new deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 22.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 380,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

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The number of postponements in this young NBA season has reached six, with the latest casualty a Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Due to protocols, the Wizards don’t have the necessary eight players able to play. . . . Three of the postponed games have involved the Boston Celtics, including one that had been scheduled for Chicago on Tuesday night. . . . Five of the NBA’s six postponements have occurred since Sunday. . . .

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also have come up with some new rules aimed at keeping numbers down. From The Associated Press: “For ‘at least the next two weeks,’ the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games. . . . Players also no longer will be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road. . . . Also from The AP: “Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a ‘cool down chair’ without a mask — but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.” . . .

As if the NBA doesn’t have enough on its plate, Brian Windthorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Tuesday that sources have told them “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time. That story is right here. . . .

Pro golfer Jhonattan Vegas has tested positive so has withdrawn from the Sony Open that is to open in Honolulu on Thursday. . . .

The Czech Republic pulled out of the world handball championship after 13 of its 21 players and a number of coaches tested positive. The event was scheduled for Egypt, Jan. 13-31.


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 has sold two expansion franchises to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by Dean MacDonald. The new teams will begin play in 2021-21 in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Que.  Deacon Sports and Entertainment also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. From an ECHL news release: “Coralville will play out of Xtreme Arena, a 5,100-seat venue which was completed in September 2020, while Trois-Rivières will play out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a new construction that will host 4,390 fans.”


John

Toigo suggests Giants’ camp may be delayed . . . Also says second wave could be devastating, and WHL won’t play without fans

From Wednesday’s Regina Leader-Post . . .


If you hadn’t already guessed, the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season doesn’t seem likely to start on time, which under what used to be normal circumstances would be in late September.

Yes, that is more than four months away and, yes, there are whole lot of unknowns in these days of a pandemic. But the Vancouver Giants already are looking at pushing back Vancouverthe start of their training camp.

Ron Toigo, the Giants’ majority owner and president, said Wednesday that training camp may not start on Sept. 1, a date that already had been moved back a few days.

Appearing with James Cybulski and Perry Solkowski on Sportsnet 650, a Vancouver radio station, Toigo said: “It’s looking less likely that that will be your starting date.”

Earlier in his appearance, Toigo, who is on the WHL’s executive committee, said that for now they are watching to see what happens with Major League Baseball and the NFL.

“We talk probably weekly about different scenarios,” he said. “The position we’re taking . . . sit back and watch for a while. I think the NFL will dictate a lot of things that happen. They’ve got all the resources. They have all the influence. We’ll follow what happens there. Major League Baseball will certainly have a lot of influence on what happens . . . find a path to making this thing work somehow.

“At our level there really isn’t a lot we can do except sit back and watch and wait.”

Toigo was adamant that the WHL, unlike the big four pro leagues, won’t play without fans in attendance.

The WHL, he said, is “completely” a gate-driven league. “If we can’t get gate revenue then we can’t operate. If we carry on the way we’re going we’re losing significantly hundreds of thousands of dollars as time goes on. If we go the whole year, it’ll be into the millions. It’s not sustainable for a long period of time, that’s for sure.”

As for delaying the start of the regular season, Toigo said: “If we had to do something like that you can . . . probably start in the new year and get a relatively decent season in, and still be able to operate.”

In terms of B.C., Toigo pointed out that the province has done a good job, that “it looks like this wave is under control and could disappear over the summer.”

But, he added, “the second wave is what everybody’s fear is and what happens then. If you’ve got to retrench and shut things down again then I think we’re all in trouble for quite some time.”

At this point in time, Toigo doesn’t see any WHL teams in danger of folding.

“I don’t see it but who knows?” he said. Then, in reference to the Portland Winterhawks being in receivership, he added: “Who saw Portland coming with their scenario, but it had nothing to do with the hockey. It was more to do with the oil industry and (owner Bill Gallacher’s) challenges on that side of it. When oil goes from $100 to $10 if you’re in that business you’re going to feel it no matter how big your are.

“I don’t think anybody is safe if a second wave comes. I don’t care what league you’re talking about — NHL, CHL, CFL — I think they’re all going to be challenged and there will be some that don’t survive.”

In the end, as Toigo put it: “The best scenario is they come up with a vaccine or some way of dealing with this.”

The complete interview is right here.


Weather


Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, is bound and determined that his league is going to finish its 2019-20 season on the ice.

On Tuesday, during a virtual town hall played host to by the San Jose Sharks for the NHLbusiness community, Bettman said shutting things down is “not something I’m even contemplating.”

He added: “I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done.

“I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”

The NHL shut things down on March 12 and since then there has been all kinds of speculation about how and when it will get up and running.

Meanwhile, B.C. Premier John Horgan suggested on Wednesday that his province could play host to all 31 NHL teams as they finished the regular season.

Horgan earlier had offered Vancouver as a hub for Pacific Division play, including the Canucks. On Tuesday, he spoke with Bettman and Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner.

“I believe we’re in a good place to host, that’s why I contacted the commissioner,” Horgan said. “The Canucks have been working very co-operatively with my minister. We’ve heard from others around the league that have other ideas about perhaps having all of the games played in British Columbia.

“We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George . . . Cranbrook has an outstanding facility as well. We have hotel space.”

Look, the NHL may somehow find a way to complete its season, although the odds are stacked against it. But all 31 teams in B.C.? Sorry, that isn’t going to happen.


When the AHL cancelled the remainder of its 2019-20 season on Monday, it had 31 teams. AHLDave Andrews, the soon-to-retire president, said Wednesday that if the league has to return without fans some teams may not answer the bell. . . . ”We have a very strong league in terms of our ownership,” Andrews told the ESPN On Ice podcast. “We have 19 NHL-owned teams and 12 independently-owned teams. And the independently owned teams are in very good financial condition, even after what happened in this 2019-20 season,” he said. “But if their businesses aren’t viable, if they have to play in front of an empty building for six months, some of those teams will likely choose not to play.” . . . Andrews also said that the AHL is preparing schedules that will begin in October, November, December and January. . . . More on the story right here.


BestMan


The junior A Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled the remainder of its season on March 13. On Wednesday, Kim Davis, the league’s outgoing commissioner, explained in a mjhlstatement what has been happening behind the scenes in terms of preparing for next season.

For starters, the MJHL has been working to access “any and all federal and provincial financial assistant programs that have been made available to small businesses.” According to Davis, the league office and member teams have applied for various programs and “some have accessed these funds already, which is reassuring.”

Davis also said that the 2020-21 regular-season schedule is a work in progress; in fact, it would be fair to say it is ‘works’ in progress because there is more than one scenario.

“These scenarios have been extensive and range from the development of a normal 60-game schedule starting in September down to a 30-game schedule starting in December and several options in between,” he said.

Davis added that the MJHL is developing what he called Return to Play Protocols, which “will be extensive and will range from how fans enter and exit the building and all interactions once they are within the facility to how the two competing teams will prepare for a complete on the ice and everything in between.”

As well, he said, “The MJHL has been informed by the Provincial Public Health Office that the Return to Play Protocols we design must be approved by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer before league play can resume.”

Davis’s complete statement is right here and it’s quite possible that the insight it provides is applicable to all junior leagues at the moment.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one for A.J. Liebling: “News is like the tilefish which appears in great schools off the Atlantic Coast some years and then vanishes, no one knows whither or for how long. Newspapers might employ these periods searching for the breeding grounds of news, but they prefer to fill up with stories about Kurdled Kurds or Calvin Coolidge, until the banks close or a Hitler marches, when they are as surprised as their readers.”


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 by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Ranger