Hockey world mourning death of Melfort defenceman . . . Rollins: From enforcer to entrepreneur and author . . . USHL loses two teams for season

DylanAshe
Dylan Ashe, 18, loved his 1984 Chevrolet truck. (Photo: Della Ashe/Facebook)

Dylan Ashe, a defenceman with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs, was killed in a one-vehicle accident on Saturday night. Ashe, 18, died when his immaculately restored 1984 Chevrolet pickup left the road and rolled on Highway 37 near White Fox, Sask. . . . A native of Warman, Sask., he helped the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans to a bronze medal at the 2019 Telus Cup before joining the Mustangs as a 17-year-old. With Melfort, he had two goals and four assists in 46 games. . . . Ashe wasn’t selected in the WHL draft, but signed with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in April 2019 and was in their training camp prior to the 2019-20 season. . . . His mother, Della, wrote on Facebook: “This is the hardest and most heartbreaking post I have ever had to make. Dylan was driving back to the lake (Saturday) night and rolled the car. He didn’t make it out of the accident alive. I can honestly say I’m numb, and my heart literally feels broken. He was the most easy-going, fun-loving, and never in a rush for anything type of guy. He loved his family and truck. Oh that truck, boy did he work hard on it. My favourite thing was when he would come home and go directly to each of us and give us a big hug. He was making his last trip out to the lake and then heading home here for a couple days before taking off to Melfort for his second season with the Mustangs. He was looking forward to seeing all his hockey buddies. I am comforted knowing he was doing everything he loved to do, but unfortunately never fulfilled his dreams here, and now he will always be in my dreams. I can’t believe your life was so short. Please watch over us. I love you so, so, so much.” . . . Deanna Venn, an aunt of Dylan’s, has started a GoFundMe page that is right here.


If you’re an old-time hockey fan, you may remember Jerry Rollins as a tough guy who put up 338 penalty minutes with the WCHL’s Flin Flon Bombers in 1973-74 and another 473 in a 1974-75 season split between the Bombers (72) and Winnipeg Clubs (401). . . . These days, according to a news release that found its way into my inbox, Rollins is the “co-founder and chairman of the Sage Executive Group, a Southern California-based peer advisory group that helps CEOs, founders and executives achieve all-around success by positively impacting their business, families and communities.” On top of that, his new book — Enforcer to Entrepreneur: Achieving Hockey Stick Growth in Life, Business and Sports — is scheduled for an Oct. 1 publishing date.



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “As Doris Burke moves to ESPN radio, she’ll become the first woman to call an entire conference finals and the NBA Finals for a national outlet. But she’ll be missed on television, especially in light of her superb work in Orlando. Gather up Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Reggie Miller, all the analysts working for ESPN and TNT; Burke is better than all of them.” . . . Jenkins isn’t wrong.


Just the other day the Atlanta Braves scored 29 runs in a game against the Miami Marlins. As Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, the Braves “violated every one of baseball’s 1,212 unwritten rules.”


Gilligan


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Mike Norvell, the head football coach of the Florida State Seminoles, tested positive and has gone into quarantine. The school’s athletic department made the announcement on Saturday. FSU wasn’t scheduled to play this weekend. . . . He is expected to miss his team’s game at Miami on Saturday. . . .

Florida Atlantic U was to have played Georgia Southern in a televised football game on ESPN on Saturday. However, FAU experienced an outbreak of positive tests involving players and on- and off-field staff so wasn’t able to play. . . . Other games cancelled or postponed this weekend for virus-related reasons included Baylor-Houston, Charlotte-North Carolina, BYU-Army, Florida Atlantic-Georgia Southern, and Arkansas State-Central Arkansas. . . .

The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that it would have a football season, after all. One day later, it was revealed that the U of Wisconsin Badgers football team had more than 40 positive tests among players and staff to that point. . . . ABC News reported: “On Thursday, UW-Madison reported 190 new positive COVID-19 tests among students and employees from on- and off-campus testing. As of Thursday morning, 400 students were in on-campus isolation, it said. There have been nearly 2,400 confirmed cases among UW-Madison students and employees since July 28, according to Public Health Madison & Dane County.” . . .

Jokerit, the KHL team that plays out of Helsinki, Finland, will be back on the ice for practice on Monday after health officials ended the club’s 14-day quarantine. Jokerit is scheduled to return to game action on Friday against visiting Sibir. . . .

The 2021 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed, after the 2020 Games were postponed in March. The 2021 Games had been scheduled for Halifax in July. Organizers have yet to announce a future date, but said they will be held in Halifax.


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The USHL lost two teams on Friday when the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Madison Capitals suspended operations for 2020-21. . . . The RoughRiders opted out because of storm damage to their home arena, the ImOn Ice Arena, from an Aug. 10 storm. . . . The Capitols, according to a USHL news release, “face significant county restrictions related to COVID-19 that affect their ability to practice, play and host spectators.” . . . The USHL is left with 14 teams that plan to open their regular season on Nov. 6.


One group — 50 Below Sports + Entertainment — owns the Winnipeg Blues and the expansion Winnipeg Freeze in the 12-team MJHL. I don’t know what the rules dealing with player transactions will be but I am told that the Blues traded 10 players to the Freeze on Thursday. The deal included 16-year-old twin brothers Rylan and Ryder Ringor of Winnipeg, both of whom played at the Elite 15 team at Rink Hockey Academy last season. . . . There isn’t anything on either team’s website about the player moves.


The BCHL, which plans on opening its regular season on Dec. 1, has released an exhibition schedule that is to start on Sept. 25 and features more than 100 games. Teams will play within their four-team cohorts. Interestingly, the schedule doesn’t include the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, although there has yet to be an announcement on the team’s immediate future.


JohnWayne

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering what MLB will do about the Marlins . . .

Scattershooting

Go back in time to March 27. The pandemic in which we now find ourselves firmly ensconced was just getting started, at least it was in North America. . . . Now think about April 27 . . . and May 27 . . . and June 27. . . . Today is July 27. . . . Now look around and ask yourself this: What has changed since March 27? . . .

NHL teams, each with as many as 52 people on hand, moved into their ‘bubbles’ on Sunday. Dr. Willem Meeuwisse, the NHL’s chief medical officer, said on Friday: “We don’t expect (the bubble) to be perfect. We expect with the number of people that we’re going to have some positive tests, and we have a method and a process designed in advance to deal with that.” . . .

So the NHL has gone into this part of its bizarre season with eyes wide open, knowing full well that there are going to be positive tests. . . .

Now put yourselves in the shoes of someone who operates a junior hockey team. Do you plan on bringing players, all of them teenagers, most of them away from home, in to training camp in less than two months knowing that there will be positive tests? Do you have a “method and process” in place to handle that situation when it arises? How many positive tests will it take to shut things down?

As Shane Lyons, the athletics director at West Virginia, said last week: “The virus isn’t going away and the virus is going to dictate what we do . . .”


Shoe


If you haven’t heard about what the Miami Marlins are going through, you need to check it out. Since Friday, they have had their starting right-fielder, DH/first-baseman and catcher and one of their pitchers test positive. . . . They went ahead and beat the host Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, but then delayed their flight home, apparently because they are expecting more test results back today (Monday). . . . If you have access to The Athletic, you will want to read the piece written by Ken Rosenthal that is right here. . . . “I think that by any definition, this is an outbreak on their team,” Dr. John Swartzburg, a clinical professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, Division of Infectious Disease, told Rosenthal. “And an outbreak on a team means that the team needs to close down.”


The NCAA’s Sports Science Institute released a report last week that concluded with this:

“At the time of this writing, the rate of spread of COVID-19 has been increasing in many regions of the country. Because of this increase, it is possible that sports, especially high contact risk sports, may not be practiced safely in some areas. In conjunction with public health officials, schools should consider pausing or discontinuing athletics activities when local circumstances warrant such consideration.”

Yes, we all are aware that the numbers in the United States, whose citizens have been left to drown by their federal government, have been haywire for weeks now and don’t seem to be improving.

One of the results is that most Canadians want the border with the U.S. to remain closed at least through the end of 2020.

At the same time, Canada’s numbers, while nowhere near those of our southern neighbours, have been trending the wrong way, too, including in the four western provinces that are home to a whole lot of junior hockey teams.


Backer


Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with a note that will resonate with old-time NFL fans: “The Pentagon team tasked with studying UFOs — the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force — plans to publicly release information on its findings. So maybe we’ll finally get our answer: Did Otis Sistrunk really graduate from the University of Mars?”

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Not that old? Google is your friend, and make sure you find a photo of Sistrunk with the Oakland Raiders.

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Perry, again: “The NFL says it won’t conduct its own investigation into sexual-harassment allegations by Washington front-office types but will instead use the findings of an ‘independent’ probe paid for by team owner Daniel Snyder. ‘Now why didn’t we think of that?’ groaned the Houston Astros.


On the subject of “independent” reviews/inquiries, the CHL announced a few days ago that it has put together “an independent panel that will review the league’s policies and practices in relation to various forms of player abuse.” . . . With all due respect to the three people on the panel, including old friend Sheldon Kennedy, is it really independent when it was put together by the CHL, whose practices over the years are what is being reviewed?


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The president has indicated he won’t watch any sport in which the athletes protest during the anthem. So he won’t be watching baseball, football, basketball or soccer. That will leave him more time to do what we elected him to do — play golf.”

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Once upon a time, actor Tom Hanks hawked stuff in the stands for the Oakland A’s. As he once told Jimmy Kimmel: “I went down to sell peanuts and soda, and thinking it would be like in a TV show where you saw the young kid trying to make a thing. Well, first of all, I got robbed twice. Note to self: Hide those wads of cash. Don’t be walking with a wad of cash in your pocket. Then, I came across professional vendors, who did not like the fact kids were there.” . . . Now the A’s are going to use his voice over the public address system to sell hot dogs, peanuts, programs, etc., never mind that there won’t be any fans in the pews.

Here’s Ostler, again:

“Sad baseball stat: Number of hot dogs sold at the Oakland Coliseum this season by ace vendor Tom Hanks: Zero.

“Maybe that’s because fans know Tom had the ’Rona.”


Having watched a bit of MLB since play began on Thursday . . . The fake crowd noise and the cardboard cutouts in the stands are laughable. . . . Starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base is horrible. Why not just have a home run-hitting contest? . . . The Seattle Mariners won’t be in the playoffs.



I don’t know if you saw Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top doc, throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ opener on Thursday night, but it was just a little bit outside. However, as Alex Brewsaugh noted on Facebook, “Angel Hernandez had it as a strike!”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”


Just the other day, Ed Orgeron, LSU’s head football coach, claimed that America needs football because “football is the lifeblood of our country.” To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune responded: “No, Ed, you need football. It is the lifeblood of Ed Orgeron.”


Rutgers became the second U.S. college to put its entire football program into quarantine on Saturday after it announced that six players had tested positive. . . . Michigan State did the same thing late last week after one player and one staff member tested positive.

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On July 1, Milo Eifler, a linebacker with Illinois, tweeted: “I understand that people want to see us play this season but in reality how can a team full of 100+ student athletes fully function during a pandemic. Trust, my teammates and I want to play. But schools around the country are showing blatant disregard for student athletes.” . . . The school responded by postponing his media availability.

Later, when he was allowed to speak, he offered this: “Yeah, we want to come back and want to play, but we just want to make sure our health and our safety is the priority. . . . It’s hard when you’re taking this process day by day. We got through today, but are we going to get through tomorrow? Sure, I want to go back to workouts, but am I going to be good Friday?”

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On Friday, Michigan State OT Jason Reid tweeted: “Guys are testing positive across the country left and right . . . why is there still discussion on a season? Why is it taking so long to make a logical decision? Hmm let me guess REVENUE #NCAA #BIG10”

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Clemson has had more than 30 players test positive, while West Virginia is at 28.

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Meanwhile, the Kansas Jayhawks have announced that they will play host to the Southern Illinois Salukis on Aug. 29. The Jayhawks were to have played the New Hampshire Wildcats, whose season has been cancelled, while the Salukis were to have met Wisconsin until the Big Ten pulled the plug on out-of-conference games. . . . Also on Aug. 29, the Missouri State Bears will visit the Oklahoma Sooners, which is a week earlier than originally scheduled.


JUST NOTES: Taking Note has been told that the Portland Winterhawks will play all of their 2020-21 home games in Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. In recent seasons, they have split time between there and the Moda Center, which also is home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers. . . . Brock Beck, the 20-year-old son of former New Westminster Bruins D Barry Beck, was Hamilton’s 10th homicide victim of 2020 when he was stabbed to death during what police say was a “street disturbance” on Saturday night. Jeff Mahoney of the Hamilton Spectator has more right here. Barry Beck revealed via Twitter that Brock was his son.


This was a tough weekend as we said farewell to Olivia de Havilland, 104; Regis Philbin, 88; Eddie Shack, 83; John Saxon, 83; and Peter Green, 73. We also learned that former NHL star Dale Hawerchuk, 57, is again in the fight of his life with a reoccurrence of stomach cancer. His son Eric revealed “the resurgence of this terrible disease” via Twitter on Sunday. “We are praying for him and he will continue to fight hard #HawerchukStrong,” Eric tweeted.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after getting a taste of MLB with Vin and Joe . . .

Scattershooting


Jeff Wright, the vice-president of the junior B Nelson Leafs, has said that the 20 teams in kijhlthe Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have been given the option to sit out the 2020-21 season if finances dictate it. . . . “We don’t want to lose anybody if we don’t have to,” Wright told Tyler Harper of Black Press. “We’re willing to assist them.” . . . At the same time, Leafs president Corey Viala told Harper that he wouldn’t be surprised if the KIJHL season didn’t start until sometime after September. . . . “I’ll be quite honest,” Viala said. “I cannot see us having a league next (season) unless things change, and I’m not really sure how much things need to change in order for us to be back on the ice for next (season).” . . . Harper’s story is right here.


A tweet from @AndyHermanNFL after the Green Bay Packers drafted QB Jordan Love to back up Aaron Rodgers: “Just realizing that the Packers’ current QBs are A-Rod and J-Lo.”


There has been speculation that the NHL’s best-case scenario has players back in their NHLteam’s home facilities on May 15 for what likely would be a three-week training camp before the resumption of a regular season. Chances are that games would be played without fans in five or six different arenas. . . . However, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said Sunday in his daily briefing that players coming into Canada would have to self-quarantine for two weeks. . . . “I think it’s a question we’ll have to look into,” Trudeau said. “Certainly at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.” . . . Of course, some kind of a deal would have to be struck to allow those players to return to Canada, because the border with the U.S. remains closed to non-essential travellers. . . . I believe that the last extension of that closure is to run through May 20. With the way the numbers are running amok in the U.S., it’s hard to see the Canadian government wanting to re-open the border anytime soon.


The  Burnaby Winter Club had suspended its operations because of the pandemic and a closure order from the Fraser Health Authority that is in force until May 31. But BWC now has informed members that it has the OK to re-open on Wednesday under a few conditions, including physical distancing practices as well as limiting the number of skaters and instructors on an ice surface at any one time. . . .

The U.S. Tennis Association has come up with a plan under which the U.S. Open could move across the continent from New York City to Indian Wells in California’s Coachella Valley. . . . If the pandemic prevents the Open from being played at the Billy Jean National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y., from Aug. 24 through Sept. 13, it could be moved to the Indian Wells Tennis Centre and played there at some point in the fall. . . .


“U.S. sprinter Deajah Stevens has been provisionally suspended for being unavailable for drug testing,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In other words, you can hide but you can’t run.”


With NASCAR planning on opening with four races in 11 days, Perry notes that “Kawhi Leonard is urging drivers to take a couple of races off in the name of load management.”


The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers announced Sunday that assistant coach Geoff Grimwood has resigned in order to sign on as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. . . . Grimwood started last season as the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. He left on Dec. 6, saying that he wanted to “take some time away from the game.” He joined the Flyers on Jan. 9, working there alongside head coach Kevin Cech. . . . Grimwood will replace Mike Vandekamp with the Capitals. Vandekamp left to take over as GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm.


Sitting here watching the Montreal Expos — the return of Tim Raines — and the host New York Mets in a game from May 2, 1987. It’s Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola and, oh my, it’s enjoyable. . . . So let’s scoot over to see how the 2020 season is going at Strat-O-Matic where the simulation is in full swing. . . . On Sunday, the New York Yankees moved into first place in the AL East with a 5-3 victory over the host Toronto Blue Jays. RHP Gerrit Cole had 10 Ks in 5 1/3 innings but didn’t get a decision. . . . The Yankees (22-13) hold a half-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (22-14). Toronto (14-20) is last in the East, 7.5 games back. . . . Other division leaders: Minnesota (21-13), Houston (22-12), Washington (22-11), Chicago Cubs (22-13) and Los Angeles Dodgers (21-12). . . . You are able to find it all right here. . . . Meanwhile, Raines had quite a comeback game, with a grand slam, a triple, two singles, a walk and a stolen base. Yes, the Expos won — 11-7 in 10 innings. It was Raines’ first game that season, the one that you may recall followed the offseason of collusion, after he signed a new contract.


With lots of talk about the NBA perhaps taking its season to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., comedy writer Brad Dickson went to Twitter with: “This is gonna be so embarrassing when Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs defeat the Golden State Warriors.”


There is a whole lot of chatter about MLB starting up in the not-too-distant future. But the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Nick Canepa suggested that no one rush into it. As he pointed out: “If you’ve never seen the floor of a baseball dugout after a game, know this: It’s a virus and bacteria Petri dish.”


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