Cities face many financial-related questions without answers . . . The ethics of restarting a season . . . Golf tour cancels season

It would seem that paNOW made some waves in Prince Albert with a Thursday story written by Alison Sandstrom that carried the headline: City facilities expected to remain shut until next year.

The Art Hauser Centre, the home of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, is a city facility.

On Friday, paNOW allowed city officials to use its website to “clarify that they have not made any determination on the opening date for facilities. They made assumptions for the purpose of financial forecasting, but no decisions have been made.”

Of course decisions haven’t been made. These pandemic-riddled days are full of uncertainty and there really isn’t any end in sight; at least, not that anyone can predict with any sense of accuracy. I mean, if the NHL doesn’t know whether it will be able to play in July or August or September, how can the WHL know that it will start its season on time?

Interestingly, there wasn’t one sentence in Sandstrom’s story that indicated any city facilities in Prince Albert would definitely be shut down until some time in 2021.

It’s far too early to make that kind of decision, but officials in all cities will be looking ahead, putting together various scenarios and trying to figure out where they are going to be at in terms of finances at year’s end. That is exactly what Greg Dionne, Prince Albert’s mayor, told Sandstrom: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities. So lots of the decisions will be made when (the province) sets dates and rules for Phase 4, then we’ll look at them and say (for example), well, that doesn’t make any sense, ‘sorry the pool has to be closed.’ ”

As Dionne pointed out, if the province limits outdoor gatherings to 30 people, “you won’t be opening the pool for 30 people.”

At this point, the Saskatchewan government has limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer. There could be changes coming on June 8 that would bump that up to 15 for indoor groups and 30 for outdoor gatherings.

But when the time comes, if indoor gatherings remain limited to 50 or 100 or even 200, Prince Albert isn’t likely to be opening the Art Hauser Centre.

As Sandstrom pointed out in her story, even with all the cost-saving things the city has enacted in the last while, it still expects to lose $750,000 by year’s end. That may be a drop in, say, Vancouver’s bucket, but it’s big coin to a city the size of Prince Albert.

And you can bet this same scenario is being played out in various other WHL cities.

Cities also have to be wondering about how much they are going to have to spend on changes to facilities in order to meet new health standards whenever they are back in business. Take an arena, for example. Does a dressing room get completely sanitized after every use? How many sanitizer stations are needed? How often are the washrooms to be sanitized? Will more staff have to be hired in order to get all of this done?

Meanwhile, Michael Scissons, the Raiders’ business manager, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW on Friday that it’s business as usual.

“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for a regular hockey season just like we would any other year,” Scissons said. “There’s been nothing to point at this point that it’s going to be anything different. . . . We have a big 50th year coming up right now and there’s a lot of work to go into it. We’re excited for the season to get going.”

On May 22, Ed Willes, the Postmedia sports columnist in Vancouver, wrote this:

“Giants owner Ron Toigo doesn’t think the WHL will resume play until January and, to date, season-ticket holders have been understanding.

“But, ‘You can make that commitment today, but what happens in six or seven months if you don’t have a job? That’s the biggest concern. What will the economy look like? And that’s universal. It’s not just sports.’ ”

Sandstrom’s original story is right here, while D’Andrea’s piece is right here.  


“This year’s John Deere Classic, scheduled for July 9-12, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In lieu of a news release, the PGA Tour announced the breakup in a John Deere letter.”



Some sports and leagues have returned to play. albeit without fans, and, if all goes according to plan, soon there will be more, including the NBA and NHL. “Beyond logistics, though, a deeper dilemma shadows the whole exercise,” writes Nick Faris of thescore.com. “Is it ethical for team sports to resume during a pandemic?

“The implications of this question are myriad and serious. To return in the COVID-19 era, leagues need an abundance of tests and the willingness to keep playing through positive cases. Players and many other, older people will bear these health risks so that the show can go on. Viewers watching at home must square this knowledge with their desire to consume and enjoy the spectacle.”

These are things junior hockey leagues have to be wondering about, too. What are things going to be like in August when they will be hoping to open training camps? Is there a junior league alive capable of absorbing the cost of regular testing? There are all kinds of questions, few, if any, with answers at this point in time.

Faris spoke with four expert ethicists and the results, which are rather thought-provoking, are right here.

Jack Bowen, co-author of Sport, Ethics and Leadership, offered this food for thought:

“I am a little curious about what the messaging will be (when sports resume). These guys are guarding each other in basketball. The women’s soccer league is opening in three weeks. ‘Oh, everything must be fine — let’s go out and party and live our normal lives.’ I’m trying my best to follow what expert scientists are saying, not what sports leagues are doing, but humans aren’t following the science. They’re following the social trends.

“In this case, the optics and the messaging could affect things like not mitigating harm and sending mixed messages, which people will then act on. The leagues need to be really aware of that. I feel like the leagues need to take that on as part of their social responsibility — to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re doing. Stay at home and watch these games with your family. Be safe.’ That sort of messaging could go a long way.”



Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The ESPN documentaries on Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong were interesting. Now how about a documentary or two on people who become superstars without being bullies and jerks? Just to show the kiddies that it can be done that way.”

——

Ostler, again: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.



Golf’s Mackenzie Tour cancelled its season on Friday. The Mackenzie Tour, which was heading into its eighth season, is the Canadian men’s pro circuit. . . . This season was to have featured 13 stops. . . . 

La Liga, Spain’s top men’s soccer league, is to resume training on Monday, with a return to play set for June 11. La Liga shut down on March 12. . . . It plans on finishing its schedule on July 19. . . .

Two Formula 1 races have gotten the OK from the Austrian government. They are scheduled for July 5 and 12, without spectators, in Spielberg, 200 km southwest of Vienna. . . . 


ESPN followed up The Last Dance with a two-part documentary on Lance Armstrong. Remember him? No, I didn’t watch it. Christine Brennan of USA Today did, and then wrote, among other things: “After soldiering through 2½ months of a pandemic, what did we do to deserve this, another TV network giving Armstrong airtime to share childhood pictures and his innermost feelings as he retells his enduringly reprehensible story?”


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.


Headline at fark.com: Viewers who successfully complete 64-hour Derek Jeter marathon on MLB Network will receive free gift basket.


The Los Angeles Kings announced Saturday morning that they won’t be renewing the contract of Mike Stothers, who had been the head coach of their AHL franchise for six seasons. He was the head coach of the Manchester Monarchs for one season when the franchise moved to California and became the Ontario Reign. . . . The Reign won the Calder Cup as AHL championship in 2015. . . . Stothers, 58, was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors for three seasons (2011-14) before taking over the Monarchs.


Scattershooting . . . Drawing goes viral . . . Big League for Broncos . . . Vandekamp back in coaching game

Scattershooting

A drawing showing players from the Humboldt Broncos asking Jonathan Pitre to join them in a game of shinny has exploded on social media. If you haven’t seen it, it’s in the tweet below. . . . It is the work of Kerry MacGregor, whose father, Roy, writes for The Globe and Mail and whose essay on the Broncos’ tragedy was linked to here on Monday. . . . The father and daughter have been in the news this year because of the release of their children’s book The Ice Chips and the Magical Rink.


Logan Boulet, a defenceman who didn’t survive the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on Friday, registered as an organ donor as he turned 21 on March 2. That story became most popular on social media when the information was made public by his family. But who was Logan Boulet? Dylan Purcell has the answer right here as he visits with folks who knew Boulet in his hometown of Lethbridge.



There are wordsmiths and there are wordsmiths . . . and then there is Charles P. Pierce. On Tuesday, SI.com posted a Pierce essay that is well worth your time. Yes, it’s about hockey and Humboldt and billet families and a whole lot more, and it’s all right here.


On that subject, here is Doug Johnson, the general manager and head coach of the Nipawin Hawks, talking to Postmedia’s Nick Faris:

“The people (who) are no longer with us were on that bus to play. They were on that bus to chase a dream and make it to the Canalta Cup final. If we don’t play, we do them a huge disservice. To me, the only way to truly honour Humboldt is to play.

“I think it’ll help our players with the grieving process. Will it be tough? Absolutely. Will sometimes it not make sense? Absolutely. But talking with people (who) have been through tragedies, to a person, they just say, ‘Get back and honour them through play. That’s what they would want.”

That conference call is scheduled for today (Wednesday).



Tom Cochrane, who really should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, paid a visit to TSN on Tuesday evening. Cochrane, the pride of Lynn Lake, Man., took the time to treat viewers to a special version of his hit song Big League.


Thank you so much to all who commented on the story I posted here earlier on Tuesday. I am thrilled that so many people read it, and were able to get something positive out of it.

I awoke Tuesday at 3 a.m., after having been asleep for about two hours. I was wide awake, but couldn’t figure out why. As I poked and prodded the depths of my mind, it came to me. Anyone who has written will understand when I suggest that I didn’t get much sleep for the rest of the night.

Again, thank you so much for the reaction. I would respond individually but this, I think, is better than cluttering up timelines.


And now for a couple of BCHL-related items . . .

Mike Vandekamp is back in the coaching game as the general manager and head coach Cowichanof the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals.

Vandekamp was in his seventh season as the Nanaimo Clippers’ GM/head coach when he was fired by new owner Wes Mussio on Dec. 22. Mussio cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the move.

With the Capitals, Vandekamp takes over from Brian Passmore, who will stay on in the area of hockey development, working, according to a news release, with the team’s U-16 program and other youth hockey initiatives.

This season, the Capitals finished 10-41-5, with two ties, and didn’t make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, in Trail, the Smoke Eaters, who are owned by Minnesota businessman Rich Murphy, have fired Cam Keith, their general manager and head coach, after a season in Trailwhich they went 32-21-4, with one tie, and reached the league’s final four for the first time since 2003.

In the second round of the playoffs, the Smokies won a seven-game series from the Penticton Vees, who had finished 17 points ahead of them in the Interior Division. Trail then lost the conference final in five games to the Wenatchee Wild.

Keith’s departure was announced via a one-paragraph, two-sentence, 46-word news release.

Jim Bailey of the Trail Times reported that Keith, who is from Nelson, “was conspicuously absent at the City of Trail ceremony that honoured the team Monday afternoon, and it was revealed later in a press release that Keith had been relieved of his duties that morning.”

Keith completed two seasons in Trail. In 2016-17, they finished 26-26-5, with one tie, good for third in the division.