Only the vaccinated will be allowed at Bills, Sabres games . . . Memorial Cup tournament cancelled . . . Rockets, Tigers cleared to return

On March 30, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said that he expects the stadiums in which his league’s teams play to be open to full capacity when the next season begins.

On Tuesday, it was announced at a news conference in Buffalo that fans will have to have been vaccinated in order to attend games involving the NFL’s Bills and the NHL’s Sabres next season.

Mark Poloncarz, an Erie County executive, said: “You want to go to a Bills game later this year? Get vaccinated with your first dose of the Moderna vaccine today. You get your second dose of the Moderna vaccine in four weeks. Two weeks later, you’ll be able to fill out the pass, and in the fall, you’ll be cheering on Josh Allen at the stadium.

Poloncarz also said that religious and medical exemptions won’t be taken into consideration.

“Some people are like, ‘Well that’s unfair,’ but there’s no God-given right to attend a football game,” he said. 

In this instance, Erie County is able to set the rules for games in the home facilities for the Bills and Sabres because it owns both of them. According to Poloncarz, the country doesn’t need state approval either.

Needless to say, there was a lot of reaction on social media to the announcement, but Erie County officials don’t seem likely to budge on this.

“You have no guaranteed rights in the Constitution to inflict illness on other people, just like you have no guaranteed right in the Constitution to attend a Buffalo Bills football game,” Poloncarz said. “You can be removed at anytime. Our goal is to ensure that everyone in there is safe.”

Sandra Tan of the Buffalo News has more right here.

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Meanwhile, there are people doing the research to try and find out whether having fans attend sporting events in these pandemic times results in increased rates of infection in the areas in which the games were played. . . . One study, which hasn’t yet been peer reviewed, found definitive increases. . . . There’s more on that right here.


It was hardly a surprise when the CHL announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Memorial Cup because of the pandemic.

While a host city/team for 2021 hadn’t been announced, the tournament was to have been played in Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie. The 2020 tournament that was to have been held in Kelowna also was cancelled.

The Memorial Cup first was presented in 1919. It had been awarded every year since then . . . until 2020.

“Regrettably, we do not see a path in which we will be able to produce champions in our three member leagues due to border restrictions and quarantining requirements,” the CHL said in a statement. “The Memorial Cup is steeped in tradition and is one of the most difficult trophies to win in all of sport. The CHL looks forward to presenting it next season to the championship club that has earned the right to hoist it.”

While the QMJHL continues to plan on starting its playoffs on April 23 — it has at least three Quebec-based teams with positive tests, one of them with 24 — one has to think that the OHL will get around to announcing one of these days that its season has been cancelled without getting started.

The WHL has all of its 22 teams playing games within their geographic areas, but hasn’t yet announced a plan for playoffs of any sort. Of course, there really is no need for any sort of playoffs without the Memorial Cup at the end of the rainbow.

The last team to win the Memorial Cup? That would be the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who beat the host Halifax Mooseheads, 4-2, in the final of the 2019 tournament. The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders and the OHL-champion Guelph Storm also took part.

The CHL said in its statement that “further decisions” regarding a 2022 host team/city and schedule would be announced at a later date.



DannyBoy


The Oil Kings don’t play until the weekend, but there were four games played in the WHL on Tuesday night . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored four times in the first period, the first two by BrandonF Ty Thorpe, en route to an 8-3 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . The Warriors (7-9-1) got to within a pair, at 5-3, late in the second period but the Wheat Kings (12-3-2) scored the last three goals. . . . Thorpe has three goals this season. . . . The Wheat Kings got a goal, his seventh, and two assists from F Nolan Ritchie and three assists from D Braden Schneider. . . . F Lynden McCallum added his 11th goal for Brandon. . . . F Brayden Yager, the third overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his fifth and sixth goals and added an assist for the Warriors. He has 13 points in 17 games. . . . Yager came up short on a first-period penalty shot, with G Connor Ungar making the save. He finished with 37 stops. . . .

In the nightcap in Regina, the Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first four Raidersgoals and went on to beat the Pats, 4-2. . . . The Raiders (6-8-3) struck four times in a span of 6:36 in the second period. . . . F Tyson Laventure (2), F Justin Nachbaur (6), F Evan Herman (6) and F Logan Linklater (1) had the goals. Herman has goals in three straight games. . . . The Raiders have points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Pats (6-8-3) got back in it on late third-period goals from F Logan Nijhoff (8) and F Ryker Evans (3). . . . For what it’s worth, the Pats are 2-3-3 as the home team and 4-5-0 as the visitor. They were the home team for this one. . . . F Tanner Howe, 15, made his WHL debut with the Pats. Howe, who is from Prince Albert, won’t turn 16 until Nov. 28. He was a fourth-round pick by the Pats in the 2020 bantam draft. . . .

F Nico Myatovic scored his first two WHL goals in his first game to help the host SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Myatovic, a 16-year-old from Prince George, was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. He gave Seattle a 1-0 lead on his first shift, at 2:25 of the first period, then made it 2-1 at 4:56 of the second period. He actually scored his first two goals on his first two shots. . . . F Jake Sloan (3) got the Americans to within one, at 3-2, at 17:42 of the third period, but Seattle F Henry Rybinski (3) got the empty-netter at 18:48. . . . Seattle improved to 7-5-0, while Tri-City slid to 5-7-0. . . . There was concern for Seattle F Payton Mount at game’s end. The 18-year-old from Victoria, who is in his third season with Seattle, was wearing a neck brace when he was placed on a backboard and then taken away from the bench area on a stretcher following the final buzzer. . . . Andy Eide of 710 ESPN tweeted afterwards that Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said “Mount was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. He was talking and alert. Puck skidded off the wall of the bench and hit him in base of the skull.” . . .

The Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Silvertips, Spokane4-3, in Everett. . . . F Eli Zummack had a goal, his third, and three assists for the Chiefs. His second shorthanded goal in as many games broke a 3-3 tie at 7:31 of the third period. . . . Spokane F Adam Beckman’s second goal of the game, and eighth of the season, had tied the game at 2:51. . . . F Brendan Lee (2) and F Cole Fonstad (8) put Everett out front 2-0 in the first period. . . . Beckman got Spokane’s first goal 31 seconds into the second. He has goals in five straight games. . . . F Austin Roest’s first WHL goal restored Everett’s two-goal lead just 34 seconds later. . . . F Copeland Ricker got Spokane’s comeback started with his first goal at 4:41 of the second. . . . Spokane now is 3-5-3, while Everett slipped to 9-3-0.



The WHL announced Tuesday night that the Kelowna Rockets will resume team activities today (Wednesday) after everyone in their cohort tested negative. The Rockets had been on hold for 14 days after experiencing seven positive tests. They are scheduled to face the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops on Saturday night. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers have been cleared to return to play after having been shut down after having been deemed close contacts of the Calgary Hitmen, who had one positive test. The Hitmen remain on hold, but the Tigers will return with three weekend games against the Red Deer Rebels. They’ll play Friday in Medicine Hat, Saturday in Red Deer and Monday in Medicine Hat. On the original schedule, Red Deer was to have played a tripleheader with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The WHL news release on schedule adjustments impacting the five Alberta teams is right here.


FlinFlonThe SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers owe the City some money. But the City isn’t in a hurry to collect the $27,500. In fact, council has put the debt into abeyance, at least for now. . . . Should the Bombers show a profit of $100,000 in one season, they will pay the debt. Should someone purchase the team, the debut will have to be paid out of the proceeds. Councillor Tim Babcock explained things this way to Eric Westhaver of the Flin Flon Reminder: “The way it works is that they owe us money from two seasons ago now, because their playoffs were cut short and they didn’t get the money they were counting on from a deep playoff run. Then, they weren’t able to have a season this year, so they’re a little bit behind in their bills.” . . . Westhaver has more right here.


The 22-team Ontario Junior Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. “With the Province of Ontario currently under a 28-day Stay-at-Home order, and the official 2020-21 Hockey Canada season ending on May 31, the league has declared an end to its season.” . . . In the 2020-21 season, six OJHL teams were able to play a total of 56 exhibition games.


Wake


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . And a huge thank you to those who have already responded to this. Love seeing her smile every time she gets a notification of a new donor.

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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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scholl

Team takes leave with border closed . . . KHL has 38 positive tests, no schedule . . . Will MLB season end Sunday?

The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Buffalo Jr Sabres have decided not to play in 2020-21 JrSabresdue to “issues related to border travel with COVID-19,” according to a news release. From an OJHL release: “The team and the league have been in communication for a number of weeks as the situation of travel between Canada and the United States continues to be monitored.  With so much uncertainty as to when the border will be open to allow for OJHL teams to travel inter-country between the US and Canada, the collective decision has been made to have the Jr Sabres take a leave of absence for the 2020-2021 season.” . . . Larry Playfair, who played two seasons 1976-78) with the Portland Winterhawks, is Buffalo’s governor. . . .

The Jr Sabres are believed to be the first team to withdraw from play because the U.S.-Canada border is closed and appears likely to remain that way indefinitely. . . . A number of Canadian-based leagues, including the OHL, WHL, BCHL and KIJHL, include teams that play in U.S. cities.


Scott Moe, the premier of Saskatchewan, has expressed his disappointment in the five minor hockey teams from that province who travelled to Winnipeg for tournament play, July 16-19. . . . “I’m just disappointed that a few teams would put the entire safe restart of the province at risk,” he said. “Here is a prime example of a group of people putting their own self-interests ahead of the greater public health and safety of their neighbours, of their family and of their community.” . . . Bryan Eneas of CBC News has more right here.

Stupid

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, gave some space in a post this week to the Saskatchewan stupidity. And he hit the nail on the head with this:

“What is the lesson for those kids (ages 7-12) to learn here? If there is a rule or regulation that gets in your way, then what you should do is to figure out a way to circumvent that rule/regulation in such a way that you are not likely to get caught?”


Alexei Morozov, who played seven NHL seasons (1997-2004) with the Pittsburgh Penguins, now is the president of the Russia-based KHL. The league plans on opening on KHLSept. 2, although it has yet to release its regular-season schedule. Morozov, 43, said that will happen early this month. . . . However, it seems the KHL is having pandemic-related issues. . . . “Currently to the date we have 38 players that have tested positive,” Morozov told RSport on Wednesday. “We also have team staff members have tested positive. Some cases have been very severe and people have been hospitalized. There are people that feel very ill but they are all getting better and there are no worries about players not being able to continue their careers or having any threat to their life.” . . . There are reports that Avangard Omsk has had 20 positive tests, with Spartak Moscow at 15. . . . The KHL also has teams in Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan and Latvia, something that will cause problems because various borders remain closed. The Chinese team Kunlun Red Star already has moved from Beijing to Mytischich, which is on the outskirts of Moscow.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

MLB’s pandemic-related woes continued Friday with the postponement of a game between the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, who came up with two positive tests, and Milwaukee Brewers. The teams are hoping to make up the game with a Sunday doubleheader. Both games would be seven innings in duration. . . . That is barring more positives, of course. . . . The Cardinals were self-isolating in their Milwaukee hotel rooms on Friday. They played the host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday and Wednesday, then had an off-day in Milwaukee on Thursday. . . .

Friday’s MLB news means that six teams — the Miami Marlins, Milwaukee, the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis, the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals all are sidelined, at least for now, due to COVID-19. . . . The Phillies now have had to postpone six games — that’s 10 per cent of their schedule — because of COVID-19. . . . By now MLB has to be asking itself: How much is too much? . . .

The Texas Rangers lost two broadcasters on Friday as Matt Hicks tested positive and Eric Nadel chose to opt out of games, at least through the weekend. . . . Nadel has been the play-by-play voice, with Hicks as an analyst. . . . A radio technician on the Rangers’ crew also tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Buffalo Bills had five players test positive, so they sent all their rookies home on Thursday. Earlier in the week, the NFL said that there were 21 positives in testing done as players reported to training camps. . . . At the same time, at least 32 players have opted out of playing in the 2020 season. There’s a list right here. . . .

Gaby Lopez, 26, withdrew from the Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio, after becoming the first LPGA player to test positive. She was tested on Monday and now is in self-isolation for at least 10 days. . . .

Sergio Perez, who drives on the Formula 1 circuit for Racing Point, will sit out this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silvertsone after testing positive. He believes he contracted the virus after returning to his home in Mexico on a private plane to see his mother. She recently had been released from hospital after being in an accident. . . . Perez also will miss next weekend’s 70th anniversary Grand Prix that also is to be held at Silverstone.


Social


Derek Cornet of larongenow.com reports that “La Ronge councillors have decided to forgive debt owed by the La Ronge Ice Wolves, as well as pause ice fees for the team and other organizations.” . . . The Ice Wolves apparently owed about $20,000. That has been waived, and now the SJHL team won’t have to pay for ice in 2020-21. . . . Cornet’s story is right here.