Two B.C. junior B leagues cancel seasons . . . WHL continues to get good news from tests . . . Can you take time for this GoFundMe page?


Two of B.C.’s junior B leagues pulled the plug on their 2020-21 seasons on Tuesday. . . . The 12-team Pacific Junior Hockey League, which is based on the Lower Mainland, had been shut down since November, with teams only allowed to practice. Ronnie Patterson, the owner of the White Rock Whalers, told the Peace Arch News: “We battled through some issues . . . but we just felt in fairness to the athletes and all the programs, we would show some leadership in the hockey community and shut it down, and then hopefully we can start our spring and summer programs at some point, and just focus on having a successful 2021-22 season.” . . . The nine-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League also cancelled its season. “The current Public Health Authority discussions show it is unlikely there will be any changes in their current direction . . . and with the added pressures from facilities comparing the teams’ need for ice usage against the need for the removal of the ice for other sport- or health-related events, it seems that this is the time to make this decision,” Simon Morgan, the league president, said in statement from the league. . . . The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, another B.C.-based junior B league, cancelled its season on Feb. 6.


The WHL announced on Tuesday that there weren’t any positive tests among 455 tests administered to the five U.S. Division teams from Feb. 27 through WHL2March 5. From a WHL news release: “The WHL’s U.S. Division clubs are utilizing a private antigen testing strategy and will be conducting testing three times per week. Testing will be administered to all members of the team delegations of players and staff.” . . . All five teams were cleared to begin practices on March 5. . . . From Feb. 12 through March 5, the WHL has gone through 1,554 tests without even one positive. . . .

Interestingly, the Alberta-based teams, who began play on Feb. 26, move into playing three-in-three this weekend. This weekend, the Lethbridge Hurricanes will visit the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night, then they’ll play in Lethbridge on Saturday, and then it’s back to Red Deer for a Sunday game. The Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen will go Calgary-Medicine Hat-Calgary. The Edmonton Oil Kings will sit out this weekend, and then will play a triple header the following weekend. . . .

Games are scheduled to begin in the Regina hub on Friday. The five Saskatchewan-based teams and the two from Manitoba are playing in the Brandt Centre. A Friday doubleheader will have the Brandon Wheat Kings meet the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince Albert Raiders playing the Regina Pats. . . . There will be at least one game played in Regina on every day from Friday through April 28. . . .

The U.S. Division teams are scheduled to begin playing games on March 19. They’ll play in Kent, Everett, Spokane and Kennewick, Wash. . . . The five B.C. Division teams, whose schedule was released on Tuesday, are to start up on March 26 with games only in Kamloops and Kelowna.


Lindsey
Ferris Backmeyer remains in a Vancouver hospital with her mother, Lindsey, by her side.

Please allow me to remind you of an active GoFundMe page that will benefit the Backmeyer family of Kamloops. That page is right here. . . . Ferris, who recently turned four, underwent a kidney transplant in Vancouver on Saturday night. Unfortunately, there were complications shortly afterwards and the kidney had to be removed. . . . Ferris remains in hospital, and this means that her mother, Lindsey, and two older sisters are going to have to stay in Vancouver for the foreseeable future. Father Pat will be there, too, although he also is attending school in Kamloops as he works to become a registered nurse. . . . All money raised from this GoFundMe page will be used to help the Backmeyers meet expenses pertaining to their stay in Vancouver and to keep their home in Kamloops.


The 2021 RBC Canadian Open, a PGA Tour stop that was scheduled for St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto, June 7-13, has been cancelled for a second straight season. . . . The CP Women’s Open, an LPGA Tour event, is still on the schedule for Aug. 26-29 at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver.



Dang! I just love it when Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, does things up right. Here he is from Monday, writing about the NIT, which was held at Madison Square Garden in its glory days but this year has been shuffled off to, uhh, Texas:

“Your junior varsity post-season men’s basketball tournament now has the potential to be a highly visible pandemic super-spreader event. If you think that it is a good thing to have attached to ‘the NCAA Brand,’ may I suggest that linking ‘the NCAA Brand’ to Typhoid Mary is not a good thing?”

His complete rant is right here.

——

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot on the same subject: “Now that the college basketball anachronism called the NIT has been moved from New York to wide-open Texas, expect some teams to take a pass. Not to mention that the three-week-long NCAA women’s tournament must deal with mask-less Texans. Good luck, ladies.”


Pig


CP24 — Ontario reports nearly 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 as ICU doctor warns third wave is ‘upon us.’


The AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights were to have played the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colo., on Monday night. That didn’t happen, though, as the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Silver Knights.


We can only hope that G Taran Kozun has some kind of clause in his contract that calls for him to be paid some mileage this season. In a Monday ECHL trade, Kozun moved from the Allen Americans to the Wheeling Nailers for cash considerations. (BTW, what does cash considerations mean? Is it the same as cash?) . . . Kozun, 26, was the WHL’s top goaltender in 2014-15 (Seattle Thunderbirds), and the top goaltender in Canadian university hockey for 2018-19 and 2019-20 while with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . The Nailers will be his seventh team this season, following the Kansas Mavericks, Pensacola Ice Flyers, Indy Fuel, Rapid City Rush, Orlando Solar Bears and the Americans. Those all are ECHL teams with the exception of the Ice Flyers, who play in the SPHL. Through all of this, Kozun, according to eliteprospects.com, has played in only five games this season — one each with the Mavericks, Ice Flyers, Fuel, Rush and Solar Bears.


——

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 BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has named Adam Nugent-Hopkins as its interim head coach, at least for whatever might be left of this season. He takes over from Dan Cioffi, the assistant general manager and head coach who left the club to, according to a news release, “focus on his family and pursue a new opportunity.” Cioffi took over during the pandemic and went 8-3 in the BCHL’s exhibition season. Nugent-Hopkins, 32, was the head coach of the U15 AAA Greater Vancouver Canadians in 2019-20. Yes, he is the older brother of Edmonton Oilers F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Portal

Pachal, Bruins’ captain, WCHL champion and kidney donor, dies at 64 . . . Nachbaur returns to WHL

CPachal
CLAYTON PACHAL

Clayton Pachal, who won two WHL championships with the New Westminster Bruins, has died following a brief illness. Pachal, who died on Feb. 7 in Saskatoon, was 64. . . . Comfortable at centre, left wing or on defence, he was the captain of Bruins teams that won the 1974-75 and 1975-76 WCHL championships and went on to play in the Memorial Cup. . . . Those were the first two of four straight league titles for the big, bad, burly Bruins of head coach Ernie (Punch) McLean. . . . They lost the Memorial Cup final in 1975 and 1976, then won the next two. . . . . . . He split the 1972-73 season between the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers — he was from Yorkton — and the Bruins, then spent the next three seasons with New Westminster. In all, he had 68 goals, 90 assists and 910 penalty minutes in 234 regular-season games. He aded 13 goals, 15 assists and 156 PiM in 48 playoff games. . . . He also played eight Memorial Cup games, scoring four times, adding one assist and serving 18 penalty minutes. . . . Clayton was a cousin to Kent Pachal, whose son Brayden, a defenceman, played four seasons in the WHL and captained the Prince Albert Raiders in 2018-19. He now is with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . .

The Boston Bruins used the 16th overall selection in the NHL’s 1976 draft to take Clayton Pachal. He went on to play 35 NHL games — 11 with the Bruins and 24 with the Colorado Rockies — recording two goals, three assists and 95 penalty minutes. . . . The Winnipeg Jets selected Pachal in the second round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 1976 draft. . . . He retired from pro hockey after splitting the 1979-80 season between the Central League’s Cincinnati Stingers and the International League’s Grand Rapids Owls. . . . When he returned home, he kept playing, this time in the Wild Goose Hockey League with the Unity Miners and Wilkie Outlaws. . . .

Pachal’s greatest contribution wasn’t made in an arena or on a sheet of ice. In 1997, he was a living donor for his brother, Evan, who needed a kidney. . . . The brothers were an excellent match and Evan told Taking Note on Tuesday that “I’ve enjoyed good health ever since . . . I am so thankful for his gift.” . . .

The family asks that donations be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada in lieu of flowers. . . . A complete obituary is right here.


Don Nachbaur is the Tri-City Americans’ new associate coach. Nachbaur will Americanswork alongside head coach Kelly Buchberger, who is into his third season with the club. . . . Nachbaur, the WHL’s third-winningest regular-season head coach, spent six seasons (2003-09) as the Americans’ head coach. He also spent six seasons as head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds and seven with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . With 692 victories, he is behind only Don Hay (750), who now is an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, and the retired Ken Hodge (742). . . . After leaving Spokane, Nachbaur, 62, joined the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. He got caught up in a house-cleaning early in his second season (2018-19) in L.A. . . . Nachbaur spent the 2019-20 season as head coach of HKM Zvolen in the Slovakia Tipsport Liga. He started the 2020-21 season as head coach of SC Bern in the Swiss National League A, but left the team five games into the season with a 4-8-0 record.



Sleep


Starting pitcher Frankie Montas wasn’t there when the Oakland A’s reported to camp in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday. He has tested positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms. Under MLB’s protocols, players reporting to camp go through an intake process that includes a five-day home quarantine. A positive test also results in a player having to isolate for at least 10 days. He is allowed to rejoin the team only after undergoing cardiac evaluation and getting clearance from a team physician and from an MLB/MLBPA committee. . . . Pitchers and catchers were to report Wednesday. The mandatory reporting date for other players is Feb. 26. The first exhibition games are scheduled for Feb. 27. Opening day is set for April 1.


The NBA has scheduled its all-star game for March 7 in Atlanta — it was to have been held in Indianapolis but was moved for pandemic-related reasons. . . . Keisha Lance Bottoms is the major of Atlanta. How does she feel about having the game in her city? Here she is in a statement: “Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year,” she said in a statement. “I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party. There will be no NBA sanctioned events open to the public and we strongly encourage promoters, clubs, bars, etc. not to host events in the city related to this game.”


Line


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,395 have died from coronavirus; 836,594 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,439 have died from coronavirus; 839,155 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — United States: 487,927 people have died. . . . 27,753,824 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — United States: 490,447 have died from coronavirus . . . 27,825,043 have tested positive.

——

The Globe and Mail — Global COVID-19 cases have dropped by half, and experts are looking for explanations.

The Globe and Mail — Alberta pastor accused of breaking COVID-19 health rules held in custody.

The Tri-City News — COVID-19 outbreak at Burnaby’s biggest daycare sees 24 cases.

CBC News — B.C. records 427 new COVID-19 cases and 3 more deaths. There are 232 people in hospital with the disease, 63 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 277 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths. Province has a case positivity rate of 3.9%.

CBC News — Manitoba is reporting 76 new COVID-19 cases, below the province’s 7-day average of 84. Health authorities are also reporting 1 additional death.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 124 new COVID-19 cases, well below the province’s 7-day average of 159. Health authorities also say there have been 5 additional deaths.

CBC News — New Brunswick is reporting 3 new COVID-19 cases and 15 recoveries. Province has had 1,407 total cases, 1,264 recoveries and 24 deaths. . . . N.B.’s top doctor urges residents to stay in own zone over March Break.

CBC News — Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region call for 2-week lockdown extension due to COVID-19 variant spread. Toronto’s top doctor says there are 56 confirmed cases while 283 others have screened positive; foresees 3rd wave ‘as worse as anything we’ve seen.’

——

The NHL has had to postpone 35 games because of COVID-19, seven teams have had to pause activities and there have been 124 players on the protocol list. It all has left some people wondering if the coronavirus is being transmitted during games. . . . Chris Bumbaca of USA TODAY has a lot more on this story right here.

——

From the NBA on Wednesday: “Of the 454 players tested for COVID-19 since Feb. 10, five new players have returned confirmed positive tests. Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test, or has been identified as having been in close contact to an infected person, is isolated or quarantined until they are cleared under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance.”


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 junior B Langley Trappers have opted out of whatever might be left of the 12-team Pacific Junior Hockey League’s 2020-21 season. The league has been in a holding pattern since Nov. 7.


History

SJHL-Melfort player tests positive . . . PJHL looking to mid-October start . . . Winterhawks eliminate position

The coronavirus has found the SJHL. On Friday, a tweet from the league revealed that a player with the Melfort Mustangs “has tested positive for COVID-19.” . . . Rick Lang, Melfort’s mayor, told the Melfort Journal that to his knowledge “this is the first confirmed case in Melfort.” . . . According to the SJHL, “The player and the close contacts have been identified and contacted by the local public health office and have been advised to self-isolate. . . . There has been limited contact in the community.” . . . The last sentence in the statement read: “This is an advisory and there will be no further comments by any of the organizations at this time.” . . . The city shut down the Northern Lights Palace, the home of the Mustangs, for deep cleaning. It is to be reopened on Monday.


The 13-team junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League, which had said it hoped to begin regular-season play on Sept. 29, now says it is aiming for Oct. 15, although that could end up being moved to Nov. 1. . . . The PJHL’s teams, all of which are based on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, have completed training camps and named their rosters. However, Trevor Alto, the league’s commissioner, noted in a release that “not all of our facilities are prepared to host game play by . . . Sept. 29. We had identified this as a possibility and our schedule was prepared to make the adjustment.” . . . The league is planning on a 36-game regular season, with teams playing in four cohorts of three or four teams. After the first 18 games, the league will take a break in December “to quarantine for the second half where the cohorts will be adjusted for the remainder of the season and playoffs.” . . . Teams are permitted to begin exhibition games immediately. If facilities and cohorts are ready, regular-season play would begin Oct. 15. Failing that, the season will begin by Nov. 1.


Sting


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Brady McCollough, writing in the Los Angeles Times about college football being back on TV:“It sends a message that times have returned to normal. Fans in Big Ten country are going to gather in groups to watch, let their guards down by putting away their masks, scream and hug in indoor spaces when something good happens, and the virus will receive new life all over the region. All so Ohio State can get its crack at the College Football Playoff.” . . .

Bruce Jenkins, the San Francisco Chronicle: “That’s quite a season they’re having at the University of Houston, by the way. The team’s entire September schedule — Washington State, Rice, Memphis, Baylor and North Texas — has been wiped out by postponements or cancellations.” . . .

The Kamloops Curling Club has cancelled its 2020-21 season, citing the pandemic and an inability to play host to large bonspiels or banquets. The Kamloops Crown of Curling, held annually since 1974, won’t be held this year. . . . The B.C. men’s and women’s curling championships are scheduled to be decided in Kamloops, from Jan. 26 through Feb. 1. A decision on whether those events, which are to be played at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, has yet to be made.


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.


Adam Purner was the manager of group events and video co-ordinator for the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. He tweeted Friday afternoon that his position has been eliminated. . . . The Winterhawks have been in receivership since May 7, but have yet to be sold. Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, had said in June that he was optimistic there would be a new owner before the end of July. . . . “The receiver is now looking through and assessing the various inquiries that have been made. I can tell you that there has been very strong interest,” Robison said at the time. “The receivership is not a reflection of the state of the franchise. The franchise is in very, very good position. It’s one of our premier franchises in the Western Hockey League.”


The MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze has added Will Kinsman and Tyler Brown to its coaching staff. . . . Kinsman, who spent the previous six seasons as the head coach of the Vincent Massey Trojans of the Winnipeg High School League, will work as general manager/head coach Josh Green’s assistant. . . . Brown, who played four seasons in the WHL (Regina, Saskatoon, 2014-18), will be the expansion team’s goaltending coach.


Politics

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone we played in Winnipeg tournament . . . Hey, parents, no social media. OK? . . . PCHA fills out coaching staff


You know what makes me sick? Considering the times in which we now live and the sacrifices that a lot of us are making, a story like this makes me want to puke. It really does. Why are some people so selfish? Why do some people have such a lack of respect for others?

Fiona Odlum and Bonnie Allen of CBC News report:

“Several Saskatchewan hockey teams took extraordinary measures to hide their participation in a Winnipeg hockey tournament in July, including changing their team names, withholding player names on game rosters and forbidding parents from posting on social media.

“Despite the secrecy, the teams maintain they did not violate any rules.”

The North American Hockey Classic featured about 60 minor hockey teams  with players ages seven to 12. The NAHC is owned by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues.

It’s interesting that while five Saskatchewan teams — players ages seven to 12 — travelled to Winnipeg to compete July 16-19, the Regina Junior Pats chose not to take part.

Stacey Cattell, the CEO of the Pats organization, told CBC:

“Our Junior Pats program was notified that interprovincial travel for the purposes of tournaments was prohibited. That was brought to our attention, and we said, ‘No problem, our kids will stay home and practise, and follow the rules.

“We’re not going to do anything to jeopardize the COVID-19 response and the reopening of our province.”

And then there’s Chris Light, who coaches one of the Wheatland teams that took part. According to the CBC story, he “told CBC News he didn’t attend the tournament and was on a fishing trip. A team photo from Winnipeg shows Light at the tournament.”

There are a whole lot of minor hockey parents who should be absolutely furious about this situation. As one Regina minor hockey parent told Taking Note: “They give every hockey parent who has been following the rules and abiding with what is out there a black eye.”

The complete CBC story is right here.

I have one more question: Where was common sense?


City council in Prince George, struggling to figure out a way to minimize the city’s deficit position in these pandemic times, voted on Monday to keep the CN Centre, home to the WHL’s Cougars, closed though the end of 2020.

Council also voted not to open the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena in which the BCHL’s Spruce Kings play.

At the same time, three smaller arenas will open on Aug. 17, one of which is home to the U18 Cariboo Cougars.

On Tuesday, the WHL-Cougars and the Spruce Kings both said they have been told by city officials that their arenas will be available should their seasons get started. The WHL is aiming for an Oct. 2 start to its regular season, with the BCHL planning on Dec. 1.



To recap, MLB had to cancel or postpone — I don’t think it has figured that part out yet — two games on Monday. Miami’s home-opener went by the wayside after the Marlins had a bunch of folks test positive — at last count, there are believed to be 15 players and two coaches.

The Baltimore Orioles, who were to have provided the opposition in Miami, flew home, meaning they wouldn’t be there for a Tuesday game.

Meanwhile, the New York Yankees were to have met the host Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. But the Yankees would have had to use the facilities in which the Marlins had spent the weekend, so Monday’s game in Philly didn’t happen, either.

On Tuesday, MLB announced that the Marlins are done until at least Monday, while the Phillies are on hold until Friday when the Toronto Blue Jays come calling. The Yankees and the Orioles will play each other a time or two this week, then resume their original schedules on the weekend.

Dr. Arthur Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, told Rob Gillies of The Associated Press that “anyone who knows anything about this problem and infectious disease epidemiology could have anticipated this. This plan was designed to fail and they went through with it anyways.”


And then there’s LHP Eduardo Rodriguez of the Boston Red Sox, who has said that he now has a heart condition — myocarditis — with which he was diagnosed after a bout with COVID-19.

Rodriguez, 27, was shut down from baseball activities on Thursday, and later confirmed the myocarditis diagnosis.

“The pitcher added that he feels normal health-wise after developing myocarditis, a condition that inflames the heart muscle and can cause abnormal rhythms,” wrote Bryan Mcwilliam of thescore.com. “Rodriguez said he was told that about 10-20% of people with COVID-19 develop the condition.”

OK. So MLB has a team riddled with the virus and a pitcher who contracted it and was left with a heart condition.

Oh . . . let’s not forget Davey Martinez, the Washington Nationals’ manager. Martinez, 55, has a heart condition and actually underwent a procedure for it in September.

On Monday, in talking about the Marlins’ debacle, Martinez told reporters: “I’m going to be honest with you, I’m scared. I really am.”

And still the show goes on . . .


Here’s Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about the situation in baseball after Monday’s news:

“The fire consuming baseball will likely spread to the NFL, which is scheduled to open training camps this week. Like baseball, football will try to play a sport in the real world, without forcing players into a bubble. Like baseball, the league will test players constantly. And though teams will be using their own designated lab, like baseball, they still are using up supplies like swabs and testing equipment when there are shortages of such things in the real world.

“Unlike baseball, the NFL involves about four to five times the number of humans, greatly multiplying the likelihood of an outbreak. On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings’ infection control officer tested positive for the virus. I’m not making this up.”

Her complete column, which is one in a long line of terrific pieces she has written, is right here.


Jason


The NFL has an opt-out deadline of Aug. 3 and the New England Patriots already have had six players go that route — LB Dont’a Hightower, whose fiancée had a baby on July 16; RT Marcus Cannon, a cancer survivor; S Patrick Chung, RB Brandon Bolden, FB Danny Vitale and OL Najee Toran. . . . Also opting out so far are WR Marquise Goodwin, Philadelphia Eagles; WR Stephen Guidry, Dallas Cowboys; DT Star Lotulelei, Buffalo Bills; DT Kyle Peko, Denver Broncos; OT Andre Smith, Baltimore Ravens; KR De’Anthony Thomas, Baltimore; and DT Eddie Vanderdoes, Houston Texans. . . . There is a list of opt-outs right here.

——

Here’s Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, with NFL players about to start reporting to camps:
”This virus is undefeated at totally reshaping the way every other sport has been forced to operate, and had a massive impact on both the volume and location of games. Expecting the NFL to be different, somehow exceptional to COVID-19, never made much sense, and once the training facilities finally start filling up this week that stands to be more obvious than ever.”


Jason Becker, a former WHL player and coach, has taken over as the U18 prep head coach at the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy in Victoria. Last season, Becker was the head coach of the U18 prep team at St. George’s in Vancouver. He also spent time at the Okanagan Hockey Academy and was an assistant for three seasons with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. . . . After playing in the WHL (Saskatoon Blades, Red Deer Rebels, Kamloops Blazers, Swift Current Broncos, 1990-95), Becker, now 46, spent five seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. After playing in Europe, he got into coaching by working for five seasons as an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars. . . . At PCHA, he takes over from Kelly Shields, who stepped aside after seven seasons. Shields remains on staff as associate head coach. . . . Meanwhile, Greg Smith will be back for a fourth season at PCHA. This will be his third as head coach of the U16s. Dan Bell’s third season as head coach of the U15s will be his fifth at PCHA. . . . Mark Kosick is back as the head of player development and skills coach, and Rod Holt has come aboard as recruiting and scouting co-ordinator. For the past five season, Holt has been a B.C. regional scout for the Victoria Royals.



The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League plans to open its regular season on Sept. 29. Each of its 13 teams will play 44 regular-season games. . . . The schedule includes the expansion Chilliwack Jets under general manager/head coach Clayton Robinson.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Lord, the money we do spent on government. And it’s not a bit better than that government we got for one-third the money 20 years ago.”


Beer


The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) has postponed competition in cross-country, football, soccer and volleyball for the fall season. It now is working on spring schedules for those sports, each of which has been designated medium- or high-risk by the NCAA. Golf and tennis, which are low-risk, will play this fall in accordance with health directives. . . .

The Summit League, which includes the U of North Dakota, North Dakota State, South Dakota and South Dakota State, has postponed the start of its sports seasons until Sept. 23. That includes men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. . . . It doesn’t include football. For example, the UND Fighting Hawks play in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. . . . UND also announced that it has had 20 student-athletes test positive. . . . Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here. . . .

The Michigan Daily reported Tuesday that the U of Michigan has halted voluntary workouts for ice hockey, volleyball, swimming and diving, and field hockey because of positive tests and contact tracing. The ice hockey team may return to workouts later this week. The university said it has had 12 student-athletes and one staff member test positive. . . . The Daily’s story is right here.


Date

CHL, teams settle minimum-wage lawsuit for $30 million . . . Next up: Concussion-related action . . . Gaglardi: It all comes down to testing

Six years later . . . if you were hoping for a clear-cut winner and loser, well, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

The CHL and its leagues have agreed to pay $30 million to settle three class-action CHLminimum wage-related lawsuits that were filed six years ago.

The suits were filed by former players against the three major junior leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — that operate under the CHL umbrella. They later were certified as class action.

“This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs,” the CHL said in a statement. “It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.” 

Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, who was the lead for the plaintiffs, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The lawsuits were filed in 2014, with players claiming that the major junior teams are businesses and that players, as employees, should be eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay. The players also requested back pay.

While the lawsuits were before the court, the major junior leagues, which are of the belief that the players are student-athletes, lobbied various governments and were successful in gaining exemptions from minimum-wage laws.

As TSN’s Rick Westhead said in an on-air interview: “Over the last few years, the CHL has been very diligent about going to provinces and U.S. states where there are CHL teams and trying to successfully have minimum-wage laws amended so that players are exempt from minimum-wage legislation.”

In the west, governments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Washington state all amended labour codes to provide exemptions. Oregon politicians chose not to provide an exemption.

According to the CHL and the plaintiffs, they agreed on a settlement in February with the help of a mediator.

“Earlier this year we met with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and agreed on a settlement that would see the end of the court case and an award of $30 million which will cover their lawyer’s fees, funder’s fees and other legal costs,” the CHL said in its statement. “The remainder will be distributed to players in the class. We did this because cases like these are very expensive and are a distraction to the league and as we had publicly disclosed, we had $30 million in insurance for these lawsuits.”

Lawyers are expected to get about $10 million off the top, with the remainder to be split among players. There are believed to be about 4,000 players who played from 2010-19 eligible to share in the money — players who have signed NHL contracts aren’t eligible — but it’s unlikely that all will apply.

It is believed that the CHL and its teams will pay half of the agreed-upon sum, with the CHL’s insurance paying the other half. Interestingly, the CHL purchases its insurance through Hockey Canada, which means that insurance premiums for the governing body of minor hockey in Canada are likely to rise. Those costs could be passed on to minor hockey players throughout the country.

If all 60 CHL teams are on the hook for a share of the payout, each will pay $250,000. But there are seven Americans teams involved, five of them in the WHL. If the American teams, which were exempted from the class action, aren’t required to pay, each of the remaining 52 teams would pay more than $288,000.

One of the five players who was in on the lawsuit from the beginning, Samuel Berg (Niagara IceDogs, OHL), is to receive a $20,000 honorarium. Each of the other four — Travis McEvoy (Saskatoon Blades, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, WHL), Kyle O’Connor  (Kootenay Ice, WHL), Thomas Gobeil (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) and Lukas Walter (Tri-City Americans, WHL; Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) — is to get $10,000.

As Westhead reported, with the amendments having been made to minimum-wage laws in various provinces and states, “This does not open the door to future claims like this. . . . it’s unlikely the CHL is going to have to worry about a case like this down the road.”

Unless, of course, there are changes in governments and new faces choose to rewrite the employment standards legislation that includes the exemptions from minimum-wage requirements.

“There was a belief the provincial changes showed the CHL to be on the right side of the law,” Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote, “but legal advice indicated the case could continue for up to another decade. That would cost millions in fees and, according to sources, the insurance fund topped out at $30 million. Clearly, that was a major factor in deciding to settle the case.”

What’s next? According to a tweet from Westhead: “After a settlement approval hearing (likely Aug/Sept), eligible players will need to file claims with a court-appointed administrator to get a payout.”

So, as the lawyers like to say on TV, in summation . . . the winners and losers.

Well, the only winners would appear to be the lawyers.

Yes, I would suggest that everyone else loses.

The CHL teams lost because financial filings necessitated by the lawsuit allowed people on the outside to learn just how much money some of these franchises make. Yes, major junior hockey no long is a mom-and-pop operation. It is a big business.

Players, past and present, certainly didn’t win. Yesterday’s players aren’t likely to get more than a few thousand dollars out of this settlement and, as far as today’s players are concerned, nothing is going to change in terms of what they are paid.

Perhaps the biggest winners, aside from the lawyers, of course, are WHL fans in whlcities that won’t lose their teams.

Three years ago, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, issued a statement  after the lawsuit was certified as a class-action. In that statement, Robison said: “If WHL clubs were required to provide minimum wage, in addition to the benefits the players currently receive, the majority of our teams would not be in a position to continue operating.”

That is a position that he repeated more than once or twice over the past three years. Presumably those unnamed franchises won’t cease operations now. Although considering the uncertainties presented by the pandemic-related situation in which all teams now find themselves, you wonder how they will handle getting a bill for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

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“Well, major junior hockey operators in Canada got rid of one of the biggest headaches they’ve had in their history and all it cost them was $30 million, much of it paid by insurance, and a ton of negative headlines. Now they’re free to go back to paying their ‘student athletes’ less than minimum wage,” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

“Sounds like a pretty good deal for them. Because essentially what has happened when the CHL minimum-wage lawsuit was settled to the tune of $30 million is that the former players who bravely and persistently fought for this chunk of money were able to win in court for themselves and the roughly 3,600 other players in the lawsuit. But in the bigger picture, the Canadian Hockey League won in the far more important political arena by convincing each province to consider its players student athletes, which exempts it from annoying employment standards legislation. Once they managed to do that, they were happy to settle. It’s believed it cost each team about $250,000.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.

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It should be pointed out that what came to be known as the minimum-wage lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with another class-action lawsuit facing the CHL, its three leagues and Hockey Canada. . . . James McEwan, a former WHL player, filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada in January 2019. The lawsuit later was refiled with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include the OHL and QMJHL. . . . Preliminary discussions regarding the certification of the lawsuit as class action were to have been held in Vancouver in March. If the pandemic didn’t play havoc with that, all parties involved will be awaiting Madam Justice Neena Sharma’s ruling. . . . McEwan played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting his time between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.


Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, says the league is Kamloops1“trying to figure out what the season’s going to look like . . . when it’s going to start.”

Appearing on TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Gaglardi chatted with Jeff Paterson and The Moj (aka Bob Marjanovich) on Friday.

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, frequently mentioned the importance of testing in terms of getting the economy rolling again.

Even for the WHL, he said, “it really all comes down to . . . testing.”

“There’s now a swab,” he said, “that you can get that you can swab your mouth and it tells you in 30 seconds whether you’ve got the virus. If this is something that we can get out into the mainstream market, how far are we from having fans in arenas?

“We’re really waiting for something . . . it may not be a vaccine . . . I’m certainly not counting on a vaccine in 2020. But I do think we’re going to have better testing soon, more access to testing, and somewhere we’re going to get some drug that’s therapeutic that will mean a 65- or 70-year- old guy can go to a hockey game and not worry about dying, and if he comes down with a virus then we can treat him and he’s going to be OK. We need to get to there to get this economy back going.

“At some point I think we’ll get there, with a combination of testing, tracing and hopefully something’s that therapeutic that allows people to feel safe to go to events like hockey.”

Asked about playing WHL games without fans in the building, Gaglardi replied: “The WHL is a gate-driven league. Without people in the buildings, it’s hard to see how we can operate for a great length of time.”

The WHL, according to Gaglardi, has got “contingency plans like every league there is. The Western Hockey League’s not the only league in that position . . . we’ll look at all kinds of scenarios.

“At the same time, too, we’ve got an obligation . . . to develop young hockey players, so if our league starts up a little late . . . we’ve got contingency plans to get the kids into Kamloops and to develop them. We’ve got all kinds of schemes of games and day games and things we might do . . . we take that obligation seriously.”

The complete interview is right here.

Gaglardi’s appearance on the Vancouver radio station came one day after his NHL and AHL organizations were hit with more furloughs, these ones to run through July 3.

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News reported that the latest cuts included “most of the remaining front office,” but excluded anyone who is a vice-president or higher.

“The Stars’ hockey operations department was not affected by the furloughs, but management, coaches and scouts took 20% pay cuts,” DeFranks wrote.

His complete story is right here.


The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League will have an expansion franchise in 2020-21 — the Chilliwack Jets. That begins the number of teams in the league to 13. . . . Clayton Robinson, the majority owner, will be the general manager and head coach. . . . The Jets will play out of the Sardis Sports Complex.



Honda Indy Toronto, which had been scheduled for July 10-12, has been cancelled. The move came after the City of Toronto cancelled event permits for major events for July and August. . . .

Organizers for what was to have been Ironman Canada’s return to Penticton, B.C., announced Friday that the event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Aug. 30. The Ironman last was held in Penticton in 2012, ending a run that began in 1983. . . .

The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. The 41st running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 11. Last year’s race drew more than 8,000 participants. . . .


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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.


The U.S. national junior team has filled out its coaching staff by adding four assistants — Ted Donato (Harvard), Theresa Feaster (Providence), Kris Mayotte (U of Michigan) and Steve Miller (Ohio State). All will work alongside head coach Nate Leaman of Providence College. . . . Feaster, the director of men’s hockey operations at Providence, is the first woman named to the coaching staff. She will be Team USA’s video coach. . . . She is the daughter of Jay Feaster, a former NHL general manager with the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He now is the Lightning’s vice-president of community hockey development. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


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Hope: It’s been a wonderful run . . . Does Prince George Rec League need help from feds? . . . New commish for PJHL

It sounds like Cam Hope doesn’t know why he was fired on Wednesday as the president and general manager of the WHL’s Victoria Royals, and he’s taking the high road. . . . Interestingly, Hope ran the Royals’ bantam draft on April 22, then had the rug yanked out VictoriaRoyalsfrom under him just one week later. . . . Hope had joined the Royals in 2012 after spending seven seasons with the NHL’s New York Rangers, the first three as vice-president of hockey operations and the last four as assistant GM. . . . He was the Royals’ GM for three seasons, then president and GM for five. . . . The Royals made the playoffs in each of his eight seasons, but never got out of the second round. . . . “We’re in a results oriented business,” Hope told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist,“and (results) are a matter of perspective. If you don’t win a championship, (well) you serve at the pleasure of ownership. I thought we had three good chances — in 2016, in 2018 and, as crazy as it sounds, this year with a team that was poised, and it’s disappointing not to get that chance. Often in sports, it’s in the hands of the gods.” . . . Graham Lee, the franchise’s owner, was quoted in the news release announcing Hope’s dismissal, but that’s been it. . . . Hope added: “It’s been eight terrific years in the best job in junior hockey. It’s extremely hard to create a sustainable business in this league. But I’ve enjoyed every day of it and it’s been a wonderful run.” . . . With Hope pulling the strings, the Royals had a 316-205-52 regular-season record. Good luck to the Royals in finding someone who can match that. . . . Dheensaw’s complete story is right here.


The 2020 IIHF World Men’s Hockey Championship had been scheduled for Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland, from May 8-24. Of course, it was postponed. There had been talk of Switzerland playing host in 2021, but that has been ruled out and it will remain in Belarus and Latvia. . . . The Swiss federation was interested in 2021, but changed its mind, citing financial risks and — get this! — the risk of the coronavirus still being a factor a year from now. . . .

The Hungarian government has banned all large gatherings through Aug. 15, so the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will be run without fans in attendance if it is held on Aug. 2. . . . F1 officials continue to work on their schedule, which has been riddled by cancellations and postponements. . . .

NASCAR says it is going to start its season on May 17 at Darlington, S.C., Raceway. The Coca-Cola 600 is set for Charlotte, N.C., Motor Speedway on May 24. . . . No fans allowed, though.


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The WHL made it to fark.com, which took note of the 2020 bantam draft with this: “The virus of Brayden has passed its peak. Minus, it has mutated into variations of Hayden, Aiden, Kaden, Jayden, Grayden and (deep breath) Teydon.”


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”


If baseball’s 10-team Expedition League does get its season started, the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks, who call Brandon home, will be playing out of a city in North Dakota. . . . Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, had said on Wednesday that there won’t be live sporting events with fans in attendance in the province until at least September. That combined with the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel meant the Whiskey Jacks wouldn’t be able to play in Brandon. So they will set up shop in a North Dakota community yet to be named. . . . The league’s Opening Day had been set for May 26, but that has been postponed, although a new date hasn’t yet been announced. . . . The league, a summer circuit for college players, also has teams in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. . . . Thomas Friesen of the Brandon Sun has more right here.


With a number of sporting leagues — CFL, CPL, CEBL, BCHL, KIJHL — apparently asking the feds for some financial help, Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat in Prince George and myprincegeorgenow.com wonders: “Is it time for the Prince George Rec Hockey League to ask the government for a handout?” . . . Yes, I think he was joking. But, hey, in these bizarre times you just never know.


In his weekly Hart Attack column, which is right here, Hartley Miller asked a few timely questions:

“What are the contingency plans for junior hockey leagues like the WHL and BCHL should physical distancing measures still be in place for the fall (which is highly likely) and even into the new year? It seems obvious that these leagues are not financially viable without fans, and many of them, in the stands.

“What will be the protocol when sports do return and a competing athlete tests positive for COVID-19? Does everything get shutdown again or do we just shrug our shoulders and just keep playing?”


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Trevor Alto is the junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League’s new commissioner. Alto, 41, takes over from Ray Stonehouse, who had been in charge since 2016. Stonehouse, 76, will remain as a senior advisor through 2021-22. . . . Alto was the BCHL’s executive director under then-commissioner John Grisdale from 2012-19.

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Bayne Koen is the new head coach of the junior B Richmond Sockeyes of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He is a veteran junior coach on the Lower Mainland of B.C., and, in fact, has won four championships, most recently in 2018-19 in his fourth and final season with the North Van Wolf Pack. He also has been a PJHL head coach with the Port Coquitlam Buckeroos and Port Moody Black Panthers. Last season, he was the director of player development with the White Rock Whalers and also coached a bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy. . . . With the Sockeyes, he takes over from Brett Reusch, who left the club on April 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.


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