Things are messy in Portland . . . BCHL aiming for Dec. 1 start after long training camps . . . Stampede Corral soon to fall


We are halfway through July and the Portland Winterhawks haven’t yet changed hands.

Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported on June 18 that the WHL “is optimistic that the Winterhawks will have a new owner by the end of July.”

In that story, Danzer quoted Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, as having told whlreporters: “We’re hopeful that we will be in a position later this month and into July to select a candidate to become the new owner of the Portland Winterhawks. It’s important to have that resolved as quickly as possible. Our target is to have that resolved by sometime in July.”

If you aren’t aware, the Portland franchise has been in receivership since May 7 after owner Bill Gallacher ran into some financial difficulties. The Winterhawks had been used as part of the collateral for a Cdn $20-million loan for which a repayment deadline was missed.

However, things have changed in Portland.

Of course, there is the pandemic. Also, the city has been through seven weeks of protests and demonstrations against the treatment of Black Americans by police. There’s a lot more right here on what transpired in Portland on Thursday night.

On Friday, Oregon Public Broadcasting, in a piece that is right here, reported:

“Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.”

A WHL fan who lives in Portland emailed me . . .

“The Oregon Health Authority reported a record-high 437 new coronavirus cases and two deaths on Thursday. It’s the third consecutive week that state officials reported a record-breaking daily total, according to Oregon Live. . . .

“A headline from oregonlive.com: Federal officers respond to Portland protests with gas, munitions Thursday amid growing attention from Trump administration . . .”

Then he added: “Gregg, it is an absolute mess and disaster in Portland . . . and in Oregon. . . . Oregon — record number of COVID cases . . . hospitalizations are on their way up — it’s very sad.

“I have just gotten numb to the protests . . . downtown businesses are being crippled. No sane person wants to go down to the city after about 5 p.m.

“NOBODY would want to go near the Rose Quarter for a game these days.”

The Winterhawks play out of Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Moda Center, both of which are in the Rose Quarter.

Perhaps there might be better times to try to sell a WHL franchise in the Rose City.


Clone


The BCHL began its 2019-20 season on Sept. 6. On Friday, it announced that it “is BCHLplanning to start the 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 1, pending approval from the Provincial Health Office (PHO).” . . . Here’s Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, from a news release: “We’ve been having discussions with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture since March around a safe return to play. The PHO has indicated to us that waiting until December gives us the best chance at ensuring we have an uninterrupted season, while also maximizing the amount of regular-season games we’ll be able to play.” . . . Teams will be allowed to open on-ice sessions on Sept. 8 — yes, almost three months before they hope to open the season. . . . The BCHL news release is right here. . . . The Nanaimo Clippers announced that “all players will be reporting” as of Sept. 8 and that teams in the Island Division will hold a tournament in October. . . .

Brian Wiebe, who covers the BCHL like fog atop the Coquihalla, posted a Q&A with Hebb.

Asked if he is “convinced that B.C. and Canada will be healthy enough for the BCHL to return to play in December,” Hebb told Wiebe: “We’re going to give the health authorities a chance to ascertain that. The problem that all of us have is that we’re not medical doctors. One of the things we’ve done a good job with at the BCHL is listening. Starting December 1 gives you a much better chance of not getting shut down because if the health authorities allow you to play in December, it’s probably a pretty good sign that they think things are under control.”

Hebb also explains how the BCHL arrived at the Dec. 1 date, how many games each team may play in the regular season, if the season could start earlier than Dec. 1, how many fans might be allowed in arenas, what teams might do with training camps that could run to three months, the possibility of the Wenatchee Wild operating out of Canada, and a whole lot more.

It’s all-encompassing and it’s right here.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders reported a loss of $80,906 at their annual general meeting on Thursday night. “The Stampeders reported a substantial loss this year, mainly due to a decrease in ticket sales, the inability to hold a spring camp, loss of playoff revenue, and fundraising falling short thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a news release on the team’s website. . . . There is more right here. . . . Earlier this month, Danielle Gordon-Broome of the Swan Valley Star and Times reported that the Stampeders “went into last season carrying nearly $200,000 in debt.”



Coupon


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NFL Players Association revealed on Thursday that 72 players had tested positive as of July 10. . . . Some teams will be having rookies report to training camp this weekend. . . . Nate Davis wrote in Thursday’s USA TODAY: “The league and players union still have widespread issues to resolve, including opt-out scenarios for players and numerous workplace protocols as well as COVID-19 testing procedures and even the actual number of preseason games, before football resumes in any form or fashion.” . . .

Dan Graziano of ESPN tweeted a number of the NFL’s travel rules that will be in place for this season, including no use of public or private transportation to or in other cities; no leaving hotel to go to restaurants open to public; no room visits by anyone outside the traveling party; no use of shared hotel facilities (pool, gym, etc.); masks required while traveling; buses at no more than 50 percent capacity; and at least one open seat between passengers on the plane. . . .

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NCAA president Mark Emmert had this to say on Thursday: “Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.” . . .

Here’s Pat Forde of si.com:

“There will be no college football crowds of the usual size. There might not be college football, period. Pessimism percolates as the time for solutions dwindles. We are speeding in the wrong direction as a nation in terms of combating the coronavirus pandemic, and one of the cultural casualties of American casualness is an endeavor millions of us want and every college athletic department needs.

“If the season dies, we know who had the biggest hand in killing any chance of it happening: Donald Trump.” . . . The complete column is right here. . . .

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference has suspended all intercollegiate athletics through Nov. 30, a move that affects 17 sports. A decision on the status of competition after Nov. 30 is expected to be made by Oct. 15. Simon Fraser U of Burnaby, B.C., is a member of the GNAC. . . .

The U of New Hampshire has cancelled all fall sports for its athletics teams in football, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and women’s volleyball. . . . A decision on winter sports, including hockey and basketball, is to be made at some point “in early fall,” according to the school. . . .

The West Coast Conference has shut down most of its sports until at least Sept. 24. Sports impacted are men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. Not impacted, at least not yet, are men’s and women’s basketball and football. . . .

The Oregon-based four-team Wild West League, a wood-bat college-level baseball circuit in its infancy, is on hiatus for at least seven days after two players tested positive. The WWL made the announcement on Wednesday, just four days after beginning its first season. The Gresham Grey Wolves, Portland Gherkins, Portland Pickles ad West Linn Knights are the four teams in the league. . . .

The Canada West conference announced on Wednesday that it will hold championships in golf and swimming, but the cross-country championship won’t go ahead. . . . The golf championship tournament is scheduled for the Okanagan Golf Club in Kelowna, Oct. 2-4, with the swimming championship to be held at the U of Calgary sometime early in 2021 rather than in November. . . .

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MLB announced nine players and one staff member tested positive in the week that ended on Thursday. MLB now has had 93 positive tests — 80 players and 13 staff members since late last month. . . . OF Austin Meadows, an all-star with the Tampa Bay Rays, is one of the players to have tested positive. . . . OF Yasiel Puig, a free agent, revealed on Friday that he has tested positive. He reportedly was on the verge of signing with the Atlanta Braves, but the positive test short-circuited that deal. . . . Twenty-eight of MLB’s 30 teams have had at least one positive test in their organization. . . .

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D Caleb Jones of the Edmonton Oilers skated with the team’s first group on Friday, then told reporters that he had tested positive, which is why had missed the first few days of training camp. He doesn’t know how or where he contracted the virus, but tested positive after arriving in Edmonton from Dallas and being tested two weeks ago. . . . Jones is one of only three NHLers whose positive tests have been made public, the others being F Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and F Jayce Hawryluk of the Ottawa Senators. . . .

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The KHL team Kunlun Red Star will play its entire 2020-21 season out of Russia. It is moving its operation to Mytishchi, about 20 km northeast of Moscow. . . . Mattias Forsblom of svenski.yle.fi reported that Kunlun and Dinamo Riga, from Latvia, were told by the KHL that they had to move to Russia because borders are closed and there aren’t any plans to open them. . . . Dinamo Minsk (Belarus), Jokerit (Finland) and Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) also operate from outside of Russia, but there haven’t yet been announcements concerning their relocation. . . . The KHL plans on starting its regular season on Sept. 2. . . .

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The Central Okanagan Minor Baseball Association suspended play on Friday because “a player within the organization has come in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual.” There aren’t any confirmed cases with players or coaches, but the association has suspended activities as a precaution. . . . The association, which is based in Kelowna, covers girls’ and boys’ teams from ages five to 18.


Headline at The Onion: Jerry Jones Changes Team’s Name To Redskins Now That It’s Available.


Billy Keane is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . He spent three seasons as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues before being replaced by Gord Burnett prior to last season. Burnett signed on as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors earlier this month. . . . Keane is a brother to former WHL/NHL F Mike Keane.


Water

One hockey academy on outside looking in . . . Time to think about Christmas shopping? . . . TRU v-ball team adds hockey bloodlines


With all that has happened over the past few weeks, and the way things seem likely to continue for the next while, you really have to wonder how much trepidation there is in the business of hockey academies.

With unemployment rates skyrocketing, many small businesses struggling, with more of them shuttering every day, and with some borders closed and a lot of other travel not recommended, you really wonder what our world is going to look like six months from now, a year from now . . .

Whenever we are able to come out the other end of this situation are families going to have the money necessary, in most cases more than $20,000 a year, to have children attend hockey academies?

Meanwhile, the West Vancouver Hockey Academy, which started in 2015 and operated out of Sentinel Secondary and the Hollyburn Country Club, is done, at least for one season. That decision didn’t have anything to do with the finances of parents.

In January, the West Vancouver School District told the academy’s owner, the Spartan Sport Group (SSG), that it wasn’t renewing its agreement for 2020-21. After getting that news, SSG had hoped to cut a deal with Seycove Secondary in North Vancouver, but that isn’t going to happen.

Earlier this week, Jane Seyd of the North Shore News reported that a letter to Seycove parents from North Vancouver school superintendent Mark Pearmain informed them that a decision on an agreement has been suspended.

The West Van Warriors were part of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, with teams at the midget prep, elite 15, bantam prep and bantam varsity levels.

One of West Van’s student/athletes was Connor Bedard, a 15-year-old from North Vancouver who has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and is expected to be selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

Seyd and Andy Prest reported in February that money didn’t have anything to do with the West Vancouver School District’s decision on West Van.

A letter to parents stated that the decision was due to “concerns about academic success, and other challenges such as student programming and scheduling as well as the increased enrolment at Sentinel.”

Seyd and Prest reported that “fewer than half the players” attending the academy were from North or West Vancouver, “with several coming from across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley and others from more distant locales such as Vancouver Island, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Denver and Beijing.”

In the end, though, it could be that West Van was done in, at least in part, by COVID-19. At least one meeting that was to have been held involving Seycove parents was postponed because of the physical distancing restraints now in place. According to Seyd, Pearmain told parents that things have been suspended because officials haven’t been able to have a proper consultation process.

Seyd’s complete story is right here.


Dense


I am here to tell you that Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, was at his best in his Thursday rant. He wrote a lot about changes he would like to see come to his favourite sports once they are back in our lives. . . . Changes like:

“In MLB — and even in some minor league games — players come to bat with walk-up music.  It is stupid and not part of the game.  Any player who allows walk-up music to be played for him should also expect to hear Chopin’s Funeral March played for him every time he makes an out. . . .

“Any golf writer who focuses on anything Tiger Woods says or does in a tournament where Woods is 15 shots off the lead should be banned from covering golf and made to cover camel racing in Saudi Arabia.”

He was on his game and it’s all right here.

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The curmudgeonly one’s Thought for the Day comes from Will Rogers: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”


ICYMI, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his daily address, told us Thursday morning:

“Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this. . . . That will be a very long way off.”

Then, in French, he added: “We will have to remain vigilant for at least a year.”

Might be a good time to think about starting your Christmas shopping because delivery times may be about to get lengthier than they already are.


Bass


Santa Clara County in California is home to the San Francisco 49ers (NFL), San Jose Sharks (NHL) and the San Jose Earthquakes (MSL), as well as three major universities. . . . On Tuesday, Jeff Smith, the SCC executive officer, told his board of supervisors that “I don’t expect we’ll have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’ll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not going to be something that is easy to do.”

FYI, American Thanksgiving will arrive on Nov. 28.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Smith added:

““When the orders are weakened, it’s pretty much guaranteed there will be new infections because, at least at this point, there’s no herd immunity for those who are uninfected.

“There will definitely be individuals who will get sick. And because there are individuals who get sick, there will be individuals who die after the order is released, unless we come up with a foolproof immunization, which is highly unlikely.”


One of these days, the NHL will get around to cancelling what is left of its 2019-20 season, including the playoffs. Around that same time, perhaps even on the same day, the NBA will follow suit.

After that, it will be Major League Baseball’s turn, although the boys of summer likely will hold out a lot longer just in case Agent Orange was right when he said the virus will die off in the heat.

Then it will be the turn of the big dog — football.

The college football season is about 140 days away. Mike Gundy, the head coach at Oklahoma State, shot holes in both his feet this week when suggesting he wanted to get his program up and rolling on May 1. Uhh, that’s not going to happen, as Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated points out right here.

In another SI piece, this one by Forde and Ross Dellenger, it becomes evident that athletic directors throughout the NCAA are beginning to face up to the fact that football, the engine that drives everything in their world, may well be about to go away for at least part of a season and maybe for the whole thing.

But no matter how you look at it, the numbers in this piece right here are mind-boggling and you have to wonder if college football — indeed, college sports — will ever get back to such a level again.


Here is Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports with one of the decisions many of us are faced with on a daily basis in these strange times:

“If you’re working from home, when do you prefer to brush your teeth? I feel like that’s the most difficult decision I have to make each day. I could brush them first thing in the morning but I know I’m going to be drinking coffee right after that so, like, what’s the point? But sometimes I drink coffee right up until lunch, and by the time lunch rolls around I’m not thinking about brushing my teeth. So basically what I’m saying here is that I keep forgetting to brush my teeth lately. I am a disgusting troll.”


The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball announced an interesting signing on Thursday in the person of Maxim Turgeon, a 6-foot-6 outside hitter/middle from Calgary. . . . His father is former NHLer Sylvain Turgeon, an an uncle is another former NHLer, Pierre Turgeon. . . . Two of Maxim’s former teammates with the Canuck club in Calgary also are playing at TRU.


Fish