WHL moves goal posts to Jan. 8 . . . QMJHL shuts down two divisions . . . NCHL (not CHL) cancels its season

On a day when the QMJHL shut down some teams until at least Oct. 28, the WHL announced that it has moved its proposed regular-season starting date from whlDec. 4 to Jan. 8. . . . The WHL, which normally begins its regular season in late September, first said it would open on Oct. 2. It later changed that to Dec. 4. . . . If it is able to open on Jan. 8, the league’s 22 teams will play entirely within their divisions, although the Swift Current Broncos will move from the Central Division to the East Division to play with the four other Saskatchewan teams and two from Manitoba. . . . Players will be expected to report to their teams after Christmas for brief training camps. . . . The WHL also has added Dr. Dhiren Naidu, the NHL-Edmonton Oilers’ head team physician, as chief medical advisor. An associate professor at the U of Alberta, Dr. Naidu worked with the NHL during its time in the Edmonton bubble. His role with the WHL will be “to assist with the implementation of comprehensive health and safety protocols.” . . .

The pandemic has been ongoing for more than seven months now, and it is apparent that it is far from being over. That being said, the WHL has a lot of work ahead of it between now and Jan. 8. Here are a few things that have yet to be addressed publicly:

1. The WHL’s news release didn’t mention length of schedule;

2. It didn’t touch on how it will get Canadian players to the five U.S. Division teams with the U.S.-Canada border closed and not likely to be open by then. Although, as I understand it, Canadians are allowed to fly into the U.S., while non-essential travel across the border via vehicle isn’t allowed;

3. The Saskatchewan government has told curlers that they aren’t allowed to leave the province for competitions, nor will out-of-province competitors be allowed in. Presumably the WHL will have to deal with that regulation in some way;

4. Steve Ewen, who covers the Vancouver Giants for Postmedia, pointed out via Twitter: “There are five B.C. teams and viaSport rules have stated that you can play in cohorts of four. Be interesting to see if the WHL gained an exemption regarding that or what their plan is. Cohorts can be changed with a two-week break.” . . . Ewen later tweeted that he asked the WHL how it will deal with B.C.’s cohort regulations, and received this response: “We are continuing to work on those details and remain in conversation with the B.C. government. At this time, it has not been determined what cohorts will look like for the WHL in B.C.”

5. The WHL’s news release didn’t mention anything about testing or contact tracing;

6. The WHL has been adamant for months now that it can’t play unless it has the OK for its team to open up their facilities to at least 50 per cent of capacity. The last sentence of Wednesday’s seven-paragraph news release might indicate that the WHL no longer is prepared to die on that hill: “A final determination has not yet been made as to whether spectators will be permitted to attend WHL games as this will be subject to the approval of the Health Authorities in each jurisdiction.” . . . Could it be that the WHL is prepared to play in empty buildings?

7. Is the WHL attempting to get financial aid from any levels of federal, provincial or state governments?

Questions, questions, questions . . . some of which may not have answers.

One thing is for certain, though: The WHL will play when ’Rona says it will play, which is what the QMJHL is learning these days.

——


Meanwhile, the QMJHL has shut down its two Quebec-based divisions until at qmjhlnewleast Oct. 28. The six-team Maritime Division will continue to play, but with five teams because the Moncton Wildcats, who are in a government-declared orange zone, are limited to practising. . . . Six of the 12 Quebec-based teams are in red zone and have been shut down by government restrictions until month’s end. Two of the Quebec teams — the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the Sherbrooke Phoenix — had a combined 26 positive tests. . . . The QMJHL, which has had its teams playing strictly within their divisions, said it will reassess its situation in two weeks. . . . Mikaël Lalancette of TVA Sports wrote: “Behind the scenes, I have already been told that it would be astonishing to see the circuit activities resume in 14 days.”


When last heard from, the OHL said it was planning on opening its regular ohlseason on Dec. 1. However, that announcement was made on Aug. 5. . . . Since then, of course, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, has said that the OHL will have to get rid of body-checking and fighting if it is to return to play. She said: “It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19. That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.” . . . I think it’s safe to say that negotiations are ongoing.


Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle touched on some truths about the virus in a Wednesday column, beginning with a reference to the NBA’s bubble success . . .

“As success stories go, this one was downright dangerous, offering hope in a pandemic when reality suggests nothing of the sort. It is now quite clear that nothing short of a carefully supervised bubble, free of positive tests for the coronavirus, is going to work in any sport in which athletes compete at close range.

“You’d think the football-crazed folks would get the picture, but instead we’re seeing all sorts of craziness in the NFL, the college game and surely throughout youth sports across the country. As they barge ahead through virus outbreaks, camp shutdowns, postponements and cancellations, they seem to treat positive tests as a minor inconvenience — a veritable sacrifice to the football gods. Fans are streaming back into many Power 5 conference stadiums, including the disturbing sight of some 24,000 people at Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma game, sitting extremely close together and, in many cases, wearing masks only around their necks.”

That complete column is right here.


Mozart


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

BC Hockey has cancelled all of its provincial minor hockey championships for 2021. Under normal circumstances, BC Hockey would sanction 16 provincial championship tournaments in U-13, U-15, U-18 and U-21 age groups. . . . The pandemic also had resulted in the cancellation of 2020 championships last spring. . . . From a BC Hockey news release: “BC Hockey is making the proactive decision at this time to allow all Districts and leagues the flexibility needed to facilitate programming that best fits into the viaSport provincial guidelines regarding sport participation focusing on the safety and well-being of participants.” . . .

The North Central Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. The Senior AA league features teams in the Alberta communities of Blackfalds, Bonnyville, Daysland, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Lacombe, Morinville, Red Deer and Westlock. . . .

The NFL has cancelled the Pro Bowl that was to have been played in Las Vegas on Jan. 31. The league hopes to replace it with a virtual program, the details of which have yet to be detailed. . . . Cancelling the game also provides the NHL with a bit more scheduling space in case it needs to move regular-season games. . . .

Nick Saban, the head football coach at the U of Alabama, and Greg Byrne, the school’s athletic director, both have tested positive. . . . Upon getting his result, Saban, 68, said he “immediately left work and isolated at home.” . . . The No. 2 Crimson Tide is scheduled to play at home against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. . . . Alabama played at Mississippi last Saturday. Lane Kiffin, the Runnin’ Rebels’ head coach, said Wednesday that his team has had some positive tests. . . .

Earlier in the week, the SEC postponed two games — LSU at No. 10 Florida and Vanderbilt at Missouri. . . . Florida has had 21 players and two assistant coaches test positive, and has suspended team activities. . . . Vanderbilt also has been hit by an outbreak and wouldn’t have enough scholarship athletes available to play. . . . There now have been 29 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) games postponed. . . .

Members of Tornado Moscow Oblast, a Russian women’s hockey team, are in quarantine and six games have been postponed because of positive tests. . . .

Skate Canada International, part of figure skating’s Grand Prix circuit, has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Oct. 30-31 in Ottawa and was to have taken place without fans. Organizers made the decision citing rising COVID-19 cases in Ontario. . . .

George Birger, a former athletic director at Brandon University, died on Saturday in Arizona. He was 91 and had tested positive. . . . The Brandon Sun has a thorough look back at Birger’s career right here.


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.


Time

WHL: Broncos drop $791,000, while Warriors’ losses hit $391,299 . . . Virus finds an NFL team . . . Smith leaves Tigers for Chiefs


The Swift Current Broncos had a tough go of it on the ice last season, putting up a record of 10-48-5.

Things were just as bad in the accounting ledger as the WHL team announced a loss SCBroncosof $791,000 at its annual general meeting on Tuesday night. One year earlier, after a 2018-19 season in which it was 11-51-6, the team announced a profit of $38,196.

After last night’s AGM, the team explained in a statement: “The financial results for (the) season were severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the settlement of a CHL-wide class-action lawsuit, an accounting revaluation of the education scholarship liability, and several unexpected reductions in key supplementary revenue streams, amounting to over $470,000 of additional losses for the season.”

The Broncos’ news release is right here.

——

Meanwhile, the Moose Jaw Warriors announced a 2019-20 loss of $391,299 at MooseJawWarriorstheir AGM, which also was held on Tuesday night. One year earlier, the team announced a loss of $165,145 for 2018-19.

“In total,” wrote Corey Atkinson of discovermoosejaw.com, “the Warriors lost $391,299 on the season, handing over $282,286 in lost revenues due to COVID and their share of a lawsuit assessment — $180,846 — against the Canadian Hockey League in May.”

Atkinson also reported: “The Warriors have trimmed staff and have been able to get some pay decreases to try to minimize the impact. They’re also taken a deferral of the commitment they made annually to the multiplex — a $200,000 commitment for this season. They pledged $2.5 million in 2011-12 for the building, and have been able to come through on $2.1 million of that over the last 10 years.”

The Warriors finished last in the six-team East Division, at 14-44-4. They lost three home dates to the pandemic, and averaged 2,981 fans for 31 games. That was down from 2018-19 when the average for 34 games was 3,347.

Atkinson also reported that “regular-season receipts were down from $1,661,649 last (season) to $1,356,766.”

Atkinson’s story is right here.


AlMurray
Al Murray and his wife, Lori, celebrated the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup victory with a Tuesday morning walk in Regina. (Photo: Murray McCormick/Facebook)

So . . . you’re Al Murray and you have been with the Tampa Bay Lightning for 10 NHL seasons. You are the assistant general manager/director of amateur scouting, so you have had a lot to do with the construction of the team’s roster. . . . You’re Al Murray and your team won the Stanley Cup on Monday night in Edmonton, while you watched from your home in Regina. So what did you do on Tuesday morning? . . . You went for a walk, that’s what. . . . Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post was out for a morning stroll when he encountered Murray and his wife, Lori. Yes, they both were smiling. . . .

You should know that Al Murray isn’t a stranger to winning. In three years as Hockey Canada’s head scout, his teams won two World Junior titles, one at the IIHF U-18 championship, and three Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament titles. . . . I first met him when he was the head coach of the U of Regina Cougars men’s team, a position he held from 1985-88. Sheesh, Al, that was a long time ago!



A note from the Monday posting by Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon:

“Dr. Harry Edwards is a noted sociologist who has spent a long time as an observer and a critic of sports as they impact Black athletes’ lives. Over the weekend, I ran across a Tweet from him related to the decision by the PAC-12 schools to reverse course and play football this fall:

“ ‘For PAC12 programs to use ‘our student-athletes want to play’ as a PRINCIPAL reason for restarting football/fall sports programs while soft-peddling COVID risks to athletes, denying MONEY considerations significantly driving this decision is disingenuous, delusional,& dangerous.’ ”


Two


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL announced on Monday that it had completed a ninth week of bubble play without any positive tests. There were 773 tests done from Sept. 20-26. All told, there were 33,174 tests to players and club personnel while the playoffs were conducted in the Edmonton bubble. . . . Of course, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup last night in Edmonton, securing a six-game victory over the Dallas Stars with a 2-0 victory in Game 6. . . . The NHL deserves straight As for getting through these playoffs in two bubble cities — Toronto being the other one — without any positive tests. . . .

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings played an NFL game in Minneapolis on Sunday. On Tuesday, the Titans announced eight positive tests — three players and five other employees — and shut things down until at least Saturday. The Vikings have closed their practice facility pending further test results. . . . The NFL also is doing daily testing and monitoring of on-field officials from Sunday’s game. That crew won’t work in Week 4. . . . This all started on Saturday when Titans LB Shane Bowen tested positive and didn’t make the trip to Minneapolis. All other Tennessee players, coaches and staff were negative on Saturday. . . . The Titans are scheduled to meet the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, while the Vikings at to travel to Houston to meet the Texans. . . .

The 2020 Spengler Cup has been cancelled. The tournament, held annually in Davos, Switzerland, had been scheduled to run from Dec. 26-31. . . .

The five-school Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference has cancelled its 2020 soccer season. The decision was made as Winnipeg shifted to a Code Orange response to the pandemic. . . .

After cancelling Saturday’s football game against host Wake Forest because of seven positive tests, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish revealed that they now have 18 positives. . . . All told, there are 25 players in isolation and another 14 in quarantine. . . . Notre Dame’s next scheduled game is Oct. 10 against visiting Florida State. . . .

The KHL has cancelled its all-star game and the week long festivities that accompany it. The party was to have been held in Riga, Latvia, in January.

Blake Anderson, the head football coach at Arkansas State, has admitted to testing positive after the Red Wolves beat host Kansas State on Sept. 12. That likely is no surprise because the Red Wolves have had to postpone their last two games because of positive tests and contact tracing. . . .

Central Arkansas is to play North Dakota State in Fargo on Saturday. NDSU was going to allow more than 8,000 fans into the game, this despite numbers rising in the area and the state having suggested a cap of 250 fans at indoor events. The Fargodome seats 18,700 for football. . . . On Tuesday, however, the school changed plans and will allow only the families of players to watch from the stands.


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.



Phone


Ryan Smith has left the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, where he was an assistant coach, to join the Spokane Chiefs as associate coach. . . . In Spokane, Smith will work alongside Adam Maglio, who was promoted to head coach to replace Manny Viveiros, who has joined the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights as head coach their AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Smith is coming off two seasons with the Tigers after spending three on the Swift Current Broncos’ coaching staff.


I haven’t seen an announcement from either team — although perhaps I missed it — but Gary Aubin appears to have moved on from the Swift Current Broncos and landed with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Aubin, from St. Albert, Alta., had been the Broncos’ director of player personnel since July 18, 2018; in fact, he guided them through the 2020 WHL bantam draft. Before joining the Broncos, he spent 11 seasons on the Spokane Chiefs’ scouting staff and before that he worked with the Kamloops Blazers for 15 years. . . . Now he is listed on the Rockets’ website as a member of their scouting staff.


JUST NOTES: Hey, NFL, it’s time to do away with kickoffs. Just spot the ball at the 25 and carry on. . . . I don’t know about you, but I really, really miss the CFL. . . . QB Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs looks like a man playing in a city’s minor football program. . . . Two WHLers — F Lukas Svejkovsky of the Medicine Hat Tigers and G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips — are among the 39 players invited to USA Hockey’s national junior team evaluation camp. That camp, which will be closed to fans, media and scouts, is scheduled for Oct. 8-13 in Plymouth, Mich. . . . The USHL has released its 2020-21 regular-season schedule. It calls for each of its 14 teams to play 54 games in what the league called a “regionally based schedule.” The regular season is to end on April 24. The USHL also said that its teams “are working with health and government officials regarding spectator policies. Each team will develop its own plan for spectators based on local and state guidelines.” . . . I don’t know about you, but rather than watch last night’s debate, I spent the evening with Statler and Waldorf.


Keys