Scattershooting on a Saturday night while hoping we all have a Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving . . .


Oh my, but things just aren’t looking good for the QMJHL. Here’s a recap of the past couple of days. . . .

On Saturday, the Quebec government declared Gatineau to be a red zone, qmjhlnewleaving the immediate future of the Olympiques’ schedule in doubt. . . . The Olympiques held their home-opener without fans on Friday night, beating the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, 3-2, and then won again, 5-4, on Saturday. . . . The Olympiques and Drummondville Voltigeurs, also in a red zone, are expected to be restricted as of Oct. 14. . . .

Earlier in the week, the Quebec Remparts and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada were shut down for the remainder of the month after their areas were named red zones. . . .

According to Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette, “Victoriaville, the home of the Tigres, is currently in an orange zone and has launched a virus awareness campaign in an attempt to avoid being classified as a red zone.” . . .

On Friday, the New Brunswick government declared Moncton to be an orange zone, so the Wildcats game against the visiting Saint John Sea Dogs that was to have been played Saturday night was postponed. . . . That declaration went into place on Saturday at 12:01 a.m., shortly after the Wildcats had beaten the visiting Halifax Mooseheads, 4-2. . . . New Brunswick announced 20 new positives on Friday, 12 of them in Moncton. The province hadn’t seen that number since May. . . .

Meanwhile, two of the officials who worked a game last Sunday are reported to have tested positive. The Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have a combined 26 positives and have shut down indefinitely. . . .

Interestingly, there isn’t any mention of any of this on the QMJHL website. There isn’t anything indicating the status of any of these teams, and rather than show some games as having been postponed, they simply have been erased from the schedule.

“Mike Pence inspired a torrent of social-media memes during last week’s vice-presidential debate when a fly shockingly landed on his head,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “ ‘I can certainly feel his pain,’ said Jose Canseco.”


One more report from Perry: “Provincial authorities have told the Ontario Hockey League that if it wants to play amid a pandemic this season that it will have to ban bodychecking and fighting. In a related story, Don Cherry’s head just exploded.”


It has been surreal to watch the past couple of days as NHL teams have been signing players to contracts totalling millions of dollars. . . . But, hey, business must go on in some areas of our crazy world, although that isn’t likely to happen in some other places. . . . A Greater Vancouver Board of Trade survey released on Friday shows 25 per cent of businesses there don’t expect to last more than 12 months without change. . . . As well, 40 per cent of businesses aren’t expecting a return to regular operations. . . . And while contemplating all of that the news arrived that Ontario was beginning to lock things down. Again. . . . Meanwhile, the numbers in Manitoba are going the wrong way, too, as the province experienced its highest single-day increase to date on Friday, and then broke that record on Saturday. . . . Saskatchewan added 34 new cases, its highest daily total since July, and things are no hell in Alberta and B.C., either. . . . Oh yes, and the WHO reported a new daily high in global cases on Friday (350,766), breaking the previous record that had been set earlier in the week. . . . There is more on the ugly numbers right here.

After George Springer of the Houston Astros passed Babe Ruth on the postseason home-run list, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote: “Makes sense. Ruth went homeless in wild-card, divisional-championship and league-championship games.”

While flipping among college football games on Saturday afternoon, I started wondering if a portion of the U.S. citizenry has given up and decided that the virus has won so let’s get on with it and, hey, if a few thousand more people die, well, that’s the price we pay. . . . In the midst of my viewing, this headline showed up in my Twitter notifications: The US is reporting over 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day for the first time since mid-August. . . . According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, Friday’s number was 57,420, and it was the third straight day topping 50 grand. . . . The number of deaths in the U.S. now has surpassed 213,000. . . . So let’s just keep that border closed for a long, long time. OK?

It really is unfortunate that more people in the sporting world don’t seem to understand the example they could be setting if they would only wear the masks properly. At one point during this game, Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee, who is in the tweet above, had his mask completely around his neck as he was face-to-face with a masked referee. . . . Tone deaf, or what?

Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Memo to my pal Al Michaels, Derek Carr, Jon Gruden, et al.: When influential, popular sports people wear masks, they legitimize the concept of mask-wearing, thus saving lives.”

Ostler also wrote: “Scientists and medical experts say masks are effective for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but tinfoil hats are not. Still, many sports figures prefer the hats.”

Hartley Miller, the sports guy for 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George and the analyst on Cougars’ game broadcasts, wonders how the WHL will react to comments by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, in his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack that is right here. . . . If you missed it, Dr. Henry said that she doesn’t “see spectators being a large part of the season this year.” . . . The Hart Attack arrives weekly and it’s painless. Give it a read if you haven’t already.



A Friday morning tweet from the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints . . .

MLS has postponed two Sunday games after Minnesota United, Orlando City and Columbus Crew experienced positive tests. . . . The Crew was to have played at Orlando City, while Minnesota was to play at FC Dallas. . . . Earlier, a scheduled Saturday game between the host Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy was scratched after a Rapids player tested positive. It was the fourth straight Colorado game to be postponed. The Rapids have had 12 staff members and five players test positive since Sept. 24. . . .

The ECHL announced Friday that it has plans to open its regular season on Dec. 11. The league will have 13 teams begin a 72-game season on Dec. 11, with other teams starting a 62-game schedule on Jan. 15, assuming they are able to get what the league calls “jurisdictional approval.” . . . The regular season is to end on June 6. . . . The Atlanta Gladiators won’t play in 2020-21 because of pandemic-related restrictions and their players now are free agents. . . .

The AHL has said that it is aiming to start its regular season on Dec. 4. However, Jim Nill, the Dallas Stars’ general manager, told Sean Shapiro, who covers the team for The Athletic, that the AHL won’t start before the NHL, which is aiming for Jan. 1. . . .

The NFL’s New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans got to Saturday without new positives, however the Chicago Bears, who played Thursday night, had a practice squad player come up positive, while a strength-and-conditioning coach with the Kansas City Chiefs did, too.

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ICYMI, politicians in Winnipeg have given restaurants the OK to keep their patios open until March 31. Perhaps they have never heard the song Prairie Town that was written by Randy Bachman, who is from Winnipeg and knows of what he penned:

“Winter nights are long, summer days are gone

“Portage and Main fifty below

“Springtime melts the snow, rivers overflow

“Portage and Main fifty below

“Portage and Main fifty below.”

But, hey, the other side of the coin is that we are going to see a new definition of Winnipeg tough during the winter of COVID-19.

Former WHL D Jason Smith is the new head coach of the junior B Peguis Juniors of the Keystone Junior Hockey League. It plans on beginning its regular season on Nov. 7. . . . Smith, 48, is from The Pas, Man. He spent three-plus seasons (Tri-City, Swift Current, Brandon, 1989-93) in the WHL. . . . With Peguis, Smith takes over from Mike Spence, who remains as an assistant coach. Marty Favel is the other assistant. . . . Smith was the head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard from November 2014 through 2015-16.

JUST NOTES: If you’re like me, you’re wondering if the layer of sanitizing gel on your hands is permanent. . . . Hey, Sportsnet, you can cut back on those Danielle Michaud spots whenever you feel like it. How about twice every five minutes, rather than three times? Thanks. . . . I thought maybe the ’Rona had gotten the phone scammers but I should have known better. After not having had a call for at least a couple of weeks, the guys in Idaho and Maine found us on Friday. I will always be amazed that we can put a man on the moon but we can’t stop the scammers. . . . If you aren’t aware, the first Hallmark Christmas movie — Jingle Bell Bride — is scheduled for Oct. 24. Y’er welcome. . . . If you missed it, the Taliban — yes, that Taliban — endorsed the ’Rona’s new best buddy on Saturday. Hey, is this a great time to be alive, or what?


Edmonton and Toronto, here’s pulling for you . . . What happened to the Matthews story? . . . Soetaert at top of KCYHA


One of these days, the NHL will get around to naming the two hub cities in which it hopes to finish its season.

Here’s Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province with his take on things and, yes, as someone who lives in B.C., I agree with him:

“Admittedly, this comes down to a question of optics. For over three months, British Columbians have followed the guidelines of the public health authority with a single-minded purpose, sacrificing to keep themselves and their neighbours safe and healthy.

“We can be proud of those efforts and they’ve created some of the best COVID-related numbers in North America. But they weren’t made so we could throw our doors open to the NHL and an ersatz Stanley Cup tournament which will benefit a couple of hotels and the food-delivery industry.

“These games will take place, the virus willing, and we’ll be watching. But if Edmonton or Toronto wants them that badly, they can have them.”

Willes’s complete column is right here.

The NHL is reportedly down to six cities — Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago — and is expected to announce the two choices this week.


If you haven’t seen it, Willes also had an excellent column that carried this headline: The story behind the story about Auston Matthews’ positive test is bewildering. . . . Postmedia’s Steve Simmons broke the Matthews story, and there were other outlets, some of them of the bigly variety, who ignored it. . . . This is all about how some media types have a vested interest in some of what they cover, so perhaps the consumer isn’t getting the whole story. . . . The complete column is right here.

With MLB poised to open training camps on July 1, Kyle Newman of the Denver Post reports that all-star OF Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and two team-mates, LHR Phillip Diehl and RHP Ryan Castellani, have tested positive for the coronavirus at Coors Field in Denver. . . .

According to ESPN, Nikola Jokic, an all-star centre with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, tested positive for the coronavirus in Serbia before he could leave to join his teammates in the U.S. . . . Michael Malone, the Nuggest’s head coach, has disclosed that he had the virus in late March. . . .

Jokic was at a recent tennis tournament hosted by fellow-Serb Novak Djokovic in Belgrade. Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 men’s player, also has tested positive, as has his wife Jelena. . . . Three other players — Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki — also tested positive after playing in the exhibition tournament. . . .

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday night that G Avery Bradley of the Los Angeles Lakers has chosen to opt out of the re-start of the NBA season in Orlando, Fla. . . . Trevor Ariza of the Portland Trail Blazers and Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards also are reported to have opted out. . . .

The Philadelphia Phillies announced Tuesday that two more players and two more staff members have tested positive. One player and the two staffers were in Clearwater, Fla., the site of the Phillies’ training facility. The other player was somewhere else. . . . The Phillies now have had seven players and five staffers come up positive. . . .

The Pittsburgh Steelers had two players test positive earlier this year. Head coach Mike Tomlin said both have recovered and are back at work. . . .

Karate’s 2020 world championships have been postponed. They were to have been held in Dubai, Nov. 17-22. The next worlds are scheduled for Dubai, Nov. 16-21, 2021. . . .

Seven soccer players in France, four from Toulouse and three from Paris Saint-Germain, have tested positive. PSG also had a staff member test positive. . . . The PSG players have resumed training. . . . The Toulouse players were tested on Monday as the team prepared to resume training. . . .

The Orlando Pride withdrew from the National Women’s Soccer League tournament that is scheduled to start Saturday near Salt Lake City. . . . The move, which left the tournament with eight teams, came after six players and four staffers tested positive. . . . On Tuesday, three players, all members of the U.S. national team, said they won’t play, either. Tobin Heath of the Portland Thorns and Christen Press of the Utah Royals cited health concerns. It’s not known why Megan Rapinoe of the OL Reign opted out.

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

“Back in March, the NBA shut down its operations entirely when one player — ONE player — tested positive for COVID-19. In March, the number of known/active cases for COVID-19 in the U.S. was less than 75,000 and there had been about 1,500 deaths ascribed to COVID-19. The latest data I can find says that COVID-19 cases in the U.S. now total more than 2.2 million and that there have been approximately 115,000 deaths. So, what is the NBA considering today? Reopening their season-interruptus in a bubble environment in Florida — one of those states where case numbers are on the rise. Do those two actions make any sense to you once you juxtapose them? They do if dollars and cents take precedence over health and safety concerns.”

His complete post is right here.

“A Pawtucket, R.I., brewery — taking a swipe at Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for bolting the Patriots for the Buccaneers — has come out with a new beer named ‘Traitorade,’” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “It’s an imperial fruit sour with sea salt, reviewers say, with maybe just a hint of sour grapes.”


Here’s Perry, with a coffee-spitter: “Disease czar Dr. Anthony Fauci has advised against playing baseball deep into October. No problem, said the Seattle Mariners.”


Garrett Taylor, who is the co-signee with Daniel Carcillo on a class-action lawsuit against the CHL that was filed last week, is 29 and claims to have health issues left over from abuse he faced in the WHL. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News writes:

“The statement of claim refers to the incident as ‘the garbage bag treatment,’ a term that is well known in junior hockey circles that refers to when a player is dropped by his team. Kim Taylor said when her son was reassigned, there were no calls made to any of her, Taylor’s agent or his billet family. Nor was he given any money or further direction. The lawsuit alleges that he was told the news in front of the team and had to retrieve his belongings from the bus and his equipment from the storage area.”

Campbell has more on the Taylors right here.

Two years ago, the WHL acknowledged wrongdoing in how Taylor was treated when he was cut by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Kim Taylor and two former WHL players were questioned by an Oregon Senate committee that was considering a request by the WHL to have Portland Winterhawks players exempted from Oregon’s minimum wage legislation. . . . The committee didn’t grant the WHL’s request. . . . After the hearing, the WHL hired a former RCMP deputy commissioner, Craig Callens, to conduct an investigation into 14 allegations of mistreatment that emerged from the hearing. In July 2018, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, announced that Taylor’s allegation was the only one of the 14 to be “supported by the evidence collected.” . . . In his statement, Robison said: “With respect to the one allegation that was supported in the investigation, the WHL will take the necessary steps to introduce a new policy in this area as it relates to the release or trading of players.” . . . The WHL hasn’t revealed what “necessary steps” it has taken; nor has it released Callens’ report.

Doug Soetaert, a former WHL goaltender and later general manager of the Everett Silvertips, has taken over as the president and executive director of the Kansas City Youth Hockey Association. . . . Soetaert was the head coach, and later the general manager, of the Kansas City Blades as they entered the International Hockey League for the 1990-91 season. From 1991-2001, he was the GM. . . . The Blades won the Turner Cup and Soetaert was the executive of the year for 1991-92. . . . He has since settled in Kansas City. . . . Soetaert, now 64, played four seasons (1971-75) for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He was Everett’s first GM and spent nine seasons (2002-05, 2006-12) with the Silvertips.

Once upon a time there was a hockey player named Rick Herbert. In the days before 15-Patsyear-olds having to apply for exceptional status in order to play regularly in the WHL, he made the Regina Pats’ roster for the 1982-83 season. Of course, the Pats gave up seven players in order to be able to select him in the 1982 WHL draft. . . . How did it work out for him? “It turned me off for life,” Herbert, now 52, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. ““I haven’t put on my skates to play in a hockey game in 30 years. I don’t pay attention to it.” . . . Not since Herbert, who lives in Kelowna, has anyone played regularly for the Pats at the age of 15. . . . F Connor Bedard will be the next one, and Herbert said: “I’ll be watching from Kelowna.” . . . Harder’s excellent story is right here.

Headline at NBA players get fancy rings that can detect COVID symptoms early. You get a dirty mask to wear while getting yelled at by people in the grocery store.


Greg Gilbert is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Gilbert, a 58-year-old veteran coach, is a former head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . He also spent eight seasons as an OHL head coach, three (2003-06) with the Mississauga IceDogs and five (2011-16) with the Saginaw Spirit. . . . He has worked the last four seasons as an analyst with TSN. . . . In Saint John, he takes over from interim head coach Jeff Cowan, who replaced the fired Josh Dixon on Dec. 2. Cowan will stay on as an assistant coach. . . . Last season, the Sea Dogs were  30-33-1 and tied for 10th in the 18-team league when the pandemic halted proceedings.

Daniel Lacroix is returning for his first full season as head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. Lacroix took over as the Wildcats’ head coach in December, and the team went 26-6 with him in charge, including a 16-game winning streak. . . . Earlier in his career, he spent four seasons (2002-07) on Moncton’s coaching staff, taking over as head coach during his third season there. . . . Before returning to Moncton last season, he was the head coach of the Lithuanian national team. . . . He also has ample experience as an NHL assistant, having worked with the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. . . . As well, Ritchie Thibeau, who had been the Wildcats’ interim director of hockey operations, has moved into the role in a permanent capacity. . . . The Wildcats had dismissed John Torchetti, the director of hockey operations and head coach, in December.

After ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary Long Gone Summer, about the Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa bulked up home run derby of 1998, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post summed it up: “ESPN doc tests negative for ’roids.”


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