CHL lawsuit settlement rejected by two judges . . . Third QMJHL team has positive test . . . NHL postpones two events

It was May 17 when the CHL announced that it had agreed to a $30-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit that had been brought against it. The lawsuit asked that teams be forced to pay their plays minimum wage.

Under terms of the settlement, the CHL would pay out $30 million by Oct. 20, 2020, with no legal obligation to treat players as employees.CHL

Two WHL teams, the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders, told shareholders at their annual general meetings that they had paid $180,846 and $166,667, respectively, as their parts of the settlement.

Well . . . it turns out that the lawsuit is anything but settled; in fact, it is very much alive.

On Thursday, two judges rejected the settlement.

According to Rick Westhead of TSN, Madam Justice Chantal Corriveau, a Quebec judge, “wrote the settlement terms were overly broad and may give the CHL too much protection from liability for conduct that falls outside the claims alleged in this case.”

Westhead added, via Twitter, that the judge “suggested sides file new settlement with amended terms and noted in her decision the CHL faces at least 3 other legal cases — a proposed class action over concussions, and other cases involving alleged abuse and violation of anti-competition laws.”

Meanwhile, Westhead reported, Ontario Justice Paul Perell “also rejected the minimum-wage lawsuit settlement, saying if it was approved, it might prevent current/former players from suing the CHL in other class actions for compensation for significant injuries.”

Westhead added that “Justice Perell wants a renegotiation of the settlement agreement and seems to take issue with how much money lawyers working on the case were to collect.”

In his decision, Perell wrote: “In the immediate case, Class Counsel had far more to gain ($9M) than the $8,381 net recovery of a class member . . .”


The QMJHL has had a third team hit with a positive test for the coronavirus. qmjhlnewThis time the Drummondville Voltigeurs had a player test positive, so all in-person activities have been halted while other players and staff are tested. . . . The league’s Quebec-based teams have been in a holding pattern since Oct. 14 because of rising numbers in the province. Activities have been halted until at least Oct. 28. . . . Earlier this month, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada had 18 positives, with the Sherbrooke Phoenix being hit with eight. The teams had met in a doubleheader on the regular season’s first weekend. Two on-ice officials who worked in those games also tested positive.


Cheese


With the WHL and its teams focussed on opening their regular season on Jan. 8, Saskatoonthe Saskatoon Blades are exploring a number of seating plans for their home games, all of them with the assumption that they will be allowed to have fans in attendance. The unknown, of course, is just how many fans will be at their home-opener, whenever that may come. . . . Ryan Flaherty of Global-TV Saskatoon checked in with Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, and that piece is right here.


Former WHLer JC Lipon is spending this season with the KHL’s Dinamo Riga, meaning his home base is in Latvia. From Regina, Lipon spent four seasons (2010-13) with the Kamloops Blazers before ending up in the Winnipeg Jets’ organization. So how did he end up in Riga? . . . Read all about it, in his own words, right here.


Congrats


The Ukrainian Hockey League began its 2019-20 season on Sept. 14, 2019; it ended it on Tuesday when HK Kremenchuk won the championship, beating Bily Bars, 3-2 in OT, in Game 7 of the final series. When Kremenchuk captain Nikolai Kiselyov scored the winner on a PP, it was the first time his team held the lead in Game 7. . . . As for the 2020-21 season, well, it’s scheduled to get started next week. . . . Andy Potts has more right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL has postponed its 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Game. The Winter Classic had been scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis, with the All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fla., on Jan. 30. . . . The NHL continues to have a target date of Jan. 1 for the start of its next regular season. . . .

In what we used to see as normal times, more than 250,000 people would file through Macy’s store in New York City every Christmas just to visit with Santa Claus. That won’t happen this time because, for the first time in 160 years, Mr. Claus won’t be there. Yes, this grinchy pandemic has claimed another tradition. . . . There is more on that story right here. . . .

Emily Potter, a pro basketball player from Winnipeg, has tested positive in the Czech Republic where she plays for KP Brno. Potter, 25, attend the U of Utah and is involved in the Canadian national women’s team program. She tested positive this week with the league already shut down following a nationwide lockdown. So far, the head coach, a manager and two of her teammates also have tested positive. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun has her story right here. . . .

Massachusetts’ Public Health Department has shut down indoor arenas and skating facilities for two weeks due to rising coronavirus cases. Kaitlin McKlnley Becker of NBC Boston reported that “health officials say the order is in response to multiple COVID-19 clusters occurring at rinks throughout the state following games, practices and tournaments. . . . In Massachusetts, there have been at least 30 clusters of COVID-19 associated with organized ice hockey activities involving residents from more than 60 municipalities. Each of these includes two or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, totalling 108 confirmed cases.” . . . The shutdown doesn’t impact collegiate or professional hockey. . . .

In a cost-cutting measure brought on by the pandemic, Michigan State said Thursday that it will drop men’s and women’s swimming and men’s and women’s diving after the 2020-21 season. . . .

The NFL may be on the verge of moving another game. The Las Vegas Raiders have moved two OL to the COVID-19 list, so many not have enough eligible for Sunday’s scheduled game against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rules call for teams to dress eight OL per game. At the moment, the Raiders only have seven available. . . . The game already has been moved once. It was to have been played Sunday night, but the NFL moved it to the late afternoon slot the Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals to the night game. The NFL wants to guarantee that there is a game for Sunday Night Football.


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 Nanaimo Clippers have signed D Gianni Fairbrother, 20, who played the past three seasons with the Everett Silvertips. From North Vancouver, B.C., he was a third-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 NHL draft. . . . Mark Readman has joined the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as assistant general manager and assistant coach. Readman, 25, spent last season as head coach of the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks of the junior B Northwest Junior Hockey League. In Creston, he will work alongside GM/head coach Bill Rotheisler.


Perfect

Lots to be done before WHL’s “firm” start date gets here . . . U Sports has cancelled its winter championships . . . U of Ottawa suspends football team

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, took part in a virtual gathering with various media on Thursday afternoon, and it’s obvious that the WHL is doing a whllot of wishing and hoping.

It really doesn’t have any choice.

Robison talked about a lot of things, starting with the move — from Oct. 2 and then Dec. 4 — to Jan. 8 as a “firm” starting date for a regular season. But through his presentation there really wasn’t anything definitive, all of which shows just how much work is left before the WHL can return to the ice. And as for Jan. 8 being a firm date, well, it may be firm in the WHL office but is it firm in the COVID-19 head office?

The fact of the matter is that the virus is dictating the terms, as it has been doing since March. In the absence of a vaccine, which remains months away from us, the virus will decide if/when the WHL will get a regular season rolling, just like it is deciding what NFL and U.S. college football games will be played.

I won’t go through Robison’s effort piece by piece, but you are able to watch it at the WHL website. Nor will I detail Thursday’s numbers on the virus front, suffice to say that things aren’t looking good in Western Canada, Oregon or Washington state. Of course, Christmas still is more than two months away. So we can hope that things change for the better between now and then.

In the end, we all are like the WHL — wishing and hoping.

——

With some junior A and junior B leagues having moved to a pay-to-play format, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was adamant on Thursday that his league won’t be moving that way.

On Thursday, according to an excellent Twitter thread put together by Trevor Redden of panow.com and the radio voice of the Raiders, Robison told media that the “WHL is responsible for 100 per cent of player expenses. That’s the arrangement and we intend to honour that. We have a commitment through player agreement, and that’s the model. Have to admire ownership . . .”

According to Redden, Robison also made it clear that “owners have made it clear they’re committed to the players and their development. They’re prepared to meet commitment despite financial implications.”

Robison, Redden tweeted, re-affirmed his “admiration for owners resolving to make it work.”

Robison didn’t mentioned WHL and team employees who have been furloughed or laid off, some of them since March.


Princess


A few weeks ago, my wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant seven years ago, took in an organ transplant-related webinar that included a doctor who specializes in liver transplants. He said something that really stuck with me:

“You won’t find the virus; it will find you.”

So allow me to flash back to early September when the junior B Kootenay WranglersInternational Junior Hockey League was working to get its season off the ground. As it turned out, the 100 Mile House Wranglers were one of three teams to opt out of the 2020-21 season.

As Wranglers president Greg Aiken told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press:

“We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.”

At the time, Aiken added that “we’re all disappointed. There’s nothing I want more than to bring hockey back this season but not with this risk. Our hospital would be overwhelmed. For seven years we’ve had tremendous support from the town, our fans, sponsorship. They’re our lifeblood so we want to make sure we don’t put them at risk.”

Thinking about their community and its health workers has moved the Wranglers to the top of my list of favourite teams.


There are reports that the Quebec government will be giving the QMJHL $12 million in subsidies to spread among its 12 Quebec-based franchises. That will be part of $70 million that is ticketed to the sports and leisure community, according to the Journal de Quebec.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NFL’s Atlanta Falcons shut down their facility on Thursday after there was a positive test within their organization. The Falcons (0-5), who fired GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn on Sunday, are scheduled to visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. . . .

Fred Dean, a hall-of-fame defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers, died on Wednesday of complications connected to COVID-19. He was 68. In 11 seasons with the 49ers, he won two Super Bowls and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981. . . .

U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, has cancelled 2021 national championships for all of its winter sports. Dick White, the interim CEO, said in a news release: ““Following consultations with the four conferences, we agreed that student-athlete safety remains our top priority. It is not logistically possible for teams to be travelling across the country at this time.” . . . Sports impacted are men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, swimming, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. Curling championships were cancelled earlier by Curling Canada. . . .

The U of Ottawa has suspended its football team after five players tested positive. According to a statement received by CTV News Ottawa, the training program was shut down until further notice after the university received reports that some players were not following self-isolation rules. . . .

The U of New Mexico is scheduled to open its Mountain West Conference schedule on Oct. 24. But, the Albuquerque Journal reported, it had to pause all football workouts on Thursday after eight players and a coach came up positive. . . .

No. 8 Cincinnati won’t be playing at the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes on Saturday after an undisclosed number of positive tests with the Bearcats forced the game to be postponed. It has been rescheduled for Dec. 5. . . . Four games that had been scheduled for Saturday now have been postponed. . . .

Remember reading here about the Yale hockey team that shut things down a few days ago because of six positive tests. Well, the Yale Daily News reports that the total now is 18. . . .

WGME in Maine reported Thursday that “as many as 400 youth hockey players in southern Maine are in quarantine after a referee tested positive.” . . . Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine’s CDC director, said: “This is an individual who was on the ice as a referee for a total of eight games over a two-day period.” . . . One of the teams that played in that stretch is coached by former WHLer Brad Church (Prince Albert, 1993-97). He and his son, Weston, have both been tested and were told they are negative. “We’re taking this very, very seriously,” Church said. According to Church, players were masks until they get on the ice. But, he said, “Refs have not being wearing masks.”


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.


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

QMJHL may have seven teams out of action . . . CHL cancels 2020-21 season . . . Ronaldo, Johnson come up positive

The QMJHL is looking at having seven teams unable to play because they are qmjhlnewlocated in what a provincial government deems to be COVID-19 red or orange zones or because of positive tests. . . . The Victoriaville Tigres are the latest team to be forced to halt operations, but restrictions in their zone don’t start until Monday so they should be able to play on the weekend. . . . If things don’t change, they will join the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, which had 18 positive tests, the Sherbrooke Phoenix, with eight positives, Moncton Wildcats, Gatineau Olympiques, Quebec Remparts and Drummondville Voltigeurs in being idle. . . . The Wildcats are in an orange zone, as deemed by the New Brunswick government, but have been given the OK to return to practice. . . . Kevin Dubé of Le Journal de Quebec reported that the QMJHL continues to talk with health officials about tightening “the concept of the bubble. . . . An answer should come in the next few days. If this proposal is rejected, some fear that the QMJHL will put its season on hold until the situation, especially in Quebec, improves.”


I have to wonder how many major junior hockey fans had their heads just about explode when they woke up Tuesday to this headline: “2020/21 CHL Season Cancelled.” . . . In this instance, CHL refers to the Champions Hockey League, a competition that features 32 of the best teams from 12 European countries playing for the European Trophy. . . . The board of directors has decided to cancel the 2020-21 season. . . . From a news release: “Travel restrictions between participating countries had already put several match-ups at risk. Although a number of authorities would potentially issue special permits for travelling sport teams, a vast amount of uncertainty and risks remained. Many discussions and evaluations have taken place in the last few weeks and months with involved parties, taking all available facts and forecasts into consideration.”


Sean Shapiro, who covers the NHL’s Dallas Stars for The Athletic, has detailed the organization’s difficult times in a story headlined “Stars owner’s mounting financial difficulties lead to more furloughs.” . . . Shapiro reported, among other things, that according to sources, “Multiple . . . employees were told this week they are going to be furloughed for a second time this year.” . . . Tom Gaglardi, the Stars’ owner, also is the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, who laid off an undisclosed number of employees in March. . . . If you subscribe to The Athletic, that piece is right here.


Password


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Portuguese Football Federation revealed on Tuesday that star Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive. Ronaldo, 35, came up positive while with the national team so won’t play against Sweden on Wednesday. Ronaldo played Sunday in a 0-0 Nations League draw with France, and on Monday posted a photo from a team dinner. . . . According to the national team, he is asymptomatic and in isolation. . . . Ronaldo also plays for Juventus — he has two years left on a four-year contract — and is the captain of Portugal’s national team. . . .

Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1-ranked men’s golfer, has tested positive so won’t be playing in this week’s PGA Tour event, the CJ Cup in Las Vegas. . . . Johnson is the 12th PGA player to test positive since June. . . .

The Yale Daily News reported Tuesday night that “Yale Athletics has reverted to Phase 0 following a six-person outbreak on the hockey team.” . . . Phase 0, which means no in-person team activities, will last until at least Oct. 21. . . . The team had been cleared to practice for up to two hours per day. . . . The Ivy League is aiming to start its regular season on Jan. 1. . . .

Fred Dean, a hall of fame defensive lineman in his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, is in an undisclosed hospital with coronavirus. Dwight Hicks, also a former 49ers, posted the information on his Facebook page on Sunday. . . . Hicks posted that Dean is in hospital “on a ventilator in intensive care.” . . .

Baylor and Oklahoma State have had to postponed their football game that was scheduled for Saturday. The game has been moved to Dec. 12 after Baylor had to suspend football operations because of what the Big 12 said was “multiple positive COVID-19 test results.” . . . The game was to have been played in prime time on ABC-TV. . . . Neither team played on Oct. 10. . . .

Vanderbilt and host U of Missouri have postponed their football game that was scheduled to be played on Saturday. The SEC said the game was postponed “due to positive tests and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Vanderbilt football program.” . . . They now are hoping to play on Dec. 12. . . . This is the first game that the SEC has had to postpone due to the pandemic. . . .

Canada’s national women’s soccer team was to have held a camp in England later this month, but Canada Soccer has cancelled it on the advice of medical experts. The camp would have included a friendly with No. 6 England.


Mom


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.



Corey Graham was the radio voice of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings in 2017-18. But it all came crashing down when a tumour was discovered inside his spinal cord and he underwent surgery on June 29, 2018. . . . He was in a wheelchair. He was doing rehab. He was determined to get back on the air. . . . Well, he was able to do 30 home games in the Oil Kings’ 2019-20 season, and last night he opened another chapter, this one as co-host of a three-hour sports show on TSN 1260 in Edmonton. . . . Jason Gregor of oilersnation.com has more on Graham’s wonderful story right here.


Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginia-Pilot: “With everything else going on in America ― and the impact it’s having on sports ― MLB playoff games shouldn’t be high on anybody’s list of complaints. But, man, do these games drag ― averaging about three hours 30 minutes. Pitching changes are relentless. Strikeouts come in comic abundance. Let’s face it, baseball is broken.” . . . The man isn’t wrong. . . .

The Tampa Bay Rays scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on Tuesday night. Doug Kern (@dakern74) pointed out via Twitter: “Top of 6th: 35 actual pitches, seven of them in play. 31 minutes 48 seconds. #PaceOfPlay.”


Eggs

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

Scattershooting


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.”


Dogsout


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.


Marker


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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.



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.



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?


HomeAlone

B.C.’s top doc: I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year . . . Virus takes big bite out of Raiders . . . Things get worse in QMJHL


If it hasn’t been apparent before, it should be now.

The WHL, which has maintained that its teams can’t/won’t operate without whlbeing allowed to play before crowds of 50 per cent capacity, won’t be playing for a while in B.C., not unless something changes.

Brendan Pawliw, a reported with Vista Radio and mypgnow.com, spoke with Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, on Tuesday.

Here is what Dr. Henry said in regards to attendance at such events as hockey games:

“We have been in ongoing discussions with a number of professional and amateur sports leagues about how to do sports safely, and the challenge we are going to have particularly as we go into the next few months is that we’re not having large groups of people together.

“In B.C., the order around no more than 50 people still stands and I know that the WHL and the BCHL are very dependent on gate receipts to keep the league going. But it is just very dangerous during this pandemic to have people in that type of an environment, so I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year.

“I know that’s a difficult thing for these leagues and I know the government is looking at how we can support these leagues or postpone seasons until we have something like a vaccine, so it’s still ongoing . . . very concerning and challenging discussions.”

That entire interview is right here.


The Prince Albert Raiders, who won the WHL championship in 2018-19, held their annual general meeting on Wednesday night and announced they had lost Raiders50$331,895 in 2019-20, quite a difference from a year ago when they revealed a profit of $633,314.

The WHL has four community-owned teams that are required to hold AGMs and release their financial statements.

Late last month, the Swift Current Broncos announced a loss of $791,000 for the abbreviated 2019-20 season, while the Moose Jaw Warriors dropped $391,299.

I will do the math for you . . . the three Saskatchewan-based community-owned teams combined to lose $1,514,194.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes, the WHL’s fourth community-owned team, is to hold their AGM sometime in November.

Prior to their championship season, the Raiders had shown losses totalling $806,571 in four of five seasons; the exception being a profit of $3,892 in 2015-16.

When the 2019-20 season was halted, the Raiders were 36-18-10 and had clinched first place in the East Division. They had two home games remaining and may well have had a deep playoff run in their future. Their average attendance also was up 27 over the previous season, meaning the championship love affair in that city still was in full bloom.

The pandemic short-circuited any kind of playoff run, though, and the results of that were evident on Wednesday night.

In explaining the loss, Gord Broda, the Raiders’ president, mentioned a couple of things that were pandemic-related. The Memorial Cup, which was to have been played in Kelowna, was cancelled, taking with it a revenue-sharing plan that included WHL teams. With the season ending prematurely, Sportsnet didn’t have to fulfil the financial aspects of its contract with the CHL.

There also was the matter of a minimum wage-related class-action lawsuit that the CHL chose to settle for $30 million. The Raiders say they had to pay $166,667 as their share of the settlement. Interstingly, the Warriors, at their AGM, said their share of that settlement was $180,846. (BTW, that settlement, while agreed to by the parties involved, hasn’t yet been approved by the court.)

“If you take those things out of the equation,” Broda told Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald, “we would have had another season in the black.”

Punkari’s story is right here.

Trevor Redden also covered the meeting, for panow.com, and his story is right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The QMJHL appears to have lost another team at least until the end of October. The Drummondville Voltigeurs play out of a region that is being declared a red zone by the provincial government, which means suspending play until at least month’s end. . . . The Voltigeurs are expected to play two weekend games — tonight and Saturday against the visiting Val-d’Or Huskies — and then shut things down. . . . The same thing has happened to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Quebec Remparts. . . . Meanwhile, the Sherbrooke Phoenix has been hit by at least eight positive tests after playing a weekend doubleheader agains the Armada, which has had 18 positives. The Phoenix also has shut down operations indefinitely.

With officials in the Saskatchewan government having approved return-to-play guidelines the SJHL has the OK to begin exhibition games on Oct. 17 and start its regular season on Nov. 1. . . . The Regina Leader-Post has more on the province’s return to play right here.

The NFL’s Tennessee Titans reported two more positive tests on Thursday, bringing the total to 25, and there were reports that the NFL and NFLPA are looking into multiple instances of players taking part in unauthorized workouts. Once the positive tests started coming in, the team was ordered to shut down everything. Apparently, some players held workouts away from the team’s facility. . . . With the Titans’ facility still closed on Thursday, the NFL moved Sunday’s game with the visiting Buffalo Bills to Tuesday night. Of course, that is only if there aren’t more positives with the Titans. . . . The Bills were scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 15, but that game will go to Oct. 18, as long as the Buffalo-Tennessee game doesn’t get postponed again. . . .

Les Miles, the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks football team, has tested positive. Miles, 66, found out Thursday and is in self-isolation. . . . Kansas is next scheduled to play on Oct 17 when it visits West Virginia. . . .

The New England Small College Athletic Conference, which includes 11 NCAA Division III schools, has cancelled its winter season. The conference said the decision by NESCAC presidents was unanimous. . . . The schools involved are Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College. . . .

St. Francis Xavier University, which is located in Antigonish, N.S., “has suspended all varsity practices and training privileges for two weeks after some student-athletes attended a Saturday off-campus party that exceeded more than 50 people,” reports Glenn MacDonald of the Halifax Chronicle Herald. . . . Leo MacPherson, the school’s director of athletics and recreation, said “there were a number of athletes from a number of teams present . . . in numbers greater than allowed by the public health authority guidelines.” . . . The complete story is right here. . . .

NBC New York reported Thursday night that The Broadway League is to announce today that the theatres will remain closed through May 30, 2021. Broadway performances have been shut down since March 12.


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.


MacLeod: OHL must dump body-checking to play . . . Armada at 18 positives . . . Titans unable to shake virus


Well, that was an interesting day in the world of major junior hockey and I’m not referring to the NHL draft.

First, it was revealed that the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada now has 18 positives tests in its organization.

Then, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, reiterated something that she told Rick Westhead of TSN last week: ohlIf the OHL wants to play this season, it will have to ban bodychecking and fighting.

In addressing the subject on Wednesday, MacLeod told reporters: ”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.”

MacLeod also said that the 20-team OHL, while it is in “constant contact” with the government is it works on a reopening plan, hasn’t asked for any financial help. That is unlike the QMJHL, which has asked for a $20-million subsidy from the Quebec government.

According to The Canadian Press, “The OHL said in a statement that it will not comment on its ongoing negotiations with the Ontario government.”

The CP story is right here.

——

——

The QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada had one player test positive on qmjhlnewMonday. On Wednesday, the team said that it now had 18 positives in its organization. . . . As a result, players and staff have gone into a two-week isolation period and all team activities have been suspended indefinitely. . . . This all comes after the QMJHL’s first weekend of regular-season play. The Armada opened by playing a doubleheader with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, which also has suspended in-person activities. It reportedly has one positive case. . . . Of course, the Armada and Quebec Remparts also are in a government-designated red zone and team sports in those areas have been shut down through the end of October. . . . Here’s Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL commissioner, from a news release: “Although our sanitary and medical protocol is very strict and rigorous, we knew that COVID-19 was highly infectious and could eventually hit certain players and team staff members. Nevertheless, we are extremely confident that the measures contained in our contingency plan, which is currently deployed, will prove to be very efficient.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The NFL’s Tennessee Titans had hoped to return to their practice facility on Wednesday after not having any positive tests on Monday or Tuesday. But two more players tested positive Wednesday, bringing the organization’s total to 22, with 20 of those having occurred since Sept. 29. . . . The Titans are scheduled to play host to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, in a clash of unbeaten teams, although that now may be in jeopardy. . . .

CB Stephen Gilmore of the New England Patriots, the NFL’s defensive player of the year last season, has tested positive. He is the third New England player to test positive. . . . The Patriots, who are to play the visiting Denver Broncos on Sunday, cancelled their Wednesday practice. . . . Patriots QB Cam Newton tested positive on Saturday. . . .

Production of the CBC-TV show Battle of the Blades is on hold because a member of the production team tested positive. This means that the season premiere that had been scheduled for Oct. 15 has been postponed. . . . The show was to be taped at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont. . . .

The host Colorado Rapics and LAFC were to have played an MLS match on Wednesday night. However, it was postponed after the Rapids had a staff member test positive. The Rapids now have had three players and 12 staff members test positive, and they have had three straight games postponed. . . .

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern have postponed their football game that was to have been played on Oct. 14 at Georgia Stadium. The game has been rescheduled for Dec. 12. Appalachian State now has had two straight games postponed because of 19 positive tests around the team.



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.


Allow me to correct something that was posted here on Tuesday night. . . . Phil Andrews, who has been the Regina Pats’ manager of media and communications, as well as the team’s radio voice, tells me that Evan Daum will be doing “the marketing portion of my job . . . not the play-by-play/hockey communications.” . . . So if you are an aspiring play-by-play person, there’s still a chance.


JUST NOTES: A note to B.C.’s political parties — Dorothy and I already have mailed in our ballots, so you are wasting your time with the phone calls. . . . If you haven’t been watching the MLB playoffs, you should know that there’s some real emotion in the mostly empty stadiums. Wednesday night’s game between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers looked to be a powder keg for a lot of the time. You didn’t need to be a lip-reader to understand what was happening, that’s for sure.

Lynn Lake legend takes on the ‘Hammer’ . . . Remembering a fax from Rocky . . . The virus finds the QMJHL

When I was a hockey-playing teenager in Lynn Lake, Man., Steve Andrascik was THE MAN.

Two years older than me, he played two seasons (1967-69) with the Flin Flon Andrascik.Bombers, totalling 62 goals and 62 assists in 110 games. He also earned 230 penalty minutes as he sometimes rode shotgun with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. Steve was selected 11th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 12-team NHL’s 1968 draft — 24 players were selected over three rounds.

Steve would come home in the offseason and work in the mine. Competitive? Sometimes he would stop off at the fastball diamond on his way to work and pitch for one of the men’s teams . . . while wearing work boots.

Yes, he was a Lynn Lake legend.

As a pro, he played 77 games in the WHA and had stints in the CHL, SHL and AHL, finishing up with the Hershey Bears with whom, as I understand it, he was quite popular.

His NHL career consisted of one game, a playoff game in Madison Square Garden. After spending the 1971-72 season with the AHL’s Providence Reds — he had 14 goals, 10 assists and 104 penalty minutes in 74 games — the New York Rangers added him for their playoff run. On April 20, he was in their lineup for a 3-2 victory over Chicago in Game 3 of what would be a sweep of the Blackhawks.

The Rangers would lose the Stanley Cup final in six games to Bobby Orr’s Boston Bruins. Steve didn’t get in the New York lineup but he was along for the ride.

That brings us to the following tweet . . .

——

The tweet referencing the bout between Steve Andrascik and Dave Schultz reminded me of a WHL-related story from a few seasons back.

This is one of those stories that really is too good to try and confirm just in case it didn’t happen. It just may be one of those stories best prefaced with “Legend has it . . .”

But, hey, here it is . . .

It was early in December of 1996 and Rocky Thompson and the Medicine Hat Tigers were preparing to head out on a three-game swing into B.C. They were scheduled to visit the Kelowna Rockets (Dec. 10), Kamloops Blazers (Dec. 11) and Prince George Cougars (Dec. 13).

Defenceman Scott Parker was the man with the Rockets, while the Blazers had forward Rob Skrlac. In Prince George, Zdeno Chara, a young 6-foot-8 defenceman from Trencin, Slovakia, was making people sit up and take notice.

Thompson, of course, knew the challenges he would face on this road trip. He was in his fourth season with the Tigers, although he would be traded to the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 24, which was the trade deadline. Todd McLellan, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, acquired Thompson, 19, and sniper Josh Green, 19, for F Tyler Perry, 19; F Andrew Milne, 18; D Kevin Mackie, 15; F Brett Scheffelmaier, 15; and a 1997 second-round bantam draft pick.

But that trade was yet to happen.

Preparing to head into the rugged B.C. Division, Thompson was well aware of just who would be his dance partners.

He knew all about Parker and Skrlac, both of whom were WHL veterans. But, hey, what about the new guy in Prince George?

Well, Thompson thought it would be a good idea to really test the new guy, so before heading out on the road he sent a fax to Chara via the Cougars’ office. “I’m coming for you” is all it read.

The Tigers opened the trip in Kelowna and, true to form, Thompson and Parker scrapped right off the opening faceoff. Moments before the puck was dropped, Parker skated up from the Kelowna blue line and traded shots with the Rockets’ starting right winger, which put him nose-to-nose with Thompson, who was lined up at left wing. The epic bout that followed is available on YouTube.

One night later, Thompson was back in the Tigers’ lineup in Kamloops, but as hard as Skrlac tried in the early going he wasn’t able to engage the Medicine Hat tough guy. Eventually, the referee approached Thompson and  asked if he had plans to accommodate Skrlac. Thompson told him that he had damaged a hand in the bout with Parker so wasn’t about to scrap with Skrlac.

Two nights later, Thompson picked up a roughing minor in Prince George, but there wasn’t a bout with Chara.

The best laid plans — and sent faxes — and all that . . .

BTW, the Tigers made out just fine on the trip, beating the Rockets 5-4 in OT on a goal by F Jason Chimera at 4:48 of extra time, winning 3-1 in Kamloops and earning a 2-2 OT tie (remember ties?) in Prince George.

Of course, we are referencing the same Rocky Thompson who, at the age of 43, is preparing for his first season as an associate coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He spent the previous three seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He also was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires for two seasons, helping them to the 2017 Memorial Cup title.



These are interesting times in major junior hockey, where the OHL and WHL are qmjhlnewhoping to get their regular seasons started in December. The QMJHL, meanwhile, has one weekend under its belt and has lost three teams. . . . The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have suspended all in-person activities. That comes after an Armada player tested positive following a weekend doubleheader between the teams. . . . At the same time, the Armada and Quebec Remparts have been shut down at least for the rest of this month as they are in a red zone as defined by the provincial government. . . . Armada staff and players are in isolation as they await further testing and results, and the outcome of contact tracing. . . . The Armada and Remparts each has eight games on their October schedules.

From a QMJHL news release:

“Following the Quebec government’s announcement to prohibit the practice of sports in the designated red zones, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is very disappointed in this decision.

“The conduct of our activities has been above reproach since the start of training camps at the end of August. The return to play protocol was approved and applauded by public health officials in Quebec and by the three Maritime-based provinces in which the league operates. It has been hailed as thorough and effective. The league would like to congratulate the players and team staffs for its flawless execution.

“Over the course of the next few days, we will share with Quebec public health officials additional measures which will render the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s and Quebec Remparts’ bubbles even more secure. We hope that these new directives will be well-received by Quebec’s health agency. The QMJHL is convinced that these additional measures will go above and beyond what is required to protect our players, staffs and officials and enable all of our teams to continue playing.”


That’s Kelly Olynyk at the left of the photo in the following tweet. He and his Miami Heat are scheduled to play Game 4 of the NBA final tonight in Orlando. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers tested positive on Monday. According to the Oilers, he is “in voluntary self-quarantine at his home. He will continue to be monitored and will follow all associated health protocols. He is feeling well and is experiencing mild symptoms.” . . .

Kevin Sumlin, the head coach of the Arizona football team, has tested positive. He is in self-isolation while contact tracing is conducted. His team is scheduled to begin practising on Friday, with its first game scheduled for Nov. 7 against host Utah. . . . “My family and I have been aggressive in our efforts to remain safe and healthy throughout the past seven months,” Sumlin said in a statement. “My positive test result, while a shock, is a stark reminder of how we must all remain vigilant in our focus on hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings.” . . . At least four FBS coaches have tested positive since July, the others being Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Jason Candle of Toledo and Blake Anderson of Arkansas State. . . .

Bobby Bowden, who spent 34 years as the head coach of the Florida State football team, has tested positive. Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Bowden, who will turn 91 next month, “tested positive following his release from (a Tallahassee) hospital last weekend while being treated for an unrelated leg infection.” . . . He had been released from hospital on Thursday and was informed on Saturday that he had tested positive. . . . Bowden retired in 2009 after 44 seasons as a football coach.


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.


Lots of food for thought in losses by Broncos and Warriors . . . QMJHL increases penalties for fighting at government request . . . Mustangs cleared for return to ice

Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are publicly owned and, as such, are obligated to hold annual general meetings and to release their financial statements.

Two of those teams — the Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos — whlannounced combined losses of more than $1 million on Tuesday night, something that should have set off alarm bells among fans hoping for some kind of 2020-21 season.

Moose Jaw finished the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season in last place in the East Division, while Swift Current was in the cellar of the Central Division. So neither team was in line to reap the rewards that come with qualifying for the playoffs.

The Broncos, whose average attendance dropped 444 from the previous season, lost $791,000, ending a run of six straight seasons in which they had shown a profit. Season-ticket sales were down 345, which is a big number for a team that plays in a 2,879-seat facility.

The Warriors, with their attendance down 366 per game, lost $391,299, running their two-season deficit to $556,444.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com reported that the team attributed $282,286 of its deficit  to “pandemic-related lost revenues.”

The Warriors also had to pay $180,846 as its share of the settlement of a $30-MooseJawWarriorsmillion class-action lawsuit, although that settlement has yet to be approved by the court. Still, assuming that it is, each of the WHL’s Canadian teams will be on the hook for that amount.

The Warriors, Palmer reported right here, still have $610,653 in the bank, but they did defer their annual $200,000 payment that is part of their commitment to the Multiplex. They have two payments left in a 10-year pledge.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that the Warriors Booster Club raised $238,771 in 2019-20.

The Warriors, like all WHL teams, are going to have a different organizational look whenever it is that play resumes. As club president Chad Taylor told Palmer: “We’ll need the help of the community when we get going again and hockey will look different — our staff will look different, we’ll be leaner — but that is the times and we’ll make it work.”

The Broncos, meanwhile, also will be leaner. These days, Dean Brockman, the SCBroncosdirector of hockey operations and head coach, is the only employee working on the hockey side of things, with Nathan MacDonald and Ryan Stricker on the business side. Their retail store — The Stable — is open and management has authorized 10 paid hours per week for communications.

Trent McLeary, a former Broncos player who now is chairman of the team’s board of directors, said after the AGM that “it’s a fight to survive,” stating that it will take the franchise years to recover from the loss.

“It’s like how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” McLeary told Steven Mah of the Southwest Booster. “We don’t think we have to make this up in one year . . . so there’s lots of challenges, lots of things that are going to challenge us as an organization, as a community. But we’re not the only ones, you look at baseball, you look at soccer, you look at everything.”

(Mah’s story is right here.)

The WHL’s two other publicly owned teams — the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — have yet to hold their annual general meetings.

The Raiders’ meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7. Following the 2018-19 season, one Raiders50in which they won the WHL championship, they announced a profit of $633,314. In the previous five seasons, they had shown losses totalling $806,571 in four of them; the exception being a profit of $3,892 in 2015-16.

When the 2019-20 season was halted, the Raiders were 36-18-10 and had clinched first place in the East Division. They had two home games remaining and may well have had a deep playoff run in their future. Their average attendance also was up 27 over the previous season, meaning the championship love affair in that city still was in full bloom.

The Hurricanes have said they will hold their AGM on a November date that Lethbridgehasn’t yet been announced.

They are coming off four straight profit-making seasons. Last season’s profit of $282,168 allowed the four-season total to grow to $1,639,321. (Don’t forget, though, that they had losses totalling more than $1.25 million in the previous five seasons.)

When the 2019-20 season ended, Lethbridge was 37-19-7 and third in the Central Division. Its attendance was down one fan per game, to 3,970, over 2018-19. Still, it lost three home dates to the cancellation, and who knows how many playoff games were in its future?

The Hurricanes pay the City of Lethbridge an annual maintenance fee of $166,667 for their home arena, the Enmax Centre. Last month, the Hurricanes and the City agreed to a one-year deferment of that payment, in the process adding a year to the arena lease that now runs through 2029-30. The Hurricanes asked for the deferment, citing revenues lost to the pandemic.

We will find out in November just how much they lost.

I would suggest that the four publicly owned franchises are far from being the WHL’s biggest spenders. Of course, the privately owned teams don’t have to share their numbers with the public. But judging by what the Broncos and Warriors reported, and what is surely to come from the Hurricanes and Raiders, you have to think there is some major pain being felt.

And that’s why the WHL can’t afford to start a season without being able to operate at less than 50 per cent capacity in its arenas. The losses from a season played without restrictions, albeit a shortened one, were large. Losses from a season played without fans in the stands would be mind-numbing.


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Here, in summation, is what I believe has happened with the QMJHL and qmjhlnewfighting. . . . The league approached the government and asked for $20 million in subsidies to help its 12 Quebec-based team get through the pandemic. . . . Isabelle Charest, a former Olympic speed skater who is the junior education minister, suggested the league needed to do more to eliminate fighting. . . . On Wednesday, the QMJHL’s board of governors voted to slap a fighter with a major and a misconduct, meaning that player would have to sit out 15 minutes. A player also would face a one-game suspension after accumulating three fights, with more time off for each fight after that. . . . Here is the QMJHL’s Rule 47: “All players involved in a fight will now be assessed a misconduct penalty (duration of 10 minutes) which will be added to the major penalty (five minutes), except if a player involved is considered an instigator or an aggressor. An automatic one-game suspension will be assessed after the third fight, and for any additional fight.” . . . There is a chart right here that explains all possible situations. . . . I guess we can assume the QMJHL now is awaiting an etransfer from the government.


Flushot


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs said Wednesday that they have been “approved to resume our training hockey-related activities.” Things had been on hold since Sept. 25 when one of their players tested positive. . . . According to the Mustangs, all tests “administered . . . this week have come back negative and there is no risk of the spread of the virus.: . . .

The Tennessee Titans have a reported nine positive tests in their organization, and the NFL has said their game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers that had been scheduled for Sunday will be played Monday or Tuesday. . . . The Titans have halted football-related activities until at least Saturday. . . . The Minnesota Vikings, who played the visiting Titans on Sunday, haven’t had any positives. They should return to their practice facility today (Thursday). . . .

The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are forecasting a $10-million loss, revealed Wednesday that they have terminated some employees and laid off others in both business and football operations. . . . In a statement, the team said it “had to make significant adjustments to our workforce including temporary and permanent layoffs in both the Business Operations and Football Operations.” . . . Matt Lowry, a content provider with the team for four years, tweeted that he had been laid off, and added: “There’s too many awesome co-workers to thank, but you know who you are, and you’ll hear from me. And please WEAR A MASK so we can all enjoy the 2021 CFL season from wherever you may be.” . . .

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group is in the process of terminating 40 per cent of its staff at TD Place. The arena and stadium are home to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, both of which are owned by OSEG. However, staff from those teams weren’t included in the terminations. . . .

MLB announced Wednesday that it will allow about 11,500 fans into NLCS and World Series games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Fans haven’t been allowed into MLB games since spring training. . . . Face masks will be mandatory and, according to MLB, “No seats will be sold within 20 feet of where a player can be located on the field, in the dugouts or in the bullpen.” . . . Some numbers from Deadspin’s Jesse Spector: “In September, there were 6,913 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tarrant County, Texas, including 447 reported on Wednesday, the final day of the month. That brings the cumulative tally for the county to 46,527 people stricken by coronavirus, with 721 dead from the pandemic.”



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: Steve Hogle, who spent six seasons as president of the Saskatoon Blades, has been hired as the general manager of Hockey Edmonton. Hogle is from Edmonton and played minor hockey there. Before joining the Blades, he was with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as vice-president of communications and broadcasting. He replaces the retiring Dean Hengel with Hockey Edmonton. . . . The Minnesota Twins, who were eliminated from the American League playoffs yesterday, have lost 18 straight post-season games, going back to 2004. Since then, the Houston Astros, who finished off the Twins, have won 43 playoff games. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has a good look at Al Murray, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s assistant GM and director of amateur scouting, right here. It’s well worth your time.


Books

Vic needs a kidney. Can you help? . . . QMJHL set for exhibition season . . . MJHL aiming for Oct. 9 opening


Dale Hawerchuk, the quiet NHL superstar, died on Tuesday, his battle with stomach cancer having taken him at 57. . . . Here’s Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun: “The superstar who struck so many people with his humility reached out to a bunch of them over his final 72 hours. To say goodbye, and to tell them he loved them. Serge Savard, Teemu Selanne, Jeremy Roenick and many others received a call nobody wants to get, but one everybody who got will cherish.” . . . Scott Arniel, perhaps Hawerchuk’s best friend, talked with Friesen about his long-time friend and all the memories. That’s all right here and it’s wonderful.


The QMJHL will open its 51-game exhibition schedule on Sept. 1 and wrap it up on Sept. 26. It plans on opening its regular season on Oct. 1. . . . Each of the league’s 18 teams will play four, five, six or seven exhibition games. . . . According to the league, the Gatineau Olympiques, Halifax Mooseheads and Charlottetown Islanders “will play all of their preseason games in a neutral site as their buildings are currently not available.” . . . QMJHL teams are opening training camps on Aug. 30. . . . I haven’t been able to find a blanket statement, but it would appear that fans won’t be permitted at any of the exhibition games.



The MJHL announced on Wednesday that it is planning to open its 2020-21 regular season on Oct. 9. Training camps are to open on Sept. 18 with each team having 34 or fewer players on hand. . . . Each team will be permitted to play three exhibition games, with none of those against out-of-province teams. . . . From the MJHL news release: “Players/Staff and Officials are required to wear face masks while entering/exiting and within the arena for MJHL sanctioned activities while not on the ice. . . . Players/Staff are required to wear face masks while traveling to and from games (on the bus, entering/exiting restaurants and hotels, etc.) . . . Members of the public are strongly encouraged to wear face masks while in any MJHL facility during MJHL activity while following all necessary distancing and facility guidelines.” . . . The MJHL hasn’t yet released its schedule, but it did say that the schedule “will be significantly modified to mitigate risk of spread or potential contact between multiple teams and to allow for minimal disruption of the schedule in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


In a move aimed at saving money, the U of Alaska-Anchorage announced on Wednesday that it will be eliminating four sports, including hockey, after the 2020-21 season, whenever it may happen. . . . Also to be cancelled are men’s and women’s skiing and women’s gymnastics. . . . Meanwhile, the U of Alaska-Fairbanks issued a news release stating that it doesn’t have any plans to reduce the number of athletics programs that it supports.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Mikele Colasurdo, a freshman QB with Georgia State, revealed Thursday that he won’t play this season because of a heart condition that was diagnosed after he had a run-in with COVID-19. . . . He didn’t get at all specific about the condition, but myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, has proven to be a potential after-effect from the virus. . . . 

The U of Notre Dame’s football team has had five players test positive and has quarantined six others after contact tracing. . . . The team is to experience another round of testing today (Friday). . . . Earlier this week, Notre Dame dumped in-person learning for remote instruction through at least Sept. 2. There have been 304 positive tests since students returned to campus. . . .  

The group that oversees high school sports in Saskatoon’s secondary schools has cancelled all sports this fall. That takes care of football, soccer, volleyball and cross-country. . . . On top of that, the city’s two school divisions — Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and Saskatoon Public Schools — have cancelled all facility rentals, including gymnasiums, for the remainder of this year. . . . 

The Manitoba Soccer Association has informed all members that it “has been notified that an individual involved with the youth soccer community in the Winnipeg region has tested positive for COVID-19.” . . . According to the MSA, public health officials now are doing contact tracing. . . . 

The NFL’s Seattle Seahawks will play their first three homes games — Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 11 — without any fans in CenturyLink Field. “While we are hopeful that conditions will improve as the season moves forward,” the team said in a statement, “we will continue to follow the lead of public health and government officials to make future decisions about having fans in attendance.” . . . 

MLB has had to dump more games, this time because the New York Mets have experienced positive tests. . . . The Mets have  had one unidentified player and one staff member test positive. . . . The Mets were to have played the host Miami Marlins on Thursday and the visiting New York Yankees today (Friday), but both games were postponed. It remains to be seen if Saturday and Sunday games with the Yankees go by the wayside, too. . . . All told, 16 MLB teams now have had games called because of COVID-19. . . .

Italy’s Serie A soccer league is trying to return from a shortened off-season — its previous season ended on Aug. 2 — but has had at least eight players test positive. Cagliari, Napoli, Roma and Torino all have had positives. . . . Serie A’s schedule is to begin on Sept. 19. . . .

The Montreal Impact are scheduled to play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps in an MLS game on Tuesday. And the Impact says it will have fans — a maximum of 250 of them — in the seats at State Saputo. . . . The Whitecaps have three home games scheduled for September, but have said they’ll play without fans. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed to non-essential travel, Canada’s MLS teams are only playing against each other. . . . 

The Winnipeg High School Football League is on hold, at least for now. . . . In a statement released Thursday, Jeffrey Bannon, the league’s commissioner, said: “Based upon the approval of Football Manitoba’s Return to Play Stage 2, ‘Stay & Play,’ the WHSFL is now in conversations with each school division and their member teams to determine the future of any resemblance of a 2020 season.” . . . Training camps that were to have begun on Aug. 24 have been postponed indefinitely. . . . 

From a Thursday news release: “The World of Outlaws announced today that several drivers and crew members have tested positive. . . .” One driver tested positive after last weekend’s races at Knoxville Raceway. Two crew members subsequently also tested positive. . . . After contact tracing, “several other participants and families have tested positive. So far, symptoms appear minor.”



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.