Virus takes bite out of Grizzlies . . . Meet Duvernay-Tardif, a Canadian hero . . . Chiefs goalie wins in USHL debut

The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey RevelstokeLeague announced Friday night that they “have ceased operations for the remainder of the 2020-21 season after members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19.” . . . The Grizzlies learned on Tuesday that “a potential COVID-19 contact” had occurred at a player’s work place. . . . According to a team statement, “The player . . . subsequently tested positive . . . and additional team members have also since received positive test results.” . . . Here’s Ryan Parent, the Grizzlies’ general manager and head coach: “Earlier this week we elected to temporarily cancel team activities in an effort to keep our billet families, players and greater community safe. “In light of having received multiple positive test results, we have had to make another hard decision. It is with a heavy heart that we have ceased operations for the 2020-21 KIJHL season.” . . . The team’s release is right here. . . . The KIJHL hasn’t played games since Nov. 20.


A year ago, OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was preparing to play in the Super Bowl, a game he and his Kansas City Chiefs teammates would win. . . . The Chiefs are back in the NFL’s championship game, but Duvernay-Tardif isn’t. He opted out of this season in order to work at a long-term care facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in his his home province of Quebec. He attended McGill U Faculty of Medicine, graduating with a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery, but hasn’t completed his postgraduate training. . . . Earlier this month, he appeared on the CBC Radio show The Current with Matt Galloway. It’s a 27-minute interview that will be the best 27 minutes you will have invested in anything in the first month of 2021. Give it a listen right here.


While I was away for a couple of days, the WHL announced that it had been WHL2given the OK by the Alberta government to play a few games starting in late February. . . . If all goes well, the league’s five Alberta teams will begin playing games on Feb. 26. A schedule has yet to be announced, but it’ll be weekends only — one team will have a bye, the other four will play two games in home-and-home series, something that will mean no hotel stays. . . . Staff and players are to begin self-quarantining today and report to their teams on Feb. 6. . . . If you missed it, the WHL’s news release is right here. . . . But, please, let’s not call this return to play a season? It’s certainly not a 2020-21 season. Rather, Let’s call it a developmental season, because that’s what these games will be about. . . .

BTW, when I say that I was away for a bit, I wasn’t out of province or even out of town. I was in the backyard working with a shovel after our premier urged all of us to “dig down a little deeper.”



Book


Elemer Jerkovits is a familiar figure on the Regina and Saskatchewan sporting scenes as an umpire and hockey referee. It was in his role as the latter when he believes he contracted COVID-19 while working an adult recreational hockey game in Regina. And, yes, when he went home he passed the virus along to his wife, Kendra. . . . That was in mid-November and the after-effects continue to linger. . . . As a result, Jerkovits isn’t convinced that it’s time to open up the rinks. “People say kids aren’t as susceptible to this virus,” he told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “Well, possibly, but there are kids that are catching it. The rink environment is not the best place to be. From my understanding, it’s the humidity in the air and the ventilation. I was in a 10-year-old building when I got it, so you’d think the ventilation system was fairly up to date.” . . . Jerkovits also has decided that he’ll be staying away from officiating for the next while. “I’m not telling people what to do,” he said. “Who am I to tell people how to raise their kids or what activities they should and shouldn’t do? Just take it from somebody who caught it and (experienced) the impact on our life — as minimal as it was compared to many others. It’s just not worth it.” . . . Harder’s complete story is right here.


G Lukáš Parik, who played last season with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, made his USHL debut on Friday night, stopping 30 shots in leading the Dubuque Fighting Saints to a 4-1 victory over the host Waterloo Black Hawks. Parik, who played in two games for Czech Republic at the 2021 World Junior Championship, had been playing for HC Benatky and Jizerou in Czech2 before joining the Fighting Saints. . . . He was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2019 draft..


Car


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL has scratched two more games involving the Vegas Golden Knights. They were to have played the San Jose Sharks in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 1 and 3, but have run into COVID-19 issues and have had to put things on hold for now. Vegas has three coaches and D Alex Pietrangelo in protocol. . . . Those two games were to have been the Sharks’ first ‘home’ games of the season. They were to play their home games in Glendale, the home of the Coyotes, because Santa Clara Country, their home in California, had prohibited the playing of contact sports. The Sharks now are hoping to play their first home game in San Jose on Feb. 13 with the Anaheim Ducks providing the opposition. . . .

The Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights, beat the visiting San Jose Barracuda, 7-3, in an exhibition game on Friday night. Deryk Engelland, the former Vegas defenceman who retired as an NHL player prior to this season, ran the Silver Knights’ bench. He is a special assistant to the owner with the Golden Knights. . . . Manny Viveiros, Henderson’s head coach, and assistants Jamie Heward and Joel Ward have been away from the team since Tuesday when they ran the Golden Knights’ bench with their coaches away because of COVID-19 protocol. . . .

There are problems in the AHL, too, as it struggles to get exhibition games played. It cancelled two weekend games — Binghamton and Hershey on Saturday, Lehigh Valley and Hershey on Sunday. “The decision was made in consultation with medical experts and the AHL and due to the health and safety of players, coaches and game-day personnel,” the league said in a tweet. . . . At that point, it had scratched seven exhibition games. . . .

F Travis Zajac didn’t practise with the New Jersey Devils on Friday, because of what the team said was “a COVID-related absence.” The Devils are scheduled to face the Buffalo Sabres today at 1 p.m. ET. . . . The Devils have Zajac, G Mackenzie Blackwood and G Aaron Dell on the protocol list. . . . The list of NHL players on the protocol list for Friday is right here. . . .

There was good news from the NBA as only one player tested positive in the week beginning Jan. 20. All told, 492 players were tested. . . .

The 2021 Alberta Summer Games that had been scheduled for Lethbridge have been cancelled. They were to have been held there in July 2020, but were postponed. . . .

The National Women’s Hockey League is playing games in a bubble in Lake Placid, N.Y., but it lost the Metropolitan Riveters on Thursday. They pulled out after an undisclosed number of players tested positive. The league will continue to play with five teams.


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Grandma

Ice’s new home on ice for a while yet . . . Happy anniversary to The Quad Town Forum


The WHL’s Winnipeg Ice is going to spend at least two mores seasons playing in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus at the U of Manitoba.

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that “the pandemic fallout is complicating plans by the owners of the Ice to build a new arena. . . . That timing, already affected by the slow pace of obtaining zoning approval for the land, has been further delayed by the pandemic.”

If you’re late to this story, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg wpgicebusinessman Greg Fettes, who is the chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the president and general manager, near the end of the 2016-17 season. They left the team in Kootenay for two seasons before moving to Winnipeg, having said that they would build a 4,500-seat arena in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald in time for the 2021-22 season.

“If you’re asking about a change in terms of the current circumstance, obviously I’ve been monitoring what’s happening,” Fettes told Sawatzky. “We don’t know what the hockey landscape’s going to look like after this. So are we taking a step back and making sure we understand that? Yes, absolutely.

“We’re going to do that but for all intents and purposes we’re still on the same track we were on. We’re doing our best to push forward but we are going to pay attention to see how are we going to be able to play games and how does that affect the type of building we build.”

The Ice’s owners say they spent $1.3 million on renovations to the Wayne Fleming Arena prior to moving into it, and now Fettes says there will be more renovating done. But they aren’t going to do anything to enlarge the seating capacity.

The bottom line to this story is that more than three years after the Chynoweth family reached an agreement to sell the franchise, Fettes and Co. have yet to start building the promised new arena. And the WHL now is faced with having a team in the Manitoba capital play at least three seasons in a 1,600-seat facility that was opened in 1981.

According to statistics compiled by the WHL, the Ice averaged 1,512 fans for 31 home games last season. In its last two seasons in Cranbrook that average was 2,214 (2018-19) and 2,442 (2017-18). In 2016-17, the last season under the Chynoweth umbrella, that figure was 1,754.

Sawatzky’s complete story is right here.


Comma


Considering the massive hit that the Canadian newspaper industry has taken in the last while, I’d like to tip my hat to Brad and Tracy Brown, the owners of The Quad Town Forum that is, according to its masthead, “devoted exclusively to covering White City, Emerald Park, Balgonie, Pilot Butte, Vibank, Sedley, Francis, Odessa, Montmartre, Kronau & surrounding areas.” . . . That would be in south-eastern Saskatchewan, just a couple of slapshots from Regina. . . . The Forum, which publishes 48 weeks a year, celebrated an anniversary on Thursday — it was No. 5. . . . The Browns went all-in, moving to Sedley and basing the Forum in Vibank, in 2015. You bet they were swimming against the current. . . . Brad has been in the newspaper business since 1999. He spent some time at the Prairie Post in Swift Current and while there covered the Broncos (2012-14). . . . The introduction in that first issue included this: “Newspapers are supposed to be dead. Gone. Extinct. Killed off by TV and the Internet and rock music and teenagers and Conrad Black and the Harlem Shake and SARS and gluten and pretty much anything else you can think of. Yet here we are, excitedly presenting to you the first issue of the Quad Town Forum.” . . . And here they are now, five years later. . . . Well done, and may the press never stop running! . . . Congratulations to the Browns and, yes, I will raise one in their honour at some point this weekend.

If you would like to check out The Forum, it’s all right here. Feel free to travel over there and tour around the site.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”


hotdogs


The 10-team Western Canadian Baseball League hopes to open its 2020 season in late June or early July. It had been scheduled to get started in late May. . . . The collegiate league features six teams in Alberta and four in Saskatchewan. . . .

The 2020 Little League World Series has been cancelled, along with 82 qualifying tournaments. Also gone is the MLB Little League Classic that would have seen the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles play in Williamsport, Penn., on Aug. 23. . . . The tournament was to have run from Aug. 20-30.



If you missed it, here’s part of what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times earlier this week:

“I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.

“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’ “


Paintings


Questions, I’ve got questions: If the NHL is able to get up and running, say at some point in June or even July, how excited will you be to watch the end of the regular season? . . . Will it matter to you if there are fans allowed into the games? . . . Will it matter to you if the Stanley Cup is presented in late August or at some point in September, and the 2020-21 regular season begins in December? . . . Does it matter to you when the NHL holds its draft — in June or August? . . . Do you get excited at the thought of the NBA gathering its teams at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., to finish its season?



Whatever happened to Andre Dawson, the Hall of Fame outfielder? He’s a mortician and owner of Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in Miami. These days, he’s having to learn how to deal with a pandemic. . . . Steven Wine of The Associated Press has more right here.


So much winning . . .