Nova Scotia, with virus numbers rising, pulls plug on Women’s Worlds . . . WHL adjusts schedule; some teams won’t get in 24 games . . . CFL provides an update

It sure looked as though the IIHF Women’s World Championship was going to start in Halifax and Truro on May 6. But that’s before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and said: “Not so fast.”

On Wednesday, with Team Canada already training in Halifax and one day WomenHockeybefore nine other teams were to begin arriving for their quarantine sessions, the Nova Scotian government chose to inform the IIHF and Hockey Canada that the tournament was off.

In a statement, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO, said: “While we are disappointed with the cancellation, we understand the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants and the community at large as the top priority.”

René Fasel, the IIHF president, said: “This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin. We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia reported 25 new COVID-19 cases, which, according to CBC News, is “the highest daily total since November 24 when 37 cases were diagnosed. It pushes the province’s seven-day average to 10, which is the first time it has been in double digits since early December.”

On April 15, Nova Scotia had 42 active cases; on Wednesday, it announced that it now had 79.

In a news release, Premier Iain Rankin admitted to being “very concerned” about the rising number.

“We are seeing early signs of community spread and we must strictly follow all public health protocols to get back on track, especially in the greater Halifax region,” Rankin said.

CBC News reported that “19 of the new cases are in the central health zone, which includes the Halifax area. Four cases are related to travel outside the region.”

Canada’s Atlantic provinces have done better than the rest of the country — the far north excluded — at keeping COVID-19 at bay and one of the major weapons has been travel restrictions. So with the numbers threatening to keep going up, the province chose the health of its citizens over playing host to an international tournament.

Really, it’s hard to argue with the decision.

The IIHF and Hockey Canada are still hopeful of holding the tournament at some point during the summer. There also were reports later Wednesday that the Dallas Stars and USA Hockey are exploring the possibility of playing it in Texas, perhaps in Frisco and Plano, where the U18 IIHF World championship is to open on Monday.

But, at least for now, the Women’s world championship has been scrubbed for a second straight year. The tournament also was to have been held in Halifax and Truro a year ago.


Hotel


The WHL announced a number of schedule changes on Wednesday, all of them WHL2necessitated by teams having missed games because of positive tests. . . . The end result is that without any more postponements a number of teams won’t play 24 games in this developmental season as was originally hoped. . . . Two of the teams that have experienced positive tests, the Calgary Hitmen and Kelowna Rockets, will play 21 and 16 games respectively. . . . The Hitmen, by the way, have completed their 14-day isolation period and have been cleared to resume team activities. They now are scheduled to return to game action on Friday afternoon against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The WHL’s news release on the schedule changes is right here. . . .

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Meanwhile, there were three WHL games played on Wednesday and PP goals were the hot item. All told, the six teams involved struck for 26 goals, with 13 of them coming with the man advantage. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored twice to help the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-2 victory Brandonover the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Wheat Kings (16-3-2), who have won five straight, now hold a three-point lead over the idle Saskatoon Blades (14-3-3) and the Winnipeg Ice (15-5-1), which beat the Moose Jaw Warriors last night, atop the Regina hub standings. . . . The Broncos (4-16-1) have lost two in a row. . . . F Lynden McCallum (13) gave Brandon a 1-0 first-period lead, with Ritchie, who has 10 goals, making it 2-0 at 14:49 of the second. . . . D Mat Ward (5) scored for the Broncos, on a PP, at 16:39. . . . Ritchie got that one back at 17:33 and D Rylan Thiessen (1) added another at 19:04. . . . F Brett Hyland (3) and D Vince Iorio (5) added PP goals for Brandon in the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings were 3-for-6 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-for-6. . . . Brandon held a 33-18 edge in shots. . . .

F Jakin Smallwood opened and closed the scoring as the Winnipeg Ice got past Winnipegthe Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-5 in OT, in the Regina hub. . . . The Ice (15-5-1) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Warriors are 8-11-2. . . . F Cade Hayes (4) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead with a PP goal at 14:38 of the third period. . . . F Peyton Krebs (13), who now has points in 20 straight games, tied the game at 18:48 with G Carl Stankowski on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Smallwood, who had opened the scoring at 1:08 of the first period, won it with his 13th goal at 1:46 of OT. . . . The Ice erased deficits of 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 to win this one. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 2-for-3. . . . Krebs finished with two goals. After being blanked in his first game, he’s got 13 goals and 26 assists in his 20-game streak. Last season, he scored 12 times in 38 games. . . . The Ice also got two goals from F Skyler Bruce. He has three on the season. . . . Hayes finished with two goals and an assist. . . .

F Justin Sourdif and D Alex Kannok Leipert each scored once and added two Vancouverassists to help the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 lead over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . The Giants (9-3-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Royals (1-10-1) have lost seven straight. . . . The game’s first five goals came via the PP. . . . F Brayden Tracey (8) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the first period. . . . Kannok Leipert (4) tied it at 15:32. . . . Victoria went back out front on a goal by F Tarun Fizer (3) at 2:58 of the second period. . . . The Giants took control with the next three goals — from F Eric Florchuk (4), at 14:58, Sourdif (5), at 16:21, and F Zack Ostapchuk (4), at 3:18 of the third. . . . F Ty Yoder (3) got Victoria to within a goal at 4:57, but F Justin Lies (2) restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead at 13:47. . . . The Giants finished 3-for-9 on the PP; the Royals were 2-for-5. . . . Vancouver had a 38-20 edge in shots, including 11-5 in the first period and 12-5 in the second.


Masks


The CFL said Wednesday that it hopes to open its 2021 season on Aug. 5, which CFLwould be almost two months later than the June 10 opening date at which it once was aiming. . . . The plan is to open training camps in late June, have each team play 14 games, down from the normal 18, and hold the Grey Cup game in Hamilton on Dec. 12 instead of Nov. 21. . . . Here’s Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner: “We will play CFL football in 2021.” . . . He then admitted that it all hinges on getting approval from public health officials in various jurisdictions and getting the OK from government and health officials to have “a significant number of fans in the stands, in a significant number of venues at the start of the season, and in the rest of our venues soon after that, so a 2021 season is financially tenable for our clubs.” . . . In the end, like so many other things, the CFL will go ahead if the virus allows it. . . . In the meantime, get vaccinated so that we can get all sports back and with fans in the stands. . . .

In Regina, Jeremy O’Day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager, informed players that the reporting date is July 2, followed by a seven-day quarantine period. Training camp is set to open on July 10. . . . O’Day also had this message for players: “We know these have been challenging times. One major way to help us with our return to play and getting fans in the stands is by getting vaccinated. Our medical professionals are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and are critical to getting our team back on the field. If you would like to speak to one of the Roughrider doctors about the vaccine, please let me know and we will arrange that.” . . . Justin Dunk of 3Down Nation has more right here.


The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was to have opened its 2021 season on June 5. It announced on Wednesday that it has moved opening day of its 14-game season to June 24. Under normal circumstances, teams each would play 20 games. . . . The CEBL spent its 2020 season in a bubble in St. Catharines, Ont., but says it won’t be playing in that environment this season.


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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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The Regina Pats unveiled their player card sets on Wednesday morning and sold out the first printing — 500 sets — in fewer than three hours. It wasn’t long before there was a Connor Bedard card available on eBay for $100, and a complete set — including “Connor Bedard Official WHL Rookie Card” — for $149.95 or best offer. . . . The AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs, who are to being their first season in the fall, have added Brady Bakke to their coaching staff. He spent two seasons (2017-18) as an assistant coach with the U18 AAA St. Albert Raiders, and then two seasons as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Bakke, 27, is from Red Deer.


Earth

WHL hires lobbyists to meet with B.C. health officials . . . Hoping to discuss return-to-play protocol . . . CFL makes some changes

The WHL has two lobbyists from the Vancouver-based Bluestone Consulting Group working to lobby officials in the B.C. government as it hopes to make its way through the pandemic and get back on the ice in the fall.

The WHL suspended its 2019-20 regular season on March 12 and later cancelled the whlremainder of its season, including the playoffs.

Hoping to stick to a schedule that would have it start the 2020-21 season in late September, the WHL has contracted with lobbyists Mark Jiles, the principal owner of Bluestone, and Rob Nagai, its vice-president.

Jiles has more than 20 years worth of experience “in helping organizations achieve their strategic communications, government relations, goals and objectives.” Among other things, he spent four years (2002-06) on the board of directors of the bid and organizing committees for the 2006 World Junior Championship, the bulk of which was held in Vancouver.

Nagai has been with Bluestone since January 2018. Prior to that, he spent almost seven years working as a fundraiser with the B.C. New Democratic Party that now governs the province.

According to details filed with the B.C.’s Office of the Registrar and Lobbyists, the WHL wants to lobby Adrian Dix, B.C.s Minister of Health, and the Provincial Health Services Authority, which “oversees the co-ordination and delivery of provincial programs and highly specialized health-care services.”

The WHL is hoping to be “included (in the) B.C. government’s restart program.”

The WHL also “would like to discuss a Return to Play protocol” with the government. “This would detail what it would take to reopen the league and these regulations and guidelines would ultimately apply” to five B.C. teams in the WHL.”

Jiles and Nagai began working for the WHL on May 11, with a projected end date of July 31.

The arrangement with Bluestone doesn’t have anything to do with lobbying the B.C. government for financial aid.

The CHL, the umbrella under which the WHL operates, along with the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, has hired Bluesky Strategy of Ottawa to lobby Canada’s federal government in the hopes of garnering financial aid for its 52 Canadian teams.

I reported on that in a piece that was posted here late on Tuesday night.


Bears


The CFL is hoping to get its 2020 season underway at some point in September. And if it does end up playing a season of some sort, it won’t end with a Grey Cup game in Regina as had been planned.

Regarding the start of the season, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release: “Barring some huge development, like a vaccine for COVID-19, it now seems clear we can rule out playing games this summer.

“There are several reasons, including the continuing restrictions on assemblies, travel and border crossings. Notably, several provinces and municipalities have already decided to prohibit until Sept. 1 all sporting events featuring large gatherings.”

Ambrosie also admitted that “a cancelled season is also possible . . . it’s too soon make a sure call at this point.” As he put it: “We are not announcing or promising a return this fall.”

Meanwhile, the CFL also announced a change to its format for the Grey Cup game. Originally scheduled for Regina on Nov. 22, the championship game, if it is played, will take place in the home stadium of the finalist with the best regular-season record in 2020. Depending on when the season would start, the championship could be decided some time in December.

Hamilton will remain as the host city for the 2021 game, with Regina now to play host in 2022.

The CFL also cancelled its Touchdown Atlantic game that was to have been played in Halifax on July 25. The game was to have featured the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders.


Greeneggs


Edmonton is hoping to be one of the so-called hub cities should the NHL get up and running again. If you are wondering whether NHL players crossing the U.S.-Canada border to get there would be exempt from the self-isolating rules in play right now, well, here is Alberta Premier Jason Kenney:

“Obviously the players and their support staff would need to comply not only with our own public health orders but also with the federal 14-day quarantine requirement for international travellers arriving from abroad.”

The NHL has said it would need a three-week training camp for its players before games could be played. So that period of self-isolation takes it up to five weeks.



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and also put a smile on her fact by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.”


For the record, The Sports Curmudgeon, who is based in the Washington, D.C., area, is hoping that the CFL survives this pandemic. As he writes: “I enjoy CFL games; often the CFL Friday night game is more interesting than other Friday night sports offerings on my cable system and I tune in.  For purely selfish reasons, I hope that Commissioner Ambrosie is successful in finding ways to keep the CFL afloat; it has been around for longer than the NFL and it provides an interesting alternative football experience.” . . . For more of the curmudgeonly one’s ruminations on this subject, click right here.


Corn

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