Pandemic responsible for rash of WHL signings? . . . Co-owner: Cougars 1,500 fans a game from breaking even . . . Hanlon’s latest gig in German DEL

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 by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


After the Red Deer Rebels announced the signing of Arjun Bawa, a second-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft, on Thursday, Alan Caldwell, who keeps track of these things, tweeted:

“Bawa makes 15 of 22 second-rounds picks signed now. Add to 19 of the 22 first-rounders and that’s 34 of the first 44 picks from 2020.

“Five 3rd-rounders, one 4th and one 5th make 41 players signed from the 2020 draft already.”

And, as Caldwell also noted, the numbers “may actually be higher as some teams don’t announce signings.” (Note: There were more signings on Friday, too, with 21 of 22 first-round picks from 2020 now having signed.)

Whatever the numbers, I can’t ever recall a time when the WHL’s 22 teams signed so many players in such a short period of time. After all, the draft was held on April 22.

So . . . why the rush?

I had wondered if perhaps the WHL’s 22 teams were feeling more pressure than usual from leagues like the BCHL and USHL. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two people with an understanding of the situation have told me that you likely can chalk it up to the pandemic. Unable to take vacations and with not a whole lot of other things on their plate at the moment, team executives simply have sped up the signing process.

And, no, neither Bill Gates nor 5G have had anything to do with it.



Wondering how much money the Prince George Cougars lost last season? Hartley Miller PrinceGeorgeof 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97 takes a look in his weekly Hart Attack column and it’s all right here. . . . On Tuesday, John Pateman, one of the team’s owners and the franchise’s president, took part in a virtual town hall with fans. At one point, he offered: “It’s been a struggle financially for the ownership group over the last several years. We’ve obviously lost a lot of money. I would suggest, last season, we were probably 1,500 fans short of paying all our bills per game, that’s without making the playoffs.” . . . Do the math, as Miller does in his column, and this looks a lot like about a $1-million loss. Yikes!


Married


Glen Hanlon is the new head coach of the Krefeld Pinguine of the German DEL. He finished last season as the head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia. . . . Hanlon, 63, spent two seasons (2016-18) as the general manager of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants before going back to Europe where he gained considerable experience after spending the better part of four seasons on staff with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Paul McFarland has left his position as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs to take over as head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . McFarland spent three previous seasons (2014-17) as the Frontenacs’ head coach before joining the Florida Panthers for two seasons as an assistant coach. He then spent one season with the Maple Leafs. . . . In Kingston, he replaces Kurtis Foster, who was fired on April 29 after two seasons in the position.


Mike Rooney is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. Rooney, from Yellow Grass, Sask., spent last season working as a skating/skills coach with the Notre Dames Hound program in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Rooney replaces Kyle Adams, who was dismissed on Feb. 26. . . . Rooney is a familiar face in Saskatchewan hockey circles, but hasn’t done a whole lot of coaching. He was the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for two seasons (1995-97) and the GM/director of player personnel for the SJHL’s Hounds (1997-2000). . . . He also has considerable experience as an NHL and WHL scout.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x × y is less than y.”


Banjo


Oliver David of the Dubuque Fighting Saints has been named the USHL’s coach of the year for 2019-20. The Fighting Saints had the USHL’s best defensive record en route to finishing second in the overall standings. . . . Oliver spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, where he worked alongside general manager and head coach Mike Johnston. . . . You have to admit that Johnston’s managerial coaching tree is looking rather impressive. It includes Garry Davidson, the general manager of the Everett Silvertips; Matt Bardsley, the GM of the Kamloops Blazers and the Western Conference’s executive of the year; Grant Armstrong and Josh Dye, who both have gone on to scout with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning; Karl Taylor, the head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals; and Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . It is somewhat interesting that Johnston, despite Portland being one of the WHL’s premier franchises, has never been saluted as executive or coach of the year. The Winterhawks are the reigning Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy holders as regular-season champions.



The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner that was to have been held in Penticton on July 24. It is expected that the 2020 inductees will be installed in the Hall of Fame at a celebration in the summer of 2021. The class features players Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund, official Jay Sharrers, builder Ray Stonehouse, and two teams — the 2002 Kootenay Ice and 2012 Penticton Vees.


The West Coast League says it still hopes to play baseball this season, despite the fact that five of its 12 teams have said they aren’t able to play because of restrictions having been placed on facilities by health officials and the fact that the U.S.-Canada border remains closed. That includes the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, the league’s two Canadian franchises. Also out are the Bellingham Bells, Bend Elks and Corvallis Knights. . . . The WCL’s regular season was to have started on June 5. In a news release, the league said it now is “targeting early July for the return of baseball to our member cities.” . . . The WCL’s other franchises are located in Portland the Washington communities of Longview (Cowlitz Black Bears), Port Angeles, Ridgefield, Walla Walla and Yakima. . . .

Baseball Alberta announced on Friday that it has cancelled all sanctioned events and activities through Aug. 31. . . . The senior Red Deer Riggers immediately tweeted that their season was over, but they are looking forward to 2021 when they are to be the host team for nationals.


Grandma

Hope: It’s been a wonderful run . . . Does Prince George Rec League need help from feds? . . . New commish for PJHL

It sounds like Cam Hope doesn’t know why he was fired on Wednesday as the president and general manager of the WHL’s Victoria Royals, and he’s taking the high road. . . . Interestingly, Hope ran the Royals’ bantam draft on April 22, then had the rug yanked out VictoriaRoyalsfrom under him just one week later. . . . Hope had joined the Royals in 2012 after spending seven seasons with the NHL’s New York Rangers, the first three as vice-president of hockey operations and the last four as assistant GM. . . . He was the Royals’ GM for three seasons, then president and GM for five. . . . The Royals made the playoffs in each of his eight seasons, but never got out of the second round. . . . “We’re in a results oriented business,” Hope told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist,“and (results) are a matter of perspective. If you don’t win a championship, (well) you serve at the pleasure of ownership. I thought we had three good chances — in 2016, in 2018 and, as crazy as it sounds, this year with a team that was poised, and it’s disappointing not to get that chance. Often in sports, it’s in the hands of the gods.” . . . Graham Lee, the franchise’s owner, was quoted in the news release announcing Hope’s dismissal, but that’s been it. . . . Hope added: “It’s been eight terrific years in the best job in junior hockey. It’s extremely hard to create a sustainable business in this league. But I’ve enjoyed every day of it and it’s been a wonderful run.” . . . With Hope pulling the strings, the Royals had a 316-205-52 regular-season record. Good luck to the Royals in finding someone who can match that. . . . Dheensaw’s complete story is right here.


The 2020 IIHF World Men’s Hockey Championship had been scheduled for Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland, from May 8-24. Of course, it was postponed. There had been talk of Switzerland playing host in 2021, but that has been ruled out and it will remain in Belarus and Latvia. . . . The Swiss federation was interested in 2021, but changed its mind, citing financial risks and — get this! — the risk of the coronavirus still being a factor a year from now. . . .

The Hungarian government has banned all large gatherings through Aug. 15, so the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will be run without fans in attendance if it is held on Aug. 2. . . . F1 officials continue to work on their schedule, which has been riddled by cancellations and postponements. . . .

NASCAR says it is going to start its season on May 17 at Darlington, S.C., Raceway. The Coca-Cola 600 is set for Charlotte, N.C., Motor Speedway on May 24. . . . No fans allowed, though.


Waldo


The WHL made it to fark.com, which took note of the 2020 bantam draft with this: “The virus of Brayden has passed its peak. Minus, it has mutated into variations of Hayden, Aiden, Kaden, Jayden, Grayden and (deep breath) Teydon.”


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”


If baseball’s 10-team Expedition League does get its season started, the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks, who call Brandon home, will be playing out of a city in North Dakota. . . . Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, had said on Wednesday that there won’t be live sporting events with fans in attendance in the province until at least September. That combined with the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel meant the Whiskey Jacks wouldn’t be able to play in Brandon. So they will set up shop in a North Dakota community yet to be named. . . . The league’s Opening Day had been set for May 26, but that has been postponed, although a new date hasn’t yet been announced. . . . The league, a summer circuit for college players, also has teams in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming. . . . Thomas Friesen of the Brandon Sun has more right here.


With a number of sporting leagues — CFL, CPL, CEBL, BCHL, KIJHL — apparently asking the feds for some financial help, Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat in Prince George and myprincegeorgenow.com wonders: “Is it time for the Prince George Rec Hockey League to ask the government for a handout?” . . . Yes, I think he was joking. But, hey, in these bizarre times you just never know.


In his weekly Hart Attack column, which is right here, Hartley Miller asked a few timely questions:

“What are the contingency plans for junior hockey leagues like the WHL and BCHL should physical distancing measures still be in place for the fall (which is highly likely) and even into the new year? It seems obvious that these leagues are not financially viable without fans, and many of them, in the stands.

“What will be the protocol when sports do return and a competing athlete tests positive for COVID-19? Does everything get shutdown again or do we just shrug our shoulders and just keep playing?”


Hands


Trevor Alto is the junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League’s new commissioner. Alto, 41, takes over from Ray Stonehouse, who had been in charge since 2016. Stonehouse, 76, will remain as a senior advisor through 2021-22. . . . Alto was the BCHL’s executive director under then-commissioner John Grisdale from 2012-19.

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Bayne Koen is the new head coach of the junior B Richmond Sockeyes of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He is a veteran junior coach on the Lower Mainland of B.C., and, in fact, has won four championships, most recently in 2018-19 in his fourth and final season with the North Van Wolf Pack. He also has been a PJHL head coach with the Port Coquitlam Buckeroos and Port Moody Black Panthers. Last season, he was the director of player development with the White Rock Whalers and also coached a bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy. . . . With the Sockeyes, he takes over from Brett Reusch, who left the club on April 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.


Embalm