WHL named in another proposed class-action suit . . . Former player Kobe Mohr involved in this one . . . Pats’ pick to skate in Sweden

Sheesh, it really can’t be much fun being the owner of a WHL team these days. For starters, you don’t know whether to be selling sponsorships, advertising and season tickets because you aren’t able to guarantee a starting date for a new whlseason. You are hoping to begin regular-season play on Dec. 4, but there aren’t any guarantees.

On top of that, you likely still are counting up the losses from not having been able to finish the 2019-20 season, thanks to the pandemic that doesn’t appear anywhere close to going way.

And now the WHL finds itself involved in yet another proposed class-action lawsuit, this one apparently having been filed this week.

Kobe Mohr, a former WHL player, is among those fronting this one that names the NHL, AHL, ECHL, OHL, QMJHL and WHL. Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star reports: “A proposed $825-million class-action claim alleges a conspiracy among the world’s top professional and amateur hockey leagues to exploit dream-chasing teenage players with one-sided contracts containing abusive restrictions on their young careers.”

Mohr, now 21, played with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors (2014-20). He totalled 35 goals and 66 assists in 265 regular-season games, after being selected by Edmonton with the 20th pick in the 2014 bantam draft.

The WHL now finds itself entangled to one degree or another in four separate class-action lawsuits in various stages of progression through the legal system. Two others — one involving concussions and the other regarding alleged hazing and other physical and mental abuses — are early in the process. . . .

The other, which involved a claim for past and present-day players to be paid minimum wage and other perks, was settled by the CHL for $30 million earlier this year, but the settlement still needs judicial approval. Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that an Ontario judge spent part of yesterday hearing arguments “about whether to approve” the settlement. According to Westhead, Justice Paul Perell said there are “objectors” to the settlement and that “a trade association called the World Association of Ice Hockey Players Unions has filed ‘an aggressive intervenor’ application with the courts to overturn” the settlement.

Ted Charney, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, asked the courts to approve the settlement, saying, according to Westhead, that “a settlement wouldn’t bar new federal court case because the new case alleges a conspiracy to breach the Competition Act, not employment standards laws.”

When Tuesday’s hearing concluded, judgment was reserved.


Asteroid


F Connor Bedard, who was selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, will be travelling to Sweden so that he can skate with HV71’s junior team in Jönköping. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player in history to have been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada in order to allow him to play regularly in the WHL as a 15-year-old. . . . Because he won’t be playing in games in Sweden, the Pats didn’t have to issue a release. The WHL hopes to start its regular season on Dec. 4, by which time Bedard will have returned to Canada.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The United Kingdom’s 10-team Elite Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has suspended play because of the pandemic. The season was scheduled to begin on Dec. 5. . . . “We’ve been very open that we need to have fans back in our arenas for us to begin playing again,” Tony Smith, the league’s chairman, said. “We operate around 75 to 100 per cent capacity at our venues and this is the level of crowds we would need in order to go ahead at any point, which isn’t a realistic option right now.” . . . The average attendance at league game last season was 3,043. . . .

The World Series will be played in one venue for the first time since 1944. The American and National League winners will play a best-of-seven championship series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, with Game 1 scheduled for Oct. 20. . . . In 1944, the World Series was played in St. Louis, with both teams from that city. The Cardinals beat the Browns, 4-2. . . . Leading to the World Series, the American League Championship Series will be played at Petco Park in San Diego, with the NLCS at Arlington. . . . Prior to that, the AL Divison Series is to be played in San Diego and Los Angeles, with the NLDS in Arlington and Houston. . . .

The Texas Tech Red Raiders had five positives last week, bringing the team total to 75 since mid-June when testing began as football players returned to campus. The team is carrying more than 120 players. . . . The school has had 116 positives among its student-athletes. . . .

Ed Orgeron, the head football coach at LSU, told reporters on Tuesday that most of his time has had the virus. “Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” he said. “I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not our for games.” . . . Alex Scarborough of ESPN pointed out: “LSU, like many programs in the SEC and nationally, has not provided regular reports on the number of players who have contracted the novel coronavirus.” . . .

The Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) cancelled university sports for the fall semester on Monday. This means none of Canada’s four university conferences will play football this fall. The Quebec conference has five teams. . . . U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, had cancelled its national semifinals and final in June. . . .

Organizers of the 2021 Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament have cancelled it. The tournament was to have run from Dec. 30 through Jan. 3. . . . Tournament chairman Jan Antons told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “We still don’t know what games are going to look like, when games are potentially going to start and, overall, the main concern was still the health and safety of our players, bringing players in from other provinces and dealing with the 50-person gathering-size limit. It would make it very difficulty to run a tournament at the level we’re used to. We want to make sure KIBIHT remains one of the top-notch tournaments in Canada. . . . there is just too much unknown right now. It’s still a very hard decision.”


Sign


——

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 WHL’s four community-owned teams each holds an annual general meeting that is open to shareholders. The Moose Jaw Warriors announced Tuesday that they will hold their AGM on Sept. 29. The Swift Current Broncos said earlier that their meeting also will be held on Sept. 29, with the Prince Albert Raiders having said they will hold their AGM on Oct. 7. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes have said their AGM will be held in November, but they have yet to announce an exact date. . . . I don’t know what it is — maybe NHL teams have come down with the ‘Bubble Blues’ — but the games are getting less and less watchable. Too many bodies in the area in front of both nets, not enough shots getting through, not enough offence, not enough goals. Whatever it is, it isn’t good for the NHL game. . . . Did you get your fill of football on Monday night? ESPN’s MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick — they did the second game — were OK, but the Game 1 pairing of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit was outstanding. Fowler and Herbstreit have worked together as ESPN’s No. 1 college football pairing. They are comfortable with each other and it showed.


Hearing

OHL teams look to bring U.S. teams north . . . B.C.’s top doc says “many more months of this to come” . . . NAHL team out for season


If you are a junior hockey fan living in Western Canada or the Pacific Northwest, there hasn’t been much to cheer about the past few days. The COVID-19 numbers haven’t been good. And with summer’s last long weekend around the corner and schools soon to open in Canada, I really wonder what is in our immediate future. . . . On Monday, in releasing the latest statistics for B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top medical official, offered this ominous note: “There are many more months of this to come.” . . . She also said: “What we need to do is figure out how to do all that we want to do in our society safely for the next year, maybe longer.” . . . The maximum number of people allowed at indoor gatherings in B.C. these days is 50 and, Dr. Henry said, there is “no opportunity” to change that in the near future.



Adam Wodon, the managing editor at collegehockeynews.com, addressed a few things in a piece he posted on Tuesday. This column really resonated because it deals with those folks who get upset when people like him report things that point out it is going to be difficult to get hockey in at some levels in 2020. . . . “I pointed out the delusion of thinking the sports-minded ‘go get ‘em’ mentality was going to get us through this,” he writes. “These remarks have been interpreted wrong in a variety of ways, which is frustrating, to say the least. I’ve heard three main negative critiques, all of which are preposterous, frankly.” . . . He addresses those right here as he hammers the nail on the head.



Interestingly, The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the U of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has decided that it no longer will use the term “student athlete,” opting instead for “college athlete,” “athlete” or “student.” . . . The newspaper’s reasoning is in an editorial that is right here. . . . Gotta wonder if major junior hockey pooh-bahs might ever consider doing the same. Nah, never mind.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Corpus Christi IceRays announced Monday that they are suspending operations for the 2020-21 NAHL season. . . . From a team-issued statement: “After much consideration surrounding the developments of COVID-19, and for the health and safety of our organizational family, which includes our players, our coaches, our operating and arena staff, our billet families, and the fans that make up the Greater Corpus Christi and Coastal Bend communities, we have made the difficult decision to suspend operations for the upcoming 2020-21 season and return or the 2021-22 season.” . . .

Retired track star Usain Bolt has tested positive and is in self-isolation, albeit asymptomatic, in his Jamaican home. Bolt, 34, may have contracted the virus at his recent 34th birthday party. . . . The Jamaican government has limited gatherings to 20 people, and Andrew Holness,the country’s prime minister, has said Bolt won’t be given any special treatment, so there could be discipline of some sort involved once an investigation is completed. . . . Two international soccer players — Raheem Sterling of Manchester City and Leon Bailey of Bayer Leverkusen — also were in attendance at the birthday party. . . .

The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to open the regular season on Sept. 13 and they will do it in front of empty seats at Levi’s Stadium. Chances are good that fans won’t be allowed at any of their next three home games, either — Oct. 4, Oct. 11 and Oct. 18. At the moment, the Santa Clara County public health department is limiting outdoor gatherings to 60 people. . . . Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Raiders have said they won’t have fans at home games all season, and the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, both of whom play at SoFi Stadium, said they won’t have spectators “until further notice.” . . . The Buffalo Bills say they won’t have fans in attendance at their first two home games, on Sept. 13 and Sept. 27. . . . When the Bills open on the road against Miami on Sept. 20, the Dolphins say they will allow in 13,000 fans, all of whom must wear masks while in the stadium. . . .

The Rural Manitoba Football League suspended its 2020 season on Tuesday “with an eye toward playing our competitive season in the spring of 2021,” it said in a news release. . . .

The U of Alabama has reported 531 positives on its Tuscaloosa campus, along with another 35 on campuses in Birmingham and Huntsville. Those come after six days of classes. . . . There are countless reports of American universities suspending students for reckless behaviour at off-campus parties and a lack of social distancing, including 23 by Syracuse U, 36 by Purdue U, more than 200 at Ohio State, 11 at Montclair State and on it goes.


Congress


——

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.


Sask


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Dwight Eisenhower, a former U.S. president: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from a corn field.”


The 52-team Provincial Junior Hockey League, a junior C circuit in Ontario, hopes to begin a regular-season schedule on Dec. 1 that will have teams playing at least 24 games. Of course, that is contingent on approval from all of the appropriate health and hockey officials.



Jamie Russell, a native of Kamloops, is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the 18U team at South Kent School, a private all-boys boarding school in South Kent, Conn. . . . Russell has extensive NCAA coaching experience with stops at Ferris State, Cornell, Michigan Tech and Providence College. He also was the director of hockey operations and head coach with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. . . . He spent three seasons (2016-19) as the general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Worcester Railers. . . . There is a news release right here.


Dense

Report: CHL teams getting medical protocols . . . Liability huge factor in college football decisions . . . SJHL bumps openers back

Turnsignals


Rick Westhead of TSN posted a series of seven tweets on Tuesday afternoon, all of them relating to major junior hockey. Here they are, in text form and separated by dashes . . .

Major junior hockey teams are beginning to receive details of medical protocols for 2020-21 season. (If it happens.)

Some curious terms.

Players coming into Canada must quarantine for 14 days in billet home.

(What’s the point if a player’s billet family isn’t quarantining?)

——

Players, team staff will have daily temperature tests upon arrival at rink.  If temp is over 38 degrees, Covid test will be required.

——

After games, meetings with people external to the team must be scheduled in accordance with public health regulations. Visits with family will require social distancing.

(Consequences for breaching this rule are not detailed.)

——

Body checking, fighting during games are not banned. This will allow players to develop and aspire to pro hockey in addition to offering “a quality show.”

——

Teams are being discouraged from eating in restaurants and in case of buffet meals, a person must be designated to serve the food. Teams must be given a private room, or else take food to individual rooms.

——

Carpooling allowed. Players/staff must wear masks and there is a limit of 4 people/car. No consuming food/drinks in the vehicles.

On team buses, players and coaches are to receive assigned seats. These must remain same through season & masks on board the buses are mandatory.

——

Caveat: There are 3 different major junior leagues in jurisdictions w different levels of Covid infection & the 3 may have different rules.

Also important to note it’s August.

I’d expect these medical protocols will be amended many times by time teams hope to have players report.


I find it interesting that no one in major junior hockey has mentioned the issue of liability, although you have to think there has been discussion on that subject behind closed doors or on Zoom calls or however the pooh-bahs are meeting these days.

ESPN has reported that myocarditis appears to be one of the potential after-effects of COVID-19 and that it is turning up in young, previous healthy athletes.

Two of the NCAA’s five major football conferences postponed their fall seasons on Tuesday and it’s apparent that liability concerns played a major role in the decisions.

The Big Ten and the Pac-12 — two of the Power Five conferences — cancelled their fall athletic seasons, including football.

The ACC, Big 12 and SEC say they are still planning on holding fall football seasons. At least, that was the word as of Tuesday afternoon.

After the Pac-12 decision was announced, Michael Schill, the U of Oregon’s president, told a webinar that “we are science-based, we’re academics. We look at facts, not opinions.”

Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach of ESPN reported on Monday that “myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, has been found in at least five Big Ten Conference athletes and among several other athletes in other conferences, according to two sources with knowledge of athletes’ medical care.

“The condition is usually caused by a viral infection, including those that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza or mononucleosis. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause heart damage and sudden cardiac arrest, which can be fatal. It is a rare condition, but the COVID-19 virus has been linked with myocarditis with a higher frequency than other viruses, based on limited studies and anecdotal evidence since the start of the pandemic.”

On Tuesday, DeArbea Walker of Deadspin wrote:

“If myocarditis is left undiagnosed or untreated it can lead to cardiac arrest. Heart issues connected to coronavirus have turned up in at least 50 percent of all cases in the U.S. and in 80 percent of hospitalized patients. Twenty-seven year-old Boston Red Sox ace Eduardo Rodriguez was shut down last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and receiving a myocarditis diagnosis that has pushed his MLB future into question.”

The decisions to postpone football seasons are likely to have huge impacts on campuses across the U.S. It is hard to imagine how much money this will cost schools, but football programs at a lot of these places fund so many other sports.

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that there are other sports than football getting hurt,“but it is mostly focused on football, because football is the revenue driver. The donor magnate, the alpha sport. The financial ramifications of one year without football are going to be enormous.”

On Monday, the Mountain West Conference postponed all fall sports including football. It, too, is considering a spring football season. The conference had announced just eight days earlier that its football teams would play an eight-game schedule starting on Sept. 26.\

Earlier this month, the Mid-American Conference cancelled its fall football season. It was the first FBS conference to pull the plug.


Parrot


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

When the Big Ten announced the postponement of fall sports on Tuesday, its news release didn’t mention hockey. . . . Later in the day, Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) tweeted that the U of Michigan had “suspended practices for all sports, including hockey.” . . . No NCAA schools have made a decision on their hockey season, with some observers feeling that is five or six weeks away. . . .

Anthony Lynn, the head coach of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, has said that he tested positive. Lynn made the revelation on the HBO show Hard Knocks. Lynn, who indicated that he had symptoms, didn’t say when he tested positive, but he has recovered. . . .

Trini Lopez, who took If I Had a Hammer to the top of the charts in 1963, died from COVID-19 on Tuesday. He was 83. . . . Lopez also was in the movie The Dirty Dozen. . . . Rolling Stone has more right here. . . .

Curling’s 2020 Canada Cup has been postponed indefinitely. It was to have been held in Fredericton, Nov. 24-29. Curling Canada hopes to hold it early in 2021 as it is a qualifier for the 2021 Roar of the Rings Olympics trials. . . . At the same time, Curling Canada has cancelled the Canadian Mixed, which was set for Canmore, Alta., Nov. 7-15, and the Canadian Curling Club Championships (Ottawa, Nov. 22-28).


The Alberta-based Heritage Junior B Hockey League is hoping to start its 24-game season on Oct. 28. It includes teams in Airdrie, Olds, Ponoka, Red Deer, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler and Sylvan Lake in the Northern Division, with a Southern Division comprising teams in Coaldale, Cochrane, High River, Lomond, Medicine Hat, Okotoks, Standoff and Strathmore. . . .

There were reports Tuesday afternoon that the SJHL has pushed back its opening date. It had said that it hoped to open on Sept. 25. . . . Clark Stork, the play-by-play voice of the Nipawin Hawks, tweeted that the league had sent an email to teams “saying the start date of the season has been pushed back by two weeks.” . . . That would take it to Oct. 9.


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.


The SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds have promoted Brett Pilkington from assistant coach to Houndsgeneral manager and head coach. He takes over from Phil Roy, who has moved on to the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes as an assistant coach. . . . Pilkington, 36, is from Calgary. He was a second-round selection by the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL’s 1999 bantam draft, but chose to go the NCAA route and played four seasons at Bowling Green. . . . Last season was his first with the Hounds. . . . Roy, who is from St. Leonard, Que., spent two seasons with the Hounds.



Ralph Klassen, who played five seasons (1970-75) with the Saskatoon Blades, died on Aug. 3 after a battle with cancer. He was 64. . . . Klassen, a rugged two-way player from Humboldt, put up 275 points, including 194 assists, in 300 regular-season games with Saskatoon. He added 45 points, 11 of them goals, in 50 playoff games. . . . He won silver with Canada’s national junior team in 1975. . . . The California Golden Seals selected him with the third pick of the NHL’s 1975 draft. He went on to score 52 goals and add 93 assists in 497 regular-season games, split among the Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons, Colorado Rockets and St. Louis Blues. He retired in November 1983. . . . There is a complete obituary right here.


Ship

Duvernay-Tardif a real Canadian hero . . . CHL looking for money from feds . . . Zary: ‘It’s just a waiting game . . .’

Just a few months ago, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a native of the Montreal suburb of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, was on the offensive line as the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. He played every offensive snap in finishing his fifth season as the team’s starting right guard. . . . On Friday, he became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season, choosing to work on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic over football. . . . His contract with the Chiefs called for him to be paid US$2.75 million this season; instead, he will receive US$150,000 from the NFL’s opt-out deal with the NFLPA. . . . Duvernay-Tardif, 29, has his medical doctorate from McGill U in Montreal, but his football career has kept him from a full-time residency. He worked as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal through June and now is waiting for another role. . . . In making his announcement, he wrote: ”Being at the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system,” he wrote. “I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”


Rick Westhead of TSN reported on Friday that “The Canadian Hockey League has hired lobbyists in Ottawa to discuss financial aid” as we continue to steer our way through this pandemic. . . . Those lobbyists have met with government officials going back to late June. . . . As Westhead wrote: “It’s unclear whether the CHL will be able to hold a 2020-21 season, given restrictions on large public gatherings and how crucial ticket revenue is to the CHL’s business model.” . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


F Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers is training as though the WHL season is going to Kamloops1start on Oct. 2, but he is a realist and senses that isn’t likely to happen. . . . “I’m training as if I was starting in August,” he told Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV on Kamloops on Friday. “Obviously, we’re not. Honest opinion is we won’t be able to start in October, but I’ve still got to train and still got to have the train of thought that I’m training as hard as I can, and that’s what I can do to be ready no matter when it does start.” . . . The WHL has said that it is aiming for an Oct. 2 start, but it hasn’t yet released a schedule. . . . However, Zary is expecting a later start, but, like everyone else, hasn’t any idea when that might be. “Just the way everyone’s talking and you hear things,” he told Klassen. “Obviously no one can give you a final answer that ‘yeah, it’s happening.’ It’s up in the air with every single thing that’s going on this year. It’s just a waiting game to see what happens.” . . . Zary, who is preparing for his fourth season with the Blazers, will be an early first-round selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft, which now is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10. He had 86 points, including 38 goals, in 57 games when last season was halted in March.


Former Kamloops Blazers general manager Stu MacGregor will be back for a second season as a co-GM of the Thompson zone U18, U16 and U15 minor hockey teams for 2020-21. MacGregor will be teaming up with Jan Antons to run the Kamloops-based teams. . . . MacGregor also is a senior regional scout (west) for the WHL’s Victoria Royals.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Michigan State said Friday that its entire football team was being quarantined for 14 days after one student-athlete and one staff member tested positive. The school had halted workouts on Wednesday after a different staff member tested positive. . . . David Cobb of CBS Sports wrote that “the full-team quarantine is in accordance with athletic department policy. The policy also mirrors guidelines released by the NCAA last week that mandate 14-day quarantines for student-athletes who are found to have been in ‘high-risk’ contact with others who have tested positive. That means other schools are likely to be faced with similar situations.” . . .

The 2020 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix officially was cancelled on Friday. It originally was to have run June 12-14, but had been postponed to Oct. 9-11. . . . The U.S., Mexico and Brazil Formula 1 races also have been cancelled. . . .

Before playing the visiting New York Mets on Friday afternoon, the Atlanta Braves scratched their top two catchers. Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers tested negative but were exhibiting symptoms so were left in Atlanta. It had been hoped that one or both would be feeling better by Friday morning and would then fly to New York. But it wasn’t to be. . . .

D Brett Kulak of the Montreal Canadiens told reporters on Friday that he tested positive after arriving in Montreal for Phase 3 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol. He was back on the ice with the team on Thursday. Kulak said he tested negative, but then had two positives. He’s feeling fine now, but said he experienced headaches, respiratory issues and a lack of energy. . . .

The Falkland, B.C., Stampede has been cancelled, meaning it won’t be held for the first time since the inaugural event in 1919. Normally held on the May long weekend, it was postponed to Aug. 28-30 before being cancelled.


CHL: ‘Independent review panel’ on way . . . Hammett, ex-WHLer, to join class-action lawsuit . . . BCHL gets even tougher with fighters

The CHL issued a release on Friday in response to the class-action lawsuit that was filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor with allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse during their time in major junior hockey. . . . According to the news release, the CHL’s board of directors agreed Thursday “to the appointment of an independent review panel to thoroughly review the current policies and practices in our leagues that relate to hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying, and the allegation that players do not feel comfortable reporting behaviours that contravene these policies.” . . . The CHL says it will announced this panel’s chair person “in the coming weeks” and “our goal is to have the review process completed in time for the start of the 2020-21 season.”



On Thursday TSN’s Rick Westhead reported on a former WHL player who detailed the physical and sexual abuse he endured during two seasons in the league.

Westhead, who granted the player anonymity, revealed on Friday that the former player Bighornsis Brad Hammett, who played with the Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders (1981-83).

According to Westhead, Hammett “subsequently decided he wanted to publish his story under his name, hoping that doing so might provide support to other players nervous about coming forward with similar stories.”

Hammett, 56, is joining the lawsuit filed against the CHL by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor, alleging various forms of abuse during their major junior careers. They are hoping to have the lawsuit certified as a class-action.

“I’ve lived with this a long time,” Hammett told Westhead, “and my family has often wondered why I have had moods. Talking about this, I feel there’s a weight off my shoulders. I know that it’s going to get better. I’m not hiding something.”

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told TSN via email that “the league has spoken with Hammett and will investigate his claims.”

Westhead’s story is right here.


Some of Garrett Taylor’s allegations in the lawsuit against the CHL involve the 2008-09 LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes. According to the statement of claim:

“He and a number of other rookies on the Hurricanes suffered abuse throughout the 2008-09 season. The abuse was perpetrated by older Lethbridge Hurricanes players and team staff, agents, employees and servants.”

Earlier this week, 26 players who played with the Hurricanes in 2008-09 signed a letter that appeared in the Lethbridge Herald.

That letter, which is right here, reads in part:

“None of us can say that we were aware of absolutely everything that happened to every player on our team during their time with the Hurricanes. However, after thorough reviews and discussions among ourselves over the past few days, we can all unequivocally state that we were all treated with great respect and professionalism throughout that year and throughout all our years with the coaching staff of the Hurricanes.”


In an editorial published earlier this week, The Globe and Mail wrote:

“The underlying problem is that the system enables abuse. It’s time to get rid of a draft that treats children as chattel, and which allows a hockey league to operate under prehistoric notions of labour relations.

“Major junior hockey has to change, because hockey has changed. The NHL now prizes skilled players far more than the grinders and cement-handed role players of the past. . . .

“Many of the most sought after players these days are coming from Europe and the United States — including Canadians skipping major junior altogether, in favour of the U.S. college route. Mr. Carcillo’s lawsuit is just the latest reminder that Canada’s major junior hockey system has run its course.”

The complete editorial is right here.



The Medicine Hat Cubs announced Friday that they won’t play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League’s 2020-21 season. . . . “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and due to diminishing sponsorship revenues the board of directors voted in favour to not play in the upcoming season,” the team said in a news release. . . . The Cubs’ departure leaves the league with 13 teams. . . .

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas has halted voluntary workouts until at least July 5 after four student-athletes tested positive. . . . An undisclosed number of others who came in contacted with them also are in quarantine. . . .

Morehouse College, a historically black school in Atlanta, cancelled all fall sports, including football, on Friday. . . . David A. Thomas, Morehouse’s president, told The New York Times: “Responsible leaders have to see us as being in a crisis, and a characteristic of a crisis is unpredictability. Good management says any uncertainty you can take out of the equation you should take out. One element where we could create certainty is what are we going to do with athletics.” . . . An NCAA Division II program, the football team was to have opened its season on Sept. 5. . . . Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, later told The Times: “I’m afraid and confident in my fear that we’ll see more sports be dropped, whether it’s programs or entire seasons canceled.” . . .

Clemson U reported on Friday that 14 more of its football players have tested positive. That brings the the total of Tigers testing positive to 37 since training facilities open earlier this month. . . . All told, Clemson has had 43 student-athlete and four staff members come up positive. A total of 430 tests have been administered.


CB Melvin Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints isn’t comfortable about starting the NFL season in September. . . . Here’s what he told CNN:

“The NBA is a lot different than the NFL. They can actually quarantine all of their players, or whoever is going to participate, whereas we have over 2,000 players; and even more coaches and staff who can’t do that. So we end up being on this trust system — the honor system — where we just have to hope that guys are social distancing and things like that, and that puts all of us at risk. That’s not only us as players, and whoever’s in the building(s), but when we go home to families.

“I have parents that I don’t want to get sick. I think until we get to the point where we have protocols in place, and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it — we have to understand that football is a non-essential business. We don’t need to do it. So the risk has to be eliminated before we — before I would feel comfortable with going back.”



Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle with a great idea: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.”


The BCHL appears bound and determined to eliminate fighting from its games and, hey, good for them.

Brian Wiebe, who operates the BCHLNetwork, reports:

“The league has imposed stricter penalties for fighting in 2020-21. Players who engage in a fight are currently assessed a major penalty and an automatic game misconduct. Under the Junior A Supplement, which is the minimum standards adhered to by all 10 leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, a player received supplemental discipline on their fifth fight of the season.

“The new rule sees a player receive supplemental discipline upon their second fighting major. The league has also cracked down on players deemed to be the instigator and/or aggressor in a fight, with both penalties now receiving a suspension upon the first offence. Subsequent instigator and/or aggressor penalties after the first one received will see a significant increase in suspension.”

Wiebe has a whole lot more on the BCHL and rule changes right here. If you’re a junior hockey fan and you aren’t following Wiebe, you really are cheating yourself. You’ll find him on Twitter at @Brian_Wiebe.


Jeff Harvey has signed on as the Saskatoon Blades’ goaltending coach. Harvey is a former SaskatoonWHL goaltender (Kootenay Ice, Swift Current Broncos, Everett Silvertips, 2000-04). . . . Harvey, now 37, and Blades head coach Mitch Love were teammates with the Silvertips in 2003-04 when Everett reached the WHL’s championship final in its first season in the league. . . . They also played together with the Broncos and with the Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central league in 2010-11. . . . It also should be pointed out that Harvey helped the Rosetown Redwings of the Sask Valley Hockey League to a pair of Saskatchewan senior AAA provincial titles and twice played in the Allan Cup. . . . Harvey replaces Tim Cheveldae on the Blades’ coaching staff.


Dell

More allegations of abuse in junior hockey . . . Lawyer busy adding players to lawsuit . . . Former NHLer likely to join


A spokesperson with the WHL has told TSN that it would open an investigation after a former player alleged “he was a victim of sexual and physical abuse” during stints with two teams.

According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, the player sent an email of his complaints to the WHL and copied the email to TSN.

In the email, the player wrote:

“The abuse transformed me from a driven, happy, engaged young man and a solid NHL hockey prospect into a black mass of anger, untrust of people, self-isolation and alcohol abuse. The recent CHL allegations of abuse triggered anger in me and brought forward flashbacks and anguish.”

The player went into the brutish details of the complaints in the email, all of which is in Westhead’s story that is right here.

At one point, Westhead writes: “The complainant confirmed the identities of the alleged assailants to TSN. Several have prominent roles in the hockey industry.”


The WHL has had at least one opportunity in years gone by to deal with a player who has said he was humiliated and “physically assaulted” during his WHL career.

In the book Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos, which was published in 2012, Peter Soberlak described some of what happened to him during his first WHL season with his hometown Kamloops Blazers.

“It was really horrible,” Soberlak, who was 16 at the time, said. “In a lot of cases, I feared going on the bus, feared going on road trips . . . just because of the humiliation and constant verbal abuse. . . .

“What I went through in Kamloops destroyed my confidence. I can deal with that now, but it was just horrific for me. It sucked the life out of me. . . . I was physically assaulted.

“You think I have not suffered — have not had repercussions from what I went through there — serious, absolutely long-term, continuous major repercussions of what happened to me in that situation. I guarantee you I have.”

Seen by some observers as the best player in his age group in Canada at one time, Soberlak was out of the game at 23.

“That’s the only thing I am bitter about in my hockey career,” he said. “My first year in Kamloops . . . it was the worst year of my life.”

Soberlak, now 51, has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a minor in sociology, from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s Degree in sport and exercise psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He is a lecturer and works with the athletic department and its teams at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

No one from the WHL has ever contacted him about his allegations in the book of which I was a co-author.


James Sayce, the lawyer working with Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor on their class-action lawsuit against the CHL, has told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News “a lot” of players have joined the lawsuit since it first was filed. . . . Campbell writes: “If the people who run junior hockey in Canada were taken aback by this lawsuit, shame on them. They should have seen this coming because it’s not as though the warning signs were not there. In fact, in filing a lawsuit against the CHL, both Carcillo and Taylor were simply putting on the legal record things they’ve been saying for years now. Carcillo went public with the humiliation he suffered during his rookie season with the Sarnia Sting in 2002-03 two years ago.” . . . Campbell’s latest column is right here.


Dan Fritsche, a former NHLer, says he likely will be joining the class-action lawsuit filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor against the CHL and the three major junior leagues that operate under its umbrella. The lawsuit alleges “hazing, bullying, physical and verbal harassment, physical assault, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.” . . . Fritsche was a rookie on the 2002-03 Sarnia Sting of the OHL, as was Carcillo. . . . “There’s nothing I’ve read that isn’t true,” Fritsche told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. “I was in that toxic atmosphere. I had to go through all of that rookie shit, all the disgusting things they would make us do. It was so awful, and people knew about it who absolutely could have stopped it. They’d put us in the (charter bus) bathroom, butt-ass naked, six to eight of us (rookies) for 45 minutes as we’re coming home from a road trip. They’d throw a coin in there to make us fight over it, naked, and whoever came up with it got to get out first. Stuff like that, just over and over.” . . . If you are an Athletic subscriber, Portzline’s complete story is right here.




An undisclosed number of Minnesota Twins players have tested positive, although none were at the team’s home park, Target Field, or its spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. . . . Derek Falvey, the president of baseball operations, told Fox 9 Sports: “We have players in many different locations. I don’t think this is necessarily a surprise that we may have some positive cases.” . . .

ESPN reported that the NFL has cancelled its Hall of Fame game that was to have featured the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6. . . . It also is believed that the NFL will delay its induction ceremonies that were to have been held on Aug. 8. . . .

The NBA’s Sacramento Kings have at least three players on their roster who have tested positive — F Jabari Parker, C Alex Len and G Buddy Hield. . . . Sara Hodge of CBS Sacramento has reported that a fourth unidentified player also has tested positive. . . .

Orenburg, a team in Russia’s top soccer league, reported Thursday that it has six players and two staff members who have tested positive. . . . The Russian Premier League returned to play last week. . . . Apparently, Orenburg’s entire team tested negative as recently as Sunday. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League, which was to have started its season early in May, is planning on opening a month-long tournament without fans in St. Catharines, Ont., on July 15. A single-elimination playoff will end with a championship game on Aug. 9. . . . Devin Heroux of CBC reports: “All seven teams will stay in a bubble-like setting in St. Catharines, playing games at the Meridian Centre and practising at a nearby facility. League officials said players, coaches and personnel will be separated from the general public and strict screening and COVID-19 protocols will be adhered to under the supervision of medical officials.”



Eric Ditto is returning for his seventh season on the coaching staff of the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League. Ditto is preparing for his sixth full season as head coach and his second as general manager. . . . Anthony Radke will be back for a second season as an assistant coach. . . . Ryan Pilon is the other assistant coach. He joined the Chiefs during last season after serving as an assistant coach with the Beardy’s Blackhawks U18 AAA team.


The RINK Hockey Corp., owner of the Rink Hockey Academy, has bought the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy (POE) and Edge of Excellence (EOE) in a deal that is to close on July 1. The sale is subject to the approval of BC Hockey and the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . There is more right here.


Hamilton: Delay into January could be “real tough” . . . No CFR in Red Deer this year . . . Will Blue Jays be allowed to come home?

If the start of the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season is delayed for three months or more, it could be tough for some of the league’s 22 franchises.

That’s according to Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman whlof the WHL’s board of governors.

“I think all of us are prepared to get into January,” Hamilton told Rob Munro of infotel.ca. “Then it will get real tough for a whole bunch of people.”

The WHL issued a statement last week indicating that it is aiming to open the regular season on Oct. 2. The 2019-20 season, which was shut down on March 12, opened on Sept. 20.

With Hamilton telling Munro that “70 per cent of our business is ticket driven,” it is obvious that the WHL needs fans in the seats in order to play. If teams don’t get the OK from health officials to open the doors to at least 50 per cent capacity, the season won’t start on time — if at all.

But if the season does get rolling, Hamilton indicated that fans will see a few changes.

For starters, physical distancing will play a part in seating configuration. In fact, Hamilton said the WHL has heard from a company that has developed software to help with that.

“There is one company in particular that I know about,” Hamilton told Munro, “that has reached out to our league instead of coming to all the teams individually, that has created the software and it will be used whether it’s baseball, football, hockey, basketball.

“It’ll be that kind of thing, where they take your manifest for your building and then design it out of that.”

Munro’s complete story is right here.



We are almost into July and are waking up to discover that events scheduled for November are being cancelled.

And that can’t be good for junior hockey leagues that are hoping to get started in September and October.

On Wednesday, the 2020 Canadian Finals Rodeo was cancelled by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. It was to have been held at the Westerner Park Centrium in Red Deer, Nov. 3-8, with more than 43,000 fans expected to attend.

Don’t forget that the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship is to be held in Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26, 2020, through Jan. 5, 2021.

Meanwhile, two marathons fell by the wayside on Wednesday, with organizers of the Berlin (Sept. 27) and New York City (Nov. 1) events cancelling the 2020 races.


An undisclosed number of players and staff with the Toronto Blue Jays have tested positive after being at the team’s training facility in Dunedin, Fla. . . . The facility has been shut down. . . . The Blue Jays now are looking to find a training camp site with players to report in a week. They have asked the Canadian government for an exemption from quarantine regulations in order to train and play regular-season games in Toronto. . . . Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has more right here. . . .

F Jabari Parker of the Sacramento Kings and G Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers revealed on Wednesday that they have tested positive. Both plan on being back with their teams in time to resume the NBA season in Orlando, Fla., next month. . . .

Caddies who work for Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka have tested positive. As a result, McDowell and Koepka withdrew from the Travelers Championship that opens today (Thursday) in Connecticut. McDowell tested negative but apparently suspects that he has the virus, so he has gone home. . . . Webb Simpson also withdrew, as did Cameron Champ, who actually tested positive. . . . Simpson, last weekend’s winner on the PGA Tour, withdrew, saying a family member had tested positive. . . .

The U of Connecticut has eliminated men’s cross-country, men’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and women’s rowing because of budget issues brought on by the pandemic. . . . UConn also has implemented a 15 per cent cut in operating budgets of all sports. . . .

There are reports that WWE has had as many as two dozen wrestlers and staffers test positive in Orlando, Fla.



Tire

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

Mask


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

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

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

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

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

Willes’s complete column is right here.

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

——

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

His complete post is right here.


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

——

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


Office


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

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

Campbell has more on the Taylors right here.

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



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



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


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


AllWrong


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


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


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


Delivery

B.C.’s top doc: This pandemic is far from over . . . Nachbaur to coach SC Bern . . . . Guest tells OHL horror story


Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said during a Monday briefing on COVID-19 that gatherings in the province will be limited to 50 people with room for physical distancing for months to come.

B.C. announced 36 new cases for the period encompassing Friday through Sunday, with 182 people ill and 13 of those in hospital. There are four people in intensive care.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top health official, pointed out that new cases continue to pop up.

“This pandemic is far from over,” Dr. Henry said. “There continues to be no effective treatment and the virus will continue in our communities for many months to come.”


A hockey fan from Portland emailed me Monday afternoon with some information from Oregon Live and Seattle Times.

First, from Oregon Live:

“Oregon public health officials announced a record 184 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, bringing the total number of known cases in the state to 5,820.

Monday’s new high in cases solidifies a disturbing trend statewide, which this month includes elevated numbers in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Previously, the number of new cases in the state had never exceeded 100. But in the past nine days, seven have surpassed 100 — 146 on June 7, 114 on June 8, 178 on Thursday, 142 on Friday, 158 on Saturday, 101 on Sunday and 184 Monday.”

FYI, Portland is in Multnomah County. The Portlander added that Clackamas and Washington are the surrounding counties where the (Winterhawks) players “would live, practise and and socialize.”

And from the Seattle Times:

“State health officials confirmed 324 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, as well as four additional deaths.

“The update brings the state’s totals to 26,158 cases and 1,221 deaths, meaning about 4.7% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

“So far, 471,265 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.6% have come back positive. The rate of positive tests in Washington has hovered just under 6% in recent weeks, even as case numbers have been climbing.

“The state has confirmed 8,785 diagnoses and 592 deaths in King County, the state’s most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s death toll.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds are located in King County.


Reports on Monday indicated that “several” players from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have tested positive for the coronavirus. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network were first with the story. . . . Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott was among those who tested positive, although he now is said to be healthy. . . . The Cowboys, citing “federal and local privacy laws,” haven’t identified any of the players. . . . On Monday, Pelissero reported that NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, in a call with agents on Monday, “said the current plan in place is to test players for the coronavirus about three times per week, isolating those who test positive.” . . . Mayer also told agents that there is a “90 per cent chance reliable saliva testing is available before players return to facilities.”



It could be that if you are going to bring a team together in close quarters, you had best be prepared for positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

This is from Jesse Spector of Deadspin:

“Friday brought a report from the New York Post that a major league player and pitching coach have contracted coronavirus.

Also, the Boston Bruins announced that one of their players has tested positive.

So did a D.C. United player.

And three Clemson athletes — two football players and one men’s basketball player. And four Mississippi State football players. And six University of Houston football players, leading that school to suspend workouts.

“Even at the high school level, a football player at Cathedral High in El Paso, Texas, tested positive, halting workouts there.

That’s all from a single, 24-hour period. It doesn’t include other coronavirus cases found in June, like the Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the other Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the Florida State football players. Or the two Texas football players. Or the Pittsburgh Penguins player. Or the golfer and three caddies from the PGA’s developmental tour. Or the FC Dallas player. Or the three Central Florida football players. Or the high school football player in East Texas. Or the Oklahoma State football player. Or the three Auburn football players. Or the Utah Jazz players.”

Or the Arizona Coyotes staff member, who tested positive and is in isolation at his home.

Or the student-athlete from North Dakota State, who is being quarantined for 14 days after testing positive.

On Monday, The Associated reported that at least 45 athletes, coaches or staff members at 17 schools have tested positive since June 1.


From Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “A Zion Williamson rookie card fetched nearly $100,000 on eBay this weekend. Is that more or less than Zion was paid to attend Duke, you think?”



Golf Canada has cancelled all of its amateur golf competitions for 2020. That includes the Canadian women’s amateur, that had been scheduled for Montreal from July 21-24, and the Canadian men’s amateur that was to have been played in Calgary, Aug. 3-6. . . . There is more info right here. . . .

The PGA Championship will be held in August; however, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday that it will be played without fans. . . . The tournament is to be played at Harding Park, Aug. 6-9. . . . It will be the first major of the season on the men’s tour. . . . Originally, the PGA Championship was to have been held in mid-May. . . .

The International Softball Congress has cancelled the 2020 World men’s tournament that had been scheduled for Moline, Ill., Aug. 8-15. The 2021 tournament is scheduled for Kitchener, Ont. . . .

The 12-team WNBA is going to play its 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with each club playing a 22-game regular season with playoffs scheduled for October. Training camps will open there early in July. . . . Its regular season had been scheduled to begin on May 15.


Politics


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.”


Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, has signed a two-year deal as head coach of SC Bern, which plays in Switzerland’s National League. . . . Bern has led all of European hockey in attendance for 19 straight seasons. . . . Nachbaur, 61, spent last season as the head of HKM Zvolen of the Slovak league. In Bern, he takes over from Hans Kossman, who finished last season after the firing of Kari Jalonen.



The junior B Southern Rebels of the Prairie Junior Hockey League won’t play in 2020-21. The Rebels, who are based in Assiniboia, Sask., announced via Twitter on Sunday that they “have requested and been approved for a one-year leave” from the PJHL. . . . In requisting the leave, they cited “the fact that there are more unknowns than knowns” because of the impact COVID-19 has had. . . . With the Rebels sitting out, the PJHL will be down to 11 teams.


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Headline at SportsPickle: Roger Goodell announces 4-game suspension of Roger Goodell for not realizing racism exists.


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins have added Phil Fife as an assistant coach. He’ll work alongside Jason Tatarnic, the club’s new general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Aren Miller, who is preparing for his eighth season in Estevan. . . . Fife spent last season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. He played two seasons under Tatarnic with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Woodstock Slammers (2010-12). . . . Fife fills the spot created when associate coach Jeff Smith left to take over as GM/head coach of the U18 AAA Estevan Bruins for their inaugural season.



“Michael Jordan and the crew on his 80-foot fishing boat ‘Catch 23’ hauled in a 442-pounder during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament off the North Carolina coast,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In fact, the fish flopped so much they nicknamed it Laimbeer.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has found a bright spot in a shortened MLB season. As she put it, it’s “good news for those who worried the Orioles would lose 100 games this year.”


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Scattershooting on a Sunday while waiting for the warmth of summer to arrive . . .

The Canadian sporting world is going to take a huge hit on Monday when U Sports and three conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — are expected to announce first-term cancellations of most sports, including national championships, because of the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

Taking Note has been told that the announcement will mean the cancellation of sports at the U Sports level, including football, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s volleyball, at least through the end of 2020.

U Sports held its 43rd annual meeting — this one on a virtual basis — on Wednesday and Thursday.

On May 13, Canada West, with 17 members, had announced that it was preparing for an eventual return to play that would feature fewer games and less travel due to budgetary concerns. That return to play was based on health officials in the four western provinces providing the OK.

Obviously, U Sports and its conferences haven’t seen enough encouraging signs that would help them feel comfortable with running fall programs. They mustn’t feel that they will be able to provide their student-athletes with safe places in which to practise and play.

Yes, there are professional leagues that have returned to play and others that appear to be getting closer, but the financial resources available to those leagues, for things like regular testing, aren’t available for Canadian university athletic departments.

It will be interesting to see how various other organizations and leagues who are looking at trying to get seasons started in the fall will react to the U Sports news. Especially if U Sports cites the lack of a coronavirus vaccine as a reason for the decision made by it and its conferences.


On Thursday, Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer, said that he doesn’t expect his province to open up to large gatherings until June 2021.

Yes, a lot can change between now and then, but that’s a year from now and that’s a chilling thought. 

At the moment, indoor gatherings in Saskatchewan are limited to 10 people, although that is scheduled to increase to 15 on Monday — and to 30 outdoors.

Saskatchewan is home to five WHL franchises and 12 teams in the junior A SJHL.



BamaInsider reported Thursday that five members of the U of Alabama Crimson Tide football team have tested positive for coronavirus. Players returned to campus earlier in the week. . . . As many as 50 players practised on their own on Wednesday and may end up in quarantine. . . . Alabama reported 746 new cases on Thursday, it’s highest single-day number. . . . Football players are returning to campuses planning on resuming activities on Monday. . . . The Oklahoma State Cowboys have had three players test positive, so freshmen players were told not to report. Senior linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga tested positive after attending a protest rally in Tulsa last weekend. One of college football’s top linebackers, he was born in Nigeria, moved to Houston with his family in 2003 and then to Calgary in 2011. . . Iowa State reported that four student-athletes from different sports have been quarantined as they await test results.



I took a couple of days away, just to coast and do some reading. I returned to find that Agent Orange had said: “Hopefully George (Floyd) is looking down right now and saying this a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Trump said. “There’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.” . . . Agent Orange was attempting to play up U.S. unemployment numbers that had shown some improvement — they later proved to be erroneous — but still were the worst since the end of the Second World War. . . . Unfortunately, George Floyd wasn’t available to comment.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times found this note on the Facebook page of Everett’s KRKO Radio: “I miss baseball so much that I made hot dogs for my family today and charged them $10 per hot dog.”

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Perry, again: “Michael Jordan, after becoming president of the Wizards, traded Laron Profit in retaliation for Profit trash-talking Jordan in practice during their days as Washington teammates. In a related story, rumor has it that Jordan’s TV set still has rabbit ears.”



A couple of notes from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle relating to the NBA’s return:

Two weeks ago, Houston’s James Harden told CNBC he wanted to return “when the pandemic has calmed all the way to a minimum.” Good luck with that, as hot spots remain an issue and are completely unpredictable — in this country and around the world. In recent days, positive tests were revealed for three Oklahoma State football players, two Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, and 16 players on a single Brazilian soccer team (Vasco da Gama, a storied franchise in Rio de Janeiro).

Jenkins also wrote this:

Why Orlando, and specifically Disney World? It offers a wide variety of hotels (just one will be selected), three arenas that reportedly can be configured into 20 basketball courts, and a convenient partnership; Disney owns ESPN, a crucial component of the NBA’s national-television package. There are many advantages, but consider that Florida hasn’t set the best example of how to manage a pandemic. On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health announced 1,317 new cases of the coronavirus, the state’s largest surge in six weeks.



JUST NOTES: If you’re wondering about that $20 bill, it’s still in my money clip. It now has been there for more than three months. . . . Saw the person in front of me in the DQ drive-thru paying with cash on Saturday and wondered what I was witnessing. . . . Just wondering, but did actor Lee Van Cleef ever get to play a good guy? . . . ICYMI, The Athletic laid off 46 people this week, including Ken Wiebe, a good guy who covered the Winnipeg Jets. . . . Boris Protsenko, who played three seasons (1995-98) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, has spent 13 seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. His contract is about up and won’t be renewed due to the Stars’ financial concerns in these pandemic times. From Kiev, Ukraine, Protsenko has worked for the Stars out of Calgary.


Former NHLer Igor Larionov is the new head coach of Russia’s national junior hockey team. He takes over from Valeri Bragin, who has been promoted and now is the head coach of the men’s national team. . . . Bragin coached Russia’s national junior team for eight years. His teams won seven medals during that time, including gold in 2011. . . . With the men’s team, he replaces Alexei Kudashov, who lasted just one season. . . . Larionov, 59, won four world championships, two Olympic golds and three Stanley Cups as a player. He was an assistant to Bragin at the 2020 World Junior Championship. . . . The 2021 WJC is scheduled to be held in Edmonton and Red Deer, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


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


Baseball’s 12-team West Coast League has cancelled its 2020 season with pandemic-related safety guidelines and travel restrictions still in place in Washington and Oregon. Earlier, five of the teams, including the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, had cancelled their seasons. . . . Two of the teams, the Portland Pickles and Wenatchee AppleSox, are planning to play some games  this season as independents. . . . The WCL is a wood-bat collegiate league. It already has set the opening date for its 2021 season as June 4 and will be welcoming a new franchise in Nanaimo.


The NBA’s return-to-play plan, in brief: The season resumes on July 31. The last possible day of playoff action would be Oct. 21. Training camps for the 2020-21 season would open on Nov. 10. The new season would begin on Dec. 1.