These days are long and the nights are even longer, especially if you are a fan of the CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders and you have transplanted yourself to the Chicago area. . . . That, in brief, is the story of Trevor Grimm, who doesn’t have the CFL to watch and can only dream of the fact that the 2020 Grey Cup game was to have been played in Regina. . . . So with all that time on his hands, he came up with what follows, and, really, it’s too good not to share. . . . Trevor, over to you . . .

2020 Grey Cup (to the tune of “American Pie” by Don McLean) . . . yes, it’s really that long!

A long long time ago

I can still remember how

That football used to make me smile

And Gainer knew if he had the chance

That he could make those people dance

And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But 2020 made me shiver

With every paper they’d deliver

Bad news on the doorstep

I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried

When I read about this season — died

Something touched me deep inside

The day the football died

So . . .

Bye, bye 2020 Grey Cup

Drove my Chevy to Mosaic but the gates were locked up

So now we’re home drinking whiskey and rye

Singin’ this’ll be the day football died

This’ll be the day football died

Did you write the three-down rule

And do you have faith in the refs above

If video review tells you so?

Do you believe in Calvillo?

How SJ Green caught that touchdown throw?

And can you teach me how to play like Fajardo?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him

I saw you taking selfies with him

You both had giant smiles

For one game, I’d drive for miles

I was a lonely middle-aged CFL fan

With a Riders jersey and a minivan

But I knew I was out of luck

The day the football died

I started singin’

Bye, bye 2020 Grey Cup

Drove my Chevy to Mosaic but the gates were locked up

And now we’re home drinking whiskey and rye

Singin’ this’ll be the day football died

This’ll be the day football died

For 110 years we’ve been on our own

And Kevin Waugh, his job was blown

But, that’s not how it used to be

When Kevin worked for the CTV,

In a coat he bought in the 70s

And a voice that came from our TVs

Oh and while the commish was looking down

The politicians stole his commish crown

The parliament was adjourned

No money was returned

And while Trudeau read a book on plastics

The fans said “hey, this is drastic!”

And we sang “Green is the color…”

The day the CFL died

We were singin’

Bye, bye 2020 Grey Cup

Drove my Chevy to Mosaic but the gates were locked up

And now we’re home drinking whiskey and rye

And singin’ this’ll be the day football died

This’ll be the day football died

Helter skelter in a summer swelter

The fans looked for a thunderstorm shelter

Eight miles away and moving fast

It landed hail on the grass

The players tried for a forward pass

With the slick field, they landed on their ass

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume

The Riders led by 22

Eskimos stood no chance

Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause they’re no longer the Eskimos

The front office chose to yield

Do you recall what was revealed

The day the football died?

We started singin’

Bye, bye 2020 Grey Cup

Drove my Chevy to Mosaic but the gates were locked up

So now we’re home drinking whiskey and rye

And singin’ this’ll be the day football died

This’ll be the day football died

Oh, and there we were all in one place

A generation lost in space

With no time left to start again

So come on George be nimble, George be quick

George Reed just moved the yardsticks

‘Cause Russ Jackson is not our friend (just kidding)

Oh and as I watched him on the field

My hands were clenched in fists of appeal

No DB born in Sask

Could break Russ Jackson’s spell

And as “The Flame” climbed high into the night

That came out of his helmet, right?

I saw too many laughing with delight

The day the football died

We were singin’

Bye, bye 2020 Grey Cup

Drove my Chevy to Mosaic but the gates were locked up

And now we’re home drinking whiskey and rye

Singin’ this’ll be the day football died

This’ll be the day football died

I met Rob Vanstone who wrote his views

And I asked him for some happy news

But he just smiled and turned away

I went down to the Rider store

Where I’d bought many clothes before

But the man there said the Riders wouldn’t play

And in the streets the children screamed

The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed

But not a word was spoken

The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most

Ron Lancaster, George Reed, Eagle Keys

They caught the last train for the seas

The day the football died

And they were singing

Bye, bye 2020 Grey Cup

Drove my Chevy to Mosaic but the gates were locked up

And that is why we’re drinking whiskey and rye

Singin’ this’ll be the day football died

This’ll be the day football died

They were singing

Bye, bye 2020 Grey Cup

Drove my Chevy to Mosaic but the gates were locked up

So now we’re home drinking whiskey and rye

Singin’ this’ll be the day football died.

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering when to get out the snow shovel . . .

Scattershooting

The SJHL revealed Friday night that it has been given the OK for its teams to SJHLplay games “effective immediately.” Teams will be permitted to have a maximum of 150 fans at games, all of whom must wear masks. The league released a 24-game exhibition schedule Saturday night, with the first game scheduled for Thursday when the La Ronge Ice Wolves are to visit the Flin Flon Bombers. The two teams will meet four times in 10 days. Exhibition games will be played through Nov. 1.

With the Bombers being included, it tells us that the SJHL has received an exemption from government and health officials for the Bombers to travel in from Manitoba and for Saskatchewan teams to go into Manitoba. This isn’t a surprise, what with Flin Flon located pretty much atop the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border.

But remember that the Saskatchewan government has told curlers they aren’t to travel outside the province for games, nor are curlers from other provinces to travel into Saskatchewan for competition.

The WHL, which is planning on opening its regular season on Jan. 8, wants to have its five Saskatchewan teams play in a division with the two Manitoba teams — the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice. But the WHL needs clearance for interprovincial play in order for that to happen.

Benny Walchuk of GX94 in Yorkton talked with Bill Chow, the SJHL president, and that interview is right here.


The BCHL has almost all of its teams playing exhibition games at the moment Wenatcheeas they prepare to open the regular season on Dec. 1. The exception is the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, which isn’t involved because of U.S.-Canada border restrictions. . . . Instead, the Wild has scheduled a series of six scrimmages in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho about a three-hour drive from Wenatchee. . . . According to the Wild, the scrimmages will include “10-16 Western Hockey League players joining the Wild camp on a limited basis to participate in the scrimmages.” . . . Those scrimmages are scheduled for Oct. 22, 12:15 p.m.; Oct. 23, 7:15 p.m.; Nov. 6 and 7, and Nov. 13 and 14. Times for the latter four are TBA.



Nick Saban, the head coach of the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, tested positive earlier in the week. But Saban, 68, turned in three negatives before Saturday so was on the sideline on Saturday night in a 41-24 road victory against No. 3 Georgia. Yes, that was Saban with his mask down around his chin getting in the face of an on-field official.

On Friday, Kurt Streeter of The New York Times wrote, in part:

This is, of course, an unpredictable disease. Saban is 68 years old, a particularly vulnerable age for this virus. But that does not seem to matter to major college football, which keeps twisting itself into knots, straining to rationalize playing games amid a pandemic that has led to at least 217,000 deaths in the United States — with no end in sight.

Even with infection hitting its most famous coach, the mind-set of the college game’s most vigorous enablers has not altered. They are bent on moving forward.

“He knows the risks,” they say. “Let’s keep going.”

“Move on.”

Streeter’s column is right here.


Here’s Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post in a column that explains who/what is in charge of the sports world these days:

What a tonic it would be to attend a live sporting event that features a prominent franchise.

“The problem, though, is that nobody calls the shots.

“Airborne particles that we cannot see will dictate a future we still cannot envision.

“Who knows what next week will bring, let alone next month or next year?

Take a look at the daily COVID figures, from coast to coast, and sigh.

“A long winter looms.”

The complete column is right here.


Snow

. . . or it could be you any morning this month!


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Here’s Brad Dickson, a humorist who used to be a columnist with the Omaha World-Herald: “The mayor and county health director held a press conference where they said go ahead with your Halloween parties and trick or treat ‘just be smart about it.’ At what point do people stop getting the benefit of the doubt about being smart on Covid?”

——

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) has scheduled its regular season to open on Dec. 1 with all eight of its teams in a bubble in Omaha, Neb. The 26-game season will be split into two parts, with each team playing 10 games in the first three weeks of December in Omaha. . . . In the New Year, each team will play 16 games — eight home and eight away. . . . The NCHC comprises Colorado Springs, Denver, Miami, Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota, Omaha, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan. . . . From a news release: “Overall medical support and COVID-19 testing for all participating student-athletes, staff and officials in the Pod will be conducted through the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), located in Omaha. Medical protocols and testing strategies for the entire season are currently being developed with top medical professionals from UNMC and the Global Center for Health Security.” . . . That news release is right here. . . .

The 11-team Atlantic Hockey Association is to open its regular season on Nov. 1. Each team will play 24 games and will have the ability to add four games. . . . From the Colonial Sports Network: “In an attempt to limit exposure of travel during the season, the AHA has divided 10 teams into eastern and western pods, with five teams in each geographical pod and Air Force standing alone on the outside looking in. The eastern pod consists of AIC, Army, Holy Cross, Bentley and Sacred Heart. Robert Morris finds itself in the western pod, joined by Canisius, Mercyhurst, RIT and Niagara.” That leaves Air Force to bounce back and forth between pods. . . .

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times checks in: “Attention, Dan Mullen (the Florida football coach who wanted to ‘see 90,000 (fans) in The Swamp’ for the LSU game — only to have to postpone it because so many of his players tested positive for COVID-19): Your Karma of the Year Award awaits you down at the front desk. A gentle reminder: Just be sure when you come to pick it up you’re wearing a mask.” . . . More from Ms. Karma: Mullen announced on Saturday that he also has tested positive. . . .

Oulun Kärpät, a team in the Finnish Liiga, has been quarantined until Oct. 24 after one of its players tested positive. The test came back on Friday night. At least three games will have to be rescheduled. . . .

At least one ringette and two minor hockey organizations in Ottawa have suspended play until current restrictions are lifted. The Nepean Minor Hockey Association, West End Hockey League and the City of Ottawa Ringette Association have shut down. . . . At the time they suspended operations, 10 skaters, including coaches, were allowed on the ice at any one time, with only practices without spectators permitted. All dressing rooms are closed so players had to arrive with their gear on. . . . Hockey Eastern Ontario, which oversees the region’s amateur hockey, has had an undisclosed number of positive tests show up in players and volunteers. In a statement, Ottawa Public Health said, according to CBC, that recent contract tracing investigations have “identified confirmed transmissions and outbreaks between staff and players.” . . . The CBC piece is right here. . . .

Things have reached the point in Winnipeg where officials are talking about shutting down arenas if hockey fans and players don’t do a better job of following public health orders. “The warning comes as the city battles the worst surge of COVID-19 cases in the province since the beginning of the pandemic,” writes Sara Petz of CBC, “prompting Mayor Brian Bowman to urge people to think of others, and wear a face mask.” . . . At one point in a Friday news conference, Mayor Bowman said: “Wear a friggin’ mask.” . . . That story is right here.



If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: In the past few days, the telephone scammers have been on the line from California, Idaho, Maine, Montana and New Jersey? Or might it be Agent Orange trying to get my vote? . . . He’s got endorsements from the Taliban and Kirstie Alley so how can anyone be undecided? . . . Wondering how many games your favourite WHL team might play in the 2021 season? Andy Beesley, the Prince George Cougars’ vice-president of business, told Hartley Miller of mypgnow.com and the GOAT 94.3: “As a baseline, I would expect to have 30-plus games, probably 34 games is a very minimum amount, maybe up to 50, but those details are yet to be determined.” . . . Bob Tory, the GM of the Tri-City Americans, told Myck Miller of KEPR-TV that “all our players have had their medicals done . . . we’ve been fortunate. We haven’t had one player test positive.” Tory said that while the Americans would love to have a full house for their opener in January, he isn’t counting on it. “No . . . we’re hoping that that’s the case,” he said. “But we have to prepare for the fact that we might have to start the season with no fans and then hopefully . . . if that’s successful they allow 25 per cent then 50 and then maybe full attendance.”


YardSale

Hockey world is mourning loss of Hawerchuk . . . Here’s hoping CFL is able to find itself


As you no doubt are aware, the CFL won’t happen in 2020. For the first time since 1919, the Grey Cup won’t be awarded.

(There wasn’t a Grey Cup game for four years — 1916-19 — because of the First World War. The CFL didn’t pause for the Second World War.)

I would suggest that this day of reckoning has been in the CFL’s windshield for a few years now. I don’t know exactly when it was that the CFL came to the fork in the road and took the wrong one, but somewhere along the way it lost track of who it is.

Hopefully it can find itself over the next few months. Hopefully it can figure out where the fans went in Edmonton and Toronto and B.C. Hopefully it can get things back on track in Montreal. Hopefully it can get back to being the CANADIAN Football League.

I spent a fair amount of time around the CFL and its teams while with the Winnipeg Tribune and Regina Leader-Post through 1999. It hurts to see this happen to the CFL, but here’s hoping it comes back with a redesign that makes it bigger and better whenever COVID-19 allows another season to be held. . . .

In the meantime, two columnists I worked with while in Regina took a look at the CFL and the situation in which it now finds itself. . . . Ed Willes of Postmedia has his take right here, while Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post has a column right here. . . . Ed Tait of the Blue Bombers has a terrific piece right here with thoughts from LB Adam Bighill and QB Zach Collaros. . . . Here’s part of what Collaros had to say: “The optics of going to the federal government without consulting with us at all was definitely tough. Guys were definitely not happy about that. It’s kind of a microcosm of how this pandemic has been handled from leadership in North America. The transparency is not there, the communication hasn’t been great. That needs to improve moving forward if 2021 is going to be successful.”


Fans of the Vancouver Canucks have had to put their plans for a Stanley Cup parade on hold since their favourites now find themselves at 2-2 with the defending-champion St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the NHL’s bubble tournament. . . . The Canucks, you may recall, won the first two games, only to have the Blues wake up in time for a 3-2 OT victory in Game 3 on Sunday, and then pound their way to a 3-1 triumph on Monday. . . . The Blues have gotten more and more physical with the Canucks young guns, especially Elias Pettersson, as the series has worn on. How the Canucks and Pettersson respond in Game 5 tonight will tell the story.

Meanwhile, the NHL revealed on Monday that it completed the third week of its return to play without any positive tests. There had been 5,640 tests administered through Aug. 15. . . . Yes, if everyone is on the same page with the same goal in mind, the bubble approach does work.


Nuts


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The U of Notre Dame reported 147 positive tests — 146 students and one staff member — on Tuesday, so suspended in-person classes for two weeks just eight days into the fall semester. Some of the positives apparently were traced to an off-campus party where there were neither masks nor social distancing. . . . The U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill cancelled in-person undergraduate classes on Monday with at least 135 positive tests on campus. A spokesperson said that as of Monday morning, there were 177 students in isolation and 349 in quarantine. . . . Also on Tuesday, Michigan State ordered undergrads to stay home for the remainder of the fall. MSU hadn’t yet started its fall semester when it told students to say home “effective immediately.” . . . In a letter to students, Samuel Stanley Jr., MSU’s president, said the move was due to the “current status of the virus in our country — particularly what we are seeing at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities.” . . .

The Atlanta Braves have placed OF Nick Markakis on the 10-day IL because he may have been exposed to the virus. Interestingly, Markakis, 36, originally opted out of playing this season. However, he changed his mind and returned to the Braves shortly after the season began. . . .

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with a pertinent observation: “Something’s wrong with the business model at many American universities when the cancellation of a football season threatens to wreck a school’s budget.”



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.


Stars


The 16-team USHL announced Tuesday that it hopes to open a 54-game regular season on Nov. 6 and wrap it up on April 24. Teams will open training camps on Sept. 14 with exhibition games to start in mid-October. . . . From a news release: “All activities are designed to take place in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines as well as the League’s Return to Play Protocols which are currently being finalized. The regular season schedule allows for flexibility for games to be moved to the back of the schedule due to postponements, capacity restrictions, or other factors.” . . . The news release didn’t make any mention of the situation in Des Moines, Iowa, where Buccaneer Arena, the home of the USHL’s Buccaneers, was damaged by an intense storm on Aug. 10. The ImOn Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, the home of the RoughRiders, also suffered some damage.


These leagues are hoping to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on these proposed dates:

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

Heritage Junior B Hockey League: Oct. 28

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: Sept. 25

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Oct. 9

USHL: Nov. 6

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: Sept. 7 (48 games), Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40), Dec. 14 (32)

WHL: Dec. 4



Paul McFarland now is the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. An assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019-20, McFarland signed as Kingston’s head coach on May 8. He was named general manager on Tuesday. . . . The Frontenacs had been looking for a GM since July 23 when they announced that they wouldn’t be renewing Darren Kelly’s contract. . . . Prior to his one season with the Maple Leafs, McFarland was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers for two seasons.


The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have reinstated assistant coach Curtis Toneff. The team made the announcement on Monday after a stay of proceedings had been agreed to regarding charges faced by Toneff. . . . He had been charged with assault on June 2 after a May 24 incident. The Broncos suspended Toneff after the charge was laid. . . . Last season was Toneff’s first with the Broncos after two seasons as head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


Plaid

Welcome back, Jack! . . . Are you ready for Riders Trivia? . . . Fortier finds work in Texas


Good news is great for the soul.

Right?

OK, here’s some good news.

Jack Redlick, the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s coach of the year for 2018-19, has returned to the St. Albert Raiders as their head coach.

Redlick, a former WHLer (Kamloops, Vancouver, Regina, 2000-03), sat out the 2019-20 season after being seriously injured in an accident on June 29. Redlick, 36, was riding his motorcycle near Idaho Falls, Idaho, when another motorcycle driver crossed the centre line and struck him head-on.

In March, Redlick posted this on Facebook:

Redlick
Jack Redlick is fit and ready to get back into the coaching game. (Photo: Jack Redlick/Facebook)

“On my birthday eight months ago I got a birthday gift that forever changed my life. When a man crossed the centre line and hit me head on. After almost three months in the hospital, eight surgeries, an amputation and 55 pounds later, today I took my first running steps. I’ve figured out how to skate again and although neither running nor skating is pretty. I’m back, and it will only get better.

“I’ve had so many people say they are sorry this happened to me. My response is always the same: ‘Don’t be, you should be happy for me, I shouldn’t be here.’

“As coaches we always teach our players that in both hockey and life there are only two things you can truly control — your work ethic and your attitude. Might as well make what you can control positive in nature. Things happen for a reason. No sense bitching about it. Just OORAH up, and accept the challenge no matter the obstacles. Don’t waste your time with the negativity. Focus on the process and not the result. Live in those 10-second evolutions. Lol.

“All those hockey cliches that I preached to my players over the years, I’ve had to live by for the last eight months. Sport truly does reflect life.”

With all that Redlick has been through since the end of March, it’s great to see him back and eager to get started. So here’s hoping that the next hockey season gets started on time.



Here is some more good news; well, it is if you’re a fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders or even just looking for something to do on a nightly basis. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post holds a Riders Trivia gathering every night at 9 o’clock CT. . . . You will find him on Twitter at @robvanstone and that will get you started.


Northland Properties, which is huge in the hospitality industry, has laid off thousands of workers, according to Bob Mackin of thebreaker.news. . . . Tom Gaglardi, who owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and is the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is Northland’s president. His father, Bob, is the organization’s founder. . . . The company, which is based in Vancouver, had about 12,000 employees before all of this hit. Taj Kassam, the senior vice-president of corporate affairs, wouldn’t tell Mackin how many had been laid off. . . . Mackin’s story is right here.



The government of the province of Quebec wants sporting events cancelled through Aug. 31. The ban also will apply to cultural events and festivals. . . . However, the Montreal Impact of the MLS has said that it was told none of this will apply to professional sports teams. . . .

The Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament, which had been scheduled for Montreal from Aug. 7-16, has been postponed to Aug. 6-15, 2021. . . . Chances are that the men’s tournament, set for Toronto at the same time, also will be postponed. . . .

The XFL appears to have left us, without being able to complete its first season. The spring football league suspended its inaugural season on March 12. It now has laid off all employees and is refunding money to those who purchased 2021 season tickets. . . . Kevin Seifert and Field Yates of ESPN reported that the XFL “currently has no plans to return in 2021.” . . . Headline at fark.com: EXFL. . . .

Earlier this week, the 13-team National Lacrosse League cancelled the remainder of its regular season. It had suspended play on March 12. In a statement, the league said “officials are looking at any number of scenarios to return to play when all stakeholders and health officials deem that possible. There is no timeline on when decisions will be made.” . . . The NLL includes franchises in Calgary, Halifax, Saskatchewan, Toronto and Vancouver. . . .

With Japan now struggling to contain COVID-19, Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games, has cast some doubt on whether they will be held in 2021. “I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” he said on Friday. “We certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.” . . . The Games were to have been held in July. They have been postponed to July 23, 2021, with the Paralympics to start on Aug. 24. . . .

Los Angeles County has extended what it calls its “safer-at-home” order through May 15. It was first set in place at midnight on March 20. . . .

The 2020 Cloverdale, B.C., Rodeo and Country Fair has been cancelled. It had been scheduled to run from May 15-18. . . . The Falkland, B.C., Stampede that is a May long weekend tradition has been postponed until Aug. 28-30. The Stampede was first held in 1919.


The Thought for the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, this one from Will Rogers: “There are men running governments who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.”


Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated has taken a look at some of the ideas that have been floated regarding the potential return of pro sports to our entertainment landscape. . . . Word of warning: There isn’t any false hope in her story. All you will find here is reality. . . . Like this from Zach Binney, who has a PhD in epidemiology and teaches at Emory U in Atlanta:

“If people just decide to let it burn in most areas and we do lose a couple million people it’d probably be over by the fall. You’d have football. You’d also have two million dead people. And let’s talk about that number. We’re really bad at dealing with big numbers. That is a Super Bowl blown up by terrorists, killing every single person in the building, 24 times in six months. It’s 9/11 every day for 18 months. What freedoms have we given up, what wars have we fought, what blood have we shed, what money have we spent in the interest of stopping one more 9/11? This is 9/11 every day for 18 months.”

Think about that for a bit as we await decisions by the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL and so many others.


Conspiracy


Jason Fortier is the new head coach of the Odessa Jackalopes of the junior North American Hockey League. They play out of Odessa, Texas. . . . Fortier signed on as general manager of hockey operations and head coach. . . . Fortier is the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year after guiding the Coquitlam Express to the league’s best regular-season record. . . . Fortier left the Express late in March. Long-time BCHL observer Brian Wiebe reported at the time that Fortier wasn’t able to reach agreement on a contract with Express owner Fayaz Manji.


Tom Webster, a former NHL coach who played in the NHL and WHA, died on Friday morning. He was 71. . . . Webster was a brother to Barry Webster, a long-time member of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ board of directors. . . . Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times has more on Tom Webster right here.


Condolences to old friend Daryl Lubiniecki on the death of Lolamae, his wife of 53 years. She left us on Thursday after battling cancer. . . . There is a complete obituary right here. . . . Daryl served the Saskatoon Blades as general manager, head coach and advisor and also worked with the Prince George Cougars over a long career in the WHL. He also supplied us with more laughs than should have been legally allowed.


Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering why some people just don’t get it . . .

Scattershooting


Joe Vardon of The Athletic has written the best piece that I have read to date on the quandary facing professional sports in North America because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s all about the pressure to get back into action, even if there aren’t fans in the arenas or stadiums, because of the need for TV money.

Rodney Fort, a sports economist and professor at the U of Michigan, told Vardon: “If there is ever going to be a comeback, all we have to look at is how (sports) shut down. What was the plan at shutdown? The plan was no fans, play the games. And presumably they were saying that it was because the TV money was such that, even though they might lose money, having the TV money meant they lost less than if they didn’t have the TV money.”

At the same time, Richard Sheehan, a sports economist and U of Notre Dame professor, explained to Vardon how a return to play would almost certainly lead to the deaths of some support staff.

Vardon wrote: “Applying medical theories of virus containment espoused by doctors . . . and tracking the data of coronavirus patients and mortality rates in China, South Korea and Italy, Sheehan said he doesn’t see any way the NBA, NHL or MLB could play this summer.”

This piece is oh, so thought-provoking, and it’s all right here.


Feet


The Colorado Avalanche have had a second player test positive for COVID-19. The NHL now has had four players test positive — two from Colorado and two from the Ottawa Senators. . . . The Avalanche and Senators played the Sharks in San Jose on March 7 and 8. That was after officials in that area had recommended against large gatherings. . . .

The NBA’s New York Knicks announced Saturday evening that Jim Dolan, the executive chairman and CEO of the Madison Square Garden Company, has tested positive. He is in self-isolation with “little to no symptoms,” according to the team, and “continues to oversee business operations.” . . .


“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who on March 3 bragged he ‘shook hands with everybody’ at a hospital with COVID-19 patients, has now tested positive for it,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “On the bright side, though, he’s the slam-dunk favorite for the inaugural Rudy Gobert Touch of Stupidity Award.” . . .


Today’s Thought of the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, originated with Mark Twain: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”


And here’s Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post with the question of the day . . .


Pyramid


The 2020 Manitoba 55+ Games have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Selkirk, June 16-18. . . . The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame has postponed its 2020 induction dinner. It still will be held in Brandon, but has been moved from May 9 to Sept. 19. . . .


There still is some hockey being played in this world of ours . . .


Headline at fark.com: NCAA announces severe revenue reduction after canceling March Madness. Players to make the same amount.


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“President Trump reportedly phoned Alex Rodriguez for advice on the coronavirus. President Andrew Jackson had his infamous Kitchen Cabinet of outside-the-loop advisers. Trump might be assembling a Dugout Cabinet. Paging Yogi Berra. . . .

“What am I, chopped liver?” wonders Jose Canseco, sitting by his phone.

“A-Rod knows his stuff, I’m sure. But if I was prez, I would seek out Doc Rivers for a second opinion.” . . .


The Providence, R.I., branch of The First Baptist Church in America has a readerboard that recently read: “Had not planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.” . . .


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Pats to select first, plan on taking Bedard . . . NHL postpones draft . . . Opening of CFL season in doubt?

The Regina Pats will have the first selection in the WHL’s bantam draft. That was determined in the annual draft lottery that as held in the WHL’s Calgary office on Wednesday morning. . . . The draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . .

And what will the Pats do with that selection? Here’s Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“Shortly after Regina was awarded the top pick via Wednesday’s lottery, GM John PatsPaddock revealed to the Regina Leader-Post that his team will indeed select blue-chip forward Connor Bedard, who has been granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada.”

Paddock told Harder: “We will be selecting him first. I would have said this regardless but the exceptional status made it even more obvious to everybody. There’s no secret with this. He’ll be a Regina Pat, that’s for sure.”

Harder’s complete story is right here.

So . . . you’re wondering how the Pats ended up with the first pick that actually originated with the Swift Current Broncos? Here’s how it happened . . . 

It all began on Jan. 9, 2018, when the Hurricanes traded G Stuart Skinner, F Giorgio Estephan and F Tanner Nagel to the Broncos for G Logan Flodell, F Logan Barlage, F Owen Blocker, D Matthew Stanley, first- and third-round picks in the 2020 bantam draft and a conditional second-rounder in 2021.

On Nov. 29, 2018, the Pats dealt F Jake Leschyshyn and F Nick Henry to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for F Jadon Joseph, F Ty Kolle, five bantam draft selections — including a 2020 first-rounder that had been Swift Current’s — and two conditional bantam draft picks.

That turned into an early selection when the Broncos, who won the WHL’s 2017-18 championship, finished with the league’s poorest record in 2019-20.

When the lottery was held yesterday, a Prince George Cougars’ ball fell, allowing them to move up from fourth to second — that is the maximum advancement permitted under draft rules. . . . The Cougars also hold the 11th and 17th picks, from the Saskatoon Blades and Medicine Hat Tigers, respectively.

The first-round order:

1. Regina Pats (from Swift Current Broncos via Lethbridge)

2. Prince George Cougars

3. Moose Jaw Warriors

4. Tri-City Americans

5. Saskatoon Blades (from Regina Pats)

6. Red Deer Rebels

7. Seattle Thunderbirds

8. Kelowna Rockets

9. Victoria Royals

10. Vancouver Giants

11. Medicine Hat Tigers (from Saskatoon)

12. Calgary Hitmen

13. Brandon Wheat Kings

14. Winnipeg Ice

15. Prince Albert Raiders

16. Lethbridge Hurricanes

17. Prince George Cougars (from Medicine Hat)

18. Spokane Chiefs

19. Kamloops Blazers

20. Edmonton Oil Kings

21. Swift Current Broncos (from Everett Silvertips)

22. Prince George Cougars (from Portland Winterhawks)

For the second and all ensuing rounds, the draft order follows the inverse order of the 2019-20 standings.

——

The WHL held its inaugural two-round draft of U.S. prospects on Wednesday afternoon. . . . All of the selections are listed right here.


Dinos


The NHL has postponed its annual draft, but hasn’t provided a new date. It was to have been held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, June 26 and 27. . . . The NHL also postponed its scouting combine and awards ceremony. The combine would have taken place in Buffalo, from June 1-6, with the awards ceremony in Las Vegas on June 18. . . .


Bob McKenzie, the godfather of hockey insiders, reported on TSN on Tuesday that the NHL has asked teams to look into the availability of their home arenas through the end NHLof August.

Emily Kaplan of ESPN later chatted with Nick Foligno, the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Here is part of their conversation:

“I don’t know if I should be saying this, but I will. I don’t know if it makes a ton of sense for us to play into August. I think that’s pretty dangerous coming into another season. You want to have a great season the following season, and I don’t know if that gives guys enough time to rest and recover.

“If you think of the amount of games some guys would play, you’re adding on another 20 games, plus a full season, then playoffs again. That’s dangerous for some players, especially star players — the guys fans want to see — they’re usually playing deep into the playoffs, so we have to be cognizant of their health and safety. We want to make our league as great as it could be going into this big TV deal that everybody knows about. There’s so much that goes into it.”

The complete conversation is right here.


The 2020 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed until some point in 2021. The Games had been scheduled for K’jipuktuk/Halifax, N.S., July 12-18. . . . There isn’t a date set for next year but organizers are hoping for some time during the summer. . . . The 2020 B.C. Summer Games that had been scheduled for Maple Ridge have been cancelled. They were to have been held July 23-26. Maple Ridge will play host to the Games in 2024. . . . The 2020 Canada 55+ Games that were to have been held in Kamloops have been postponed to 2021. They had been scheduled for Aug. 25-28. . . . These Games are held every two years in late August. They have been held in even-numbered years, but that rotation will be broken in 2021. . . .


The Russia-based KHL has cancelled the remainder of its season. The KHL was into its playoffs and had hoped to be able to finish in time, but now has given up on that happening. . . .


The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes told full-time employees on Wednesday that they won’t be getting paid after the end of this week. . . . The Super League’s Toronto Wolfpack has laid off its Canadian staff, putting 12 full-time employees out of work until play resumes. . . .


The B.C. Lions are scheduled to hold training camp in Kamloops from May 13 through June 3. I’m thinking that is about seven weeks away. I’m also thinking that isn’t going to happen. . . . So it may not be long before the CFL announces Plan B. . . .


If you feel like clicking on that DONATE button over there on the right and making a contribution, please go ahead. . . .


The below tweet shows the price of gas in Walsh, Alta., just east of Medicine Hat, on Tuesday:


The Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, who is at sportscurmudgeon.com, courtesy of Mark Twain: “How lucky Adam was. He knew when he said a good thing, nobody had said it before.” . . .


Clown


With the French Open already having been rescheduled, it now seems that Wimbledon could get the same treatment. It is scheduled for June 29 through July 12 but the All England Lawn Tennis Club now is saying the event could be postponed or, yes, even cancelled. . . . The French Open, originally scheduled for May 24 through June 7 at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, now is to be held from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4. It is to start one week after the conclusion of the U.S. Open. . . .


Terry Jones of Postmedia reports that Edmonton is likely to lose the Volleyball Super Nationals that were scheduled for May 13-19, and also the Triathlon World Series Grand Final and World Championships, Aug. 17-23. . . . While the triathlon event is expected to be moved to 2021, the next Volleyball Super Nationals isn’t scheduled until 2022. . . .



Beans

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how much Habs’ coach will pay . . .

Scattershooting


After blowing a 3-0 lead and dropping a 4-3 OT decision to the visiting Dallas Stars on Saturday night, Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien had a good rant. . . . Here’s part of it: “(The officials) looked frustrated tonight — the referee. He should have been because to me it was embarrassing. I can’t say anything else. We take responsibility for some of our stuff and when we’re not good I’m going to stand up here and say we aren’t good enough tonight. Well, tonight we had to beat two teams and it was tough.” . . . If you watched this game, you know that Julien had a point — the officiating wasn’t very good. . . . But what I want to know is this: Are the ghosts that used to live in the Montreal Forum not hanging out in the Bell Centre?

Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers was hit with a US$35,000 fine by the NBA after saying out loud that his team had been the victim of “home cooking” in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. . . . This being the NHL, I’ve gotta think Julien will get touched for 10 grand, in Canadian funds of course.


It’s too bad that there isn’t one WHL team with an in-house organist; in fact, an NHL scout has told me that he doesn’t think there is a team in the 60-team CHL with an organist. . . . Mal Isaac, a sports writer with the Regina Leader-Post back in the day, wrote this in the Feb. 12, 1972, edition: “The stadium is no longer a dull place to watch a hockey game, organist Alan Vanstone has taken care of that. His work on the keyboard has done wonders to liven up the crowd.” . . . The stadium was Exhibition Stadium, then the home of the Regina Pats. Vanstone was the father of Rob Vanstone, today The L-P’s sports columnist. . . . If a team can’t afford an organist and keyboard, how about a trumpeter? . . . The goal is to bring some spontaneity into your building and this is a great way to do it.


Joggers


——

Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “All it would have taken was for one Astro — Jose Altuve? Alex Bregman? — to stand up in the clubhouse and say, ‘Guys, we don’t need this. We’re good enough to win without banging on trash cans.

“Another way that message could have been stated: ‘Fellas, have you ever seen Shoeless Joe Jackson’s induction plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame?’ ”

——

One more from Ostler: “Some songs we’re going to hear over ballpark PA systems when the Astros are in town: ‘Knock Three Times,’ ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart,’ ‘Woman, Woman (Have You Got Cheating On Your Mind?),’ ‘We Got The Beat,’ ‘Knock-Knock-Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ ”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, after the Astros held a news conference in an ill-fated attempt to put the cheating scandal behind them: “Let me say that Thursday’s questioning by the media was uninspired. Perry Mason’s place as an icon of incisive interrogation is in no danger this morning. . . . Let me say that the answers provided by the Astros’ owner were as unresponsive as Jimmy Hoffa would be should someone find him this afternoon.”


“Pitchers and catchers have reported and spring training games start next week,” noted Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “When is spy camp?”


Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle, referencing MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and former pitcher Mike Krukow: “If Manfred takes the proper steps, and teams know it’s time to limit sign-stealing to acceptable means, ‘You’ll see a lot less cheating,’ Krukow said. ‘And if the hitters don’t know what’s coming, you’ll see a lot less offense. That’s going to be a big thing this season.’ ”


Murrow


“Bob Knight, the winningest basketball coach in Indiana history, returned to Assembly Hall for a Hoosiers game for the first time since the school fired him 20 years ago,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Apparently it took that long to make sure all the chairs were bolted down.”

——

Another report from Perry: “This just in: Astros hitters seek permission to wear catcher’s gear during their at-bats this season.”



The Boston Celtics are going to retire Kevin Garnett’s number (5) at some point next season. Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “KG will be the 24th player to have his number retired by the Celtics (though none of those other jabronis have starred in a movie as good as ‘Uncut Gems’) and soon enough all Celtics players will have to wear triple-digit uniform numbers.”



Former WHL D Chris Joseph will be inducted into the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 27. . . . Joseph, 50, was born in Burnaby, moved with his family to Golden, B.C., for three years as a youngster, then returned to Burnaby where he played at the Burnaby Winter Club. He went on to play with the junior B Burnaby Blazers and in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1985-87). . . . He also played for the Canadian junior team at the 1987 World Junior Championship, the one whose medal chances ended with a brawl against the Soviet Union at Piestany. In 1988, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers lent him to the Canadian team and he helped the club win WJC gold in Moscow. . . . Pittsburgh selected him fifth overall in the NHL’s 1987 draft and he went on to play with the Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers. He retired after playing four seasons in Europe. . . . Joseph and his family live in St. Albert, Alta., where he operates a hockey academy and is a firefighter. He and his wife, Andrea, lost their son Jaxon in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018. Chris now speaks frequently about the need for mandatory seat belts on buses and better training for big rig drivers. “The Humboldt Broncos affected the nation so much we do feel we have to speak out for those that haven’t got the attention and make the roads safer for everyone,” Chris told Grant Granger, the Hall of Fame’s chairman.“We feel a little bit of responsibility to use that for the greater good.” . . . The reception is at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7. Tickets are $85 each, at tickets09@shaw.ca, or 604-436-6372. It all will happen at the Firefighters’ Banquet Hall, 6515 Bonsor Ave., in the Metrotown area of Burnaby.


Whale


JUST NOTES: Hey, NHL, it’s Friday night and the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge is on seven of the eight Sportsnet channels here. There isn’t one NHL game available. I think Sportsnet is your Canadian broadcast partner. No? . . . The eighth Sportsnet channel? It’s showing WWE Friday Night Smackdown, followed by WWE Main Event. . . . Hey, NHL, TSN and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts say “Thank you.” . . .

Isn’t it about time that someone inside Houston’s organization told the Astros to shut up? BTW, they open the regular season on March 26 against the visiting Los Angeles Angels. I’ve got the over-under on Houston batters to be plunked at 5.5. . . . You have to know that at least some part of MLB doesn’t mind this cheating mess because the TV ratings for Houston’s games are going to be up, up, up. Everyone is going to watch the train wreck. . . . And we await MLB’s ruling on whatever it is that the Boston Red Sox were doing.

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while pondering QB Eli Manning’s career earnings . . .

Scattershooting

The Kansas City Chiefs last appeared in a Super Bowl in 1970. Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports with a look back at a few things from January 1970: M*A*S*H” and Patton were the two-highest grossing films; Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, by B.J. Thomas, was in the top spot on the Billboard Top 100; Abbey Road, by The Beatles (ever heard of them?), was the top album; All My Children premiered and The Carol Burnett Show was one of the the top shows on TV; and the average price of gas in the U.S. was 36 cents a gallon.

——

BTW, CBS Sports ran a Madden 20 simulation of Sunday’s game. According to Blackburn, the San Francisco 49ers intercepted Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes three times en route to a 20-7 victory.

——

NFL security apparently will be using some new-fangled facial recognition software on Sunday in Miami in an attempt to keep bad guys from getting into the Super Bowl. As comedian Argus Hamilton noted: “We’ll be lucky if the NFL can field two teams.”


Hey, Regina, don’t ever change . . .


Podcast


ICYMI, Kevin Sawyer, a former Spokane Chiefs player and assistant coach,  has issued an apology after he made comments in reference to an incident that involved D Jared Spurgeon, who was a 16-year-old freshman with the WHL team at the time. It was during 2005-06 when the Chiefs, according to Sawyer, “Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air . . . he was tiny. He looked like he was 12.” . . . Sawyer, now an analyst for TSN on Winnipeg Jets’ telecasts, apologized late last month, saying that  after “reflecting on my comments,” he was “insensitive in sharing a story that was inaccurate and should never have been told on television in the first place.” . . . Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more right here.



Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post, after watching the Harlem Globetrotters eke out a 43-41 victory over the Washington Generals on Tuesday night: “If it’s any consolation to the Generals, they have defeated the Globetrotters more recently than the Toronto Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup. Washington last prevailed in 1971, four years after the Leafs’ most-recent title.”



You likely are aware that NFL teams employ an incredible number of coaches. Well, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area and noted the other day that the Redskins had named Brett Nenaber director of player performance and Jeff Zegonia assistant defensive line coach.” . . . This prompted the curmudgeonly one to write: “I can imagine what the responsibilities of an ‘assistant defensive line coach’ might be for an NFL team; I may not have the full scope of the duties of that position in mind, but I think I have the drift. Such is not nearly the case with the position of ‘director of player performance’. Is he the guy who works with the team on those choreographed TD celebrations that sometimes rise all the way up to the level of ‘SILLY’?

——

Here’s The Sports Curmudgeon on Wednesday, discussing the asking price for Super Bowl tickets:

“Super Bowl tickets on the secondary market are very expensive this year.  If you expect to make it to the game in Miami, expect to shell out at least $4,500 per seat at the game and some tickets have an asking price this morning that is just north of $15K per fanny-holder. Perhaps you really want to go to the game but just don’t have access to that sort of cash for you and your main squeeze at this moment. Not to worry. StubHub and its new partner, Affirm, will let you buy the tickets and finance them with a loan directly from Affirm that will let you pay over a period of three months or six months or 12 months at an interest rate of 10-30 per cent.

“I don’t want to go into full ‘Suze Orman Mode’ here, but somehow I doubt that incurring a debt in the $10K range or higher at an interest rate near or above 20 per cent is even marginally sound financial planning.”

You are able to find The Sports Curmudgeon at sportscurmudgeon.com. Be forewarned, though, that reading him daily will quickly become a habit.


Milk


“When it comes to baseball lexicon,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “the Houston Astros’ trash-can antics certainly give ‘bang-bang play’ a whole new meaning.”


In its last four seasons in Cranbrook, the Kootenay Ice won 12, 14, 27 and 13 games, failing to make the playoffs each time. This season, the franchise’s first in Winnipeg after moving east following last season, the Ice is second in the East Division and playoff bound, while playing before hundreds of fans in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena. All of which makes one wonder how many fans a contending team might be playing in front of had it stayed in Cranbrook.


The 22-team WHL has its 16 playoff clubs all but settled, with only some jockeying for position left for the final 20 games or so. There won’t be playoff hockey in Red Deer, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Prince George or Kennewick, Wash., the home of the Tri-City Americans. . . . As for the Kelowna Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, they just dropped a home-and-home series with the Spokane Chiefs, who won 7-3 in  the Little Apple on Friday and 6-0 across the line on Saturday. The Rockets appear headed to a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, which could lead to a first-round matchup with, yes, the Kamloops Blazers, who are atop the B.C. Division. And wouldn’t that be something . . . a Battle of B.C., perhaps to match the Battle of Alberta!



The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks are to begin play in September. With that in mind, season tickets went on sale Saturday morning. Early-bird prices, through March 13, are $350 for adults, $330 for seniors and $160 for children. And a tip of the fedora to the Bucks for allowing children under 10 to get into games free of charge. . . . If you were wondering, the WHL’s Ice season-ticket prices prior to their final season in Cranbrook were $725 or $630 for adults, $590 or $510 for seniors, and $300 for children and students.


JUST NOTES: “Not only does Andy Reid deserve a Super Bowl title,” writes Bob Molinaro of The Virginian-Pilot, “his moustache does as well.” . . . Molinaro is correct, but I’ll still take the San Francisco 49ers, by 10. . . . One more from Molinaro: “This time of year, I like to trot out the memorably perceptive comment of enigmatic Cowboys running back Duane Thomas at Super Bowl VI, won by Dallas. ‘If the Super Bowl is the ultimate game,’ he said, ‘how come there is another one next year?’ Words that have aged well.” . . . QB Eli Manning announced his retirement late last month after spending 16 seasons with the New York Giants. Don’t cry for Eli, though. During his career, he made US$252.3 million, more than any other NFLer in history. Manning brought in $17 million in salary and bonuses for his final season, allowing him to pass his brother, Peyton, who retired having earned $248.7 million. . . . Next on the list, according to cbssports.com, are quarterbacks Drew Bree’s ($244.7 million), Tom Brady ($235.2 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($233.6 million). . . . The first non-QB on the list? WR Larry Fitzgerald, at a mere $175 million, in 10th place. . . . If you are going to live tweet from a hockey game, perhaps you should make a point of mentioning both teams, you know, for those of us who aren’t sure who’s playing.

Scattershooting on a Monday night while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, following news that New York Giants QB Eli Manning was about to announce his retirement: “So, I’ll ask you . . do you think he’s a Hall of Famer? You can let me know by tweeting me your thoughts, but just know that I don’t care what you think because I’m a Patriots fan and Eli Manning has been dead to me for years.”


Larry Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., later this year. But how close was he to becoming a goaltender? . . . Legend has it that he was in camp with the WHL’s Regina Pats and ended up being cut — twice! — by general manager Bob Strumm, who is one of the most popular figures in WHL history. . . . Anyway, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Strumm for a column that is right here.


Passwords


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Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Baseball Hall of Fame: “The truth is, (Barry) Bonds deserves to be in the Hall. Not for his hitting — the PED business makes it hard to fairly evaluate Bonds’ hitting — but because baseball is the rudest sport, and Bonds should be in the Hall representing that aspect of our national pastime.”

——

Ostler, again: “If I had a HOF vote, I’d write in Mike Fiers.”


The Bosa family doesn’t talk about it a whole lot, but it’s a story you are going to hear about as Super Bowl LIV (54) approaches. . . . It seems the great-grandfather of San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa was a Chicago mobster who worked with Al Capone. Seriously! . . . Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has more right here.


Congrats to Kelly Kisio, who is to be honoured by the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on March 1. CalgaryKisio will become the third person to be saluted as Forever A Hitmen, after players Ryan Getzlaf, who was honoured in 2015 and Andrew Ladd (2017). . . . In 18 seasons with Calgary, Kisio filled various roles, including stints as general manager, head coach and president of hockey operations. He twice was named the WHL’s executive of the year. . . . My favourite Kisio story doesn’t involve the Hitmen. In 1982-83, he was playing with HC Davos in Switzerland. He had eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. That was Kisio’s second-last game with Davos; three days later he was with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . . . He finished that season with Davos with 87 points, 49 of them goals, in 38 games. . . . Now a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Kisio will be honoured prior to an afternoon game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.


CallImportant


The NFL’s 2020 draft is to be held in Las Vegas, which now has its own franchise — the Raiders. . . . As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out, “The NFL has come a long way in just a few years.  About five years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of ‘close ties to gambling’. This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for three days.”

——

Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, tweeted the other day: “Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

That was enough for The Sports Curmudgeon to come up with this response: “There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the U.S. That tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades have taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi. I have been to Lubbock TX and to Pullman WA and to Starkville MS. Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth. If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a ‘bustling burb’ — but it won’t be easy. That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

“Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens. There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

“As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events. I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list.”


Sleep


You may have been watching when RB Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers’ defence in the NFC final. As Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it: “There hasn’t been anything carved up like that since Emeril Lagasse was introduced to his first turkey.”


——

Prior to a recent NBA game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, StubHub was listing tickets for as low as $4. The Left Coast Sports Babe wondered: “Are they asking or paying?”


Sportsbetting.ag, an offshore site, has listed a whole lot of prop bets for the Super Bowl. . . . Here’s one: “Which will be higher? (Tweets and retweets count). Donald Trump total tweets on 2/3/20 or the 49ers point total?” . . . Yes, Trump’s total will come from the day after the Super Bowl. . . . BTW, the over/under for Demi Lovato’s version of the U.S. anthem is two minutes one second. Take the over.


ipadexpert


You know how an NHL team now might fire its head coach and then hire a head coach who recently had been fired as the head coach of a different team? Well, it seems that trend has reached the junior A ranks. . . . The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have hired Scott Atkinson as general manager and head coach, replacing Joe Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 15. The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks had ousted Atkinson on Dec. 30.


The Kamloops Blazers beat the host Prince George Cougars, 3-0, on Friday night, the first time in franchise history that its goaltenders have put up three consecutive shutouts. The Kamloops1Blazers had beaten the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-0, on Jan. 18 and the host Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Jan. 19. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots on Friday night. He blocked 21 against Vancouver, with G Rayce Ramsay turning aside 24 against the Americans. . . . The Cougars got a split on Saturday night, beating the Blazers, 3-1, and ending Kamloops’ shutout streak at a franchise-record 233 minutes 30 seconds. . . . The Blazers also put together back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 15 and 18, beating the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-0, and Vancouver, 6-0. Ramsay had 23 saves against the Broncos, with Garand stopping 23 in the victory over the Giants. . . .

Kamloops first posted back-to-back shutouts in 1991-92 when Corey Hirsch made 20 and 21 saves respectively in home-ice victories — 13-0 over the Tacoma Rockets and 9-0 over the Seattle Thunderbirds — on Feb. 7 and 9. . . . Kamloops scored 11 times in the second period against Tacoma. . . . Those two shutouts came in a seven-game stretch during which Hirsch put up four shutouts. . . .

Back-to-back shutouts didn’t occur again until 2006-07 when Dustin Butler did it on Jan. 10 and 13. He stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane, then turned aside 18 in beating the visiting Prince George Cougars, 6-0. . . .

In 2011-12, Cole Cheveldave did it on Jan. 1 and 6, blocking 22 shots in blanking the visiting Cougars, 5-0, then turning aside 32 shots in a 2-0 triumph in Prince George. . . . Cheveldave did it again in 2012-13, on March 3 and 5. He kicked out 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets, then stopped 14 in a 6-0 beating of Victoria. Both games were in Kamloops. . . .

It was Connor Ingram’s turn in 2016-17, when he made 28 stops in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Cougars on Feb. 19, then blocked 23 shots in a 7-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Kamloops on Feb. 21. . . .

One other shutout-related note involving Kamloops: In 2004-05, 19 of the Blazers’ 72 games ended in a shutout. Unfortunately for Kamloops, it was on the wrong end in 13 of those.


“Just wondering,” ponders the always deep-thinking Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions, what is the Breakfast of Upsets, Coco Gauffs?”



JUST NOTES: If you watched Serena Williams lose a third-setter to China’s Qiang Wang in the third round of the Aussie Open the other night/morning, you have to wonder if we are watching the end of an era. Serena, who was the No. 8 seed, certainly seemed to be suffering from fatigue near the end of her loss to the No. 27 seed. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Williams just once would give some credit to her opponent? . . . The NHL all-star stuff on Friday and Saturday evenings? Not in my home. The Aussie Open was on my TV. . . . One of the best things about the Aussie Open, and other tennis tournaments, is the lack of commentary while the ball is in play. . . . I did find time to watch The Irishman during the week. If you like gangster movies and know at least a bit about Jimmy Hoffa, you should like this one. If you aren’t aware, though, it’s three hours and 20 minutes long. . . . The book with the movie tie-in — The Irishman: Frank Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa — is rather good, too. . . . Sheesh! If only some people would learn the difference between cancelled and postponed!

The Bookshelf: Part 1 of 3

Bookshelf

For the past number of years, I have posted thumbnails of some of the books I have read over the previous 12 months. So here were are again. Perhaps this will help with yourChristmas shopping or your Christmas list. . . .

What books are on my Christmas list?. . . The Grim Reaper, by Stu Grimson . . . Rob Vanstone’s 100 Things Roughriders Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. (No, I’m not a Roughriders’ fan, but I spent 17 years at the Regina Leader-Post, so I have some interest there.) . . . The Irishman, by Charles Brandt. It first was published as I Heard You Paint Houses. (Watching The Irishman on Netflix is on this week’s list of things to do.) . . . Blowout, by Rachel Maddow . . . Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens . . .

Anyway . . . here’s the first of three parts of this year’s Bookshelf . . .

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Basketball: A Love Story — This book is the offspring of a 20-hour,10-part TV series produced by ESPN. There were many hours of interviews that didn’t make the cut, so it remained for authors Jackie MacMullan, Rafe Bartholomew and Dan Klores to put together a wonderful oral history of basketball. It is amazing to hear so many stories told by the women and men to whom the game has meant so much. I really, really enjoyed this book.

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Before the Lights Go Out: A Season Inside a Game on the Brink — What, if anything, is wrong with the state of hockey in Canada? If there is a problem, is it due to falling registration numbers that can be blamed on the high cost of getting children involved in the game? Why aren’t more new Canadians becoming involved at a young age? Why was there such a backlash when Hockey Canada decreed that young players were going to have to play cross-ice? Author Sean Fitz-Gerald tries to get to the root of the situation in this book. Unfortunately, this is more like two books in one. He spent the 2017-18 campaign with the Peterborough Petes, and the time he spent with the OHL club as it struggled through an abysmal season takes up a lot of the book. That doesn’t leave nearly enough space for everything else, a lot of which is focussed in the Peterborough area. Still, this is an interesting read in that it does examine some issues facing Hockey Canada.

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Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times — If you enjoy it when someone pokes the bear, you will absolutely love this book. Author Mark Leibovich is a huge fan of the New England Patriots, but that doesn’t stop him from having fun at the expense of the NFL, its commissioner, the owners and THE SHIELD. This is good stuff! . . . If you don’t believe me, The New York Times called it “a gossipy, insightful and wickedly entertaining journey through the N.F.L. sausage factory.” It is all that, and more.

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The Blue — Who knew that a book about porcelain could be so engrossing. Author Nancy Bilyeau impeccably researched novel involving spying, murder, kidnapping and, yes, love in the 18th century is gripping. England and France are at war and porcelain is a commodity that is much in demand. Genevieve Planché is the main character — she was born in England but is of Huguenot descent — and she often finds herself torn as the story twists and winds its way from England to France. I quite enjoyed this work of historical fiction.

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The Border — This is the best fiction book I read in 2019; in fact, this is the best read I have had in a long, long time. It is the final book in author Don Winslow’s trilogy about the American government and its war on drugs. The trilogy began with The Power of the Dog. Then came The Cartel. . . . Both books were excellent. The Border, though, is better than that. There are times when you wonder if what you are reading really is fiction, because a lot of it certainly seems factual. Winslow spent more than 20 years researching and writing; he knows his subject and it shows.

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Bower: A Legendary Life — I read this one early in 2019 — yes, it was a Christmas gift — and I guaranteed at the time that it would be on my top 10 list for the year. It didn’t turn me into a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it introduced me to Johnny Bower, one of the NHL’s greatest goaltenders who, more importantly, was a kind and gentle person, a true family man and a lover of life. Author Dan Robson does a wonderful job of telling Bower’s story. You can only shake your head in disbelief at the conditions and wages that were part of the lives of Bower and so many other players who were involved in the NHL pre-1967, or, worse, were stuck in the minor leagues. . . . One note about Bower: The Toronto-area community in which he and his wife Nancy ended up living in named a park after him. Bower would visit it daily . . . and pick up any litter that was left laying around.

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The Browns Blues: Two Decades of Utter Frustration: Why Everything Kept Going Wrong for the Cleveland Browns — How bad have the Cleveland Browns been? So bad that author Terry Pluto’s book needed two subtitles. Pluto, a long-time columnist with the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has a number of books to his credit, explains why fans of the NFL team have suffered such pain and anguish since 1999. Why 1999? Because that’s when the NFL returned to Cleveland after the original Browns had departed for Baltimore following the 1995 season. Get into Pluto’s book and you’ll find yourself doing a lot of head-shaking because he doesn’t hold back when it comes to pointing fingers.

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Cemetery Road — Greg Iles has done it again. The author of the southern U.S.-based Natchez Burning trilogy is back in Mississippi and, again, he has produced a gem. Since leaving his hometown of Bienville, Miss., Marshall McEwan has become an all-powerful journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner based in Washington, D.C. Now, with his father dying, he’s back in Bienville to run the family newspaper. It doesn’t take long before he’s embroiled in, well, just about everything you could imagine — from love to hate, from politics to murder — and is faced with making one decision after another.

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The Cold Dish — I have watched numerous episodes of Longmire, the TV series based on books written by Craig Johnson. This is the first of the Longmire books and it ended up being one of the series’ episodes. I quite enjoy the TV series, but I have to tell you that I liked this book a lot more, if only because Deputy Sheriff Victoria (Vic) Moretti is a whole lot saltier and sassier on the written page than on a TV screen.

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A Dedicated Man — Author Peter Robinson has written more than two dozen crime novels featuring Inspector Alan Banks, who left the police force in London for a quieter life in the Yorkshire Dales in the north of England. The first of these books — Gallows View — was published in 1987, and the latest — Many Rivers to Cross — in 2019. . . . A Dedicated Man came out in 1988 and is the second book in the series. . . . Somehow these books had escaped me until earlier this year. I quite enjoyed my initiation and certainly will be back for more.

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Tomorrow: Part 2 of 3.