The Edmonton Oil Kings are the first of the WHL’s 22 teams to acknowledge making procedural changes to their operation due to COVID-19.
On Monday, the Oil Kings announced changes to “team interactions and in-game experiences in an effort to best protect the health of our players, staff and fans.”
From a news release:
“After careful deliberation, the in-game concourse carnival and post-game team autograph session on Family Fun Sunday, March 15 vs. the Lethbridge Hurricanes, as well as first-intermission player autographs on Saturday, March 21 vs. the Red Deer Rebels, will be cancelled.
“The Chuck-A-Puck also won’t be sold during the final two games of the regular season and duration of the playoffs.”
Those games are the Oil Kings’ final home games of the regular season.
The NHL’s San Jose Sharks are working on how they will deal with a mandatory ban by Santa Clara County, the home of the SAP Center, on events that will draw more than 1,000 people.
The county announced the ban on Monday evening after reporting its first coronavirus-related death.
The ban is to begin at midnight Wednesday and last for at least three weeks. The Sharks have three home games scheduled for that time period, including against the Montreal Canadiens on March 19, while the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda have two games scheduled.
County officials have said they would allow teams to play without any fans present. As of late Monday night, it wasn’t known how the Sharks and/or the NHL will respond.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that “the ban is one of the most sweeping precautionary measures put in place by any region in the country. . . .”
The Canadian Press reported Monday that the Quebec government is contemplating whether to allow the world figure skating championships to proceed at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The championships are scheduled to run from March 16 through March 22.
“We have to do a case-by-case analysis of the events, but we are aware that we need to make a decision rapidly concerning (the Worlds) . . . What I want to say is a decision needs to be taken as quickly as possible,” Danielle McCann, Quebec’s health minister, told CP.
A statement from Skate Canada read: “The event is scheduled to take place as planned.”
Meanwhile, the world women’s curling championship, which is to open Saturday in Prince George, is going ahead, at least as of Monday night.
Should the figure skating or curling events be cancelled, it would be another major hit to Canada’s sporting scene after the International Ice Hockey Federation decided Saturday to cancel the world women’s championship that was to be played in Halifax and Truro, N.S., from March 31 through April 10.
CP has more on all of this right here.
The NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS issued a statement on Monday regarding dressing room access:
“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These temporary changes will be effective beginning with (Tuesday’s) games and practices.
“We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.”
As I mentioned here the other day, dressing room access isn’t an issue with the WHL as it limited media access almost 20 years ago.
Elsewhere . . .
The San Francisco Unified School District, which includes about 55,000 students, has cancelled all “non-essential events” for two weeks. That includes all games and practices for teams in the district. . . .
Pearl Jam has postponed all of the North American dates on its Gigaton tour that was to open March 18 in Toronto and end in Oakland on April 19. The band wrote in a statement: “It certainly hasn’t helped that there’s been no clear messages from our government regarding people’s safety and our ability to go to work. Having no examples of our national health department’s ability to get ahead of this, we have no reason to believe that it will be under control in the coming weeks ahead.” . . . Pearl Jam still has European dates on its summer schedule, at least for now. . . . Khalid, BTS, Green Day, Avril Lavigne, The National, New Order, Old Dominion and Madonna are among entertainers who also have cancelled or postponed dates. . . .
The Republic of Ireland has cancelled St. Patrick’s Day festivities, including the annual St. Patrick’s Day festival parade that usually draws about 500,000 people to the streets of Dublin on March 17. . . . At the time the cancellation was announced, there were 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland. . . . Also on Monday, Boston announced the cancellation of its St. Patrick’s Day parade, while New York City said that it didn’t have any plans to cancel its parade. . . .
Starting today (Tuesday), Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, two if the biggest game shows on TV, will tape without studio audiences. . . . On top of everything else, Jeopardy host Alex Trebek is battling pancreatic cancer and has a compromised immune system. . . .
On Monday, golf writer Robert Lusetich tweeted: “I’m told officials from the PGA Tour and PGA are discussing a contingency plan that could move the PGA Championship from Harding Park in San Francisco to TPC Sawgrass” in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The tournament is scheduled to run from May 14 through May 17. . . .
Nippon Professional Baseball has announced the postponement of the start of Japan’s season. Scheduled to open on March 20, the league now is aiming for mid-April. . . . Spring training games have been happening as scheduled, but without fans in the stands.
I have to tell you . . . this made me laugh . . .
The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires are looking for a general manager and head coach to replace Kyle Adams, who was released Feb. 26. He had finished one year of his two-year contract. If you’ve ever wanted to be a Millionaire, the job description is right here.