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

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


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

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

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

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

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

So . . . why the rush?

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

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

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



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


Married


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


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


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


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


Banjo


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



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


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

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


Grandma

Dorothy, kidney patients need your help . . . Can pro leagues overcome logistics involved in a return to play? . . . DuPont signs with Canucks


It’s that time of the year again.

Under normal circumstances, we would be starting to get geared up for the annual Kidney Walk that was scheduled for Kamloops on Sept. 23. Yes, it has been cancelled.

So now we’re taking part in a virtual Kidney Walk that is being used to raise funds to help those fighting kidney disease to get through this stage of their lives.

My wife, Dorothy, who is approaching the seventh anniversary of her kidney transplant, is among those raising funds, as she has done for each of the six previous Kidney Walks.

If you would like to support her and join her team, you are able to do so right here.


As much as we all would like to see it, I really don’t think we should be holding our breath waiting for the NHL and/or the NBA to resume their 2019-20 seasons, or for MLB to start its 2020 season.

The logistics of getting these operations up and running are mind-numbing. And all the while there is the possibility of someone testing positive.

There has been speculation that if the NHL resumes play in five or six cities, one of those centres might be Edmonton.

Well, Ryan Rishaug of TSN asked Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical health officer, “what would happen in the event of a player testing positive after competition was under way in a hub city scenario?”

Here is Dr. Hinshaw’s response:

“The individual who is the confirmed case would need to be isolated for 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, and anyone who is a close contact with that person while they were infectious would need to be in quarantine for 14 days from that point of last exposure. That’s how we in public health would treat any case independent of wherever it happens.”

And the waiting game continues . . .

——

One thing that hasn’t been given much attention in all the speculation about professional leagues and when they might return/start play is: What do the wives and girlfriends think?

Consider the family of Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle. His wife, Eireann Dolan, has a lung condition and, as she explained on Twitter, has “been hospitalized and on oxygen for weeks at a time with viral pneumonia. Since I was nine years old. Go through something like that and maybe then you’ll have the requisite experience to judge my response.”

Yes, she was being abused on social media after suggesting that there was a lot more involved in a return to play than just pitching, hitting and playing defence.

She also pointed out: “I’m also not the only member of a player’s family who has a pre-existing condition or co-morbid condition. Not only that, there are players who have pre-existing conditions. This is not the time for haste when lives are on the line.”

At the same time, her husband was on a podcast with Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville, telling them: “We’ve all seen the way a common cold goes through a clubhouse. We’re in such close proximity, it’s impossible to enforce social-distancing measures when you’re trying to play a Major League Baseball season.”

So . . . how eager are players in any pro sport going to be to leave their families and enter into a facility where one opponent — the other team — is in their faces, while another is invisible?


Gulch


Could it be that there are junior hockey leagues out there that just don’t like each other? If so, is it envy or jealousy or something else?

Fred Harbinson, the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, spoke out on Monday, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that he and others have had enough.

After the conversation, Ewen wrote: “Harbinson says he was so frustrated with prospective players and college coaches telling him that they’re being told that the BCHL won’t run this season that he felt obligated to take to Twitter to fire back.”

This all seems to have started last month when Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, said that the league was preparing to ask provincial and federal governments for financial aid to help it get through the pandemic. However, Hebb never even intimated that any of the BCHL’s 18 teams might not be able to answer the next bell.

More from Ewen: “Harbinson wouldn’t point fingers at exactly who might be trying to spread the word that the entire BCHL is in harm’s way, but it’s no secret that the league has long duelled with the U.S. Hockey League for players.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Bryan Erikson is the GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Northeast Generals.


Peter King’s Football Morning in America, usually available on Sunday night in the Pacific time zone, is one of the week’s best reads. This week is no exception.

In a week in which the NFL is to release its schedule, here’s King writing about one of the stumbling blocks to a September start to the season:

“Potentially sensitive. What if each of the 32 teams is testing its players and essential staff twice a week. (Obviously, they’ll have to be tested regularly, to ensure that no COVID-positive person spreads the disease in the close quarters of a football team.) Say that’s 150 people (players, coaches, staff). So 300 tests per week (17) per team (32) — that adds up to 163,000 tests for the regular season. Let’s round up for the full season: 200,000 tests for a sports league to play its full schedule. By August, will there be enough tests so that the NFL doesn’t seem piggish to be using 200,000 that could go to the general public? (Even half that number, 100,000 tests, is a major number if many in the country are going without.)

“And teams will have to be willing, in the case of a positive test, to commit to placing that person in quarantine for two weeks. So the Kansas City Chiefs had better be comfortable with Chad Henne playing for two weeks or more if Patrick Mahomes tests positive. The Patriots had better be comfortable with Josh McDaniels coaching the team for two weeks if Bill Belichick tests positive.”

King’s complete column is right here.


DuctTape


The next world swimming championship are scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, May 13-29, 2022. They had been scheduled for July 16 through Aug. 1, 2021, but those dates ended up in conflict with the Olympic Summer Games after they were postponed from 2020 to 2021. . . .

There are 36 teams in Germany’s top two soccer leagues, and it was revealed on Monday that there have been 10 positive tests for the coronavirus. All told, players and staff underwent 1,725 tests. . . . The leagues are hopeful of starting at some point this month. . . . On Tuesday, Erzgebirge Are, a team in Germany’s second division, which is the men’s third division, announced it had put all players and staff into isolation after a staff member tested positive. . . .

The Associated Press is reporting that “the head of English Soccer says he does not expect crowds to be allowed back into matches ‘any time soon.’ ” . . . Greg Clarke, the FA Council chairman, wrote that “it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans — who are the lifeblood of the game — turning to matches any time soon.”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “An Englishman teaching an American about food is like the blind leading the one-eyed.”


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have added Micki DuPont and Jamie Henry to their coaching staff. DuPont will work as an assistant coach under Brad Moran, the general manager and head coach. Henry signed on as assistant coach/video co-ordinator. . . . DuPont played four seasons (1996-2000) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and was named the CHL’s top defenceman for 1999-2000. He went on to play extensively in Europe, retiring after 2018-19, his fourth season with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL. He worked last season with the midget AAA Calgary Royals. . . . Henry is a familiar face in Calgary minor hockey circles. . . . Tyson Avery is the Canucks’ other assistant coach.


Joe Birch has been named the chief operating officer and governor of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He takes over from the retiring Steve Bienkowski on June 1. Bienkowski had been with the Rangers for 18 seasons. . . . Birch has spent the past 12 years working in the OHL office, most recently as vice-president of hockey development. He also is a former Rangers player.


Here is Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with an observation regarding the NFL draft: “If every team gets the players it wanted, why are some franchises on their 12th consecutive rebuilding year?”


WashHands