MacLeod: OHL must dump body-checking to play . . . Armada at 18 positives . . . Titans unable to shake virus


Well, that was an interesting day in the world of major junior hockey and I’m not referring to the NHL draft.

First, it was revealed that the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada now has 18 positives tests in its organization.

Then, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, reiterated something that she told Rick Westhead of TSN last week: ohlIf the OHL wants to play this season, it will have to ban bodychecking and fighting.

In addressing the subject on Wednesday, MacLeod told reporters: ”It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19. That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.”

MacLeod also said that the 20-team OHL, while it is in “constant contact” with the government is it works on a reopening plan, hasn’t asked for any financial help. That is unlike the QMJHL, which has asked for a $20-million subsidy from the Quebec government.

According to The Canadian Press, “The OHL said in a statement that it will not comment on its ongoing negotiations with the Ontario government.”

The CP story is right here.

——

——

The QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada had one player test positive on qmjhlnewMonday. On Wednesday, the team said that it now had 18 positives in its organization. . . . As a result, players and staff have gone into a two-week isolation period and all team activities have been suspended indefinitely. . . . This all comes after the QMJHL’s first weekend of regular-season play. The Armada opened by playing a doubleheader with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, which also has suspended in-person activities. It reportedly has one positive case. . . . Of course, the Armada and Quebec Remparts also are in a government-designated red zone and team sports in those areas have been shut down through the end of October. . . . Here’s Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL commissioner, from a news release: “Although our sanitary and medical protocol is very strict and rigorous, we knew that COVID-19 was highly infectious and could eventually hit certain players and team staff members. Nevertheless, we are extremely confident that the measures contained in our contingency plan, which is currently deployed, will prove to be very efficient.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The NFL’s Tennessee Titans had hoped to return to their practice facility on Wednesday after not having any positive tests on Monday or Tuesday. But two more players tested positive Wednesday, bringing the organization’s total to 22, with 20 of those having occurred since Sept. 29. . . . The Titans are scheduled to play host to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, in a clash of unbeaten teams, although that now may be in jeopardy. . . .

CB Stephen Gilmore of the New England Patriots, the NFL’s defensive player of the year last season, has tested positive. He is the third New England player to test positive. . . . The Patriots, who are to play the visiting Denver Broncos on Sunday, cancelled their Wednesday practice. . . . Patriots QB Cam Newton tested positive on Saturday. . . .

Production of the CBC-TV show Battle of the Blades is on hold because a member of the production team tested positive. This means that the season premiere that had been scheduled for Oct. 15 has been postponed. . . . The show was to be taped at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont. . . .

The host Colorado Rapics and LAFC were to have played an MLS match on Wednesday night. However, it was postponed after the Rapids had a staff member test positive. The Rapids now have had three players and 12 staff members test positive, and they have had three straight games postponed. . . .

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern have postponed their football game that was to have been played on Oct. 14 at Georgia Stadium. The game has been rescheduled for Dec. 12. Appalachian State now has had two straight games postponed because of 19 positive tests around the team.



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.


Allow me to correct something that was posted here on Tuesday night. . . . Phil Andrews, who has been the Regina Pats’ manager of media and communications, as well as the team’s radio voice, tells me that Evan Daum will be doing “the marketing portion of my job . . . not the play-by-play/hockey communications.” . . . So if you are an aspiring play-by-play person, there’s still a chance.


JUST NOTES: A note to B.C.’s political parties — Dorothy and I already have mailed in our ballots, so you are wasting your time with the phone calls. . . . If you haven’t been watching the MLB playoffs, you should know that there’s some real emotion in the mostly empty stadiums. Wednesday night’s game between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers looked to be a powder keg for a lot of the time. You didn’t need to be a lip-reader to understand what was happening, that’s for sure.

Ice’s new home on ice for a while yet . . . Happy anniversary to The Quad Town Forum


The WHL’s Winnipeg Ice is going to spend at least two mores seasons playing in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus at the U of Manitoba.

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that “the pandemic fallout is complicating plans by the owners of the Ice to build a new arena. . . . That timing, already affected by the slow pace of obtaining zoning approval for the land, has been further delayed by the pandemic.”

If you’re late to this story, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg wpgicebusinessman Greg Fettes, who is the chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the president and general manager, near the end of the 2016-17 season. They left the team in Kootenay for two seasons before moving to Winnipeg, having said that they would build a 4,500-seat arena in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald in time for the 2021-22 season.

“If you’re asking about a change in terms of the current circumstance, obviously I’ve been monitoring what’s happening,” Fettes told Sawatzky. “We don’t know what the hockey landscape’s going to look like after this. So are we taking a step back and making sure we understand that? Yes, absolutely.

“We’re going to do that but for all intents and purposes we’re still on the same track we were on. We’re doing our best to push forward but we are going to pay attention to see how are we going to be able to play games and how does that affect the type of building we build.”

The Ice’s owners say they spent $1.3 million on renovations to the Wayne Fleming Arena prior to moving into it, and now Fettes says there will be more renovating done. But they aren’t going to do anything to enlarge the seating capacity.

The bottom line to this story is that more than three years after the Chynoweth family reached an agreement to sell the franchise, Fettes and Co. have yet to start building the promised new arena. And the WHL now is faced with having a team in the Manitoba capital play at least three seasons in a 1,600-seat facility that was opened in 1981.

According to statistics compiled by the WHL, the Ice averaged 1,512 fans for 31 home games last season. In its last two seasons in Cranbrook that average was 2,214 (2018-19) and 2,442 (2017-18). In 2016-17, the last season under the Chynoweth umbrella, that figure was 1,754.

Sawatzky’s complete story is right here.


Comma


Considering the massive hit that the Canadian newspaper industry has taken in the last while, I’d like to tip my hat to Brad and Tracy Brown, the owners of The Quad Town Forum that is, according to its masthead, “devoted exclusively to covering White City, Emerald Park, Balgonie, Pilot Butte, Vibank, Sedley, Francis, Odessa, Montmartre, Kronau & surrounding areas.” . . . That would be in south-eastern Saskatchewan, just a couple of slapshots from Regina. . . . The Forum, which publishes 48 weeks a year, celebrated an anniversary on Thursday — it was No. 5. . . . The Browns went all-in, moving to Sedley and basing the Forum in Vibank, in 2015. You bet they were swimming against the current. . . . Brad has been in the newspaper business since 1999. He spent some time at the Prairie Post in Swift Current and while there covered the Broncos (2012-14). . . . The introduction in that first issue included this: “Newspapers are supposed to be dead. Gone. Extinct. Killed off by TV and the Internet and rock music and teenagers and Conrad Black and the Harlem Shake and SARS and gluten and pretty much anything else you can think of. Yet here we are, excitedly presenting to you the first issue of the Quad Town Forum.” . . . And here they are now, five years later. . . . Well done, and may the press never stop running! . . . Congratulations to the Browns and, yes, I will raise one in their honour at some point this weekend.

If you would like to check out The Forum, it’s all right here. Feel free to travel over there and tour around the site.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”


hotdogs


The 10-team Western Canadian Baseball League hopes to open its 2020 season in late June or early July. It had been scheduled to get started in late May. . . . The collegiate league features six teams in Alberta and four in Saskatchewan. . . .

The 2020 Little League World Series has been cancelled, along with 82 qualifying tournaments. Also gone is the MLB Little League Classic that would have seen the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles play in Williamsport, Penn., on Aug. 23. . . . The tournament was to have run from Aug. 20-30.



If you missed it, here’s part of what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times earlier this week:

“I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.

“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’ “


Paintings


Questions, I’ve got questions: If the NHL is able to get up and running, say at some point in June or even July, how excited will you be to watch the end of the regular season? . . . Will it matter to you if there are fans allowed into the games? . . . Will it matter to you if the Stanley Cup is presented in late August or at some point in September, and the 2020-21 regular season begins in December? . . . Does it matter to you when the NHL holds its draft — in June or August? . . . Do you get excited at the thought of the NBA gathering its teams at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., to finish its season?



Whatever happened to Andre Dawson, the Hall of Fame outfielder? He’s a mortician and owner of Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in Miami. These days, he’s having to learn how to deal with a pandemic. . . . Steven Wine of The Associated Press has more right here.


So much winning . . .

Oh my, those are some horrid numbers . . . How do you hit a homer and not get credit for a run? . . . Some coaching news here, too

OK. I need someone to tell me that isn’t a nightmare. Surely this isn’t really happening . . . I must have fallen asleep while hunkered down in my recliner . . . Tell me that I did and that none of what follows really happened . . .

It was Wednesday evening when I saw a couple of tweets from Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) of CNN.

The first one showed reported U.S. coronavirus cases (I have added Thursday’s updated numbers):

Feb. 15: 15 cases.

March 15: 3,485 cases.

April 15: 638,111 cases.

April 16: 671,151 cases.

The second one showed reported U.S. coronavirus deaths:

Feb. 15: 0 deaths.

March 15: 65 deaths.

April 15: 30,844 deaths.

April 16: 33,268 deaths.

More than 2,000 people a day are dying from this virus and Agent Orange is nattering on ad nauseam about opening things up. On Thursday, he said: “Our experts say the curve has flattened and the peak in new cases is behind us.”

While still digesting those numbers, all of which are from Johns Hopkins University where they are tracking these things, there came news that Brian Allen, a centre with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, tested positive three weeks ago. Allen, who now is said to be symptom-free, is the first active NFLer to publicly acknowledge having tested positive. . . . On Thursday came word that Von Miller, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Denver Broncos, became No. 2 when he tested positive.

And then, as if those figures aren’t bad enough, I awaken Thursday morning to the news that some quack doctor, who surely is in cahoots with Agent Orange, doesn’t think it would be a big deal if schools go back in and a bunch of children die. Obviously, he is perturbed by the fact that there wasn’t even one school shooting in the Excited States in March for the first time since something like 2002. And later in the day, it was Dr. Phil’s turn. (I don’t know if it means anything but the two quacks were given their TV starts by Oprah Winfrey, whose first names spelled backwards is . . . 

And let us not forget the goofy Nebraska state senators who, as Brad Dickson put it on Twitter, “want to basically end social distancing so everyone catches Covid & develops herd immunity. Ya know, it may be faster to just behead the elderly and the vulnerable. #WorstIdeaEver.”

Oh, and what about those covidiots in Michigan who protested at the state capitol in Lansing, demanding that the economy be reopened and damn the consequences. Hey, gang, yes, you have the right to protest but maybe you should first check with the doctors, nurses, first-responders, police and all of those people who are fighting the good fight on your behalf.

Somewhere in all of this I saw something about Agent Orange suggesting the U.S.-Canada border “will be one of the early borders to be released.” The man who speaks in word salad also said this: “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well, so we’ll see.” Yes, so much winning in the Excited States!

It remained for Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, to explain things: “I don’t want (Americans) in Ontario.”

In fact, let’s close that border permanently, or at least until Agent Orange and all of his old white pals sail off into the sunset, which might be the only thing that will bring an end to this nightmare.

Hey, maybe we could build a wall and have the Americans pay for it.


On a lighter note, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game 12 years ago when a batter hit a single that was turned into a home run after video review, but that same batter didn’t score a run. . . . Seriously! . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic has that great story right here. . . . Stories like these are why I subscribe to The Athletic, which will give you a 90-day free trial these days.


Cockroach


Webster Garrison, a former manager of baseball’s Vancouver Canadians, is breathing on his own and looks to be on the way to recovery after testing positive more than a month ago. . . . Garrison now is a minor-league coach with the Oakland A’s. . . . Garrison, 54, had been intubated for more than three weeks and remains in a Louisiana hospital.


The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, which is based in Calgary, has shut down for the rest of 2020, cancelling its October induction gala in the process. Also cancelled is the Hall’s Sport + Spirit Charity Gala that was to have been held on May 27. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball Team (CEBL) has postponed the start of its regular season and now is hoping to get started at some point in June. It was to have begun its second season on May 7. . . .

The Tour de France now is scheduled to start on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 20. Originally, it was to start on June 27. . . . As the race ends, tennis’s French Open will be be starting. . . .

In soccer, the Belarusian women’s Premier League, which was to have opened its season today, has postponed the start of its season indefinitely. . . .

The Mackenzie Tour — aka PGA Tour Canada — has postponed the first six events of its 2020 schedule. Those events had been scheduled for Vancouver (May 28-31), Victoria (June 4-7), Kelowna (June 11-14), Lethbridge (June 25-28), Cardigan, P.E.I. (July 2-5) and Toronto (July 9-12). . . . The MacKenzie Tour plans on issuing an update before the end of this month.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” . . . OK, that actually was the Thought for Yesterday. Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Will Rogers: “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”


Bacon


Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late George Steinbrenner and a co-owner of the New York Yankees, died on Tuesday after a long battle with various health-related issues. . . . It was in 2008 when Hank endeared himself to Yankees fans with this:

“”Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”


Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, spent some time chatting with Steve Ewen of Postmedia earlier this week. . . . The BCHL was founded in 1961. “We’ve never taken a dime of government support in the history of this league,” Hebb told Ewen. “Here we are, in 18 communities now. In many cases, we are the Vancouver Canucks of those communities, and we could lose teams out of this (COVID-19 crisis).” . . . Reading Hebb’s comments leaves one wondering how many other junior leagues are faced with this same predicament. . . . Ewen’s piece is right here.


Bill Peters is the new head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, a Russian team in the KHL. . . . Peters has been out of coaching since he resigned as the head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Nov. 29. That came after he was accused of using a racial slur and of kicking a player. . . . Peters signed a two-year contract with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist’s top players are former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk and Nigel Dawes, who was a terrific player with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (2001-05). . . . Via a video hookup, Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs coach, told Russian reporters: “I think as time goes on we all grow and improve and become better versions of ourselves, and I’m no different than that. You learn from all the experiences that you’re in, and you become better.”


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Dan Cioffi as its new head coach. . . . In 2019-20, he was the head coach of the B.C. Major Midget League’s Valley West Giants. . . . Cioffi has BCHL experience, having worked as an associate coach with the Express (2007-10) and also with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (associate coach) and Trail Smoke Eaters (director of player personnel). . . . In Coquitlam, Cioffi replaces Jason Fortier, the reigning BCHL coach of the year who left after being unable to come to terms on a contract. He has since signed on as the general manager and head coach of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes.


Toast


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins fired Chris Lewgood, their general manager and head coach, on Wednesday. . . . According to a news release, Cory Prokop, the Bruins’ president, announced “that the board made this very difficult decision after determining that the future success of the team, both on and off the ice, would be best served with new leadership at the GM/head coach position.” . . . Lewgood just completed his seventh season as the Bruins’ head coach and had never finished out of the playoffs. They lost the 2017-18 final in seven games to the Nipawin Hawks. . . . In 2019-20, the Bruins finished second in the Viterra Division, at 31-23-4. . . . Estevan is scheduled to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup tournament.


Todd Woodcroft, who had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, has signed on as the head coach of the U of Vermont Catamounts. . . . Woodcroft takes over from the retiring Kevin Sneddon, the head coach for the past 17 seasons. . . . The Catamounts finished with a 5-23-6 record in 2019-20, their poorest showing since 2001-02.


Jeff Tambellini is leaving the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters after two seasons as general manager and head coach. Tambellini, 36, is joining the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as an NCAA free-agent recruiter and pro scout. . . . In his two seasons in Trail, the Smokies were 70-46-15 with one tie. . . . Tambellini is to help in the search for his replacement in Trail, and he also will serve as a special advisor for 2020-21.


Typing