Canucks cancel Penticton event . . . Will NFL fans have to sign virus waivers? . . . High River team bows out

 


The Vancouver Canucks have pulled the plug on the 2020 version of the Young Stars Classic that was to have been held in Penticton, B.C., Sept. 11-15. . . . The tournament was to have featured prospects from the Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. . . .

The NBA announced on Thursday that nine of its players tested positive from June 24-29. It has acknowledged that it has had 25 players and 10 staff members test positive. . . . All told, 351 players and 884 staff have been tested. . . .

The NFL is planning on playing a complete season, although it has trimmed its exhibition season, which it hopes to to start on Aug. 20, to a pair of games per team rather than four. At the same time, the NFL really wants to have fans in attendance at its games. The Athletic has reported that the league may ask fans to sign a coronavirus liability waiver before being allowed into a stadium. As John Breech of CBS Sports explained: “By signing the waiver, fans would agree not to hold the NFL responsible if they were to catch COVID-19 while attending a game. Basically, fans would be forfeiting their right to sue the league and would be assuming all health risks that come with being in a stadium during a global pandemic.” . . .


Hornets


FC Dallas arrived at its ‘bubble’ in Orlando on Saturday and had six players test positive. . . . On Wednesday night, The Athletic reported that three more players and a coach also tested positive, although “those four results still must be confirmed by follow-up tests.” If those tests stand, Dallas FC will have had nine players and a coach test positive, all since arriving in Orlando. . . . Does this mean the ‘bubble’ already is contaminated? . . . MLS says not to worry, everything is under control. . . . Thomas Laforgia of Deadspin isn’t convinced: “Here’s the important part, which seems to have gotten lost in the league’s self-congratulatory wash: Only two of the six players tested positive on the day of the squad’s June 27 arrival. The remaining four players spent at least two days among the hotel’s general population — bound to a particular floor, but out of quarantine, in relatively close quarters with teammates. Put in practical terms? Over the next few days, more positive tests are likely to emerge in and around Disney’s ‘Swan and Dolphin‘ resort complex.”

——

The Vancouver Whitecaps are to open the MLS tournament on July 9 against . . . Dallas FC. The Whitecaps were to have flown to Orlando on Wednesday but considering all that’s going on there — the Columbus Crew also have had a player who was in the ‘bubble’ test positive — they have delayed their departure. The Whitecaps also had all their players tested again on Thursday. . . . Toronto FC also has delayed its departure and head coach Greg Vanney told The Canadian Press: “There’s concern, no doubt. Because it’s showing that the bubble is not impenetrable and there are some issues that are going on. The question is how quickly can the protocols that are in place down there get things under control so it doesn’t start to spread inside of the bubble. That remains to be seen.”


Rick Pitino now is the head coach of the Iona College Gaels men’s basketball team and the Greek national men’s team . . .

 

——

Boise State has trimmed US$3 million from its budget by dropping its men’s baseball and its diving and swimming programs because of the pandemic. . . . The baseball program had been revived a year ago, after a long absence, and there had been plans to build a new stadium.


If you are on Twitter, there is a good thread here . . .

 

——

Meanwhile, college kids in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are throwing COVID parties. . . . “They put money in a pot, and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” Sonya McKinstry, a city councillor, told ABC News. “They’re intentionally doing it.” . . . The city is home to the U of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. . . . This gives new meaning to Roll Tide!


BusinessCard


The National Basketball Coaches Association has expressed concern that some of its members won’t be allowed to work during the NBA’s anticipated restart because of age concerns during the pandemic. However, Rick Carlisle, the association president, said Tuesday: “We’ve been assured by the league that no one will be red-flagged by the league from going to Orlando based on age alone.” . . . According to the NBA, all coaches and staff members, like the players, will be screened and tested.


 


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Dr. Harry Edwards will be nominating Colin Kaepernick for a Nobel Peace Prize. . . . And wouldn’t it be something in Kaepernick was awarded one of those and you know who doesn’t get a Noble Prize?

——

Here’s part of what Dr. Edwards told Ostler: ““A Nobel nomination was always my ultimate goal for Kaepernick, not only because he deserves it, but because he would stand in representation of all of the other unsung athletes who have contributed and sacrificed so much while paving the way and priming the pump for those who would come after.”


The Heritage Junior B Hockey League has lost a second team with the news that the High River Flyers have chosen to sit out the 2020-21 season. “The 2019-20 season was already difficult financially for the club, and the pandemic still affects everyone and everything has not made things any easier,” the team said in a news release. “The main sources of fundraising . . . have all been placed on hold or potentially will be cancelled altogether, and with uncertainty around the amount of fans that will be allowed to be in the arena, along with the potential restrictions around how fans can watch the games, the team’s home-game revenue will be very much affected as well.” . . . Earlier, the Medicine Hat Cubs announced that they won’t be answering the bell for the 2020-21 season whenever that may be.

——

We are starting to get a feel for other junior teams that really are feeling the pinch. The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have asked city council for financial help to the tune of about $44,000 as they try to deal with what was about $60,000 in debt before the pandemic hit. . . . Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders were around $200,000 in the hole when last season began. Yes, that figure is likely greater than that now, which is why they are about to start charging players $2,000 to play for them. . . . Danielle Gordon-Broome of the Swan Valley Star and Times has more on the Stampeders right here and how they got in this deep.


If ever you wondered how July 1 came to be known as Bobby Bonilla Day, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the story right here.


Elephant

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Westhead’s story is right here.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The complete editorial is right here.



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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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


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

Brian Wiebe, who operates the BCHLNetwork, reports:

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

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

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


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


Dell

Positive tests anything but positive news . . . Seem to be everywhere . . . Tough weekend for sports execs

If you’re a sports executive trying to get our league up and running, you aren’t enjoying this weekend.

The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning shut down their training facility after three players and two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

Then the NHL announced that 11 of its players had tested positive after somewhere around 200 had been tested. The Toronto Sun reported that one those players was Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The NHL said in a statement released via Twitter that while it will be providing a weekly testing update, it won’t “be providing information on the identity of the players or their clubs.”

Meanwhile, in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies closed their training facility in Clearwater, Fla., after confirming that five players and three staff members tested positive. All eight had been working there. At the same time, the Phillies said eight staff members had tested negative, while 12 staff members and 20 players were awaiting results.

The Toronto Blue Jays followed by closing their Dunedin, Fla., facility, which is near Clearwater. One Toronto player, who apparently had been in contact with some of the Phillies, was showing symptoms.

The San Francisco Giants also got into the act, shutting down their Scottsdale, Ariz., training facility after someone who had visited the complex and a family member showed mild symptoms.

The Giants wouldn’t reveal if the person was a player, but said they are awaiting results of tests on about 20 people.

The Houston Astros revealed that they one player tested positive at their facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

On Friday night, the NFL Network reported that a player from the San Francisco Giants had tested positive. The unnamed player had been working with teammates in Nashville. The other players have been tested and are awaiting results.

The PGA Tour got in on the act Friday when Nick Watney became the first player to test positive. He withdrew before the second round of the RBC Heritage Open at Hilton Head, S.C.

Watney, a five-time winner on the Tour, shot 74 in Thursday’s first round, showed some symptoms and was tested. He had been tested on site on Tuesday and that one came back negative.

And then there was Clemson U, where at least 28 athletes and staff, 23 of them believe to be football players, have tested positive. That was after 315 people were tested.

The U of Tennessee reported one male student-athlete, believed to be a basketball player, had tested positive, as well.

There are at least three positives in the MLS — two with Atlanta United and one with Inter Miami.

The LSU football team has at least 30 players in quarantine because they tested positive or have been in contact with those who did.


Mask

Meanwhile, in Yakima, Wash., the Herald reports right here that hospitals there “have exceeded staffing capacity, prompting Yakima Health District officials to urge residents to forgo gatherings during the Father’s Day weekend to minimize spread of COVID-19.” . . . Dr. Teresa Everson, health officer of the Yakima Health District, said in a statement: “This is the day we have been fighting to avoid for months, when our hospitals can no longer provide their highest level of care because they are overwhelmed caring for patients with severe COVID-19 infection.” . . . Oh boy, this is scary stuff.


Just don’t think there aren’t issues in B.C., too. . . .

After not having been in Kamloops’ largest mall, Aberdeen Mall, since sometime in February, Dorothy and I ventured there on Saturday afternoon. More than anything else, it was a fact-finding mission aimed at finding out how things are there. Perhaps we would be able to stroll some stores, too. You know, just for a change. . . . Wearing masks, we entered through a second-level door and were pleased to see arrows on the floor and other markings that indicated traffic was to move one way down the right side of the walkways and the other way on the left side. . . . It looked promising. Right? . . . Uhh, not for long. . . . As we moved into the mall, it became apparent that we had walked into a disaster. There were people of all ages walking every which way, with very few masks being worn. . . . Arrows? What arrows? Virus? What virus? . . . A few times, I pointed directly at someone walking the wrong way, and then said: “Arrows!” I got blank stares in return. . . . We didn’t go into even one store. We didn’t complete even one lap of the second level. . . . We got out of there in a hurry, and the mall has been taken off our “To Visit” list.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“As for MLB . . . it has to be troubling to watch huge sections of the country pretend the coronavirus doesn’t exist. Talk all you want about salaries, the number of games, the isolation from families, even commitment to Black Lives Matter: In all sports, most of them returning too soon, COVID-19 will be the ultimate decider.”

——

And then there was this from the Chronicle’s Scott Ostler:

“Florida.

“The NBA is about to bubble down in Florida.

“But why Florida? Apparently, there were no leper colonies available.”


A Friday note from Sean Shapiro, who covers the NHL’s Dallas Stars for The Athletic, involving an arena in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas:


Pothole


Ken Campbell of The Hockey News spoke with two former players from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. Both players vouched for the things Daniel Carcillo claimed happened to him as a rookie, all of them in a lawsuit filed Friday against the CHL and its 60 teams. Former Sting G Ryan Munce said he experienced similar abuse and, at one point, realized that he was suicidal. . . . Munce told Campbell he definitely will be joining the lawsuit, which also includes former WHLer Garrett Taylor, who alleges that he was abused in various ways while with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Campbell’s piece is right here and, yes, it’s a tough but necessary read.

If you are interested, the Statement of Claim can be found right here. But be forewarned that there are a lot of disturbing details in it.


It’s fair to say that the sport of rodeo has been devastated by the pandemic. Check out this list right here of North American rodeos that have been cancelled.


The 17-member Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) announced Friday that it has cancelled its fall 2020 sport season. . . . It hopes to begin badminton, basketball, curling, futsal, men’s and women’s hockey, indoor track and volleyball in January. As well, the fall sports of cross-country, golf and soccer will be rescheduled for the spring. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

On Saturday, the U of Alberta-Augustana, which plays in the ACAC out of Camrose, announced that it had withdrawn its men’s hockey, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s volleyball teams from competition for the 2020-21 season.

——

PACWEST followed suit on Friday by cancelling league competition in men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball, as well as golf, for the rest of 2020. PACWEST includes seven B.C.-based schools. . . . There is a news release right here.


“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said mask wearing ‘has to be voluntary because the Constitution is not suspended just because there is a virus,’ ” writes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “So why, for starters, doesn’t DeSantis also suspend the state’s seat-belt laws and speed limits?”


Check out Slava Malamud’s Twitter feed for, well, let him tell the story . . .


Call

Cities face many financial-related questions without answers . . . The ethics of restarting a season . . . Golf tour cancels season

It would seem that paNOW made some waves in Prince Albert with a Thursday story written by Alison Sandstrom that carried the headline: City facilities expected to remain shut until next year.

The Art Hauser Centre, the home of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, is a city facility.

On Friday, paNOW allowed city officials to use its website to “clarify that they have not made any determination on the opening date for facilities. They made assumptions for the purpose of financial forecasting, but no decisions have been made.”

Of course decisions haven’t been made. These pandemic-riddled days are full of uncertainty and there really isn’t any end in sight; at least, not that anyone can predict with any sense of accuracy. I mean, if the NHL doesn’t know whether it will be able to play in July or August or September, how can the WHL know that it will start its season on time?

Interestingly, there wasn’t one sentence in Sandstrom’s story that indicated any city facilities in Prince Albert would definitely be shut down until some time in 2021.

It’s far too early to make that kind of decision, but officials in all cities will be looking ahead, putting together various scenarios and trying to figure out where they are going to be at in terms of finances at year’s end. That is exactly what Greg Dionne, Prince Albert’s mayor, told Sandstrom: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities. So lots of the decisions will be made when (the province) sets dates and rules for Phase 4, then we’ll look at them and say (for example), well, that doesn’t make any sense, ‘sorry the pool has to be closed.’ ”

As Dionne pointed out, if the province limits outdoor gatherings to 30 people, “you won’t be opening the pool for 30 people.”

At this point, the Saskatchewan government has limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer. There could be changes coming on June 8 that would bump that up to 15 for indoor groups and 30 for outdoor gatherings.

But when the time comes, if indoor gatherings remain limited to 50 or 100 or even 200, Prince Albert isn’t likely to be opening the Art Hauser Centre.

As Sandstrom pointed out in her story, even with all the cost-saving things the city has enacted in the last while, it still expects to lose $750,000 by year’s end. That may be a drop in, say, Vancouver’s bucket, but it’s big coin to a city the size of Prince Albert.

And you can bet this same scenario is being played out in various other WHL cities.

Cities also have to be wondering about how much they are going to have to spend on changes to facilities in order to meet new health standards whenever they are back in business. Take an arena, for example. Does a dressing room get completely sanitized after every use? How many sanitizer stations are needed? How often are the washrooms to be sanitized? Will more staff have to be hired in order to get all of this done?

Meanwhile, Michael Scissons, the Raiders’ business manager, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW on Friday that it’s business as usual.

“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for a regular hockey season just like we would any other year,” Scissons said. “There’s been nothing to point at this point that it’s going to be anything different. . . . We have a big 50th year coming up right now and there’s a lot of work to go into it. We’re excited for the season to get going.”

On May 22, Ed Willes, the Postmedia sports columnist in Vancouver, wrote this:

“Giants owner Ron Toigo doesn’t think the WHL will resume play until January and, to date, season-ticket holders have been understanding.

“But, ‘You can make that commitment today, but what happens in six or seven months if you don’t have a job? That’s the biggest concern. What will the economy look like? And that’s universal. It’s not just sports.’ ”

Sandstrom’s original story is right here, while D’Andrea’s piece is right here.  


“This year’s John Deere Classic, scheduled for July 9-12, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In lieu of a news release, the PGA Tour announced the breakup in a John Deere letter.”



Some sports and leagues have returned to play. albeit without fans, and, if all goes according to plan, soon there will be more, including the NBA and NHL. “Beyond logistics, though, a deeper dilemma shadows the whole exercise,” writes Nick Faris of thescore.com. “Is it ethical for team sports to resume during a pandemic?

“The implications of this question are myriad and serious. To return in the COVID-19 era, leagues need an abundance of tests and the willingness to keep playing through positive cases. Players and many other, older people will bear these health risks so that the show can go on. Viewers watching at home must square this knowledge with their desire to consume and enjoy the spectacle.”

These are things junior hockey leagues have to be wondering about, too. What are things going to be like in August when they will be hoping to open training camps? Is there a junior league alive capable of absorbing the cost of regular testing? There are all kinds of questions, few, if any, with answers at this point in time.

Faris spoke with four expert ethicists and the results, which are rather thought-provoking, are right here.

Jack Bowen, co-author of Sport, Ethics and Leadership, offered this food for thought:

“I am a little curious about what the messaging will be (when sports resume). These guys are guarding each other in basketball. The women’s soccer league is opening in three weeks. ‘Oh, everything must be fine — let’s go out and party and live our normal lives.’ I’m trying my best to follow what expert scientists are saying, not what sports leagues are doing, but humans aren’t following the science. They’re following the social trends.

“In this case, the optics and the messaging could affect things like not mitigating harm and sending mixed messages, which people will then act on. The leagues need to be really aware of that. I feel like the leagues need to take that on as part of their social responsibility — to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re doing. Stay at home and watch these games with your family. Be safe.’ That sort of messaging could go a long way.”



Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The ESPN documentaries on Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong were interesting. Now how about a documentary or two on people who become superstars without being bullies and jerks? Just to show the kiddies that it can be done that way.”

——

Ostler, again: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.



Golf’s Mackenzie Tour cancelled its season on Friday. The Mackenzie Tour, which was heading into its eighth season, is the Canadian men’s pro circuit. . . . This season was to have featured 13 stops. . . . 

La Liga, Spain’s top men’s soccer league, is to resume training on Monday, with a return to play set for June 11. La Liga shut down on March 12. . . . It plans on finishing its schedule on July 19. . . .

Two Formula 1 races have gotten the OK from the Austrian government. They are scheduled for July 5 and 12, without spectators, in Spielberg, 200 km southwest of Vienna. . . . 


ESPN followed up The Last Dance with a two-part documentary on Lance Armstrong. Remember him? No, I didn’t watch it. Christine Brennan of USA Today did, and then wrote, among other things: “After soldiering through 2½ months of a pandemic, what did we do to deserve this, another TV network giving Armstrong airtime to share childhood pictures and his innermost feelings as he retells his enduringly reprehensible story?”


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 and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Headline at fark.com: Viewers who successfully complete 64-hour Derek Jeter marathon on MLB Network will receive free gift basket.


The Los Angeles Kings announced Saturday morning that they won’t be renewing the contract of Mike Stothers, who had been the head coach of their AHL franchise for six seasons. He was the head coach of the Manchester Monarchs for one season when the franchise moved to California and became the Ontario Reign. . . . The Reign won the Calder Cup as AHL championship in 2015. . . . Stothers, 58, was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors for three seasons (2011-14) before taking over the Monarchs.


NHL one step closer to return . . . Canada out of junior Summer Showcase . . . Fragle hoping to rock in Trail

There still are a number of hurdles to get over but the NHLPA has given the OK for its executive to keep on talking to the NHL about a return to play. So if things continue to progress, hockey fans may yet get to watch 24 teams take part in some kind of a Stanley Cup tournament with games played in a number of hub cities. . . . Keeping in mind that there still negotiations to be held, Carol Schram, a senior contributor for Forbes, has more right here.

——

Here’s one more thing for NHL players to think about as they prepare for a potential return to the ice. . . . Dr. Andrew Morris, who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has told TSN’s Rick Westhead that players need to make sure their long-term health is looked after should they happen to end up becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during a return to play. . . . Dr. Morris said: “Young athletes do not think about this stuff because they think they are invincible, but every so often we see young, healthy people get very bad diseases, and this is no different. It would be unusual for a healthy young athlete to get really sick with COVID and wind up in the ICU, but, hey, somebody wins the lottery, right? . . . They should want their health care and income insured, seeing that they are taking an additional risk, especially if residing in the U.S.” . . . As the medical community learns more and more about the impact of this virus, it is finding survivors who have been left with heart, kidney, liver and lung damage. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.



And what of the NBA and its efforts to get its season back on track? It is look as though it will re-open with all of its teams playing out of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance. . . . As Rohan Nadkarni of si.com points out in this piece right here, it really is all about the Benjamins.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA and a return to play:

“In the wonderful world of asterisks, we’re already talking Extra Large for whichever team wins the title. If you’re trying to play through a pandemic in neutral settings with nobody in the stands, you connect with nothing in Finals history. Don’t ruin this risky venture by welcoming the absurd.

“Those 16 teams worked hard to establish playoff position. Nobody else has the right to qualify after such a maddening layoff. The Warriors have long disappeared from view, but the same goes for Portland, New Orleans or any other team trying to sneak into this science-fiction film. They all had their chance.

“And for heaven’s sake, forget the idea (actually discussed) of a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine the final playoff slots in each conference. Could it be more boring, especially during times of urgency? ‘Hey, come see the teams that don’t deserve this.’ ”



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 and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


BillPosters


USA Hockey is planning to play host to the World Junior Summer Showcase later this USAhockeysummer but Canada won’t be taking part. Teams from the U.S., Finland and Sweden will participate in the event that is to run from July 24 through Aug. 1 at Plymouth, Mich. . . . “We’ve heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we’re checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations who also is the GM of the U.S. national junior team. “Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There’s also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it’s going to be lifted sometime in June, so we’re just staying on top of everything from what’s going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That’s how we’re going to go. We’re not going to change anything.”



Hockey Canada announced on March 13 that it had cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice. . . . Earlier this week, Hockey Canada issued “An Open Letter to Canadians” that was signed by Michael Brind’Amour, the chairman of the board of directors, CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO. . . . Included in that letter was this paragraph:

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the game will determine when we return, not our desire to get back on the ice. When our country is ready, Hockey Canada will be ready. Until then, continue to follow the guidelines set by your provincial and territorial government to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Only by working together will we be able to make a difference and safely return.”

That letter is right here.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956 put perhaps foresaw the future rather clearly: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. . . . All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”


Granted, it’s not going to happen until 2021, but a new hockey league — 3ICE — is on the way. Headed up by CEO E.J. Johnston and Commissioner Craig Patrick, 3ICE will feature eight teams playing 3-on-3 hockey over nine weekends, each one in a different city, during the summer of 2021. . . . Each team’s roster will comprise six skaters and one goalie. . . . The team’s head coaches are Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier. . . . E.J. Johnston is the son of Ed Johnston, one of the head coaches who is a former NHL goaltender, head coach and GM. . . . There’s more right here.


After watching all 10 episodes of The Last Dance, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “These questions will never be answered, but here goes: For Jordan, was there really a higher level of emotional fire that could be reached only by disrespect? Did that disrespect supercharge his physical skills, or was that higher level of fire a self-created myth to enhance his greatness?”


Tinfoil


Brian Wiebe, a veteran observer of the BCHL, has a solid piece right here on that league and how it and its teams are coping with the pandemic and all that has come with it.

——

Tim Fragle is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. TrailFrom Edmonton, Fragle has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. . . . While at NAIT, Fragle won three coach-of-the-year awards. . . . Fragile was the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for seven seasons (2009-16). . . . He played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Smoke Eaters, finish the last of those seasons with the Merritt Centennials. . . . While playing in Trail, he was teammates with Craig Clare, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., and is the Smokies’ director of hockey and business operations. . . . In Trail, Fragle takes over from Jeff Tambellini, who left in April to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as a pro scout and NCAA free-agent recruiter.


David Legwand, a co-owner of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, is moving from associate coach to be the team’s president of hockey operations. Legwand and Derian Hatcher, another former NHL player, purchased the Sting in 2015. . . . Legwand has been the associate coach for three seasons, with Hatcher as the head coach. Hatcher remains in the role, with Dylan Seca the general manager.


Darren Rovell of actionnetwork.com reports that a Mike Trout signed rookie card has sold at auction for US$900,000. It was from the Bowman Draft Chrome Prospect set. . . . That “obliterated the record for the highest-priced modern-day baseball card and tied the record for the most expensive modern-day card ever — the LeBron James/Michael Jordan logoman card, sold in February 2020,” Rovell wrote. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of Rovell’s story involved seven unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer NBA cards. These boxes weren’t at all popular when they debuted; in fact, boxes were returned by hobby stores for $6 refunds. At auction, Rovell wrote, they sold for “as much as $109,200 each.” . . . Rovell’s story is right here.


Border

All the excitement, joy disappear in a Sunday morning crash . . . Snowbirds’ Operation Inspiration ends, at least for now, in Kamloops

Snow2
A six-pack of Snowbirds flies over the Drinnan residence in Campbell Creek, about 20 kilometres east of Kamloops, on Saturday afternoon.

There was so much excitement from the Shuswap through Kamloops on Saturday as the Snowbirds on their Operation Inspiration tour headed this way from Rocky Mountain House, Alta.

The first thing I said when I climbed out of bed was: “Don’t forget. Snowbirds. 1:30.”

Yes, Dorothy and I were on our deck. We live on the north side of the South Thompson snowbirdsRiver, which flows alongside the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway. Flights heading west from the lower half of Alberta often follow the river/highway and end up going right over our place.

Such was the case on Saturday at about 1:45 p.m.

It began with two of the Snowbirds zipping by . . . followed shortly after by six in formation . . . and finally by a single plane.

It was over in about nine blinks of an eye, but, yes, it was exciting, especially when you stopped and thought about why the Snowbirds were on this tour.

Then came Sunday morning. Lousy weather in the Okanagan meant the plans for a flight over that area, including Kelowna and Penticton, were cancelled. Instead, they would leave Kamloops and head for Comox on Vancouver Island. They would set up shop there and make plans for flyovers on the island, weather permitting, of course.

Those plans came to a halt when one of the CT-114 Tutors went down in a neighbourhood near the Kamloops airport at about 11:45 a.m. Capt. Jenn Casey, the Snowbirds’ public affairs officer who was from Halifax, was killed. Capt. Richard MacDougall of Dieppe, N.B., is in hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The Snowbirds are grounded in Kamloops while an investigation takes place.

And just like that all of the excitement from the previous day was all but forgotten.

So much anticipation and joy and excitement one day, and so much sorrow the next.

Hey, 2020, when does it all end? You can take your foot off our throat any day now.


Dexter Manley, who was a top-notch defensive end during a run with the NFL’s Washington Redskins back in the day, is in a Washington-area hospital being treated for coronavirus-related issues. Manley, 61, was on a pair of Super Bowl champions with the Redskins. . . . He later played in the CFL with the Ottawa Rough Riders and Shreveport Pirates. . . .

Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Best wishes to Art Howe, a good guy who was turned into a bad guy in ‘Moneyball.’ Howe was hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19. In the movie version of this chapter of his life, Howe, played by Danny DeVito, will invent the coronavirus in a tiny lab in his clubhouse office. . . . (Note: Howe, a former MLB player and manager, was released from a Houston hospital on Sunday). . . .

The LPGA has scrapped its Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Mich., that had been scheduled for July 15-18. The next event on the LPGA schedule is the Marathon Classic in Sylvania Ohio, July 23-26. . . .

The Spa-Francorchamps race track in Belgium will open for practice today (Monday), but when the Belgian Grand Prix is held there Aug. 28-30 there won’t be any fans in attendance. . . . The government has banned large gatherings through Aug. 31.


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.


Here’s a note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “May 13 marked the 35-year anniversary of O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby serving as the groomsmen in ex-football star Ahmad Rashad’s wedding. Just for the record, O.J. was the best man.”

——

One more from Perry: From the Life Ain’t Fair File comes word that a 110-year-old Shoeless Joe Jackson baseball card just sold at auction for $492,000. In other words, nearly 100 times the $5,000 Joe was bribed to throw the 1919 World Series.”


Well, I tried to watch a couple of Bundesliga games on the weekend. Sorry, but I couldn’t do it, not without fans in attendance. With all the quiet, it might have been a high school scrimmage. Well, a high-level high school scrimmage. . . . Having invested some time in that, I can’t imagine watching NHL games in a world of quiet. . . . No, I didn’t give NASCAR a look later Sunday.


The Banff Hockey Academy has announced that it is on the move — to Dunmore, Alta., where its operation will be overseen by Willie Desjardins, the general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. Desjardins already owns and operates the South Alberta Hockey Academy and runs it in partnership with the Prairie Rose School Division. . . . The Banff academy has been operating for 26 years.



There is a $20 bill in my money clip that has been there since March 4. Yes, it has grown lonely. However, there is little chance that it will get company or move on to someone’s cash register in the near future.


The OHL’s Erie Otters have extended the contracts of head coach Chris Hartsburg, associate coach BJ Adams and assistant coach Wes Wolfe through the 2021-22 season. . . . The Otters are 75-99-25 in Hartsburg’s three seasons as head coach. The Otters won the OHL title for 2016-17 and have been in a rebuilding process. . . . Hartsburg spent four seasons (2009-13) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. . . . Adams is going into his sixth season with Erie, with Wolfe to start his fifth season there.


Needle


If/when Major League Baseball is able to open an 82-game regular season, it apparently plans on banning spitting and sunflower seeds. Is it really baseball without spitting and seeds? . . . Along that same vein, is it really an NHL game if they ban fighting, scrums and spitting?


Checking in with the gang at Strat-O-Matic and their simulated MLB season, we find that the Toronto Blue Jays dropped a 5-0 decision to the host Chicago White Sox on Sunday. . . . The Blue Jays (21-26) are seven games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (29-20), who are two games up on the New York Yankees (26-21). . . . The White Sox (20-27) are 11 games behind the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians (32-17). . . . Other division leaders: Houston Astros (31-16), Washington Nationals (30-16), St. Louis Cardinals (25-22) and Los Angeles Dodgers (30-15). . . . If you’re a baseball fan, you will love this site right here. It’s got all the stats and then some.


Trudeau: Today, we remember . . .


Michael McCann is the legal analyst for Sports Illustrated and writes regularly for SI’s website.

In his latest piece, he writes about the legal implications involved in a return to play by professional sports leagues.

It really isn’t as simple as bringing players back to a central location, holding some sort of training camp, and then playing games. Oh no! There’s a whole lot more to it than that in these bizarre times.

You can give him a read right here.

——

And what if Major League Baseball ends up opening its season by having teams play in facilities without any fans.

Well, there is precedent from 2015 . . .

As Bruce Jenkins wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Kurkjian, the longtime baseball writer/analyst with ESPN, was in Baltimore when baseball got a taste of the no-fans experience. It was the spring of 2015 and the city was in chaos over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered severe spinal-cord damage while in police custody. Violent protests raged over the issues of race, justice and police brutality, and it was determined that if the April 29 game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox were to be played at Camden Yards, the public could not be allowed inside.

“Strangest day I’ve ever known in sports,” Kurkjian said in a telephone interview this week. “Chris Davis hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and you could hear the sound of it landing. He rounded the bases in total silence in his home ballpark. (Manager) Buck Showalter told me he could hear every word the TV guys (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer) were saying. And Buck didn’t need the bullpen phone. He just yelled down there, ‘Get (Zack) Britton up!’”

Kurkjian admitted it was “pretty cool, for that day. But if it happens several times in a week, it’s no longer a novelty. After that, I think we should all be pretty careful.”


Survival


While we don’t have any idea when professional golf will return, the British Open officially was cancelled on Monday. It had been scheduled for Royal St. George’s from July 16-19, and now is set for July 15-18, 2021. The 2022 Open Championship, the 150th, is to be played at St. Andrews. . . .

The Masters, which was to have been played this week, has been rescheduled for Nov. 12-15 at Augusta. . . . The U.S. Open is to be played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Aug. 6-9, with the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Sept. 17-20. . . .

If you’re wondering about the Canadian Open, it remains on the PGA schedule at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, June 11-14.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “I agree with my esteemed (and sometimes steamed) fellow columnist, Bruce Jenkins, that it will be weird if the NBA plays games without fans, because of the lack of crowd noise. But there would be two benefits. We’d get to hear the game — the squeaks, the growls, the talking, the swearing. And we would be spared the incessant PA sound effects during play, which add nothing to the experience for fans in the arena or watching on TV.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, brings us his Thought of the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Truth is might and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”

——

BTW, The Sports Curmudgeon was at his best in Monday’s rant, where he speculates about what we will see when we emerge from this tunnel.

He points out that even with all that we are missing — from March Madness to the NHL to the NBA and on and on — “the world goes on; and as time passes without the presence of these pleasant activities, people may very well come to a point where sports reside on a lower tier of their life-importance construct. If — I said IF — that comes to pass in a significant number of people, that may mean a much smaller demand for high priced tix and a much diminished willingness to approve spending large blocks of taxpayer money to build sporting venues. If interest diminishes, TV ratings would likely drop too and that will make ever-increasing TV rights deals a bad revenue projection for leagues and owners.”

He’s got more to say on the subject and it’s all right here.


Shower


Veteran junior coach Mike Vandekamp has left the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals to join the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm, signing a three-year deal as general manager and head coach. . . . Vandekamp spent two seasons as the Capitals’ GM and head coach. . . . Whenever the next season begins, it will be Vandekamp’s 26th as a junior hockey coach. . . . Vandekamp is returning to Grande Storm, where he coached the Storm for four seasons (2007-11), going 154-72-19 and winning the AJHL title in 2009. He has spent the past nine seasons in the BCHL. . . . In Grande Prairie, he takes over from Ryan Aasman, who stepped in as interim head coach on Dec. 17 after the firing of Matt Keillor.


Sign stealing in the WHL? Yes, it happened . . . Not watching The Twilight Zone here . . .

It wasn’t quite the Houston Astros, but it turns out that the Kamloops Blazers were involved in the sign-stealing racket in the spring of 1998.

They were in the early stages of a first-round playoff series with the Prince George Kamloops1Cougars when the accusations started flying.

It seems the Cougars were of the opinion that Garnet Stevenson, the Blazers’ backup goaltender, was spying on Prince George head coach Ed Dempsey and his line calls.

“As Dempsey called out the next line combination,” I wrote in the Regina Leader-Post on March 28, 1998, “the Cougars felt that Stevenson was taking it all in and getting that information to Kamloops head coach Marc Habscheid.

“So, for Game 4, the Cougars had enforcer Richard Peacock stand at the end of the bench PrinceGeorgenearest the Blazers’ bench. His job was to screen out Stevenson’s view of Dempsey.”

According to Jim Swanson, then the sports editor of the Prince George Citizen: “Peacock, who also helped by opening the gate for teammates, stood next to Stevenson, talking to him and reminding the goaltender the Cougars knew about the Kamloops spy job. Early in Game 4, Habscheid kept looking for Stevenson for a hint of what the Cougars were planning but he had nothing to report.”

The Blazers won Games 3 and 4 — 5-3 and 2-1 — to take a 3-1 series lead. Prince George then won two straight, 4-1 at home and 4-3 in OT on the road, to force a Game 7, which it won, 2-1, at home.

As for the sign-stealing accusations, Stevenson told me via email this week: “The story was 100 per cent true.”


We were watching an episode of Hogan’s Heroes (so sue me) on Tuesday night when a promo came on for The Twilight Zone. Hey, you know the music . . .

Dorothy: We’re not watching that!

Me: Why not?

Dorothy: Because we’re living in The Twilight Zone right now.

Me: Hard to argue with that kind of reasoning.


Quarantine


As had been anticipated, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has cancelled Wimbledon for 2020. Not postponed. Cancelled. . . . The tournament first was held in 1877. Prior to this, only the First and Second World Wars had kept it off the tennis calendar. . . . It was to have been held from June 29 through July 12. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled for June 28 through July 11. . . . At the same time, the ATP and WTA announced that all of their events have been cancelled through July 13. So that takes care of the grass-court season. . . . With Wimbledon gone, the first major the season is scheduled to be the U.S. Open, which is to begin on Aug. 31. For now. . . .

The Queen’s Plate, which was to have run at Woodbine on June 27, is expected to be postponed indefinitely. . . . The race dates to 1860 and is the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America. . . .Earlier, Woodbine Entertainment postponed the start of its thoroughbred season, as well as the harness racing season at Mohawk Park. . . .

According to Golf Digest, the R&A is expected to announce today (Thursday) that it has cancelled the 2020 Open Championship (aka the British Open). The tournament was to begin on July 16 at Royal St. George’s Golf Club. . . . The Golf Digest story is right here. . . .


The NFL, meanwhile, is steaming towards the start of its 2020 season early in September. A schedule is to be released around May 9. . . . On a Tuesday conference call, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said: “All of our discussions, all of our focus, has been on a normal, traditional season, starting on time, playing in front of fans, in our regular stadiums and going through a full 16-game regular season and a full set of playoffs. That’s our focus.” . . . But as The Sports Curmudgeon points out, it was Dr. Anthony Fauci, who knows a thing or two about this pandemic, who noted: “We don’t set the timetable; the virus sets the timetable.” . . .



The Ottawa Senators have announced that four more people from their organization have tested positive for the coronavirus. They now have had seven people test positive, all of them having been part of the group that travelled to California and returned to Ottawa on a chartered flight on March 12. All told, five players and one staff member have tested positive, along with broadcaster Gord Wilson. According to the Senators, the five players and staff member all have recovered. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun has more right here.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “A city with one newspaper, or with a morning and an evening paper under one ownership, is like a man with one eye, and often the eye is glass.”



Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his weekly 31 Thoughts on Wednesday and, as usual, there is some neat stuff here. Especially good is the latter part of the piece where he pays tribute to a number of young players who weren’t able to complete their seasons, including WHLers Jadon Joseph and the Warm twins, Beck and Will. . . . It’s all right here.


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have added Craig Carter to their staff as assistant general manager and director of player personnel. . . . Carter, who is from Langley, B.C., was the Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ director of hockey operations last season after spending two seasons as a scout with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.


Best junior player I’ve seen would have turned 61 on Sunday . . . Hockey world mourns death of Bowkus

He was the best junior hockey player I ever had the privilege of watching.

Brad McCrimmon, at the age of 19, was a smooth-passing, minute-eating defenceman with the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings, who lost a grand total of five regular-season games. He had the knack of conserving energy while on the ice, so he could play and play and play.

And, although he didn’t carry the title or have his own office, he also was the Wheat Kings’ lone assistant coach.

Dunc McCallum, the head coach, knew what he had in McCrimmon and the former NHLer let the future pro shoulder a huge load. From Plenty, Sask., McCrimmon had grown up on a farm so the work load didn’t scare him; in fact, he scared it.

McCrimmon, as TSN’s Craig Button noted in the above tweet, would have turned 61 on Sunday.

You will recall, however, that McCrimmon died on Sept. 7, 2011. He was the head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslav of the KHL when its plane crashed shortly after takeoff. McCrimmon, then 52, had signed with the team in May.

This was his first pro head-coaching gig. You can bet that had he lived he would be an NHL head coach today, perhaps with the Vegas Golden Knights.

In a later tweet, Button pointed out what I think says more than anything about Brad McCrimmon, hockey player:

“He played with Ray Bourque, Mark Howe, Gary Suter, Niklas Lidstrom and a young Chris Pronger. All the while helping and complementing others, he was a force in his own right.”

Take a few minutes and check out the seasons those players had while partnered with McCrimmon. Officially, he may not be a Hockey Hall of Famer, but he was a Hall of Famer, if you know what I mean . . . on and off the ice.



Jack Bowkus, a former WHLer who went on to coach for 20 years in southern California, died on Saturday after a battle with cancer. . . . Bowkus, 55, was a native of Lansing, Mich. . . . He played four seasons (1984-88) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . While coaching in California, he guided California Wave and Los Angeles Jr. Kings teams to numerous championships. . . . There is more on Bowkus right here.

——

Ray Macias, a former Kamloops Blazers defenceman from the Los Angeles Jr. Kings program, offered this tribute to Jack Bowkus on Facebook:

“We lost a complete legend last night from the game of hockey and all of Southern California hockey. I had the privilege to coach side by side with him this past season and the lessons learned were second to none. A true leader and a true mentor to many kids and for me as I just start my coaching career. The experience gained will never be forgotten and will be carried on through many generations. Thank you Jack for being such a great role model for so many kids in So Cal. May you rest in peace Jack.”

Ray’s mother, Helen Alex, is a long-time member of the Jr. Kings’ operation. . . .

——


Joe Diffie is dead. John Prine is in critical condition. And the clown show is bragging about TV ratings. . . . Will this nightmare ever end?

——

Oh, and have you heard about the King who rented an entire German hotel so that he could go into self-isolation? Did I mention that he brought along his harem of 20 and, yes, some servants? . . . It’s all right here. . . . But I do wonder how the King and his court didn’t end up at Mar-a-Lago.

——

Stephen King and Don Winslow couldn’t have combined to write anything close to what we’re witnessing these days. . . .


Pat Leonard, writing in the New York Daily News:

“For the NFL to play even one game, it needs to be able to safely welcome around 61,500-80,000 fans into a stadium. It must be able to guarantee all staff and players can travel, collaborate, and come into close contact without contracting and spreading this deadly virus.

“How could the NFL possibly guarantee that type of safety by Labor Day?”

Leonard’s look at the situation in which the NFL finds itself is right here. . . .


Twitter headline from The Onion: Trump Orders Manufacturers to Drastically Ramp Up Production of Hospital Gift Shop Supplies. . . .


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The 49ers dodged a big bullet when they passed on Tom Brady.

“Brady is a Bay Area guy and it would have been a heartwarming story, the old warhorse coming back home. But many hearts would not have been warmed.

“While I try to steer clear of politics, my national-affairs advisers tell me that the Bay Area leans politically left, and it would be tough for many 49ers’ fans to embrace Brady because of his BFF status with the president.

“ ‘I spoke to (Brady) the other day, he’s a great guy,’ the president said last week.

“In normal times, that wouldn’t matter. Normal Times just boarded a Princess Cruise to Tahiti.” . . .


If you haven’t heard, Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks are going to present a concert — Garth & Trisha: Live! — on Wednesday evening  on CBS-TV. If you’re interested, check your local listings. . . . They and CBS also are donating $1 million to charities “combating the COVID-19 virus.” . . .


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Sidelined sportscaster Joe Buck will do a play-by-play narration of your quarantined existence in exchange for a charity donation, tweeting, ‘Send me videos of what you’re doing at home and I’ll work on my play-by-play. Seriously!’ . . . Predictably, Cowboys fans are already complaining that Buck is biased toward Green Bay’s shut-ins.” . . .

——

Perry, again: “NASCAR is imposing staff salary cuts of 20-25% until there’s a return to racing. Or as the folks in accounting prefer to call it, restrictor-plate paying.” . . .


The Toronto Blue Jays opened their regular season by getting swept by the visiting Boston Red Sox. . . . Boston won, 6-3, on Sunday, as 3B Rafael Devers hit his fourth HR in three games, a two-run shot that tied the game in the eighth inning, and JD Martinez won it with a three-run dinger in the 12th. . . . After the opening weekend, the Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s join Boston at 4-0, with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 3-0. . . . This all is part of a simulated season being played out by the folks at Strat-O-Matic, and you are able to check it all out right here.


Think about these numbers for a few minutes . . .

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.” . . .


If you enjoy stopping off here, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks kindly!