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!


Blazers lay off office staff, hockey side takes pay cuts . . . Canada not sending any teams to Olympics, Paralympics . . .

Taking Note was told Sunday afternoon that the Kamloops Blazers laid off their office Kamloops1staff on Friday afternoon and that those on the hockey staff have taken pay cuts. . . . The WHL’s regular-season was suspended on March 12 and cancelled on March 18. The Blazers finished atop the B.C. Division. . . . The league continues to hope that it will be able to get in some kind of playoff season, leading into the Memorial Cup in Kelowna, May 22-31. . . . Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, is the Blazers’ majority owner. Also in the ownership group are Shane Doan, Jerome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor, all of them ex-Blazers and former NHL players. . . . I don’t know if any of the WHL’s other 21 teams have followed suit, but it’s expected that other teams will be experiencing layoffs, perhaps as soon as this week. . . .


The International Ice Hockey Federation has cancelled the 2020 world men’s hockey championship that was scheduled for Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland, from May 8-24. . . . As well, the IIHF has postponed its annual Congress, which was to have been held during the tournament, until further notice. . . . As for the possibility of playing the championship in Switzerland next year, the IIHF statement read: “The potential scenario of a postponement of the World Championship in Switzerland to another year is a matter that must be discussed within the congress given the fact that the host countries for the forthcoming IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship are fixed until Year 2025. Therefore, such a decision will not be forthcoming until congress is next in session.” . . .



Next up on the postponement/cancellation calendar? It seems highly doubtful that the Olympic Summer Games will be held as scheduled — in Tokyo, from July 24 through Aug. 9. . . . Too many world-class athletes aren’t able to train in the proper places while surrounded by necessary support staff to allow these Games to be held. . . . However, the IOC says it is going to continue to play the waiting game, for at least the next four weeks. . . .

That story took a turn on Sunday night when the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) announced that they “have made the difficult decision to not send Canadian teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2020.” . . . A news release continued: “This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health. With COVID-19 and the associated risks, it is not safe for our athletes, and the health and safety of their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training towards these Games. In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow.” . . . Good on the COC and CPC for ending the uncertainty. . . . It will be interesting to see if this opens the floodgates to other countries withdrawing. . . .

——

Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee continue to guarantee that the Olympics will be held on schedule, four months from now. Sorry, God, those are powerful people, you have no choice but to end the virus pronto. . . . The IOC has no Plan B. That is so optimistic and bold! And dumb as a senile gerbil.” . . .


Washing


The Ottawa Senators announced on Saturday that they now have a second player who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Senators made a trip through California, from March 6-12. Eight people who were on that trip now have been tested, with two positive results. . . . From a news release: “The total number of people who travelled with the club is 52, including players, staff, media, guests and flight crew. Of those on the trip, 44 have shown no symptoms, eight people have been tested, and two positive results were received. We are awaiting the results from tests that took place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.” . . .


ICYMI, the Baltimore Ravens traded DE Chris Wormley to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, marking the first trade between the AFC North teams this century. As Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times put it: “So see, folks, there is still hope for peace in the Middle East.” . . .


Here’s Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Don’t mean to be callous, but postponement or cancellation of the Tokyo Games wouldn’t ruin the summer. We got along fine without the Olympics the past three summers, didn’t we?” . . .


Area51


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has been spending his days revisiting works by a handful of writers, then offering a thought for the day. . . . Here’s one, from Will Rogers: “The man with the best job in the country is the Vice-President. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, ‘How is the President?’ ” . . . On Saturday, he offered up another gem from Will Rogers: “You know, horses are smarter than people. You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people.” . . . On Sunday, it came from Mark Twain: “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” . . .

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Here is the curmudgeonly one again: “If there are no restarts in U.S. sports over the next month, the best I can look forward to is the beginning of the Mongolian National Premier League — that’s soccer don’t you know — in April. (Just so you know, Ulaanbaatar City is the defending champion there.)”

——

The Sports Curmudgeon passes along a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm: “Dentist — A person to whom you provide boat payments as a way of thanking him for sending a shooting pain through your entire central nervous system.” . . .



Cleaning


Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “What a few months it’s been for Boston, huh? (Mookie) Betts traded. NHL season postponed with the Bruins in first place. Tom Brady leaves. Jayston Tatum turns three years older than 19. Marcus Smart gets the coronavirus. Now (Chris) Sale’s elbow is busted. When are Boston sports teams ever going to catch a break?”


QB Philip Rivers has signed with the Indianapolis Colts, getting a nifty $25 million for one season. But, as Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, points out: “With nine kids, Rivers and his wife need two houses to comply with restrictions on gatherings over 10 people.”


Trump

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after washing hands, washing hands, washing hands . . .

Scattershooting

MORE DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE PLAY A WAITING GAME . . . 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that there be no events that draw crowds of 50-plus people for the next two months in the U.S. . . . That would seem to put an end to the NBA and NHL seasons, and would leave Major League Baseball looking at starting sometime in the latter half of May, perhaps with no fans in their stadiums. . . . It just might be that the CDC recommendation spells the end of the NBA and NHL seasons. . . .


Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported Sunday afternoon that “two wpgicemembers of the Winnipeg Ice have been tested for COVID-19.” . . . The Ice now is awaiting the results. . . . According to Sawatzky, “The remainder of the club’s 22-man roster has been cleared to return to their homes. . . . The two Ice players were identified as symptomatic and are the only members of the team or staff to be tested so far.” . . . Ice GM Matt Cockell told Sawatzky: “If those tests are negative, they’ll return home. If they’re not, then we’ll proceed with them with the guidance and advice that we receive. Both players have been in self-isolation for a few days now.” . . . Sawatzky’s story is right here.

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As of Sunday evening, there had yet to be an announcement from the WHL. But more individual teams revealed that they were allowing players to return to their homes. . . . The Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Prince George Cougars said on Saturday that their players had been given the OK to head for home. . . . On Sunday, the Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Red Deer Rebels, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades and Spokane Chiefs all did the same. . . .



Apparently, plans are for the WHL’s board of governors to chat on Tuesday, after which the league perhaps will provide its fans with some information. The CDC’s recommendation would mean the WHL’s five American-based teams wouldn’t be able to hold home games in front of fans until mid-May at the earliest, so it would seem that the league is that much closer to having to end its season. . . .


In a column in which Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned a few things he is going to miss for the next while, he included:

Toilet paper. The wheel and sliced bread are way overrated. . . .

Steve Kerr’s news conferences. Honest answers, interesting side trips, always a laugh or two. The anti-Belichick. . . .



The 10-team Southern Professional Hockey League became the second pro league to end its season when it announced Sunday that its board of governors had voted in favour of cancellation. . . . The 26-team ECHL made the same announcement on Saturday. . . .


Anyone with plans to attend any hockey team’s spring camp should check and see if, indeed, the schedule is as it was. When Hockey Canada pulled the plug on all hockey-related activities, I took that to mean spring camps, too. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “The NCAA says it won’t release brackets for 2020 March Madness. While I see their point, wouldn’t letting Americans argue about who was robbed be a welcome distraction about now?”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Word is (that) former CFL mainstay Chris Jones is staying with the Cleveland Browns in a personnel role. He wasn’t fired when head coach Freddie Kitchens was let go. Jones was moved from a coaching job to more of a scouting position.” . . .

——

A social note from Simmons: “Some guys aren’t this fortunate. The just returning Morgan Rielly gets to spend his time away with girlfriend Tessa Virtue. Is this like the nicest couple ever — nice kid hockey player and the nicest of all-time women figure skaters.” . . .


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering what might happen next . . .

Scattershooting

The WHL appears to have bought itself some time this weekend.

It was able to get through the weekend, which included three games in the Seattle area, whlwithout any apparent coronavirus-related difficulties.

On Sunday afternoon, Washington state officials confirmed 136 novel coronavirus cases, while the Seattle Times later reported there have been 19 virus-related deaths. All told, 16 of the deaths have ties to one nursing home, the Life Care Center of Kirkland.

The Everett Silvertips drew 13,161 fans to a pair of weekend games — a 6-0 victory over the Prince George Cougars and a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday.

Everett has one home game remaining on its schedule — against the Victoria Royals on March 20.

On Sunday, the announced attendance was 5,255 in Kent, Wash., as the host Thunderbirds dropped a 3-2 decision to the Silvertips.

Seattle has three home games left to play — against the Vancouver Giants on Saturday, the Spokane Chiefs on March 17 and the Portland Winterhawks on March 21.

While the Spokane Chiefs have three home games scheduled this week, on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, and the Tri-City Americans, who play out of Kennewick, Wash., are at home Friday and Sunday, those areas have avoided positive tests to this point. At the same time, as of Sunday evening, there had been two positive tests in Eastern Washington counties.

Meanwhile, there have been 27 confirmed cases on B.C.’s Lower Mainland, where the Giants play out of the Langley Events Centre. They are at home to Seattle on Friday, and also are to play at home on Sunday (Prince George Cougars), March 18 (Kamloops Blazers) and March 20 (Kelowna Rockets).

As well, health officials in Alberta announced on Sunday that an Edmonton-area man is that province’s first presumptive positive test after travelling with a companion from B.C., who had been on the Grand Princess cruise ship.

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In California, the Riverside Country Health Department declared a public health emergency for the Coachella Valley after one local confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus. Tennis officials then indefinitely postponed the 2020 BNP Paribas Open, a WTA and ATP event. It was to have opened today (Monday) and run through March 22 at Indian Wells. . . . The tournament brings in more than 400,000 fans annually — it is the best-attended non-major on the tennis schedule — and always gets a lot of TV coverage. . . .

The host Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers and Harvard Crimson are scheduled to play a best-of-three ECAC hockey quarterfinal series this weekend in Troy, N.Y. RPI announced Sunday that it has “enacted social distancing protocols,” meaning that the games will be played without spectators. . . .

Ed Willes, in the Vancouver Province:

“It’s a helpless feeling, sitting, waiting for the next bombshell to drop but it seems inevitable.

“You wish this was as simple as letting the virus run its course but it’s impossible to know where this will end. That’s not being alarmist. That’s being realistic. So you sit and hope. And you ask yourself, will anything ever be the same again?”


Daylight


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle was at the Golden State Warriors game on Saturday night:

“Maybe Warriors fans are smart. In a recent national survey, 38% of beer-drinking Americans said they would not drink Corona beer. However, a vendor selling various brands of canned beer on the concourse level Saturday told me Corona sales have not cooled at his cart.

“ ‘I’m selling more Corona!’ said Devaughn McDonald.

“Go figure. Maybe people believe it’s medicine.”

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More from Ostler:

“The Warriors’ management is doing its best, aggressively scrubbing down Chase Center before and after games. In the media dining room, every table had its own big pump bottle of Purell. I absentmindedly squirted some on my hot dog, but what the heck, you can’t be too safe.”

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ICYMI, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers said on the weekend that he isn’t interested in playing in empty arenas, should it come to that with the NBA. “We play games without the fans?” he said. “Nah. It’s impossible. I ain’t playin’ . . . That what I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans . . . So if I show to an arena (and) ain’t no fans be there, I ain’t playin’.”

To which Ostler wrote: “The league might have something to say about that. Like, if you ain’t playin’, we ain’t payin.”


patient


Here’s a thought from Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade: “People poke fun at the Canadian Football League for rewarding failure by giving a single point on a missed field goal. Well, excuse me, but the NHL does that very thing almost nightly with its ridiculous loser point.” . . . As does the WHL and so many other hockey leagues . . .

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Swansson, once more: “Watched Sports Central on Sportsnet on Friday morning and I didn’t hear one word about the Brier. Nada. They managed to squeeze in highlights of Joey Chestnut pigging out on Big Macs, but the Canadian men’s curling championship wasn’t worthy of their attention. Canada’s #1 Sports Network my ass.”

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If you haven’t yet seen it, Swansson’s latest contribution to the Internet library is all right here. Pour yourself a cuppa coffee and enjoy.


Visitors


“A quick shoutout to Jerry Jones,” writes Kevin Sherrington in the Dallas Morning News, “who not only ranks as the top dog among local pro sports owners, he’s cracked the top five Dallas-Fort Worth billionaires. According to something called the Hurun Global Rich List, Jerry comes in fourth overall at $7.2 billion, four spots in front of Mark Cuban at $4.8 billion and a dozen yachts and an Airstream or two ahead of the $3.4 billion of the Rangers’ Ray Davis. Throw in Tom Gaglardi’s family, which owns Canada, and it seems safe to say no local owner is going broke anytime soon.”

Gaglardi, of course, owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and is the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “A recent conversation between Pats QB Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick ‘didn’t go well, according to one report. Apparently Tom grew tired of Belichick continually reminding him to speak into the potted plant.”


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she takes part in Kidney Walk Kamloops on Sept. 20, you are able to do so right here.