Reports have major junior leagues now aiming for Dec. 1 . . . Former Blades captain dies . . . Morden team changing nickname, logo

If you own a junior hockey franchise, you have to be watching the goings-on in MLB and wondering.

While the NBA and NHL have their teams all bubbled up and, at least to date, avoiding the coronavirus, you know that you don’t have the resources to attempt anything like that.

But then you look at MLB, which is attempting to do what you are hoping to do at some point this year — bring your team together and then travel in order to play games in various venues.

It isn’t going all that well for MLB, which is forging ahead despite having had two teams — the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals — decimated by the virus and another (Philadelphia Phillies) also been hit.

Through Tuesday, 23 MLB games involving nine teams had been postponed. The season is 13 days old.

At this point, then, you likely are holding your breath and hoping.

Earlier, the QMJHL and WHL had announced proposed starting dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, respectively, for their 2020-21 regular seasons. The OHL hadn’t gone public with any such date.

Now there are reports that the three major junior leagues will announce perhaps as soon as today (Wednesday) that they hope to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on Dec. 1.

Postponing the start by two more months buys them some more time. The leagues will be able to sit back and watch developments, including the possible opening of schools.

The OHL and WHL also have teams located in the U.S., where, you may have noticed, things aren’t going so well. Two more months gives the leagues time to watch for improvements in that area, although under present leadership that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

And, of course, there’s the little matter of the U.S.-Canada border being closed. Do you think it’ll be open again in 2020?

——


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Reds placed 1B Joey Votto, a native of Toronto, on the injury list after he self-reported symptoms of the virus. On Monday, he hit a two-run, go-ahead homer to help the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-2. . . . It turns out that he tested negative and was reinstated. . . .

The much-ballyhooed Field of Dreams game, which was to have featured the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox on Aug. 13, has been postponed to August 2021. A date has yet to be announced. . . .

The Cardinals’ season is on hold after seven players and six staff members tested positive. . . . Six of the players are SS Paul DeJong, RHP Junior Fernández, C Yadier Molina, 1B Rangel Ravelo, SS Edmundo Sosa and RHP Kodi Whitley, each of whom gave the team the OK to release their names. The identity of a seventh player wasn’t released. . . . DeJong and Molina are all-star calibre players. . . . In a statement, Molina said he was “saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place.” . . .

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had some thoughts on the mess in which MLB finds itself. He concluded with this: “Baseball in 2020 reminds me of a guy at a poker table who is losing his shirt but keeps dipping into his bank account for another stake because he is ‘due for some good cards.’ It seems to me that MLB thinks it is due for some good news and just keeps on keeping on. . . . Albert Einstein reminded us that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes.” . . . You should read the entirety of the curmudgeonly one’s latest post right here.

——

The NFL’s Detroit Lions moved QB Matthew Stafford from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and placed him on the regular roster, saying that what was reported as a positive test actually was a false-positive. . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars did the same with QB Gardner Minshew after it was determined that he had tested negative. Minshew joked that the virus “took one look at me and ran the other way.” . . .

At least 48 players have opted out of playing in the NFL’s 2020 season. The league has a deadline of Thursday afternoon for players to make that decision. . . . Barry Wilner of The Associated Press has more right here.

——

Rafael Nadal, the No. 2-ranked men’s tennis player, won’t play in this month’s U.S. Open, which is to start on Aug. 31. He said that he doesn’t want to travel during the pandemic. . . . The last time a tennis major didn’t feature either Roger Federer, who is out after having knee surgery, and Nadal? That was the 1999 U.S. Open. . . .

Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu, who won the women’s U.S. Open title last year, said that she will be in New York to defend her title. . . . Andreescu, 20, from Mississauga, Ont., is the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. . . .

——

The 104th running of the Indy 500 will take place without fans. Roger Penske, who owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said earlier in the year that the race, which was postponed from Memorial Day weekend to Aug. 23, would allow some fans to attend. . . . But with numbers rising in Marion County, Indiana, home of the Speedway, Penske has decided not to allow fans. . . .

The AHL has cancelled its 2020-21 All-Star Classic that was to have been played host to by the Laval Rocket on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Instead, Laval will be the site of the 2021-22 Classic on a date yet to be determined. . . . The AHL is hoping to being its 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 4. . . .

Tennis lost the Madrid Open as the 2020 event, which features men’s and women’s draws, was cancelled. Originally scheduled in May, it had been postponed to September. But an increase in COVID-19 cases resulted in the event being cancelled.

——


You will recall that the Houston Astros have been branded as cheaters after getting caught up in a sign-stealing scandal that has some baseball folks claiming the team actually stole a World Series title. . . . The other day, with the host Astros playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are particularly bitter, Houston’s Jose Altuve, who is really struggling at the plate, happened to strike out. Joe Davis, doing the play-by-play for the Dodgers, said Altuve was “perhaps guessing something else.” . . . Former Dodgers P Orel Hershiser, the analyst on the broadcast crew, disagreed. Said Hershiser: “Guessing’s harder than knowing.”



The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes announced Tuesday that head coach Gordie Dwyer has left the organization in the hopes of landing a spot with a pro team. . . . Dwyer took over as head coach on Feb. 9, then went 6-6-0 before the league shut down because of the pandemic. . . . At the time, Dwyer took over from the fired Daniel Renaud, who had been the head coach since 2017. He was 23-28-0 last season. . . . The Cataractes will unveil their new coaching staff on Friday.


The Morden Redskins, a men’s team that plays in the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, has said that it will be changing its nickname and logo, which was fashioned after that belonging to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Last month, Brandon Burley, the mayor of Morden, asked the team to make a change.


JUST NOTES: I haven’t watched a whole lot of the NHL since it resumed playing, but I’ve seen enough to realize that, despite what you might read in the rules book, cross-checking continues to be legal. . . . I need to find someone in Alberta to cut me in on the Edmonton Oilers’ 50-50 draw. If you aren’t aware, the winner of Monday’s draw put $1,629,722.50 into his/her bank account. On Saturday night, Danielle McGale won $381,275. Yes, she has a whole lot of new friends. . . . I was watching the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday afternoon and there was a drone delay. Seriously.


Mickey Mouse Night in Moose Jaw. Ohh, the memories. . . . Blazers adding goaltender. . . . Ridley talks way into AHHOF

If you haven’t seen this yet, take a look. Yes, we used to have some fun on the WHL beat and, no, there won’t ever be another Crushed Can. . . .


MacBeth

D Dominik Bittner (Everett, 2011-12) has signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL), he had two goals and 14 assists in 46 games.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers, their playoff hopes flickering like a fading light bulb, have lost G Dylan Ferguson to injury, so are expected to add G Rayce Ramsay to their roster.

Ramsay, who turned 18 on Jan. 3, has been playing with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Kamloops1From Saskatoon, Ramsay was 16-7-1, 2.73, .923 in his first season with Humboldt. . . . Ramsay got into 27 games with the Broncos, as he split time with Dane Dow, who made 34 appearances and was 19-12-2, 3.06, .906. . . . The Broncos aren’t scheduled to play again until March 15 when they open a best-of-seven first-round series with the Estevan Bruins. . . . Ramsay has made two appearances with the Blazers this season, going 1.99, .931 in 60 minutes of action.

Ferguson, who has played in 49 games (17-24-5, 3.01, .908), went down in the second period of a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. He needed to lean on his stick in order to get back on his feet, and tried to stay in the game. But he left at the next whistle, and needed help leaving as he was unable to put any weight on one leg.

G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, is the Blazers’ other goaltender. A third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he is 6-7-2, 3.40, .891.

The Blazers (23-32-7) have lost their past four games (0-3-1), three of them to the B.C. Division-champion Vancouver Giants. With six games left, Kamloops is fourth in the division, seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers and Rockets are to meet tonight in Kamloops and Saturday night in Kelowna.

Kamloops also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Kelowna Rockets will be without F Mark Liwiski for their next three games, KelownaRocketsincluding this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Liwiski drew a three-game suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Portland F Seth Jarvis during a 4-3 victory over the visiting Winterhawks on Sunday. . . . The Rockets are to play in Kamloops tonight, with the Blazers in Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . Liwiski, who has 10 goals and six assists in 58 games, also will miss Kelowna’s game on Wednesday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, seven points ahead of the Blazers.


Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reports that three Winterhawks skaters — F Cody PortlandGlass, F Seth Jarvis and D Matt Quigley — were listed as “week-to-week” by GM/head coach Mike Johnston going into this week. . . . Danzer writes that Glass “has experienced some nagging discomfort in the knee he injured in late January.” Glass has missed Portland’s past three games. . . . Quigley has missed eight games with an undisclosed injury. . . Jarvis was injured during a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Sunday. Kelowna F Mark Liwiski received a boarding major and game misconduct on the play, and since has been suspended for three games by the WHL. . . . The Winterhawks have added D Ryan Miley to their roster since his team, the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, had its season come to an end. Miley, 18, is from Brooking, S.D. He had one goal and four assists in 43 games with the Eagles. He was pointless in one game with Portland last season.


The Victoria Royals have added a pair of defencemen — Kaden Reinders and D Noah VictoriaRoyalsLamb — to their roster. . . . They both played in Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Reinders had been with the midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He is pointless in nine WHL games, six of them this season. . . . Lamb played for the midget AAA Edmonton Knights of Columbus Pats. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 bantam draft, and has played two WHL games, both this season. . . .


The Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2019 induction dinner is going to have a definite Tigers Logo OfficialMedicine Hat flavour. . . . The Class of 2019, as revealed on Thursday, includes Bob Ridley, the only play-by-play voice in the Tigers’ history, along with the 1986-87 and 1987-88 Tigers, the only team from Alberta to have won back-to-back Memorial Cup titles. . . . Ridley celebrated 50 years with CHAT in Medicine Hat last year. He has done more than 3,900 Tigers games and until recently doubled as the team’s bus driver. . . . Also to be inducted are Theo Fleury, who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames, an Olympic gold medal and also played four seasons (1984-88) with the Moose Jaw Warriors; Shirley Cameron, a player, coach and builder of women’s hockey in Alberta; Kevin Lowe, who won six Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and two Olympic gold medals; and Duncan MacDougall, who is being recognized for “four decades of involvement at the grassroots level of the officiating program in Edmonton.” . . . The AHHF Awards Gala is scheduled for July 21 at the Coast Hotel in Canmore.

The 1986-87 Medicine Hat Tigers: Ron Bonora, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Rocky Dundas, Mark Fitzpatrick, Kelly Hitchins, Jamie Huscroft, Wayne Hynes, Kevin Knopp, Mark Kuntz, Dale Kushner, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Mike MacWilliam, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Mark Pederson, Guy Phillips, Jeff Wenaas, Keith Van Rooyen, Rod Williams, Russ Farwell (general manager), Bryan Maxwell (coach).

The 1987-88 Medicine Hat Tigers: Mike Barlage, Vince Boe, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Mark Fitzpatrick, Clayton Gainer, Murray Garbutt, Wayne Hynes, Dan Kordic, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Ryan McGill, Jason Miller, Mark Pederson, Jason Prosofsky, Darren Taylor, Neil Wilkinson, Mark Woolf, Cal Zankowski, Russ Farwell (general manager), Barry Melrose (coach).

(Rosters from chlmemorialcup.ca/history-rosters/)



Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is back with Hockey CanadaCanada as part of its Program of Excellence management group. . . . Millar will, according to a news release, “advise and support the Canadian contingents at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2020 IIHF U18 World Championship.” . . . This will be Millar’s second consecutive season with the program. . . . At the same time, Hockey Canada announced that Martin Mondou, the GM of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes, will “guide and support three teams at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat and Swift Current.” . . . Mark Hunter, the general manager of the OHL’s London Knights, will take over the U-20 program and Canada’s national junior team. Hunter spent four seasons with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as director of player personnel (2014-16) and assistant GM (2016-18) before returning toe London. He is likely to get at least some consideration as the next GM of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. As well, the expansion Seattle franchise likely will have him on its list of possible general managers. . . . Hockey Canada’s complete news release is right here.


JUST NOTES: The 2020 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is to be played in Charlottetown and Summerside, both of which are on Prince Edward Island, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. Games will be played in in Charlottetown’s 3,717-seat Eastlink Centre, as well as Summerside’s 3,728-seat Credit Union Place. . . . The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs will play host to the next Top Prospects Game, which is set for Jan. 16, 2020. The 25th annual game will feature NHL draft-eligible players from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL. . . . The Calgary Hitmen have added F Sean Tschigerl to their roster. Tschigerl, 15, is from Whitecourt, Alta., and has been playing with the OHA Edmonton prep team. The fourth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, he is pointless in six games with the Hitmen this season. . . . The Tri-City Americans have added F Sequoia Swan, 17, to their roster. He had been playing with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, whose season has ended. He was a sixth-round pick by the Americans in the 2017 bantam draft.


Tweetoftheday