Junior hockey, CFL looking for help . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup done . . . Pro-junior agreement extended one year


Mike Hawes, the general manager of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, has told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen that the pandemic has cost the league’s teams about $3 million in ticket sales and sponsorships. . . . Clarke also wrote: “Teams have been granted the option to opt out of (the) league for next season to allow them a year to restore operating budgets, but Hawes said none have yet indicated they plan to do that.” . . . The 18-team league announced in January that it was cutting its regular season from 58 games to 54. According to Clarke, it hopes to open on Sept. 18, but it has “alternate plans for 50- or 46-game seasons, depending on when COVID-19 restrictions on crowd gatherings are lifted.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.

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ICYMI, the afore-mentioned Ted Clarke is the winner of the 2019-20 Fred (Gus) Collins Award. According to a news release: “The award is handed out annually to a member of the media who works tirelessly covering Canada West and it student-athletes, and is named in honour of the late Fred (Gus) Collins.” . . . Collins was a longtime member of the Winnipeg Tribune and Calgary Herald sports departments. He covered university sports as a reporter and also was a longtime statistician with university sports in the west. . . . Clarke has covered the UNBC Timberwolves for 20 years, the last eight of them in Canada West. . . . The complete Canada West news release is right here.


Meanwhile, the junior B Kootenay Junior B International Hockey League announced Tuesday that it “will be seeking financial assistance from the provincial and federal governments” to help the 20-team league get through the pandemic. . . . The KIJHL has 13 community-owned teams and seven that are privately owned. Of its 20 teams, 19 are in B.C., the exception being the Spokane Braves. . . . According to a KIJHL news release, the league “has already experienced heavy financial losses due to the virus and expects continued challenges when play resumes. For that reason, the league is looking to the provincial government for support, and will also hope to tap into a program announced by the federal government that has earmarked $500 million towards arts, culture and sport organizations.” . . . Earlier, the junior A BCHL said that it will be looking for help from that same program. . . . The KIJHL’s news release is right here.


The CFL also is looking for some financial help from the federal government. From a report by The Canadian Press: “CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that the league’s proposal involves three phases: $30 million now to manage the impact the novel coronavirus outbreak has had on league business; additional assistance for an abbreviated regular season; and up to another $120 million in the event of a lost 2020 campaign.” . . . The CFL season had been scheduled to open on June 11, but that won’t happen. The league now hopes to begin play early in July.


Elected


Hockey Canada has confirmed the speculation by officially announcing the cancellation of the eight-country Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the U-18 tournament that was to have been played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 3-8. . . . While Hockey Canada pinned the blame on the pandemic, it’s no secret that the building in Edmonton will need to be ready in case the NHL is able to return to play. . . . The 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup is scheduled for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, before returning to Edmonton and Red Deer in 2022. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship, which is to run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, also is to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer.



We could be watching baseball on TV next week, as South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports that ESPN and the Korean Baseball Organization are closing in on a deal. . . . The KBO season has been on hold but is scheduled to start on May 5. . . . The Korean league began two weeks of exhibition play on Tuesday without fans in stadiums. According to an Associated Press report from a game in Seoul: “Umpires wore masks and gloves, and some coaches and team staff wore masks in the dugouts. Some of the players and a coach wore messages on their caps that read ‘Corona 19 Out.’ ” As well, all people entering the stadium had their temperatures checked. . . . Oh, and one other thing — there is to be no spitting. That will be interesting because spitting has been around baseball as long as dirt. . . .

Perhaps forgotten in all of the news about postponements and cancellations in the sporting world is that the AHL season also is on hold. The AHL shut down on March 12, the same day that the NHL hit the ‘hold’ button. The Associated Press reported Monday that the AHLis “quite likely” to cancel the remainder of its season. In its report, the AP quoted a person with direct knowledge of discussions. The 31-team league responded by saying there is “nothing imminent” in terms of an announcement. . . .

With the government of France having banned public gatherings until mid-July, the French Grand Prix, scheduled for June 28, has been cancelled. Formula One now hopes to get its season started with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5. . . .

I would suggest that tennis star Rafael Nadal gets it. In a story that appeared in newspapers in Spain on Monday, he was quoted as saying: “I don’t think training would be a problem, but competing . . . I see it very difficult. It’s a moment to be responsible and coherent, so I don’t see how we can travel every week to a different country.” . . . To this point, both tennis tours are on hold until at least mid-July. . . .

Argentina’s soccer federation, on hold since March 15, has cancelled the remainder of its 2020 season. It is hoping to get its 2021 season started in January. . . .

The Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede that was to have been held July 22-25 has been cancelled. . . .

The Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was to have included Canada’s Larry Walker, still is scheduled for July 26, but that may change this week after directors hold a virtual meeting. . . .

NASCAR, idle since March, hopes to get its schedule rolling on May 17 at Darlington, S.C., with the state having relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.



The NHL’s board of governors has approved extensions of its player development agreements through the 2020-21 season. That includes the pro-junior agreement with the CHL that covers the OHL, QMJHL and WHL. . . . With that agreement staying in place, it means that nothing will change for a 19-year-old player who signs an NHL contract; he will have to play with the NHL team or be returned to the major junior club. There had been speculation that a new agreement might include an option that would allow a signed 19-year-old to play in the AHL, something the NHL has been wanting for a while now.


MonaLisa


Brady Leavold played 200 regular-season WHL games over five seasons (2003-08), splitting time with the Swift Current Broncos and Kelowna Rockets. However, his page at eliteprospects.com or hockeydb.com doesn’t begin to tell the story. . . . That’s because those pages only include hockey-related numbers, and nothing to do with addiction or rehab. Gare Joyce has written Leavold’s story right here and, well, it isn’t pretty, but it’s worth a read.


Marty Murray has left the NAHL’s Minot Minotauros to take over as general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. . . . Murray, who spent four seasons (1991-95) playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings, had spent more than eight seasons as Minot’s GM/head coach. . . . Murray, 45, was with the Minotauros from the start, beginning as an assistant coach and moving up to GM/head coach midway through the franchise’s first season. . . . The Minotauros immediately named Shane Wagner, who had been Murray’s assistant coach, as their head coach. Wagner has spent three years in Minot. . . . In Sioux Falls, Murray takes over from Scott Owens, who retired after five seasons there. . . . Minot’s complete news release is right here.

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The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have signed associate coach Jeremy Blumes to a two-year contract. He spent the past two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . In Nipawin, Blumes will be working with GM/head coach Doug Johnson.


ToBe

Blue Jays drop opener to Red Sox on Devers’ late dinger . . . Is U.S. college football season in jeopardy?

 

 

Yes, Thursday was to have been Opening Day.

Of course, it was wiped out.

But . . . baseball fans . . . there is hope.

I found this atop a story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Since 1962, baseball lovers have played a board game called Strat-O-Matic, which uses real statistics, player tendencies and dice rolls to simulate games and seasons.

“Starting Thursday, which was to be Opening Day, New York-based Strat-O-Matic Media will replicate the postponed 2020 season through the computer version of the game and post the results, box scores and standings each day at 11 a.m. PDT on its website.

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Some Opening Day highlights from the Strat-O-Matic website:

“The defending-champion Washington Nationals knocked off the Mets, 4-3, on a ninth-inning, tiebreaking home run by Howie Kendrick off Mets closer Edwin Diaz. Rafael Devers’ ninth-inning solo shot off Ken Giles gave the Red Sox a 3-2 win at Toronto. Colorado’s Garrett Hampson’s RBI double followed by David Dahl’s two-run single keyed a 10-7, 10-inning victory at San Diego. And Kolten Wong’s leadoff bomb off Raisel Iglesias in the top of the ninth lifted the Cardinals over the Reds.

“Pinch-hitters also produced two late-inning heroics for wins. The Milwaukee Brewers walked off the Chicago Cubs, 7-4, on a bottom of the 11th, three-run home run by Brock Holt, while Johan Camargo came off the bench to take Yoan Lopez out of the yard in the top of the ninth to propel the Braves past the Diamondbacks.

“And though not a last at-bat win, Baltimore scored twice off Adam Ottavino in the seventh inning to ruin the Yankees’ debut of Gerrit Cole in a 3-2 Birds win at Camden Yards.”

If you visit the Strat-O-Matic website, the link to the simulated games is right at the top.

Enjoy!


Soy


If you’re a hockey fan, you are going to want to check out cougarshockeyproject.ca. . . . According to a tweet that launched the website, it celebrates “this history of the Victoria Cougars in the Western Hockey League (with) player profiles, database, Vancouver Island arena guide and a blog.” . . .


With advertising revenues dropping like punctured balloons, news outlets are starting to issue layoffs and furloughs to employees. . . . Sound Publishing owns 43 publications in Washington state, including the Everett Herald, has cut staff. One of those to be furloughed was Josh Horton, who, among other things, has been covering the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. . . . Four of the seven people in the Herald’s sports department were furloughed. Sports columnist Nick Patterson, who used to be on the Silvertips beat, has been moved to the news room. . . .

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The Thought of the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, via Will Rogers: “Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate; now what’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?” . . .

BTW, the curmudgeonly one also is the supplier of many of the cartoons that end up on this site, and I thank him for brightening our days. . . .


The Indianapolis 500 had been scheduled to run on May 24. It now has been postponed until Aug. 23. . . . This will be first time since 1945 that it hasn’t been held on the Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t held from 1941-45 because of the Second World War. . . . This will be the first Indy 500 since Roger Penske purchased IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. . . . IndyCar is hoping to get its season started with a race in Detroit on May 30. . . .


SourCream


If you don’t think that we have fallen down a rabbit hole consider that the odds-makers at www.SportsBettingDime.com have come up with some over/unders involving President Trump’s favourite words and phrases during his yammering in those inane press briefings/campaign rallies that go on daily. . . . Here’s a look:

Fantastic +Incredible + Amazing + Tremendous 24.5

Great 11.5

Big/Bigger/Biggest 10.5

More Tests than any other Country 9.5

Fantastic 8.5

Incredible 6.5

Amazing 5.5

Tremendous 5.5

Best 5.5

I/We’ve been treated unfairly 3.5

I/We inherited a broken system 3.5

Working Very Hard 2.5

We’re doing a great job 2.5

Not our fault 2.5


The OHL’s Kitchener Rangers have signed general manager Mike McKenzie to an extension that runs through the 2024-25 season. He has been the club’s GM since March 2017. He also acted as the team’s interim head coach from November 2019 through the end of this season. . . . He has been with the Rangers since 2012 when he signed on as an assistant coach. . . . McKenzie’s father, Bob, is a TSN hockey insider.


Scott Owens, the general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, has announced his retirement. Owens, 64, spent 15 seasons as the head coach of the Colorado College Tigers. He has been with the Stampede for five seasons. . . .


An unidentified player with Colorado Avalanche has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He is the third NHL player to test positive, along with two members of the Ottawa Senators. The Avalanche said they got the test result on Thursday and that the player “has been at home in isolation since the first systems appeared, has recovered and is back to normal.” . . . The NHL halted its regular season on March 12. The Avalanche and Senators both were in California prior to that decision coming down. . . .


Winston


A year without any U.S. college football? The whispers have started. . . . Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports writes: “What was once unthinkable has quietly become a discussion point and concern throughout college athletics. Will the coronavirus pandemic force the cancellation of the 2020 college football season?” . . . The kickoff to the season (Aug. 29) is more than five months away. But the way things are going in the U.S., who knows? . . . Dodd’s piece is right here.

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “Spring games and practices have already been canceled and there’s no certainty that programs are going to be able to get work in this summer given the way things are trending right now. Are we going to be ready to stuff 100,000+ people into some stadiums around the country by the time fall rolls around? I wish I could say yes, but nobody can provide an end date for this ordeal.” . . .