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

Welcome back, Jack! . . . Are you ready for Riders Trivia? . . . Fortier finds work in Texas


Good news is great for the soul.

Right?

OK, here’s some good news.

Jack Redlick, the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s coach of the year for 2018-19, has returned to the St. Albert Raiders as their head coach.

Redlick, a former WHLer (Kamloops, Vancouver, Regina, 2000-03), sat out the 2019-20 season after being seriously injured in an accident on June 29. Redlick, 36, was riding his motorcycle near Idaho Falls, Idaho, when another motorcycle driver crossed the centre line and struck him head-on.

In March, Redlick posted this on Facebook:

Redlick
Jack Redlick is fit and ready to get back into the coaching game. (Photo: Jack Redlick/Facebook)

“On my birthday eight months ago I got a birthday gift that forever changed my life. When a man crossed the centre line and hit me head on. After almost three months in the hospital, eight surgeries, an amputation and 55 pounds later, today I took my first running steps. I’ve figured out how to skate again and although neither running nor skating is pretty. I’m back, and it will only get better.

“I’ve had so many people say they are sorry this happened to me. My response is always the same: ‘Don’t be, you should be happy for me, I shouldn’t be here.’

“As coaches we always teach our players that in both hockey and life there are only two things you can truly control — your work ethic and your attitude. Might as well make what you can control positive in nature. Things happen for a reason. No sense bitching about it. Just OORAH up, and accept the challenge no matter the obstacles. Don’t waste your time with the negativity. Focus on the process and not the result. Live in those 10-second evolutions. Lol.

“All those hockey cliches that I preached to my players over the years, I’ve had to live by for the last eight months. Sport truly does reflect life.”

With all that Redlick has been through since the end of March, it’s great to see him back and eager to get started. So here’s hoping that the next hockey season gets started on time.



Here is some more good news; well, it is if you’re a fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders or even just looking for something to do on a nightly basis. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post holds a Riders Trivia gathering every night at 9 o’clock CT. . . . You will find him on Twitter at @robvanstone and that will get you started.


Northland Properties, which is huge in the hospitality industry, has laid off thousands of workers, according to Bob Mackin of thebreaker.news. . . . Tom Gaglardi, who owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and is the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is Northland’s president. His father, Bob, is the organization’s founder. . . . The company, which is based in Vancouver, had about 12,000 employees before all of this hit. Taj Kassam, the senior vice-president of corporate affairs, wouldn’t tell Mackin how many had been laid off. . . . Mackin’s story is right here.



The government of the province of Quebec wants sporting events cancelled through Aug. 31. The ban also will apply to cultural events and festivals. . . . However, the Montreal Impact of the MLS has said that it was told none of this will apply to professional sports teams. . . .

The Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament, which had been scheduled for Montreal from Aug. 7-16, has been postponed to Aug. 6-15, 2021. . . . Chances are that the men’s tournament, set for Toronto at the same time, also will be postponed. . . .

The XFL appears to have left us, without being able to complete its first season. The spring football league suspended its inaugural season on March 12. It now has laid off all employees and is refunding money to those who purchased 2021 season tickets. . . . Kevin Seifert and Field Yates of ESPN reported that the XFL “currently has no plans to return in 2021.” . . . Headline at fark.com: EXFL. . . .

Earlier this week, the 13-team National Lacrosse League cancelled the remainder of its regular season. It had suspended play on March 12. In a statement, the league said “officials are looking at any number of scenarios to return to play when all stakeholders and health officials deem that possible. There is no timeline on when decisions will be made.” . . . The NLL includes franchises in Calgary, Halifax, Saskatchewan, Toronto and Vancouver. . . .

With Japan now struggling to contain COVID-19, Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games, has cast some doubt on whether they will be held in 2021. “I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” he said on Friday. “We certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.” . . . The Games were to have been held in July. They have been postponed to July 23, 2021, with the Paralympics to start on Aug. 24. . . .

Los Angeles County has extended what it calls its “safer-at-home” order through May 15. It was first set in place at midnight on March 20. . . .

The 2020 Cloverdale, B.C., Rodeo and Country Fair has been cancelled. It had been scheduled to run from May 15-18. . . . The Falkland, B.C., Stampede that is a May long weekend tradition has been postponed until Aug. 28-30. The Stampede was first held in 1919.


The Thought for the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, this one from Will Rogers: “There are men running governments who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.”


Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated has taken a look at some of the ideas that have been floated regarding the potential return of pro sports to our entertainment landscape. . . . Word of warning: There isn’t any false hope in her story. All you will find here is reality. . . . Like this from Zach Binney, who has a PhD in epidemiology and teaches at Emory U in Atlanta:

“If people just decide to let it burn in most areas and we do lose a couple million people it’d probably be over by the fall. You’d have football. You’d also have two million dead people. And let’s talk about that number. We’re really bad at dealing with big numbers. That is a Super Bowl blown up by terrorists, killing every single person in the building, 24 times in six months. It’s 9/11 every day for 18 months. What freedoms have we given up, what wars have we fought, what blood have we shed, what money have we spent in the interest of stopping one more 9/11? This is 9/11 every day for 18 months.”

Think about that for a bit as we await decisions by the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL and so many others.


Conspiracy


Jason Fortier is the new head coach of the Odessa Jackalopes of the junior North American Hockey League. They play out of Odessa, Texas. . . . Fortier signed on as general manager of hockey operations and head coach. . . . Fortier is the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year after guiding the Coquitlam Express to the league’s best regular-season record. . . . Fortier left the Express late in March. Long-time BCHL observer Brian Wiebe reported at the time that Fortier wasn’t able to reach agreement on a contract with Express owner Fayaz Manji.


Tom Webster, a former NHL coach who played in the NHL and WHA, died on Friday morning. He was 71. . . . Webster was a brother to Barry Webster, a long-time member of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ board of directors. . . . Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times has more on Tom Webster right here.


Condolences to old friend Daryl Lubiniecki on the death of Lolamae, his wife of 53 years. She left us on Thursday after battling cancer. . . . There is a complete obituary right here. . . . Daryl served the Saskatoon Blades as general manager, head coach and advisor and also worked with the Prince George Cougars over a long career in the WHL. He also supplied us with more laughs than should have been legally allowed.


A summer without Wimbledon seems likely . . . And what about the CFL season? . . . BCHL coach of year unemployed


Make sure you watch the video because that will explain the second tweet . . .


Here is why we love Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. His Monday posting contained a considerable amount of writing about the chances of the pro leagues and/or college football resuming/starting their seasons. As he pointed out, it’s awfully hard to practise physical distancing in a sporting facility that contains 106,572 fans.

He finished with this:

“Baseball has had some experience dealing with crowds where social distancing can be maintained:

“Spread out the attendees at a typical Miami Marlins home game and social distancing is not a challenge.

“Look at the fans sitting behind home plate in Yankee Stadium. The cost of those seats has effected social distancing by economic measures and not medical ones.”

Look him up at sportscurmudgeon.com for more fun.

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BTW, here’s Jack’s Thought of the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Our public men are speaking every day on something, but they ain’t saying anything.”


Weather


The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames announced cutbacks on Monday. . . . Edmonton has reduced its staff by 139 employees with all others taking a “compensation rollback,” which is fancy-speak for a pay cut. . . . As well, senior hockey and business executives are taking a 50-100 per cent cut. . . . The Flames cut their workforce by 150 employees, or 50 per cent, hitting them with a 60-day temporary layoff. The rest of the staff will see 10-25 per cent cuts in pay. . . .

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The CFL has postponed the start of training camps that were to begin in May. In some instances, rookie camps were to start on May 11 and main camps on May 17. . . . The B.C. Lions were to train in Kamloops from May 13 through June 3. . . . The CFL’s regular season is scheduled to begin on June 11, but that obviously is in doubt. . . . There already is speculation out there about whether the CFL will be able to get in a 12- or even an eight-game regular-season schedule. . . .

Farhan Lalji of TSN tweeted that sources have told him everyone in the Calgary Stampeders “organization, including all football ops/coaches, have been told by ownership that they will be taking pay cuts. Range is 10-25 per cent and will be re-evaluated in three months.” . . . That would take them to July 1. . . .

Sky Sports reported that German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordoff told it that Wimbledon organizers will announce the cancellation of the tournament this week. The tournament’s scheduled dates are July 29 through July 12. . . . While the French Open has been postponed from May until late September, Wimbledon would be cancelled because it has just two covered courts and it isn’t possible to play on the grass courts that late in the season. . . . Mark Masters of TSN has more on the Wimbledon situation right here with an interesting interview with Grant Cantin of Stony Plain, Alta., who was on the grounds crew for 17 years. . . .

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have rescheduled the Summer Games and now they are to open on July 23, 2021, and run through Aug. 8. They had been scheduled to open on July 24, 2020, and go through Aug. 9. . . . The Paralympics now are scheduled to run from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021. . . .

In golf, the Irish Open, set for May 28-31, has been postponed, meaning the next scheduled European Tour men’s event is the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, June 4-7. . . .

The seven-team Western Women’s Canadian Football League has cancelled its 2020 season, which would have been No. 10. The league’s teams: Calgary Rage, Edmonton Storm, Lethbridge Steel, Manitoba Fearless, Regina Riot, Saskatoon Valkyries and the Winnipeg Wolfpack. . . .

The 2020 Saskatchewan Marathon has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Saskatoon on May 31. . . .

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The International Boxing Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 Hall of Fame weekend. . . . What should have been this year’s inductees will be part of the celebrations in 2021. . . . The Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Canastota, N.Y. The big weekend had been scheduled for June 11-14. . . . From wktv.com: “This class makes history, featuring the first enshrined females in the Hall of Fame’s 31 years of existence. The women’s Trailblazer category gains Barbara Buttrick, while the Modern category adds ‘The Coal Miner’s Daughter’ Christy Martin, and ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ Lucia Rijker. Other inducted boxers include lightweight champion Frank Erne in the Old Timer category, and Paddy Ryan to the Pioneer category.”


While there have been lots of postponements and cancellations, the NFL is going ahead with its annual draft. . . . That has irked Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, who points out that a lot of people have learned a lot over the last while, “everyone except, apparently, Roger Goodell.”

Killion continued:

“Commissioner Tone Deaf now has turned into Dictator Obtuse. In announcing that the NFL draft would take place as planned April 23-25, Goodell also sent a memo warning teams not to criticize his decision.

“The memo, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, said in part ‘public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.’

“We know how hard the hammer can fall in the NFL. Just ask old friend Colin Kaepernick.

“There’s no place for personal opinion or free speech in the No Freedoms League.”

Killion’s complete column is right here.


This one actually had me chuckling out loud, while watching The Pride of the Yankees on Sunday night . . .

https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1244459963558264832?s=20


The Tri-City Americans announced the departure of associate coach Brian Pellerin in a terse two-sentence news release on Monday afternoon. . . . Pellerin, the pride of Hinton, Alta., which is just west of Old Drinnan Town, spent six seasons with the Americans, one as assistant coach and the last five as associate. . . . The 50-year-old Pellerin played four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . He also worked four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.


The Philadelphia Hockey Club has signed Rylan Ferster as one of its head coaches for 2020-21. Ferster will be involved with the Tier-2 team in the National Collegiate Development Conference. . . . Ferster is a veteran of the junior A ranks, especially in the BCHL where he recently spent seven seasons with the Westside/West Kelowna Warriors, guiding them to a national championship in 2015-16. . . . In December, the PHC hired Troy Mick, another former BCHL coach, as the general manager of the Tier-2 program and the head coach of the U-16 teams. . . .


The BCHL’s reigning coach of the year no longer is with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. . . . Jason Fortier had signed a three-year contract in November 2017 when he replaced Barry Wolff. . . . Veteran BCHL observer Brian Wiebe (@Brian_Wiebe) first tweeted the news on Monday, adding later in the day that “Express assistant coaches Jamie Jackson and Sam Waterfield are no longer with the team either. Jackson was brought on board in November 2017, while Waterfield was with Coquitlam since June 2019.”


Washington governor expected to ban large gatherings . . . Would impact two WHL teams . . . Junior B series opener postponed


Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., at which, according to the Everett Herald, he is expected to “announce a ban on events and social gatherings attended by more than 250 people” as the area continues to battle COVID-19.

It is believed that an initial ban would impact Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

Everett, the home of the WHL’s Silvertips, is the county seat and the largest city in EverettSnohomish County. The WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds play out of SeattleKent, Wash., which is located in King County.

It will also affect the MSL’s Seattle Sounders, Major League Rugby’s Seattle Seawolves and XFL’s Seattle Dragons.

The Thunderbirds have three home games remaining — on Saturday (Vancouver), Tuesday (Spokane) and March 21 (Portland).

The Silvertips have one home game remaining, on March 20 against the Victoria Royals.

Later Tuesday, the Silvertips announced the cancellation of the Silvertips Radio Show “until further notice.” It was broadcast live from Sporty’s Beef & Brew, featuring play-by-play voice Mike Benton and appearances by players. Last night’s show was available via the Internet.

On Tuesday, Inslee said the banning of large gatherings, including sporting events, is under consideration.

“I would not be shocked if we have some more news on that in the next few days,” he said. “If we’re going to stop this epidemic, we need to look at what’s coming, not just what’s here today.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the death toll in the state from COVID-19 had reached at least 23, with more than 190 confirmed cases. Inslee said he expects that number to grow rapidly.

On Monday evening, Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, had displayed a chart that features five levels of actions. Washington state already has moved through Level 2 and, Hayes said, “We are at the ready to institute the third level. Level 3 includes “involuntary isolation of those sick” and “involuntary quarantine of those who have interacted with those sick.”

Hayes added: “We haven’t had to do this because our public has been extremely compliant . . . But the health officer does have the authority to involuntarily isolate or quarantine individuals.”

Level 4 involves ordering the “cancellation of major public and large private gatherings,” which would appear to be where at least three counties now find themselves.


With less than two weeks remaining in its regular season and the playoffs scheduled to open on March 27, the WHL has announced a handful of operational changes in response to COVID-19.

It has ordered the “elimination of handshakes between teammates, opponents and whlofficials,” while also impressing upon teams that players not share water bottles or towels.

The WHL also has asked all teams to “avoid direct contact with fans, including high-fives, handshakes, and autographing of items.”

The WHL’s statement didn’t make mention of whether it has looked at other options, such as playing games in empty arenas or even postponing/cancelling games.

While the Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers, for two, have said they will abide by the WHL’s request, Saskatoon radio station CKOM reported that the Blades “aren’t putting limitations on fans.”

The station reported that “Tyler Wawryk, director of business operations with the Blades, told 650 CKOM the team isn’t planning on following the recommendations, and autograph sessions will continue as scheduled.”



In Everett, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced that its men’s and women’s basketball championships are moving from Everett Community College to Clackamas CC in Oregon City, Ore., and Linn-Benton CC in Albany, Ore. . . . The tournaments were to have been played last weekend at Everett CC and, in fact, three women’s games were played on Thursday before the campus was shut down because of coronavirus concerns. A student from Everett CC later tested positive. The campus received a thorough cleaning and reopened on Monday.

——

Meanwhile, on Vancouver Island, the start of a junior B playoff series between the Oceanside Generals and Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has been postponed. The North Division final was to have started Tuesday night in Parksville, but BC Hockey said several Campbell River players are self-isolating with flu-like symptoms. . . . Gerry Bickerton, the Generals’ president, told Nanaimo NewsNOW that his team is healthy. “Hockey-wise it’s frustrating but public safety-wise this has to be done,” Bickerton said. “With what’s happening right now, BC Hockey went and did their questioning and they’ve made their decision.” . . . It is hoped that the series now will begin Saturday in Parksville. . . . Alex Rawnsley’s story is right here. . . . As of Tuesday night, there hadn’t yet been a positive test for coronavirus on Vancouver Island.


Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Kings “have banned their scouts from plane travel because of the COVID-19 virus. If they can’t drive to the game, they’re not to go.” . . . Campbell followed that up with: “Buffalo Sabres scouts are still flying, but not to Europe. They’ve also told their scouts that if they feel uncomfortable about flying, they don’t have to fly.”


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Some of Tuesday’s other developments . . .

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors played a home game in front of fans on Tuesday night, despite an aggressive recommendation from the City of San Francisco on Friday that all large, non-essential events be cancelled. . . . This isn’t sitting well with city officials. “I have expressed my desire that they do this voluntarily before, in the days ahead, we do it as an emergency public health order,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin told the online news site Mission Local. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. I hope they come to that conclusion before we make them come to that conclusion.” . . . The Warriors have said that they don’t plan any changes before their next home game, either. That game is scheduled for Thursday. . . .

The NBA will hold a conference call involving team owners on Wednesday afternoon during which they will discuss possible moves. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each franchise was required to have “several contingency plans in place” by Tuesday, including “an arrangement with an infectious disease specialist, the identifying of a specific facility to test for coronavirus and a plan to limit the number of team and arena staff members that would interact with players.” . . . On Wednesday, the owners are expected to discuss the possibility of playing games in empty arenas. . . .

The Austrian EBEL (Erste Bank Ice Hockey League) cancelled the remainder of its season, with the German DEL quick to follow suit. . . . The EBEL features teams from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy. A statement from the league stated that “no championship title will be awarded in the 2019-20 season.” . . . The DEL statement read, in part: “The DEL is forced to end the current season. . . . The reason for this is the banning by federal states of events such as DEL games with more than 1,000 spectators. . . . Due to the premature end of the season, there is no German champion this year. As the main round winner, the EHC Red Bull Munich, together with the Adler Mannheim, the Straubing Tigers and the Eisbären Berlin, represent the DEL in the Champions Hockey League (CHL 2020-21).” . . .

Igor Eronko, a Sport-Express hockey writer and KHL-TV commentator, tweeted that “Moscow plans to cancel all the sports events with more than 5,000 spectators. . . . It will definitely affect the KHL playoffs.” . . .

For an in-depth look at postponements, cancellations and more from the hockey world, check out this right here from Conway’s Russian Hockey Blog. There is a whole lot of information here. . . .

The Ivy League shut down all spring football practices, effective Tuesday morning and running through at least April 5. . . .

The Ivy League also cancelled its Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that were to have been played this weekend in Cambridge, Mass. The Princeton women and Yale men were awarded the league’s NCAA tournament bids. . . . The Ivy League also made the decision to limit attendance at all sporting events through the end of its spring season. . . .

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference cancelled the rest of its state boys and girls basketball, boys ice hockey and boys swimming tournaments. . . . The Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association has also cancelled its playoffs. . . .

Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, has recommended all indoor games be played without spectators. That would include the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, who are at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, whose next home game is scheduled for March 24. . . . DeWine tweeted that “for indoor events, we are asking for no events with spectators other than the athletes, parents and others essential to the game.” . . . The Blue Jackets later issued a statement, saying that they have been in contact with the NHL and “it has been determined that our scheduled games, including Thursday vs. Pittsburgh and Saturday vs. Nashville, will go on as scheduled and be open to ticket fans that wish to attend.” . . . The Mid-American Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland starting on Thursday, but with a restricted attendance policy. Thus, they won’t be open to the public. . . .

The Big West Conference will play its conference tournaments without fans in the buildings. The men are to play this week at the Honda Center in Anaheim; the women will play at the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State. . . .

The Zac Brown Band has postponed a spring tour. . . . BMI, a music rights management company, has postponed its Latin Awards that had been scheduled for Los Angeles on March 31. A new date hasn’t yet been chosen. . . . The Coaches Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was to have run April 10-12 and April 17-19, has been postponed to Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18. It annually draws more than 200,000 people to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. . . . Stagecoach, a country music festival, also has been postponed. It, too, is held at the Empire Polo Club. Originally scheduled for April 24-26, it now is to be held Oct. 23-25.



I have spent the past couple of days cleaning out a filing cabinet. Of course, it never gets done as quickly as it should because, well, there are all of those old stories to read.

Like the one about when the WHL officially stopped referring to 20-year-old players as overage. The decision was made at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on April 2, 1985, when it also was decided to allow teams to dress three such players, up from two.

“I’m pleased about the move to three 20-year-olds,” WHL president Ed Chynoweth said. “We also decided to eliminate the word ‘overage’. From now on, those players will be referred to as 20-year-olds.”

At the same meeting, the WHL made 12-year-olds ineligible to be placed on teams’ protected lists. Prior to that decision, a 12-year-old took up two spots on a team’s list.

The WHL, at the time, continued to allow the listing of 13- and 14-year-old players without any restrictions.


Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering if COVID-19 will impact WHL teams . . .

Scattershooting

With a number of sporting events having been postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19, you have to wonder how much impact, if any, this might have on the WHL and its 22 teams.

Late Tuesday, Chicago State University revealed that its men’s basketball team wouldn’t whlbe travelling to Seattle University and Utah Valley for Western Athletic Conference games that were scheduled for today (Thursday) and Saturday.

The university cited the spread of COVID-19 in announcing at the same time that its women’s team wouldn’t play host to games Thursday (against Seattle) and Saturday (Utah Valley).weekend games.

On Wednesday, the U of Missouri-Kansas City announced that its men’s team wouldn’t travel to Seattle U for a Saturday game.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Seattle area — 21 in King County and 10 more in Snohomish County, with a total of 10 deaths.

Later Wednesday, Facebook revealed that one of its Seattle employees had been diagnosed with coronavirus. The company also said it was closing its Seattle office until March 9, while encouraging employees to work from home at least through the end of the month.

The WHL has four teams based in Washington state, with two of those in the Seattle area. While the WHL has yet to issue a statement on any preparations that might be underway or any plans it may be considering, one has to think that officials are keeping a close eye on things.

The Everett Silvertips have three home games remaining in the regular season, with two of them this weekend, and will have home-ice advantage in a first-round best-of-seven series that will open later this month.

The Silvertips are at home to the Tri-City Americans on Friday, and then will play home-and-home with the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday game is scheduled for Everett, with Sunday’s game in Kent, Wash., the home of the Thunderbirds.

Everett drew 6,633 fans to its last home game — it beat the Portland Winterhawks 4-1 on Sunday to move into first place in the U.S. Division. The Thunderbirds announced attendance for their last home game — a 6-3 loss to Portland on Feb. 29 — at 5,264. They have four home games remaining in the regular season.

On Wednesday afternoon, TSN’s Rick Westhead tweeted this statement from Dr. John Swartzberg, who is an infectious disease specialist at the U of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health, on the risks of staging NHL and NBA games in Los Angeles after the county declared a public health emergency:

“We don’t know that much about this (respiratory virus). We know it’s (a) very contagious virus and fast spreading and we know the worst thing you can do to fan a pandemic is to bring people from disparate areas together in a crowded situation. There’s no question about that for respiratory viral infections.

“It would make sense if you have a serious problem to cancel events at venues where people are brought together in crowds, which is a great way to spread disease. It’s not what anybody wants to hear but if you take off the economics hat and just think about the transmission of an infectious agent, it makes sense to cancel events where people are brought together. From a public health standpoint, the less people congregate together, the less disease you’re going to have. The cases that we see are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There’s probably many, many, many cases walking around that we don’t see.”

The last time the WHL had to deal with anything like this was in February 2017 when it was faced with an outbreak of the mumps virus. At that time, it severely limited contact between players and fans, and placed a lot of emphasizing on sanitizing and disinfecting dressing rooms and equipment.

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The time is coming when major junior hockey is going to lose some of its best 19-year-old players to the AHL. Right now, the agreement between the NHL and the Canadian NHLHockey League calls for 19-year-old signed players to be offered back to their junior teams if they don’t stick with the big club.

For example, F Kirby Dach would have had to be returned to the Saskatoon Blades had he not earned a roster spot with the Chicago Blackhawks prior to this season.

The fact that a 19-year-old who has starred at the major junior level can’t move up to the AHL to further his development, rather than return for another season of junior, has been a sore spot with NHL teams for a while now. On the other side of the coin, junior operators understandably don’t want to lose their star attractions any sooner than absolutely necessary.

This all has been up for discussion for a few years now, and here it is again.

Here’s Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman with a note from his latest 31 Thoughts, following an interview with Marc Bergevin, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens:
“Bergevin talked a bit about player development — that span between when someone is drafted and they join your organization. How important it is and how much (or how little) control the NHL team really has. The timing was interesting. The league’s agreement with the Canadian Hockey League expires soon, and, once again, there is a conversation about sending players to the AHL. It’s not unusual for this to be a debate. This time, however, there appears to be momentum. We’ll see where it goes.”



What is wrong with this picture? On Tuesday morning, TSN had the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees on one channel, using the ESPN telecast. Meanwhile, Sportsnet had the same game on five channels, using the feed from the YES Network. . . . Anyone else find it interesting that Rogers, which owns the Toronto Blue Jays and Sportsnet, has yet to send its play-by-play crew to spring training?


ICYMI: Old friend Lorne Molleken, the sartorially splendiferous one, will be honoured by the Saskatoon Blades prior to a game with the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on March 21. Molleken spent 13 seasons over three stints as the Blades’ head coach, and will have his named added to the club’s Builders Banner in the SaskTel Centre rafters. His coaching record with the Blades is 539-325-58. Oh, he also has 23 ties in. I’m not about to tell you how old he is, but, yes, he coached in the WHL when ties were a thing. . . . You can bet that somewhere on high Muzz MacPherson, in his gravelly voice, is laughing and nodding his head in agreement.


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Clayton Beddoes has resigned as the head coach of Italy’s national men’s hockey team. . . . “In recent weeks,” said Italian Ice Sports Federation president Andrea Gios in a news release, “some differences of views have emerged on technical and organizational aspects that have led both sides to opt for an interruption of the employment relationship.” . . . Beddoes, 49, is from Bentley, Alta. He had been on the Italian national team’s coaching staff since 2015, and had been the head coach since 2018. . . . Beddoes took over as the head coach of HC Bolzano of the EBEL on March 11, 2019. He was replaced by Greg Ireland on Jan. 2.

Scattershooting on a Monday evening while wondering how many ex-WHLers have been Saran-wrapped to pillars . . .

Scattershooting


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, has written a piece involving former Spokane Chiefs player/assistant coach Kevin Sawyer. It has to do with a hazing incident that Sawyer says occurred with the Chiefs early in the 2005-06 season.

At that time, Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs; Jared Spurgeon was a freshman defenceman who hadn’t yet had his 16th birthday.

“Sawyer, for those who haven’t been introduced, is a former hockey goon and coach who now wears rose-tinted glasses and prattles on endlessly about the do-no-wrong Winnipeg Jets on TSN3,” Swansson writes, “and he attained unparalleled standards in stupidity by sharing his ‘favourite’ Jared Spurgeon story on Saturday.

“ ‘He was a 15-year-old . . . two months into the season we Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air. He was tiny. He looked like he was 12. So smart,’ Sawyer informed viewers.

“Seriously. Sawyer engaged in the boys-will-be-boys hazing of a 15-year-old kid while an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs and now, in today’s climate of zero tolerance and retro-punishment for bullying, he’s bragging about it on TV?

What part of ‘you have the right to remain silent’ does he not understand?”

Spurgeon, an Edmonton native, played five seasons (2005-10) with the Chiefs. He now is into his 10th season with NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs from 2004-06, and again in 2013-14.

Bill Peters was the Chiefs’ first-year head coach in 2005-06 when the incident of which Sawyer spoke would have taken place.

This kind of behaviour, and worse, was rather commonplace in the WHL back in the day, which, when you think about it, wasn’t that long ago. There are a lot of former players out there, like Sawyer, who don’t see anything wrong with this kind of thing. Because it happened to them, the seem to think, it should happen to even today’s first-year players.

In fact, the way some of them see it, those who play hockey at the junior level have become a lot softer due to the elimination of hazing and the decrease in the number of fights.

I fail to understand how Saran-wrapping someone to a post, stuffing naked teenagers into a bus washroom and cranking up the heat, making those same players run up and down the aisle in a bus while whacking them in the area of the genitals with various items such as coat hangers, urinating on teammates while they sit naked in a shower, or shaving a young player’s genitals and painting the area with shoe polish had anything to do with someone’s degree of toughness. And, no, not everyone enjoyed it; in fact, there are players out there who lost their love for the game after being hazed.

Anyway . . . Swansson’s complete piece is right here.


If you haven’t yet read about the Russian people who thought their boys had won yesterday’s WJC final because they were watching a game from another year, well, Check out the thread on Slava Malamud’s tweet . . .


It wasn’t long after Canada had wrapped up its 4-3 championship game victory over Russia at the World Junior Championship on Sunday that Hockey Canada posted a message to social media: Get your gold medal-winning merchandise here.

Just wondering, but how much of the money from the merch goes to the players?


The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer. Canada, of course, will play its games in Edmonton where the arena is almost three times larger than the Centrium in Red Deer.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has looked at some numbers and determined that based on the prices being charged for ticket packages, the tournament “has the potential to generate about $38 million in revenues before it sells a single advertisement, corporate sponsorship package or replica sweater.”

In a column that is right here, he suggests the time has come to pay the players — not just the Canadian players, but all of the players.


Reese Kettler, 19, suffered a catastrophic injury while playing for the St. Vital Victorias of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League in Winnipeg on Dec. 19. He was left with four fractured vertebrae and is paralyzed from the chest down. . . . His father, Trevor, has told Winnipeg radio station CJOB that the family is taking things one day at a time. “We’re celebrating the small victories as they occur,” Trevor said. . . . There is a whole lot more right here, including a link to a GoFundMe page.


Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history, died on New Year’s Day. He was 90. . . . Larsen’s perfect game came while he was with the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series. . . . But there was more, a whole lot more, to Larsen than his right arm. It was outfielder Mickey Mantle who once referred to Larsen as “easily the greatest drinker I’ve known, and I’ve known some pretty good ones in my time.”

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle reminisced about Larsen:

“In 1956, the Yankees were startled to learn that Larsen had a secret marriage. In July ’55 he had left his wife, Vivian, only three months after she had given birth. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, ‘Don insisted that the marriage be kept secret; he was marrying her only for the sake of the child. He left her with no intention of returning because he was not ready to settle down.’

“Such matters do not remain private for long. In October ’56, Vivian filed a complaint over Larsen’s failure to pay child support. A judge had ruled that Larsen’s World Series share was at risk of being seized by the Bronx Supreme Court — and there was a court order at his locker on the day he took the mound at Yankee Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series.

“Rattled? Not exactly. Larsen pitched the only perfect game in Series history. Up in the press box, New York Daily News writer Joe Trimble experienced a bit of a freeze, unable to find the appropriate beginning to his story. As the story goes, legendary colleague Dick Young leaned over and typed these words into Trimble’s typewriter: ‘The imperfect man pitched a perfect game.’ ”

I happened to stumble across a rebroadcast of Game 5 from the 1956 World Series on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM on Sunday afternoon. Oh my, what a treat to be able to spend some time listening to Mel Allen and Vin Scully.



Referee Mike Dean booked Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho during a recent 1-0 loss to Southampton. “I clearly deserved the yellow card, as I was rude,” Mourinho told reporters. “But I was rude to an idiot.”



General manager Alan Millar announced Monday afternoon that the Moose Jaw Warriors have fired head coach Tim Hunter. The Warriors are 2-15-1 since they last won MooseJawWarriorstwo straight games on Nov. 8 and 9. . . . Hunter, 59, was in his sixth season with the Warriors. In his first season, the Warriors went 32-35-5. This season, they are 11-22-2 and 15 points out of a playoff spot. In between, he never had a losing regular season, but wasn’t able to get past the second round of playoffs. Hunter had a 189-134-33 regular-season record in Moose Jaw. . . . Mark O’Leary, who had been the associate coach, is the new head coach. . . . O’Leary, a 34-year-old native of Owen Sound, Ont., is in his seventh season with the Warriors. . . . Millar is in his 10th season with the Warriors. He was the director of hockey operations for two seasons before being named general manager. Millar said that he chose to make a decision now because Hunter was in the last year of his contract and a new one wasn’t going to be offered. . . . Hunter leaves as the winningest coach, with those 189 victories, and second in games coached (356). . . . O’Leary takes over with a 24-6-5 record, having filled in while Hunter fulfilled Hockey Canada commitments, including a stint as head coach of the national junior team just one year ago. . . . The Warriors, who are scheduled to entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday, are the first WHL team to make a coaching change during this season.


“Maddon’s Post — the Wrigleyville restaurant co-owned by Joe Maddon — closed after just seven months in business and just three months after Maddon was fired as Cubs manager,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Repeat customers figured something was amiss when the bar ran out of relief pitchers.”

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One more from Perry: “Useful household hint making the rounds on the internet — ‘Remember, every time the Cleveland Browns fire a head coach, you should change the air filter in your furnace.’ ”



JUST NOTES: Just wondering but how long before there is a t-shirt available the front of which is that TV camera with a gold medal hanging from it? . . . Having survived another year of pre- and post-Christmas shopping and a Sunday afternoon trek to Costco, I have reached the conclusion that it is time for big box stores to make shoppers hand over their phones before entering. That is sure to cut down on the near mid-aisle collisions involving those who make sudden stops to check/use their phones. . . . It appears that Dan Lambert, a former player and coach, has survived something of a coaching purge in Nashville where the Predators dumped head coach Peter Laviolette and associate coach Kevin McCarthy, himself a former WHLer, on Monday. Lambert spent the past two seasons as head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs before signing with Nashville over the summer. . . . Thanks to Gary Bettman and the NHL’s regional telecasts, four of the TSN channels available in my home were blacked out on Monday evening. Yeah, that’s the way to market your game.