Sask. gov’t provides some relief to WHL, SJHL teams . . . Teams expect to get money in Feb. . . . Savoie scores twice in USHL debut


One day after the Saskatchewan Hockey Association informed its membership via letter that there likely won’t be games played in that jurisdiction before the end of March, the provincial government handed over $4 million to the province’s major junior and junior A franchises.

The announcement came as the province, according the Postmedia, “reported 382 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the second highest one-day total, to cap a week in which Saskatchewan became the leader in per capita active cases in Canada.”

Each of the five WHL organizations based in Saskatchewan will see $600,000; SJHLthe 12-team SJHL, which includes one team (Flin Flon Bombers) in Manitoba, gets $1 million.

Yes, the Bombers will get their share.

“All the teams in our league have had a decline in finances and revenue,” Bill Chow, the SJHL president, told Postmedia. “We decided that would be the best way — not help one, but help everybody.”

While the SJHL’s teams all are community-owned, three of the WHL’s Saskatchewan teams — the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos — are owned by community shareholders, with the other two — the Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades — having private owners.

Community-owned teams are obligated to hold annual general meetings open WHL2to shareholders. The Warriors, Raiders and Broncos did just that before 2020 ended, and announced combined losses of more than $1.5 million for a 2019-20 season that was halted prematurely by COVID-19.

The Pats are owned by five local businessmen — Anthony Marquart, the president of Royalty Developments Ltd.; Todd Lumbard, the president of Speers Funeral and Cremation Services; Gavin Semple, the chairman of the Brandt Group of Companies; Shaun Semple, the president of the Brandt Group of Companies; and Jason Drummond, the managing director of York Plains Investment Corp., and the found and president of DGC Investments.

The Blades are owned by Mike Priestner, the CEO of Go Auto. His son, Colin, is the Blades’ president and general manager.

Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan’s minister of trade and export development, said in a news release that junior hockey is “a critical part of the cultural fabric and local economies across the province.”

Harrison told Postmedia that the government has been working with the junior hockey people “on this particular question probably for a month and a half now. I think it’s fair to say that the initial request was of a quantum that was significantly larger. But we worked with the leagues to come to a place where a contribution would be sufficient for those teams to survive and for the league to be viable going forward.”

Chow called the money “a small Band-Aid on a big cut.”

“But,” he said, “it will definitely stop some of the bleeding.”

The money is expected to be in the hands of the five WHL teams and the SJHL sometime in February, and it’s not believed that it will have any strings attached.

So . . . with Saskatchewan having taken the plunge, will other western provinces be far behind?

The wheels, as Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Friday, already are in motion. Ewen writes right here about how the WHL and BCHL, who under normal conditions would never sit down for coffee together, have teamed up in an attempt to land some financial relief from the B.C. government.


Veteran Portland journalist Kerry Eggers, who now writes at his own website PortlandAlternate(kerryeggers.com), posted a lengthy piece on the Winterhawks on Friday. While most of the story dealt with the franchise’s new ownership and the potential new season, the story also included some interesting items.

“It has already been announced that the Memorial Cup will not be held this year,” Egger writes, adding that Mike Johnston, the team’s vice-president, GM and head coach, “says the matter of league playoffs has yet to be determined.

“It remains a discussion point,” Johnston told Eggers in reference to WHL playoffs. “Even if things go quite smoothly, I’d anticipate that each division declares a champion. I just don’t know (about playoffs). The goal is to play hockey in June.”

While I wasn’t aware that the 2021 Memorial Cup had been cancelled, it only makes sense. The OHL and WHL haven’t yet played any games, while the QMJHL is waiting to restart after having teams play a handful of games in fits and starts before shutting down late in November.

Eggers also informed us that “the new owners, incidentally, are moving toward securing Memorial Coliseum as the permanent site for home games. Most of the home contests will be staged there this year.”

Keep in mind, too, that if a WHL season gets started, the Winterhawks go in as the defending regular-season champions.

Eggers’ piece is right here.


Willie


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice played his first game with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints on Friday night, scoring two goals and adding an assist in a 7-4 victory over the visiting Waterloo Black Hawks. That was the most goals the Fighting Saints (6-13-0) have scored in a game this season. . . . Savoie, 17, is one of a number of WHL players who have joined USHL teams over the past few days.


Some people have been decrying the epidemic of cross-checking that has been evident in the NHL for some time now. It’s really in the spotlight now because the Toronto Maple Leafs complained after Montreal Canadiens D Shea Webber gave F Auston Matthews the business on Wednesday night. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, who has long been a critic of the NHL for its mostly turning a blind eye to the foul, has more right here.


The Dallas Stars, who have had 17 players test positive since Dec. 30, now have had their first four regular-season games postponed. After bumping their first three games earlier in the week, the NHL on Friday postponed their Jan. 19 game against the host Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . The Stars now are scheduled to play their first game on Jan. 22 against the visiting Nashville Predators. . . . As you can see by the above tweet, the NHL has done some rescheduling, all of which has added a couple of days to the regular season — barring further changes, and that’s hardly a sure thing, the last games now will be played on May 10 as opposed to May 8.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Health officials warn that not enough is being done to limit the spread of COVID-19. They say the daily case count could rise from about 7,900 to 13,000, and that as many as 100,000 people could contract the virus over the next 10 days.

CBC News: Manitoba announces 5 more deaths and 191 new cases of COVID-19. In the past week, the number of new daily cases has ranged from a high of 261 to a low of 89; the 7-day average is 170.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 386 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 new deaths. 210 people are in hospital, the most since the pandemic began, including 35 people in intensive care. There are 4,010 known active cases in the province.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 785 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 new deaths. 796 people are in hospital, including 124 in ICU. Alberta currently has 12,189 active cases of the illness. Provincial labs completed 13,575 tests Thursday with a positivity rate of 5.5 per cent. So far 1,402 Albertans have died of COVID-19. On Thursday, there were 796 people in hospital with the illness, 10 fewer people than Wednesday.

Janet Brown, CKNW Vancouver — Friday’s B.C. Covid numbers: 349 people in hospital (-13), 68 ICU (-6), 509 new cases (60,117), 9 more deaths (1047).

CBC News: Ontario has a record 100 deaths from COVID-19, but officials say that includes 46 earlier deaths. There are 2,998 new cases, with 800 in Toronto, 618 in Peel and 250 in York. Almost 76,500 people were tested.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,918 new cases of COVID 19. The province is also reporting 62 new deaths, 9 of which occurred in the past 24 hours. 1,496 people are in hospital, including 231 in ICU.

CBC News: New Brunswick continues to experience a COVID-19 surge with 25 new cases. That’s the 4th highest day since the pandemic began; all have occurred since January 5.

CBC News: The Northwest Territories has reported its first case of COVID-19 “with no known source and no travel history.”

CBC News: The number of global deaths related to COVID-19 has passed the 2-million mark. Johns Hopkins University says the death toll has now reached 2,000,905.

The New York Times: It took over nine months for the world to pass one million virus deaths in September, a moment the UN secretary-general called “mind-numbing” and “an agonizing milestone.” In just a little over three months, the virus claimed another one million lives.

——

Karl-Anthony Towns of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves revealed on Friday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He already has lost his mother and six other family members to the virus . . .

The U of Montana and Montana State announced Friday that their football teams won’t take part in the Big Sky Conference’s spring championship season. The conference has said it will operate a six-game season from Feb. 27 to April 10. . . .

The U of Vermont men’s hockey team has paused activities after a positive test. . . . The team’s series at Merrimack that had been scheduled for this weekend was postponed. . . .

If you are watching NHL games, the following tweet may be of interest to you . . .



If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Two WHL teams have lost their video coaches to pro teams. . . . Michael Chan, who had been the Edmonton Oil Kings’ video coach, has signed on with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies as their video coach. Chan, 29, had been with the Oil Kings for five seasons, the last three as video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator. . . . Meanwhile, Adam Purner, who spent five season with the Portland Winterhawks, is joining the AHL’s Binghamton Devils. He also had been the Winterhawks’ manager of group events.


Aussie

WHL makes “commitment” for 24-game schedule; no starting date yet . . . Virus finds Dallas Stars . . . Former WHL coach added to Coyotes’ staff

The WHL’s board of governors chatted on Friday, after which the league announced that it had “made a commitment” to play a 24-game 2021 season.

The news release stated: “The start date for the season will be determined once WHL2final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

In other words, there isn’t anything new for a league that has announced starting dates of Oct. 2, Dec. 4 and Jan. 8, only to watch COVID-19 make those goals impossible to reach. The WHL and its fans continue to play the waiting game as they have for almost 10 months now.

As I have written here on numerous occasions, the virus will decide if/when the WHL and other leagues will play, and let’s be honest — short of announcing that it was cancelling the season, what else could the WHL say?

On Dec. 15, when it announced that a Jan. 8 start date wouldn’t be happening, the league said the governors would “meet in January to consider potential start dates.”

That is the meeting that took place on Friday.

When the WHL states that it needs final approval from health officials and that “it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon,” you are free to wonder if someone in the Calgary-based office has some inside information. Again, though, what else would the WHL be expected to say?

But the coronavirus-based numbers in the six jurisdictions in which the WHL operates haven’t exactly provided anyone with warm and fuzzy feelings of late. (See The COVID-19 Chronicles further down in this piece.)

You also wonder if the governors started their meeting yesterday by discussing DallasStarsgoings-on in the NHL where the Dallas Stars shut things down after six players and two staff members tested positive, and the Columbus Blue Jackets held 17 players out of practice.

The Stars were to have opened the NHL’s regular season against the host Florida Panthers on Jan. 14, but that obviously won’t happen. In fact, the Stars also have had to postpone two others games — Jan. 15 at Florida and Jan. 17 at the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars’ first game now is scheduled for Jan. 19 in Tampa Bay.

In the meantime, the Stars players and staff who tested positive are self-isolating and the team’s training facilities are closed.

The Blue Jackets, who are scheduled to open on Jan. 14 against the Predators in Nashville, held 17 of 38 players off the ice “out of an abundance of caution and in accordance with NHL COVID-19 protocols.”

Aaron Portzline, who covers the Blue Jackets for The Athletic, tweeted that the non-practising players were: forwards Emil Bemstrom, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Max Domi, Nick Foligno, Nathan Gerbe, Liam Foudy, Mikhail Grigorenko, Boone Jenner, Mikko Koivu, Eric Robinson, Alexandre Texier, and defencemen Adam Clendening, Vladislav Gavrikov, Seth Jones, David Savard, Andrew Peeke, Michael Del Zotto.

After discussing the NHL situation, maybe the WHL govs talked a bit about NCAA hockey where a number of schools have found out that their hockey teams have been bitten by COVID-19.

Nothing explains all of what has happened better than the National Collegiate NCHCHockey Conference (NCHC). It took eight teams into Omaha in early December and played 38 games. They didn’t call it a bubble; rather, it was a pod. Teams were limited to their hotel and the arena. There was regular testing; there weren’t any positive tests.

However, once that experience was over and the teams returned home, well, the virus licked its lips and went to work.

The U of Omaha has been unable to play four straight games against North Dakota, including two scheduled for this weekend. Mike Kemp, an associate athletic director at Omaha, told The Associated Press: “We got it in spades.”

Elsewhere in the world of NCAA men’s hockey, Lowell’s program is on pause and at least its next three games are off the schedule; Canisius has put things on hold due to protocols and contact tracing; Michigan Tech had to put things on hold after positive tests in its program earlier this week; Northern Michigan has been able to play six games, while having eight postponed or cancelled . . . and on and on it goes.

Where it stops . . . only the virus knows.


F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers told CFJC-TV’s Chad Klassen that he is looking at going to the USHL.

“I know nothing’s been confirmed yet, but I’ve talked to Fargo Force from down in the States,” Stankoven, 17, said. “I think they’re pretty interested in me, maybe having me come down, but obviously nothing’s set in stone.”

The USHL deadline to add Hockey Canada-released players to team rosters is Sunday. Klassen reported that should Stankoven go that route, he would be required to spend the remainder of the season there.

“As much as I don’t want to head down to the States and play for a whole different team and in a whole different country, things got to be done,” Stankoven said. “It’s part of our development and players need to play hockey. It’s our life. As much as people say it’s not our job, it’s part of our job. It’s our careers.”

You wonder what impact, if any, the WHL’s Friday news release might have on Stankoven’s decision.

Earlier this week, the Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, 16, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. The Fighting Saints played Friday night — they lost 5-2 to the host Youngstown Phantoms — but Savoie has yet to be placed on their roster.


At least two B.C. junior B leagues — the Kootenay International and Vancouver Island leagues — had hoped to return to regular-season play on Jan. 15. However, those hopes were dashed on Thursday when the B.C. government and health officials extended a series of province-wide restrictions until Feb. 5. . . . The junior A BCHL now is talking about starting its regular season on Feb. 8. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted that the BCHL couldn’t get approval for its Penticton hub idea from health officials so that idea is dead.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

CJOB Radio, Winnipeg: As Manitoba announced nine additional COVID-19-related deaths Friday, the province’s top doctor said hundreds of recent cases have been linked to gatherings over the holidays.

Scott Billeck, Winnipeg Sun: From the province: 355 cases and 1,900 contacts from holiday gatherings to date.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 336 new cases of COVID-19 and 7 new deaths related to the illness. It’s the highest daily case count since Dec. 6. There are currently 180 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 26 people in intensive care.

Jason Herring, Postmedia: Here are Friday’s COVID-19 Alberta stats: 1,183 new cases (total now 109,652) . . . 24 new deaths (total now 1,241) . . . 851 currently in hospital, 135 in ICU (yesterday: 871 in hospital, 139 in ICU) . . . 13,628 active cases (up from 13,298) . . . 16,765 tests conducted (~7.1% positive).

Justin McElory, CBC Vancouver: 617 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C. on Friday, a big drop from Thursday but part of a small rise since Christmas. . . . 18 new deaths, the highest number since Dec. 23. . . . Hospitalizations and active cases down.

Tacome News Tribune: The Washington state Department of Health reported 4,829 new cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths Friday. . . . Statewide totals from the illness caused by the coronavirus are 268,607 cases and 3,699 deaths. The case total includes 11,160 cases listed as probable. Those numbers are up from 263,778 cases and 3,634 deaths on Thursday.

Daily Hive Portland: The Oregon Health Authority has reported 1,755 new and presumptive COVID-19 cases and seven new deaths. The state has now seen a total of 122,847 COVID-19 cases, and the death toll has risen to 1,575.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Friday, 4 p.m. PT — People tested: 15,420,760 . . . Total cases: 644,348 . . . Active cases: 81,670 . . . Recovered: 545,971 . . . Deaths: 16,707.

CNN, Friday, 3 p.m. PT: 368,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Friday, 3 p.m. PT: 21.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

AFP News Agency, Friday, 8 p.m. PG: US sets new record with nearly 290,000 Covid cases in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins.

——

Curling Alberta has cancelled its 2021 men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships “due to Alberta’s continued state of public health emergency.” All were to have been held in Sylvan Lake, Jan. 25 to Feb. 5. . . .

With the B.C. government and health officials having extended various restrictions, including one restricting adult team sport, through Feb. 5, Curl BC has cancelled the men’s and women’s championships that had been scheduled for Kamloops and the mixed doubles event that was to have been held in Chilliwack. . . .

Holly Rowe, a veteran ESPN sideline reporter, revealed on Friday that she has tested positive, meaning she won’t be working on Monday when Alabama and Ohio State meet in the college football championship game in Miami. . . . Rowe admitted to having some symptoms and not feeling great. . . . She also is a cancer survivor, having battled melanoma. . . .

The Maine Red Claws, a G League men’s basketball team affiliated with the NBA’s Boston Celtics, have opted out of the 2021 season. . . .

Mike Lange, the veteran play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, won’t start the approaching NHL season out of an abundance of caution. He says he’ll be back once he is able to be vaccinated and when he feels it is safe to return. Lange, who will turn 73 in March, missed the 2019 playoffs due to pneumonia. . . .

Kurt Warner, an analyst with the NFL Network, announced Friday night that he has tested positive so won’t be working on any studio shows this weekend. Warner, 49, has been with the NFL Network for 10 years. . . . Also on the NFL broadcast front, NBC’s Mike Tirico will call the play of the Tampa Bay-Washington game from home because of COVID-19 protocols, while CBS-TV’s Tony Romo will provide analysis of the Chicago-New Orleans game from a remote site for the same reason.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Former WHL coach Jay Varady, who is the head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, has been added to the coaching staff of the parent Arizona Coyotes. Varady, 43, spent seven seasons (2003-10) on the coaching staff of the Everett Silvertips. He had been the Roadrunners’ head coach for two seasons. . . . The NHL’s San Jose Sharks has left K-FOX, its play-by-play station since 2020-21, and now will stream its games on the Sharks Audio Network, available on the team’s website and app. . . . Lethbridge has been chosen as the host city for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier (aka the Canadian men’s curling championship). It is scheduled to run March 4-13, which means the Hurricanes will be out of the Enmax Centre for a couple of weeks in the waning days of the WHL’s 2021-22 season.

WHL governors to meet Friday . . . QMJHL not impacted by curfew . . . Former CAHA president dies at 85

——


The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to confer on Friday, but in these WHL2uncertain times it isn’t known what might happen. Remember that the WHL, which halted its 2019-20 season after games of March 11, originally said it hoped to begin a new season on Oct. 2 . . . then Dec. 4 . . . then Jan. 8, which is Friday’s date. The WHL chose to dump the Jan. 8 startup on Dec. 15, saying at that time that the governors “will meet in January to consider potential start dates.” . . . WHL pooh-bahs have said that once a decision is made to start, teams will need about three weeks to prepare. So I would suggest that, given the OK from the various health authorities, something that is hardly a sure thing, the earliest the WHL could start up — and that would be without fans in all likelihood — would be the first week in February. But you and I both know that isn’t likely to happen . . . not with the numbers that we are seeing in the four provinces and two states that are home to WHL franchises. . . .

BTW, who scored the last goal of the WHL’s 2019-20 regular season? That would be F Brayden Tracey of the Victoria Royals, who broke a 2-2 tie at 11:22 of the third period in a 3-2 victory over the host Kelowna Rockets. . . . A better trivia question: Who scored the Spokane Chiefs’ final goal of the 2019-20 regular season? That would be G Lukas Parik, who notched the empty-netter and record the shutout in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers on March 10.

——

One of the things the pandemic has deprived WHL fans of, especially those in the Kamloops area, is F Logan Stankoven’s 17-year-old season. A Kamloops native, Stankoven scored 29 times and added 19 assists in 59 games as a rookie last season. There were times last season when the personable Stankoven showed that he just might be one of those players with the ability bring fans out of their seats on a regular basis. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia talked with Stankoven and more on how he is preparing for a season that may never happen, and it’s all right here.


The Quebec government announced on Wednesday that it is implementing a qmjhlnewdaily curfew that will begin on Saturday and run until Feb. 8. The curfew will be in play from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. . . . The QMJHL, which last played games on Nov. 29 and plans to resume play on Jan. 22, won’t be impacted by the curfew because its Quebec-based teams are going to play in bubbles, or what they are calling protected environments. . . . The QMJHL has said it wants to resume play on Jan. 22 with 12 Quebec-based teams playing in bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan. The plan is to have three teams play in each of those cities Jan. 22-24, and then have four-team bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville and Rimouski, Jan. 29 to Feb. 6. . . . The QMJHL can afford to play in bubbles because it was given a reported $12 million in government money earlier in the season. . . . The QMJHL’s schedule has the six Maritimes-based teams returning to play with games in Moncton, Charlottetown and Saint John on Jan. 22, as well. However, I’m not certain that those teams have been given the OK by health officials to return to play. Those teams haven’t been given any government money so having them play in a bubble, or bubbles, really isn’t feasible. But the Maritime teams were able to have some revenue flowing as the three provincial governments allowed limited attendance at their games. . . .

Meanwhile, the restrictions under which Manitobans have been living since mid-November are due to expire on Friday, but most, if not all, are expected to be renewed. . . . “I don’t think there’s going to be any significant change, to be frank,” Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, said on Wednesday. . . . Those restrictions include a ban on public gatherings of more than five people.





THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 10 more COVID-19 deaths and 176 new cases on Wednesday, and officials are also seeing a spike from the Christmas holidays. . . . Nearly 60 cases and more than 400 contacts have been definitively linked to holiday gatherings, said acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal.

CBC News: 9 more COVID 19 deaths in Saskatchewan including person in 20s, 277 new cases.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 25 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,123 new cases.

CBC News: B.C. reports 625 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths.

CBC News: Quebec’s premier has announced a curfew amid rising COVID-19 cases. Residents will have to stay inside their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. The new measure starts Saturday and will be in effect until at least Feb. 8.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting a record 31 new cases of COVID-19. The province’s previous single-day record was 27 cases. N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there will be more cases as a result of holiday gatherings.

KOMO News: Washington state’s total COVID-19 cases eclipsed 260,000 and the death toll from the virus reached 3,600 Wednesday, according to the latest reporting from the Washington Department of Health. . . . State health officials reported 1,985 new coronavirus cases, 88 additional hospitalizations and 64 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

KATU News: Eight more people have died from COVID-19 and 764 more have tested positive for the disease, the Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday. . . . The state now has lost 1,558 people to COVID-19 and 120,223 have tested positive for it since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 87M: Johns Hopkins University.

CNN, Wednesday, 8:13 p.m. PT: The United States reported at least 3,805 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

CNN, Wednesday, 7:50 p.m. PT: 361,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

NBC News, Wednesday, 8:52 p.m. PT: US sets daily records for coronavirus cases and coronavirus deaths on Wednesday . . . 268,840 cases . . . 3,920 deaths. . . . In 2021, the US has reported 1,345,873 coronavirus cases and 15,120 coronavirus deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Wednesday, 4 p.m. PT: Tested: 14,243,625 . . . Total cases: 626,799 . . . Active cases: 79,203 . . . Recovered: 531,227 . . . Deaths: 16,369.

——

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Wednesday that it will begin its traditional fall sports season on Feb. 1. It will be a seven-week season, with practices to start on Feb. 1 and the season to end on March 20. Sports that will be scheduled include cross-country, football, slow pitch, girls and boys soccer and volleyball.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.

Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

——

The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

——

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

Claim allegations detail horrific abuse in CHL . . . WHL start date in serious jeopardy . . . WJC teams plagued by COVID-19

If you are the least bit squeamish, you may  not want to click on the link in the tweet below. There are some horrific revelations in the story by Rick Westhead of TSN. . . . Please pay attention to the WARNING that accompanies it. . . .


The WHL’s plan to open its next regular season on Jan. 8 took another hit on Tuesday when the Alberta government announced mandatory restrictions that whlinclude the shuttering of all indoor rinks and arenas. The closures take effect on Sunday at midnight and are to run for at least four weeks. . . . Also on Tuesday, Manitoba announced that its restrictions, which have shut down junior hockey in the province, were being extended into January. . . . In Saskatchewan, public health orders are in place through Dec. 17. . . . The WHL has yet to have players report to their teams. It had hoped to have players travel on Dec. 26, then open mini-training camps on Dec. 27, all with the aim of opening a regular season of up to 50 games on Jan. 8. Teams would play strictly within their own divisions during the regular season. . . . In Washington state, which is home to four WHL teams, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that restrictions that now are in place will run at least through Jan. 4. . . . In Oregon, home to the Portland Winterhawks, indoor recreation spaces will remain closed at least through Dec. 17. . . . The OHL, which also has yet to bring in its players, has said it wants to open a regular season on Feb. 4. Perhaps the WHL will announce in a day or two that it is aiming for early February, too.


With the rosters of the American, Canadian and Swedish national junior hockey teams having already been impacted by COVID-19, Hockey Canada officials now are being asked about minimums involving the 10-team World Junior Championship that is to open in an Edmonton bubble on Dec. 25.

As in: What is the minimum number of teams needed for the tournament to be played? The answer seems to be eight.

As in: What is the minimum number of players needed for a team to be eligible to play a game? The answer seems to be 17 — 15 skaters and two goaltenders.

Team Canada is out of its two-week quarantine, forced on it when two players tested positive. But before returning to the ice on Tuesday, five players were Canadasent home, all of them for health reasons — F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings, D Daemon Hunt (Moose Jaw Warriors), D Mason Millman (Saginaw Spirit), D Matthew Robertson (Edmonton Oil Kings) and F Xavier Simoneau (Drummondville Voltigeurs).

Those decisions left the camp roster at 41; it will be down to 25 in a few days.

Meanwhile, the Swedish team, which went into Tuesday having had four players already test positive, found out that three coaches have tested positive, including head coach Tomas Montén. Assistant coach Anders Lundberg and video coach Adam Almqvist also have tested positive. . . . F Albin Grewe, a third-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2019 draft, is the fourth player to have tested positive, after F William Eklund, D William Wallinder and F Karl Henriksson.

The Swedish Ice Hockey Association now is working with the IIHF to determine the alternatives. . . . What is known for sure, is that the four players and three coaches won’t be taking part in the WJC. . . . Johan Stark, the Swedish federation’s secretary general, said: “If we see that the trend is going in the wrong direction, we must consider whether participation is possible or not.” . . .

Germany also has had issues with COVID-19 and has lost three players to positive tests — G Tobias Ancicki, F Nino Kinder and F Lukas Reichel. The Chicago Blackhawks selected Reichel with the 17th overall pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft.

The Austrians haven’t escaped unscathed, either, with D Thimo Nickl, a fourth-round pick by the Anaheim Ducks in 2020, having tested positive.

And don’t forget that Team USA also lost three players to COVID-19 protocol. G Drew Commesso, F Robert Mastrosimone and D Alex Vlasic  all are from Boston University, which had to pause it’s men’s hockey program.


Rene Fasel, the longtime president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, has tested positive, as has general secretary Horst Lichtner, the IIHF’s second most-powerful man. The two had to postpone a trip to Belarus where they were to have met with Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s embattled president. . . . The 2021 men’s world championship is to be split between Latvia and Belarus, but the IIHF is under pressure to drop Belarus. The International Olympic Committee has suspended Lukashenko and wants the IIHF to honour that suspension.


Rain


The BCHL’s Langley Rivermen announced on Tuesday that they “have decided to pause the season effective immediately.” With things on hold until at least Jan. 8, the Rivermen statement read: “We feel it is in the best interest of the Langley community, the players, the staff and billets to pause until January, pending further news” from the B.C. government. . . . Under the restrictions implemented by the B.C. government and health officials, players 19 and older are prohibited from practising, while those 18 and younger are able to skate with restrictions. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a further look right here at the situation in which the BCHL finds itself.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 68M: Johns Hopkins University.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 13 more COVID-19 deaths and 245 new cases. That’s the lowest daily case total in 17 days and drops the 7-day average to 324.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 6 more COVID-19 deaths and 183 new cases. That brings the 7-day average down to 264, but the number of hospitalizations hits a record high of 144, with 27 people in intensive care – also a record high.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,727 new COVID-19 infections, setting another record with 20,388 active cases. Across the province, 654 people are being treated in hospitals for COVID-19, including 112 in ICU. Another nine deaths were added to the toll, bringing the total to 640 since March.

rdnewsNOW: Red Deer with 373 active COVID-19 cases.

Don Martin, CTV: Sad but necessary. A desperate Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has waved the white flag and imposed Canada’s most restrictive regime of shutdowns to fight a horrific COVID surge hitting its hospitals.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: There are 566 news cases of COVID-19 in the province. There have been 38,718 cases of the virus in BC. . . . There have been an additional 16 deaths due to COVID-19. There have been a total of 543 deaths in BC due to the virus. . . . There have been 265 deaths in the province from COVID in the last month. That is nearly half of all of the deaths due to the virus. . . . There are 352 people in hospital with COVID-19 in BC. There are 74 in ICU.

CBC News: Ontario has 1,676 new COVID-19 cases, lowest daily total since November 26. It sends the province’s 7-day average down slightly, from 1,820 to 1,816. Toronto has 588 cases, while Peel Region has 349 and York Region has 141. There are 10 additional deaths. . . . There are 794 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario; 219 in ICU and 132 on a ventilator. 39,200 more tests were completed in the province with a 5% positivity rate.

CBC News: 36 additional deaths and 1,564 new COVID-19 cases reported in Quebec. That sends the 7-day case average to 1,598 from 1,544.

KGW: 36 COVID-19 deaths in Oregon, most reported in a single day. . . The Oregon Health Authority also announced 1,341 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

KOMO News: The Washington State Department of Health reported 2,923 new COVID-19 cases, 145 additional hospitalizations and 26 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

The New York Times: North Carolina’s governor imposed a 10 p.m. curfew on Tuesday in the hope of slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in the state has nearly doubled in the past month.

CNN: America surpasses 15 million confirmed Covid-19 cases. At least 284,887 in US have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

——

The NFL revealed on Tuesday that it had 18 players and 27 other personnel test positive during the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5. Since Aug. 1, it has had 173 players and 297 other personnel confirmed positive. . . .

WR Dez Bryant, now with the Baltimore Ravens, tested positive while taking warmups shortly before Tuesday’s game against his own club, the Dallas Cowboys. Prior to the game, Bryant was seen on the field hugging some of the Cowboys. . . . The game went on as scheduled, but without Bryant. . . .

The Green Bay Packers said Tuesday that only employees and players’ household families will be allowed to attend games at Lambeau Field for the remainder of this NFL season. . . .

The football game scheduled for Saturday between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines won’t happen for the first time since 1917. The Wolverines have had an outbreak of COVID-19. . . . The Cincinnati Bearcats won’t be visiting the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday. The Bearcats have been hit by the virus. The two teams will meet Dec. 19 in the AAC championship game, but only if the virus allows it, of course. . . . No. 8 Indiana and Purdue are supposed to meet on Saturday. However, Indiana cancelled practice on Tuesday and has paused all football-related activities because of positive tests. Purdue also cancelled Tuesday’s practice to “evaluate the results of recent COVID-19 testing.” . . .

The ECHL will open its 33rd regular season with five games on Friday and five more on Saturday. Eleven of the league’s 26 teams have opted out, at least for this season. . . . The Fort Wayne Komets and Toledo Walleye had said they would start in mid-January, but now say it will be in mid-February. . . .

Jairo Castillo, a scout with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has died of complications from COVID-19. He died Sunday in the Dominican Republic at the age of 31. . . . Castillo once scouted for the Toronto Blue Jays.


Husband


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


MiddleAges

Armada back in action in QMJHL bubble . . . McArthur, former WHLer, dies at 57 . . . Virus impacting NCAA hockey

The QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada is in Quebec City as one of the seven teams who are in a bubble for the next few days. Prior to Tuesday night, qmjhlnewthe Armada hadn’t played in more than a month after having had 18 people in the organization test positive following two games against the Sherbrooke Phoenix. . . . The Phoenix had eight players test positive after those games, as did two on-ice officials. . . . The Armada returned to the ice last night with a 5-1 victory over the Victoriaville Tigres in the Quebec City bubble. . . . Douglas Gelevan of CBC News has more on the Armada and how it dealt with COVID-19 in a piece that is right here. . . .

Meanwhile, the Drummondville Voltigeurs received the all-clear on Tuesday so headed to Quebec City to take part in the games there. One of their players had received an inconclusive test result on Monday. The Voltigeurs are scheduled to meet the Gatineau Olympiques on Wednesday afternoon. . . . In Tuesday’s other game, the Quebec Remparts beat the Shawinigan Cataractes, 4-2.


Former WHLer Dean McArthur died on Thursday. McArthur was 57 when he died at White Bear First Nation Sask. McArthur played parts of three seasons (1981-84) with the Medicine Hat Tigers. A native of Taber, Alta., he played one game with the Lethbridge Broncos in each of the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons, before going on to play 136 games with the Tigers. A right winger, he totalled 31 goals, 34 assists and 195 penalty minutes. . . . A funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, 10 a.m., at the White Bear Community Hall. COVID-19 restrictions will apply and masks are mandatory.


After being away since early April, columnist Jack Todd is back in Monday pages of the Montreal Gazette. Here’s a taste from this week’s column, part of which dealt with Jack Nicklaus, Brett Favre and a retired hockey player who went public with their support for someone in the U.S. election:

“The one that stung Canadians was a slapshot to the head from Bobby Orr. After Orr placed an ad in the New Hampshire Union-Leader in support of Donald Trump, Canadians were furious.

“Somewhere deep inside, we don’t simply admire Bobby Orr — we are Bobby, even those who have never watched a hockey game. He is part of our national myth — the humble boy next door, hockey on a frozen pond, our national game played at an almost unimaginable level of excellence.

“I suspect that by now, Orr realizes he made a terrible mistake. Canadians will forgive him, because that’s what we do — but the relationship might never be quite the same. It has been that kind of year.

Todd’s complete column is right here.


Gym


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba announces 7 more COVID-19 deaths and 270 new cases. The number is the 2nd-lowest in more than a week, and is well below the average of the previous 7-days, which is 403.  However, Manitoba’s test positivity rate has risen to a new high of 13.6%.

680 CJOB Winnipeg: Manitoba has hired a private security company to help enforce restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 240 new COVID-19 cases, the province’s 2nd-highest daily total since the pandemic began. The record (307 cases) was set 3 days ago. With today’s figure, Saskatchewan’s 7-day average rises to 173 from 155.

CTV Regina: Masks mandatory across province, indoor gatherings reduced to 5.

Adam Hunter, CBC: 240 new cases in Sask. . . . Four more health care workers have tested positive since yesterday. . . . 58 new cases in the 0-19 age group. . . . All 13 regions have at least 25 active cases. . . . 97 new cases in Saskatoon. . . . Far North West 109 active cases and Far North East 80.

Calgary Sun: Alberta logs 773 new COVID-19 cases as cops called on for enforcement.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: Medicine Hat is now at 51 active cases of COVID-19. That is an increase of two cases and one new recovery. . . . There are 40 active cases in Cypress County and 30 active in Forty Mile. . . . Lethbridge has 174 active cases. There are 32 active cases in Brooks.

Janet Brown, CKNW Vancouver: Another bad day in BC for covid numbers:  717 new cases, 11 deaths (310), 198 hospital (+17), 63 ICU (+6), 6589 active cases, 10960 self isolation.

CBC News: Cases in Nunavut more than double as 34 additional people test positive. That brings the territory’s total to 60, all in the last 12 days. Of the new cases, 26 are in Arviat, a community of about 2,400 on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay and 8 others are 150 km north in Whale Cove.

CBC News: Quebec is attributing 24 more deaths to the coronavirus. The province is also reporting 982 new cases. That’s the 1st time the number has been below 1,000 since November 3, and is far below the average of the previous 7 days, which is 1,298.

CBC News: Ontario reports 1,249 new COVID-19 cases and 12 more deaths.

CBC News: As of midnight on Thursday and continuing until Feb. 15, 2021, non-medical masks will be required in all indoor public places on P.E.I.

Gov. Jay Inslee, Washington state: We set another record for new COVID cases in a single day today – over 2600. We need everyone doing their part to stop this virus.

——

Simon Fraser University, which is based in Burnaby, B.C., has opted out of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s winter season. Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that the decision impacts the school’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as indoor track and field, swimming and diving, and wrestling teams. According to Ewen, “SFU is among six schools in the conference that have decided against” playing basketball this season. . . . Ewen’s story is right here.

——

It is safe to say that things are getting messy in NCAA hockey circles. . . .

Colorado College has shut down hockey-related activities for 14 days after a player tested positive. The Tigers play in the NCHC, which is open its season with a bubble setup in Omaha. Colorado College is scheduled to open against Omaha on Dec. 1, but you have to think there now will be changes to the schedule. . . .

Sacred Heart, with some positives tests, has postponed its opening weekend games. It was to have played at American International on Nov. 21 and at Quinnipiac on Nov. 24. Sacred Heart also has postponed two games against Army on Nov. 27 and 28. . . .

Union College has cancelled its men’s and women’s hockey seasons. . . . That means eight of the ECAC’s 12 men’s teams have opted out of the 2020-21 season. Chris Dilks at sbncollegehockey.com points out that “the ECAC is down to just four active teams at both the men’s and women’s level: Clarkson, Colgate, Quinnipiac and St. Lawrence.” . . .

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) cancelled the 2020-21 season for its men’s and women’s hockey seasons last week. On Tuesday, it announced that it has reconsidered those decisions. The men play in the Atlantic Hockey Association; the women are in College Hockey America. Both conferences have submitted return-to-play protocols to New York state for approval. If that approval comes, RIT’s hockey teams will play. . . . All team personnel will be tested three times per week, which is called for by the NCAA. . . .

——

Kermit Davis, the men’s basketball coach at Ole Miss, has tested positive and is likely to miss the season’s first two games. . . .

The UMass men’s basketball team has paused team activities after someone within the program tested positive. . . .

The ACC has moved three football games involving the Miami Hurricanes because of positive tests within the program and three others that were impacted by the Miami changes. . . . As Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports wrote: “With little indication that college football decision-makers will push the 2020 season back any further, the sport is clearly limping towards the finish line as every program tries to squeeze in as many games as possible.” . . . There’s more on that right here.


Knee


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Former WHL F Torrin White has joined the South Alberta Hockey Academy as a member of the U18 prep team’s coaching staff. White, 25, played four seasons (2011-15) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, then spent the past four seasons with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . . ICYMI, the WHL and its teams have launched T’s for Toys, which is aimed at making sure “as many children as possible receive toys during the Christmas season.” Details are right here. . . . McGill University of Montreal announced Tuesday that its men’s varsity teams now will be known as Redbirds. The school had announced in April 2019 that it was doing away with Redmen. The women’s teams are nicknamed the Martlets.


Buns

QMJHL taking seven teams into bubble . . . BCHL cancels some games . . . MJHL shuts down three more teams



While you may be aware that this was a week for hard-hitting journalism, you may not be aware as to precisely how hard-hitting it was. . . . For example, on the evening of the U.S. election, Jordan Armstrong, an anchor and reporter with Global TV in Vancouver, was decrying an apparent shortage of Hawkins Cheezies in his part of the world. . . . Someone suggested via Twitter, of course, that there was a pandemic-related shortage. . . . It remained for Steve Ewen of Postmedia to do the grunt work. On Wednesday morning, Ewen contacted the good people at Hawkins via email and received this response: “Due to the covid virus we were behind in production in the spring, but have ramped up production and are making and shipping record amounts.” . . . Ewen ended his tweet with: “Glad to bring good news.” . . . Jason Pires of CTV Vancouver followed with: “Excellent, important journalism.” . . . I’m just thrilled to know Cheezies will be available for my Christmas stocking. I was beginning to get worried.



Dummy


Headline at TheOnion.com: Antonio Brown agrees to one-year plea deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Dodgers players and employees allowed or encouraged virus-positive Justin Turner to join the on-field World Series celebration, in defiance of MLB security. Fines, penalties, suspensions? Zero. I’m starting to wonder what you have to do to get Rob Manfred ticked off.”


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “MLB announced its won’t discipline Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner for returning to the field to celebrate his team’s World Series championship after testing positive mid-game for COVID-19. Hey, it was either that or suspend him for 10 spring-training games.”


You may have heard that Jon Gruden, the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, was fined $150,000 for repeated violations of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. As Dan Daly of ProFootballDaly.com put it: “Maybe it would help if somebody explained to Gruden that COVID gets up even earlier in the morning than he does.”


Here’s Chad Picasner, who blogs at chadpicasner.blogspot.com, describing Major League Baseball today: “You used to judge a pitcher by things like: How good is his curveball? Or how hard does he throw? Now you need to know spin rates, arm angles and BABIP, which is Batting Average of Balls In Play. Hitting coaches have to know bat speed, time in the zone and launch angles. Base-running coaches need to know . . . a different career, since the new metrics frown on stealing bases.”


Airport


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .


The QMJHL announced Sunday that it is going to move seven of its Quebec-qmjhlnewbased team into a bubble in Quebec City, from Nov. 17-27. . . . Interestingly, one of those teams — the Chicoutimi Sagueneens — had a member of its organization test positive and suspended all activities on Saturday. . . . According to the QMJHL, its plan has gotten the all-clear from the province’s Assembly of Members and public health officials. . . . The seven teams, each of which is located in a provincially designated red zone so recently was shut down, are Chicoutimi, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Drummondville Voltigeurs, Gatineau Olympiques, Quebec Remparts, Shawinigan Cataractes and Victoriaville Tigres. . . . Each team is to play six regular-season games at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. . . . Earlier, the Armada had to shut things down after experiencing 18 positive tests. All told, it’s believed that QMJHL teams have had about 30 positive tests. . . . On Oct. 15, the Quebec government said it would give the QMJHL $12 million in funding to help the Quebec-based teams through the pandemic. . . . Roby St-Gelais of Le Journal de Quebec reported that each organization will be allowed to have 34 people in the bubble, with a maximum of 25 being players. On-ice officials also will be isolated in the bubble. Unless something changes, media and scouts won’t be permitted to attend. . . . St-Gelais also reported that the QMJHL still is working on the process for testing those in the bubble. As he pointed out, a “COVID-19 test costs an average of $200” in the private sector.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,397 new cases of COVID-19. This is Quebec’s highest single-day increase according to Public Health Canada’s historical data. The province also added 9 deaths, for a total of 6,440 deaths since the pandemic began.

——

The BCHL has cancelled seven exhibition games involving its four Lower BCHLMainland teams — the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen and Surrey Eagles — in light of restrictions announced Saturday by the province’s health officer. . . . Those games were to have been played from Nov. 13-21. . . . Under the restrictions, all indoor sports incapable of physical distancing have been suspended in two health regions — Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal — until Nov. 23. . . . Powell River is within Vancouver Coastal, but the BCHL is awaiting clarification on the status of the Kings. Powell River is in a two-team cohort, along with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. They were to have played on Sunday in Duncan, but the game was cancelled because of travel restrictions that also were implemented. . . . The four Lower Mainland teams were playing in a cohort among themselves. . . . The BCHL has said that it wants to open its regular season in “early December.”

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that he MJHL has had to shut down three more teams as part of the decision by mjhlManitoba health officials to declare the Southern Health Region a red zone. The Portage Terriers, Steinbach Pistons and Winkler Flyers have joined the Selkirk Steelers, Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze in a holding pattern. . . . The Pistons, Steelers, Blue and Freeze comprise the Southeast Division, while the Terriers and Flyers are in the Interior Division with the Virden Oil Capitals and Neepawa Natives. . . . The OCN Blizzard, one of four teams in the Northwest Division, were shut down last week after a player tested positive.

Brandon Sun: Three more people have died and 441 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Manitoba on Sunday.

——

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 159 new cases of COVID-19, a new single-day record, and 1 new death. The province has 1,122 active cases.32 people are in hospital, including 7 in intensive care.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 727 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 new deaths for a total of 33,504 cases and 363 deaths since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Nunavut’s 2nd case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Sanikiluaq. The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson says: “The individual is part of the same household as the first positive case, is asymptomatic, isolated and is doing well.”

The New York Times: The U.S. reported its 10 millionth coronavirus case on Sunday. The latest million was added in just the last 10 days, and the country now accounts for about one-fifth of all reported cases in the world.

The New York Times: The U.S. surpassed 10 million coronavirus cases on Sunday, and experts say the virus is spreading out of control. With winter ahead, the next 73 days before Inauguration Day could be critical for controlling the pandemic.

Minyvonne Burke of NBC News reported Sunday that the Los Angeles Dodgers have had nine positive tests within their organization. As well, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, one family member has tested positive. . . . It isn’t known if Dodgers 3B Justin Turner is included in the total. Turner was removed late in the team’s Game 6 World Series-clinching victory on Oct. 27, but returned to the field to take part in the post-game celebrations in Arlington, Texas.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Mike Bianchi, in the Orlando Sentinel: “Why did the officials pick up the flag for pass interference on the Tampa Bay Bucs during the potential game-tying two-point conversion for the New York Giants on Monday Night Football? Because Daniel Jones threw the pass and not Tom Brady. No matter what the sport is, don’t ever forget this: The studs get the calls and duds don’t.”


Horses

Winterhawks sale would be ninth since 2007 . . . WHL GM tells Ewen ‘lineup’ of shoppers is expected . . . What’s the price tag?

Sooner or later, the Portland Winterhawks likely will be sold.

Why likely? Because never say never, and perhaps owner Bill Gallacher will end up keeping the WHL franchise.

But if the Winterhawks are sold, it will mark the ninth time a WHL franchise has Portlandchanged hands since the Kamloops Blazers went from community to private ownership during the summer of 2007. Of course, it also will be the second time the Winterhawks will have changed hands since 2008.

However, as of Tuesday night, there didn’t appear to be anything new regarding the Winterhawks’ situation, The WHL’s top regular-season team in the shortened 2019-20 regular-season is in receivership after a number of Gallacher-owned companies filed for bankruptcy last week.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia, who covers the Vancouver Giants, writes that “a WHL general manager, who requested anonymity, says he expects a ‘lineup’ of interested buyers for the Winterhawks . . .”

Yes, the vultures will be circling.

The last WHL franchise to have changed hands was the Seattle Thunderbirds.

One source who knows his way around the WHL told Taking Note on Tuesday: “Bet Russ Farwell is patting himself on the back . . .”

Farwell was the Thunderbirds’ governor and general manager, and also owned a piece of the action when that deal went down in 2017.

Here’s Ewen:

“WHL teams don’t change hands often and sale prices are rarely made public, as you’d expect. The Seattle Thunderbirds were sold in October of 2017, going from a group led by longtime Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell to brothers Dan and Lindsey Leckelt, who own Silent-Aire, an engineering and data centre equipment manufacturing company based in Edmonton.

“Multiple sources say the Thunderbirds were sold for US$12 million. That’s never been confirmed.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Six months before the Thunderbirds changed hands, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeggers Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell. After two winters in Cranbrook, they moved the franchise to Winnipeg immediately after the 2018-19 season.

The Regina Pats were sold in April 2014 with Russ and Diane Parker of Calgary, who had owned the franchise for 19 years, selling to a local group comprising Jason Drummond, Todd Lumbard, Anthony Marquart, Gavin Semple and Shaun Semple. The Regina Leader-Post reported that the sale price “is believed to be in the neighbourhood of Cdn$7.5 million.”

In March of 2014, Rick Brodsky sold the Prince George Cougars to a group that includes local businessmen Ray Fortier, Ernest Ouellet, John Pateman and Greg Pocock, along with two former Cougars defencemen — Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis. The sale price was reported by the Prince George Citizen as being close to Cdn$7 million. Brodsky had bowed out of his family’s ownership of the Saskatoon Blades to purchase the Cougars franchise in 1992 when it was playing out of Victoria.

After owning the Saskatoon Blades for 37 years, the Brodsky family sold the franchise to Mike Priestner of Edmonton, who owns Go Auto, on Aug. 27, 2013. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported the sale price as Cdn$9 million.

On April 4, 2011, the WHL confirmed the sale of the Chilliwack Bruins by owners Jim Bond, Brian Burke, Moray Keith, Darryl Porter and Glen Sather to RG Properties, which was headed up by Graham Lee. He moved the franchise to Victoria where it operates as the Royals.

Bill Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks in August 2008, buying the franchise from John Bryant, Jack Donovan and Jim Goldsmith. The sale price was believed to have been about US$6 million.

The Kamloops Blazers were sold over the summer of 2007, with Tom Gaglardi, the president of Northland Properties and now the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, partnering with former players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor to purchase the franchise from community shareholders. The sale price was about Cdn$6.1 million.

So what will be the price tag on the Winterhawks?

Well, if this was four or five months ago, one might have guessed it to be somewhere around US$12 million.

However, in these pandemic times — I mean, can anyone guarantee when/if the next season will begin? — and with the franchise in receivership and the vultures circling, it just might go for something less than that.

Or could the WHL step in and purchase the franchise for a healthy price, if for no other reason than to protect the values of its other 21 franchises, and then try to find new ownership once we find out what things will look like when we get to wherever we are going?

These are bizarre times in which we find ourselves living and there are oh, so many questions, aren’t there?


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one a zinger from H.L. Mencken: “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

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There have been reports that Vince McMahon, he of grapplin’ fame, is working to sell his football league, the XFL. If you’re interested, The Sports Curmudgeon has a few words of warning: “If you are thinking that it might be a hoot to put in a bid for ‘3 easy payments of only $39.95,’ let me offer a word of caution and suggest that you might wind up as the owner.”

——

One more thing regarding The Sports Curmudgeon . . . if you aren’t a regular reader of his work, you should at least consider taking a look at his Tuesday post. He tackled two questions: 1. What might sports be like in a post-COVID-19 world?, and 2. Are sports important with regard to (a) ‘return to normalcy?’ . . . It’s all right here.


Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said Tuesday that there won’t be any special treatment given to the NHL if it wants to use Vancouver as a hub for its proposed return to play. . . . “I’m not going to compromise safety for any organization, whether it’s the NHL or anything else, as much as I love hockey,” Dr. Henry said during her daily briefing. If the NHL is to bring teams into Vancouver, she said, all people involved with the teams and arriving from outside Canada would have to self-isolate for two weeks. . . .

The Canadian National Exhibition, Canada’s largest annual fair, has been cancelled for 2020. It was to have been held from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 in Toronto. . . .

The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced Tuesday that its schools “have determined that NCAA sport competition will not occur during the fall of 2020.” . . . This news came after the U.S.’s largest four-year college system, the California State University (CSU), announced most classes will be presented online in the fall. CSU has 23 schools. . . .

Doug Ducey, the governor of Arizona, said at a news conference on Tuesday that pro sports can resume in his state, without fans, as of May 16. He said leagues and teams would have to provide public health protections and follow guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control. . . .

There are 41 theaters on Broadway in New York City that are part of the Broadway League. They announced Tuesday that they will remain closed through at least Sept. 6, which is Labour Day.


When the Detroit Pistons were winning NBA titles, they were a fearsome aggregation of aggressive players. As Charles Barkley explained on Facebook: “Those guys were out there trying to hurt people. . . . When you were playing the Pistons you had to call home and tell your family you love them just in case you never saw them again.”


Aris Brown, the 18-year-old son of NFL great Jim Brown, who is 84, has committed to play lacrosse at Hampton University. As Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot wrote: “It appears that Jim enjoyed a strong fourth quarter.”


Sheep

Winterhawks in receivership . . . Regular-season champions for sale . . . Owner has filed for bankruptcy

The Portland Winterhawks, who won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s regular-season champions for 2019-20, are in receivership and, according to a news release from the league, a FOR SALE sign is blowing in the wind.

The Oregonian, a Portland newspaper, has reported that the company that owns the Portlandfranchise, Portland Winterhawks Inc., filed for bankruptcy on Thursday.

According to Jeff Manning of The Oregonian: “Winterhawks owner William Gallacher allegedly failed to repay money his companies had borrowed in 2018. The lender, Bridging Financing, went to court in Toronto earlier this month and claims it took control of several of Gallacher’s companies, including the hockey team.”

Manning reported that “several” companies owned by Gallacher filed in Portland on Thursday.

According to Manning, the WHL “can terminate” a franchise if it “enters bankruptcy or is in receivership for more than 10 days.” As well, Rip City Management LLC, which operates the two arenas in which the Winterhawks play, could rip up their lease.

It’s unlikely any of that will happen, though.

From court documents: “At present, the Receiver has no indication that PWH is in financial distress apart from its involvement in the Bridging Loan. Accordingly, the Receiver views it as important to maintain the operations of PWH and the Winterhawks’ franchise to preserve their value for the benefit of all creditors of the Debtors in the Canadian Proceeding.”

Gallacher is a Calgary-based oil man, and you may be aware that the oil-and-gas sector is having a tough time of it these days. Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks in 2008. Under his ownership, along with the leadership provided by Doug Piper, the team’s president, and Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach, things turned around and what once was the WHL’s most-pathetic franchise played in four straight championship finals (2011-14), winning in 2013.

Manning’s complete story is right here.

According to figures compiled by the WHL, the Winterhawks’ average announced attendance for 32 homes games in the truncated 2019-20 season was 5,540, the fifth-highest average in the 22-team league. That was a decrease of 376 from 2018-19, when the Winterhawks had the fourth-highest average announced attendance.

The WHL suspended its regular season on March 12 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It later cancelled its season, including playoffs.

The Winterhawks finished with the WHL’s best record (45-11-7), their 97 points leaving them one ahead of the Everett Silvertips (46-13-4). Thus, Portland was awarded the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champion.

——

The WHL released a statement on Sunday afternoon, saying that it is “working closely” with all involved “to ensure the smooth transition to new ownership in short order.”

According to the WHL, Doug Piper, the Winterhawks’ president, and Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach, “will remain with the team and are committed to conducting business as usual . . .”

The WHL statement also included this: “. . . we expect that there will be a great deal of interest in obtaining ownership” of the Winterhawks.

So . . . while the first paragraph would seem to indicate there is a sale on the horizon, it would seem that process of locating buyers is just getting started.

You are free to wonder how easy/difficult it will be to sell one of the WHL’s premier franchises in these pandemic-dominated times? After all, I would suggest that there is no guarantee as to when, or even if, the 2020-21 season will start.

——

OK. I have to admit that I burst out laughing when I read one sentence in the WHL’s news release.

Here it is: “There will be no further comment from the WHL or Portland Winterhawks at this time.”

I take you back to Nov. 28, 2012, when, you may recall, the WHL dropped a sledge hammer on the Winterhawks for what it called “a series of violations of the WHL regulations.”

The last line of that news release, which didn’t spell out what the Winterhawks had done to warrant such punishment, read: “The Western Hockey League will not make any further public comments on this matter.”

The Winterhawks followed up by issuing their own news release, spelling out the regulations they had violated. It wasn’t long before Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was busy doing damage control with lots of public comments.

For old time’s sake . . .

The WHL news release on the sanctions is right here.

The Winterhawks’ news release explaining those violations is right here.

——

——

The 22-team WHL has four community-owned teams — the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos — whose fates are controlled by local shareholders. As such, each of them holds an annual meeting at which financial statements are presented to shareholders.

The other 18 all are privately owned, so their financials aren’t available.

While the Winterhawks may be in better shape than some of Bill Gallacher’s other business interests, you can bet that all of the WHL teams are feeling the squeeze brought on by the pandemic. The WHL had 54 regular-season games remaining in its season when the plug was pulled, so teams lost out on that revenue. And then the playoff qualifiers took big hits with the cancellation of those games.

And now, with so many questions and so few answers floating in the ether, you have to wonder how preparations for a new season — the selling of sponsorships and season tickets — are progressing.

Granted, it’s still early to some, but if you’re an owner or a general manager training camps should be opening in slightly more than three months. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed. What of bringing over import players? And what about the billet situation — how is that going to play out with a highly infectious virus lurking who knows where?

The Winterhawks were the first WHL team to issue furloughs and layoff notices and to impose paycuts late in March. The Kamloops Blazers, another privately owned club, were close behind. Their majority owner, Tom Gaglardi, also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars. He is the president of Northland Properties, which is almost completely reliant on the hospitality industry, meaning there is little in the way of revenue these days.

It’s safe to assume that other WHL teams, too, have done what they can to trim expenses as they are mired in a situation where they aren’t able to generate revenue.

Whether any of them end up going the way of the Winterhawks remains to be seen.

But you have to think some things are going to look a whole lot different by the time we come out the other end of his situation.

In the meantime, if you’ve been wanting to own a WHL franchise, you could do a whole lot worse than the Winterhawks, the defending regular-season champions.

Dorothy, kidney patients need your help . . . Can pro leagues overcome logistics involved in a return to play? . . . DuPont signs with Canucks


It’s that time of the year again.

Under normal circumstances, we would be starting to get geared up for the annual Kidney Walk that was scheduled for Kamloops on Sept. 23. Yes, it has been cancelled.

So now we’re taking part in a virtual Kidney Walk that is being used to raise funds to help those fighting kidney disease to get through this stage of their lives.

My wife, Dorothy, who is approaching the seventh anniversary of her kidney transplant, is among those raising funds, as she has done for each of the six previous Kidney Walks.

If you would like to support her and join her team, you are able to do so right here.


As much as we all would like to see it, I really don’t think we should be holding our breath waiting for the NHL and/or the NBA to resume their 2019-20 seasons, or for MLB to start its 2020 season.

The logistics of getting these operations up and running are mind-numbing. And all the while there is the possibility of someone testing positive.

There has been speculation that if the NHL resumes play in five or six cities, one of those centres might be Edmonton.

Well, Ryan Rishaug of TSN asked Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical health officer, “what would happen in the event of a player testing positive after competition was under way in a hub city scenario?”

Here is Dr. Hinshaw’s response:

“The individual who is the confirmed case would need to be isolated for 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, and anyone who is a close contact with that person while they were infectious would need to be in quarantine for 14 days from that point of last exposure. That’s how we in public health would treat any case independent of wherever it happens.”

And the waiting game continues . . .

——

One thing that hasn’t been given much attention in all the speculation about professional leagues and when they might return/start play is: What do the wives and girlfriends think?

Consider the family of Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle. His wife, Eireann Dolan, has a lung condition and, as she explained on Twitter, has “been hospitalized and on oxygen for weeks at a time with viral pneumonia. Since I was nine years old. Go through something like that and maybe then you’ll have the requisite experience to judge my response.”

Yes, she was being abused on social media after suggesting that there was a lot more involved in a return to play than just pitching, hitting and playing defence.

She also pointed out: “I’m also not the only member of a player’s family who has a pre-existing condition or co-morbid condition. Not only that, there are players who have pre-existing conditions. This is not the time for haste when lives are on the line.”

At the same time, her husband was on a podcast with Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville, telling them: “We’ve all seen the way a common cold goes through a clubhouse. We’re in such close proximity, it’s impossible to enforce social-distancing measures when you’re trying to play a Major League Baseball season.”

So . . . how eager are players in any pro sport going to be to leave their families and enter into a facility where one opponent — the other team — is in their faces, while another is invisible?


Gulch


Could it be that there are junior hockey leagues out there that just don’t like each other? If so, is it envy or jealousy or something else?

Fred Harbinson, the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, spoke out on Monday, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that he and others have had enough.

After the conversation, Ewen wrote: “Harbinson says he was so frustrated with prospective players and college coaches telling him that they’re being told that the BCHL won’t run this season that he felt obligated to take to Twitter to fire back.”

This all seems to have started last month when Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, said that the league was preparing to ask provincial and federal governments for financial aid to help it get through the pandemic. However, Hebb never even intimated that any of the BCHL’s 18 teams might not be able to answer the next bell.

More from Ewen: “Harbinson wouldn’t point fingers at exactly who might be trying to spread the word that the entire BCHL is in harm’s way, but it’s no secret that the league has long duelled with the U.S. Hockey League for players.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Bryan Erikson is the GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Northeast Generals.


Peter King’s Football Morning in America, usually available on Sunday night in the Pacific time zone, is one of the week’s best reads. This week is no exception.

In a week in which the NFL is to release its schedule, here’s King writing about one of the stumbling blocks to a September start to the season:

“Potentially sensitive. What if each of the 32 teams is testing its players and essential staff twice a week. (Obviously, they’ll have to be tested regularly, to ensure that no COVID-positive person spreads the disease in the close quarters of a football team.) Say that’s 150 people (players, coaches, staff). So 300 tests per week (17) per team (32) — that adds up to 163,000 tests for the regular season. Let’s round up for the full season: 200,000 tests for a sports league to play its full schedule. By August, will there be enough tests so that the NFL doesn’t seem piggish to be using 200,000 that could go to the general public? (Even half that number, 100,000 tests, is a major number if many in the country are going without.)

“And teams will have to be willing, in the case of a positive test, to commit to placing that person in quarantine for two weeks. So the Kansas City Chiefs had better be comfortable with Chad Henne playing for two weeks or more if Patrick Mahomes tests positive. The Patriots had better be comfortable with Josh McDaniels coaching the team for two weeks if Bill Belichick tests positive.”

King’s complete column is right here.


DuctTape


The next world swimming championship are scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, May 13-29, 2022. They had been scheduled for July 16 through Aug. 1, 2021, but those dates ended up in conflict with the Olympic Summer Games after they were postponed from 2020 to 2021. . . .

There are 36 teams in Germany’s top two soccer leagues, and it was revealed on Monday that there have been 10 positive tests for the coronavirus. All told, players and staff underwent 1,725 tests. . . . The leagues are hopeful of starting at some point this month. . . . On Tuesday, Erzgebirge Are, a team in Germany’s second division, which is the men’s third division, announced it had put all players and staff into isolation after a staff member tested positive. . . .

The Associated Press is reporting that “the head of English Soccer says he does not expect crowds to be allowed back into matches ‘any time soon.’ ” . . . Greg Clarke, the FA Council chairman, wrote that “it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans — who are the lifeblood of the game — turning to matches any time soon.”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “An Englishman teaching an American about food is like the blind leading the one-eyed.”


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have added Micki DuPont and Jamie Henry to their coaching staff. DuPont will work as an assistant coach under Brad Moran, the general manager and head coach. Henry signed on as assistant coach/video co-ordinator. . . . DuPont played four seasons (1996-2000) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and was named the CHL’s top defenceman for 1999-2000. He went on to play extensively in Europe, retiring after 2018-19, his fourth season with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL. He worked last season with the midget AAA Calgary Royals. . . . Henry is a familiar face in Calgary minor hockey circles. . . . Tyson Avery is the Canucks’ other assistant coach.


Joe Birch has been named the chief operating officer and governor of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He takes over from the retiring Steve Bienkowski on June 1. Bienkowski had been with the Rangers for 18 seasons. . . . Birch has spent the past 12 years working in the OHL office, most recently as vice-president of hockey development. He also is a former Rangers player.


Here is Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with an observation regarding the NFL draft: “If every team gets the players it wanted, why are some franchises on their 12th consecutive rebuilding year?”


WashHands