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.

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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.”

——

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

May 8, 1957, belonged to Flin Flon . . . Frey to step back after today’s draft . . . Pats sign top prospect Bedard

Bombers
The 1957 Memorial Cup-champion Flin Flon Bombers. (Photo: reminder.ca)

OK. It’s obvious that you need a hockey fix. Well, you’ve come to the right place . . .

It’s May 8, 1957. The Ottawa Canadiens and Flin Flon Bombers are playing Game 7 of the Memorial Cup final in Regina’s Exhibition Stadium.

The Bombers will take a 2-1 lead into the third period. . . .

Flin Flon is led by the line of Ted Hampson between Paddy Ginnell and Mel Pearson. Ginnell got the game’s first goal at 17:23 of the FlinFlonfirst period, with Pearson counting at 18:14. Mike Legace got Ottawa to within a goal at 19:43 of the second period.

The goaltenders are George Wood for Flin Flon and Ottawa’s Claude Dufour.

Sam Pollock is running Ottawa’s bench, with Bobby Kirk the Bombers’ coach.

We now take you to Regina’s Exhibition Stadium and the play-by-play voice of Lyle Armitage, all thanks to Flin Flon radio station CFAR. All you have to do is click right here and scroll down a couple of items.

While you’re listening, you may want to read about the series and the hijinks that went on. . . . That’s all right here in a history I wrote a few years ago.

Hampson, now 83, went on to play 676 regular-season NHL games, putting up 108 goals and 245 assists. He has been an NHL scout since 1983-84, the last eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.

When CFAR first aired a replay of Game 7’s third period earlier this month, Hampson was listening and, at the same time, texting with Erin Ginnell, 51, one of Paddy’s sons. Erin scouts for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

“It was pretty special,” Erin told me via email.



Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that “the 2020 Ivan Hlinka-Wayne Gretzky U-18 tourney scheduled for August” in Edmonton and Red Deer “is going to be cancelled.” . . . As he pointed out, it is the “first big event for the 2021 NHL draft class and 2003-born players.” . . . He also suggested that Hockey Canada is looking at what to do with its U-17 and World Junior Summer Showcase camps and series. The U-17 event is scheduled for July, with the Summer Showcase in August. . . . “No one is optimistic, obviously, but decisions on those still to come,” McKenzie tweeted. . . . Don’t forget, too, that the 2019 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is scheduled for Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7.



The Regina Pats will select F Connor Bedard of North Vancouver with the first selection Patsin the WHL’s bantam draft today (Wednesday). The Pats signed Bedard, 15, to a contract on Tuesday. . . . Bedard has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada, something that allows him to play full-time in the WHL as a 15-year-old. It used to be that a player in that age group was limited to five games with a WHL team until his club team had its season end. However, F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice, who wasn’t granted exceptional status prior to last season, got into 22 games in 2019-20 and would have played even more had he not suffered a concussion in December. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more on the Bedard signing right here.


Tea


Baseball’s independent American Association, which includes the Winnipeg Goldeyes, has postponed the start of its season that was to have opened on May 19. The 12-team league now is hoping to get rolling at some point in July. . . . “We will not jeopardize the safety of our fans, staff, players, umpires or vendors and will abide by all national and local restrictions when determining if we can open in early July,” commissioner Joshua Schaub said in a statement. . . . The U.S.-Canada border will have to re-open before play starts; the Goldeyes are the only Canadian-based team. . . .

The 12-team West Coast League, which includes teams in Kelowna and Victoria, is scheduled to open on June 5. In a statement posted on its website on March 25, it said it “continues to monitor” the situation . . . “while preparing for the upcoming season.” . . . The league’s other 10 teams are in Oregon and Washington state. . . .

Andy Dunn, the president of the Vancouver Canadians, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that their season is “in a holding pattern.” The Canadians, who play in the eight-team single-A Northwest League, are an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Vancouver’s season is scheduled to open on June 17. Dunn also told Ewen that the Canadians have plans in place for a “full season, a half season or no season.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here.


The Thought for the Day, thanks to Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with this one from Will Rogers: “Things will get better — despite our efforts to improve them.”


Barry Petrachenko’s run as the chief executive officer of BC Hockey is over. The organization has revealed that he was done on Monday. . . . A new CEO is expected to be named before the next hockey season starts. In the meantime, Jeremy Ainsworth, the chief program officer, and CFO Jen Cheeseman are in charge. . . . Petrachenko had been the CEO since March 2000.


Hands


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have added Lukáš Lomicky as their associate coach. He spent the past three seasons with the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, moving from assistant coach to associate coach to head coach. He also has worked as video coach for the Czech team at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . In Prince George, he will work with general manager Mike Hawes and head coach Alex Evin.

——

Ryan Hollweg has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as the associate coach. He will work alongside Dan Cioffi, who signed on as assistant general manager and head coach earlier this month. . . . Hollweg, 36, is from Downey, Calif. He is a former BCHL player who went on to play for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers (1999-2004). He also got into 228 NHL games, playing with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes, before concluding his playing career with HC Skoda Plzen in the Czech Extraliga in 2018. . . . He has been an associate coach with the North West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . The Express has been rebuilding its coaching staff since losing Jason Fortier, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, when they couldn’t agree on a new contract.



The Summerland Steam of the junior B Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League announced Tuesday that Ken Karpuk won’t be returning as head coach. . . . Karpuk was the head coach for one season, having replaced John DePourcq, who resigned on May 6, 2019. . . .


Bacon

Oh my, those are some horrid numbers . . . How do you hit a homer and not get credit for a run? . . . Some coaching news here, too

OK. I need someone to tell me that isn’t a nightmare. Surely this isn’t really happening . . . I must have fallen asleep while hunkered down in my recliner . . . Tell me that I did and that none of what follows really happened . . .

It was Wednesday evening when I saw a couple of tweets from Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) of CNN.

The first one showed reported U.S. coronavirus cases (I have added Thursday’s updated numbers):

Feb. 15: 15 cases.

March 15: 3,485 cases.

April 15: 638,111 cases.

April 16: 671,151 cases.

The second one showed reported U.S. coronavirus deaths:

Feb. 15: 0 deaths.

March 15: 65 deaths.

April 15: 30,844 deaths.

April 16: 33,268 deaths.

More than 2,000 people a day are dying from this virus and Agent Orange is nattering on ad nauseam about opening things up. On Thursday, he said: “Our experts say the curve has flattened and the peak in new cases is behind us.”

While still digesting those numbers, all of which are from Johns Hopkins University where they are tracking these things, there came news that Brian Allen, a centre with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, tested positive three weeks ago. Allen, who now is said to be symptom-free, is the first active NFLer to publicly acknowledge having tested positive. . . . On Thursday came word that Von Miller, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Denver Broncos, became No. 2 when he tested positive.

And then, as if those figures aren’t bad enough, I awaken Thursday morning to the news that some quack doctor, who surely is in cahoots with Agent Orange, doesn’t think it would be a big deal if schools go back in and a bunch of children die. Obviously, he is perturbed by the fact that there wasn’t even one school shooting in the Excited States in March for the first time since something like 2002. And later in the day, it was Dr. Phil’s turn. (I don’t know if it means anything but the two quacks were given their TV starts by Oprah Winfrey, whose first names spelled backwards is . . . 

And let us not forget the goofy Nebraska state senators who, as Brad Dickson put it on Twitter, “want to basically end social distancing so everyone catches Covid & develops herd immunity. Ya know, it may be faster to just behead the elderly and the vulnerable. #WorstIdeaEver.”

Oh, and what about those covidiots in Michigan who protested at the state capitol in Lansing, demanding that the economy be reopened and damn the consequences. Hey, gang, yes, you have the right to protest but maybe you should first check with the doctors, nurses, first-responders, police and all of those people who are fighting the good fight on your behalf.

Somewhere in all of this I saw something about Agent Orange suggesting the U.S.-Canada border “will be one of the early borders to be released.” The man who speaks in word salad also said this: “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well, so we’ll see.” Yes, so much winning in the Excited States!

It remained for Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, to explain things: “I don’t want (Americans) in Ontario.”

In fact, let’s close that border permanently, or at least until Agent Orange and all of his old white pals sail off into the sunset, which might be the only thing that will bring an end to this nightmare.

Hey, maybe we could build a wall and have the Americans pay for it.


On a lighter note, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game 12 years ago when a batter hit a single that was turned into a home run after video review, but that same batter didn’t score a run. . . . Seriously! . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic has that great story right here. . . . Stories like these are why I subscribe to The Athletic, which will give you a 90-day free trial these days.


Cockroach


Webster Garrison, a former manager of baseball’s Vancouver Canadians, is breathing on his own and looks to be on the way to recovery after testing positive more than a month ago. . . . Garrison now is a minor-league coach with the Oakland A’s. . . . Garrison, 54, had been intubated for more than three weeks and remains in a Louisiana hospital.


The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, which is based in Calgary, has shut down for the rest of 2020, cancelling its October induction gala in the process. Also cancelled is the Hall’s Sport + Spirit Charity Gala that was to have been held on May 27. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball Team (CEBL) has postponed the start of its regular season and now is hoping to get started at some point in June. It was to have begun its second season on May 7. . . .

The Tour de France now is scheduled to start on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 20. Originally, it was to start on June 27. . . . As the race ends, tennis’s French Open will be be starting. . . .

In soccer, the Belarusian women’s Premier League, which was to have opened its season today, has postponed the start of its season indefinitely. . . .

The Mackenzie Tour — aka PGA Tour Canada — has postponed the first six events of its 2020 schedule. Those events had been scheduled for Vancouver (May 28-31), Victoria (June 4-7), Kelowna (June 11-14), Lethbridge (June 25-28), Cardigan, P.E.I. (July 2-5) and Toronto (July 9-12). . . . The MacKenzie Tour plans on issuing an update before the end of this month.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” . . . OK, that actually was the Thought for Yesterday. Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Will Rogers: “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”


Bacon


Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late George Steinbrenner and a co-owner of the New York Yankees, died on Tuesday after a long battle with various health-related issues. . . . It was in 2008 when Hank endeared himself to Yankees fans with this:

“”Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”


Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, spent some time chatting with Steve Ewen of Postmedia earlier this week. . . . The BCHL was founded in 1961. “We’ve never taken a dime of government support in the history of this league,” Hebb told Ewen. “Here we are, in 18 communities now. In many cases, we are the Vancouver Canucks of those communities, and we could lose teams out of this (COVID-19 crisis).” . . . Reading Hebb’s comments leaves one wondering how many other junior leagues are faced with this same predicament. . . . Ewen’s piece is right here.


Bill Peters is the new head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, a Russian team in the KHL. . . . Peters has been out of coaching since he resigned as the head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Nov. 29. That came after he was accused of using a racial slur and of kicking a player. . . . Peters signed a two-year contract with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist’s top players are former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk and Nigel Dawes, who was a terrific player with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (2001-05). . . . Via a video hookup, Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs coach, told Russian reporters: “I think as time goes on we all grow and improve and become better versions of ourselves, and I’m no different than that. You learn from all the experiences that you’re in, and you become better.”


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Dan Cioffi as its new head coach. . . . In 2019-20, he was the head coach of the B.C. Major Midget League’s Valley West Giants. . . . Cioffi has BCHL experience, having worked as an associate coach with the Express (2007-10) and also with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (associate coach) and Trail Smoke Eaters (director of player personnel). . . . In Coquitlam, Cioffi replaces Jason Fortier, the reigning BCHL coach of the year who left after being unable to come to terms on a contract. He has since signed on as the general manager and head coach of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes.


Toast


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins fired Chris Lewgood, their general manager and head coach, on Wednesday. . . . According to a news release, Cory Prokop, the Bruins’ president, announced “that the board made this very difficult decision after determining that the future success of the team, both on and off the ice, would be best served with new leadership at the GM/head coach position.” . . . Lewgood just completed his seventh season as the Bruins’ head coach and had never finished out of the playoffs. They lost the 2017-18 final in seven games to the Nipawin Hawks. . . . In 2019-20, the Bruins finished second in the Viterra Division, at 31-23-4. . . . Estevan is scheduled to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup tournament.


Todd Woodcroft, who had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, has signed on as the head coach of the U of Vermont Catamounts. . . . Woodcroft takes over from the retiring Kevin Sneddon, the head coach for the past 17 seasons. . . . The Catamounts finished with a 5-23-6 record in 2019-20, their poorest showing since 2001-02.


Jeff Tambellini is leaving the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters after two seasons as general manager and head coach. Tambellini, 36, is joining the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as an NCAA free-agent recruiter and pro scout. . . . In his two seasons in Trail, the Smokies were 70-46-15 with one tie. . . . Tambellini is to help in the search for his replacement in Trail, and he also will serve as a special advisor for 2020-21.


Typing

BCHL commish sounds warning . . . City to take over Canalta Centre . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup on bubble?


DrKara
Allow me to introduce you to our granddaughter, Kara, who will turn four in July. . . . I don’t know what your grandchildren have been doing during this predicament in which we find ourselves, but Kara was in her lab on Tuesday, working to find a vaccine. . . . She isn’t funded by Bill Gates and doesn’t know 5G from Grade 5; she just has mankind’s best interests at heart. . . . She knows the experts say a vaccine is, at best, a year away, but she is working hard to squeeze that window. Judging by the top she is wearing, she is hoping to have success before Christmas. . . . Kara also says: Stay safe and have a great day!

Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that the junior A league “could lose teams” because of the pandemic. Ewen (@SteveEwen) tweeted that “many of those clubs rely heavily on the cash they bring in from spring camps and those camps have been cancelled.” . . . More from Ewen: “Hebb says the (BCHL) will approach the government looking for some sort of financial assistance. The league has gathered letters from the mayors of 18 cities that have teams . . . that state what the clubs mean to those regions.”


Another indication that the 2020-21 junior hockey season may be looking at a delayed start comes from the City of Medicine Hat. . . . The City announced Monday that “in Tigers Logo Officialresponse to the COVID-19 pandemic and the dynamic economic challenges ahead,” it will be taking over operations of the Canalta Centre from ASM Global, a venue management company, starting in August. . . . The news release announcing the change included this: “Current provincial and federal restrictions have limited the operational capabilities for the Canalta Centre venue, and the current outlook from Alberta Health and Canada Health authorities indicates that public restrictions can be expected for the remainder of 2020 in an effort to mitigate virus transmission.” . . . The 7,000-seat facility is home to the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Since opening in time for the 2015-16 season, the Tigers, according to figures compiled by the WHL, have averaged 4,248, 3,586, 3,295, 3,121 and, in 2019-20, 2,947 fans per game. . . . Brian Mastel, the City’s commissioner of public services, said: “Challenges related to market support and attendance were occurring prior to the COVID-19 crisis. When the current situation is considered in context of these broader challenges, it underscores the need to re-examine the operational and cost structure for future sustainability.” . . . You have to wonder what is in store for the start of the next hockey season if, as this news release indicates, all signs in Alberta point to “public restrictions” through the end of 2020. The WHL has five franchises based in Alberta.



One of the events on the bubble because of the pandemic would appear to be the 2020 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 3-8. . . . Bob Nicholson, the chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks a decision on the U-18 tournament will be made in the next 10 days. Teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland are scheduled to attend. . . . Nicholson also said that the NHL is “really determined to finalize this season,” adding that it could return to play in “July or August,” which would mean the 2020-21 season would begin in November. . . . Of course, having the NHL restart its season in July or August likely would mean the cancellation of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. “Everyone would like to see the Hlinka Gretzky tournament happen,” Nicholson said, “but, in fairness, I’d rather see the Edmonton Oilers be in the playoffs in the month of August.”


Bruce Jenkins, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The New York Times recently staged a panel discussion including Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised the Obama administration on health policy and the Affordable Care Act. His words were stark and foreboding.

“ ‘Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically, we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.’ ”

Jenkins’ column, which carries the headline California Gov. Newsom’s coronavirus plan has grim implications for sports in 2020, is right here.


——

According to Golf Digest, the PGA Tour is preparing to return to play with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, June 11-14. An announcement is expected this week and, no, fans won’t be allowed to attend the event. . . . The tournament had been scheduled for May 21-24. . . . The story also indicates that the RBC Canadian Open, scheduled for June 11-14, won’t be played. . . .

The Asian Football Confederation, which features 32 Asian Champions League teams, has shut down through the end of June. . . .

The Senior British Open golf tournament that was to scheduled for July 23-26 at Sunningdale has been postponed. Organizers are hoping to hold the tournament later in the year. . . .

The Tour de France that was to have started on June 27 in Nice has been postponed, although possible future dates weren’t announced. France has cancelled all large public gatherings through at least mid-July. . . . The Tour de France has been held every year since 1946 when it was cancelled due to the Second World War that had recently ended. . . .

The MLS, which was a couple of weeks into its season when it suspended play on March 12, had hoped to resume in mid-May, but now says that is “extremely unlikely.” It is following guidelines established by federal and public health officials. . . .

The Chinese Basketball Association, on hold since Jan. 24, had planned on resuming play on Wednesday (April 15). Now, however, it seems the CBA has been forced to delay a possible return until at least sometime in July. . . .

The Canadian U-15 and U-17 basketball championships, scheduled for Aug. 2-9, have been cancelled. The women were to have played in Charlottetown, the men in Kingston.


Here’s our man Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “And the thing about my jokes is, they don’t hurt anybody. You can take ’em or leave ’em — you can say they’re funny or they’re terrible or they’re good, or whatever, but you can just pass ’em by. But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it’s a law! And every time they make a law, it’s a joke!”


A few things I’ve learned while sitting out this pandemic: Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, apparently is paid somewhere around US$11 million per year. He and other baseball officials are said to be taking a 35 per cent cut in pay. I’m sure he will be able to survive on $7 million. . . . Everything that goes wrong in Canada, from the pothole at the base of your driveway to the divot that your golf ball landed in on the second fairway, is Justin Trudeau’s fault. . . . Nothing is more valuable these days than hand sanitizer. That fact was borne out on Saturday when fistfights broke out at Forbidden Spirits Distilling near Kelowna as folks arrived in vehicles hoping to score some free sanitizer. Rumour has it that Lorne Frey, the Kelowna Rockets’ super scout, was on hand looking for some muscle for next season. . . . Hockey continues to have a nickname problem. Koletrane Wilson, who played out his WHL career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, had one of the league’s best names, and his nickname is Willy. Seriously? . . . The United States of America has fallen a long, long way since this thing started and it is looking more and more like it can’t get up.


Dale Hawerchuk rings Bell of Hope . . . Will some junior teams not make it? . . . Doughty can’t see NHL season resuming


One of the things I’ve been wondering about over the last month is whether there will be some junior teams who won’t answer the bell when it’s time to start another season, whenever that might be.

On Monday, Tyler Yaremchuk, who among other things is the host of Inside The AJHL on TSN 1260 in Edmonton, tweeted (@tyleryaremchuk) a couple of things that he has “heard about the AJHL” . . .

“As many as three teams are considering a sabbatical. They would take a season off and then reassess.

“The league will vote on whether or not to make players pay a fee to play next season. somewhere around $2,500 per player for the 20/21 season. Other CJHL leagues considering this as well.

“Finally, don’t expect this to impact the arrival of the new Blackfalds franchise. (It) should be okay to begin play in 2021/22.”

I fully expect that before we are out of this mess we will be hearing more about junior hockey franchises pondering their future, especially if the start of the 2020-21 season is delayed in any fashion.

None of these leagues were able to get anywhere close to a conclusion with their playoffs, which means a number of teams lost out on a great deal of revenue. In other words, the gravy train never did reach the station.

As well, junior A and junior B teams have had to cancel the spring camps they hold on an annual basis, all of which are revenue generators.

After Yaremchuk’s tweets landed, Trent Wilhauk, governor and vice-president with the AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys, tweeted: “Because my phone is blowing up I will comment only that the Olds Grizzlys ARE NOT in this situation. Yes COVID19 has been financially hard on us losing possible camps but the Grizzlys are business as usual.”



I am sure that you have heard rumblings about the NHL, NBA and MLB all having discussed playing games in facilities without fans in attendance.

Here’s Chip Kelly, the head coach of college football’s UCLA Bruins on the possibility of the NCAA playing without fans:

“If it’s not safe for fans to attend the games, then I don’t know why it would be safe for players to participate in the games.”


And here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginia-Pilot:

“Baseball’s Arizona plan is an example of a league thinking it can outsmart a pandemic. Science? Who needs that when you can send 30 teams to the desert for a mid-May start, sequestering players in hotels before letting them out to play in any of 11 stadiums? It also would prevent players from seeing their families and significant others. Whatever idea the NBA may come up with to restart its season, it cannot top this for stupidity.”


Taco


Here is Jack Finarelli’s Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”


Drew Doughty, the Los Angeles Kings’ all-star defenceman, spent some of his Monday on a conference call with reporters. Here is part of what he had to say:

“I don’t see how this season is going to return. I really don’t. We have no idea when this virus is going to be over. We’re all kind of just sitting at home, just hoping to return to the season or hoping to watch the playoffs return. But we’re just sitting here, waiting, working out, being ready to return at any point.

“I think the NHL would have to make some kind of decision on that soon, and it seems like it’s pretty tough to resume the season or the playoffs.”

Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has more right here.


Steve Ewen of Postmedia wonders “what will our new normal be?” . . . Or will there even be a normal? . . . He has a whole lot of questions but, like all of us, he doesn’t have any answers. . . . “Could we be waiting until there’s a coronavirus vaccine before the NHL and other pro sports have fans in the stands?” he wonders. “Could we be a year from big-time hockey, football, soccer, basketball and baseball with cheering crowds?” . . . Ewen’s complete column is right here.


Carl Mallette is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres. He had been an assistant coach with the Tigres for three seasons. . . . He also played in Victoriaville for five seasons and has had his number (97) retired. . . . Mallette, 38, takes over from Louis Robitaille, who left earlier this month to sign on as general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, who had dismissed Eric Landry.


The family of the late Colby Cave returned to North Battleford, Sask., on Monday and folks lined up for miles along the highway as a show of love and support. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix had photographer Matt Smith on hand, and the photos are right here.


If you’ve been wondering, the Toronto Blue Jays are 6-11 and six games back in the AL East as the gang at Strat-O-Matic plays out a simulated version of the 2020 MLB season. . . . On Monday, the Blue Jays were blanked 2-0 by the visiting Minnesota Twins, who won despite being out-hit, 5-3. . . . Former Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson gave the Twins a 2-0 lead with a solo shot, his second homer of the season, in the fourth inning. . . . The Tampa Bay Rays (12-5) lead the AL East by two games over the New York Yankees (10-7). The other division leaders: Kansas City Royals (12-4), Oakland A’s (12-5), Washington Nationals (11-5), Chicago Cubs (11-5) and San Diego Padres (12-4). . . . Wondering about the Seattle Mariners? They’re 5-13 and 7.5 games off the pace in the AL West. It doesn’t look to be their year. Again.


Mona

Scattershooting on a Monday night while wondering how long they’ll be the Houston Asterisks . . .

Scattershooting

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Columnist Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, on the cheating mess in MLB:

“This scandal is a perfect illustration of why cheating in professional sports is so bad. It ruins everything. There is no way to fix the damage. And that scar across a sport’s visage is permanent, as with the World Series 101 years ago that is still known by just two words: Black Sox.

“That is why it is so important to make every effort to catch cheaters and crush those who get caught with penalties that get the attention of the next person who is tempted to do the same. We never seem to understand the true weight of the phrase ‘integrity of the game’ until some team or player tries to rip it to shreds to win.”

Boswell’s complete column is right here.

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The person who came up with the idea to feature Cam Hope, the president and general manager of the WHL’s Victoria Royals, in a video as he put together a deal with the Moose Jaw Warriors that brought sniper Brayden Tracey to Vancouver Island deserves a raise in pay. . . . If you haven’t seen the video, it’s about six minutes in length and it’s right here. . . . The script writer got a perfect ending, too, as Tracey scored the OT winner in his first game with the Royals. . . . BTW, I have all kinds of time for Hope, who has never shied away from answering any question that I may have asked him.


Psst! Did you hear about the hockey game that wasn’t able to start on time because one of the referees forgot his pants? No, it wasn’t in the WHL. . . . It was a National Ice Hockey League game in the United Kingdom between the Peterborough Phantoms and Telford Tigers. . . . Officials are required to wear black pants with some padding, and referee Richard Belfitt didn’t have his with him. He ended up finding a pair in the arena’s lost-and-found bin and the game started after a 15-minute delay. . . . That story is right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, noted the other day that there was only one winless NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball team at that point of the season — Mississippi Valley State at 0-13. . . . “Twelve of those 13 losses were road games for the Delta Devils,” he wrote. “The NCAA loves to refer to its ‘student-athletes’. Surely those 12 road games enhanced significantly the ‘student’ portion of college life for those ‘student-athletes’. . . . The Delta Devils have since split two games, both on the road, and now are 1-14. Last night, they beat the host Alabama A&M Bulldogs, 72-66. The Bulldogs are 5-10.

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After the Miami Dolphins fired offensive co-ordinator Chad O’Shea, Finarelli confessed: “I could not pick him out of a lineup with the WNBA all-star team.”



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “It now has been revealed that New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes broke an ankle at his Florida ranch last season when he stepped in a hole while trying to elude a wild pig. Or as Mets publicists immediately tried to spin it, he’s been out because of a bad hammy.”

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One more from Perry: “According to a study conducted by four universities in Ireland, the average doctor visit there lasts 14.1 minutes. Or roughly the same as an NFL video replay review.”



While the Battle of Alberta was showing life in Calgary on Saturday night, thanks to the Kamloops1Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian of the Edmonton Oilers, the Battle of the Okanagan blew up in Kelowna as the Rockets and the Kamloops Blazers brawled their way to the conclusion of what was a 7-2 victory by the visitors, who had won 4-1 at home on Friday. . . . Saturday’s game included battling goaltenders as Kelowna’s Roman Basran and Dylan Garand of the Blazers gave fight fans across the Internet an orgasmic moment.

“The league’s got to take a hard look at how their refs are letting it get out of control,” Kelowna head coach Adam Foote told David Trifunov of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “I talked to a league official before the game. I said, ‘They’ve let three hitting from behinds go, and they let 23 (Kamloops F Jeremy Appelt) board a guy.’ They call the right call there to control the game . . . Our guys, I never promote that stuff, but I think they just got fed up.”

The Rockets were upset about a hit by Appelt on F Liam Kindree at 12:49 of the second period.

Trifunov added: “The coach said he thought that precipitated much of the shenanigans at KelownaRocketsthe end of the game. But he also said after Kelowna’s Pavel Novak was suspended eight games for a check-from-behind on the Blazers’ Kyrell Sopotyk on Nov. 11, the Rockets have watched numerous similar calls go nearly unpunished.”

There are a few other WHL teams, like maybe 21 of them, who will be slapping foreheads and chuckling from behind hands over a Rockets coach complaining about the officiating. After all, everyone knows that the Rockets get all the officiating breaks because their owner, governor, president and general manager, Bruce Hamilton, rules the roost.

Right?

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When Basran and Garand tumbled to the ice as their scrap neared its end, the Kelowna goaltender said something to his Kamloops counterpart and the two quickly separated and got to their feet. Basran, though, was favouring his right arm/shoulder as he skated away. . . . Basran is the Rockets’ No. 1 goaltender, having played in 33 games (1,816 minutes) to Cole Schwebius’s 13 (652 minutes). . . . If Basran is injured, remember that the fight took place slightly more than 24 hours after the passing of the WHL’s trade deadline. And remember that the Rockets are the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup that is four months down the road.

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BTW . . . In the end, the goofiness resulted in one suspension — Kelowna D Kaedan Korczak got three games — and fines totalling $4,500, with the Rockets dinged for $3,000 of that. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia pointed out via Twitter that there were “18 fighting majors in the Kamloops-Kelowna game on Saturday night. That’s more fighting majors than all but five teams have incurred this season in the WHL.” . . . Kamloops has won seven of eight meetings with Kelowna this season, having outscored the Rockets 33-14 in the process. They will conclude the season series on March 13 (at Kamloops) and 14 (at Kelowna).

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Meanwhile, in Calgary, there seemed to be a whole lot of consternation from various NHLcorners because Tkachuk refused to fight Kassian when challenged in the third period of what was then a 3-3 game. Those who are up in arms seem to be forgetting one thing — Why do you play the game? As then-New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards so famously explained more than 17 years ago: “You play to win the game.” . . . Well, Kassian ended up in the penalty box and the Flames, with Tkachuk screening in front of the Edmonton net, scored on the power play as they went on to a 4-3 victory. . . . On Monday, Kassian was hit with a two-game suspension. . . . Gotta think Tkachuk won the night. . . . With the all-star break approaching, Kassian will be eligible to return on Jan. 29 when — you guessed it! — the Flames are scheduled to play in Edmonton.

Paul Stewart, a former NHL referee who was a tough cookie as a WHL/NHL player, has his take on Tkachuk vs. Kassian right here.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys announced on Monday that Joe Murphy, their general manager and head coach, had resigned, effective immediately. . . . Pete deGraaf was named interim head coach. . . . The Grizzlys are 9-17-5 and in sixth place in the seven-team South Division. . . . Murphy, a former Olds player, was in his second season as head coach, his first as GM. . . . DeGraaf is in his third season with Olds.



JUST NOTES: Why do I get the feeling that Houston’s American League time will be known as the Asterisks for the next while? . . . And it would seem that the Boston Red Sox and manager Alex Cora are next up at MLB’s Cheaters’ Waltz. . . . When MLB lowers the boom on the Red Sox, the New York tabloids — the Post and Daily News — should be worth a look. . . . Are the drivers who don’t clean the snow off their vehicles — especially the windows — before leaving home/work the same people who don’t use their turn-signals? . . . All things considered, Boston play-by-play fan Jack Edwards was rather restrained as Bruins F Brad Marchand muffed that shootout attempt last night. Could it be that Edwards simply was in a state of shock? . . . Why do journalists continue to write/report that a team or person has “punched their ticket” to an event? For example, The Canadian men’s volleyball team didn’t punch a ticket to anywhere on Sunday; rather, it qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games.