‘Just why are we doing this?’ . . . ‘If we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.’



The MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., continues to stagger along, having lost two teams because of players testing positive, and having to postpone a Sunday morning game for the same reason.

Major League Baseball teams are trying to hold something resembling training camps between positive tests and teams having to cancel workouts for reasons that include delays in receiving results.

The NBA has its teams in bubbles in Orlando, practising and preparing to restart their season. There have been positive tests — CBS Sports has reported “dozens” of them — since late June when players returned to practice facilities.

The NHL has teams opening training camps today (Monday) and later will head for the two bubble cities — Edmonton and Toronto — in hopes of resuming their season. In its last weekly report, the NHL said 35 players have tested positive in the past month, with 23 of those coming since workouts began at team facilities on June 8.

The NHL has placed a gag order on its teams, with the league office taking over the reporting of player absences. The NHL won’t provide illness or injury specifics.

On Sunday, Arpon Basu of The Athletic reported that at least three players with the Montreal Canadiens have tested positive “in recent days.” Neither the NHL nor the Canadiens would comment.

As of Sunday evening, seven players had opted out of returning to play — D Karl Alzner, Montreal; F Sven Baertschi, Vancouver; D Mike Green, Edmonton; D Travis Hamonic, Calgary; D Steven Kampfer, Boston; D Roman Polak, Dallas; and D Zach Trotman, Pittsburgh. I believe all of them made the decision to put their health and that of their families ahead of playing in what is truly a bogus season.

(I admit to having stole ‘bogus season’ from Ann Killion, a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle.

(After C Buster Posey of the Giants opted not to play in this MLB season, Killion wrote: “Every single one of the roughly 2,500 or so individuals being asked to participate in a bogus, truncated baseball season have their own personal decisions to make.”)

The deadline for NHL players to opt out without penalty is today (Monday) at 5 p.m. ET.

The Canadiens have given F Max Domi an extra seven to 10 days to make a decision on reporting to camp. Domi has Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

Keeping the previous paragraphs in mind, I have to ask: Am I the only person wondering what is going here?

Have we as a society gotten to the point where we sit idly by, in some instances applauding and cheering, as billionaire owners march their athletes like so much chattel into what they all seem to be calling a return to play but in which there are so many unknowns?

How is it that we are in a place where a young man like Domi has to make this kind of decision?

With the U.S. government calling for a return to school next month, Canyons School District in Utah is making plans to re-open. Part of its return-to-school protocol includes this, after it touches on things like exposure letter and distance learning plan information:

“Template letter for the death of a student, teacher.”

It’s enough to make one wonder if various leagues and teams have such a thing in their return-to-play protocols.


Bee


In a brilliant piece in The New York Times, John Branch writes:

“On Wednesday, the day that the Ivy League canceled fall sports, nearly 60,000 new cases were reported in the United States, a new high.

“Some of those were college athletes. Through Wednesday, at least 426  had tested positive for the coronavirus among roughly 50 Division I programs, but the number of cases is likely much higher. About half of American universities either did not respond to requests for testing results from The New York Times, or declined to provide numbers, under the auspices of protecting the privacy of student-athletes.

“Ohio State, in suspending its off-season workout programs this week, did not reveal how many students tested positive. It only said that the shutdown impacted seven sports, including football.

“Such news accelerates as the fall sports calendar approaches. And if reasonable people at some of the world’s great universities had not seriously pondered this question before, they are now:

“Just why are we doing this?”

Branch’s piece is right here.


Look, I’m sorry, but COVID-19 is here and it isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the foreseeable future. I want to see live sporting events on my TV set with fans hooting and hollering in the background. I want to see a  return to some kind of normalcy just as badly as anyone, but I have come to realize that in the months ahead we are going to have to get used to a new normal, whatever that might be.

As Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Public Health in Seattle and King County, told a news conference on Friday:

“It’s just critical that, as a community, we understand the long-term nature of COVID-19. None of us asked for this, none of us wanted this. But it’s with us and we have to deal with it. And if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.”


Kevan Smith, a catcher in camp with the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., spent the early part of summer working out at home in Pittsburgh.

It seems that he has found Florida to be a bit different.

“Felt like you couldn’t even walk outside without a mask on (at home),” Smith told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “I feel like here you go out with a mask, we have guys getting called names and all the above. Just a totally different feel.

“I heard a story, one of the (guys), I don’t know if I can use this word, he was in a store shopping for food and I guess it was a resident called the player a pansy for wearing his mask.

“I went out briefly to just pick up some takeout food, and I swear I got like a dozen eyeballs on me, looking at me like I’m like the weirdo walking in with a mask. Little do they know what is at stake for my life and for my livelihood. It’s just very immature and just whatever you want to call it. It’s comical. It’s going on all over the world, but we’re seeing it firsthand here.”


Early last week, 2B Scott Kingery of the Philadelphia Phillies, who is back on the field after being out with COVID-19, told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia: The virus “can creep up on you and get you pretty bad like it did with me.

Kingery now is symptom-free, but he continues to deal with shortness of breath, a month after being diagnosed. . . .

On Saturday, the New York Yankees revealed that Aroldis Chapman, one of MLB’s best relievers, had tested positive. He has some symptoms and is out indefinitely. . . .

Kenley Jansen, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer, was late reporting to their camp because he had tested positive. He said he is “doing great and better now.” He told reporters that he had family members who also tested positive, but they have recovered. . . .

C Cam Gallagher of the Kansas City Royals played in an intrasquad game on Friday and tested positive on Saturday. The Royals now have had at least four players test positive. . . .

P Luis Perdomo and SS Luis Urias of the Milwaukee Brewers have tested positive, but are asymptomatic. The Brewers also are without P Eric Lauer, who didn’t get to camp until Friday. He hasn’t tested positive, but was in contact with someone who did.


TV


Jockey Flavien Prat tested positive after riding in Kentucky on Saturday. He was tested in La Jolla, Calif., on Sunday. He had eight rides at Del Mar on Sunday, but had to give them up. . . . Victor Espinoza, a jockey who is in horse racing’s hall of fame, tested positive in La Jolla on Friday. . . . Two other prominent jockeys — Martin Garcia and Luis Saez — also have tested positive.



From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

What a difference four months makes:

March 9: Jazz center Rudy Gobert mockingly touches every microphone at a news conference, contracts COVID-19 and shuts down the NBA season.

July 9: 76ers center Joel Embiid, headed to the Disney World bubble for the season restart, shows up in a hazmat suit.


In my world, Tony Kubek is perhaps the most under-rated analyst in MLB broadcast history. How I used to look forward to Saturday afternoons with Kubek and Curt Gowdy . . .


Headline at fark.com: MLB releases 60-day COVID-19 spreading schedule.


Hartley Miller attacks Redundant Rhetoric in his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack blog entry that is right here. Oh my, there are a lot of pet peeves in here, starting with this point about game times: “How about this traditional one-liner — And tonight’s game will start at 7 ‘PM.’ Thanks for the notice; I would have waited until seven the next morning to watch ‘tonight’s’ game.”


An NFL prediction from Tim Hunter of KRKO Radio: “Patrick Mahomes has signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs that will definitely last longer than the team’s name.”

On that subject, the Washington NFL team reportedly will announce today that it is changing its nickname. But it won’t yet announce that nickname as it proceeds through the legalities of a change.



Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana lacerated a thumb while washing dishes. Jose, you make big-league money. Look into this really neat invention. It’s called a dishwasher!”


Chimes

Saanich jr. B team to change logo, nickname . . . Hockey problems down under . . . U.S. conferences, schools start reacting to pandemic

Owners of the Saanich Junior Braves, who play in the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, are changing the team’s nickname and logo. . . . In a news release, owners Edward Geric and Norm Kelly said: “The Saanich Junior Braves name is not respectful to our First Nations and does not reflect the value relationships we hold with local First Nations communities or with our First Nations players. We have decided to rename the team and have started a process to develop a name that upholds our core values.” . . . The nickname and logo have been in use since 1967. . . . The team is open to feedback and questions at SaanichJrBHockey@gmail.com.


The City of Red Deer decided Wednesday to give Westerner Park as much as $2 million to allow it to operate until November. The hope is that things will have gotten better by then, in terms of the pandemic, meaning the park will be able to play host to events including WHL games. The Centrium, home to the Red Deer Rebels, is part of Westerner Park. . . . Lana Michelin of the Red Deer Advocate has a terrific story right here that explains the situation.


The Grand Slam of Curling, which is owned and televised by Sportsnet, has dropped four events from its next season, which leaves it with two competitions on its schedule. . . . The season was to have started in Sarnia, Ont., Oct. 20-25. Also gone are events in Grande Prairie (Nov. 3-8) and Chestermere, Alta. (Dec. 8-13), and Las Vegas (Jan. 12-17). . . . Now the season is to open in Toronto (April 13-18), with the final event in Olds, Alta., April 27 through May 2.


The Augustana Vikings, who play out of the U of Alberta’s Camrose campus, won’t be playing hockey this season, but they’ll be back for 2021-22. And that’s great news! . . . In February, it seemed that the program was kaput due to financial reasons, but the U of A and Vikings’ alumni got together and came up with a plan. . . . Robert Tychowski of Postmedia has more right here.


Testing


The Melbourne Mustangs of the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) revealed Wednesday that their season is over. The AIHL season was to have opened on April 18. . . . Melbourne was put into a six-week lockdown earlier in the week. . . . The Mustangs wrote on their Facebook page: “It is with much sadness that we today announce the cancellation of the 2020 season. We were holding onto the slim chance we might get to see a modified competition, but the current situation in Victoria makes this all but impossible. Thank you to our tireless supporters. Rest assured we will be back next year stronger than ever.” . . . On Thursday, the AIHL responded with this: “We’ve got an active Return To Play (RTP) committee which continues to closely follow COVID-19 updates. While the current outbreak and border closures are making it increasingly unlikely, the RTP committee remains hopeful of having a substantially condensed 2020 schedule when the situation improves in Melbourne.” . . . Interestingly, the Melbourne Ice, the second AIHL team in that city, has yet to comment on its immediate future. . . .

New Zealand’s dream of having teams compete for IIHF championships has been set back at least a year. The country’s ice hockey federation has withdrawn its teams from the men’s U-20 World Championship Division III in Mexico, and has taken its women’s team out of the U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group B in Turkey. . . . From a news release: “The NZIHF Management Committee met and discussed the two team’s attendance at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and after reviewing the situation, unanimously agreed that putting forward teams for these age groups to compete in the 2021 World Championships was not possible due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 in New Zealand and internationally.”


Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, has decided that contact sports at the high school level won’t be allowed this fall. That includes football and soccer, with some non-contact sports, like cross-country and volleyball, under review. . . .

——

The Ivy League has cancelled all sports, including football and hockey, through Dec. 31 due to the pandemic. It is the first NCAA Division I conference to cancel fall sports. . . . The Ivy schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale. . . . The Ivy League includes six schools with hockey teams — Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Without those teams, the ECAC is down to six teams, but Colgate, RPI and Union are expected to follow the Ivy League’s lead because they won’t have all students on campus in the fall. . . . From an Associated Press story by Doug Feinberg and Jimmy Golen: “Ivy League schools are spread across seven Northeastern states that, as of mid-July, have seen some success at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. But most of those states still ban large gatherings; under the Massachusetts reopening plan, Harvard would not be allowed to have fans in the stands until a vaccine is developed.” . . .

——

On Thursday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that its Olympic sports will be kept from competition until at least Sept. 1. That covers men’s a women’s cross-country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s volleyball. . . .

——

The National Junior College Athletic Association, the second-largest collegiate athletic association in the U.S., recommended Thursday that its members move a majority of its competitions to the spring. . . . From a statement: “Individual NJCAA regions will discuss the recommended changes prior to the NJCAA board of regents’ meeting on Monday, July 13, where an official plan of action will be decided.” . . . The NJCAA encompasses 525 schools in 24 regions of the U.S. . . .

——

Meanwhile, the Big 10 issued a news release on Thursday that included this: “We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our No. 1 priority. To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.” . . . There is a mighty big “IF” in the second sentence of that statement. . . .

There is a look right here at all the non-conference football games that the Big 10’s decision killed . . .

——

Stanford announced Wednesday that it will be cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports once the 2020-21 season is over. Men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling will be going by the wayside. . . . In making the decision, the school cited the pandemic and the cost of operating a total of 36 varsity sports. . . . “These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches,” read a statement released by the school. “They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements. Each of the individuals associated with these programs will forever have a place in Stanford’s history.”


The MLS is Back tournament lost another team on Thursday as Nashville SC pulled out have having nine players test positive. FC Dallas had been taken out of the tournament prior to its start after 10 players and a coach tested positive. . . . Nashville had one p[layer test positive when the team arrived in Orlando, Fla., on July 1, then had eight more come up positive after the arrival.



Bob Tasca, who drives the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang Funny Car, will miss this weekend’s E3 Spark Plugs Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Why? You guess it. Tasca, 44, tested positive for the coronavirus. . . . He caught the virus at a family gathering on Father’s Day, as did seven other family members. . . . Tasca shares his experience right here.


CHL: ‘Independent review panel’ on way . . . Hammett, ex-WHLer, to join class-action lawsuit . . . BCHL gets even tougher with fighters

The CHL issued a release on Friday in response to the class-action lawsuit that was filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor with allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse during their time in major junior hockey. . . . According to the news release, the CHL’s board of directors agreed Thursday “to the appointment of an independent review panel to thoroughly review the current policies and practices in our leagues that relate to hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying, and the allegation that players do not feel comfortable reporting behaviours that contravene these policies.” . . . The CHL says it will announced this panel’s chair person “in the coming weeks” and “our goal is to have the review process completed in time for the start of the 2020-21 season.”



On Thursday TSN’s Rick Westhead reported on a former WHL player who detailed the physical and sexual abuse he endured during two seasons in the league.

Westhead, who granted the player anonymity, revealed on Friday that the former player Bighornsis Brad Hammett, who played with the Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders (1981-83).

According to Westhead, Hammett “subsequently decided he wanted to publish his story under his name, hoping that doing so might provide support to other players nervous about coming forward with similar stories.”

Hammett, 56, is joining the lawsuit filed against the CHL by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor, alleging various forms of abuse during their major junior careers. They are hoping to have the lawsuit certified as a class-action.

“I’ve lived with this a long time,” Hammett told Westhead, “and my family has often wondered why I have had moods. Talking about this, I feel there’s a weight off my shoulders. I know that it’s going to get better. I’m not hiding something.”

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told TSN via email that “the league has spoken with Hammett and will investigate his claims.”

Westhead’s story is right here.


Some of Garrett Taylor’s allegations in the lawsuit against the CHL involve the 2008-09 LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes. According to the statement of claim:

“He and a number of other rookies on the Hurricanes suffered abuse throughout the 2008-09 season. The abuse was perpetrated by older Lethbridge Hurricanes players and team staff, agents, employees and servants.”

Earlier this week, 26 players who played with the Hurricanes in 2008-09 signed a letter that appeared in the Lethbridge Herald.

That letter, which is right here, reads in part:

“None of us can say that we were aware of absolutely everything that happened to every player on our team during their time with the Hurricanes. However, after thorough reviews and discussions among ourselves over the past few days, we can all unequivocally state that we were all treated with great respect and professionalism throughout that year and throughout all our years with the coaching staff of the Hurricanes.”


In an editorial published earlier this week, The Globe and Mail wrote:

“The underlying problem is that the system enables abuse. It’s time to get rid of a draft that treats children as chattel, and which allows a hockey league to operate under prehistoric notions of labour relations.

“Major junior hockey has to change, because hockey has changed. The NHL now prizes skilled players far more than the grinders and cement-handed role players of the past. . . .

“Many of the most sought after players these days are coming from Europe and the United States — including Canadians skipping major junior altogether, in favour of the U.S. college route. Mr. Carcillo’s lawsuit is just the latest reminder that Canada’s major junior hockey system has run its course.”

The complete editorial is right here.



The Medicine Hat Cubs announced Friday that they won’t play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League’s 2020-21 season. . . . “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and due to diminishing sponsorship revenues the board of directors voted in favour to not play in the upcoming season,” the team said in a news release. . . . The Cubs’ departure leaves the league with 13 teams. . . .

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas has halted voluntary workouts until at least July 5 after four student-athletes tested positive. . . . An undisclosed number of others who came in contacted with them also are in quarantine. . . .

Morehouse College, a historically black school in Atlanta, cancelled all fall sports, including football, on Friday. . . . David A. Thomas, Morehouse’s president, told The New York Times: “Responsible leaders have to see us as being in a crisis, and a characteristic of a crisis is unpredictability. Good management says any uncertainty you can take out of the equation you should take out. One element where we could create certainty is what are we going to do with athletics.” . . . An NCAA Division II program, the football team was to have opened its season on Sept. 5. . . . Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, later told The Times: “I’m afraid and confident in my fear that we’ll see more sports be dropped, whether it’s programs or entire seasons canceled.” . . .

Clemson U reported on Friday that 14 more of its football players have tested positive. That brings the the total of Tigers testing positive to 37 since training facilities open earlier this month. . . . All told, Clemson has had 43 student-athlete and four staff members come up positive. A total of 430 tests have been administered.


CB Melvin Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints isn’t comfortable about starting the NFL season in September. . . . Here’s what he told CNN:

“The NBA is a lot different than the NFL. They can actually quarantine all of their players, or whoever is going to participate, whereas we have over 2,000 players; and even more coaches and staff who can’t do that. So we end up being on this trust system — the honor system — where we just have to hope that guys are social distancing and things like that, and that puts all of us at risk. That’s not only us as players, and whoever’s in the building(s), but when we go home to families.

“I have parents that I don’t want to get sick. I think until we get to the point where we have protocols in place, and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it — we have to understand that football is a non-essential business. We don’t need to do it. So the risk has to be eliminated before we — before I would feel comfortable with going back.”



Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle with a great idea: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.”


The BCHL appears bound and determined to eliminate fighting from its games and, hey, good for them.

Brian Wiebe, who operates the BCHLNetwork, reports:

“The league has imposed stricter penalties for fighting in 2020-21. Players who engage in a fight are currently assessed a major penalty and an automatic game misconduct. Under the Junior A Supplement, which is the minimum standards adhered to by all 10 leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, a player received supplemental discipline on their fifth fight of the season.

“The new rule sees a player receive supplemental discipline upon their second fighting major. The league has also cracked down on players deemed to be the instigator and/or aggressor in a fight, with both penalties now receiving a suspension upon the first offence. Subsequent instigator and/or aggressor penalties after the first one received will see a significant increase in suspension.”

Wiebe has a whole lot more on the BCHL and rule changes right here. If you’re a junior hockey fan and you aren’t following Wiebe, you really are cheating yourself. You’ll find him on Twitter at @Brian_Wiebe.


Jeff Harvey has signed on as the Saskatoon Blades’ goaltending coach. Harvey is a former SaskatoonWHL goaltender (Kootenay Ice, Swift Current Broncos, Everett Silvertips, 2000-04). . . . Harvey, now 37, and Blades head coach Mitch Love were teammates with the Silvertips in 2003-04 when Everett reached the WHL’s championship final in its first season in the league. . . . They also played together with the Broncos and with the Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central league in 2010-11. . . . It also should be pointed out that Harvey helped the Rosetown Redwings of the Sask Valley Hockey League to a pair of Saskatchewan senior AAA provincial titles and twice played in the Allan Cup. . . . Harvey replaces Tim Cheveldae on the Blades’ coaching staff.


Dell

More allegations of abuse in junior hockey . . . Lawyer busy adding players to lawsuit . . . Former NHLer likely to join


A spokesperson with the WHL has told TSN that it would open an investigation after a former player alleged “he was a victim of sexual and physical abuse” during stints with two teams.

According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, the player sent an email of his complaints to the WHL and copied the email to TSN.

In the email, the player wrote:

“The abuse transformed me from a driven, happy, engaged young man and a solid NHL hockey prospect into a black mass of anger, untrust of people, self-isolation and alcohol abuse. The recent CHL allegations of abuse triggered anger in me and brought forward flashbacks and anguish.”

The player went into the brutish details of the complaints in the email, all of which is in Westhead’s story that is right here.

At one point, Westhead writes: “The complainant confirmed the identities of the alleged assailants to TSN. Several have prominent roles in the hockey industry.”


The WHL has had at least one opportunity in years gone by to deal with a player who has said he was humiliated and “physically assaulted” during his WHL career.

In the book Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos, which was published in 2012, Peter Soberlak described some of what happened to him during his first WHL season with his hometown Kamloops Blazers.

“It was really horrible,” Soberlak, who was 16 at the time, said. “In a lot of cases, I feared going on the bus, feared going on road trips . . . just because of the humiliation and constant verbal abuse. . . .

“What I went through in Kamloops destroyed my confidence. I can deal with that now, but it was just horrific for me. It sucked the life out of me. . . . I was physically assaulted.

“You think I have not suffered — have not had repercussions from what I went through there — serious, absolutely long-term, continuous major repercussions of what happened to me in that situation. I guarantee you I have.”

Seen by some observers as the best player in his age group in Canada at one time, Soberlak was out of the game at 23.

“That’s the only thing I am bitter about in my hockey career,” he said. “My first year in Kamloops . . . it was the worst year of my life.”

Soberlak, now 51, has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a minor in sociology, from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s Degree in sport and exercise psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He is a lecturer and works with the athletic department and its teams at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

No one from the WHL has ever contacted him about his allegations in the book of which I was a co-author.


James Sayce, the lawyer working with Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor on their class-action lawsuit against the CHL, has told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News “a lot” of players have joined the lawsuit since it first was filed. . . . Campbell writes: “If the people who run junior hockey in Canada were taken aback by this lawsuit, shame on them. They should have seen this coming because it’s not as though the warning signs were not there. In fact, in filing a lawsuit against the CHL, both Carcillo and Taylor were simply putting on the legal record things they’ve been saying for years now. Carcillo went public with the humiliation he suffered during his rookie season with the Sarnia Sting in 2002-03 two years ago.” . . . Campbell’s latest column is right here.


Dan Fritsche, a former NHLer, says he likely will be joining the class-action lawsuit filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor against the CHL and the three major junior leagues that operate under its umbrella. The lawsuit alleges “hazing, bullying, physical and verbal harassment, physical assault, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.” . . . Fritsche was a rookie on the 2002-03 Sarnia Sting of the OHL, as was Carcillo. . . . “There’s nothing I’ve read that isn’t true,” Fritsche told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. “I was in that toxic atmosphere. I had to go through all of that rookie shit, all the disgusting things they would make us do. It was so awful, and people knew about it who absolutely could have stopped it. They’d put us in the (charter bus) bathroom, butt-ass naked, six to eight of us (rookies) for 45 minutes as we’re coming home from a road trip. They’d throw a coin in there to make us fight over it, naked, and whoever came up with it got to get out first. Stuff like that, just over and over.” . . . If you are an Athletic subscriber, Portzline’s complete story is right here.




An undisclosed number of Minnesota Twins players have tested positive, although none were at the team’s home park, Target Field, or its spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. . . . Derek Falvey, the president of baseball operations, told Fox 9 Sports: “We have players in many different locations. I don’t think this is necessarily a surprise that we may have some positive cases.” . . .

ESPN reported that the NFL has cancelled its Hall of Fame game that was to have featured the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6. . . . It also is believed that the NFL will delay its induction ceremonies that were to have been held on Aug. 8. . . .

The NBA’s Sacramento Kings have at least three players on their roster who have tested positive — F Jabari Parker, C Alex Len and G Buddy Hield. . . . Sara Hodge of CBS Sacramento has reported that a fourth unidentified player also has tested positive. . . .

Orenburg, a team in Russia’s top soccer league, reported Thursday that it has six players and two staff members who have tested positive. . . . The Russian Premier League returned to play last week. . . . Apparently, Orenburg’s entire team tested negative as recently as Sunday. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League, which was to have started its season early in May, is planning on opening a month-long tournament without fans in St. Catharines, Ont., on July 15. A single-elimination playoff will end with a championship game on Aug. 9. . . . Devin Heroux of CBC reports: “All seven teams will stay in a bubble-like setting in St. Catharines, playing games at the Meridian Centre and practising at a nearby facility. League officials said players, coaches and personnel will be separated from the general public and strict screening and COVID-19 protocols will be adhered to under the supervision of medical officials.”



Eric Ditto is returning for his seventh season on the coaching staff of the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League. Ditto is preparing for his sixth full season as head coach and his second as general manager. . . . Anthony Radke will be back for a second season as an assistant coach. . . . Ryan Pilon is the other assistant coach. He joined the Chiefs during last season after serving as an assistant coach with the Beardy’s Blackhawks U18 AAA team.


The RINK Hockey Corp., owner of the Rink Hockey Academy, has bought the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy (POE) and Edge of Excellence (EOE) in a deal that is to close on July 1. The sale is subject to the approval of BC Hockey and the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . There is more right here.


Cities face many financial-related questions without answers . . . The ethics of restarting a season . . . Golf tour cancels season

It would seem that paNOW made some waves in Prince Albert with a Thursday story written by Alison Sandstrom that carried the headline: City facilities expected to remain shut until next year.

The Art Hauser Centre, the home of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, is a city facility.

On Friday, paNOW allowed city officials to use its website to “clarify that they have not made any determination on the opening date for facilities. They made assumptions for the purpose of financial forecasting, but no decisions have been made.”

Of course decisions haven’t been made. These pandemic-riddled days are full of uncertainty and there really isn’t any end in sight; at least, not that anyone can predict with any sense of accuracy. I mean, if the NHL doesn’t know whether it will be able to play in July or August or September, how can the WHL know that it will start its season on time?

Interestingly, there wasn’t one sentence in Sandstrom’s story that indicated any city facilities in Prince Albert would definitely be shut down until some time in 2021.

It’s far too early to make that kind of decision, but officials in all cities will be looking ahead, putting together various scenarios and trying to figure out where they are going to be at in terms of finances at year’s end. That is exactly what Greg Dionne, Prince Albert’s mayor, told Sandstrom: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities. So lots of the decisions will be made when (the province) sets dates and rules for Phase 4, then we’ll look at them and say (for example), well, that doesn’t make any sense, ‘sorry the pool has to be closed.’ ”

As Dionne pointed out, if the province limits outdoor gatherings to 30 people, “you won’t be opening the pool for 30 people.”

At this point, the Saskatchewan government has limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer. There could be changes coming on June 8 that would bump that up to 15 for indoor groups and 30 for outdoor gatherings.

But when the time comes, if indoor gatherings remain limited to 50 or 100 or even 200, Prince Albert isn’t likely to be opening the Art Hauser Centre.

As Sandstrom pointed out in her story, even with all the cost-saving things the city has enacted in the last while, it still expects to lose $750,000 by year’s end. That may be a drop in, say, Vancouver’s bucket, but it’s big coin to a city the size of Prince Albert.

And you can bet this same scenario is being played out in various other WHL cities.

Cities also have to be wondering about how much they are going to have to spend on changes to facilities in order to meet new health standards whenever they are back in business. Take an arena, for example. Does a dressing room get completely sanitized after every use? How many sanitizer stations are needed? How often are the washrooms to be sanitized? Will more staff have to be hired in order to get all of this done?

Meanwhile, Michael Scissons, the Raiders’ business manager, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW on Friday that it’s business as usual.

“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for a regular hockey season just like we would any other year,” Scissons said. “There’s been nothing to point at this point that it’s going to be anything different. . . . We have a big 50th year coming up right now and there’s a lot of work to go into it. We’re excited for the season to get going.”

On May 22, Ed Willes, the Postmedia sports columnist in Vancouver, wrote this:

“Giants owner Ron Toigo doesn’t think the WHL will resume play until January and, to date, season-ticket holders have been understanding.

“But, ‘You can make that commitment today, but what happens in six or seven months if you don’t have a job? That’s the biggest concern. What will the economy look like? And that’s universal. It’s not just sports.’ ”

Sandstrom’s original story is right here, while D’Andrea’s piece is right here.  


“This year’s John Deere Classic, scheduled for July 9-12, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In lieu of a news release, the PGA Tour announced the breakup in a John Deere letter.”



Some sports and leagues have returned to play. albeit without fans, and, if all goes according to plan, soon there will be more, including the NBA and NHL. “Beyond logistics, though, a deeper dilemma shadows the whole exercise,” writes Nick Faris of thescore.com. “Is it ethical for team sports to resume during a pandemic?

“The implications of this question are myriad and serious. To return in the COVID-19 era, leagues need an abundance of tests and the willingness to keep playing through positive cases. Players and many other, older people will bear these health risks so that the show can go on. Viewers watching at home must square this knowledge with their desire to consume and enjoy the spectacle.”

These are things junior hockey leagues have to be wondering about, too. What are things going to be like in August when they will be hoping to open training camps? Is there a junior league alive capable of absorbing the cost of regular testing? There are all kinds of questions, few, if any, with answers at this point in time.

Faris spoke with four expert ethicists and the results, which are rather thought-provoking, are right here.

Jack Bowen, co-author of Sport, Ethics and Leadership, offered this food for thought:

“I am a little curious about what the messaging will be (when sports resume). These guys are guarding each other in basketball. The women’s soccer league is opening in three weeks. ‘Oh, everything must be fine — let’s go out and party and live our normal lives.’ I’m trying my best to follow what expert scientists are saying, not what sports leagues are doing, but humans aren’t following the science. They’re following the social trends.

“In this case, the optics and the messaging could affect things like not mitigating harm and sending mixed messages, which people will then act on. The leagues need to be really aware of that. I feel like the leagues need to take that on as part of their social responsibility — to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re doing. Stay at home and watch these games with your family. Be safe.’ That sort of messaging could go a long way.”



Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The ESPN documentaries on Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong were interesting. Now how about a documentary or two on people who become superstars without being bullies and jerks? Just to show the kiddies that it can be done that way.”

——

Ostler, again: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.



Golf’s Mackenzie Tour cancelled its season on Friday. The Mackenzie Tour, which was heading into its eighth season, is the Canadian men’s pro circuit. . . . This season was to have featured 13 stops. . . . 

La Liga, Spain’s top men’s soccer league, is to resume training on Monday, with a return to play set for June 11. La Liga shut down on March 12. . . . It plans on finishing its schedule on July 19. . . .

Two Formula 1 races have gotten the OK from the Austrian government. They are scheduled for July 5 and 12, without spectators, in Spielberg, 200 km southwest of Vienna. . . . 


ESPN followed up The Last Dance with a two-part documentary on Lance Armstrong. Remember him? No, I didn’t watch it. Christine Brennan of USA Today did, and then wrote, among other things: “After soldiering through 2½ months of a pandemic, what did we do to deserve this, another TV network giving Armstrong airtime to share childhood pictures and his innermost feelings as he retells his enduringly reprehensible story?”


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 and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Headline at fark.com: Viewers who successfully complete 64-hour Derek Jeter marathon on MLB Network will receive free gift basket.


The Los Angeles Kings announced Saturday morning that they won’t be renewing the contract of Mike Stothers, who had been the head coach of their AHL franchise for six seasons. He was the head coach of the Manchester Monarchs for one season when the franchise moved to California and became the Ontario Reign. . . . The Reign won the Calder Cup as AHL championship in 2015. . . . Stothers, 58, was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors for three seasons (2011-14) before taking over the Monarchs.


NHL one step closer to return . . . Canada out of junior Summer Showcase . . . Fragle hoping to rock in Trail

There still are a number of hurdles to get over but the NHLPA has given the OK for its executive to keep on talking to the NHL about a return to play. So if things continue to progress, hockey fans may yet get to watch 24 teams take part in some kind of a Stanley Cup tournament with games played in a number of hub cities. . . . Keeping in mind that there still negotiations to be held, Carol Schram, a senior contributor for Forbes, has more right here.

——

Here’s one more thing for NHL players to think about as they prepare for a potential return to the ice. . . . Dr. Andrew Morris, who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has told TSN’s Rick Westhead that players need to make sure their long-term health is looked after should they happen to end up becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during a return to play. . . . Dr. Morris said: “Young athletes do not think about this stuff because they think they are invincible, but every so often we see young, healthy people get very bad diseases, and this is no different. It would be unusual for a healthy young athlete to get really sick with COVID and wind up in the ICU, but, hey, somebody wins the lottery, right? . . . They should want their health care and income insured, seeing that they are taking an additional risk, especially if residing in the U.S.” . . . As the medical community learns more and more about the impact of this virus, it is finding survivors who have been left with heart, kidney, liver and lung damage. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.



And what of the NBA and its efforts to get its season back on track? It is look as though it will re-open with all of its teams playing out of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance. . . . As Rohan Nadkarni of si.com points out in this piece right here, it really is all about the Benjamins.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA and a return to play:

“In the wonderful world of asterisks, we’re already talking Extra Large for whichever team wins the title. If you’re trying to play through a pandemic in neutral settings with nobody in the stands, you connect with nothing in Finals history. Don’t ruin this risky venture by welcoming the absurd.

“Those 16 teams worked hard to establish playoff position. Nobody else has the right to qualify after such a maddening layoff. The Warriors have long disappeared from view, but the same goes for Portland, New Orleans or any other team trying to sneak into this science-fiction film. They all had their chance.

“And for heaven’s sake, forget the idea (actually discussed) of a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine the final playoff slots in each conference. Could it be more boring, especially during times of urgency? ‘Hey, come see the teams that don’t deserve this.’ ”



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 and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


BillPosters


USA Hockey is planning to play host to the World Junior Summer Showcase later this USAhockeysummer but Canada won’t be taking part. Teams from the U.S., Finland and Sweden will participate in the event that is to run from July 24 through Aug. 1 at Plymouth, Mich. . . . “We’ve heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we’re checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations who also is the GM of the U.S. national junior team. “Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There’s also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it’s going to be lifted sometime in June, so we’re just staying on top of everything from what’s going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That’s how we’re going to go. We’re not going to change anything.”



Hockey Canada announced on March 13 that it had cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice. . . . Earlier this week, Hockey Canada issued “An Open Letter to Canadians” that was signed by Michael Brind’Amour, the chairman of the board of directors, CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO. . . . Included in that letter was this paragraph:

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the game will determine when we return, not our desire to get back on the ice. When our country is ready, Hockey Canada will be ready. Until then, continue to follow the guidelines set by your provincial and territorial government to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Only by working together will we be able to make a difference and safely return.”

That letter is right here.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956 put perhaps foresaw the future rather clearly: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. . . . All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”


Granted, it’s not going to happen until 2021, but a new hockey league — 3ICE — is on the way. Headed up by CEO E.J. Johnston and Commissioner Craig Patrick, 3ICE will feature eight teams playing 3-on-3 hockey over nine weekends, each one in a different city, during the summer of 2021. . . . Each team’s roster will comprise six skaters and one goalie. . . . The team’s head coaches are Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier. . . . E.J. Johnston is the son of Ed Johnston, one of the head coaches who is a former NHL goaltender, head coach and GM. . . . There’s more right here.


After watching all 10 episodes of The Last Dance, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “These questions will never be answered, but here goes: For Jordan, was there really a higher level of emotional fire that could be reached only by disrespect? Did that disrespect supercharge his physical skills, or was that higher level of fire a self-created myth to enhance his greatness?”


Tinfoil


Brian Wiebe, a veteran observer of the BCHL, has a solid piece right here on that league and how it and its teams are coping with the pandemic and all that has come with it.

——

Tim Fragle is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. TrailFrom Edmonton, Fragle has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. . . . While at NAIT, Fragle won three coach-of-the-year awards. . . . Fragile was the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for seven seasons (2009-16). . . . He played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Smoke Eaters, finish the last of those seasons with the Merritt Centennials. . . . While playing in Trail, he was teammates with Craig Clare, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., and is the Smokies’ director of hockey and business operations. . . . In Trail, Fragle takes over from Jeff Tambellini, who left in April to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as a pro scout and NCAA free-agent recruiter.


David Legwand, a co-owner of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, is moving from associate coach to be the team’s president of hockey operations. Legwand and Derian Hatcher, another former NHL player, purchased the Sting in 2015. . . . Legwand has been the associate coach for three seasons, with Hatcher as the head coach. Hatcher remains in the role, with Dylan Seca the general manager.


Darren Rovell of actionnetwork.com reports that a Mike Trout signed rookie card has sold at auction for US$900,000. It was from the Bowman Draft Chrome Prospect set. . . . That “obliterated the record for the highest-priced modern-day baseball card and tied the record for the most expensive modern-day card ever — the LeBron James/Michael Jordan logoman card, sold in February 2020,” Rovell wrote. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of Rovell’s story involved seven unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer NBA cards. These boxes weren’t at all popular when they debuted; in fact, boxes were returned by hobby stores for $6 refunds. At auction, Rovell wrote, they sold for “as much as $109,200 each.” . . . Rovell’s story is right here.


Border

No large gatherings in Alberta through August . . . Calgary and Edmonton lose major events . . . WHL planning to open on schedule

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, has said that restrictions on large gatherings in that province will run through the end of August.

Since Thursday, a number of events scheduled for Edmonton, including K-Days, and the city’s folk and jazz festivals, have been cancelled.

On Thursday, the Calgary Stampede and that city’s folk music festival were cancelled. On Friday, the City of Calgary extended its ban on large public gatherings and events through Aug. 31.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come, and the relatively low case numbers we’re seeing in many parts of the province are the result of our collective efforts and sacrifices,” Hinshaw said in her daily briefing. “COVID-19 is still with us, and it spreads rapidly through social interactions.

“We have had several instances in the province of social gatherings where one person passed the virus on to many others at a single event before the individual knew they had COVID.”

She mentioned a bonspiel in Edmonton that included 73 attendees, 40 of whom later tested positive for COVID-19.

“Unfortunately,” she added, “this virus does not respect our feelings. I am keenly aware of the depth to which these measures are affecting everyone. I do not take them lightly. I ask you to do the same.”

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from Rod Pedersen, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told him that the league plans “to open the 2020-21 season on schedule and the June 27 import draft is unchanged.”

That, of course, is what Robison would be expected to say.

The WHL hasn’t yet released its 2020-21 regular-season schedules, but chances are it would begin the weekend of Sept. 25, about five weeks after teams will want to open training camps.

However, you would hope that the WHL has Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and maybe a few others . . . you know, just in case.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, with 19 teams in B.C. and one — the Spokane Braves — in Washington, normally would open its regular season in mid-September. Steve Hogg, the general manager of the Summerland Steam, has told John Arendt of Black Press that “we have full plans on having a league,” but that it might not get rolling until mid-October.

You also are free to wonder if the annual CHL import draft really will be held on June 27. It normally is held a day or two after the NHL draft, which, this year, is scheduled for June 26 and 27 in Montreal.

But . . . hold on . . . there are rumblings that the NHL may postpone its draft because there will be a whole lot to sort out if it is to be held prior to the end of the regular season. And you will recall that the NHL’s regular season remains in a holding pattern.



The Bellingham Bells of baseball’s West Coast League have cancelled their 2020 season, but the league says its remaining 11 teams are preparing to open on June 5. . . . The league includes two Canadian teams — the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats. . . . The Bells’ hand was forced when the city shut down all activities in its facilities through Aug. 31. . . .

The 10-team Cape Cod Baseball League, perhaps the top summer league for college players, has cancelled its 2020 season. The league has been around since 1885 and has played every season since 1945. . . . Its season was to have opened on June 13, with playoffs starting on Aug. 4. . . .

The 12-team Western Canadian Baseball League is expected to cancel its 2020 season after officials meet on Wednesday. The 12-team league features teams in Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton, all in Saskatchewan, and the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks. . . .

Organizers have cancelled the World Triathlon event that was scheduled to be held in Edmonton. The Grand Final of the ITU World Triathlon group was set for Aug. 17-23. . . . Reid Wilkins of Global News has more right here, including news that the Prairie Football Conference, which is scheduled to begin play in mid-August, is looking at a delayed start.



A nondescript wooden cudgel discovered in a Vermont home in 1980 — and just sitting in an umbrella stand ever since — turned out to be a circa-1850s hockey stick now up for auction online. It’s been appraised at $3.5 million,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Proving once again that it pays to forecheck.”


Pizza


Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “The PGA Tour is planning a mid-June return with no fans, assuring the look and ambiance of it will have all the excitement of a Tuesday practice round. Meantime, GolfTV reported exclusively that the gum Tiger Woods chews on a golf course is orange-flavored Trident. Run to the store and start hoarding!”



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Khrushchev, too, looks like the kind of man his physicians must continually try to diet, and historians will someday correlate these sporadic deprivations, to which he submits ‘for his own good,’ with his public tantrums. If there is to be a world cataclysm, it will probably be set off by skim milk, Melba toast, and mineral oil on the salad.”


Wasps


Nick Deschenes has signed on as the head coach and director of player personnel with the junior B Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . He has spent the past four seasons working with minor hockey programs and academies near his home in West Kelowna. . . . Prior to that he spent one season (2012-13) as the GM/head coach of the KIJHL’s Grand Forks Border Bruins and the next two as the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Deschenes takes over the Steam from Ken Karpuk, who departed after one season. . . . Tim Hogg, the play-by-play voice of the Steam has more right here.


Barry Petrachenko spent 20 years running BC Hockey. On Monday, the province’s hockey CEO lost his job. . . . If you’re wondering what happened, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has the story right here.


StayAway

Need hockey writer? He’s not Tim, but Horton can write . . . BCHL asks for help . . . AJHL team gets nickname

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t lead an entry with something as political as this.

But . . . but . . . but . . . these don’t appear to be normal times.

I mean, this is the President of the United States of America making these statements. I mean, just when you thought the elevator had reached the basement, you find out there’s another level down there.

And today we will find out there is yet another level . . . and on Saturday there will be another and on and on it goes.

I mean, this is the President of the United States of America, and this really is scary stuff.

I mean, what kind of times are we living in when a doctor has to tweet this following an address by the President of the United States of American . . .


Turd


Newspaper coverage of the WHL took a real hit on Thursday when the Everett Herald laid off Josh Horton, whose primary beat had been the Silvertips. It was a beat he covered with discipline, enthusiasm and thoroughness. . . . One of the best young writers covering the WHL, Horton had been furloughed on March 26. The layoff notice came down on Wednesday. . . . These are tough times in the newspaper business, but if you’re in management and need a terrific young writer, you will want to check him out.


It’s official. . . . According to a statement issued Wednesday, the BCHL is “requesting BCHLfinancial assistance from the provincial government to offset major losses for its teams due to the shutdown of the league.” . . . The BCHL has been shuttered since March 13, following the completion of the first round of its playoffs. . . . Of the BCHL’s 18 teams, 17 are located in B.C. The exception is the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild. . . . Chris Hebb, the BCHL’s commissioner, explained: “We have every intention of playing hockey next season, with all 18 of our teams, if we get the green light from Hockey Canada, as well as the provincial health authorities.“But the reality is we’ve identified potential financial issues down the road due to this pandemic and want to address these problems now. The league has already lent its support to our teams through a contingency fund, but it’s clear that more is needed.” . . . The news release is right here.



It was a tough day on the rodeo circuit as the Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition and the Calgary Stampede both announced that the 2020 events have been cancelled. . . . The Manitoba event is held annually in Morris, usually drawing around 30,000 people. It was to have been held July 16-19. . . . The Calgary Stampede, which draws more than one million visitors annually, had been scheduled for July 3-12. It has been held every year since 1923. . . .

Officials in Edmonton have announced that K-Days, their major summer event, has been cancelled. The 10-day exhibition was to have opened on July 17. . . . The city also has lost its Taste of Edmonton, Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the Fringe Theatre Festival, the Freewill Shakespeare Festival and its International Jazz Festival, at least for this year. . . .

Another terrific event that has been cancelled for this year is the Salmon Arm, B.C., Roots and Blues Festival. It was to run from Aug. 13-16. . . .

Baseball Canada pulled the plug on all 11 of its national championship tournaments. . . . That included the men’s championship that had been scheduled for Sydney, N.S., Aug. 27-30, and the women’s Invitational at Stonewall, Man., Aug. 20-23. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

Track and field’s Diamond League has postponed the Prefontaine Classic (Eugene, Ore., June 7) and a meet in Paris (June 13), without announcing new dates. This means the Diamond League now has postponed or altered the first nine of its 15 events scheduled for 2020. . . .



The Thought for the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, this one originating with H.L. Mencken: “If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.”


Terry McFaul has been named the Kelowna Rockets’ head scout, taking over from Lorne Frey, who stepped back after Wednesday’s WHL bantam draft and now is a senior advisor. . . . McFaul, from Calgary, has been a member of the Rockets’ scouting staff for 29 years.


Fridge


The AJHL franchise in Blackfalds, Alta., that is to start play in 2021-22, will be nicknamed Blackfaldsthe Bulldogs. . . . “We selected Bulldogs because there is already an established familiarity with the Town of Blackfalds and their minor hockey association,” owner Doug Quinn said in a news release. “It was less about a lack of imagination and more about wanting to be part of an established team and its community.” . . . The announcement had been scheduled for April 4, but was changed due to the COVID-19 situation. . . . The Bulldogs will be playing out of the new Blackfalds Multiplex Arena. . . . In October, the AJHL’s board of governors OK’d the transfer of the Calgary Mustangs franchise to Quinn, who also will be the Bulldogs’ head coach. He is a former coach of the midget AAA Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. . . . Quinn, who is from Red Deer, played four seasons (1982-86) in the WHL, seeing time with the Nanaimo Islanders, New Westminster Bruins and Lethbridge Broncos.


TurnSignals

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