CFL commish admits season may not happen . . . Oregon gatherings gone through September . . . WHL salutes Kennedy


The news was anything but good for followers of the CFL and WHL on Thursday.

Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner, was in Ottawa, appearing before a House of Commons standing committee on finance. The CFL is asking for as much as $150 million in financial aid to help it survive the pandemic.

At one point, Ambrosie said the CFL’s future is “very much in jeopardy.” He also said that “our best-case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season. And our most likely scenario is no season at all.”

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the home state of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, Gov. Kate Brown announced some guidelines, one of which involves the cancelling of all concerts, sporting events and large gatherings through the end of September.

You have to think chances are pretty good that Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, will issue similar guidelines at some point.

The 22-team WHL has four teams in Washington state.

These guidelines likely refer to teams playing in front of fans. But the WHL is a ticket-driven league and it is hard to imagine its teams playing in empty arenas for any length of time.


Sheldon Kennedy has been honoured by the WHL with its Governors Award. . . . According to a WHL news release, the award “is the highest honour the WHL bestows on whlan an individual who has been associated with the league.” The award “is presented annually to an individual who, through their outstanding hockey and overall contributions to the game, has impacted on the growth and development of the WHL.” . . . Kennedy, now 50, is from Elkhorn, Man. He played three (1986-89) seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, survived a bus accident in which four teammates died, and was a key contributor to the team that won the 1989 Memorial Cup. After Kennedy’s pro career ended, it came to light that he had been sexually abused by general manager/head coach Graham James while with the Broncos. Kennedy moved on from that to found, with Wayne McNeil, the Respect Group Inc., and to campaign endlessly for the safety and empowerment of young people and young athletes. . . . The WHL’s news release is right here.


James Patrick, the head coach of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, is among the U of North Dakota’s Hall of Fame class of 2020. Patrick, a defenceman, played two signs with what was then the Fighting Sioux. As Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald points out: “No former UND player has played more NHL games (1,280) or seasons (21) than Patrick, who suited up for the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres. Patrick wore an ‘A’ for both the Rangers and Sabres.” . . . The Hall of Fame induction is set for Oct.9 as the Fighting Hawks football team meets visiting Missouri State.


Even the geese have had enough . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “The country’s present supply of foreign news depends largely on how best a number of dry goods merchants in New York think they can sell underwear.”


Swear


Tennis Australia is looking ahead to the 2021 Australian Open and wondering it it will even take place. “Worst-case scenario is no AO,” Craig Tiley, who heads up Tennis Australia, told the Australian Associated Press. “Our best-case scenario at this point is having an AO with players that we can get in here with quarantining techniques and Australian-only fans.” . . . ICYMI, Wimbledon has been cancelled for 2020, and the French Open, which had been scheduled for May 27 through June 7, now will run from Sept. 27 through Oct. 11. The French Tennis Federation had announced earlier that it would run from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4, but moved it back another week on Tuesday. . . . The U.S. Open is scheduled to open on Aug. 24, but that still is up in the air with an announcement due at some point in June. . . .

NBA teams have the OK from the league to open practice facilities, with some restrictions, of course, but Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, isn’t interested just yet. . . . “The problem obviously is that because we can’t test people, then we can’t assure everybody’s safety, whether they’re basketball players or anybody else,” Cuban told The Athletic’s 77 Minutes in Heaven podcast. “Even though we can try to take all different kids of precautions, it’s just not worth it — particularly when our guys are staying in shape and they’re going outside and shooting on outdoor hoops and working out in various ways. So I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward.”



Jason Tatarnic is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Tatarnic, 47, spent eight seasons (2005-13) as head coach of the Maritime Junior League’s Woodstock Slammers, before moving west as GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs for four seasons (2014-18). . . . The Chiefs dismissed him a few days before the 2018 RBC Cup, the national junior A tournament in which they were the host team. In fact, the Chiefs went on to win the tournament. . . . After that, Tatarnic went to work with Hockey Pathways, which bills itself as a family advisory service whose mission “is to get you to the next level.” . . . In Estevan, Tatarnic takes over a franchise that is to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup. . . . He takes over the Bruins from Chris Lewgood, who was fired on April 15 despite getting the team to the playoffs in each of his seven seasons. That included a seven-game loss in the SJHL final in the spring of 2018.


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Regular seasons all done for WHL, OHL, QMJHL . . . Will there be playoffs? . . . The waiting game continues . . .


The WHL announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled what remains of its regular season. When the WHL suspended play on March 12, the 22 teams had a total of 54 games remaining before the season was to wind up on March 22. . . . The 22-team WHL still is hoping to get its playoffs in “at a later date,” according to a statement. . . . The WHL’s final standings have been “determined by using win percentage” for its teams, reads a statement from the league. Actually, as TBird Tidbits pointed out in the above tweet, the standings were determined using points percentage. That’s how the Kamloops Blazers ended up ahead of Spokane, even though the Chiefs have one more point, and how the Vancouver Giants are ahead of Victoria, even thought the Royals finished with one more point. . . . No matter. The Portland Winterhawks finished atop the heap, so are the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy champions. . . . Even though the Everett Silvertips finished with one more regulation victory.

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About those playoffs. . . . Last season, the WHL began its playoffs on March 22. They played four rounds, all best-of-seven, and finished on May 13. . . . In total, they played 80 games in about seven weeks. . . . Let’s be honest. That’s not going to happen this time around. . . . You can bet that the WHL is tossing around all kinds of playoff options, likely incorporating best-of-three and best-of-five series. . . . But in the end it’s going to come down to how much time there will be for playoffs. It could be that in Washington state and B.C., for starters, games with more than 50 people on hand will be taboo until mid-May. . . . And don’t forget that the Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. That is highly unlikely to happen, so how far can it be pushed back? And what about Sportsnet, the CHL’s television partner? How much room will Sportsnet have on its schedule whenever the time comes? . . . And don’t forget that if the CHL is into playoffs, the NHL will be, too. So how does all that figure into this? . . . With all that is going on, and not going on, perhaps it’s best to take a day-to-day or even a week-to-week approach. Just to help maintain sanity. . . . OK? . . .

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Next up for the WHL is the inaugural U.S. prospects draft that is scheduled for March 25, and is to be run from the league office in Calgary. It’s a two-round draft featuring 44 selections, if each team uses its two picks. . . . The 2020 WHL bantam draft is scheduled for Red Deer on May 7. . . .

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The OHL also cancelled its regular season on Wednesday, and announced that its 2020 draft will be held online on April 4. . . . The OHL’s regular season was to have ended on March 22. . . . Like the WHL and QMJHL, the OHL is monitoring the situation.“When it is safe and we may resume play, we will advise on the status of the 2020 playoffs,” a statement from the league reads. . . .

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The QMJHL, which cancelled the remainder of its regular season on Tuesday, has taken its annual entry draft online. It was to have been held on June 6 in Sherbrooke. It still will go ahead on June 6, but now it all will be online. . . . As well, the QMJHL has cancelled its annual session that was scheduled for June 3-5. It features “meetings between its members along with hockey and administrative staffs.” . . .


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The 16-team USHL announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its season. The league’s board of directors made a unanimous decision to end the season, including the playoffs. . . . The regular season, which was suspended on March 12, was to have ended on March 29. . . .


Sean Fitz-Gerald of The Athletic reported Wednesday that The Hockey News has laid off eight full-time employees. “The layoffs affected longtime editor-in-chief Jason Kay,” Fitz-Gerald reported, “senior editor Brian Costello, managing editor Edward Fraser, senior writers Ken Campbell, Ryan Kennedy and Matt Larkin, features editor Sam McCaig and art director Shea Berencsi. Two contract workers are still producing content for THN’s website.” . . . THN publisher and owner Graeme Roustan told Fitz-Gerald that all will be rehired in an instant if/when the NHL resumes play. . . .



Philip Rivers is taking his arm to the Indianapolis Colts for one year and something like US$25 million. I wonder who will pay the moving expenses to get his wife and their nine children to Indy? . . . Rivers, 38, told us all a while back that he wasn’t interested in returning to the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers with whom he had spent his entire career. . . .


There was good news from South Korea on Wednesday as its top basketball league, the KBL, which hasn’t played in four weeks, announced that it has games scheduled for month’s end. . . . In the beginning, games will be played without fans in attendance. . . . If you’re curious about all of this, Jonathan Givony of ESPN has more right here. . . .


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The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings announced the re-signing of assistant coach Jason Garneau, who spent eight seasons with the club a few years ago. . . . At the same time, assistant coach Colin Minardi, who joined the club in October, won’t be returning to the coaching staff. . . .


Cody Reynolds is the new head coach of the U-18 Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. He has spent the past seven seasons as associate coach with the Red Deer College Kings. . . .


WHL governors to talk today . . . Business as usual for the NFL . . . New coaches in MJHL, SJHL

DailyNews


The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to talk today (Tuesday) for the first time since the league suspended its season on Thursday.

Right now, all signs point to the WHL not being able to resume play before mid-May at the earliest, so there likely will be a lot of discussion about whether to call the whole thing off right now. That, of course, would include the Memorial that is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31.

On Monday, Bob Tory, co-owner and general manager of the Tri-City Americans tweeted: “To all our players. Have a good off season. Be safe and we will c u in August.”

That would indicate that the Americans’ players are on their way home and won’t be returning. When the season was suspended, the Americans, who didn’t qualify for the playoffs, had five games remaining. It wouldn’t make sense to bring all the players back at some point down the road to play five games for a non-playoff team.


MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and officials from all 30 teams held a conference call on Monday, during which it was decided to push opening day back until at least mid-May. . . . Opening day had been scheduled for March 26. . . .


A tweet from @matttomic:

“1918: Toronto wins its first Stanley Cup

“1919: Stanley Cup canceled

  

“1992-93: Toronto wins its first World Series

“1994: World Series canceled

  

“2019: Toronto wins its first NBA championship

“2020: NBA championship potentially canceled

  

“What the (#$%&#@) did Toronto do?”


Is it just me, or does it seem at least a little bit bizarre to have the NFL handing out contracts worth multi-millions and swapping players all over the place — in other words, carrying on as though it’s business as usual — while the rest of the sporting world has been brought to its knees? . . . I mean, a $66-million extension to QB Kirk Cousins? . . .

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Here’s Ann Killion in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“This is not about what the league can do. It’s about what it should do.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m going to hear from the NFL’s army of faithful followers. ‘But we want to be entertained! We want a distraction! We love the NFL!’

“That’s what the NFL is banking on. It believes it is Teflon. The rules that apply to other businesses and other parts of society don’t apply to the shield. Roger Goodell has gotten very rich by being amazingly obtuse.”



The Kentucky Derby, held annually on the first Saturday in May, has been moved to Sept. 5, that month’s first Saturday. The last time the Derby didn’t run in May was in 1945 when it was postponed to June. . . .



The AHL announced Monday that “the indefinite suspension of play won’t be lifted before May.” . . . With that, the AHL gave its teams the OK to have players return to their “primary residences.” . . .


The 23-team NAHL brought an end to its regular season on Monday, but still hopes to declare a champion at some point. The regular season was to end on April 4. . . . In a statement, commissioner Mark Frankenfeld said: “We understand that this is a very difficult time for our hockey community and we are working on all options in order to conclude the season with a Robertson Cup Championship. We are are actively and continuously monitoring a very difficult situation in order make the right decision everyone involved.”



Chris Perchaluk has taken over as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. He had been the head coach since November, when he moved up from associate coach. . . . The Blizzard now is looking for an assistant coach and a director of marketing. If you’re interested, there’s more info right here. . . .


The MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers have signed Hudson Friesen as their new head coach. He also is the assistant director of player personnel. This season, Friesen was the Steelers’ assistant coach and business manager. . . . Tim Schick, the head scout, has been named director of player personnel. . . . As head coach, Friesen replaces Nick Lubimiv, whose contract wasn’t renewed. . . . Earlier this month, the Steelers brought back Al Hares as senior advisor and associate coach. Hares is a former Steelers head coach who is a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.


Ken Plaquin is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. From Calgary, he had been coaching the midget AAA Okotoks Oilers. . . . In Kindersley, Plaquin takes over from Larry Wintoneak, the GM who stepped in on an interim basis late in September when head coach Garry Childerhose left because of health issues. . . .