Reports have major junior leagues now aiming for Dec. 1 . . . Former Blades captain dies . . . Morden team changing nickname, logo

If you own a junior hockey franchise, you have to be watching the goings-on in MLB and wondering.

While the NBA and NHL have their teams all bubbled up and, at least to date, avoiding the coronavirus, you know that you don’t have the resources to attempt anything like that.

But then you look at MLB, which is attempting to do what you are hoping to do at some point this year — bring your team together and then travel in order to play games in various venues.

It isn’t going all that well for MLB, which is forging ahead despite having had two teams — the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals — decimated by the virus and another (Philadelphia Phillies) also been hit.

Through Tuesday, 23 MLB games involving nine teams had been postponed. The season is 13 days old.

At this point, then, you likely are holding your breath and hoping.

Earlier, the QMJHL and WHL had announced proposed starting dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, respectively, for their 2020-21 regular seasons. The OHL hadn’t gone public with any such date.

Now there are reports that the three major junior leagues will announce perhaps as soon as today (Wednesday) that they hope to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on Dec. 1.

Postponing the start by two more months buys them some more time. The leagues will be able to sit back and watch developments, including the possible opening of schools.

The OHL and WHL also have teams located in the U.S., where, you may have noticed, things aren’t going so well. Two more months gives the leagues time to watch for improvements in that area, although under present leadership that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

And, of course, there’s the little matter of the U.S.-Canada border being closed. Do you think it’ll be open again in 2020?

——


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Reds placed 1B Joey Votto, a native of Toronto, on the injury list after he self-reported symptoms of the virus. On Monday, he hit a two-run, go-ahead homer to help the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-2. . . . It turns out that he tested negative and was reinstated. . . .

The much-ballyhooed Field of Dreams game, which was to have featured the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox on Aug. 13, has been postponed to August 2021. A date has yet to be announced. . . .

The Cardinals’ season is on hold after seven players and six staff members tested positive. . . . Six of the players are SS Paul DeJong, RHP Junior Fernández, C Yadier Molina, 1B Rangel Ravelo, SS Edmundo Sosa and RHP Kodi Whitley, each of whom gave the team the OK to release their names. The identity of a seventh player wasn’t released. . . . DeJong and Molina are all-star calibre players. . . . In a statement, Molina said he was “saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place.” . . .

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had some thoughts on the mess in which MLB finds itself. He concluded with this: “Baseball in 2020 reminds me of a guy at a poker table who is losing his shirt but keeps dipping into his bank account for another stake because he is ‘due for some good cards.’ It seems to me that MLB thinks it is due for some good news and just keeps on keeping on. . . . Albert Einstein reminded us that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes.” . . . You should read the entirety of the curmudgeonly one’s latest post right here.

——

The NFL’s Detroit Lions moved QB Matthew Stafford from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and placed him on the regular roster, saying that what was reported as a positive test actually was a false-positive. . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars did the same with QB Gardner Minshew after it was determined that he had tested negative. Minshew joked that the virus “took one look at me and ran the other way.” . . .

At least 48 players have opted out of playing in the NFL’s 2020 season. The league has a deadline of Thursday afternoon for players to make that decision. . . . Barry Wilner of The Associated Press has more right here.

——

Rafael Nadal, the No. 2-ranked men’s tennis player, won’t play in this month’s U.S. Open, which is to start on Aug. 31. He said that he doesn’t want to travel during the pandemic. . . . The last time a tennis major didn’t feature either Roger Federer, who is out after having knee surgery, and Nadal? That was the 1999 U.S. Open. . . .

Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu, who won the women’s U.S. Open title last year, said that she will be in New York to defend her title. . . . Andreescu, 20, from Mississauga, Ont., is the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. . . .

——

The 104th running of the Indy 500 will take place without fans. Roger Penske, who owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said earlier in the year that the race, which was postponed from Memorial Day weekend to Aug. 23, would allow some fans to attend. . . . But with numbers rising in Marion County, Indiana, home of the Speedway, Penske has decided not to allow fans. . . .

The AHL has cancelled its 2020-21 All-Star Classic that was to have been played host to by the Laval Rocket on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Instead, Laval will be the site of the 2021-22 Classic on a date yet to be determined. . . . The AHL is hoping to being its 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 4. . . .

Tennis lost the Madrid Open as the 2020 event, which features men’s and women’s draws, was cancelled. Originally scheduled in May, it had been postponed to September. But an increase in COVID-19 cases resulted in the event being cancelled.

——


You will recall that the Houston Astros have been branded as cheaters after getting caught up in a sign-stealing scandal that has some baseball folks claiming the team actually stole a World Series title. . . . The other day, with the host Astros playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are particularly bitter, Houston’s Jose Altuve, who is really struggling at the plate, happened to strike out. Joe Davis, doing the play-by-play for the Dodgers, said Altuve was “perhaps guessing something else.” . . . Former Dodgers P Orel Hershiser, the analyst on the broadcast crew, disagreed. Said Hershiser: “Guessing’s harder than knowing.”



The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes announced Tuesday that head coach Gordie Dwyer has left the organization in the hopes of landing a spot with a pro team. . . . Dwyer took over as head coach on Feb. 9, then went 6-6-0 before the league shut down because of the pandemic. . . . At the time, Dwyer took over from the fired Daniel Renaud, who had been the head coach since 2017. He was 23-28-0 last season. . . . The Cataractes will unveil their new coaching staff on Friday.


The Morden Redskins, a men’s team that plays in the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, has said that it will be changing its nickname and logo, which was fashioned after that belonging to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Last month, Brandon Burley, the mayor of Morden, asked the team to make a change.


JUST NOTES: I haven’t watched a whole lot of the NHL since it resumed playing, but I’ve seen enough to realize that, despite what you might read in the rules book, cross-checking continues to be legal. . . . I need to find someone in Alberta to cut me in on the Edmonton Oilers’ 50-50 draw. If you aren’t aware, the winner of Monday’s draw put $1,629,722.50 into his/her bank account. On Saturday night, Danielle McGale won $381,275. Yes, she has a whole lot of new friends. . . . I was watching the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday afternoon and there was a drone delay. Seriously.


Raiders finished at Memorial Cup. . . . Chiefs, Lambert sign extension. . . . Ex-Breakers winger, Wilson dies at 57

MacBeth

D Kristian Khenkel (Lethbridge, 2013-14) has signed a two-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL), he had four goals and 10 assists in 59 games.


ThisThat

The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders were eliminated from the 2019 Memorial Cup on Tuesday night when they dropped a 5-2 decision to the OHL-champion Guelph Storm. 2019MC. . . The Raiders lost all three of their round-robin games while being outscored 15-6. . . . The Storm (2-1) is guaranteed at least a spot in the semifinal game. . . . The round-robin portion of the four-team event concludes tonight (Wednesday) with the host Mooseheads (2-0) meeting the QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1-1). The Huskies beat the Mooseheads, 4-2, in the QMJHL’s best-of-seven championship final. . . . Last night, the first period ended in a 2-2 draw, with Guelph scoring twice off the rush, and the Raiders getting two goals on redirections from in tight. . . . The Storm won it with a pair of second-period goals, from F Liam Hawel, at 1:21, on a PP, and F Nick Suzuki, at 5:02. . . . Suzuki, who also had an assist, put it away with another Suzuki goal at 6:42 of the third period. . . . The Storm got a goal and two assists from F Isaac Ratcliffe. . . . F Sean Montgomery, on a PP, and F Dante Hannoun had the Raiders’ goals. . . . The Raiders represented the WHL in the Memorial Cup for the second time in franchise history. In 1985, their third season in the WHL, they won the WHL title and the Memorial Cup. . . . Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com was in Halifax and his story is right here.

——

JUST NOTES: The Raiders played 94 games this season — 68 in the regular season, 23 in the WHL playoffs and three in the Memorial Cup. It wasn’t until they got to the Memorial Cup that they lost three times in a row. . . .

WHL champions now have lost 13 straight Memorial Cup games. Prince Albert has joined the Swift Current Broncos (2018), Seattle Thunderbirds (2017) and Brandon Wheat Kings (2016) as WHL champs who have reached the Memorial Cup, only to go 0-3. The Kelowna Rockets lost the first game in that skid, falling 2-1 in OT to the Oshawa Generals in the final of the 2015 tournament. . . . What, if anything, is the reason for the recent struggles? If you have an opinion, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com and I’ll have some thoughts at some point this week. . . .

According to the online scoresheet, the Storm won 41 of the game’s 59 faceoffs last night. . . .

The Mooseheads can move to Sunday’s final with a victory over the Huskies tonight. If the Huskies win, the three remaining teams will each be 2-1 and the playoff seedings would be decided via the tiebreaker formula.

Here is that formula, direct from the 2019 Memorial Cup Media Guide:

“In the event three teams should tie for first place at the conclusion of the single round-robin series of games, the game each team played against the fourth place team shall be removed from their records. The tiebreaking formula shall be as follows: Add each team’s goals for with their goals against which sum you divide into such team’s goals for. The team with the highest percentage gains the higher ranking in the standings and an automatic berth as home team in the Memorial Cup championship game. The remaining two teams shall play in the semifinal game. The home team in the semifinal game will be the team that won the round-robin game between the two teams. . . .

“In the event that after using the above mathematical exercise all three teams should still remain tied for first place, the game each team played against the fourth team shall be added to their records. The same formula (as above) will be applied to finalize the rankings of the three teams.

“In the event that two teams still remain tied, the round-robin game between the two teams will determine their order of position.”

Got that? If not, just let tonight’s game play itself out and all will be decided then.

BTW, that Media Guide is available as a PDF right here.

——

F Noah Gregor was the best of the Prince Albert Raiders in their three-game Memorial Cup appearance. They scored six goals in their three losses, and he was in on the first PrinceAlbertfive, scoring two of them.

He also figured in each of Prince Albert’s last three goals in the Raiders’ seven-game WHL championship series victory over the Vancouver Giants.

Gregor, a 20-year-old from Beaumont, Alta., also was one of their top players through the regular season and playoffs, after having been acquired from the Victoria Royals on July 25 for what, according to the WHL website, was “cond. VictoriaRoyalscompensation.”

Taking Note was told on Tuesday that those considerations were three-fold:

1. An eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft in exchange for Gregor’s rights;

2. A 2019 third-round selection based on Gregor playing in a certain number of regular-season games, which he did; and,

3. A 2020 fourth-round selection based on Gregor playing a certain number of playoff games, which he did.

The third-round pick originated with the Prince George Cougars, and turned out to be 48th overall. The Royals used it to take F Tanner Scott, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He played this season with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team, putting up 18 goals and 25 assists in 29 games.

Gregor, a fourth-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, had signed a pro deal prior to this season. At the time the Raiders acquired his rights, there was no guarantee that he would be back in the WHL; in fact, there was ample speculation that he would end up at least starting the season with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda.

At the time of the deal, the Royals had already dealt D Jared Freadrich, 20, to the Portland Winterhawks, and Gregor was one of nine other 1998-born players on Victoria’s roster.

One of those players was F Dante Hannoun, who was moved to Prince Albert on Jan. 3, along with a pair of 2019 draft picks — in the fourth and eighth rounds. In exchange, the Royals got F Kody McDonald, who played out his eligibility this season; F Carson Miller, who turned 19 on Feb. 10; and a 2020 third-round selection.

That means the Royals hold Prince Albert’s third- and fourth-round selections in the 2020 bantam draft.

Gregor had 43 goals and 45 assists in 88 regular-season games, then added 13 goals and 11 assists in 24 playoff games.

Hannoun added 10 goals and 21 assists in 28 regular-season games with the Raiders. In the playoffs, he had 14 goals and 10 assists in 23 games, including the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants in Game 7 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The Spokane Chiefs announced Tuesday that they have signed head coach Dan Lambert SpokaneChiefsto a contract extension. . . . The Chiefs’ news release didn’t provide the length of the extension. However, Karthik Venkataraman of KREM-TV in Spokane reported: “The Chiefs have not disclosed details of the extension. However, previous extensions have been two years with a club option for a third year.” . . . Lambert has completed two seasons as the Chiefs’ head coach, going 81-46-13 in the process. The Chiefs reached the Western Conference final this season, where they were beaten by the Vancouver Giants. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Lambert spent one season as head coach of the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. He also was an assistant coach with the Sabres for one season. . . . Prior to that, he spent five seasons (2009-14) as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets, and one season as their head coach. . . . Lambert will be the head coach Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August.


Mitch Wilson, who played two seasons (1980-82) with the WHL’s Seattle Breakers, died SeaBrealerson Saturday at his home in Brinnon, Wash. The native of Kelowna was 57. He had battled ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for a number of years. . . . “Thank you to everyone for your support through this difficult time,” his family posted on his Facebook page. “Mitch fought this battle the best he knew how and did so with courage.” . . . A rugged right winger, Wilson spent two seasons with the B.C. Junior Hockey League’s Kelowna Buckaroos before joining the Breakers. . . . In 1980-81, he had eight goals, 23 assists and 253 penalty minutes in 64 games. The next season, he finished with 18 goals, 17 assists and 436 penalty minutes in 60 games. . . .  He went on to a pro career that included 26 NHL games — nine with the New Jersey Devils and 17 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had two goals, three assists and 104 PMs in those 26 games.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Caleb Reimer to a WHL contract. The Oil Kings selected him 18th overall in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Reimer, who will turn 15 on Oct. 9, is from Surrey, B.C., and played this season with the bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy. He put up 18 goals and 27 assists in 30 games.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Braeden Lewis to a WHL contract. The Broncos selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 bantam draft. Lewis, from Virden, Man., turned 16 on Tuesday. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars, scoring 10 goals and adding 20 assists in 45 games.


Lee Stone is back with the junior B Campbell River Storm, as the Vancouver Island Hockey League team’s general manager and head coach. . . . Stone left the Storm earlier this season and joined the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach. At the time, the Storm announced that it and Stone had “mutually agreed to part ways.” . . . Cam Basarab, an assistant coach, took over as head coach, with assistant coach Bill Brett stepping in as GM. . . . In his time with the Storm, the club has totalled 254 victories, 71 losses,18 OTL and nine ties. According to the Storm, “His clubs have captured three league championships, a Cyclone Taylor Cup and a Keystone Cup.” . . . He also served as chairperson on Campbell River’s 2019 Cyclone Taylor Cup organizing committee. . . . The Storm also announced that Travis McMillan has signed on as assistant GM and associate coach. He had been the head coach of the Cochrane, Alta., Generals of the Heritage Junior B Hockey League.


Tweetoftheday