USNTDP experiences positive tests . . . NHL preparing for restart; Flames D-man opts out . . . Giants catcher Posey won’t play

With the NHL announcing Friday that it has a new CBA in place and that almost 80 per cent of its players had voted for a return to play, a story out of Plymouth, Mich., didn’t seem to have the impact it probably should have.

ICYMI, Craig Custance and Katie Strang of the The Athletic reported that “at least three players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program have tested positive for COVID-19, multiple sources have confirmed. . . . The players had been participating in on-ice skills training at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., the venue for USA Hockey’s 2020 World Junior Summer Showcase later this month.”

Custance and Strang also reported that “additional participants in the on-ice skills training who are not members of the USNTDP have also tested positive, according to a source.”

The complete story is right here.

One source was quoted as saying: “It’s hockey players who hang out together. One person got tested, found out they had it and so they all did.”

This, I believe, is the first report of teenage hockey players testing positive, and this has to be ominous for junior hockey owners and operators.

Obviously, if you are going to bring teams of athletes together and have them in close quarters, like in locker rooms and on buses, there are going to be positive tests. That means that if you own a team, say, in the WHL and you are hell-bent on opening the 2020-21 season at some time in the not-too-distant future, your return-to-play protocol better have something in it about dealing with positive tests.

Or you have you fingers crossed, a rabbit’s foot in your hip pocket, and you’re hoping for a miracle.


Dog


Meanwhile, Adam Wodon, the managing editor of College Hockey News, posted a thought-provoking piece on Friday that spells out a lot of things.

He starts:

“The shutdown of Ivy League sports until Jan. 1 and its implications for college hockey are just the first of many shoes to drop in the coming weeks and months.

“Trying to summarize what college sports will look like this fall, seems silly at the moment. It changes day by day, and usually in the wrong direction.

“The trajectory, however, points to a continued steady drip towards the seemingly inevitable: that there will be no college sports in the fall, or, at best, nothing close to how we know it to be, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis.

“College sports departments continue to go through the motions of preparing for the season, what with the social media countdowns to the next game, and so on. But it all seems so pointless. I mean, I get it — what else are those staffs supposed to do? Gotta do something. Can’t all be like me, catching up on my golf game and rewatching Lost.

“Coaches have been going through offseason workouts in all sorts of ways, keeping training facilities open, but with certain distancing measures in place. And so on.

“But nothing anyone says about ‘we plan on this . . .” or ‘we plan on that . . . “ has any real substance at this point, even if they’re sincere in saying it.”

There’s a whole lot more to his piece and it’s well worth your time. It’s all right here.


D Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames has opted out of the NHL’s season. Hamonic cited family considerations in making his decision.


Hey, you want some optimistic news?

Here you go . . .

The 15-team AJHL released its 2020-21 schedule on Friday, with opening night set for Sept. 18. Each team is to play 58 games in the regular season. According to the news release: “The schedule has been created to remove pre-determined blocks of games should the season start be delayed.” . . . The complete news release is right here.

Meanwhile, the 16-team USHL said Friday that it plans to open in the fall “with the intention to play a full schedule.”

But, in Germany, the 14-team DEL season that was to have started on Sept. 18 now has been pushed back to an unspecified date in November.


Flatearth


Michael Bidwill, the owner of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, has been in hospital after testing positive. His condition has improved of late and he may be released sometime this weekend. . . . He is believed to have contracted the virus while travelling in the eastern U.S. . . . Bidwill, 55, isn’t believed to have had any contact with the team’s football personnel.


In a release issued Friday, MLB and the MLPBA said that 71 players and 12 staff members have tested positive since intake screening began on June 27. That is out of 11,149 samples. All told, 66 of the positives came from intake screening. . . .

C Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants won’t play this season. He and his wife adopted twin girls who were born about six weeks prematurely on July 3, so he has chosen to stay with his family rather than play in the pandemic-shortened MLB season. . . . “In the current state we are in now, and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months at a minimum, this just ultimately was not a difficult decision for me,” Posey, 33, said on a ZOOM call. “From baseball, it was a tough decision. From a family standpoint, that I feel I’m making a decision to protect our children, I think it was relatively easy.” . . .

P Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox also has opted out of the approaching MLB season. The right-hander, 24, is seen as one of MLB’s top pitching prospects. . . .


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, posted a terrific piece on Friday detailing difficulties encountered by MLB in getting two plane loads of Dominican players to Miami on July 1. It’s all right here. . . .

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The Pac-12 announced on Friday that fall sports, including football, will be conference only if their seasons are able to start. The cancellations include a Sept. 5 football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and USC. . . .

Dartmouth has dropped a handful of NCAA Division 1 sports, effective immediately. Gone are men’s and women’s golf, men’s lightweight towing, and the men’s and women’s diving and swimming programs. The Ivy League school also shuttered the Hanover Country Club, which was built in 1899. . . .

The 11-member New England Small College Athletic Conference has cancelled all fall sports. Bowdoin College and Williams College had made that move last month. Now the other nine schools — Amherst College, Bates College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Wesleyan University — have chosen to do the same.


COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc . . . MLS tourney starts tonight without FC Dallas . . . Ryder Cup to be postponed


About the MLS is Back tournament . . .

FC Dallas was taken out of the tournament on Monday after having 10 players and one coach test positive. . . . There still are 25 teams in the competition, which is to begin today (Wednesday) with Orlando City and Inter Miami CF meeting.

The Vancouver Whitecaps left for Orlando without Lucas Cavallini, Fredy Montero, Georges Mukumbilwa, Tosaint Ricketts and Andy Rose. . . . Cavallini said he has lost two family members to COVID-19 and stayed behind “to support my loved ones.” . . . Rickets said he has a pre-existing condition. . . . Rose stayed at home to be with his pregnant wife. . . . Montero cited family reasons. . . . Mukumbilwa apparently isn’t cleared for travel outside of Canada at this time. . . .

Nashville SC arrived in Orlando on Friday, and reported Tuesday that it had five positive tests with four others ruled inconclusive. . . . As a result, Nashville’s game against the Chicago Fire that had been scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) has been postponed.

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Bulgarian soccer club Cherno More revealed that it has had 12 players and four officials test positive after playing Sunday against Tsarsko Selo in Sofia. Tsarsko Selo apparently had one player test positive prior to the game, but didn’t reveal it.


Piano


G Asia Durr of the WNBA’s New York Liberty won’t play this season after testing positive on June 8. She has had symptoms and hasn’t yet recovered. . . . Durr was the second overall selection in the 2019 draft. . . . The league revealed Tuesday that seven of 137 players tested had come up positive over the past week. . . . The WNBA hopes to play a 22-game season in at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., starting later this month.


With NHL teams to open training camps on July 13 with teams travelling to Edmonton and Toronto on July 26, the league announced Monday that it had nine more players test positive. That brought the total to 35. The NHL announces its numbers on a weekly basis.


OF Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves has opted out after a conversation with teammate Freddie Freeman, who tested positive and has symptoms. “Just hearing him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough,” Markakis, 36, said. “It was kind of eye-opening. With everything that’s going on, not just with baseball but all over the world, it makes you open your eyes.”

The Philadelphia Phillies reported that coaches Rob Thomson, Jim Gott and Greg Brodzinski all tested positive and aren’t in camp. . . . As well, players Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter and Mikie Mahtook have tested positive. . . . Kingery was diagnosed on June 11 and isn’t anywhere near ready to play baseball. More on that right here. . . .

P Eduardo Rodriguez and Bobby Dalbec of the Boston Red Sox have tested positive. Rodriguez, who had been tabbed as Boston’s opening day starter, has some symptoms but is feeling better. Dalbec, an infield prospect who apparently contacted it at home, is asymptomatic. . . .

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Some positive tests with a high school baseball team in Newberg, Ore. . . .

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OF Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers has been tested four times over the past 10 days. Two came back negative; two were positive. . . . The negatives came from nasal swab tests; the positives were after PCR/saliva tests. . . . Gallo hasn’t yet been allowed to work out with the Rangers as he awaits the result of yet another saliva test, one that was taken on Tuesday evening. . . .

OF Kole Calhoun of the Arizona Diamondbacks became the third player on that team’s 40-man roster to test positive. He is said to be asymptomatic and, according to manager Torey Lovullo, “feeling great.” . . .

The San Francisco Giants reported two positive tests on Monday. Here’s Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The club did not identify them, and the news release specifically did not describe the two who tested positive as players. It used the term ‘individuals,’ which means one or both could be coaches or other staff members.” . . . Both individuals are in self-isolation. . . .

P Brad Keller and 1B Ryan O’Hearn of the Kansas City Royals have tested positive. Keller has minor symptoms.


G Spencer Dinwiddie won’t be with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets as they open camp in Orlando where the season is to resume on July 30. Dinwiddie has tested positive and has symptoms so won’t be playing in Orlando. . . . Earlier, C DeAndre Jordan of the Nets tested positive and opted out.


Robots


In golf, the women’s British Open will be played at Royal Troon, Aug. 20-23, without spectators. That’s one week after the Ladies Scottish Open is scheduled to be played. . . .

ESPN reported on Tuesday that the PGA of America and the European Tour will announce today that the Ryder Cup has been postponed to 2021, with the Presidents Cup pushed back to 2022. . . . The Ryder Cup was to have been held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Sept. 25-27. . . .

The PGA Tour had hoped to have some fans on course next week for the Memorial at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. But those plans have been scrapped because of the pandemic. . . .



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, in writing about the kerfuffle about the NFL Washington franchise’s nickname, has a suggestion: “One team name that should offend no one because it is so obviously correct would be Washington Gridlock. That would honor the traffic situation here and the political situation nationally.” . . . He’s got more right here.


The curmudgeonly one also sent a Thought for the Day, along with this note — H.L. Mencken wrote this more than 70 years ago. Imagine what he might say today on a similar topic. . . . Here it is: “Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow. What would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?”


The Moose Jaw Warriors have added Gord Burnett to their coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Mark O’Leary. The coaching staff also includes assistant Scott King and coaching assistant Olivia Howe. . . . Burnett spent last season as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, who are owned by the owners of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. Burnett, who is from Regina, spent four seasons (2015-19) on the Kootenay Ice’s staff before the franchise moved to the Manitoba capital.


James Gaertner has signed on as the head coach and assistant general manager of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Last season, he was the head coach of the VIJHL’s Kerry Park Islanders. Prior to that, he was on the coach staff of the U of Victoria Vikes for five seasons. . . . He takes over the Buccaneers’ bench from Brad Knight, who was hired on May 8 but stepped down late last month.


Clickit

Canucks cancel Penticton event . . . Will NFL fans have to sign virus waivers? . . . High River team bows out

 


The Vancouver Canucks have pulled the plug on the 2020 version of the Young Stars Classic that was to have been held in Penticton, B.C., Sept. 11-15. . . . The tournament was to have featured prospects from the Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. . . .

The NBA announced on Thursday that nine of its players tested positive from June 24-29. It has acknowledged that it has had 25 players and 10 staff members test positive. . . . All told, 351 players and 884 staff have been tested. . . .

The NFL is planning on playing a complete season, although it has trimmed its exhibition season, which it hopes to to start on Aug. 20, to a pair of games per team rather than four. At the same time, the NFL really wants to have fans in attendance at its games. The Athletic has reported that the league may ask fans to sign a coronavirus liability waiver before being allowed into a stadium. As John Breech of CBS Sports explained: “By signing the waiver, fans would agree not to hold the NFL responsible if they were to catch COVID-19 while attending a game. Basically, fans would be forfeiting their right to sue the league and would be assuming all health risks that come with being in a stadium during a global pandemic.” . . .


Hornets


FC Dallas arrived at its ‘bubble’ in Orlando on Saturday and had six players test positive. . . . On Wednesday night, The Athletic reported that three more players and a coach also tested positive, although “those four results still must be confirmed by follow-up tests.” If those tests stand, Dallas FC will have had nine players and a coach test positive, all since arriving in Orlando. . . . Does this mean the ‘bubble’ already is contaminated? . . . MLS says not to worry, everything is under control. . . . Thomas Laforgia of Deadspin isn’t convinced: “Here’s the important part, which seems to have gotten lost in the league’s self-congratulatory wash: Only two of the six players tested positive on the day of the squad’s June 27 arrival. The remaining four players spent at least two days among the hotel’s general population — bound to a particular floor, but out of quarantine, in relatively close quarters with teammates. Put in practical terms? Over the next few days, more positive tests are likely to emerge in and around Disney’s ‘Swan and Dolphin‘ resort complex.”

——

The Vancouver Whitecaps are to open the MLS tournament on July 9 against . . . Dallas FC. The Whitecaps were to have flown to Orlando on Wednesday but considering all that’s going on there — the Columbus Crew also have had a player who was in the ‘bubble’ test positive — they have delayed their departure. The Whitecaps also had all their players tested again on Thursday. . . . Toronto FC also has delayed its departure and head coach Greg Vanney told The Canadian Press: “There’s concern, no doubt. Because it’s showing that the bubble is not impenetrable and there are some issues that are going on. The question is how quickly can the protocols that are in place down there get things under control so it doesn’t start to spread inside of the bubble. That remains to be seen.”


Rick Pitino now is the head coach of the Iona College Gaels men’s basketball team and the Greek national men’s team . . .

 

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Boise State has trimmed US$3 million from its budget by dropping its men’s baseball and its diving and swimming programs because of the pandemic. . . . The baseball program had been revived a year ago, after a long absence, and there had been plans to build a new stadium.


If you are on Twitter, there is a good thread here . . .

 

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Meanwhile, college kids in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are throwing COVID parties. . . . “They put money in a pot, and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” Sonya McKinstry, a city councillor, told ABC News. “They’re intentionally doing it.” . . . The city is home to the U of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. . . . This gives new meaning to Roll Tide!


BusinessCard


The National Basketball Coaches Association has expressed concern that some of its members won’t be allowed to work during the NBA’s anticipated restart because of age concerns during the pandemic. However, Rick Carlisle, the association president, said Tuesday: “We’ve been assured by the league that no one will be red-flagged by the league from going to Orlando based on age alone.” . . . According to the NBA, all coaches and staff members, like the players, will be screened and tested.


 


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Dr. Harry Edwards will be nominating Colin Kaepernick for a Nobel Peace Prize. . . . And wouldn’t it be something in Kaepernick was awarded one of those and you know who doesn’t get a Noble Prize?

——

Here’s part of what Dr. Edwards told Ostler: ““A Nobel nomination was always my ultimate goal for Kaepernick, not only because he deserves it, but because he would stand in representation of all of the other unsung athletes who have contributed and sacrificed so much while paving the way and priming the pump for those who would come after.”


The Heritage Junior B Hockey League has lost a second team with the news that the High River Flyers have chosen to sit out the 2020-21 season. “The 2019-20 season was already difficult financially for the club, and the pandemic still affects everyone and everything has not made things any easier,” the team said in a news release. “The main sources of fundraising . . . have all been placed on hold or potentially will be cancelled altogether, and with uncertainty around the amount of fans that will be allowed to be in the arena, along with the potential restrictions around how fans can watch the games, the team’s home-game revenue will be very much affected as well.” . . . Earlier, the Medicine Hat Cubs announced that they won’t be answering the bell for the 2020-21 season whenever that may be.

——

We are starting to get a feel for other junior teams that really are feeling the pinch. The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have asked city council for financial help to the tune of about $44,000 as they try to deal with what was about $60,000 in debt before the pandemic hit. . . . Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders were around $200,000 in the hole when last season began. Yes, that figure is likely greater than that now, which is why they are about to start charging players $2,000 to play for them. . . . Danielle Gordon-Broome of the Swan Valley Star and Times has more on the Stampeders right here and how they got in this deep.


If ever you wondered how July 1 came to be known as Bobby Bonilla Day, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the story right here.


Elephant

Edmonton and Toronto, here’s pulling for you . . . What happened to the Matthews story? . . . Soetaert at top of KCYHA

Mask


One of these days, the NHL will get around to naming the two hub cities in which it hopes to finish its season.

Here’s Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province with his take on things and, yes, as someone who lives in B.C., I agree with him:

“Admittedly, this comes down to a question of optics. For over three months, British Columbians have followed the guidelines of the public health authority with a single-minded purpose, sacrificing to keep themselves and their neighbours safe and healthy.

“We can be proud of those efforts and they’ve created some of the best COVID-related numbers in North America. But they weren’t made so we could throw our doors open to the NHL and an ersatz Stanley Cup tournament which will benefit a couple of hotels and the food-delivery industry.

“These games will take place, the virus willing, and we’ll be watching. But if Edmonton or Toronto wants them that badly, they can have them.”

Willes’s complete column is right here.

The NHL is reportedly down to six cities — Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago — and is expected to announce the two choices this week.

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If you haven’t seen it, Willes also had an excellent column that carried this headline: The story behind the story about Auston Matthews’ positive test is bewildering. . . . Postmedia’s Steve Simmons broke the Matthews story, and there were other outlets, some of them of the bigly variety, who ignored it. . . . This is all about how some media types have a vested interest in some of what they cover, so perhaps the consumer isn’t getting the whole story. . . . The complete column is right here.



With MLB poised to open training camps on July 1, Kyle Newman of the Denver Post reports that all-star OF Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and two team-mates, LHR Phillip Diehl and RHP Ryan Castellani, have tested positive for the coronavirus at Coors Field in Denver. . . .

According to ESPN, Nikola Jokic, an all-star centre with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, tested positive for the coronavirus in Serbia before he could leave to join his teammates in the U.S. . . . Michael Malone, the Nuggest’s head coach, has disclosed that he had the virus in late March. . . .

Jokic was at a recent tennis tournament hosted by fellow-Serb Novak Djokovic in Belgrade. Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 men’s player, also has tested positive, as has his wife Jelena. . . . Three other players — Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki — also tested positive after playing in the exhibition tournament. . . .

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday night that G Avery Bradley of the Los Angeles Lakers has chosen to opt out of the re-start of the NBA season in Orlando, Fla. . . . Trevor Ariza of the Portland Trail Blazers and Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards also are reported to have opted out. . . .

The Philadelphia Phillies announced Tuesday that two more players and two more staff members have tested positive. One player and the two staffers were in Clearwater, Fla., the site of the Phillies’ training facility. The other player was somewhere else. . . . The Phillies now have had seven players and five staffers come up positive. . . .

The Pittsburgh Steelers had two players test positive earlier this year. Head coach Mike Tomlin said both have recovered and are back at work. . . .

Karate’s 2020 world championships have been postponed. They were to have been held in Dubai, Nov. 17-22. The next worlds are scheduled for Dubai, Nov. 16-21, 2021. . . .

Seven soccer players in France, four from Toulouse and three from Paris Saint-Germain, have tested positive. PSG also had a staff member test positive. . . . The PSG players have resumed training. . . . The Toulouse players were tested on Monday as the team prepared to resume training. . . .

The Orlando Pride withdrew from the National Women’s Soccer League tournament that is scheduled to start Saturday near Salt Lake City. . . . The move, which left the tournament with eight teams, came after six players and four staffers tested positive. . . . On Tuesday, three players, all members of the U.S. national team, said they won’t play, either. Tobin Heath of the Portland Thorns and Christen Press of the Utah Royals cited health concerns. It’s not known why Megan Rapinoe of the OL Reign opted out.




A note from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, from his Monday posting:

“Back in March, the NBA shut down its operations entirely when one player — ONE player — tested positive for COVID-19. In March, the number of known/active cases for COVID-19 in the U.S. was less than 75,000 and there had been about 1,500 deaths ascribed to COVID-19. The latest data I can find says that COVID-19 cases in the U.S. now total more than 2.2 million and that there have been approximately 115,000 deaths. So, what is the NBA considering today? Reopening their season-interruptus in a bubble environment in Florida — one of those states where case numbers are on the rise. Do those two actions make any sense to you once you juxtapose them? They do if dollars and cents take precedence over health and safety concerns.”

His complete post is right here.


“A Pawtucket, R.I., brewery — taking a swipe at Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for bolting the Patriots for the Buccaneers — has come out with a new beer named ‘Traitorade,’” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “It’s an imperial fruit sour with sea salt, reviewers say, with maybe just a hint of sour grapes.”

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Here’s Perry, with a coffee-spitter: “Disease czar Dr. Anthony Fauci has advised against playing baseball deep into October. No problem, said the Seattle Mariners.”


Office


Garrett Taylor, who is the co-signee with Daniel Carcillo on a class-action lawsuit against the CHL that was filed last week, is 29 and claims to have health issues left over from abuse he faced in the WHL. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News writes:

“The statement of claim refers to the incident as ‘the garbage bag treatment,’ a term that is well known in junior hockey circles that refers to when a player is dropped by his team. Kim Taylor said when her son was reassigned, there were no calls made to any of her, Taylor’s agent or his billet family. Nor was he given any money or further direction. The lawsuit alleges that he was told the news in front of the team and had to retrieve his belongings from the bus and his equipment from the storage area.”

Campbell has more on the Taylors right here.

Two years ago, the WHL acknowledged wrongdoing in how Taylor was treated when he was cut by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Kim Taylor and two former WHL players were questioned by an Oregon Senate committee that was considering a request by the WHL to have Portland Winterhawks players exempted from Oregon’s minimum wage legislation. . . . The committee didn’t grant the WHL’s request. . . . After the hearing, the WHL hired a former RCMP deputy commissioner, Craig Callens, to conduct an investigation into 14 allegations of mistreatment that emerged from the hearing. In July 2018, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, announced that Taylor’s allegation was the only one of the 14 to be “supported by the evidence collected.” . . . In his statement, Robison said: “With respect to the one allegation that was supported in the investigation, the WHL will take the necessary steps to introduce a new policy in this area as it relates to the release or trading of players.” . . . The WHL hasn’t revealed what “necessary steps” it has taken; nor has it released Callens’ report.



Doug Soetaert, a former WHL goaltender and later general manager of the Everett Silvertips, has taken over as the president and executive director of the Kansas City Youth Hockey Association. . . . Soetaert was the head coach, and later the general manager, of the Kansas City Blades as they entered the International Hockey League for the 1990-91 season. From 1991-2001, he was the GM. . . . The Blades won the Turner Cup and Soetaert was the executive of the year for 1991-92. . . . He has since settled in Kansas City. . . . Soetaert, now 64, played four seasons (1971-75) for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He was Everett’s first GM and spent nine seasons (2002-05, 2006-12) with the Silvertips.



Once upon a time there was a hockey player named Rick Herbert. In the days before 15-Patsyear-olds having to apply for exceptional status in order to play regularly in the WHL, he made the Regina Pats’ roster for the 1982-83 season. Of course, the Pats gave up seven players in order to be able to select him in the 1982 WHL draft. . . . How did it work out for him? “It turned me off for life,” Herbert, now 52, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. ““I haven’t put on my skates to play in a hockey game in 30 years. I don’t pay attention to it.” . . . Not since Herbert, who lives in Kelowna, has anyone played regularly for the Pats at the age of 15. . . . F Connor Bedard will be the next one, and Herbert said: “I’ll be watching from Kelowna.” . . . Harder’s excellent story is right here.


Headline at fark.com: NBA players get fancy rings that can detect COVID symptoms early. You get a dirty mask to wear while getting yelled at by people in the grocery store.


AllWrong


Greg Gilbert is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Gilbert, a 58-year-old veteran coach, is a former head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . He also spent eight seasons as an OHL head coach, three (2003-06) with the Mississauga IceDogs and five (2011-16) with the Saginaw Spirit. . . . He has worked the last four seasons as an analyst with TSN. . . . In Saint John, he takes over from interim head coach Jeff Cowan, who replaced the fired Josh Dixon on Dec. 2. Cowan will stay on as an assistant coach. . . . Last season, the Sea Dogs were  30-33-1 and tied for 10th in the 18-team league when the pandemic halted proceedings.


Daniel Lacroix is returning for his first full season as head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. Lacroix took over as the Wildcats’ head coach in December, and the team went 26-6 with him in charge, including a 16-game winning streak. . . . Earlier in his career, he spent four seasons (2002-07) on Moncton’s coaching staff, taking over as head coach during his third season there. . . . Before returning to Moncton last season, he was the head coach of the Lithuanian national team. . . . He also has ample experience as an NHL assistant, having worked with the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. . . . As well, Ritchie Thibeau, who had been the Wildcats’ interim director of hockey operations, has moved into the role in a permanent capacity. . . . The Wildcats had dismissed John Torchetti, the director of hockey operations and head coach, in December.


After ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary Long Gone Summer, about the Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa bulked up home run derby of 1998, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post summed it up: “ESPN doc tests negative for ’roids.”


Delivery

CHL facing another potential class-action lawsuit . . . Most everything with WHL these days is fluid . . . Former WHL owner, GM, coach dies at 79

These have to be tough days to be the owner of a WHL franchise, don’t they?

The WHL is only a few weeks removed from the CHL, the umbrella under which it, the whlOHL and the QMJHL operate, having settled a civil suit for $30 million. In that suit, players, former and present, were, among other things, asking to be paid minimum wage under labour legislation in various jurisdictions. While not admitting to any wrongdoing or agreeing to pay minimum wage, the CHL settled, with insurance covering half the tab and each of the Canadian teams believed to be on the hook for more than $280,000.

And there is another WHL-related lawsuit before the courts, this one involving concussions, with the parties waiting to see if it will be certified as a class-action.

And another lawsuit dropped on Thursday, this one also seeking to be certified as a class-action. It carries the signatures of two former major junior players — Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Garrett Taylor, who split a couple of seasons (2008-10) between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — and is looking for more co-signees.

This one could prove to be particularly ugly because, as you will see by reading this piece right here from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, Carcillo and Taylor are alleging that they were subject to abuse that is, to be honest, beyond description.

(BTW, you may recall that Taylor and his mother, Kim, were among those who appeared before an Oregon Senate committee on workforce on Feb. 27, 2018. They were opposing a proposed bill that would have exempted the Portland Winterhawks from state labour legislation. Ultimately, that request was denied.)

Geez, we haven’t even mentioned the hot mess that former OHL player Eric Guest hit that league and his old team, the Kitchener Rangers, with earlier in the week. The allegations, which included the forced ingestion of cocaine, are beyond messy, and the league, the team and the RCMP now are said to be conducting investigations.

And let’s not forget about the pandemic, you know, the coronavirus, COVID-19, and all that goes with that.

On Wednesday, following the completion of its annual meeting, the WHL issued a news release in which it said it “has targeted a start date of Friday, Oct. 2, for the 2020-21 regular season, but this date remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from government and health authorities in each of the six jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

Those would be Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Washington and Oregon. To this point, the citizens of the four Canadian provinces have done a good job of battling this virus. As for the two states, well, let’s just point out that Canada has closed its border with the U.S. until at least July 21 for a reason. And Canadians, especially those in B.C., are pleading with the feds to keep it closed for a whole lot longer.

On Thursday, Ron Robison, the WHL commish, was on a Zoom gathering with various media types and it is obvious that a proposed starting date really is a moving target.

At his point, the WHL hopes to have a 68-game regular season, but . . .

It hopes to open training camps on Sept. 15, but . . .

It’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s all in the hands of the medical community and, as Rafferty Baker of CBC News, reports right here, people like Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, aren’t ready to commit to anything just yet.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week was on the Zoom call and his report is right here. . . . The word “fluid” appears on more than one occasion and for good reason.

How fluid are things?

Don Moores, the Kamloops Blazers’ president and chief operating officer, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV this week that the club isn’t even selling season tickets.

Moores explained: “We actually haven’t sold any season tickets yet. One of the things we don’t want to do is over-promise and under-deliver. It’s important for us to make sure that we know what we’re going to have and what that season will look like before we move ahead with that.”

As for the Winterhawks, who aren’t believe to be experiencing financial difficulties but are in receivership, Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison “said there has been a lot of interest in acquiring the club.”

Danzer’s piece is right here.


Earlier in the week, the University of Alberta stunned the Canadian sporting community by announcing it has cancelled the 2020-21 seasons for it’s men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and volleyball teams.

Ian Reade, the school’s athletic director, made the announcement, stating in a news release that “the Athletics budget is no longer able to support participation in the 2020-21 season.”

As The Canadian Press reported: “Earlier this year, the provincial government announced cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant and ordered universities to immediately begin balancing their budgets and reducing expenditures.

“Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a ripple effect on revenues.”

In April, the U of Lethbridge dropped men’s and women’s hockey from its program for financial reasons. Might there be more cuts on the way?

With two Alberta schools already having made moves, you are excused for wondering how things are with the U of Calgary, MacEwan U and Mount Royal U, the three other Canada West members based in Alberta.

Of course, it could be that there won’t even be basketball, hockey or volleyball seasons.

U Sports, which oversees Canadian university sports, and three of its four conferences announced last week that football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s field hockey and women’s rugby wouldn’t be played during the first term.

Canada West has said it will make a decision by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will be played after Jan. 1.

Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia has more on the U of Alberta story right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”


Robbers


You may be aware that the Buffalo Sabres’ owners staged a massive house-cleaning this week, sweeping out more than 20 people from the hockey operation, including general manager Jason Botterill. . . . Also caught up in the mess were two men with ties to the WHL. . . . Mark Ferner played with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers/Blazers. He also coached in Kamloops and with the Everett Silvertips. . . . Randy Hansch played with the Victoria Cougars and the Blazers. He later was the Blazers’ director of player personnel before spending 11 seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings, first as assistant GM/director of player personnel, then as general manager.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff returned to the NFL team’s facility on Monday. By Thursday, one assistant coach had tested positive for the coronavirus, although he was asymptomatic, and was placed in quarantine. Two other assistant coaches also have bee quarantined.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, on Thursday that he doubts the NFL will be able to have a season without placing teams in bubbles much like the NBA has planned for next month in Orlando, Fla.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci said. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NFL doesn’t have any interest in the bubble format.

Dr. Allen Sill, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that “we do not feel it’s practical or appropriate to construct a bubble. Anyone who tests positive will be isolated until medically appropriate to return.”


Real Turcotte, at one time a WHL owner and coach, died Monday after fighting congestive heart failure. He was 79. . . . Turcotte was born in East Angus, Que., but made a real mark as a coach in the Detroit area. . . . He was the owner and general manager of the Nanaimo Islanders for their only season (1982-83). He took over as head coach when he chose to replace Les Calder during the season. . . . Turcotte was the father of Alfie Turcotte, who played with the Islanders and Portland Winter Hawks (1982-84) and was selected 17th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 1983 draft. . . . There is an obituary right here.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual meeting on Saturday and revealed in a Wednesday news release that it is aiming for open its regular season on Oct. 2. . . . As with so many other leagues, however, that is contingent on a number of things. As the league said in a news release: “As has been the case since the league’s 2019-20 season was cancelled on March 13, all decisions related to Return to Play will be made with the health and safety of players, staff, fans, volunteers and sponsors as our top priority.” . . . In that same release, Jeff Dubois, the league’s commissioner, said: “There are still a number of obstacles for us to navigate ahead of resuming league play this fall, but I’m confident that we’re trending in a positive direction.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Herman

B.C.’s top doc: This pandemic is far from over . . . Nachbaur to coach SC Bern . . . . Guest tells OHL horror story


Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said during a Monday briefing on COVID-19 that gatherings in the province will be limited to 50 people with room for physical distancing for months to come.

B.C. announced 36 new cases for the period encompassing Friday through Sunday, with 182 people ill and 13 of those in hospital. There are four people in intensive care.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top health official, pointed out that new cases continue to pop up.

“This pandemic is far from over,” Dr. Henry said. “There continues to be no effective treatment and the virus will continue in our communities for many months to come.”


A hockey fan from Portland emailed me Monday afternoon with some information from Oregon Live and Seattle Times.

First, from Oregon Live:

“Oregon public health officials announced a record 184 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, bringing the total number of known cases in the state to 5,820.

Monday’s new high in cases solidifies a disturbing trend statewide, which this month includes elevated numbers in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Previously, the number of new cases in the state had never exceeded 100. But in the past nine days, seven have surpassed 100 — 146 on June 7, 114 on June 8, 178 on Thursday, 142 on Friday, 158 on Saturday, 101 on Sunday and 184 Monday.”

FYI, Portland is in Multnomah County. The Portlander added that Clackamas and Washington are the surrounding counties where the (Winterhawks) players “would live, practise and and socialize.”

And from the Seattle Times:

“State health officials confirmed 324 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, as well as four additional deaths.

“The update brings the state’s totals to 26,158 cases and 1,221 deaths, meaning about 4.7% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

“So far, 471,265 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.6% have come back positive. The rate of positive tests in Washington has hovered just under 6% in recent weeks, even as case numbers have been climbing.

“The state has confirmed 8,785 diagnoses and 592 deaths in King County, the state’s most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s death toll.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds are located in King County.


Reports on Monday indicated that “several” players from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have tested positive for the coronavirus. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network were first with the story. . . . Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott was among those who tested positive, although he now is said to be healthy. . . . The Cowboys, citing “federal and local privacy laws,” haven’t identified any of the players. . . . On Monday, Pelissero reported that NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, in a call with agents on Monday, “said the current plan in place is to test players for the coronavirus about three times per week, isolating those who test positive.” . . . Mayer also told agents that there is a “90 per cent chance reliable saliva testing is available before players return to facilities.”



It could be that if you are going to bring a team together in close quarters, you had best be prepared for positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

This is from Jesse Spector of Deadspin:

“Friday brought a report from the New York Post that a major league player and pitching coach have contracted coronavirus.

Also, the Boston Bruins announced that one of their players has tested positive.

So did a D.C. United player.

And three Clemson athletes — two football players and one men’s basketball player. And four Mississippi State football players. And six University of Houston football players, leading that school to suspend workouts.

“Even at the high school level, a football player at Cathedral High in El Paso, Texas, tested positive, halting workouts there.

That’s all from a single, 24-hour period. It doesn’t include other coronavirus cases found in June, like the Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the other Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the Florida State football players. Or the two Texas football players. Or the Pittsburgh Penguins player. Or the golfer and three caddies from the PGA’s developmental tour. Or the FC Dallas player. Or the three Central Florida football players. Or the high school football player in East Texas. Or the Oklahoma State football player. Or the three Auburn football players. Or the Utah Jazz players.”

Or the Arizona Coyotes staff member, who tested positive and is in isolation at his home.

Or the student-athlete from North Dakota State, who is being quarantined for 14 days after testing positive.

On Monday, The Associated reported that at least 45 athletes, coaches or staff members at 17 schools have tested positive since June 1.


From Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “A Zion Williamson rookie card fetched nearly $100,000 on eBay this weekend. Is that more or less than Zion was paid to attend Duke, you think?”



Golf Canada has cancelled all of its amateur golf competitions for 2020. That includes the Canadian women’s amateur, that had been scheduled for Montreal from July 21-24, and the Canadian men’s amateur that was to have been played in Calgary, Aug. 3-6. . . . There is more info right here. . . .

The PGA Championship will be held in August; however, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday that it will be played without fans. . . . The tournament is to be played at Harding Park, Aug. 6-9. . . . It will be the first major of the season on the men’s tour. . . . Originally, the PGA Championship was to have been held in mid-May. . . .

The International Softball Congress has cancelled the 2020 World men’s tournament that had been scheduled for Moline, Ill., Aug. 8-15. The 2021 tournament is scheduled for Kitchener, Ont. . . .

The 12-team WNBA is going to play its 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with each club playing a 22-game regular season with playoffs scheduled for October. Training camps will open there early in July. . . . Its regular season had been scheduled to begin on May 15.


Politics


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.”


Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, has signed a two-year deal as head coach of SC Bern, which plays in Switzerland’s National League. . . . Bern has led all of European hockey in attendance for 19 straight seasons. . . . Nachbaur, 61, spent last season as the head of HKM Zvolen of the Slovak league. In Bern, he takes over from Hans Kossman, who finished last season after the firing of Kari Jalonen.



The junior B Southern Rebels of the Prairie Junior Hockey League won’t play in 2020-21. The Rebels, who are based in Assiniboia, Sask., announced via Twitter on Sunday that they “have requested and been approved for a one-year leave” from the PJHL. . . . In requisting the leave, they cited “the fact that there are more unknowns than knowns” because of the impact COVID-19 has had. . . . With the Rebels sitting out, the PJHL will be down to 11 teams.


match


Headline at SportsPickle: Roger Goodell announces 4-game suspension of Roger Goodell for not realizing racism exists.


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins have added Phil Fife as an assistant coach. He’ll work alongside Jason Tatarnic, the club’s new general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Aren Miller, who is preparing for his eighth season in Estevan. . . . Fife spent last season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. He played two seasons under Tatarnic with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Woodstock Slammers (2010-12). . . . Fife fills the spot created when associate coach Jeff Smith left to take over as GM/head coach of the U18 AAA Estevan Bruins for their inaugural season.



“Michael Jordan and the crew on his 80-foot fishing boat ‘Catch 23’ hauled in a 442-pounder during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament off the North Carolina coast,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In fact, the fish flopped so much they nicknamed it Laimbeer.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has found a bright spot in a shortened MLB season. As she put it, it’s “good news for those who worried the Orioles would lose 100 games this year.”


vodka

When do fans get welcomed back to arenas? . . . Second thoughts for some NBAers? . . . BCIHL won’t start before Jan. 15

John Matisz of The Score spent time talking with “five experts from the fields of epidemiology, infectious diseases, and virology.” The conversations dealt with the NHL and its proposed return to play, hub cities, positive tests and a whole lot more. . . . If you’re a hockey fan, or just a sports fan, this is interesting stuff, and it’s all right here. You will want to read this to its conclusion, because the final question is: “Would it be wise for the NHL — or any other sports league, for that matter — to welcome fans back into arenas before a vaccine is readily available?”


The NBA’s back-to-play plan calls for 22 teams to gather in Orlando, Fla., starting on July 7, with its championship final possibly running through Oct. 13. Players would be required to stay in their bubble without family or friends until at least Aug. 30. . . . But now some players are talking about not reporting. Malcolm Brogdon, a guard with the Indiana Pacers who sits on the Players Association Executive Committee told The J.J. Redick Podcast this week the he has “talked to a few guys that are super-interested in sitting out, possibly. . . . Some guys are gonna say, for health reasons and the long-term effects that we don’t understand about COVID, I want to sit out. Other guys are gonna say, the black community and my people are going through too much for me to basically be distracted with basketball. . . . I think it’s a matter of perspective, (but) guys are gathering to really talk about and dive into the idea of not playing.”


Hugs


The U of Houston suspended all voluntary workouts on Friday after six student-athletes tested positive. The six were symptomatic and have been placed in isolation while tracing is undertaken. . . . It’s not known what sports the athletes are involved with, but the football and basketball teams had been cleared to begin workouts. . . . In advance of athletes returning, the school had decided to test only those who were symptomatic, rather than everyone who was coming back. . . . As of Friday evening, according to USA TODAY, 11 U.S. universities had student-athletes test positive. . . .

The Boston Bruins revealed on Friday that an unnamed player has tested positive for COVID-19 although he didn’t display any symptoms. He was tested prior to entering the NHL team’s practice facility, but has since tested negative twice. . . .

The 99-member Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association has cancelled its four fall 2020 national championships — golf, men’s and women’s soccer, and cross-country. . . .

A Romanian soccer league game between visiting Botosani and Universitatea Craiova was postponed on Friday after a member of Botosani’s medical team tested positive. . . . A Saturday game that had China Targoviste at Dinamo Bucharest also was postponed after Dinamo had a staff member come up positive. . . .

Six of the teams in baseball’s American Association are planning to open a 60-game regular season on July 3. That includes the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who will play, just not on their home field. The Chicago Dogs, Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks, Milwaukee Milkmen, Sioux Falls Canaries, St. Paul Saints and Winnipeg are going to play in hub cities. Two teams each will be assigned to Fargo, Milwaukee and Sioux Falls. The Goldeyes will play out of Fargo. . . .

Baseball’s New York-Penn League announced on Friday that the start of its 2020 season is being delayed indefinitely. It also has cancelled its All-Star Game. . . . The 14-team league is a Class A short-season league. Its season was to have opened on June 18. . . .

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Friday that “two people involved in the game — one described as a major league pitching coach and one a 40-man roster player — have contracted COVID-19, multiple sources told The Post. No one would name the people who contracted the virus. But those aware of the situation say the pitching coach had the virus weeks ago and is now recovered. The 40-man roster player was described as having contracted the virus more recently, but with the belief that he has not infected anyone else involved in the game.” . . .

The PGA Tour Champions event scheduled for Calgary, Aug. 24-30, has been cancelled. The City of Calgary has revoked event permits through Aug. 31. That figured in the decision, as did various travel restrictions.


Headline on the Los Angeles Times’ website on Friday: L.A. schools police will return grenade launchers but keep rifles, armored vehicle.


Clinic


The five-team B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League has announced that its season won’t start before Jan. 15 “due to safety concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.” . . . According to a news release, the league has approved a tentative 12-game regular-season schedule, along with a modified playoff structure. . . . From a news release: “Individual BCIHL teams are permitted to explore exhibition game opportunities for the fall semester within the boundaries of their institution, facility, and BC Hockey and Hockey Canada Return to Play protocols.” . . . The league has teams at Selkirk College in Castlegar, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Trinity Western University in Langley, the University of Victory and Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.


With live games starting to re-appear on your TV, and with the NBA and NHL seemingly headed in that direction, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, makes no bones about the fact that he doesn’t want to hear from fans who aren’t in attendance.

After a brief rant about how using mannequins or inflatable dolls as stand-ins for fans diminished the “total intellectual capital” of humankind, he wrote:

“I assume you are wondering at this point what might be worse than something that drains the inventory of human intellectual capital. Well, the idea of piping in crowd noise because there are no live fans to provide spontaneous crowd noise would fit that bill. The compelling thing about sports is that it is real; what is happening on the field or the court or the pitch or the ice is not some fakery or fantasy; it is there and it is happening in real time. Piping in ‘fake noise’ destroys that compelling element.”

Hey, he’s correct!

——

Here’s The Sports Curmudgeon closing Friday “by asking if this ever occurred to you: How did the people on Gilligan’s Island stay so happy episode after episode after they ran out of whatever supply of toilet paper they had on board?”

——

And here he is with his Thought for the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”


Adam Stuart has signed on as an assistant coach with the Cranbrook Bucks, who are preparing for their first BCHL season. Stuart, 31, spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based EDGE school’s midget prep team. In Cranbrook, he’ll work alongside Ryan Donald, the Bucks’ general manager and head coach. . . . Stuart’s brother, Derek, is the general manager and head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.


Scott Cunningham has left the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits after working as their assistant general manager and assistant coach. Cunningham spent six years in Brooks. . . . “I look forward to starting a new career and also being able to spend more time with my family,” Cunningham said in a news release. . . . Prior to joining the Bandits, he spent eight seasons as head coach of the Northern Pacific Hockey League’s Helena Bighorns.


Iron

B.C. moves to protect amateur sports organizations . . . Cranbrook arena getting spruced up for Bucks . . . Bedard tops in clicks

Here is two minutes 20 seconds of hockey heaven. Watch it before putting your head on the pillow because you will have great dreams . . .


John Horgan, the premier of B.C., announced on Wednesday that “the government has passed an order protecting” amateur sports organizations and their volunteers “from any litigation as a result of COVID-19.” . . . As Patrick Johnston and Harrison Mooney of Postmedia reports, the move comes “after many insurance companies refused to cover leagues for coronavirus liability.” . . . The order, they added, “means sports organizations and organizers cannot be sued if someone contracts or transmits COVID-19 as a result of their participation in organized amateur sport, as long as those sports are following provincial pandemic guidelines.” . . . Jake Cabott, a Vancouver lawyer, said that people involved in amateur sports are going to need to “stay current on public health guidance and follow it. Don’t follow it as closely as your sport will allow. Follow it 100 per cent and modify your sport activities accordingly.” . . . The complete story is right here.


Of all the comments I have seen about the decision by U Sports and three of its conferences to cancel some national championships and suspend some seasons until at least January, I thought Blake Nill, the head coach of football’s UBC Thunderbirds, said it best when he told J.J. Adams of Postmedia that it was the correct decision.

“Ultimately,” Nill said, “universities have to provide leadership. They have to set an example. And this is absolutely about that. This is about universities being responsible given the health crisis. . . . It’s about safety of our athletes, it’s about health, and I’m a big believer that we have to be a flagship. We have to be up there at the front in doing that.

“We just have to get through it. Athletes are built to overcome any challenges and, this is a challenge that we need that kind of mindset for.”

Adams’ complete story is right here.



Whenever the BCHL is able to start a new season, the expansion Cranbrook Bucks are going to play in a spruced up Western Financial Place. It is getting a new watertight roof that is in the process of being installed. Work began on May 5. . . . Bradley Jones of myeastkootenaynow.com reports that the work on the roof isn’t expected to have an impact on the start of a new season. . . . According to Jones, several other upgrades are being made to the arena, which used to be home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice before the team moved to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season. When the Bucks begin play, there will be new boards and glass, a new chiller and heat exchanger on the ice plant, and a new video scoreboard. . . . Just wondering, but does anyone know if the Ice’s owners have settled their last lease agreement with Cranbrook city council? That lease was to run through 2022-23.



A gem from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, in reference to the problems MLB and the MLBPA are having in trying to get a season started: “If Rob Manfred called Tony Clark and suggested they have dinner together tonight, I would not be surprised if both men brought food tasters with them. That kind of distrust must stop sometime or MLB as we have come to know it is not going to exist.”



penguin


MLS is planning a 26-team tournament without fans to run from July 8 through Aug. 11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. . . . The NBA is planning to bring 22 teams into the same complex to begin play with the resumption of its season on July 31. . . . MLS is hoping that it will be able to move back to its regular markets once the tournament is completed. . . .

Manchester United was to have played a friendly with visiting Stoke City on Tuesday, but the game was cancelled after Stoke manager Michael O’Neill tested positive for COVID-19. . . . He had come up negative in five previous tests, but was positive in a test conducted on Monday. . . .

The LPGA has cancelled the Evian Championship that was to have been held in Evian-les-Bains, France, Aug. 6-9. This is the first major tournament cancelled by the LPGA. . . . The LPGA is planning on returning to play with the Marathon Classic in Ohio, July 23-26. . . .

Three of the world’s top soccer leagues are to resume their schedules in the next few days, all of them without fans. The Spanish league is to re-open today (Thursday), with Italy re-starting on Friday as Juventus and AC Milan clash in a semifinal. On June 17, the English Premier League will be back with two games. . . .

The PGA Tour returns today (Thursday) from the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. All players and caddies tested negative for the COVID-19 virus as of Wednesday night. Some players will wear microphones, while CBS-TV’s Jim Nantz will be alone in the broadcast booth. Ian Baker-Finch, Nick Faldo and Frank Nobilo will provide commentary from a studio in Orlando. . . .

The Prince George Cougars have had to cancel their ninth annual Alumni Hospital charity golf tournament that benefits the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation. It had been scheduled for July 10 and 11. The event has raised $558,000 in total, including $75,000 last summer. . . .

The European Badminton Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Kiev, Ukraine, April 21-26, but were postponed. Unable to find suitable dates, the Badminton World Federation pulled the plug.



The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings revealed Wednesday that Jon Rosen “is no longer a member of our organization,” a victim of cutbacks brought on by the pandemic. Rosen, once the radio voice of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, spent eight seasons working with the NHL team as the LA Kings Insider. He did a superb job over those eight seasons; in fact, there were none better in his field. . . . What kind of person is Rosen? The Kings’ news release is right here; make sure you go to the end of it and read Rosen’s statement.


Food


Mike McKenzie now is the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He had stepped in as interim head coach on Nov. 26, replacing the fired Jay McKee when the team was 7-10-4. With him running the bench, they went 33-6-3. . . . “Right now,” McKenzie said in a news release, “this decision makes the most sense for our organization.”



If you are a major junior hockey fan, this story may sound a wee bit familiar. . . . Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday that “Major League Baseball and the 22 teams named as defendants in a landmark lawsuit over minor-league salaries have taken their argument to the U.S. Supreme Court in a final effort to prevent a trial.” . . . Earlier, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the suit could move forward as a class action covering, according to Schulman, “any minor-league who has played in Arizona or Florida — essentlally all who went to spring training.” . . . Schulman added: “The suit, filed in 2004 by Missouri attorney and former Giants pitching prospect Garrrett Broshuis, hopes to compel teams to pay minor-league players at least the state minimum wage during the season and in spring training, when they are not paid aside from meal money.”

Schulman’s story is right here.


Book

U Sports, conferences deal with unknown by cancelling events, sports . . . Chiefs sign familiar faces

Burnaby-060720 2
Dorothy and I were joined by a special guest, our granddaughter Kara, for a walk on Sunday.

That’s it for the Kidney Walk for another year. The 2020 version was of a virtual variety and it was held on Sunday.

Thanks to all of you who joined Dorothy’s team by supporting her with a donation. At this point, she has raised $3,080.

This was her seventh year of taking part in the Kidney Walk, and people like you have donated $19,686 through her to the BC/Yukon branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The money raised goes to help people dealing with kidney disease handle the financial costs that come with the fight.

Again, thank you so much for putting so many smiles on Dorothy’s face. Hopefully, we’ll see you in 2021.

In the meantime, please stay safe.


As expected, U Sports and three of its conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — cancelled almost all Canadian university athletic activity until at least January.

It is expected that Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec will follow suit.

U Sports, the governing body of university sport in Canada, cancelled national Usportschampionships in men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s rugby, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey. It also cancelled the Mitchell and Uteck Bowls and the Vanier Cup, the semifinals and championship game for men’s football that has been decided every year since 1965.

It then remained for the conferences to deal with sports at their level, including regular-season play and playoffs. Canada West, along with the Atlantic and Ontario conferences, announced that they are shutting down most sporting activity until at least January.

Canada West will decide on its fall sports of cross-country, golf and swimming by July 15.

Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s CWbasketball are done until at least January.

Canada West has said that it will decide by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will start up in January. Also to be decided by Oct. 8 is whether men’s and women’s wrestling, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s curling, and women’s rugby 7s will begin in January.

“While cancellation isn’t the outcome anyone associated with university sport wanted, I’m confident in the fact that this difficult decision is in the best interests of our student-athletes,” U of Victoria athletic director Clint Hamilton, who is Canada West’s president, said in a news release. “Health and safety is at the forefront of everything we do and simply put there was no way to adequately ensure the safety of everyone involved in university sport during competition this fall.”

Canada West’s 17 member schools voted unanimously on this strategy on Friday. The U Sports, Atlantic and Ontario conference’s decisions were made by their boards of directors.

Canada West had struck a COVID-19 Task Force to steer it through these pandemic-riddled times. That task force recommended the cancellation of competition through year’s end. That recommendation preceded the unanimous vote.

“The Task Force undertook significant discussion and research to inform our recommendations with public health considerations, specifically minimizing risk for both individual participants and the general public, at the core of our work,” said Dr. Steve Martin, who is UVic’s varsity sports medicine physician and Canada West’s rep on the U Sports medical committee. “By and large, sport competition provides a high-risk environment for the transmission of COVID-19. While other areas of society continue to mitigate risk through new guidelines, sport provides a challenge in this regard as any risk mitigation would render many sports unrecognizable.”

The Canada West news release also pointed out that “while professional sports leagues continue to explore options for a return to competition, the resources they will have at their disposal to minimize the risk of infection will not be the reality for Canada West members when the transition from training to competition eventually occurs.”

Also from Canada West’s news release: “Student-athletes in sports without U Sports national championships this season will not be charged eligibility and will remain eligible for athletic financial aid (scholarships).”

Meanwhile, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association has shut down its intercollegiate sports schedule for the fall semester, a move that involves cross-country, golf, rugby, rugby sevens, baseball, soccer and softball. It has 27 member schools.


During a daily briefing on Monday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, noted that while things appear headed in the right direction here, the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been increasing in the American states of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada, something he finds concerning.

“I don’t see that as practical,” he said of opening the U.S. border to non-essential travel. “I don’t see as practical either to have Canadians either visiting and then coming back.

“I don’t see it as practical for people visiting from the United States.”

These statements have to be disconcerting to say the least to junior hockey leagues with any cross-border connections.

The WHL, of course, has five teams in the U.S. — four in Washington and one in Oregon — and has a number of American players on team rosters. The BCHL has one U.S. franchise, the Wenatchee Wild, and its rosters are populated with American players.

On Monday, Canada’s federal government announced a loosening on border travelling that will allow families who have been separated to re-unite, with anyone entering Canada having to self-isolate for 14 days.

The most-recent ban on non-essential travel across the border is to reviewed before June 21.


Editor


During the last week of May, The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists “when they expect to resume 20 activities of daily life, assuming that the pandemic and the public health response to if unfold as they expect.”

Respondents took into consideration their own situation, such as where they live and what the coronavirus impact is in their area.

When asked when they might “see a doctor for non-urgent appointment,” 60 percent said this summer, with 29 percent option for three to 12 months, and 11 percent saying a year or more.

Asked about getting a haircut at a salon or barbershop, 41 percent said this summer, 39 per cent said three to 12 months, and 19 percent said a year or more.

The question about eating at a dine-in restaurant resulted in 16 percent saying this summer, 56 percent saying three to 12 months, and 28 percent saying a year or more.

The biggest number in the survey showed up when they were asked when they might “attend a sporting event, concert or play.” A full 64 percent said it would be one year or more, with three percent saying this summer, and 32 percent saying three to 12 months.

“They mostly agreed that outdoor activities and small groups were safer than being indoors or in a crowd,” the story reads, “and that masks would be necessary for a long time.”

Steve Mooney of the U of Washington told The Times: “This is as much about feelings of social responsibility as about personal infection risk. Large-scale gatherings are a contact tracing nightmare and seem like they should be shut down until we have a really good sense of what’s safe/how to screen people.”

Tammie Nelson of the Marion County Public Health Department said she would considering attending events in the fall. “I would do this IF social distancing was enforced and everyone attending was required to wear a mask,” she said.

The story, with graphics, is right here.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, returned to the world of the Internet on Monday after a few days of battling modem-related issues.

He came back with an update on a defamation lawsuit that had been filed by former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra against one-time teammate Ron Darling over something the latter had written in a book.

The case was heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, the Hon. Robert D. Kalish presiding.

The curmudgeonly one reports that this was part of the judge’s ruling:

“Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug-abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation — largely due to his autobiography — of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires . . . Considering this information, which was presumably known to the average reader of the book, this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference in the book has not exposed Dykstra to any further ‘public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace,’ or ‘evil opinion of him in the minds of right-thinking persons,’ or ‘deprivation of friendly intercourse in society.’ ”

For more on this and some good stuff on happenings involving Drew Brees, click right here.

——

And here is the curmudgeonly one with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.”


Grammarman


With no active COVID-19 infections remaining in the country, New Zealand Rugby has given the all-clear for fans to return to its rugby stadiums. Matches are to resume this weekend and there won’t be any size restrictions placed on crowds for games in Dunedin on Saturday and Auckland on Sunday.



The Spokane Chiefs have signed five members of their front office to contract extensions, SpokaneChiefsthe length of which weren’t revealed. . . . Jim Hammett, the assistant general manager, and goaltending consultants Lucas Gore and Jesse Plewis were re-signed, as were equipment manager Tim Lindblade and education advisor Joe Everson. . . . Hammett, who runs the club’s scouting department, is entering his second year with the Chiefs, as are Gore and Plewis. . . . Lindblade is preparing for his eighth season in Spokane, while Everson has been with the Chiefs, in one capacity or another, for 30 years. He has been the education advisor for the past 12 seasons.


Flowers

NHL revamps playoff format for Covid Cup playoffs . . . But will there be games? . . . Royals hope Price is right

The unfortunate thing about Gary Bettman, the commissioner of all things NHL, telling us a whole lot of non-specific things on Tuesday afternoon is that we now are faced with another couple of months of this stuff.

Why?

Because nobody knows a whole lot about anything right now.

This pandemic-causing virus is brand new, which is why it’s the novel coronavirus. NHLScientists and the medical community are learning about it as we move along.

So, on Tuesday, Bettman told us that the NHL’s 2019-20 regular season is over and that there is to be some kind of convoluted Stanley Cup playoff featuring 24 teams, up from the 16 that would have made it in a ‘normal’ season, with all games played without fans in the stands. (I’m wondering if the players from the seven teams that didn’t make it are breathing sighs of relief.)

Bettman talked about the draft lottery and the draft, and that these playoffs may not get started until sometime in August, which would mean a Stanley Cup presentation two months after that, which would mean the 2020-21 regular season wouldn’t start until January.

(Whoever comes out of this as the Stanley Cup champion gets a gigantic asterisk. Right? And if that happens to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn’t officially bring an end to that championship drought that has been ongoing since their last title in 1967. Right?)

Bettman also said that this push to decide a Stanley Cup winner isn’t about the money, and if you believe that you just haven’t been paying attention. Because that’s all that it’s about; it always is.

Bettman also said that the playoffs will go ahead in two hub cities, with half the teams in one and the other half in the other. As Bettman spoke, there apparently were 10 cities under consideration.

But it became evident later that the NHL will have to drop Vancouver from that list because the province of B.C. doesn’t seem likely to drop its demand that incoming international travellers self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer, said later Tuesday afternoon that, although she hasn’t seen an NHL plan yet, “We’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk.”

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, offered: “If in fact we are not able to really find an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in, and not be able to do a strict quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city.”

If it comes down to Dr. Henry vs. the NHL, my money is on B.C.’s top doc. If you aren’t aware, she’s a star out here. A shoe company put out a line of shoes in her honour and they sold out in minutes, at a suggested retail of $339 a pair, crashing the website in the process. T-shirts with her likeness on them have raised more than 10 grand for charity.

Oh, and did I mention that, despite all of the positive spin we heard yesterday, all of this might not happen at all.

So for the next few weeks we are going to see a barrage of stories and reports on all of this, including playoff previews, speculation on what team rosters will look like and on and on.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday evening, the virus-related death toll in the United States was at 94,702, according to statistics kept by John Hopkins University. The number of deaths in Canada was at 6,639. That figure worldwide is somewhere around 350,000.

No one was talking about any of that on Tuesday in all the chatter about the NHL’s possible return to play.

——

The most sensible comments I have seen to date on the NHL’s plan to return to play have come from Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk. He is the Wild’s representative on the NHLPA’s executive board.

The executive board voted 29-2 last week to accept the 24-team format as presented by the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean the NHL is anywhere close to returning to the ice.

In speaking with Michael Russo of The Athletic on Monday, Dubnyk said: “We voted strictly on the format. In other words, ‘If we are to come back, this is how it’s going to be played.’ But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet. Nothing else has been voted on … yet.”

Dubnyk also said:

“I think it’s really important to start having these conversations with as many players as we can about, ‘Guys, what scenarios are we OK with?’ From what it sounds like, it’s going to be some sort of hub city scenario, so we’ve got to talk about that. How long are guys OK with being away for? When we are in this city, are we locked in our hotel room? Going from the hotel room to the rink and back only, are guys OK with just doing that? Can our families come with us, or if there’s a family emergency and we leave the bubble (to go back into society), can we return to the bubble or are we done? What’s the food situation? Like, can we only eat in our hotel rooms? How often are we tested? Who pays for that? What’s the damage economically to the sport?

“All of these things, and there’s so many variables, need to be talked about and we’ve got to start getting a grasp on it now so that it doesn’t just hit us in the face all of a sudden. This stuff hasn’t been discussed with the players. Everything’s just been so hypothetical.”

Dubnyk also admitted to Russo that he wonders “if this is going to truly happen unless things relax enough where that bubble doesn’t necessarily need to exist as tightly as we think it does right now. Even with the players, it’s like, if your wife’s having a baby or something and you have to leave, do I have to miss an entire series now or suddenly quarantine for two weeks?

“That’s why I just feel like it doesn’t seem feasible to make this happen unless those rules relax by the time we’re going to play later this summer. There’s just so much stuff that hasn’t been figured out yet that we’ve got to start figuring out what are we OK with or not OK with, and then once that’s discussed, have another vote.”

Russo’s complete story is right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”


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.



Rory McIlroy has told the BBC that he doesn’t believe the 2020 Ryder Cup will be played. It is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan, Wisc. . . . McIlroy would like to see the event moved to 2021. . . .

Japan’s Nippon Professonal Baseball season is set to start on June 19, but without fans in attendance. The league, which was to have started play on March 20, has yet to release its schedule, but is hoping to have each of its 12 teams play about 120 games, down from 143. . . .

The Alpine skiing world championships are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, from Feb. 7-21. However, the Italian Winter Sports Federation already is talking about postponing them until March 2022, which would be one month following the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games that are scheduled for Feb. 4-20. . . .

The EuroLeague, Europe’s top men’s basketball league, has cancelled its season, which had been on pause since March 12. The league comprises 18 teams from 10 countries. . . .

The 2021 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Vail, Colo., from March 1-6. . . .

The AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons have had adjustments made to their rent by the town council. According to a news release from the town, Dragons owner Blair Christianson had made a presentation to council on May 11 that explained the team is likely to lose about $330,000 because of the pandemic and that without some aid the team wouldn’t be viable. On Monday, Mayor Heather Colberg said the “adjustments to the fee structure will have a financial impact of $66,291.50 over four years.” . . .

The 11-team Western States Hockey League announced Tuesday that it won’t play in 2020-21 because of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic. The WSHL includes four teams in Alberta — the Barrhead Bombers, Cold Lake Hornets, Edson Aeros and Hinton Timberwolves — and two in Washington state — the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems. . . . The WSHL, a pay-to-play league, bills itself as junior A but to say it has had trouble gaining traction would be something of an understatement. . . .



Dan Price, who joined the Victoria Royals as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 VictoriaRoyalsseason, now is the WHL team’s general manager and head coach. He has completed three seasons as the team’s head coach. He takes over as GM from Cam Hope, who was fired on April 29 after eight seasons in the office. The Royals made the playoffs in each of those eight seasons, but never were able to get out of the second round. . . . The Royals are 105-81-18 in Price’s three seasons as head coach. . . . Price, 45, holds a law degree from the U of Saskatchewan. . . . His only experience as a general manager is from three seasons (2009-12) as the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . There now are six WHL teams with one man holding the titles of general manager and head coach. The others are Dean Brockman, Swift Current Broncos; Willie Desjardins, Medicine Hat Tigers; Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks; Mark Lamb, Prince George Cougars; and Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels.


Casinos


It seems that John Pateman is more convinced than ever that his Prince George Cougars PrinceGeorgeare on the right track. He just doesn’t know when the WHL team is going to get started on that track. . . . “To me, the million-dollar question is when are we going to be playing games,” Pateman, a co-owner and the franchise’s president, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “Certainly in our league, our main sources of revenue are certainly the fans and corporate sponsorships for rink boards and all that, but you have to have fans. What everybody is attempting to do is prepare for every option that’s out there so when we know what’s going to happen we’re fully prepared.” . . . Pateman and the ownership group there purchased the Cougars after the 2013-14 season, so they are waiting for their seventh season as owners to begin. The Cougars wouldn’t have been in the playoffs last season, had the pandemic not wiped out everything, and Pateman has said they were 1,500 fans per game from breaking even. Still, he told Clarke, “In the last two seasons, I feel we’ve really started to head in the right direction.” . . . The complete story is right here.



The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have signed associate coach Gaelan Patterson to a one-year extension. Patterson, who is from La Ronge, is preparing for this third season with the Ice Wolves. . . . Patterson, 29, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon seasons (2015-18) in Europe.