Virus offers up reminder to NHL that it’s still around . . . NHL tells scouts to follow protocols . . . WHL deal includes 2025 draft pick

COVID-19 chose to rear its ugly head as the NHL regular season opened. . . . The Krakenexpansion Seattle Kraken played its first game on Tuesday night — it lost 4-3 to the host Vegas Golden Knights — with one player on the COVID-19 list after having five on there. F Cale Jarnkrok didn’t play, while F Joonas Donskoi, F Marcus Johansson, F Jared McCann and D Jamie Oleksiak, all of whom had been on the list, were cleared in time to play. . . . Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol had said during the morning skate that Donskoi, McCann and Oleksiak wouldn’t be available, but they were cleared in time to fly to Las Vegas and play. . . . As well, Everett Fitzhugh, the team’s play-by-play voice, was missing in action after he, too, tested positive. He is in the protocol and wasn’t able to travel to Las Vegas. . . . According to general manager Ron Francis, everyone on the roster is fully vaccinated. . . .

Meanwhile, F Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, one of the NHL’s best players, has tested positive, although he is asymptomatic. He won’t play tonight (Wednesday) against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. The Avalanche is hoping for negative tests so that McKinnon can play Saturday night when the St. Louis Blues visit Denver. . . . The Vancouver Canucks will be without F Brandon Sutter indefinitely as he deals with the long-term impact of having had COVID-19 when four coaches and 21 players tested positive in late March. There are reports that Sutter is dealing with fatigue-related issues. Sutter is the son of Brent Sutter, the owner and general manager of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.


Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his latest 32 Thoughts on Tuesday and it included this:

“There was a COVID breakout among scouts who attended the USHL Fall Classic Sept. 23-27 in Pittsburgh. Since then, the NHL has warned scouts there is a ‘zero tolerance policy with respect to the protocols in all partner leagues being respected and followed.’ Those leagues are being asked to make it known if anyone ignores protocols, with potential punishment of losing their ability to attend games — at the very least.” . . . The latest 32 Thoughts is right here.


Introverts


With the NHL’s 2021-22 regular season now rolling, there are three 18- and 19-WHLyear-old WHLers still in the big league. F Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks remains with the Carolina Hurricanes, while F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings is with the St. Louis Blues and F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers is on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ roster. . . . Jarvis, 19, was the 13th selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft and has signed, but has to be returned to Portland if he doesn’t stick with the Hurricanes. . . . Neighbours, 19, was the 26th pick in that 2020 NHL draft. He, too, has signed but has to play in the WHL if he doesn’t hang on with the Blues. . . . Sillinger, 18, was the 12th selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He played with the Tigers in 2019-20, then spent last season with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. Because Columbus drafted him off the Stampede’s roster, he is eligible to play this season in the AHL. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic explains: “If Sillinger had been drafted out of Medicine Hat (or any other CHL club), the Blue Jackets would have had only two options this fall: either keep him on the NHL roster or send him back to junior. Per the CHL’s agreement with the NHL, its players are not allowed to play in the American Hockey League until they’re 20 years old. The USHL has no such age restriction with the AHL, mostly because it’s a feeder program for U.S. colleges.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers learned Tuesday that D Quinn Schmiemann, 20, will rejoin them later this week after being with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. . . . Three other 20-year-olds remain unsigned in AHL camps — Portland F Jaydon Dureau is with the Syracuse Crunch, F Tarun Fizer of the Victoria Royals is with the Colorado Eagles, and D Jackson van de Leest of the Calgary Hitmen is with Lehigh Valley.

——

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed six members of their hockey operations side to contract extensions. Head coach Mark O’Leary, assistant coaches Scott King and Gord Burnett, goaltender coach Matt Weninger, athletic therapist Brooke Kosolofski and equipment manager Tanner Arnold all signed extensions. The lengths of the deals weren’t announced. . . . It’s early and there are various kinds of restrictions in place at WHL arenas. Still, it’s worth noting that the Seattle Thunderbirds had their smallest opening-night crowd since 1996-97 on Saturday when the announced attendance was 3,246 for a 4-2 loss to the Portland Winterhawks. The other two crowds in the bottom three: 4,010 (2009-10) and 4,659 (2019-20). . . . Why only back to 1996-97? That covers all the games available via the WHL website. . . .

All signs point to important news coming in the days ahead for WHL teams, especially those in the Western Conference. In B.C., it’s expected that health officials will clear arenas 100 per cent capacity in the immediate future. B.C. facilities are allowed 50 per cent capacity at the moment. As well, there were numerous reports on Tuesday night that the U.S. government is expected to open its border for southbound fully vaccinated travellers early in November. What restrictions will be involved for re-entry into Canada aren’t yet known. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets have acquired G Colby Knight from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2025 draft. Alan Caldwell (@smallatlarge) noted via Twitter that this “is the first traded pick from the 2025 WHL draft. That draft will be 2010-born players. The kid the Oil Kings will get for Colby Knight is 10 or 11 years old today.” . . .

There was one game in the WHL on Tuesday night. . . . In Victoria, the Kamloops Blazers opened up a 3-0 lead and went on to beat the Royals, 3-2. G Dylan Garand earned the victory with 16 saves. He was beaten twice in the third period. The Blazers (3-0-0) and Royals (1-3-0) will play again tonight in Victoria.



You will recall that the OHL and WHL announced recently the additions of one female to their on-ice officiating staffs. Well, the AHL announced Monday that its “roster of on-ice officials . . . includes female referees and linespeople for the first time.” . . . Not one. . . . Not two. . . . But 10 of them, including seven referees. . . . And one of the three women who will work the lines is Alex Clarke of Weyburn, Sask., the same Alex Clarke who is the first female on-ice official in WHL history. . . . Katie Guay will become the first woman to referee an AHL game on Saturday night when she works a game between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the host Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. . . . Amalie Benjamin of nhl.com has more on this story right here.


Monsters


The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets have cut ties with G Kyrie Irving “until he is eligible to be a full participant” in practices and games, general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. . . . Irving has chosen not to get vaccinated, at least to this point. . . . “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” Marks said. “Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.” . . . Marks later told reporters that the decision to exclude Irving was made by himself and owner Joe Tsai. . . . The Nets are scheduled to open the regular season in Milwaukee against the Bucks on Oct. 19.


There was a positive test in MLB with the Atlanta Braves revealing that OF Jorge Soler is out of action. The Braves were allowed a roster replacement so added OF Cristian Pache and he got into Tuesday’s game in the late going. . . . The Braves beat the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4, to win the best-of-five series, 3-1.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Ass

Let’s all strive to ‘Be Like Scott’ . . . Ice coming out of Pats’ home arena . . . Ex-Hurricanes defenceman dies at 37

It was in 1992 when Gatorade launched its “Be Like Mike” advertising campaign, one that was wrapped around then-NBA star Michael Jordan.

Here we are, almost 30 years later, and all I want is to Be Like Scott.

That would be Scott Thomas.

As hard as it may be to believe, almost three years have slid by since the bus crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Thomas and his wife, Laurie, lost their son Evan in the crash. He was one of the 16 people who died as a result of the bus colliding with a big rig while en route to Nipawin for a playoff game.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck’s driver, is serving an eight-year sentence, and will be eligible to apply for parole in September. He also is waiting for a decision on whether he will be deported.

Not only does Scott Thomas think that shouldn’t happen, he has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s staying in Canada to the Canadian Border Services Agency. Thomas also has been in communication via email with Sidhu and his family.

“I don’t have the energy for hatred, our family just doesn’t,” Thomas told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News. “For me to go on and function and to be the best father I can be to the one daughter I have left and to leave this place with a positive impact and do something for our son’s legacy . . . for us to move forward, the best thing for us to do is forgive. There are days when I want to scream and there are days I do scream at the world, but for us to move forward, the easiest path to that is forgiveness and compassion.”

Pat McKay of CTV has a story right here, and Campbell’s piece is right here.

Take a few minutes out of your day and read them both. You’ll be a better person for having done it.

Let’s not forget, too, that Scott Thomas continues to advocate for standardized training across Canada for semi-truck drivers. You can bet that we’ll be hearing from him on that subject again and again and again, all the while wondering why politicians don’t sit up and take notice.


Bighorns
This was the scene just a few kilometres east of downtown Kamloops on Friday afternoon as five male bighorn sheep were on the prowl above the South Thompson River.


The Regina Exhibition Association announced Friday that the ice is being taken out of the Brandt Centre, the home of the WHL’s Regina Pats. . . . Under the present public health restrictions in Saskatchewan, the Brandt Centre is closed through Jan. 29. . . . . In making Friday’s announcement, the association suggested to renters that “if the ice is installed for any reason over the next three months, ice may become available to rent.” . . . Should the WHL get to play the 24-game schedule that it has said it is “committed” to, games almost certainly will be played in empty facilities. Without ice in the Brandt Centre, the Pats could play next door in the Co-operators Centre. . . .

Earlier in the week, the Edmonton Oil Kings told season-ticket holders that if they get to play games this spring they’ll be in the Downtown Community Arena rather than Rogers Place, which also is home to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . The Spokane Arena, home of the WHL’s Chiefs, is to be used as a mass vaccination site starting on Wednesday.


In the midst of a global pandemic that is not showing any signs of abating, we take a look at messaging from a pair of under-18 hockey leagues.

In Saskatchewan, the under-18 female and male leagues have postponed their seasons, and it sure sounds as though the boys might be finished for this season.

“Due to the ongoing pandemic and health restrictions, the SU18AAAHL schedule will be postponed effective Jan. 19, 2021,” reads a release on the league’s website. “If public health measures allow for a return to game play at any time, the executive will meet and review game play options for any teams that wish to continue. “

Among the reasons for the decision: “Provide parents the freedom to move their son(s) home for personal reasons. For some parents this will take some pressure off their decision. . . . Provide billets the option to continue hosting players during the COVID-19 19 crisis. This will give them a freedom to evaluate their involvement.”

Meanwhile, next door in Manitoba, the male U18 AAA league has sent what it calls an “open letter” to Premier Brian Pallister, Heather Stefanson, the minister of health and senior services, and Dr. Roussin, the province’s chief health officer. In the letter, signed by Levi A. Taylor, the commissioner, the league makes a case for why it should be allowed to return to play.

At one point, the letter claims that “the continued prohibition of social interaction and limitation of permitted physical activities has caused immeasurable harm to the children of this province.”

Later, there is this: “The Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League calls on you to reopen recreation facilities, gyms, and fitness centres for use by children and youth. It can be done (safely), and it must be done now to curtail the harms inflicted.”

The complete letter is right here.

As of Friday morning, there had been 28,260 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Manitoba, with 795 deaths. . . . Saskatchewan’s totals were 21,643 and 247.



Energy


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — 173 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, above the province’s 7-day average of 160. 2 additional deaths are also being reported. On the vaccine front, 23,884 doses have been administered so far.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reported 312 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday along with eight additional deaths.

CBC News — Alberta reports 643 new COVID-19 cases, 12 additional deaths.

CBC News — Nine additional deaths, 508 new COVID-19 cases reported in British Columbia on Friday.

CBC News — Ontario is reporting 2,662 new cases of COVID-19 and 87 new deaths. 779 of the new cases are in Toronto, 542 are in Peel and 228 are in York Region.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 and has added 88 deaths to its tally, 18 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

CBC News — 30 new COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick. This is the 4th time in a week the number has exceeded 30; the 7-day average for new cases in 29.

CBC News — Full lockdown announced in New Brunswick’s Zone 4 Health Zone. All schools to move to virtual learning, non-essential businesses to close, indoor formal gatherings not allowed. 19 of the 30 new cases on Friday are in Zone 4, which is the province’s northwest and includes Edmundston.

CBC News — Nunavut has its 1st new case of COVID-19 since Dec. 28. The new case is in Arviat. The person is asymptomatic and self-isolating.

KTVZ-TV — Oregon reports 22 more COVID-19 deaths, death toll at 1,865; 877 new cases, total at 136,839. . . . Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 270,453 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

The Olympian — The Washington State Department of Health on Friday reported 2,162 news confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 49 new deaths. Statewide totals . . . are at 298,249 cases and 4,114 deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Friday, 4 p.m. PT — Total cases: 737,407. . . . Active cases: 65,750. . . . Deaths: 18,828.

CNN, Friday, 4:31 p.m. PT — 413,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Friday, 7:21 p.m. PT — 24.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

The New York Times — Since March of last year, at least 424,000 more Americans have died than would have in a normal year, showing that the true toll of the pandemic may be higher than previously known.

——

Former MLB player and manager Davey Johnson is back in his Florida home after spending time in hospital with COVID-19. Johnson, now 77, was the New York Mets’ manager when they last won the World Series, in 1986. He played for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs (1965-78). He managed the Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals (1985-2013. . . .

Matt Norlander, CBS Sports: “Multiple conference commissioners and athletic directors told CBS Sports in the past week-plus that there is a growing sense of nervousness over the stability of the college basketball season. . . . With Joe Biden now holding office, high-ranking NCAA officials are in wait-and-see mode about monitoring case counts across the country and bracing for the possibility of federal shutdowns that could impact dozens if not hundreds of schools — prompting a midseason pause in the process.” . . .

After having their first four NHL regular-season games postponed after at least 17 players tested positive, the Dallas Stars were in action on Friday night. They were without F Blake Comeau, who was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the day, as they beat the visiting Nashville Predators, 7-0. . . . The Detroit Red Wings added F Filip Zadina to the list on Friday, too. He joined teammates F Robby Fabbri, F Adam Erne and F Sam Gagner, and D Jon Merrill on the list. . . . The Washington Capitals were without F Alex Ovechkin, F Evgeny Kuznetsov, D Dmitry Orlov and G Ilya Samsonov as they beat the visiting Buffalo Sabres, 4-3 in OT, on Friday night. All four, one of whom reportedly tested positive, will miss three more games as they all are on the COVID-19 list. . . .

The Memphis Grizzlies have had four straight games postponed, bringing the NBA’s total of such games to 20. The Grizzlies were to have met the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday and last night (Friday) and were to have played the Kings in Sacramento on Sunday and Monday. . . .


Glasses


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Clay Plume, who spent three seasons in the WHL, died on Tuesday. He was 37. Plume was from Standoff, Alta. . . . Plume, a defenceman, spent two-plus seasons (2001-04) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before finishing the 2003-04 season with the Prince George Cougars. In 181 regular-season games, he has 22 goals and 43 assists. . . . He went on to play one season in the ECHL and six in the CHL. . . . Plume played 24 games over the past two seasons with the senior AA Fort Macleod Mustangs of the Alberta-based Ranchland Hockey League. . . . Dale Woodard of the Lethbridge Herald has more on Plume right here.


JUST NOTES: F Nigel Dawes, who doesn’t get nearly enough plaudits when the conversation turns to great WHLers, picked up the 500th regular-season point of his KHL career in a 4-3 OT loss to host Lokomotiv on Friday. Dawes, 35, is in his 10th KHL season, but his first with Ak Bars Kazan. This season, he has 22 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. He had a goal and an assist on Friday, leaving him with 501 points, including 266 goals, in 536 games. In his WHL career, he put up 272 points, 159 of them goals, in 245 games. He played four seasons (2001-04) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . The QMJHL returned to action with four games on Friday night, its first action since Nov. 29. Playing what it calls a “controlled environment” rather than a bubble, there were games in Shawinigan, Drummondville, Rimouski and Chicoutimi. There will be games in the same venues Saturday and Sunday.


Alarm

Scattershooting on a Sunday evening while wondering if the virus will leave when cold weather arrives . . .

Scattershooting


With MLB having started exhibition games and with a 60-game regular season soon to begin, Ann Killion, an excellent sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, sums up the situation:

“Who is going to get the coronavirus next? Where is the roulette wheel going to stop? What will the repercussions be for that player’s or coach’s family? Will the games have to abruptly end?

“A welcome distraction?

“Not likely. Not when we know that the baseball players we’re watching are each receiving multiple tests a week so they can play some games that will carry asterisks forever.”

Nail, meet hammer. Killion’s complete column is right here.



With rookies for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs reporting to training camp today (Monday), a number of NFL stars took to Twitter on Sunday to question what is going on concerning safety procedures. . . . Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback, tweeted: “My wife is pregnant. Training camp is about to start. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety.” . . . Nicholas Reimann of Forbes has more right here.


Cats


So . . . Sidney Crosby, one of the NHL’s few true superstars, leaves a Saturday scrimmage early and doesn’t return. Mike Sullivan, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach, says: “We’re to permitted to comment.” . . . There isn’t a league anywhere in the world that does a better job of suppressing information than the GBHL — Gary Bettman Hockey League. . . . And the women and men who cover the GBHL better get used to this because I’m thinking it will be the new norm whenever the virus chooses to leave us.


It’s my understanding that the virus will go away once the weather turns cold.


The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported: “Lindsay Whalen, the Minnesota women’s basketball coach, says she’ll buy hot dogs for the first 500 fans at the Gophers’ home opener this season.” . . . To which Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times responded: “In a related story, Joey Chestnut just bought 75 tickets.”

——

Danica Patrick’s mouthpiece says that the former race-car driver and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers have visited Splitsville. Here are the aforementioned Perry’s thoughts: “Rodgers apologists claim he called an audible; her spinmeisters say they hit the skids.”


The QMJHL announced on Saturday that its plan right now is for each of its 18 teams to qmjhlnewplay 60 games in a regular season that will open on Oct. 1. Training camps will open on Aug. 26 with teams bringing in a maximum of 34 players, down from around 60 in previous times. . . . The league also will be split into three divisions and teams will play only within their own divisions, meaning 12 games against each opponent. . . . The QMJHL hasn’t yet announced a playoff format, nor does it know whether fans will be allowed to attend games. . . . The QMJHL features six teams in the Maritimes, who would play in one division, with the other two divisions comprising the 12 Quebec teams. . . . If you were wondering, the Quebec Midget AAA League says it will start its regular season on Sept. 11.


Curtis Toneff, an assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos, has been suspended by the SJHL team, which said he “will have no further association” with the team until further notice. Toneff is facing an undisclosed criminal charge by the RCMP and is looking at a court date somewhere down the road. . . . Toneff, 27, is from Nanaimo, B.C. He joined the Broncos’ staff prior to last season after spending two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


Knife


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “The taxpayers are sending Congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it, but they keep coming back.”


Headline at fark.com: Astros owner wants fans in the stands wo he can sell overpriced, watered down cold beer.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) has trimmed its Baltimore Orioles broadcast crew because of the pandemic, meaning play-by-play man Gary Thorne and analyst Jim Palmer won’t be on the air when things get restarted. Rick Dempsey, Brian Roberts and Gregg Olsen also won’t be taking part. . . .

Former MLB P Bob Walk, now a broadcaster with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is recovering after testing positive.

1B/DH Jose Martinez was on the field with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. He had been out while quarantining following a positive test. . . .

P Collin McHugh of the Boston Red Sox, who has had elbow issues of late, has opted out of the season. He likely was headed to the injury list, but will spend time with his family. . . .

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus said Sunday that he and his wife Barbara, both of whom are 80, tested positive in March. Jack had some symptoms into late April, while Barbara was asymptomatic. . . .

Brandon Banks, the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2019, said via Twitter on Sunday that he won’t play in 2020 if there is a season. A wide receiver and kick returner, Banks tweeted that “Idk what they gonna do but I won’t put on a helmet til 2021.”



Gregor Chisholm, a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star, after the Canadian government refused the Blue Jays’ request to play home games in Toronto: “This was never about the sport itself. The Jays got caught up in something much bigger than a game. This is about Canada wanting to continue to distance itself from a dysfunctional neighbour who seems to have lost touch with reality.”

——

So . . . why didn’t Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, invite the Blue Jays to play their home games out of Edmonton’s RE/MAX Field? It seats 9,200, but who cares because fans wouldn’t be allowed. Imagine the smile on Kenney’s face if he had the NHL and MLB in Alberta’s capital at the same time.

——

With the Blue Jays on the move, apparently to Buffalo or Dunedin, Fla., let’s check out the standings in the Strat-O-Matic simulation league. . . . The Blue Jays were shelled 12-1 by the visiting Cleveland Indians on Sunday, falling to 46-54 and leaving them 13 games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (59-41). The New York Yankees (52-46) are six games back in second place. . . . The other MLB division leaders — Cleveland (61-39), Houston Astros (65-33), Washington Nationals (58-42), Milwaukee Brewers (53-45) and Los Angeles Dodgers (64-36).


After organizers cancelled the 2021 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wondered: “If the Rose Parade is a public-health risk not worth taking, would a Rose Bowl game played in the same venue make sense?”



Hook

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bee


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

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

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

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

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

“Just why are we doing this?”

Branch’s piece is right here.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


TV


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



From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

What a difference four months makes:

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

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


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


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


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


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

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



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


Chimes

Nicknames: To change, or not to change, that is the question . . . Top NASCAR driver tests positive . . . Hockey Canada cancels U-17 WHC

In a recent editorial, the Washington Post called for Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, to change the NFL team’s nickname.

Asked by USA Today in 2013 if he would change the name, Snyder replied: “NEVER — you can use caps.”

But now, with Black Lives Matter front and centre, the pressure is on again.

From The Post’s View:

“Already, institutions across the board have been forced to take stock of how their practices and policies and — yes — even the names and symbols of their products have contributed to racial misunderstanding and prejudice. Quaker Oats announced it was getting rid of Aunt Jemima from its syrup and pancake mixes, and Uncle Ben and Mrs. Butterworth seem sure to follow. . . . Events DC, which manages RFK Stadium in Washington, removed a statue of George Preston Marshall, who as owner of the local football team refused to allow black players for as long as he possibly could. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently admitted to — and apologized for — not listening to players about systemic racism and police brutality against African Americans. He also must know it is wrong for a team to have a name that the dictionary defines as a racial slur and that no one would ever use to address a person who is a Native American.

“This should be an easy call. Mr. Snyder — or, if Mr. Snyder refuses to back down from his declaration of ‘NEVER,’ the NFL — should take advantage of this singular moment in history to get on the right side of history. Change the name. NOW.”

It seems that a name change is imminent, what with various sponsors and other businesses with ties to the NFL team now applying pressure.

FedEx, which agreed to a naming rights deal for the stadium in which the team plays, has asked Snyder to change the name. Frederick W. Smith, FedEx’s CEO and chairman, is a minority owner of the team.

Nike has taken the team’s merchandise from its online store, but has yet to offer an explanation.

Officials with Pepsi and Bank of America also have indicated that they want to see a name change.

“It’s not hard to change the name,” Tony Dungy, who is well-respected in NFL circles, told William C. Rhoden of The Undefeated.

Meanwhile, you can add Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream to the list of name-changers, too, because management told Reuters the other day that it will change the brand name of its Eskimo Pie ice cream stick.

Yes, the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos are facing pressure — again — to come up with a new nickname.

Simon Fraser University, which is located in Burnaby, almost surely will be changing its nickname — Clan — at some point in the coming months after 97 per cent of student-athletes voted to get rid of it. The athletes, it seems, are tired of being asked about the nickname, especially when they journey south to play against U.S. schools.

And the Cleveland Indians say they are ready to discuss a change. They issued a release on Friday that read, in part: “We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

——

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, on the nickname situation involving the Washington NFLers: “It’s been theorized that a fan boycott might convince Snyder to change the team’s name. But judging from attendance at FedEx Field the last few years, how could anybody tell if there was a boycott?”

——

With all of that, allow me to place this on the table . . .

There are four WHL teams with nicknames and logos that refer in one way or another to Native American or Canadian First Nations peoples — the Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs.

In November 2014, the Prince Albert Raiders received some heat when they unveiled a new mascot — Boston Raider — that was sponsored by a pizza joint. But, as Adam Proteau wrote in The Hockey News, “The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage.”

The mascot, which also paid tribute to the Raiders’ original logo, quickly and quietly disappeared, with the club apologizing to anyone who may have been been offended.

The Raiders really didn’t mean anything with what they felt was a simple marketing move.

The WHL franchises in Moose Jaw, Portland, Seattle and Spokane aren’t trying to be offensive with their nicknames, either.

But with all that’s going on right now, should they be changing their nicknames to, as the Washington Post editorial read, “get on the right side of history,” or is it OK to maintain the status quo?

Maybe the WHL and one, two three or all of those franchises should take action now and, in doing so, get in front of things . . . instead of having to react at a later date.

——


Prescrip


Jimmie Johnson, with seven NASCAR titles under his belt, has tested positive and will miss this weekend’s races at Indy. He will have to have two negative tests within a 24-hour period before being allowed to return to racing. . . . Going into this weekend, Johnson had made 663 consecutive starts. In fact, he has never missed a start in his career. . . . According to Jeff Gluck, who covers NASCAR like a blanket for The Athletic, Johnson “got tested (Friday) after learning wife Chani tested positive.” . . . Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. . . .

Jeremy Rutherford and Scott Burnside of The Athletic reported Friday evening that, according to sources, the NHL’s St. Louis Blues have cancelled practices at their facility because of “multiple” positive tests. . . . The Blues skated on Thursday at the facility, but not on Friday. . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled the 2020 World U-17 Hockey Challenge that was to have been played in Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. . . . The 2021 event will be held in those communities. . . . Hockey Canada also said that its remaining 2020 schedule remains unchanged, including the National Women’s U-18 Championship, Nov. 2-8, in Dawson Creek, B.C.; the Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 6-12, in Bridgewater, N.S.; the World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 13-20, in Cornwall, Ont.; and the 2021 World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer. . . .


MLB and the MLBPA announced Friday that positive tests total 31 players and seven staff members with teams having opened workouts to prepare for a July 23 opening day. . . . Identities of those testing positive aren’t being released, although OF Delino DeShields Jr. of the Cleveland Indians gave the team permission to reveal that he tested positive. . . . The Minnesota Twins said they have had four players test positive, including C Willians Astudillo, P Edwar Colina and INF Nick Gordon. The identity of the fourth player wasn’t released. . . .

The 2020 All-Star Game that was to have been played at Dodgers Stadium has been cancelled. The game had been scheduled for July 14. . . . This will be the first year since 1945 that an all-star game hasn’t been played. . . . The 2021 game is scheduled for Atlanta, and the 2022 game now is to be played in Los Angeles.


Psychic


“As organized sports attempt to return during the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes, coaches, spectators and bystanders will all be expected to sign liability waivers,” writes Michael McCann of Sportico. “Everyone associated with the games will have to accept, in so many words, that he or she (1) assumes the risk of contracting COVID-19 through their participation and (2) agrees that the organizer—be it a league, team, venue, college or even high school—would not be liable for any COVID-19 related harms.

“This is not just true of players, coaches and referees. According to The Athletic, the NFL is weighing the possibility of mandating that ticket-holders sign COVID-19 waivers as a condition of stadium entry.”

McCann is an attorney and law professor who writes on sports and law. In this piece right here, he writes on the potential legality of these waivers in the U.S.



Had to go to a small grocery store on Friday afternoon. Might have been two dozen people in it. I saw one mask. I was wearing it. . . . Come on people. Be better. . . .

If you’re wondering what we’re dealing with here, go to Twitter and check out the thread accompanying the tweet below . . .


Cat