Will WHL change bantam draft age? . . . Lowry thinks NBA headed for positive season . . . Sorry! More ugly COVID-19 numbers

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, appeared on The Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 in Edmonton on Wednesday night and, at one point, suggested that the annual bantam draft might be pushed back a year. . . . On Thursday, Gregor, writing at oilersnation.com, expanded on that story, and it’s all right here. . . . “The WHL has a wonderful opportunity to make the correct decision and permanently increase the draft age,” Gregor writes. “Doing it for only one year would be close-minded, stubborn and with the new NCAA rule changes completely unnecessary.”

The NBA’s regular season is set to begin on Tuesday night and, yes, things are going to be interesting. . . . Just in case you’re wondering whether the NBA has normalized COVID-19, PG Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors said Thursday that it’s a given there will players testing positive during the season. During a Zoom call with reporters, Lowry said: ”It’s going to happen and we have to adjust, and when it happens, no one’s going to know how guys get it, or coaches get it, or whoever gets it. No-one’s going to understand how it happened . . . it’s going to be like, ‘Damn, OK.’ But the players, the team, the coaches, the league, will have to go on, make adjustments and figure it out as we go and it will be a different year. It’s going to be a tough year, but we got some of the best people in the world working with us, working for us.” . . .  With the teams in training camps and playing exhibition games, the NBA had only one player out of 549 test positive from Dec. 10-16.



CBC News: Canada reported a total of 7,008 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, which is the highest single-day increase the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 74M: Johns Hopkins University.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 221 new cases. That’s the lowest daily total since November 3. The province is also reporting 14 additional deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 238 new cases, just above the province’s 7-day average of 231. There have been 7 additional deaths.  Nationally, there are 486,393 cases; 395,980 people have recovered while 76,548 cases are active. The death toll stands at 13,865. . . . Sask. reduces self-isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 to 10 days. All international travellers must still self-isolate for 14 days.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw: Over the last 24 hrs, we ID’d 1,270 new cases & completed about 17.5K new tests.  Our positivity rate stands at about 7.3%. 749 ppl are in hospital, incl 139 in ICU. AHS is taking steps to increase capacity & expand the number of acute care & ICU beds. . . . Sadly, 16 new deaths were reported in the last 24hrs. My thoughts are w/ those grieving their loss. Each death is a reminder it is vital to reduce spread quickly. In less than 10 months, more ABs have died from COVID-19 than from influenza in the last 10 yrs combined.

CBC News: Alberta reports record-breaking 30 COVID-19 deaths over past 24 hours. Total number of deaths since pandemic began reaches 790.

CBC News: B.C. reports 673 new COVID-19 infections, 21 more deaths and 587 recoveries, for a provincial total of 44,776 cases, 713 deaths and 32,963 recoveries.

CBC News: Ontario’s hospitals are calling for new 28-day lockdowns in all regions currently in the red tier of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework. . . . Ontario reported a record-high 2,432 new cases on Thursday.

CBC News: 1,855 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec compared to the 7-day average of 1,817. Health authorities in the province are also attributing 22 additional deaths to the virus.

KOIN News: Gov. Brown extends Oregon state of emergency into March 2021.

NBC News: The U.S. reported 243,645 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, setting a single-day record.

Dr. Tom Frieden: The US reported more Covid deaths Wednesday than Japan has since the start of the pandemic.

CNN: 310,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

Los Angeles Times: Unions for teachers, nurses, grocery and hotel workers call for L.A. County shutdown in January.

ABC7 Eyewitness News: ICU capacity drops to 0% in Southern California as state reports 379 new COVID deaths, shattering daily record.

CBC News: French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said. He plans to continue to work while in isolation for seven days.


Canada West, which has 17 member schools, has cancelled the 2020-21 swimming and track and field championships, while deferring a decision on its curling championships, which are scheduled for Edmonton in March. . . . The U of Calgary was to have played host to swimming, with the U of Manitoba handling track and field. . . .

The New York Giants will be without CB James Bradberry when they play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night. The Browns’ shutdown corner went on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Thursday. . . . The Giants also will be without Jason Garrett, their offensive co-ordinator, after he tested positive. That means that former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, who coaches the tight ends, will call the plays for the Giants on Sunday night. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders were without Greg Olson, their offensive co-ordinator, on Thursday night as they dropped a 30-27 OT decision to the Los Angeles Chargers. Yes, he tested positive. . . .

The Baltimore Ravens placed three wide receivers — Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and James Proche — on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. All three played in Monday’s victory over the Cleveland Browns. . . . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed RB Ronald Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . It isn’t known if any of the four tested positive or were identified as close contacts of someone who did. . . .

No. 12 Coastal Carolina won’t get a chance to improve to 12-0 on Saturday because the Chanticleers have run into COVID-19 problems. It was to have played No. 19 Louisiana (9-1) in the Sun Belt’s championship game. . . . The conference has declared the teams to be co-champions. . . . Also cancelled is Saturday’s scheduled game between the Michigan State Spartans and Maryland Terrapins, who had stopped all team activities. It is the second time in a month that a game between these two teams wasn’t played. Two other Big Ten games also have been cancelled — Michigan-Iowa and Indiana-Purdue.

Scott Van Pelt, who anchors ESPN’s nightly SportsCenter, revealed Thursday that he has tested positive. “Won’t be doing shows for a bit after a positive Covid-19 test,” he tweeted. “Thankfully, no fever & I feel fine. Just can’t smell or taste anything which was my clue to go get a test.”

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



Or, for more information, visit right here.


Wrapping up a busy week with a Friday feast of odds and ends . . .


D Riley Guenther (Tri-City, Prince Albert, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, he had one goal and two assists in 28 games with the U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West). . . .

F Dávid Šoltés (Prince George, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had three goals and four assists in 10 games. . . . He started the season with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), putting up seven goals and eight assists in 31 games. He was traded to Banská Bystrica on Jan. 25. . . .

F Nathan Burns (Vancouver, Saskatoon, Swift Current, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga Nord), he had 27 goals and 49 assists in 40 games. He led the team in goals, and was second in assists and points. . . .

D Dylan Wruck (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had one goal and nine assists in 38 games. He is a dual German-Canadian citizen.



Now that F Matt Savoie has signed with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, you are free to wonder where he’ll play next season. I would suggest that he will end up at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy — Ice co-owner Greg Fettes owns a piece of the action there — or, if Hockey Canada should decide to give him exceptional status, he’ll play for the Ice. . . . Savoie will be one of a few Ice prospects to play at RHA, which before long will have other WHL owners exploring how to hook their wagons to nearby academies.


Don’t forget that 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which owns the Ice, also owns the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. So you can look for an Ice prospect or three to play there, too. . . . Maybe that also will bring on a rush of other WHL franchises looking to purchase their own junior A teams.


Having Savoie playing at RHA will allow the Ice to take advantage of the WHL rule that covers 15-year-old players and emergency recalls. By playing with a short roster and declaring an emergency situation at various points during the season, the Ice will be able to get Savoie into its lineup for far more than five games.


There are rumours out there that claim the WHL has changed its 15-year-old rule in order to allow Savoie to play more than 30 games with the Ice in 2019-20. We know that isn’t true because the WHL surely would have informed its fans were that the case. Right?


On Friday, the Ice acquired the WHL rights to F Dylan Holloway from the Everett Silvertips. Holloway, a Calgarian who is to turn 18 on Sept. 23, had 40 goals and 48 assists in 53 regular-season games with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers last season. He was honoured as the AJHL’s MVP and the CJHL’s player of the year. However, he has committed to play for the U of Wisconsin Badgers in the fall. . . . The Silvertips got a fifth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft in the exchange, along with a conditional first-rounder in 2021 and a conditional second-rounder in 2022.

The WHL held its annual general meeting in Kelowna on Tuesday and Wednesday. When it was over, the league posted a news release on its website that contained nothing in the way of breaking news.

Included in that news release, under the headline Over $10 Million Invested in Capital Improvements to WHL Arena Facilities, was this:

“All WHL Arena Facilities across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest United States will undergo over $10 million in capital improvements prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, including the installation of new NHL-licensed acrylic rinkboard systems, improved video scoreboards, and ugraded lighting standards. The improvements are designed to address player safety and improve the fan experience.”

The WHL forgot to thank taxpayers in various communities for their help in funding these projects. An oversight, surely.

The best part of the Toronto Raptors’ championship-winning victory on Thursday night in Oakland? Drake chose to stay in Toronto so his TV time, at least on the ABC telecast, was, well, it wasn’t.


Look, the Raptors’ victory on Thursday night was a terrific accomplishment. But please don’t try telling me it was the greatest moment in Canadian sporting history. Because of the political situation at the time, nothing will ever top 1972 and the eight-game series between Canada and the Soviet Union that was won by Paul Henderson’s goal. . . . Put the Raptors’ championship right there with the Blue Jays’ first World Series victory, one step below Team Canada’s victory over the big, bad Russian bear.

The CFL’s regular-season opener was three plays old on Thursday night and the Saskatchewan Roughriders already had lost their No. 1 quarterback — Zach Collaros — to a headshot. This really wasn’t the start that the league or the Roughriders had wanted. Collaros has a history of concussions, so this was horrible news for the Roughriders. . . . The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were penalized 25 yards on the play, but Simoni Lawrence, who delivered the cheapshot, wasn’t ejected. . . . A four-game suspension would be about right if the CFL wants to deliver a message about such plays. That won’t happen, though. Instead, it’s likely to be one game and a stern warning.