Klassen hat trick lifts Portland . . . Owner’s son scores for Blazers . . . Royals get regulation victory


Mask


The WHL had another good week with the COVID-19 testing process, this time WHL2having zero positives out of 729 tests for the period May 1 through May 7. . . . From the WHL’s news release: “To date, the WHL has administered a total of 9,735 tests for COVID-19 from Feb. 12 through May 7, with 14 positive test results.” . . . Meanwhile, there were four games on Saturday night, with the Everett Silvertips concluding their season with another victory . . . There now are only eight games remaining in this season — remember, there won’t be any playoffs. . . .

F Gabe Klassen scored three times and added an assist to lead the host Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks to a 5-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Portland (11-8-3) has won two in a row. . . . Spokane (6-9-5) has lost four straight (0-2-2). . . . F Seth Jarvis (14) and Klassen gave the Winterhawks a 2-0 first-period lead, with Klassen upping it to 3-0 at 8:7 of the second. . . . F Adam Beckman (17) got Spokane’s goal, on a PP, at 3:35 of the third period. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (8), on a PP, and Klassen added third-period goals for Portland. . . . Klassen’s first WHL hat trick gives him seven scores in 17 games this season. He finished last season with seven goals in 30 games. . . . Portland F Reece Newkirk drew three assists. . . . While Portland was 1-for-1 on the PP, Spokane was 1-for-7. . . . The Winterhawks held a 37-18 edge in shots, including 11-4 and 13-5 in the first two periods. . . .

F Gage Goncalves drew three assists to help the Everett Silvertips to a 4-1 Everettvictory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett ran its record to 19-4-0 in its final game of this season. . . . Seattle (9-12-1) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). . . . F Ben Hemmerling (3), F Ethan Regier (9), on a PP, and F Jacob Wright (9) had Everett out front 3-0 going into the third period. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon (16) got Seattle’s goal at 18:18 of the third period, but Everett F Ryan Hofer (6) got that one back at 19:24. . . . Everett got 29 saves from G Dustin Wolf, who finished the season 18-3-0, 1.80, .940, with four shutouts. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 3-Kamloops1 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Kamloops (16-4-0), the visitor in this one, has won four in a row and will finish with the best record among the five B.C. Division teams. . . . The Giants now are 11-10-0. . . . The Blazers got first-period goals from F Fraser Minten (2) and F Dylan Sydor (1). . . . Yes, Sydor is the son of former WHL/NHL D Darryl Sydor, who now owns a chunk of the Blazers. . . . Dylan, who was playing in his 13th game, also has two assists. . . . Kamloops went ahead 3-0 when F Caedan Bankier got his 10th goal at 2:43 of the third period. . . . F Justin Sourdif (10) scored for the Giants at 11:39. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 20 shots for the Blazers, 10 fewer than Vancouver’s Trent Miner. . . .

In Kelowna, the Victoria Royals scored two second-period goals and held on for Royalsa 2-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Victoria (3-15-2) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). This was its first regulation-time victory of the season. . . . Prince George (9-8-3) had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). . . . The Cougars went 3-1-2 against the Royals this season, which means the Royals were 3-3-0. . . . F Brandon Cutler (9) put Victoria ahead 1-0, shorthanded, at 5:24 of the second, and F Keanu Derungs (4) added a PP goal at 16:23. . . . F Connor Bowie (8) pulled the Cougars to within a goal, on a PP, at 19:21. . . . G Adam Evanoff stopped 33 shots for the Royals, while the Cougars’ Ty Young turned aside 19. . . . F Jonny Hooker was back in Prince George’s lineup after serving a four-game suspension for a high hit on F Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers, who missed his fifth game last night.


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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.


JUST NOTES: It definitely is worth noting that former WHL referee Steve Kozari worked his 1,000th NHL game on Friday night when the Vegas Golden Knights were at home to the St. Louis Blues. That’s a lot of miles for a guy who was a terrific WHL official. Kozari, 47, is from Penticton.


Pictures

IIHF women’s tournament rescheduled for August; site TBA . . . Portland finally solves Everett . . . Oil Kings just keep on rolling


The IIHF announced on Friday that the 2021 Women’s World Championship will be held from Aug. 20-31 in Canada, although it apparently has yet to decide on a venue. . . . The 10-team tournament had been scheduled to begin next week in Nova Scotia — in Halifax and Truro — but was cancelled on April 21 by the provincial government. . . . The 2020 event also was to have been held in Halifax and Truro, but it, too, was cancelled because of the pandemic. . . . This time, Iain Rankin, Nova Scotia’s premier, was concerned about rising COVID-19 numbers. Earlier this week, Nova Scotia, which now is in a two-week lockdown, announced a pandemic-high 96 new positives. On Friday, it said there were 67 new cases, so the numbers may be starting to come down. . . . With Red Deer having played host to the Canadian national junior team’s selection camp last year and with Edmonton having played host to the 2021 World Junior Championship, you have to think those cities are favoured for the women’s event. But there may be other options. For starters, Tim Reid, the president and CEO of the Regina Exhibition Association Limited, told Claire Hanna of CTV News that his organization has spoken with the IIHF about playing host to the women’s tournament.


The Detroit Tigers visited the New York Yankees on Friday night in what was the first MLB game this season in which masks weren’t required in dugouts. Protocols agreed upon by MLB and the MLBPA before the season began called for a loosening of health and safety protocols if 85 per cent of what are referred to as Tier 1 staff were vaccinated. . . . Two other undisclosed teams have surpassed 85 per cent and five more are at 85 per cent and need only get two weeks past the vaccination date to have protocols loosened. . . . All told, according to an MLB news release, more than 81 per cent of all Tier 1 individuals across baseball, including players, are considered partially or fully vaccinated.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies have placed SS Didi Gregorius on the COVID-19 list. Todd Zolecki of mlb.com wrote: “It does not mean Gregorius tested positive for COVID. Players can be held out because of contact tracing or other reasons. Gregorius until recently wore a mask at all times on the field. Earlier this week, he stopped wearing a mask when playing defense.” . . . The Phillies already are without INF Ronald Torreyes, who tested positive and is 10 days into quarantining in his hotel room.


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The WHL announced Friday that it didn’t receive any positives from the tests that were administered from April 25 through April 30. . . . According to the WHL, the five Alberta teams experienced a total of 159 tests, with the five U.S. Division teams seeing 467 and the five in B.C. getting 141. . . . The five Saskatchewan and two Manitoba teams completed their seasons in the Regina hub on Wednesday and apparently weren’t tested before heading home. . . . From the WHL’s news release: “To date, the WHL has administered a total of 9,006 tests for COVID-19 from Feb. 12 through April 30, with 14 positive test results.”

Meanwhile, there were four games played on Friday as the WHL closed out April . . .

In Portland, the Winterhawks scored the game’s last five goals and beat the PortlandAlternateEverett Silvertips, 5-2. . . . Everett had won the first five meetings between these teams this season. . . . Portland improved to 9-6-3, while Everett (15-4-0) had a six-game winning streak snapped. . . . F Hunter Campbell (9) and F Jackson Berezowski (4), on a PP, gave Everett a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . F Simon Knak got Portland’s comeback started at 11:24 of the second period. . . . Knak (12) tied it at 13:10 of the third and F Mason Mannek (8) broke the tie at 15:04. . . . The Winterhawks got insurance from D Kade Nolan (3), at 18:22, and F Tyson Kozak (3), at 18:52. . . . Sophomore F Jack O’Brien, who played most of this season with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars, made his Portland debut. He earned the lone assist on Knak’s first goal. . . . The Winterhawks had a 39-20 shot advantage, including 13-4 in the second and 17-4 in the third. . . .

F Josh Williams, playing in his 200th regular-season game scored three times Edmontonand added an assist to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to an 8-3 victory over the host Calgary Hitmen. . . . Edmonton, with points in 10 straight (9-0-1), is 18-1-1. . . . Calgary (8-8-2) has lost two in a row. . . . The Hitmen handed the Oil Kings their only regulation-time loss this season — 2-1 on March 28. . . . Williams picked up his second hat trick of this season and the third of his career. He played the first 92 games of his WHL career with the Medicine Hat Tigers, before being dealt to the Oil Kings. This season, he has 15 goals and 13 assists in 19 games. . . . The Hitmen were in this game until early in the third period. . . . F Adam Kydd (7) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead just 49 seconds into the game. . . . Williams put his guys out front 2-1 with goals at 4:28 and 8:44. . . . F Riley Stotts (5) pulled the Hitmen even at 10:03, but Edmonton D Matthew Robertson (4) broke the tie, on a PP, at 16:52. . . . After that five-goal first period, Edmonton D Ethan Cap (3) got the only goal of the second, at 16:12. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (11) pulled Calgary back to within a goal, on a PP, at 3:27 of the third period. . . . F Jalen Luypen (15) got that one back for Edmonton 21 seconds later. . . . F Caleb Reimer (3), F Carter Souch (6) and Williams completed Edmonton’s scoring, the latter two striking on the PP. . . . Souch also had three assists, giving him his first career four-point outing. . . . Luypen added two assists to his goal. . . . Edmonton was 3-for-7 on the PP; Calgary was 1-for-3. . . . F Scott Atkinson, the Oil Kings’ captain, was back in the lineup for the first time since March 28. . . . F Jake Neighbours of the Oil Kings had two assists to run his point streak to 19 games. He’s got nine goals and 24 assists. . . .

The Victoria Royals stopped a 10-game losing skid with a 2-1 OT victory over Royalsthe Prince George Cougars in Kamloops. . . . F Brayden Schuurman (5) won it at 3:00 of the extra period. . . . The Royals now are 2-13-1. . . . The Cougars (6-7-3) had won their previous two games. . . . F Brandon Cutler (6) gave Victoria a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 17:48 of the first period. . . . Prince George tied it on a goal by F Tyson Upper (3) at 8:06 of the third period. . . . Victoria G Adam Evanoff was the game’s first star, with 40 saves. . . . The Cougars got 21 stops from G Ty Young, an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft who was making his second WHL start. . . . The Royals, with 12 freshmen on their roster, came within one loss of tying the franchise record of 11 straight losses that is shared by the 2006-07 Chilliwack Bruins and the 2012-13 Royals. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets scored five times in a 6:38 stretch of the first period en Rocketsroute to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Rockets (8-2-0) have won five in a row. . . . The Blazers (12-4-0) have lost two straight. . . . If there aren’t any more schedule disruptions, the Blazers will play 22 games this season, with the Rockets getting into 16. Because they won’t play equal games, the B.C. Division title will go to the team with the best points percentage. After this game, Kelowna, with 16 points, is at .800, with the Blazers, who have 24 points, at ,750. . . . These two teams will play again tonight, this time in Kamloops. . . . D Elias Carmichael (2), F Dylan Wightman (4), F Dillon Hamaliuk (5), Turner McMillen (2) and F Jake Poole (2) scored Kelowna’s first-period goals. The last four came in a stretch of 2:41. . . . F Daylan Kuefler (3) got a shorthanded goal for Kamloops at 11:02 of the third period. . . . F Nolan Flamand (1), on a PP, had Kelowna’s last goal. Flamand, a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scoring his first WHL goal in his 13th game, 10 of them this season. He also has six assists this season. . . . G Cole Schwebius stopped 31 shots for the Rockets. . . . McMillen’s father, Dave, scored 13 goals in 188 WHL games split between the Moose Jaw Warriors, Victoria Cougars and Tacoma Rockets (1988-93). In two seasons (1991-93) with Tacoma, he had seven goals and 12 assists in 118 games. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers were without F Connor Zary, their captain, when they played in Kelowna on Friday night. He took a high hit from F Jonny Hooker of the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops on Wednesday night and didn’t return. . . . Hooker was given a minor penalty for charging on the play. . . . On Friday, according to the WHL website, Hooker was handed one of those TBD suspensions under supplemental discipline. . . . The Blazers also are without F Logan Stankoven, who is with Canada’s U18 team at the IIHF World Championship in Texas.


In the QMJHL, G Thomas Sigouin of the Quebec Remparts scored an empty-net goal as his guys beat the host Drummondville Voltigeurs, 5-2, to sweep a best-of-five first-round playoff series. When he wasn’t scoring, Sigouin was stopping 36 shots. Sigouin, 20, is the first goaltender in QMJHL history to score a goal in a playoff game. According to Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow), the goal was Sigouin’s first point in 63 QMJHL appeearances.


F Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips had four assists and Team Canada U18scored five PP goals on Friday as they dumped Switzerland 7-0 at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas. . . . G Thomas Milic of the Seattle Thunderbirds earned the shutout for Canada, but he wasn’t at all busy as he was tested only 11 times. . . . Canada (3-0-0) will conclude its Group A round-robin schedule today (Saturday) against Belarus. . . . In Friday’s only other game, Finland skated to a 10-0 victory over Germany in Group B. . . . In today’s other Group A game, Latvia plays Sweden. . . . In Group B, it’s Russia against Czech Republic, and Team USA against Finland.


Electrician


Dorothy is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

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.


JUST NOTES: After seven seasons at Burnaby Winter Club, Leland Mack is off to the Northern Alberta Xtreme as head coach of the U16 prep team. While with BWC, Mack had stints with the U16 prep and U15 prep teams. He also has spent 10 years as a scout with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Former WHLer David Schlemko (Medicine Hat, 2004-07) will join NAX as Mack’s assistant coach. Schlemko, whose professional career included 415 games over 11 seasons, retired as a player after the 2018-19 season.


Moon

Remembering 1945-46 USAHA-champion Vancouver Canucks . . . Russians stun Americans in Texas . . . Some twin history for Royals

Sign


Some baseball numbers to chew on. . . . I watch a fair amount of baseball, so obviously am aware that there are a whole lot of strikeouts in today’s game. In fact, I would suggest that the numbers have become mind-numbing. . . .

John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. A couple of days ago, I read a story he had written about what the headline referred to as “baseball’s rising tide of strikeouts” and the numbers were out of this world. . . . The gist of the story was how the Giants and Oakland A’s were adding flame-throwers to their pitching staffs because of the preponderance of strikeouts in MLB. . . . The numbers are stunning. . . .

Going into last weekend, MLB teams had played 576 games. There had been 5,263 strikeouts and 4,414 hits, a difference of 849. As Shea reported, “From 1900 through 2017, hits always outnumbered strikeouts. . . . In 1998, the year the sport expanded to 30 teams, there were 12,596 more hits than strikeouts.” . . . In 2018, there were 189 more strikeouts than hits, the first time that had occurred. That number was 784 in 2019 and last season, in only 60 games, it was 1,147.

As I said . . . mind-numbing numbers.


The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 23. But, yes, there are questions, lots of questions. . . . If you’re a Canadian, you know that tennis star Bianca Andreescu won’t play in the Madrid Open after testing positive, and Canada won’t compete in the World track relays in Poland in May. And now there have been two positive tests on one of the teams that was entering the Calgary bubble to play in the women’s World Curling Championship. . . . As Myles Dichter of CBC writes: “It remains unclear how positive tests and cases like Andreescu’s would be handled, and it also remains to be seen if Japanese citizens will come around to hosting, as the latest polling reveals that at least 70 per cent are opposed. Meanwhile, just one per cent of the Japanese population is vaccinated and the torch relay has been rerouted to avoid hot spots on multiple occasions as the country lives under its third state of emergency.”


Are you aware that the Vancouver Canucks once won the Walter A. Brown Cup as United States Amateur Hockey Association champions? Yes, they did. . . . The Canucks played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1945-46, winning the league championship by beating the Hollywood Wolves, 4-1, in a best-of-seven final. . . . The Canucks then challenged the Boston Olympics, who had won the Eastern Hockey League title, for the U.S. crown. Boston’s lineup included future Hockey Hall of Famers Fern Flaman and Allan Stanley. . . . The series was played in Vancouver with the Canucks losing three of the first four games before storming back to win the title. . . . There’s more on this story, from Jason Beck of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, right here.

The late Andy Clovechok was the scoring leader on that Vancouver team, winning the PCHL scoring title with 103 points, 56 of them goals, in 54 games. In September 2012, I wrote a bit about him and the 1945-46 Canucks as they were about to be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. . . . “The next season,” Clovechok said of the Olympics, “eight of Boston’s 14 players were in the National Hockey League. That’s how good they were.” . . . That story is right here.


Farmer


The 2021 IIHF U18 World Hockey Championship opened Monday in Frisco and Plano, Texas, and there was a shocker in the opening draw. . . . F Nikita Chibrikov, Russia’s captain, went end-to-end in OT and scored at 1:25 to give Russia a 7-6 victory over the U.S. Russia had trailed 5-1 in the second period. . . . Lucas Aykroyd has the game story right here. . . .

In the other Group B game on opening day, Czech Republic beat Germany, 3-1. . . . In Group A, Sweden bounced Belarus, 5-1, and Switzerland doubled Latvia, 4-2. . . . Canada plays its first game today when it meets Sweden (TSN, 6 p.m. PT). The other Group A game has Switzerland against Belarus. . . . In Group B, it’s Finland versus Russia and Germany against the U.S.


While the U18 teams began battling it out in Texas, there were three WHL games on Monday night . . .

The Winnipeg Ice scored three third-period goals to beat the Prince Albert WinnipegRaiders, 4-3, in the Regina hub. . . . Winnipeg (17-5-1) has points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Raiders are 8-11-4. . . . Prince Albert scored three PP goals to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (6) got it started at 11:16 of the first period. . . . F Jackson Leppard (2) pulled the Ice into a tie at 6:36 of the second. . . . The Raiders went up 3-1 on goals from F Spencer Moe (2), at 10:29, and F Justin Nachbaur (6), at 17:07. . . . F Conor Geekie (8) started the Winnipeg comeback at 9:28 of the third and F Zachary Benson (9) tied it, on a PP, at 10:48. . . . D Karter Prosofsky got the winner, his first WHL goal, at 15:20. . . . A second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, Prosofsky was playing in his 57th game. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs drew an assist on the game’s final goal to run his point streak to 22 games. That is a Kootenay/WInnipeg Ice franchise record, breaking the previous record that was set by F Mike Comrie with Kootenay in 2000-01. . . . Winnipeg got 24 saves from G Daniel Hauser, who is 7-0-1, 3.10, .898. He was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . .

D Rhett Rhinehart’s OT goal gave the Saskatoon Blades a 5-4 victory over the BladesMoose Jaw Warriors in the Regina hub. . . . The Blades (15-5-3) had lost their previous four games (0-3-1). . . . The Warriors (8-13-3) finished their 24-game schedule by dropping four straight (0-2-2). . . . F Kyle Crnkovic had two goals and two assists for the Blades, with F Colton Dach, who assisted on the winner, scoring once and adding three helpers. . . . Crnkovic, who has 10 goals, gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the first period, with Moose Jaw F Logan Doust (2) equalizing at 7:27. . . . Crnkovic scored a shorthanded goal at 11:24 of the second period for a 2-1 lead, only to have the Warriors tie it on a goal by F Jagger Firkus (6) at 12:02. . . . The Blades broke the tie on goals from Dach (9) and D Chase Wouters (9) at 0:08 and 5:29 of the third. . . . D Daemon Hunt (8), on a PP, and F Calder Anderson (3) scored for the Warriors at 7:02 and 15:43 to get proceedings into OT. . . . Rhinehart won it at 1:27. . . . Despite nine goals, 12 minor penalties and OT, the game took only two hours 12 minutes to complete. . . .

In Kamloops, the Prince George Cougars opened a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 PGvictory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Cougars (5-7-2) had lost its previous four games. . . . The Royals (1-12-1) have dropped nine in a row. . . . F Kyren Gronick (5) and F Ethan Browne (4), on a PP, scored first-period goals for the Cougars, with F Jonny Hooker (6) making it 3-0 at 11:11 of the second. . . . F Trentyn Crane (2) got the Royals on the board at 5:44 of the third period but F Craig Armstrong (6) got that one back for Prince George at 7:30. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 25 shots for the Cougars. . . . Ryan Spizawka made his WHL debut with the Royals, joining his twin brother, Jason, in the lineup. The brothers, from Victoria, are defencemen. Jason, the 19th overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, has three assists in 12 games. Ryan was a seventh-round selection in that draft. . . . According to Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist, they are the “fourth set of identical twins” to play on the same WHL team. Dheensaw writes: “Jeremy and Josh Schappert skated with the Seattle Thunderbirds from 2005 to 2007, future NHLers Ron and Rich Sutter with the Lethbridge Broncos from 1980 to 1983, and Ted and Brent McAneeley with the Edmonton Oil Kings from 1968 to 1970.”


Dorothy, my wife of almost 49 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and now is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. It happens virtually on June 6. You are able to join her team with a donation right here.

——

——

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.


JUST NOTES: Colin Campbell, who has been with the Seattle Thunderbirds since 1994, has been promoted to president. He had been the team’s vice-president for business operations for 19 seasons. According to a news release, he will “oversee all hockey and business operations” for the organization. That news release is right here. . . . Brandin Cote, an assistant coach with the Swift Current Broncos, will leave after this season to become the associate coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Broncos and Huskies confirmed the move on Monday. Cote is in his third season with the Broncos. Cote will work alongside Mike Babcock, the Huskies’ new head coach. Cote spent three seasons (1997-2000) as a player under Babcock with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.


Daylighttime

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if this is the week when summer arrives . . .

Scattershooting2

The Vancouver Canucks had hoped to re-open team facilities on Sunday, but the Canucksvirus apparently wasn’t consulted before those plans were made.

Now, if all goes well, those facilities may re-open today.

On Sunday, the Canucks removed F Adam Gaudette from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but F Jay Beagle was added to it. Beagle had been on injured reserve. Adding Beagle to the list left 19 Vancouver players on it.

The NHL announced Sunday afternoon that “although the Player has not been around the team during the relevant time period (since March 31), the League’s, NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups determined that the prudent decision was to keep the facilities closed for an additional day.”

Gaudette was the first of the Canucks to test positive. He was removed from a practice session on March 30 after the Canucks received his test result. D Travis Hamonic went on the list on March 31. The Canucks also have had three coaches, one member of the support staff and three players from the taxi squad test positive. There also are an undisclosed number of family members who have tested positive.

The Canucks, who last played a game on March 24, still are scheduled to return to game action on Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers with the Toronto Maple Leafs to visit on Saturday.

The NHL is expecting the Canucks to begin with six games in nine nights. Their first nine games are to be played in 14 nights. Yikes!


Vaccine


There aren’t words in any language to describe how much I despise the MLB extra-inning rule under which a team starts with a runner on second base. It’s a gimmick, nothing more and nothing less, and MLB should be embarrassed by stooping so low as to use it.


Old friend Neate Sager, who doesn’t mind the MLB gimmickry, is writing at neatefreatsports these days, and it’s worth it for you to pay a visit, especially if you like your current events mixed with humour and just a dash of snark.

Here he is leading into a bit on the Vancouver Canucks’ recent travails:

“You might end up on injured reserve with strained credulity if you believe the Vancouver Canucks, who have only four players who are ‘not on the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol list,’ are going to complete their schedule.

“Deadspin, which can say it since it has no client relationship with the NHL like those of the telcos in Canada, pointed out the timeline makes it impossible. The league’s best-case scenario is for Vancouver to return to play around April 16, but that seems too optimistic by half, and half again.”

I highly recommend that you check him out right here.


Hey, ESPN, I tried to watch your telecast — the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the Braves in Atlanta on Sunday night. I really did. In the end, I did watch it, but with no sound. You’re drowning a game that needs to breathe in order to be enjoyed. And the numbers . . . so many numbers as to give a baseball fan vertigo.


So . . . I mentioned this Expos-Padres discrepancy to Dorothy on Friday night. “Yeah,” she replied, “but the Padres lasted longer than the Expos, so there you go!”



Information that you need to know. . . . According to Forbes magazine, Terry Pegula, who owns among other things the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, has improved his net worth from US$5 billion to $5.4 billion over the past year. The rich people, of course, keep score by dollar bills. On Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, $5.4 billion puts you in 520th place. . . . Who’s No. 1? Jeff Bezos, Mr. Amazon, tops the list for the fourth straight year, this time at $177 billion. . . . Forbes’ numbers show the world contains 2,775 billionaires, up 660 from a year ago.


On the subject of dollars, here’s a note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A baseball bat — a 34-inch, 36-ounce Bill Dickey model Louisville Slugger used by Lou Gehrig in 1938, his final full MLB season — drew 26 bids at SCP Auctions and sold this month for $715,120. Or 23 times the $31,000 the Yankees paid Gehrig to play that year.”

——

“A fan in Anaheim threw an inflatable trash can onto the field during an Astros-Angels game,” reports Perry. “Three players on the Houston bench immediately yelled, ‘Pitch-out!’ ”



With MLB having yanked its All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of Georgia’s new restrictive voting legislation, there were mutterings that the Masters should follow suit and move. To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote: “If you’re waiting in line for golfers to boycott, bring some bottled water.”



Ferguson Jenkins is 78 now, but it’s never too late for a statue. Yes, the Chicago Cubs are going to honour Jenkins with a statue outside Wrigley Field. . . . Here’s Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Of course, times have changed and the way in which starting pitchers are utilized has changed but in his day, and for 19 seasons, Jenkins stood alone among Canadian ballplayers and Canadian athletes — and sometimes we seem to forget all that.” . . . As Simmons points out, Jenkins once had six straight seasons with at least 20 victories. He once started 42 games in a season. He threw more than 300 innings in four different seasons. He threw 30 complete games in 1971 when he won the Cy Young Award. In one seven-season stretch, Jenkins threw 272 complete games. . . . And, no, his arm never fell off.


Here’s a memo from Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Dear Media. It’s called ‘The Masters.’ Not ‘The Masters Without Tiger Woods.’ Thank you.”


Castle


There were four games in the WHL on Sunday. Some highlights and tidbits . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last two goals to beat the host Tri-SeattleCity Americans, 3-2. . . . The Americans (5-6-0) held a 2-1 lead after getting two late first-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (4), at 18:04, and D Mitchell Brown (2), at 18:54. . . . F Henri Rybinski’s second goal of the season, on a PP, tied it at 4:21 of the second period. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (4) scored the game’s final goal, on another PP, at 5:33. . . . Seattle (6-5-0) was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-for-4. . . . The Thunderbirds won’t have F Conner Roulette again this WHL season. He now joins Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship that opens in Texas on April 26. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders scored three times in the third period to beat the RaidersSwift Current Broncos, 4-2, in Regina. . . . F Cole Nagy (3) scored on a PP at 6:58 of the third period to get the Broncos into a 1-1 tie. . . . D Landon Kosior (2), on a PP, put the Raiders back out front and F Evan Herman (5) stretched the lead at 12:03. . . . F Mathew Ward (4) got the Broncos back to within a goal at 14:11, but F Eric Pearce (6) put it away with the empty-netter. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 35 shots for the Raiders, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by F Michael Farren. . . . The Broncos got 33 saves from G Reid Dyck, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by Herman. . . . The Raiders (5-8-3) had lost their previous three games (0-2-1). . . . The Broncos (3-12-1) have lost five straight. . . . Raiders D Nolan Allan played his final WHL game of this season. He is going into isolation and then will join Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas. It opens on April 26. . . .

G Nolan Maier turned aside 42 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 3-2 Bladesvictory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Regina. . . . The victory lifted the Blades (12-2-2) into first place in the Regina hub, two points ahead of the Wheat Kings (12-3-2). The Wheat Kings had points in each of their previous nine games (8-0-1). . . . Saskatoon now has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Blades took a 2-0 lead on PP goals from F Chase Wouters (6) at 18:56 of the first period and F Kyle Crnkovic (7) at 4:50 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (8) pulled Brandon to within a goal on a PP at 10:16. . . . Saskatoon F Brandon Lisowsky (6) stretched the lead to two at 16:44 of the third. . . . Brandon got back to within a goal when F Ridly Greig (6) counted at 19:54. . . . Saskatoon was 2-for-5 on the PP; Brandon was 1-for-6. . . . G Ethan Kruger stopped 19 shots for Brandon. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers unleashed a 60-shot attack and got four assists from F KamloopsConnor Zary in beating the Victoria Royals, 4-3, in Kelowna. . . . At one point in the third period, the Royals led 3-2 as they were being outshot, 51-12. . . . The Royals erased a 2-1 deficit on goals from F Alex Bolshakov (3), his second of the game, at 6:33 of the third period and F Ty Yoder (2), at 9:16. . . . F Josh Pillar (3) pulled Kamloops into a tie at 13:16 and D Inaki Baragano (1) got the winner at 16:04. . . . Zary has 14 points, including 11 assists, in seven games. . . . Victoria G Adam Evanoff finished with 56 saves, 40 more than Dylan Garand of the Blazers. . . . The Blazers now are 6-1-0. . . . The Royals are 1-6-1 and have lost three in a row. . . . Victoria was without F Keanu Derungs, F Tarun Fizer, F Riley Gannon, F Matthew Hodson and D Noah Lamb, and was able to dress only 10 forwards. . . . The Royals are adding F Ryan Spizawka, a seventh-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, to their roster. His twin brother, Jason, the 19th overall pick in 2019, already is on the roster. They are from Victoria. . . . The WHL season is over for Kamloops F Logan Stankoven, who will play for Canada at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas later this month. He put up 10 points, including seven goals, in six games this season.


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

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.


Random

Enough of the ‘it’s just like the flu’ junk! . . . Virtanen latest Canucks player on protocol list . . . QMJHL has 15 more positives on two teams

Please don’t bother wasting your breath trying to tell me that “this is just like the flu.”

Because it isn’t.

I lost another friend to COVID-19 on the weekend, so I’m well aware that this isn’t just like the flu. It just isn’t.

Bob Watson was a photographer at the Regina Leader-Post during my time there. He was one of those people who was quick to smile and really would give you the shirt — or in his case, the photographer’s vest — off his back.

After we moved to Kamloops, Bob and I reconnected on social media. No, we didn’t communicate on a regular basis, but we did often enough to stay in touch. And he always — always — asked how Dorothy was doing.

Anyway . . . knowing Bob the way I did, I know that he and his wife, Karen, did all they could to stay safe. Still, she tested positive, and so did he. Karen has since recovered, but Bob didn’t make it. . . . Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post has more on Bob right here.

You may also want to take a few minutes and read this column right here from Daphne Bramham of the Vancouver Sun.

She, too, worked at The Leader-Post and was friends with Bob.

She writes, in part: “It’s why I can’t separate the sadness over his death from my raw anger at the stupidity of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers including the two Regina women fined $2,800 for organizing a Saturday protest that attracted 30 people, the owners and customers at the Corduroy and Gusto restaurants in Vancouver who ignored the ban on indoor dining, and the loudmouth Instagramer building an audience by provoking people as he drives up and down Robson Street with his megaphone.”


Mars


Another day, another player off the Vancouver Canucks’ roster added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The latest addition is F Jake Virtanen, who went on the list on Tuesday. His presence means that 18 of the Canucks22 players on the roster are on that list.

There were reports over the long weekend that some of the Canucks had tested positive for the P.1 variant, which first surfaced in Brazil and now is causing problems in Canada, especially in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

However, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, threw cold water on those reports.

“I’m not aware that any of the cases in the Canucks organization are related to P.1,” she told reporters on Tuesday.”I don’t know where that started, but not that I’m aware of.”

Neither the NHL nor the Canucks have made an official statement of any kind since the original positive test on Gaudette was confirmed. Reports of the P.1 variant being involved appeared to come from sources within the Vancouver organization, player agents and family members.

Dr. Henry also said that what the Canucks are going through shows that COVID-19 spreads “very, very easily.”

She added: “It just tells us that once this virus gets hold, it can spread very quickly, despite having routine testing protocols, having protocols to try and protect people as much as possible.”

F Adam Gaudette was the first of the Vancouver players to go on the protocol list on Tuesday, followed the next day by D Travis Hamonic.

Over the next few days, they were joined by forwards Travis Boyd, Jalen Chatfield, Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Bo Horvat, Zack MacEwen, Marc Michaelis, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel and Brandon Sutter, defencemen Alex Edler, Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers, and goaltenders Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby.

And now Virtanen.

There also have been reports that three members of the coaching staff have tested positive, and two players off the taxi squad have been deemed as close contacts.

So far, the NHL has postponed six Vancouver games, with the Canucks not likely to play again before mid-April.

——

Meanwhile, the Canucks AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, has issues of its own and hasn’t played since March 10. They have had players and staff in isolation since March 22. The Comets were back on the practice ice on Monday. . . .  Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch reported: “It is not clear how many Comets players had positive COVID-19 tests. The AHL does not disclose which players are unavailable because of positive tests or close contacts.” . . . The Comets hope to return to game action on Friday against the visiting Rochester Americans.


Walmart


The NCAA’s Frozen Four is scheduled for this weekend in Pittsburgh. On Tuesday, the UMass Minutemen, one of the four competing teams, revealed that they will be missing at least four players because of COVID-19 contact tracing protocols. That includes starting G Filip Lindberg and F Carson Gicewicz, their leading sniper. Also out are G Henry Graham and F Jerry Harding. . . . Graham was the No. 3 goaltender. . . . This means that senior Matt Murray will be the starting goaltender on Thursday when UMass opens against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, the defending champs. . . . It also means that Zac Steigmeyer, a senior equipment manager, will be the backup goaltender. Steigmeyer played goal in high school. . . . The other semifinal on Thursday has the St. Cloud State Huskies meeting the Minnesota State Mavericks. . . . The final is scheduled for Saturday.


The QMJHL announced Tuesday that the Gatineau Olympiques have experienced 11 positive tests within qmjhlnewtheir organization, while the Quebec Remparts have had four players come up positive. . . . The Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Blainville-Boisbriand and Rimouski Oceanic, teams that played the Olympiques and Remparts last week, didn’t have any positives, nor did any of the officials who worked those games. Still, the QMJHL has had those three teams go into isolation for 14 days. . . . “Therefore,” the league said in a news release, “the 2021 President Cup playoffs will not begin until at least the end of the mandatory quarantine period. With player safety being the league’s top priority, the league will ensure that infected players have sufficiently recovered and are back to full health before even considering return to play scenarios.”


If you’re wondering when the U.S.-Canada border might open again to what now is termed non-essential travel, you should know that the bookmakers at Bodog have after June 1 as the most likely date, at -300 — you would need to bet $300 to make $100. The least likely outcome of before June 1 is +200 — you would need to bet $100 to make $200.


There were five games in the WHL on Tuesday night . . .

F Owen Pederson’s PP goal at 5:04 of OT gave the Winnipeg Ice a 3-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in WinnipegRegina. . . . Pederson has seven goals for the Ice (9-4-0). . . . The Blades (9-2-2) have lost three in a row (0-2-1) after opening with a 9-0-1 record. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs (7) had a goal and an assist, and also took some turns on defence. . . . Krebs has 23 points, including 16 assists, in 13 games. After being blanked in his first game, he has at least a point in 12 straight. . . . The Ice is down to four regular defencemen, with Mike Ladyman, Carson Lambos, Nolan Orzeck and Karter Prosofsky all sidelined. Owen Boucher, Anson McMaster, Brandt Young and Ben Zloty are left to shoulder most of the load, with some of the forwards dropping back on occasion. . . . Saskatoon F Evan Patrician tied the game, 2-2, at 1:53 of the third period. . . .

The host Everett Silvertips erased a two-goal deficit with the game’s last four goals and beat the Portland EverettWinterhawks, 6-4. . . . Portland led 2-0 before the game was two minutes old as F Jaydon Dureau (2) and F Reece Newkirk (4) scored on its first two shots. . . . F Seth Jarvis gave Portland a 4-2 lead with the club’s sixth shorthanded goal of the season at 9:29 of the second period. . . . Everett tied it on PP goals from F Jacob Wright (4) and F Hunter Campbell (4), the latter at 14:49 of the third period. . . . F Ben Hemmerling (2) broke the tie at 16:52, and F Jackson Berezowski (2) added the empty-netter. . . . F Gage Goncalves (6) had a goal and two assists for the winners. . . . Everett was 2-for-3 on the PP. . . . Everett (8-1-0) is 3-0-0 against Portland (4-3-2) this season. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf now is 7-1-0, 1.12, .961. . . .

The Tri-City Americans erased a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (3) gave the Thunderbirds (5-4-0) a 1-0 lead at 1:45 of the first period. . . . D Ian Ferguson (1) pulled the Americans (4-4-0) even at 2:18 and F Samuel Huo (6), playing in his 200th career game, gave them the lead at 2:36. . . . F Connor Bouchard (2) and F Booker Daniel (1) added second-period goals. . . .

F Connor Bedard scored twice and added two assists as the Regina Pats dumped the Swift Current Broncos, 6-1, in Regina. . . . Bedard has 10 goals and 16 assists in 14 games. His WHL season is expected to end after a game with the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday. He and eight other WHLers will begin preparations to join Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Texas. . . . F Carson Denomie scored his 12th goal of the season for the Pats (5-6-3). . . . D Mathew Ward (3) scored for the Broncos (3-9-1). Ward, who turned 17 on Jan. 24, has three goals and 13 assists in 13 games. . . .

F Brayden Tracey scored the winner as the Victoria Royals beat the Prince George Cougars, 3-2 in OT, in Kamloops. . . . Tracey, who won it at 4:36 of extra time, finished with two goals — he’s got three — and an assist as the Royals (1-3-1) picked up their first victory of the season. . . . G Connor Martin got the victory with 43 saves. . . . Tracey and D Gannon Laroque (1) gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the second period. . . . The Cougars (1-2-2) tied it on two goals from Jonny Hooker (2), the second one at 1:14 of the third.


——

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.


Carpet

A thank you from Brad Hornung . . . WHL’s five B.C. teams to hub up in Kamloops, Kelowna . . . BCHL’s 17 teams still waiting as self-imposed deadline approaches

There is a book out there that includes a chapter on Brad Hornung and it’s well worth a read — the entire book, I mean, not just the chapter on Hornung.

Written by Roy MacGregor, one of Canada’s best writers, it is titled The Home Team: Fathers, Sons & Hockey, and was published in 1995. It was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award.

The book, which definitely rates as one of the best ‘hockey’ books out there, is available in hard cover, paperback and ebook. If you haven’t read it and choose to, you won’t be disappointed.


Players and staff members from the WHL’s five B.C. Division teams will begin WHL2quarantining on Saturday, then report to their teams on March 13 as they begin preparations for a return to play on March 26 with games in two cities.

The Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and the Blazers will be in Kamloops, with the Victoria Royals and the Rockets in Kelowna.

In Kamloops, the Cougars and Giants are expected to stay in a hotel owned by Tom Gaglardi, the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars who is the Blazers’ majority owner. The hotel is kitty-corner from the Sandman Centre in Kamloops. The Blazers players will stay with their billets.

In Kelowna, Victoria is expected to stay in a hotel owned by the GSL Group that was founded by Graham Lee, who owns the Royals. The Rockets will be with billets.

A schedule that has yet to be released will have each of the five teams play 24 games without fans, likely in about seven weeks. Games will be played only in Kamloops and Kelowna, although teams will travel between cities for games. There won’t be any over-night stays and there won’t be any stops while in transit.

Players and staff will undergo testing when they report to their teams in Kamloops and Kelowna, and then will go into quarantine again. Each participant will have to pass another test before being allowed to begin team activities.

Players and staff will be tested on a weekly basis, with a positive test resulting in a team having to shut down for at least 14 days.

From a WHL news release:

“Enhanced screening for all WHL players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings as well as symptom monitoring through the WHL Athlete RMS Mobile Application. Masks must be worn by all WHL players at all times with the exception of when participating on ice for games and practices. WHL coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practices and while behind the benches during games.”

The B.C. teams will be the last of the WHL’s 22 clubs to begin play in what is strictly a developmental season. The five Alberta teams began play on Feb. 26. Seven teams — five from Saskatchewan and two from Manitoba — have gathered in Regina and are to open play on March 12. The five U.S. Division teams will open on March 19.

The WHL news release is right here.


While the WHL’s five B.C.-based teams have gotten the OK for games, the BCHLBCHL’s 17 teams keep on playing the waiting game.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said Tuesday that her staff continues to work with the BCHL on its proposed return-to-play protocol.

Keep in mind that the WHL’s B.C. Division teams are going to play in two cities — Kamloops and Kelowna — in the same health authority, while the BCHL’s proposal apparently calls for cohorts set up in five separate communities involving multiple health authorities.

“Right now, they are continuing to work with the BCHL and with our regional teams because the (BCHL’s) plan is dispersed around the province in a way that is slightly different than the Western Hockey League, for example,” Dr. Henry said. “(It) is still in the consultation process and there have been a number of concerns identified — I’ll be blunt about that — that need to be addressed before that can happen safely.”

In a letter to government and health officials on Friday, Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, wrote that if a decision allowing a return to play wasn’t received by Wednesday, which would be today, the league’s owners would be voting Thursday on a motion to cancel the season.

Tick . . . tick . . . tick!

Brian Wiebe of BCHLNetwork has more right here.

——

What Garry Valk is doing in trying to influence a decision by government and health officials regarding a return to play for the BCHL’s 17 teams is admirable. It really is. He started a petition that has accrued something around 3,000 signatures, and he has kept the fires burning on social media.

But tweets like the one above don’t do anything to help the cause. “All the other Junior A teams in Canada” aren’t playing games, he writes.

Well, the 12-team Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled its season on Feb. 12. The 12-team Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has been paused since Nov. 21. The seven-team Superior International Junior Hockey League cancelled its season on Monday. The Ontario Junior Hockey League, with 21 teams in Ontario and one in Buffalo that opted out of this season, isn’t playing, in part because it has to deal with 10 regional health units. I could go on, but you get the point.

If you are going to be the face of a cause like this, you have to protect your credibility with the people you are trying to influence, which means you also have to do the research.



CBC News: Texas to drop requirement for people to wear masks. The state is averaging about 7,700 new COVID-19 cases a day; 6 weeks ago it was over 20,000. Texas has a population of 29M, about twice the size of Ontario, which is averaging roughly 1,100 cases a day.


The New York Times — Mississippi joined Texas on Tuesday in lifting state mask mandates, despite federal health officials warning governors not to ease restrictions yet, because national progress in reducing coronavirus cases appears to have stalled in the last week.


Mob


The Toronto Raptors and visiting Detroit Pistons are scheduled to play an NBA game in Tampa, Fla., tonight. The game was postponed from Tuesday because the Raptors have run into virus-related issues. If tonight’s game goes ahead, Toronto will be without three starters — OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet — along with Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn, who come off the bench. Head coach Nick Nurse and a number of his staff also are expected to be missing tonight. . . . Donta Hall and Jalen Harris have joined the Raptors from their G League affiliate. . . . The NBA now has postponed 31 games this season because at least one of the teams didn’t have at least eight healthy players.



If you’re a country music fan, you should know that the CMA Fest has been cancelled for a second straight year. It’s now scheduled to run in 2022, from June 9-12, in Nashville.


New York Post — New Yorkers would have to flash COVID-19 passport to enter venues under new program. . . .  Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday the rolling out of a new pilot program where New Yorkers would have to flash a sort of COVID-19 passport in order to enter sports arenas, theaters and other businesses as the state continues reopening efforts. . . . The pass was tested at Tuesday night’s New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.


Worst



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.


Boss

WHL board chairman suggests late February or early March for start . . . Five WHL players off to USHL . . . City of Cranbrook suing WHL, Ice owners

How does the Prince George Cougars of Kamloops sound? Or how about the Victoria Royals of Kelowna?

The WHL announced on Friday that it has a “commitment” to play a 24-game WHL22021 schedule. The league didn’t announce any other particulars, other than pointing out that “he start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction, and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and the owner/general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told Travis Lowe of CHBC-TV in Kelowna that the people running the show “thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,”

Taking Note was told Tuesday afternoon that one plan the WHL has looked at would have players reporting to teams on Jan. 22 in the hopes of starting a season on Feb. 8. However, that seems awfully far-fetched if only because, for example, the restrictions that presently are in place in B.C. are there until at least Feb. 5.

Hamilton told Lowe that a new season “probably” wouldn’t get started “until the end of February, early March.”

Lowe also reported: “According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete. Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.”

Hamilton also told Lowe that “we may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into (Kelowna) and then limit the travel.”

A source told Taking Note that one option that has been discussed would have the Cougars spend the season playing out of Kamloops, with the Royals doing the same out of Kelowna.


Last week, the USHL’s Lincoln Stars added four players to their protected list, PortlandAlternateall of them American-born skaters off the roster of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. On Tuesday, the Winterhawks released those four to play for the Stars. F Cross Hanas, 19, who is from Highland Village, Tex.; F Clay Hanus, 19, from Excelsior, Minn.; F Jack O’Brien, 17, from Denver; and F James Stefan, 17, from Laguna Beach, Calif., will stay with Lincoln until the Stars’ season ends. . . . “With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. . . .

Meanwhile, F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs has been given his release to play for the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho. . . .

On Jan. 5, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. However, Savoie’s name has yet to appear on that roster. He is from St. Alberta, Alta. Savoie played six games this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, putting up three goals and three assists.


If you have been holding out hope that fans will be allowed into arenas to watch games when/if the WHL gets a season started, it really doesn’t seem likely to happen.

For proof, here’s part of message from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to their fans: “The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has been working with the Ticket Centre and our ticket provider to begin the process of issuing full refunds to everyone who purchased 2020-21 season tickets.”


The WHL and the Winnipeg Ice are being sued by the City of Cranbrook. . . . Karin Larsen of CBC News reports that “a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says both the Winnipeg Ice (formerly Kootenay Ice) and WHL are responsible for breaking an arena deal that was supposed to run through June 2023. The claim says the city is out approximately $178,000 per year as a result.” . . . The Kootenay Ice franchise was purchased by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is based in Winnipeg, from the Chynoweth family. The Ice played two seasons in Cranbrook under new ownership before moving to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 season. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Carlin


With its 2021 regular season to start Wednesday night, the NHL revealed NHLTuesday that 27 players, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, tested positive during the training camp period from Dec. 30 to Monday. . . . According to the NHL, about 12,000 tests were conducted on more than 1,200 players. . . . The other 10 positives tests involve players from eight other teams. . . . The NHL has said it will provide “regular updates on the results of tests administered to players, including the identities of the players” with the start of the new season. . . . The Stars have returned to the practice ice, although more than a dozen players were unavailable on Tuesday, but their first three games have been postponed. They also have had an undisclosed number of staffers test positive. . . .

D Jordie Benn and F J.T. Miller won’t play for the Vancouver Canucks when they open their NHL season Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks aren’t saying why, but Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver tweeted that the two are out “due to COVID-19 concerns” and that they will be out “for a couple of weeks.” Sekeres added: “Both players are quarantining. Miller had been staying at Benn’s Vancouver residence.” . . . Richard Zussman of Global BC reported via Twitter that he has been told either Benn or Miller “tested positive for COVID, then negative, then positive again and when tested a fourth time tested negative. The other is a close contact.”


Spidey


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister — Update on the Canada-US border: We’ve extended the current border measures by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until at least February 21st. We’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

680 CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and said eight more Manitobans with the virus have died. It’s the first time the province’s list of new daily infections has dropped below 100 since Oct. 19.

CBC News — 248 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan. It’s the 1st time in a week the province has recorded fewer than 300 new daily cases. Health authorities also report 5 additional deaths from the virus. . . . The provincial government has extended current COVID-19-related public health orders until at least Jan. 29, due to current transmission rates.

CBC News — Alberta again breaks COVID-19 record with 38 deaths reported in single day. The province reported 652 new cases, 819 hospitalizations and 132 patients in ICUs. . . . Deaths from the illness are reported as Alberta Health compiles data, meaning not all 38 happened on the same day. The latest report includes deaths reported to the province from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12. But provincial numbers released over the last two days show that at least 21 people died from COVID-19 on Sunday alone. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now stands at 1,345.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 446 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 58,553 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 368 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 72 of whom are in intensive care. . . . There are 7,238 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 51,144 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,019 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News — Ontario reports 41 more deaths and 2,903 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the 1st time the number has fallen below 3,000 since January 3.

CBC News — Quebec reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 47 additional deaths. It’s the 2nd day in a row where the number of new cases is below 2,000; it was above 2,000 for the previous 8 days.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC — No surprise the Canada/US border will remain closed. Here are the latest weekly (Jan. 4-11) COVID-19 stats for Washington state: 217 deaths. 20,251 cases. 818 hospitalizations.

CNN, Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT — So far today, Johns Hopkins University has reported 212,766 new cases and 4,212 new deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 22.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 380,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

The number of postponements in this young NBA season has reached six, with the latest casualty a Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Due to protocols, the Wizards don’t have the necessary eight players able to play. . . . Three of the postponed games have involved the Boston Celtics, including one that had been scheduled for Chicago on Tuesday night. . . . Five of the NBA’s six postponements have occurred since Sunday. . . .

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also have come up with some new rules aimed at keeping numbers down. From The Associated Press: “For ‘at least the next two weeks,’ the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games. . . . Players also no longer will be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road. . . . Also from The AP: “Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a ‘cool down chair’ without a mask — but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.” . . .

As if the NBA doesn’t have enough on its plate, Brian Windthorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Tuesday that sources have told them “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time. That story is right here. . . .

Pro golfer Jhonattan Vegas has tested positive so has withdrawn from the Sony Open that is to open in Honolulu on Thursday. . . .

The Czech Republic pulled out of the world handball championship after 13 of its 21 players and a number of coaches tested positive. The event was scheduled for Egypt, Jan. 13-31.


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.


JUST NOTES: The ECHL has sold two expansion franchises to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by Dean MacDonald. The new teams will begin play in 2021-21 in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Que.  Deacon Sports and Entertainment also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. From an ECHL news release: “Coralville will play out of Xtreme Arena, a 5,100-seat venue which was completed in September 2020, while Trois-Rivières will play out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a new construction that will host 4,390 fans.”


John

WHL governors to meet Friday . . . QMJHL not impacted by curfew . . . Former CAHA president dies at 85

——


The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to confer on Friday, but in these WHL2uncertain times it isn’t known what might happen. Remember that the WHL, which halted its 2019-20 season after games of March 11, originally said it hoped to begin a new season on Oct. 2 . . . then Dec. 4 . . . then Jan. 8, which is Friday’s date. The WHL chose to dump the Jan. 8 startup on Dec. 15, saying at that time that the governors “will meet in January to consider potential start dates.” . . . WHL pooh-bahs have said that once a decision is made to start, teams will need about three weeks to prepare. So I would suggest that, given the OK from the various health authorities, something that is hardly a sure thing, the earliest the WHL could start up — and that would be without fans in all likelihood — would be the first week in February. But you and I both know that isn’t likely to happen . . . not with the numbers that we are seeing in the four provinces and two states that are home to WHL franchises. . . .

BTW, who scored the last goal of the WHL’s 2019-20 regular season? That would be F Brayden Tracey of the Victoria Royals, who broke a 2-2 tie at 11:22 of the third period in a 3-2 victory over the host Kelowna Rockets. . . . A better trivia question: Who scored the Spokane Chiefs’ final goal of the 2019-20 regular season? That would be G Lukas Parik, who notched the empty-netter and record the shutout in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers on March 10.

——

One of the things the pandemic has deprived WHL fans of, especially those in the Kamloops area, is F Logan Stankoven’s 17-year-old season. A Kamloops native, Stankoven scored 29 times and added 19 assists in 59 games as a rookie last season. There were times last season when the personable Stankoven showed that he just might be one of those players with the ability bring fans out of their seats on a regular basis. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia talked with Stankoven and more on how he is preparing for a season that may never happen, and it’s all right here.


The Quebec government announced on Wednesday that it is implementing a qmjhlnewdaily curfew that will begin on Saturday and run until Feb. 8. The curfew will be in play from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. . . . The QMJHL, which last played games on Nov. 29 and plans to resume play on Jan. 22, won’t be impacted by the curfew because its Quebec-based teams are going to play in bubbles, or what they are calling protected environments. . . . The QMJHL has said it wants to resume play on Jan. 22 with 12 Quebec-based teams playing in bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan. The plan is to have three teams play in each of those cities Jan. 22-24, and then have four-team bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville and Rimouski, Jan. 29 to Feb. 6. . . . The QMJHL can afford to play in bubbles because it was given a reported $12 million in government money earlier in the season. . . . The QMJHL’s schedule has the six Maritimes-based teams returning to play with games in Moncton, Charlottetown and Saint John on Jan. 22, as well. However, I’m not certain that those teams have been given the OK by health officials to return to play. Those teams haven’t been given any government money so having them play in a bubble, or bubbles, really isn’t feasible. But the Maritime teams were able to have some revenue flowing as the three provincial governments allowed limited attendance at their games. . . .

Meanwhile, the restrictions under which Manitobans have been living since mid-November are due to expire on Friday, but most, if not all, are expected to be renewed. . . . “I don’t think there’s going to be any significant change, to be frank,” Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, said on Wednesday. . . . Those restrictions include a ban on public gatherings of more than five people.





THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 10 more COVID-19 deaths and 176 new cases on Wednesday, and officials are also seeing a spike from the Christmas holidays. . . . Nearly 60 cases and more than 400 contacts have been definitively linked to holiday gatherings, said acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal.

CBC News: 9 more COVID 19 deaths in Saskatchewan including person in 20s, 277 new cases.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 25 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,123 new cases.

CBC News: B.C. reports 625 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths.

CBC News: Quebec’s premier has announced a curfew amid rising COVID-19 cases. Residents will have to stay inside their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. The new measure starts Saturday and will be in effect until at least Feb. 8.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting a record 31 new cases of COVID-19. The province’s previous single-day record was 27 cases. N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there will be more cases as a result of holiday gatherings.

KOMO News: Washington state’s total COVID-19 cases eclipsed 260,000 and the death toll from the virus reached 3,600 Wednesday, according to the latest reporting from the Washington Department of Health. . . . State health officials reported 1,985 new coronavirus cases, 88 additional hospitalizations and 64 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

KATU News: Eight more people have died from COVID-19 and 764 more have tested positive for the disease, the Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday. . . . The state now has lost 1,558 people to COVID-19 and 120,223 have tested positive for it since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 87M: Johns Hopkins University.

CNN, Wednesday, 8:13 p.m. PT: The United States reported at least 3,805 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

CNN, Wednesday, 7:50 p.m. PT: 361,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

NBC News, Wednesday, 8:52 p.m. PT: US sets daily records for coronavirus cases and coronavirus deaths on Wednesday . . . 268,840 cases . . . 3,920 deaths. . . . In 2021, the US has reported 1,345,873 coronavirus cases and 15,120 coronavirus deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Wednesday, 4 p.m. PT: Tested: 14,243,625 . . . Total cases: 626,799 . . . Active cases: 79,203 . . . Recovered: 531,227 . . . Deaths: 16,369.

——

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Wednesday that it will begin its traditional fall sports season on Feb. 1. It will be a seven-week season, with practices to start on Feb. 1 and the season to end on March 20. Sports that will be scheduled include cross-country, football, slow pitch, girls and boys soccer and volleyball.


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.

NEVER arrives in Washington . . . WHL’s Chiefs would consider change “if requested” . . . Evason gets full-time Wild gig

Daniel Snyder, the owner of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, told USA Today in 2013: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Well, it seems that NEVER arrived on Monday.

The team announced on July 3 that was undertaking a review of the situation involving its nickname. On Monday, it announced “we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review.”

A new nickname will be revealed at some point once all the legalities have been dealt with.

Just don’t think for a moment that this was done for any reason other than MONEY.

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and he has more on the name change right here.


Mood


Closer to home, the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs say they would be receptive to calls for a change to their nickname, but that there haven’t been any such requests.

From a Chiefs’ statement: “We have not heard calls from local tribal leaders to change our name, but would certainly consider a name change if requested. The Spokane Chiefs stand together with our friends in the Native American community.”

As Dave Nichols of the Spokane Spokesman-Review explained in a recent story: “Locally, Eastern Washington is home to several Native American tribes and Spokane’s two professional teams — the Spokane Indians and Spokane Chiefs — as well as several high schools in the area, use Native American terms and imagery for branding.”

The Chiefs and Indians are owned by Brett Sports and, as Nichols wrote, “have had a long-standing relationship with Native American groups in the area.”

With the NFL’s Washington franchise having made the move and the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos sounding like they will do the same, you know that there is pressure on other teams, like the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. But what of teams at lower levels, like the Chiefs, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL?

Nichols quoted the WHL team’s statement:

“The Spokane Chiefs Hockey Club is committed to honoring Native American culture of the Inland Northwest.

“We are proud to have partnered with local tribes in a variety of past events to highlight tribal heritage in an appropriate, respectful manner. Our team has been proactive in excluding any Native American mascots, chants or characterizations at our events.

“We have received positive, influential feedback from local tribal leaders regarding our representation of Native American culture and will continue to be receptive to any feedback or concern. We will always listen to our community.”

The statement doesn’t appear to have been posted on the Chiefs’ website.

Nichols’ complete story is right here.



The Victoria Royals haven’t announced it, but it seems they have parted company with Matt Auerbach, who had been their head equipment manager. His photo disappeared from the team’s website a while back, late one Friday afternoon. . . . Auerbach had been with the Royals for 14 seasons, going back to their days as the Chilliwack Bruins. . . . He was celebrated in Victoria on Oct. 26, 2019, on the occasion of his 1,000th game with the franchise. The Royal beat the Kamloops Blazers, 2-1, in that one. . . . The Royals didn’t respond to a request for comment from Taking Note.


Sock


Dean Evason, a former WHL player and coach, was promoted from interim to full-time head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild on Monday. He had taken over from the fired Bruce Boudreau on Feb. 14. . . . The Wild is preparing to meet the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-five series on Aug. 2 in Edmonton. . . . Evason played with the Spokane Flyers and Kamloops Jr. Oilers (1980-84). He later coached the Kamloops Blazers (1999-2002), Vancouver Giants (2002-04) and Calgary Hitmen (2004-05).


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The 24 NHL teams who are continuing with this season, opened training camps on Mondays. . . . The Pittsburgh Penguins held out nine players “due to potential secondary exposure to an individual who had contact with a person who has tested positive . . .” Those players will be held out until it is deemed safe for them to skate. . . . Mike Kitchen, an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers, and F Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks have opted out. . . . The NHL, which has put a lid on injury and illness information, released its weekly testing update on Monday, revealing that eight more players have tested positive at team facilities. One other player tested positive prior to reporting. . . . That means the NHL has reported 43 positives, with 30 of those coming out of team facilities. . . . The Athletic’s Arpon Basu reported Sunday that three players with the Montreal Canadiens had tested positive. On Monday, D Josh Brook, D Brett Kulak and D Xavier Ouellet weren’t on the ice, but there was no comment from the team on their status. . . .

Alexei Morozov, the president of the Russian-based KHL, reported six positive tests among players on Monday. There are three players from Torpedo HC, two from Severstal and one from Spartak HC who are positive. . . . One player from Amur HC is in hospital with what has been diagnosed as double pneumonia. His two roommates have been quarantined. . . . The KHL is hoping to open its season on Sept. 2.

——

Australian Rules Football has been hit hard by COVID-19. . . . Melbourne, home to nine of the AFL’s 18 teams, is in lockdown. One other team is in Geelong, not far away. That means there are 10 teams in the State of Victoria. . . . After Friday games, the AFL moved all 10 teams — six to Queensland and two to Sydney, with two others to play in Western Australia. . . . The AFL has played six rounds of its schedule; the hope is to move the teams back after Round 9. . . . But here has been a COVID-19 spike in New South Wales, and the AFL now may have to get its four teams — the two from Melbourne (Hawthorn and Melbourne), Sydney and Greater Western Sydney — out of there. If that happens, those teams are expected to be moved to Queensland. . . . Thanks to The MacBeth Report for keeping tabs on the AFL. He watched a game on Friday during which “the announcers said last weekend was the first time in the history of the league that no games were played in Victoria during a regular-season round. The league was founded in 1897.”

PG Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets, one of the NBA’s true superstars, has tested positive. He was one of 19 NBA players to test positive so far this month before the teams travelled to Orlando, Fla., in hopes of restarting the season on July 30. . . . The NBA had 25 positives tests in the first phase of testing last month. . . .

P Jordan Hicks of the St. Louis Cardinals has opted out, citing pre-existing health concerns. Hicks, 23, has Type 1 diabetes. He had Tommy John surgery on June 26, 2019, but was working out at Busch Stadium. . . .

The Patriot League became the second NCAA Division 1 conference — after the Ivy League — to cancel fall sports. Conference officials said they will make decisions about winter and spring sports “at a later date.” The Patriot League includes American, Army, Boston U, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola (Maryland) and Navy. . . . As well, Fordham and Georgetown are football-only members. . . . Army, Holy Cross, Colgate and Boston U have hockey teams.


Equator

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.