When the Portland Winterhawks are sold — and presumably that will happen at some point in the next month or two — they will become the seventh WHL franchise to change hands since 2011.
That means almost one-third of the league’s 22 teams have been sold during the past 10 years.
During the past while, I have sometimes wondered what these ‘new’ owners or ownership groups wonder about what they have bought into? Did they think they were buying into a hockey team with a focus on putting a winning team on the ice and fans in the stands? Did they expect to have to foot part of the bill for whatever legal fees are having to be paid for the off-ice battles that have arisen?
In his latest 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet touched on the latest lawsuit facing the CHL and its teams:
“My reaction to the lawsuit against the CHL and its teams for hazing is this: no one should fear the truth. The OHL, QMJHL and WHL maintain they have improved things on this very serious issue. They should welcome the opportunity to publicly show it
“The secondary aspect to this story is the financial fallout. The CHL just settled the minimum-wage suit for $30M, half of which will be covered by insurance. Remaining is a concussion suit and now this one. How many industries/companies could handle three expensive settlements in the time of COVID? I counted 26 of the 60 teams as being sold to new ownership since 2010. One such investor said last weekend that he’s frustrated by liability for events prior to his arrival. He thinks they should burn it down and start all over. I don’t know how widespread his feelings are, but I can’t imagine he’s alone.”
Burn it down and start over? I hadn’t heard that idea previously to reading Friedman’s column, but the way things are going that might not be a bad idea.
A note from Patti Dawn Swansson, The River City Renegade:
“In March, one basketball player tested positive for COVID-19, putting the brakes on the entire sports world and, at the same time, launching a stampede to the toilet paper aisles that resembled the California gold rush of the mid-1800s. Yet now, with many dozens of athletes in many sports testing positive, it’s go-time for the NHL, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball? What part of ‘deadly virus’ do they not understand?”
Her complete column is right here.
Major League Soccer’s return-to-play tournament is scheduled to open on July 6 near Orlando, Fla. The league announced Sunday that there have been 26 positives out of the 668 players and staff members who were tested. According to the league, 24 of the positives came before teams arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando. Two of the positives came after the arrival. . . .
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, has suggested players stop working out together in groups. With the U.S. continuing to struggle to get a handle on COVID-19, and that’s putting it nicely, he has told players that they aren’t safe. . . . Smith told USA TODAY’s SportsPulse: “Those practices are not in the best interest of player safety. They’re not in the best interest of protecting our players heading into training camp and I don’t think they are in the best interest of us getting through an entire season.” . . . High-end quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson are among the players who have been working out with teammates. . . .
F Wilson Chandler of the Brooklyn Nets has confirmed that he won’t be reporting to Orlando, Fla., for the re-start of the NBA season in July. . . . He told ESPN: ”As difficult as it will be to not be with my teammates, the health and well-being of my family has to come first.” . . . Other players believed to have said they are opting out are Trevor Ariza (Portland Trail Blazers), Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards), Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Lakers) and Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks).
Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, with a report from Canton, Ohio: “This score just in from the canceled Cowboys-Steelers Hall of Fame Game and postponed induction ceremony in early August: COVID 19, NFL 0.”
If you’re wondering what all is involved with trying to get a non-professional team back onto the field of play, take the case of the U of Toledo Rockets football team. . . . David Briggs of the Toledo Blade did just that in a recent column in which he covered every aspect of the athletic department’s plan. . . . Give this a read — it’s right here — and it will help you understand what organizations that don’t have the resources of the pro leagues are up against.
The highest-paid public employee in 40 American states is the head coach of either a football or men’s basketball team. As Bob Molinaro in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot pointed out: “Clearly then, the priorities of the other 10 states need adjustment.”