With the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments having all but capitulated on the pandemic, WHL teams in those provinces are going to be able to return to operating without some restrictions.
For Alberta teams that means 50 per cent capacity in their facilities, open concession stands and no more checking for vaccination status. Fans will be required to wear face masks in some facilities, though, so will need to check before they go. The restriction on attendance and the mask mandate likely will disappear on March 1.
“It is clear that we passed the peak of our current infections about three weeks ago and are now seeing the result as COVID-related hospital admissions are declining,” Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, told reporters.
After that statement, Scott Schmidt of the Medicine Hat News tweeted: “In case anyone is stuck on the math regarding (Kenney’s) claim that hospital numbers are on the decline . . . Hospitalizations are at 1,623 (an increase of 81 in 24 hours) and ICU is at 129 (an increase of 11 in 24 hours). And that’s with 13 people dying.”
Meanwhile, Scott Moe, Saskatchewan’s premier, said his province, which no longer provides daily COVID-19 updates, is dumping its vaccine passport mandate on Monday. As well, the province’s mask mandate will be over at month’s end. Saskatchewan is the only province not to have implemented capacity restrictions on indoor events since the arrival of the highly transmissible Omicron variants, so that hasn’t been a concern for WHL teams there.
In B.C., teams will have to continue living with various restrictions and mandates regarding capacity, face masks and vaccine passports. Premier John Horgan said on Tuesday that his province doesn’t determine public health policy based on the demands of a “handful of protesters.”
“We’re going to follow the same path that we have been on since the pandemic began, and that is to take advice and council from public health officials,” Horgan said at a news conference in Victoria.
He also told reporters that masks are “effective in protecting people” and said that “the vast majority” of people in B.C. support vaccine passports.
There has been speculation that there could be changes to B.C. restrictions around Feb. 21, which is Family Day.
I have a couple of friends who live in Edmonton, both of them having been impacted by kidney disease that has left them with compromised immune systems. And I can tell you from experience that it takes a whole lot of energy to navigate the outside world in a pandemic when you have a compromised immune system. I also can tell you how it feels to have anti-vaxxers or anti-maskers suggest that when you are in that situation you should just “stay home.” (We won’t even get into how some people who walk among us don’t seem to have any value for the elderly, either.)
“It is so so frustrating to feel abandoned by our government,” one of my Edmonton friends, who has undergone a kidney transplant, told me. “I had to get off Twitter and Facebook . . . it was depressing me too much.”
The other friend is dealing with polycystic kidney disease and is doing hemodialysis three times a week. A surgical procedure has been scheduled for May during which the right kidney is to be removed. Full of cysts, doctors estimate that the kidney weighs about 15 pounds. This friend is hoping and praying that the lifting of restrictions in Alberta doesn’t result in another wave and even more pressures on the healthcare system.
That right kidney is causing a lot of pain and this friend really, really doesn’t want the surgery delayed.
These are the kinds of things that get lost in the moaning and groaning over lost “freedoms” and the whining and whimpering about having to wear face masks or show proof of vaccination.
Anyway . . . here’s hoping that the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan know something that the medical and scientific communities haven’t yet figured out.
The Vancouver Giants have had a second game postponed because of their latest run-in with COVID-19. The Giants were scheduled to play the Rockets in Kelowna tonight (Wednesday), but that won’t happen after the WHL announced a postponement on Tuesday. . . . The Giants also had a scheduled home game postponed that was to have been played against the Seattle Thunderbirds on Feb. 6. . . . From Steve Ewen of Postmedia: “Two Vancouver players tested positive Saturday night in Kent, Wash., where the Giants were playing the Seattle Thunderbirds. That led to the Giants’ Sunday afternoon game against the Thunderbirds at the Langley Events Centre being postponed Sunday morning. The Giants’ weekly roster update that was published on the WHL website Tuesday listed defenceman Tom Cadieux and winger Jacob Boucher in COVID-19 protocol. They were among 23 players from across the 22-team league who were either added to protocol or were returning to action from protocol this week.” . . . According to WHL regulations, a team has to “ice a roster with a minimum of 14 healthy skaters in order to compete.” The Giants’ roster report shows the two players in COVID protocol, five others out day-to-day with injuries, and one other out indefinitely. . . . The Giants are scheduled to travel to Prince George for Friday and Saturday games against the Cougars. Obviously, the WHL is going to have to make a decision on those games before the Giants climb on their bus and head north. . . . Ewen’s story is right here.
It’s almost the middle of February. We should be starting to get excited about pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. But that isn’t going to happen.
With owners scheduled to meet in Orlando, Fla., this week, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, offered up a couple of thoughts . . .
“One of the major problems I have had with baseball’s CBA negotiations over the years is that the fundamental issues never seem to change very much. The two sides fulminate at each other and eventually come to a sort of agreement that merely puts a Band-Aid on the wound and leaves in place all the fundamental disagreements. Then, five years later, they go into the memory banks and drag out the old issues and begin fulminating again. This time around, the two sides — and I mean BOTH sides — seem to have chosen to play the game of chicken very close to some real calendar imperatives. . . .
“Let me return to a fundamental theme I have offered here in the past. MLB and the MLBPA should be much less antagonistic to each other than they are now — and have been for the last 40 years. The two sides are, in reality, partners — not opponents — in producing and distributing a ‘television series.’ The reason top players are routinely making $30M a year or more is TV network money; it is not the marketing genius of the owners, and it is not the athletic genius of the players — it is both working in concert. That sort of camaraderie never seems to surface.”
Nail, meet hammer!
The curmudgeonly one’s complete piece is available right here, as are all of his daily musings.
Organizers have rescheduled the annual Mac’s Midget hockey tournament for Aug. 6-10. The Calgary tournament is usually held in the days after Christmas but was scrubbed because of the pandemic. . . . It’ll be a 24-team event with teams to be announced on March 1.
Troy Mick, a former BCHL and WHL player, coach and executive, is on his way back to the BCHL, this time with the Wenatchee Wild organization. Effective April 1, Mick will be the hockey director and head coach — with Jordan McGaggart staying on as co-head coach — of the 18UAAA Wenatchee, Wash., Wolves and 16UAAA Wenatchee Wilderness. . . . As hockey director, Mick also will oversee the 14UAAA Wenatchee Wolverines and a 12U Showcase team. . . . Mick, who is from Vernon, B.C., spent the past two seasons as the general manager of the Philadelphia Hockey Club and the head coach of its 18UAAA team. . . . The Wild’s news release is 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
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.