Lots to be done before WHL’s “firm” start date gets here . . . U Sports has cancelled its winter championships . . . U of Ottawa suspends football team

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, took part in a virtual gathering with various media on Thursday afternoon, and it’s obvious that the WHL is doing a whllot of wishing and hoping.

It really doesn’t have any choice.

Robison talked about a lot of things, starting with the move — from Oct. 2 and then Dec. 4 — to Jan. 8 as a “firm” starting date for a regular season. But through his presentation there really wasn’t anything definitive, all of which shows just how much work is left before the WHL can return to the ice. And as for Jan. 8 being a firm date, well, it may be firm in the WHL office but is it firm in the COVID-19 head office?

The fact of the matter is that the virus is dictating the terms, as it has been doing since March. In the absence of a vaccine, which remains months away from us, the virus will decide if/when the WHL will get a regular season rolling, just like it is deciding what NFL and U.S. college football games will be played.

I won’t go through Robison’s effort piece by piece, but you are able to watch it at the WHL website. Nor will I detail Thursday’s numbers on the virus front, suffice to say that things aren’t looking good in Western Canada, Oregon or Washington state. Of course, Christmas still is more than two months away. So we can hope that things change for the better between now and then.

In the end, we all are like the WHL — wishing and hoping.

——

With some junior A and junior B leagues having moved to a pay-to-play format, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was adamant on Thursday that his league won’t be moving that way.

On Thursday, according to an excellent Twitter thread put together by Trevor Redden of panow.com and the radio voice of the Raiders, Robison told media that the “WHL is responsible for 100 per cent of player expenses. That’s the arrangement and we intend to honour that. We have a commitment through player agreement, and that’s the model. Have to admire ownership . . .”

According to Redden, Robison also made it clear that “owners have made it clear they’re committed to the players and their development. They’re prepared to meet commitment despite financial implications.”

Robison, Redden tweeted, re-affirmed his “admiration for owners resolving to make it work.”

Robison didn’t mentioned WHL and team employees who have been furloughed or laid off, some of them since March.


Princess


A few weeks ago, my wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant seven years ago, took in an organ transplant-related webinar that included a doctor who specializes in liver transplants. He said something that really stuck with me:

“You won’t find the virus; it will find you.”

So allow me to flash back to early September when the junior B Kootenay WranglersInternational Junior Hockey League was working to get its season off the ground. As it turned out, the 100 Mile House Wranglers were one of three teams to opt out of the 2020-21 season.

As Wranglers president Greg Aiken told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press:

“We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.”

At the time, Aiken added that “we’re all disappointed. There’s nothing I want more than to bring hockey back this season but not with this risk. Our hospital would be overwhelmed. For seven years we’ve had tremendous support from the town, our fans, sponsorship. They’re our lifeblood so we want to make sure we don’t put them at risk.”

Thinking about their community and its health workers has moved the Wranglers to the top of my list of favourite teams.


There are reports that the Quebec government will be giving the QMJHL $12 million in subsidies to spread among its 12 Quebec-based franchises. That will be part of $70 million that is ticketed to the sports and leisure community, according to the Journal de Quebec.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NFL’s Atlanta Falcons shut down their facility on Thursday after there was a positive test within their organization. The Falcons (0-5), who fired GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn on Sunday, are scheduled to visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. . . .

Fred Dean, a hall-of-fame defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers, died on Wednesday of complications connected to COVID-19. He was 68. In 11 seasons with the 49ers, he won two Super Bowls and was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981. . . .

U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, has cancelled 2021 national championships for all of its winter sports. Dick White, the interim CEO, said in a news release: ““Following consultations with the four conferences, we agreed that student-athlete safety remains our top priority. It is not logistically possible for teams to be travelling across the country at this time.” . . . Sports impacted are men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, swimming, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. Curling championships were cancelled earlier by Curling Canada. . . .

The U of Ottawa has suspended its football team after five players tested positive. According to a statement received by CTV News Ottawa, the training program was shut down until further notice after the university received reports that some players were not following self-isolation rules. . . .

The U of New Mexico is scheduled to open its Mountain West Conference schedule on Oct. 24. But, the Albuquerque Journal reported, it had to pause all football workouts on Thursday after eight players and a coach came up positive. . . .

No. 8 Cincinnati won’t be playing at the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes on Saturday after an undisclosed number of positive tests with the Bearcats forced the game to be postponed. It has been rescheduled for Dec. 5. . . . Four games that had been scheduled for Saturday now have been postponed. . . .

Remember reading here about the Yale hockey team that shut things down a few days ago because of six positive tests. Well, the Yale Daily News reports that the total now is 18. . . .

WGME in Maine reported Thursday that “as many as 400 youth hockey players in southern Maine are in quarantine after a referee tested positive.” . . . Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine’s CDC director, said: “This is an individual who was on the ice as a referee for a total of eight games over a two-day period.” . . . One of the teams that played in that stretch is coached by former WHLer Brad Church (Prince Albert, 1993-97). He and his son, Weston, have both been tested and were told they are negative. “We’re taking this very, very seriously,” Church said. According to Church, players were masks until they get on the ice. But, he said, “Refs have not being wearing masks.”


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.


WHL moves goal posts to Jan. 8 . . . QMJHL shuts down two divisions . . . NCHL (not CHL) cancels its season

On a day when the QMJHL shut down some teams until at least Oct. 28, the WHL announced that it has moved its proposed regular-season starting date from whlDec. 4 to Jan. 8. . . . The WHL, which normally begins its regular season in late September, first said it would open on Oct. 2. It later changed that to Dec. 4. . . . If it is able to open on Jan. 8, the league’s 22 teams will play entirely within their divisions, although the Swift Current Broncos will move from the Central Division to the East Division to play with the four other Saskatchewan teams and two from Manitoba. . . . Players will be expected to report to their teams after Christmas for brief training camps. . . . The WHL also has added Dr. Dhiren Naidu, the NHL-Edmonton Oilers’ head team physician, as chief medical advisor. An associate professor at the U of Alberta, Dr. Naidu worked with the NHL during its time in the Edmonton bubble. His role with the WHL will be “to assist with the implementation of comprehensive health and safety protocols.” . . .

The pandemic has been ongoing for more than seven months now, and it is apparent that it is far from being over. That being said, the WHL has a lot of work ahead of it between now and Jan. 8. Here are a few things that have yet to be addressed publicly:

1. The WHL’s news release didn’t mention length of schedule;

2. It didn’t touch on how it will get Canadian players to the five U.S. Division teams with the U.S.-Canada border closed and not likely to be open by then. Although, as I understand it, Canadians are allowed to fly into the U.S., while non-essential travel across the border via vehicle isn’t allowed;

3. The Saskatchewan government has told curlers that they aren’t allowed to leave the province for competitions, nor will out-of-province competitors be allowed in. Presumably the WHL will have to deal with that regulation in some way;

4. Steve Ewen, who covers the Vancouver Giants for Postmedia, pointed out via Twitter: “There are five B.C. teams and viaSport rules have stated that you can play in cohorts of four. Be interesting to see if the WHL gained an exemption regarding that or what their plan is. Cohorts can be changed with a two-week break.” . . . Ewen later tweeted that he asked the WHL how it will deal with B.C.’s cohort regulations, and received this response: “We are continuing to work on those details and remain in conversation with the B.C. government. At this time, it has not been determined what cohorts will look like for the WHL in B.C.”

5. The WHL’s news release didn’t mention anything about testing or contact tracing;

6. The WHL has been adamant for months now that it can’t play unless it has the OK for its team to open up their facilities to at least 50 per cent of capacity. The last sentence of Wednesday’s seven-paragraph news release might indicate that the WHL no longer is prepared to die on that hill: “A final determination has not yet been made as to whether spectators will be permitted to attend WHL games as this will be subject to the approval of the Health Authorities in each jurisdiction.” . . . Could it be that the WHL is prepared to play in empty buildings?

7. Is the WHL attempting to get financial aid from any levels of federal, provincial or state governments?

Questions, questions, questions . . . some of which may not have answers.

One thing is for certain, though: The WHL will play when ’Rona says it will play, which is what the QMJHL is learning these days.

——


Meanwhile, the QMJHL has shut down its two Quebec-based divisions until at qmjhlnewleast Oct. 28. The six-team Maritime Division will continue to play, but with five teams because the Moncton Wildcats, who are in a government-declared orange zone, are limited to practising. . . . Six of the 12 Quebec-based teams are in red zone and have been shut down by government restrictions until month’s end. Two of the Quebec teams — the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the Sherbrooke Phoenix — had a combined 26 positive tests. . . . The QMJHL, which has had its teams playing strictly within their divisions, said it will reassess its situation in two weeks. . . . Mikaël Lalancette of TVA Sports wrote: “Behind the scenes, I have already been told that it would be astonishing to see the circuit activities resume in 14 days.”


When last heard from, the OHL said it was planning on opening its regular ohlseason on Dec. 1. However, that announcement was made on Aug. 5. . . . Since then, of course, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, has said that the OHL will have to get rid of body-checking and fighting if it is to return to play. She said: “It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19. That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.” . . . I think it’s safe to say that negotiations are ongoing.


Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle touched on some truths about the virus in a Wednesday column, beginning with a reference to the NBA’s bubble success . . .

“As success stories go, this one was downright dangerous, offering hope in a pandemic when reality suggests nothing of the sort. It is now quite clear that nothing short of a carefully supervised bubble, free of positive tests for the coronavirus, is going to work in any sport in which athletes compete at close range.

“You’d think the football-crazed folks would get the picture, but instead we’re seeing all sorts of craziness in the NFL, the college game and surely throughout youth sports across the country. As they barge ahead through virus outbreaks, camp shutdowns, postponements and cancellations, they seem to treat positive tests as a minor inconvenience — a veritable sacrifice to the football gods. Fans are streaming back into many Power 5 conference stadiums, including the disturbing sight of some 24,000 people at Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma game, sitting extremely close together and, in many cases, wearing masks only around their necks.”

That complete column is right here.


Mozart


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

BC Hockey has cancelled all of its provincial minor hockey championships for 2021. Under normal circumstances, BC Hockey would sanction 16 provincial championship tournaments in U-13, U-15, U-18 and U-21 age groups. . . . The pandemic also had resulted in the cancellation of 2020 championships last spring. . . . From a BC Hockey news release: “BC Hockey is making the proactive decision at this time to allow all Districts and leagues the flexibility needed to facilitate programming that best fits into the viaSport provincial guidelines regarding sport participation focusing on the safety and well-being of participants.” . . .

The North Central Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. The Senior AA league features teams in the Alberta communities of Blackfalds, Bonnyville, Daysland, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Lacombe, Morinville, Red Deer and Westlock. . . .

The NFL has cancelled the Pro Bowl that was to have been played in Las Vegas on Jan. 31. The league hopes to replace it with a virtual program, the details of which have yet to be detailed. . . . Cancelling the game also provides the NHL with a bit more scheduling space in case it needs to move regular-season games. . . .

Nick Saban, the head football coach at the U of Alabama, and Greg Byrne, the school’s athletic director, both have tested positive. . . . Upon getting his result, Saban, 68, said he “immediately left work and isolated at home.” . . . The No. 2 Crimson Tide is scheduled to play at home against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. . . . Alabama played at Mississippi last Saturday. Lane Kiffin, the Runnin’ Rebels’ head coach, said Wednesday that his team has had some positive tests. . . .

Earlier in the week, the SEC postponed two games — LSU at No. 10 Florida and Vanderbilt at Missouri. . . . Florida has had 21 players and two assistant coaches test positive, and has suspended team activities. . . . Vanderbilt also has been hit by an outbreak and wouldn’t have enough scholarship athletes available to play. . . . There now have been 29 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) games postponed. . . .

Members of Tornado Moscow Oblast, a Russian women’s hockey team, are in quarantine and six games have been postponed because of positive tests. . . .

Skate Canada International, part of figure skating’s Grand Prix circuit, has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Oct. 30-31 in Ottawa and was to have taken place without fans. Organizers made the decision citing rising COVID-19 cases in Ontario. . . .

George Birger, a former athletic director at Brandon University, died on Saturday in Arizona. He was 91 and had tested positive. . . . The Brandon Sun has a thorough look back at Birger’s career 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.


Time

WHL named in another proposed class-action suit . . . Former player Kobe Mohr involved in this one . . . Pats’ pick to skate in Sweden

Sheesh, it really can’t be much fun being the owner of a WHL team these days. For starters, you don’t know whether to be selling sponsorships, advertising and season tickets because you aren’t able to guarantee a starting date for a new whlseason. You are hoping to begin regular-season play on Dec. 4, but there aren’t any guarantees.

On top of that, you likely still are counting up the losses from not having been able to finish the 2019-20 season, thanks to the pandemic that doesn’t appear anywhere close to going way.

And now the WHL finds itself involved in yet another proposed class-action lawsuit, this one apparently having been filed this week.

Kobe Mohr, a former WHL player, is among those fronting this one that names the NHL, AHL, ECHL, OHL, QMJHL and WHL. Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star reports: “A proposed $825-million class-action claim alleges a conspiracy among the world’s top professional and amateur hockey leagues to exploit dream-chasing teenage players with one-sided contracts containing abusive restrictions on their young careers.”

Mohr, now 21, played with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors (2014-20). He totalled 35 goals and 66 assists in 265 regular-season games, after being selected by Edmonton with the 20th pick in the 2014 bantam draft.

The WHL now finds itself entangled to one degree or another in four separate class-action lawsuits in various stages of progression through the legal system. Two others — one involving concussions and the other regarding alleged hazing and other physical and mental abuses — are early in the process. . . .

The other, which involved a claim for past and present-day players to be paid minimum wage and other perks, was settled by the CHL for $30 million earlier this year, but the settlement still needs judicial approval. Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that an Ontario judge spent part of yesterday hearing arguments “about whether to approve” the settlement. According to Westhead, Justice Paul Perell said there are “objectors” to the settlement and that “a trade association called the World Association of Ice Hockey Players Unions has filed ‘an aggressive intervenor’ application with the courts to overturn” the settlement.

Ted Charney, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, asked the courts to approve the settlement, saying, according to Westhead, that “a settlement wouldn’t bar new federal court case because the new case alleges a conspiracy to breach the Competition Act, not employment standards laws.”

When Tuesday’s hearing concluded, judgment was reserved.


Asteroid


F Connor Bedard, who was selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, will be travelling to Sweden so that he can skate with HV71’s junior team in Jönköping. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player in history to have been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada in order to allow him to play regularly in the WHL as a 15-year-old. . . . Because he won’t be playing in games in Sweden, the Pats didn’t have to issue a release. The WHL hopes to start its regular season on Dec. 4, by which time Bedard will have returned to Canada.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The United Kingdom’s 10-team Elite Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has suspended play because of the pandemic. The season was scheduled to begin on Dec. 5. . . . “We’ve been very open that we need to have fans back in our arenas for us to begin playing again,” Tony Smith, the league’s chairman, said. “We operate around 75 to 100 per cent capacity at our venues and this is the level of crowds we would need in order to go ahead at any point, which isn’t a realistic option right now.” . . . The average attendance at league game last season was 3,043. . . .

The World Series will be played in one venue for the first time since 1944. The American and National League winners will play a best-of-seven championship series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, with Game 1 scheduled for Oct. 20. . . . In 1944, the World Series was played in St. Louis, with both teams from that city. The Cardinals beat the Browns, 4-2. . . . Leading to the World Series, the American League Championship Series will be played at Petco Park in San Diego, with the NLCS at Arlington. . . . Prior to that, the AL Divison Series is to be played in San Diego and Los Angeles, with the NLDS in Arlington and Houston. . . .

The Texas Tech Red Raiders had five positives last week, bringing the team total to 75 since mid-June when testing began as football players returned to campus. The team is carrying more than 120 players. . . . The school has had 116 positives among its student-athletes. . . .

Ed Orgeron, the head football coach at LSU, told reporters on Tuesday that most of his time has had the virus. “Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” he said. “I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not our for games.” . . . Alex Scarborough of ESPN pointed out: “LSU, like many programs in the SEC and nationally, has not provided regular reports on the number of players who have contracted the novel coronavirus.” . . .

The Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) cancelled university sports for the fall semester on Monday. This means none of Canada’s four university conferences will play football this fall. The Quebec conference has five teams. . . . U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, had cancelled its national semifinals and final in June. . . .

Organizers of the 2021 Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament have cancelled it. The tournament was to have run from Dec. 30 through Jan. 3. . . . Tournament chairman Jan Antons told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “We still don’t know what games are going to look like, when games are potentially going to start and, overall, the main concern was still the health and safety of our players, bringing players in from other provinces and dealing with the 50-person gathering-size limit. It would make it very difficulty to run a tournament at the level we’re used to. We want to make sure KIBIHT remains one of the top-notch tournaments in Canada. . . . there is just too much unknown right now. It’s still a very hard decision.”


Sign


——

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 WHL’s four community-owned teams each holds an annual general meeting that is open to shareholders. The Moose Jaw Warriors announced Tuesday that they will hold their AGM on Sept. 29. The Swift Current Broncos said earlier that their meeting also will be held on Sept. 29, with the Prince Albert Raiders having said they will hold their AGM on Oct. 7. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes have said their AGM will be held in November, but they have yet to announce an exact date. . . . I don’t know what it is — maybe NHL teams have come down with the ‘Bubble Blues’ — but the games are getting less and less watchable. Too many bodies in the area in front of both nets, not enough shots getting through, not enough offence, not enough goals. Whatever it is, it isn’t good for the NHL game. . . . Did you get your fill of football on Monday night? ESPN’s MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick — they did the second game — were OK, but the Game 1 pairing of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit was outstanding. Fowler and Herbstreit have worked together as ESPN’s No. 1 college football pairing. They are comfortable with each other and it showed.


Hearing

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how many junior hockey teams still need billets . . .

Scattershooting


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has said the WHL won’t have a 2020-21 season unless its teams are allowed to operate in arenas with at least 50 per cent capacity.

After Robison held a Zoom gathering with reports on June 18, Marty Hastings of whlKamloops This Week reported: “Robison said a minimum of 50 per cent capacity in all arenas will be required for play to begin. No scenario is expected to be considered in which a team begins the campaign with a maximum capacity of less than 50 per cent.”

Early in August, Robison told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post that 50 per cent still was the mark.

“It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity,” Robison said. “We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Now, as we near the middle of September, with the league planning on a Dec. 4 opening, could it be that the wind is starting to change?

Here’s Todd Lumbard, the president of the Regina Pats, in conversation with Harder:

““I don’t think it’s 50 per cent or nothing, at least from our point of view. There are lots of discussions going on with different ways we might set up the season if it had to be less than 50 per cent. I know there are a lot of conversations going on with different levels of government and how we might work together with them to potentially help us out through a difficult time until we can get to a level where there is enough people in the crowd to make the Western Hockey League viable again.

“There is some hope out there that there might be some ways to do it.”

Harder’s complete story is right here.


Friends


By now, you may have heard that the BCHL issued a return-to-play news BCHLrelease on Thursday that explained “a COVID-19 alternative plan to fulfill the 2020-21 season,” as approved by its board of governors. . . . The release included this paragraph: “In the case that the original request for 25 per cent capacity in arenas by the scheduled Dec. 1 start date is not approved by the PHO (Provincial Health Office), the league will move forward with a model of reduced games without fans and will rely on player fees along with sponsorship and government support to fund the season.” . . . When you want to know what’s happening in the BCHL, you turn to Brian Wiebe. He interviewed Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, and got a whole lot of answers, including how the amount of individual player fees will be set. That’s all right here.


Hey, what do you do if you are operating a team in the SJHL, but you’re based FlinFlonout of Manitoba? General manager and head coach Mike Reagan and the Flin Flon Bombers have their hands full as they work to navigate the pandemic while dealing with health officials from two provinces. . . . Eric Westhaver of the Flin Flon Reminder has more right here.



Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “In Orlando, NBA coaches are neatly dressed in sneakers, slacks and polo shirts. Let’s have them lose the suits for good. What’s the point of basketball coaches dressing as if they’re applying for a bank loan?”


Pizza


There was a time when Dorothy and I spent a few weeks every year in Jasper and area. At the time, there was a Recall drug store there, and high up on one of its walls were a number of black-and-white photos of Marilyn Monroe. The photos had been taken in the area while she was there filming a movie — River of No Return — with Robert Mitchum. . . . Yes, I have watched the movie; no, I wouldn’t watch it more than once. But, really, the scenery is nice. . . . Anyway, Ian Wilson of albertadugoutstories.com has more right here on Marilyn Monroe in Jasper, including a visit by the then-retired Joe DiMaggio. Great stuff!


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Who needs the moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars? The sporting world lined up quite an impressive first of its own on Thursday — with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS and WNBA all playing on the same day.” . . . There also was NCAA football, U.S. Open tennis and pro golf. And somewhere there had to be poker and darts, too. Right?

——

Perry, again: “Mike Trout, with his 300th round-tripper, just passed Tim Salmon as the Angels’ all-time home-run leader. So how’d this team ever miss out on drafting Mike Carp and Kevin Bass?”


The first thing I thought of when I flipped to Thursday’s NFL game and saw that facemask being worn by Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was car windows at drive-in movies on steamy summer nights a long, long time ago.


“On the news tonight,” wrote comedy writer Brad Dickson in reference to life in 2020, “all they talked about were boycotts, protests, riots, violence, dissension, disease, lawsuits and court cases. And that was just the sportscast.”


Candy

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

OF Alex Dickerson of the San Francisco Giants was told Friday night that he had tested positive. That resulted in Friday and Saturday games with the host San Diego Padres being postponed. When it turned out to be a false positive, the teams played a Sunday doubleheader. . . . MLB now has postponed 45 games during the pandemic. . . .

The KHL has postponed five games involving the Finnish team Jokerit after all personnel was forced into quarantine. Jokerit played against Neftekhimik on Wednesday after which the latter had seven positive tests turn up. Jokerit was to have played Ak Bars Kazan on Friday, but that one never happened. Jokerit also had games postponed from Sept. 15, 17, 19 and 21. . . .

Scottie Scheffler has had to pull out of golf’s U.S. Open after he tested positive. He is reported to be asymptomatic and at home in Dallas. . . . Braden Grace drew into the tournament as the first alternate. He withdrew from the PGA Championship in August after testing positive. . . . The U.S. Open begins Thursday at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.


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.


Here’s a tweet from Nick Petaros of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that gave me flashbacks: “I wasn’t able to work a Kentucky Derby photo onto our Sunday sports cover. I hope the horse’s parents don’t complain.”


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade:

“Steve Simmons, Postmedia Tranna, on Sept. 6: ‘Two words that never, ever, should be attached to Steve Nash: White privilege.’

“Steve Nash, head coach, Brooklyn Nets, on Sept. 9: ‘I have benefited from white privilege.’

“D’oh!”


JUST NOTES: I tried. I really tried. I was going to watch Game 7 of the Toronto Raptors-Boston Celtics series from start to finish, with the sound up. But I couldn’t do it. Oh, I finished watching the game, but the sound was off early. The play-by-play voice using so many Raptors’ first names — Fred and Norm and OG and all their friends — and the cheerleading analyst were just too much. . . . If you’re wondering how much the WHL will miss former Brandon Wheat Kings owner Kelly McCrimmon, consider that he finished fifth in the voting for the NHL’s GM-of-the-year award. And he is in only his first season as an NHL GM. . . . Aren’t you glad that you aren’t a fan of the Cleveland Browns or Detroit Lions? Oh, you are. Sorry about that. . . . The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters tweeted Sunday evening that “we are in dire need of billet homes for this season. . . . We need 9 beds in order for this season to proceed. . . . Without billet homes the season cannot proceed.” I wonder how many junior teams are in a similar predicament?


Dumb

Medicine Hat rocked by suicides; mental health awareness takes spotlight . . . KHL game postponed . . . Finnish juniors have positive tests

Being a regular on social media, I was aware that Medicine Hat had been rocked by the sudden deaths of a few young men. However, I had no idea of the depth of the problem until reading this story right here that was written by the CBC’s Robson Fletcher. . . . It is most unfortunate that this story had to be written, but this is outstanding journalism. Please give it a read because this is important in today’s world.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Here is the official KHL news release:

“The Dinamo Riga vs Neftekhimik game, which was scheduled to take place on Friday, Sep. 11, is postponed. On arrival in Riga on Thursday, the Neftekhimik players underwent the obligatory express tests for SARS-CoV-2. Seven players showed positive results.

“The Neftekhimik players and staff are flying to St. Petersburg, where the entire team will prompting undergo additional testing using a combination of PCR and IgG tests. More extensive testing will provide more detailed results and help to determine what happens with the rest of Neftekhimik’s current road games.

“Further details about the rearranged date for the game between Dinamo and Neftekhimik will be announced in due course.” . . .

Jukurit, a U-20 team in Finland, has had 22 positives tests since last weekend, so all players, managers, coaches and staff are quarantining for 14 days. . . . The Jukurit team that plays in Liiga has one positive. Liiga is to open its regular season on Oct. 1. In the meantime, a number of exhibition games have been cancelled. . . . Meanwhile, HPK’s junior team also is in quarantine after three positive tests. . . .

The NCAA’s 11 hockey conferences, men’s and women’s, announced Thursday that their seasons won’t begin in October as originally was scheduled. . . . The earliest possible start date now appears to be Nov. 20. . . . Chris Dilks of sbncollegehockey.com has more right here. . . .

The Winnipeg High School Football League has postponed its 2021 fall season. It hopes to be able to have a spring season. . . . The three Brandon teams that play in the league had said earlier that they wouldn’t take part in a fall season. . . . The last time the WHSFL season was interrupted was in 1953 when a polio epidemic was on a rampage. . . .

Curling Canada has cancelled six more 2021 championships. From a news release: “The Continental Cup in Oakville, Ont., the Canadian Under-18 Championships in Timmins, Ont.; the New Holland Canadian Junior (Under-21) championships in Fort McMurray, Alta.; the Canadian Wheelchair Championship in Moose Jaw, Sask.; the inaugural Canadian Under 15 RockFest, and the U SPORTS/Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled for later in the season.” . . . Meanwhile, the 2021 Canadian senior championships still are on the schedule, with dates and host city yet to be announced. . . .

The U of Minnesota is cutting men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis, and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field from its athletic programs. The cuts will take place upon the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year. . . . School officials are projecting a loss of revenue of around US$75 million this fiscal year because of the pandemic and the Big Ten’s postponement of fall sports. . . .

The 2022 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games that were to have been held in Medicine Hat have been cancelled. . . . From a news release: “Due to COVID-19, there will be no regional competitions in 2020 and the majority of Chapters are not planning to host Provincial/Territorial Games in 2021. As a result, our ‘typical’ pathway for athletes to qualify for National Games is not possible.” . . . Brian Varga, a former WHL sniper who now is a city councillor in Medicine Hat, told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News: “We planted a seed that maybe somewhere down the road, when things get back to normal a little bit, that we might have a chance to do it again. But it’s a long ways off. Next one would be 2026, so that’s six years away, but we’re optimistic. We would be ready for it, that’s for sure. Who knows, by that time, what kind of new things and little added features that we might have in the city that would make them think about coming back here again.”


Cookies


The WHL and RE/MAX of Western Canada announced Thursday that they now whlhave raised more than $585,000 for local chapters of the Kidney Foundation of Canada through three seasons of the RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up to Promote Organ Donation program. . . . The program features the auctioning of special jerseys, something that the Calgary Hitmen, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals weren’t able to do after the 2019-20 season was cut short by the pandemic. Those teams’ sweaters will be available for bids at a later date. . . . In 2017-18, the first season of the promotion, kidney foundations benefited by approximately $265,500. That figure was about $196,600 for 2018-19. For the 2019-20 season, with three teams still to auction sweaters, the promotion brought in about $122,900.


——

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.


Josh Green, a former WHL player, was introduced Thursday as the general Freezemanager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze, a new team that is owned by 50 Below Sports & Entertainment. The company also owns the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues and the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. . . . Green, 42, played five seasons (1993-98) in the WHL, playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks. He was an assistant coach with the Blues in 2018-19 and filled that same role last season with the Ice. . . . The Freeze website shows Jake Heisinger as the vice-president of hockey operations. He also is the Blues’ v-p of hockey ops and alternate governor, and the Ice’s v-p of hockey operations and assistant GM. . . . Ice head coach James Patrick is shown as a consultant, while Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president, GM and alternate governor, is the Freeze’s president. Cockell also is the Blues’ governor and president. . . . Raylin Kirsch, Cockell’s wife, is the Freeze’s vice-president. She is also the v-p with the Blues and the Ice. . . . The Freeze website also shows Leah Watkins as the director of business operations, Mack Heisinger as manager of communications and digital media, Rylee Andersen as the manager of ticketing and office administration and Blake Eden as the co-ordinator of marketing and content. Those four hold the same positions with the Blues and with the WHL franchise. . . . The Freeze is to begin play with the 2020-21 season, which the MJHL hopes will begin on Oct. 9. The plan is for each team to play 40 games almost exclusively on 22 weekends with the regular season ending on March 13. . . . There is a news release right here.


Pigeon

WHL backs up proposed start to Dec. 4 . . . Aiming to play 68 games in 147 days . . . Still lots of questions without answers

Under what once was considered normal circumstances, the 22-team WHL would start a regular season in late September. Each team would play 68 regular-season games, with whlplayoffs — four rounds of best-of-seven series — beginning in late March.

In other words, teams would take six months to play those 68 games. In 2018-19, the teams played the regular season in 178 days, then took 53 days to complete the playoffs.

Then, like the big, bad wolf, along came the coronavirus and the resulting disruption of all things normal.

A few weeks ago, the WHL announced that it hoped to open its 68-game regular season on Oct. 2.

On Thursday, the goal posts moved again; now the WHL is targeting Dec. 4 as opening day, and continues to say it plans on having each team play 68 games.

While the WHL didn’t reveal a closing date, the OHL on Wednesday said that it hopes to play a 64-game season from Dec. 1 through April 29, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for June 17-27.

Presumably the WHL will be following a similar blueprint, meaning it will have to play its regular season in five months. Should it get to open on Dec. 4 and play through April 29, each of its teams would play 68 games in 147 days — 31 fewer days than it took to play the same number of games in 2018-19.

That means teams would be playing as many as four games a week. There likely would be an increase in the dreaded three-in-three weekends. You may recall that decreasing the number of tripleheader weekends was one of the reasons given when the league shortened its schedule from 72 games.

A Dec. 4 start surely would mean a shorter Christmas break — the league stopped for 10 days in 2018-19 and nine days in 2019-20.

But let’s be honest. There aren’t any guarantees there will be a season.

As the WHL’s news release read, all of this “remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial/state jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

The WHL’s announcement didn’t mention the situation involving the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, something that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2020, at least not at B.C. crossings. That would lead to teams playing inside their own divisions for the early part of a schedule.

The news release also didn’t mention players and school. The OHL said Wednesday that it will have its players stay home and start school there, so it likely is safe to assume that the WHL do the same as everyone awaits further developments.

The most important thing to remember is that everything — and I do mean everything — is fluid.

What follows are some thoughts from a few WHL officials, all speaking after Thursday’s announcement . . .

Gord Broda, the president of the Prince Albert Raiders, who are the WHL’s defending Raiders50champions, told Trevor Redden of panow.com: “As frustrating as this (process) has been, I just can’t emphasize enough that as a league, safety is at the forefront. Safety for our players, safety for the people in our buildings when we get going, safety for our fans. We’re at a time where patience is necessary.”

Broda also said: “I’ll speak for the Prince Albert Raiders only, even at 50 per cent capacity, we’re going to have financial shortfalls. I think it’s a realistic goal as a starting point to maybe work with our medical authorities and hopefully they find that an acceptable capacity level. And at the same time at least it’s a reasonable start from a financial perspective. It’s going to be financially very challenging to have reduced capacity in all the buildings. We all know we’re a ticket-driven venue and we’ve got to have fans in the seats.” . . .

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “Being fluid is really important. If the border remains closed, we’ll have to deal with it. If it opens and there are restrictions we have to adhere to, we’ll see if that’s workable and make those decisions as we go.” . . .

Brent Sutter, owner, president, general manager, and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, Red Deertold Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate: “We gotta have people in the building, no question. We have to have some kind of attendance and that’s our goal right now. And yet we’ll just have to see where it goes because it continues to move. It’s a moving target that’s changing all the time. It changes from week to week. You look at the other leagues — junior A leagues, American Hockey League, National Hockey League — no one is going to be playing in November.”

Ron Robison, WHL commissioner, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity. We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer of the Everett Silvertips, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “The anticipation was that we would be further ahead with (the pandemic) within not only Washington and Oregon, but the four western provinces. The more we looked at things and the way (Washington) is in a holding pattern with Phase 2 (of the state’s reopening plan), it was probably the only decision we can look at. They’re talking about us in Washington not looking at hosting events until Phase 4, so this makes the most sense now. It gives us time to work through things.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The Canadian Junior Football League announced Thursday that it has cancelled its 2020 season and has turned its attention to getting a 2021 season off the ground. . . . The CJFL is the governing body for 18 teams in six provinces that play in three conferences. . . .

The U of Alberta’s men’s and women’s hockey teams have been reinstated by Canada West, so will be eligible to play should the conference start up again in January. The reinstatement comes after the programs received a financial infusion from almuni. . . . The athletic department announced on June 17 that it was suspending all Canada West competition for 2020-21 for financial reasons. . . .

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has cancelled football’s 2020 season, while pushing girls volleyball, cross-country and cheerleading to January. . . . The only sports left on Hawaii’s fall high school sports calendar are air riflery and bowling. . . . Delaware also has cancelled its high school football season. There are 12 states who have done that, while at least 28 others have postponed the start of the football season. . . .

The U of Louisville booted three players off its men’s soccer team and suspended three others for their roles in a Saturday off-campus party that resulted in 29 positive tests within the school’s athletic department. The three who were kicked off the team apparently organized the party. Players from both soccer teams, as well as the field hockey and volleyball teams, tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Green Bay Packers said Thursday that they will play their first two home games without fans. That will be re-evaluated after the two games. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders had announced earlier that they will play the entire season without fans in their brand new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to open on Sept. 10. . . . Since July 21, when rookies reported to training camps, the NFL has had at least 56 positive tests. . . . The NFL had 66 players opt out of the season by Thursday’s deadline. A complete list 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

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.



Tinfoil

OHL aiming for Dec. 1 start . . . 2021 Memorial Cup gets June 17 start . . . WHL update expected today

The OHL announced Wednesday that it is hoping to begin a 64-game regular schedule on ohlDec. 1. It would end on April 29, with 16 of its 20 teams moving into playoffs. . . . The OHL also revealed that the plan is for the 2021 Memorial Cup to be played from June 17-27 with either the Oshawa Generals or Soo Greyhounds the host team. . . . Here’s David Branch, the OHL commissioner, in a news release: “Players will remain at home until the season resumes and teams will work closely with them on both their academic studies and overseeing their on- and off-ice development. In addition, the league will liaise with our facilities to ensure that our venues are safe for our return to play.”

The WHL, which earlier said that it hoped to begin play on Oct. 2, is expected to announce today — governors chatted on Wednesday — that it has moved that date to early December. I am told that date could be Dec. 4 and that the WHL schedule is expected to include 68 games for each of the 22 teams. Teams will spend the first two months playing inside their own divisions. . . . Of course, among a whole lot of other things, like testing and tracing, the WHL still will have to solve the U.S.-Canada border conundrum and the fact that, at least in B.C., large gatherings aren’t likely to be allowed by health officials until at least the new year.

——

——

What follows are 2020-21 starting dates as proposed by various hockey leagues:

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: ??

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Sept. 25

USHL: ??

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: Sept. 7 (48 games), Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40), Dec. 14 (32)

WHL: Oct. 2

(NOTE: These were compiled off the Internet and from news releases. Feel free to email greggdrinnan@gmail.com with additions or corrections.)


Pandemic


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The ECHL was to have started its 2020-21 regular season on Oct. 16. It announced Wednesday that it now hopes to get started on Dec. 4, with teams playing a full 72-game schedule. . . .

The NBA announced Wednesday that it conducted 343 tests over the previous week with no positives. In the two weeks before that it conducted 344 and 346 tests without any positive tests. . . . The NBA has its teams in a bubble in Orlando, Fla., as it works toward finishing its season. . . .

The U of Connecticut has cancelled its 2020 football season, citing the coronavirus pandemic. UConn, which left the American Athletic Conference after last season (when it finished 2-10), was to play this season as an independent. . . . It is the first FBS school to cancel its season. . . . The Huskies’ roster includes two Canadian quarterbacks — Jack Zergiotis of Montreal and Jonathan Senecal of Quebec City. . . . Here’s David Benedict, the school’s athletic director, in a news release: ”After receiving guidance from state and public health officials and consulting with football student-athletes, we’ve decided that we will not compete on the gridiron this season. The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk.” . . .

——

——

The U of Louisville has suspended all activities involving its men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball teams after 29 players on the four teams tested positive. A number of other teammates and student-athletes from other sports are in quarantine after contact tracing. The primary source of the outbreak apparently was an off-campus party. . . .

——

——


Fiji


Enio Sacilotto has taken over as the head coach of the Vancouver Northwest Hawks U15 AAA team. . . . Sacilotto, 62, spent the past three seasons at the West Van Academy. . . . He has extensive coaching experience in Europe, including with the Croatian national team program. . . .  He also spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals.


The Regina Pats announced on June 29 that Phil Andrews, their director of media and communications, was leaving the club effective July 31. On Wednesday, Andrews, who also has been the club’s play-by-play voice, tweeted that he will be hanging around for a while longer. . . . It seems that he will be with the Pats until the whole pandemic thing gets sorted out and there is more definition surrounding the start of a new season.


Old

Hamilton: Delay into January could be “real tough” . . . No CFR in Red Deer this year . . . Will Blue Jays be allowed to come home?

If the start of the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season is delayed for three months or more, it could be tough for some of the league’s 22 franchises.

That’s according to Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman whlof the WHL’s board of governors.

“I think all of us are prepared to get into January,” Hamilton told Rob Munro of infotel.ca. “Then it will get real tough for a whole bunch of people.”

The WHL issued a statement last week indicating that it is aiming to open the regular season on Oct. 2. The 2019-20 season, which was shut down on March 12, opened on Sept. 20.

With Hamilton telling Munro that “70 per cent of our business is ticket driven,” it is obvious that the WHL needs fans in the seats in order to play. If teams don’t get the OK from health officials to open the doors to at least 50 per cent capacity, the season won’t start on time — if at all.

But if the season does get rolling, Hamilton indicated that fans will see a few changes.

For starters, physical distancing will play a part in seating configuration. In fact, Hamilton said the WHL has heard from a company that has developed software to help with that.

“There is one company in particular that I know about,” Hamilton told Munro, “that has reached out to our league instead of coming to all the teams individually, that has created the software and it will be used whether it’s baseball, football, hockey, basketball.

“It’ll be that kind of thing, where they take your manifest for your building and then design it out of that.”

Munro’s complete story is right here.



We are almost into July and are waking up to discover that events scheduled for November are being cancelled.

And that can’t be good for junior hockey leagues that are hoping to get started in September and October.

On Wednesday, the 2020 Canadian Finals Rodeo was cancelled by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. It was to have been held at the Westerner Park Centrium in Red Deer, Nov. 3-8, with more than 43,000 fans expected to attend.

Don’t forget that the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship is to be held in Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26, 2020, through Jan. 5, 2021.

Meanwhile, two marathons fell by the wayside on Wednesday, with organizers of the Berlin (Sept. 27) and New York City (Nov. 1) events cancelling the 2020 races.


An undisclosed number of players and staff with the Toronto Blue Jays have tested positive after being at the team’s training facility in Dunedin, Fla. . . . The facility has been shut down. . . . The Blue Jays now are looking to find a training camp site with players to report in a week. They have asked the Canadian government for an exemption from quarantine regulations in order to train and play regular-season games in Toronto. . . . Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has more right here. . . .

F Jabari Parker of the Sacramento Kings and G Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers revealed on Wednesday that they have tested positive. Both plan on being back with their teams in time to resume the NBA season in Orlando, Fla., next month. . . .

Caddies who work for Graeme McDowell and Brooks Koepka have tested positive. As a result, McDowell and Koepka withdrew from the Travelers Championship that opens today (Thursday) in Connecticut. McDowell tested negative but apparently suspects that he has the virus, so he has gone home. . . . Webb Simpson also withdrew, as did Cameron Champ, who actually tested positive. . . . Simpson, last weekend’s winner on the PGA Tour, withdrew, saying a family member had tested positive. . . .

The U of Connecticut has eliminated men’s cross-country, men’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and women’s rowing because of budget issues brought on by the pandemic. . . . UConn also has implemented a 15 per cent cut in operating budgets of all sports. . . .

There are reports that WWE has had as many as two dozen wrestlers and staffers test positive in Orlando, Fla.



Tire

CHL facing another potential class-action lawsuit . . . Most everything with WHL these days is fluid . . . Former WHL owner, GM, coach dies at 79

These have to be tough days to be the owner of a WHL franchise, don’t they?

The WHL is only a few weeks removed from the CHL, the umbrella under which it, the whlOHL and the QMJHL operate, having settled a civil suit for $30 million. In that suit, players, former and present, were, among other things, asking to be paid minimum wage under labour legislation in various jurisdictions. While not admitting to any wrongdoing or agreeing to pay minimum wage, the CHL settled, with insurance covering half the tab and each of the Canadian teams believed to be on the hook for more than $280,000.

And there is another WHL-related lawsuit before the courts, this one involving concussions, with the parties waiting to see if it will be certified as a class-action.

And another lawsuit dropped on Thursday, this one also seeking to be certified as a class-action. It carries the signatures of two former major junior players — Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Garrett Taylor, who split a couple of seasons (2008-10) between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — and is looking for more co-signees.

This one could prove to be particularly ugly because, as you will see by reading this piece right here from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, Carcillo and Taylor are alleging that they were subject to abuse that is, to be honest, beyond description.

(BTW, you may recall that Taylor and his mother, Kim, were among those who appeared before an Oregon Senate committee on workforce on Feb. 27, 2018. They were opposing a proposed bill that would have exempted the Portland Winterhawks from state labour legislation. Ultimately, that request was denied.)

Geez, we haven’t even mentioned the hot mess that former OHL player Eric Guest hit that league and his old team, the Kitchener Rangers, with earlier in the week. The allegations, which included the forced ingestion of cocaine, are beyond messy, and the league, the team and the RCMP now are said to be conducting investigations.

And let’s not forget about the pandemic, you know, the coronavirus, COVID-19, and all that goes with that.

On Wednesday, following the completion of its annual meeting, the WHL issued a news release in which it said it “has targeted a start date of Friday, Oct. 2, for the 2020-21 regular season, but this date remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from government and health authorities in each of the six jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

Those would be Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Washington and Oregon. To this point, the citizens of the four Canadian provinces have done a good job of battling this virus. As for the two states, well, let’s just point out that Canada has closed its border with the U.S. until at least July 21 for a reason. And Canadians, especially those in B.C., are pleading with the feds to keep it closed for a whole lot longer.

On Thursday, Ron Robison, the WHL commish, was on a Zoom gathering with various media types and it is obvious that a proposed starting date really is a moving target.

At his point, the WHL hopes to have a 68-game regular season, but . . .

It hopes to open training camps on Sept. 15, but . . .

It’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s all in the hands of the medical community and, as Rafferty Baker of CBC News, reports right here, people like Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, aren’t ready to commit to anything just yet.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week was on the Zoom call and his report is right here. . . . The word “fluid” appears on more than one occasion and for good reason.

How fluid are things?

Don Moores, the Kamloops Blazers’ president and chief operating officer, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV this week that the club isn’t even selling season tickets.

Moores explained: “We actually haven’t sold any season tickets yet. One of the things we don’t want to do is over-promise and under-deliver. It’s important for us to make sure that we know what we’re going to have and what that season will look like before we move ahead with that.”

As for the Winterhawks, who aren’t believe to be experiencing financial difficulties but are in receivership, Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison “said there has been a lot of interest in acquiring the club.”

Danzer’s piece is right here.


Earlier in the week, the University of Alberta stunned the Canadian sporting community by announcing it has cancelled the 2020-21 seasons for it’s men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and volleyball teams.

Ian Reade, the school’s athletic director, made the announcement, stating in a news release that “the Athletics budget is no longer able to support participation in the 2020-21 season.”

As The Canadian Press reported: “Earlier this year, the provincial government announced cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant and ordered universities to immediately begin balancing their budgets and reducing expenditures.

“Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a ripple effect on revenues.”

In April, the U of Lethbridge dropped men’s and women’s hockey from its program for financial reasons. Might there be more cuts on the way?

With two Alberta schools already having made moves, you are excused for wondering how things are with the U of Calgary, MacEwan U and Mount Royal U, the three other Canada West members based in Alberta.

Of course, it could be that there won’t even be basketball, hockey or volleyball seasons.

U Sports, which oversees Canadian university sports, and three of its four conferences announced last week that football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s field hockey and women’s rugby wouldn’t be played during the first term.

Canada West has said it will make a decision by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will be played after Jan. 1.

Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia has more on the U of Alberta story right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”


Robbers


You may be aware that the Buffalo Sabres’ owners staged a massive house-cleaning this week, sweeping out more than 20 people from the hockey operation, including general manager Jason Botterill. . . . Also caught up in the mess were two men with ties to the WHL. . . . Mark Ferner played with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers/Blazers. He also coached in Kamloops and with the Everett Silvertips. . . . Randy Hansch played with the Victoria Cougars and the Blazers. He later was the Blazers’ director of player personnel before spending 11 seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings, first as assistant GM/director of player personnel, then as general manager.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff returned to the NFL team’s facility on Monday. By Thursday, one assistant coach had tested positive for the coronavirus, although he was asymptomatic, and was placed in quarantine. Two other assistant coaches also have bee quarantined.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, on Thursday that he doubts the NFL will be able to have a season without placing teams in bubbles much like the NBA has planned for next month in Orlando, Fla.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci said. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NFL doesn’t have any interest in the bubble format.

Dr. Allen Sill, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that “we do not feel it’s practical or appropriate to construct a bubble. Anyone who tests positive will be isolated until medically appropriate to return.”


Real Turcotte, at one time a WHL owner and coach, died Monday after fighting congestive heart failure. He was 79. . . . Turcotte was born in East Angus, Que., but made a real mark as a coach in the Detroit area. . . . He was the owner and general manager of the Nanaimo Islanders for their only season (1982-83). He took over as head coach when he chose to replace Les Calder during the season. . . . Turcotte was the father of Alfie Turcotte, who played with the Islanders and Portland Winter Hawks (1982-84) and was selected 17th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 1983 draft. . . . There is an obituary right here.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual meeting on Saturday and revealed in a Wednesday news release that it is aiming for open its regular season on Oct. 2. . . . As with so many other leagues, however, that is contingent on a number of things. As the league said in a news release: “As has been the case since the league’s 2019-20 season was cancelled on March 13, all decisions related to Return to Play will be made with the health and safety of players, staff, fans, volunteers and sponsors as our top priority.” . . . In that same release, Jeff Dubois, the league’s commissioner, said: “There are still a number of obstacles for us to navigate ahead of resuming league play this fall, but I’m confident that we’re trending in a positive direction.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Herman

WHL hires lobbyists to meet with B.C. health officials . . . Hoping to discuss return-to-play protocol . . . CFL makes some changes

The WHL has two lobbyists from the Vancouver-based Bluestone Consulting Group working to lobby officials in the B.C. government as it hopes to make its way through the pandemic and get back on the ice in the fall.

The WHL suspended its 2019-20 regular season on March 12 and later cancelled the whlremainder of its season, including the playoffs.

Hoping to stick to a schedule that would have it start the 2020-21 season in late September, the WHL has contracted with lobbyists Mark Jiles, the principal owner of Bluestone, and Rob Nagai, its vice-president.

Jiles has more than 20 years worth of experience “in helping organizations achieve their strategic communications, government relations, goals and objectives.” Among other things, he spent four years (2002-06) on the board of directors of the bid and organizing committees for the 2006 World Junior Championship, the bulk of which was held in Vancouver.

Nagai has been with Bluestone since January 2018. Prior to that, he spent almost seven years working as a fundraiser with the B.C. New Democratic Party that now governs the province.

According to details filed with the B.C.’s Office of the Registrar and Lobbyists, the WHL wants to lobby Adrian Dix, B.C.s Minister of Health, and the Provincial Health Services Authority, which “oversees the co-ordination and delivery of provincial programs and highly specialized health-care services.”

The WHL is hoping to be “included (in the) B.C. government’s restart program.”

The WHL also “would like to discuss a Return to Play protocol” with the government. “This would detail what it would take to reopen the league and these regulations and guidelines would ultimately apply” to five B.C. teams in the WHL.”

Jiles and Nagai began working for the WHL on May 11, with a projected end date of July 31.

The arrangement with Bluestone doesn’t have anything to do with lobbying the B.C. government for financial aid.

The CHL, the umbrella under which the WHL operates, along with the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, has hired Bluesky Strategy of Ottawa to lobby Canada’s federal government in the hopes of garnering financial aid for its 52 Canadian teams.

I reported on that in a piece that was posted here late on Tuesday night.


Bears


The CFL is hoping to get its 2020 season underway at some point in September. And if it does end up playing a season of some sort, it won’t end with a Grey Cup game in Regina as had been planned.

Regarding the start of the season, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release: “Barring some huge development, like a vaccine for COVID-19, it now seems clear we can rule out playing games this summer.

“There are several reasons, including the continuing restrictions on assemblies, travel and border crossings. Notably, several provinces and municipalities have already decided to prohibit until Sept. 1 all sporting events featuring large gatherings.”

Ambrosie also admitted that “a cancelled season is also possible . . . it’s too soon make a sure call at this point.” As he put it: “We are not announcing or promising a return this fall.”

Meanwhile, the CFL also announced a change to its format for the Grey Cup game. Originally scheduled for Regina on Nov. 22, the championship game, if it is played, will take place in the home stadium of the finalist with the best regular-season record in 2020. Depending on when the season would start, the championship could be decided some time in December.

Hamilton will remain as the host city for the 2021 game, with Regina now to play host in 2022.

The CFL also cancelled its Touchdown Atlantic game that was to have been played in Halifax on July 25. The game was to have featured the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders.


Greeneggs


Edmonton is hoping to be one of the so-called hub cities should the NHL get up and running again. If you are wondering whether NHL players crossing the U.S.-Canada border to get there would be exempt from the self-isolating rules in play right now, well, here is Alberta Premier Jason Kenney:

“Obviously the players and their support staff would need to comply not only with our own public health orders but also with the federal 14-day quarantine requirement for international travellers arriving from abroad.”

The NHL has said it would need a three-week training camp for its players before games could be played. So that period of self-isolation takes it up to five weeks.



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 also put a smile on her fact by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.”


For the record, The Sports Curmudgeon, who is based in the Washington, D.C., area, is hoping that the CFL survives this pandemic. As he writes: “I enjoy CFL games; often the CFL Friday night game is more interesting than other Friday night sports offerings on my cable system and I tune in.  For purely selfish reasons, I hope that Commissioner Ambrosie is successful in finding ways to keep the CFL afloat; it has been around for longer than the NFL and it provides an interesting alternative football experience.” . . . For more of the curmudgeonly one’s ruminations on this subject, click right here.


Corn