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CJHL officials have cancelled all junior hockey in light of COVID-19 – BCHL –



UPDATE: 6:05 p.m.

It’s bad news for those who were looking forward to the BCHL playoff action between rivals Penticton Vees and Vernon Vipers.

The Canadian Junior Hockey League has cancelled all games and “hockey-related activity” across the country, which includes the BCHL playoffs, due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Thursday afternoon, the CJHL posted to their website that all of its 10 member league’s playoffs, its four regional championships, and the Centennial Cup Canadian National Junior A Championship scheduled to take place in May in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba have all been cancelled, until further notice. 

“Following in-depth deliberations with our executive board and each of the commissioners/presidents, along with consultations with medical experts, as well as Hockey Canada, the decision has been made to put a hold on the season for the time being,” said CJHL president Brent Ladds.

“We will continue to stay abreast of the situation as it evolves and we will provide further updates as they become available.”

The announcement means the first game of the second-round playoff series between the Penticton Vees and the Vernon Vipers on Friday has been cancelled. 

ORIGINAL: 12:55 p.m.

The continuation of the BCHL playoffs may be in jeopardy as Hockey Canada meets with leagues across the country Thursday to discuss a response to the COVID-19 threat. 

It was practice as usual Thursday morning at South Okanagan Events Centre, but the potential loss of a playoff run is looming over the Penticton Vees. 

They are preparing for their BCHL second round series against arch-rival Vernon Friday in Penticton. But as major sports leagues around North America including the NHL announce the suspension of their games, Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said he expects a meeting with Hockey Canada Thursday afternoon will discuss the future of the season. 

“We’re seeing all over the world right now what’s going on. It’s something we can’t control right now. Obviously we try to educate our players on what’s happening and take whatever precautions you can,” Harbinson said prior to the team’s 10:30 a.m. workout.

“As far as having big groups of people and that sort of thing, I guess we’ll find out soon enough if we’ll be allowed to play, and if the government steps in. It’s tough, because there’s a lot of things in the game you can control as a player and as a coach. This is one of those ones that you can’t.”

At this point, his plan is keeping an open mind.

“There’s a lot of things that could go on. We could move on as normal and nothing changes. Maybe today they make a decision at a league level that they’re going to shorten the series to a best of five. Or they could say we’re shutting it down for good, or just suspending it and buying some time,” Harbinson explained.

“There’s a lot of different options that go in. And of course, there’s repercussions that come out of all of it. First and foremost is the health of the community.”

In the meantime, it’s business as usual for the team.

“We’re going to have a good practice today and prepare as if we’re playing tomorrow night and that the series is going to go on,” summarized Harbinson.

If the league goes ahead with its playoff schedule, the Vees will face the Vipers in Game 1 Friday at 7 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre. 

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Report: Trump hopes to have fans back at sports games by end of summer –



U.S. President Donald Trump told major-league sports commissioners on a call Saturday afternoon that he hoped to have fans back in stadiums and arenas by August and September, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Trump reportedly also said he believes the NFL season “should start on time in September.”

The call included 13 league commissioners, among them the NHL’s Gary Bettman, NBA’s Adam Silver, MLB’s Rob Manfred and NFL’s Roger Goodell.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere tweeted a statement following the completion of Trump’s call.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters later Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate sports being played with fans in the stands by September in his state, contrary to Trump’s reported comments.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the plan for the call was “to discuss charitable contributions and how the leagues would help those dealing with coronavirus.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought most of the sports world to a halt for the last three weeks, as only White’s UFC and MacMahon’s WWE are the only organizations still hosting events.

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Kobe, Duncan, Garnett headline 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class – TSN



Kobe Bryant was already immortal. Now he’s officially a Hall of Famer as well.

And he’s got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class.

Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.

They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.

“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honour him,” Colangelo said. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said — as if there was going to be any doubt — that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.

Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.

“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said.

Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medallist . Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn’t understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.

Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.

The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well.

For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran’s, Women’s Veteran’s, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.

With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the top NBA trio to ever enter simultaneously, the Hall wanted to make sure that no enshrinee would be overlooked.

“We didn’t need to water it down,” Colangelo said. “Next year is another year for many.”


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Nelson, Fimis taken No. 1 and 2 in OHL Draft – TSN



TORONTO — Teammates Ty Nelson and Pano Fimis were the top two picks in the Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection Draft.

Nelson, a 16-year-old defenceman from the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens, was announced by the North Bay Battalion as the first overall pick on Friday, the night before the OHL draft formally began.

Fimis, a centre with the GTHL’s Jr. Canadiens, was taken second overall on Saturday morning by the Niagara IceDogs.

North Bay had the first overall pick when the season was cancelled on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nelson led all GTHL defencemen in regular-season scoring with 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) over 33 games. He then posted a league-best 12 points over 11 playoff contests as he helped lead the Jr. Canadiens to the league title.

Fimis had 14 goals and 28 assists in 32 games for the Jr. Canadiens. Three more centres were taken after Fimis on Saturday.

Maxim Namestnikov was selected third by the Sarnia Sting, Bryce McConnell-Barker was picked fourth by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and the Kingston Frontenacs made Paul Ludwinski the fifth overall pick.

Namestnikov is the younger brother of Colorado Avalanche forward Vladislav Namestnikov. The younger Namestnikov had 53 goals and 75 assists in 59 games for the midget Honeybaked U15 team, then had 12 goals and 11 assists in 13 games for the same team in the High Performance Hockey League.

Defenceman Jorian Donovan, the son of former NHLer Shean Donovan, was taken sixth overall by the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Highly touted prospect Adam Fantilli went 18th overall to the Saginaw Spirit.

Fantilli, is a six-foot-two 181-pound centre who spent 2019-20 with Kimball Union Academy — a US high school prep program based in Plainfield, N.H — who had already committed to the United States Hockey League’s Chicago Steel on March 25.

That means it’s very unlikely the Toronto native comes back north while allowing him to keep the NCAA route open when he turns 18.

The Priority Selection has been held online every year since 2001. However, this year teams worked remotely and adhered to all government and public health guidelines on physical distancing when selecting the 2004-born skaters.

Team staff were not allowed to work the draft from their hockey offices or arenas and made their announcements through a conference call, most often from home.

Players were not permitted to enter into league offices for introductions and sweaters on draft day. They also weren’t allowed to meet their new fans and interviews were out of the question.

The OHL also reminded prospects and their families that the province of Ontario has prohibited organized public gatherings and social gatherings of more than five people, keeping celebratory groups tight, while American-based OHL teams are following the rules set in place by their state.

The Western Hockey League Bantam Draft is scheduled for April 22 while the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft goes June 6.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 4, 2020.

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