‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the rink,
Not a creature was eating, not a beer would they drink.
The stockings were hung, by the chimney with care,
The ultimate present — World Juniors tickets — stuffed inside there.
Children ‘cross Alberta, squealing with glee,
“Not so fast kid,” said Dad. “That refund’s for me.”
EDMONTON — At any given moment inside Rogers Place in Edmonton, there are 400 kegs of beer tapped and flowing through the miles of lines that snake their way to a few hundred draught taps in this 18,500-seat monolith.
It’s a hops highway that pours revenues into the pockets of the Oilers Entertainment Group. Literally, a revenue stream of beer.
But for this World Junior Hockey Championship, that river of $11 beers has been dammed by a provincial order to close all concessions — and cut attendance in half — setting the expiration clock ticking on all of that product.
Back in March 2020, when the pandemic struck and the Rogers Place went dark, they simply poured all that beer down the drain.
Under the stress of a suddenly-altered world juniors, complete with ticket refunds and a sudden ban on everything from pop to popcorn,
Stuart Ballantyne — President and COO of Oilers Entertainment Group — has a better idea, this time around.
“If this keeps up, I know how I’m going to get rid of it,” joked Ballantyne, who is ready to do a Homer Simpson under the taps at Moe’s Tavern.
If the dear Pat Quinn was still with us, he would describe the situation at the 2022 World Junior Championship as one that is not Hockey Canada or OEG’s fault. It is, however, their problem.
That includes fans who thought they had the perfect stocking stuffer ready to go, only to find out late in the afternoon on Dec. 23rd that all single-game tickets had been voided and they had a day to replace that gift. An email to those who held eight-game ticket packages is expected to go out on Friday morning, offering four-game packages instead.
All buyers will be offered a full refund, and as those tickets get freed up they will find their way back on Ticketmaster.
“The bulk of those should show up there on Saturday and Sunday. Fans should keep their eyes on the Ticketmaster site for tickets,” said Stew MacDonald, Chief Revenue Officer for OEG. “We hope the package holders love (their four games) and keep them. After that, you can take a refund and those games will be first come first serve as tickets are released.”
When last year’s world juniors was deemed a bubble event with no fans, ticket holders were given the choice of refunds or holding on to their tickets for this year’s event. Almost everyone chose the latter, for a WJC that would be held in the same arena, with hopes that COVID-19 would be behind us.
On Thursday, as the Omicron variant raged, the OEG could only enter damage control mode, certain to madden a large swath of customers in a situation that is not of their own doing.
MacDonald said they consulted with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets, all of whom have recently had to limit seating capacity, or eliminate food and beverage at the last minute.
The feeling is that many will simply seek refunds, including suite holders who had hoped to wine and dinner clients, people who enjoy the party aspect of the world juniors, and those who simply don’t feel right about joining a crowd in the 9,000 range during this surge in the pandemic.
“It’s still one of the greatest hockey tournaments in the world,” said Ballantyne, proud of the work his team has done. “It’s still on TV, and still happening. At the end of the day we watched a lot of great hockey last year with no one in the building. This year we’ll have people in the building, which will be really nice.”
As for all that food Ballantyne’s people stocked up on, any perishables will end up at local charities, as they did in March of 2020.
“We’re geared up and the freezers are full,” Ballantyne said. “There is perishable foods. The nice thing is we can serve food (Thursday) and we’ll still have some catering needs, feeding teams and people behind the scenes.”
As for the hockey, Canada beat Russia 6-4 in the only pre-tournament games for both teams. A crowd of less than 1,500 people dotted the cavernous arena, an inauspicious beginning to what will be another weird world juniors, thanks to everyone’s favourite pandemic.
Senators score 5 times in 3rd period to down free-falling Oilers – CBC Sports
Scoring five third-period goals may not be the usual game plan, but it was the perfect path to a win for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
Josh Norris scored a pair of goals and the Senators erased a 3-1 third-period deficit in a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Adam Gaudette, Alex Formenton, Artem Zub and Zach Sanford also scored for the Senators (11-18-2), who have won two straight and won their first game this season when trailing after the second period.
Gaudette, who also had an assist, said the comeback was a blast.
“It was a lot of fun. Personally it’s been a while since I’ve had that much fun playing hockey,” he said. “It’s been a tough year and a half or so, so it really feels good to contribute and to help this team win.”
Chris Tierney had two assists, while Senators starter Matt Murray stopped 33-of-37 shots.
Zack Kassian, Kailer Yamamoto, Brendan Perlini and Darnell Nurse replied for the Oilers (18-15-2), who are still in a free-fall. They have dropped six straight and are 2-10-2 in their last 14 games.
“That is one we let slip away,” Kassian said. “Everybody is pretty upset. We were pretty frustrated with that one. That’s a tough way to lose. You are up 3-1 going into the third and you lay a stinker. We are a pretty frustrated group. I think the writing is on the wall.”
Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner made 20 saves in defeat.
Edmonton knotted the game with a power-play goal of its own with just 48 seconds remaining in the opening period as Leon Draisaitl won a board battle and fed it in front to Kassian, who wired a shot past Murray.
The Oilers made it 2-1 with eight minutes left in the middle frame as Yamamoto fought off Erik Brannstrom and slid a backhand shot under Murray while off balance.
The Oilers added to the their lead with two and a half minutes to play in the second as Perlini added some extra weight to a Duncan Keith shot for his third of the season.
Ottawa got one back early in the third on a two-on-one as Gaudette beat Skinner with a high backhander.
The Senators tied it up five minutes into the third period as Skinner coughed up a puck behind the net, eventually leading to a rebound goal by Formenton.
Ottawa’s unlikely comeback saw them regain the lead midway through the third when Zub picked the top corner with a long shot.
However, the Oilers were able to draw even two minutes later as Nurse jumped up to score on a wrist shot.
The Senators came roaring back with another power-play goal as Norris scored his team-leading 16th goal of the season.
Sanford put the game away with Ottawa’s fifth third-period goal, scoring on a long seeing-eye empty netter.
The Senators return home to face the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, while the Oilers are off until Thursday when they host the Florida Panthers.
Novak Djokovic arrives in Dubai after deportation from Australia – Sportsnet.ca
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Novak Djokovic arrived early Monday in Dubai after his deportation from Australia over its required COVID-19 vaccination ended the No. 1-ranked men’s tennis player’s hopes of defending his Australian Open title.
The Emirates plane carrying Djokovic touched down after a 13 1/2-hour flight from Melbourne, where he had argued in court he should be allowed to stay in the country and compete in the tournament under a medical exemption due to a coronavirus infection last month.
Dubai International Airport was quiet early Monday morning as flights from the Australia and Asia began to arrive. Passengers wearing mandatory face masks collected their bags and walked out of the cavernous terminal. The first Muslim call to prayers before the sunrise echoed over the terminal.
It wasn’t immediately clear where Djokovic planned to travel next. The Dubai Duty Free tennis tournament, which Djokovic won in 2020, doesn’t start until Feb. 14.
Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, doesn’t require travelers to be vaccinated, though they must show a negative PCR test to board a flight.
Djokovic had won nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, and a total of 20 Grand Slam singles trophies, tied with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most in the history of men’s tennis. Federer is not playing while recovering from injury, and Nadal is the only former Australian Open men’s champion in the tournament that began Monday.
Djokovic’s visa was initially canceled on Jan. 6 by a border official who decided he didn’t qualify for a medical exemption from Australia’s rules for unvaccinated visitors. He was exempted from the tournament’s vaccine rules because he had been infected with the virus within the previous six months.
He won an appeal to stay for the tournament, but Australia’s immigration minister later revoked his visa. Three Federal Court judges decided unanimously Sunday to affirm the immigration minister’s right to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
Vaccination amid the pandemic was a requirement for anyone at the Australian Open, whether players, their coaches or anyone at the tournament site. More than 95% of all Top 100 men and women in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated. At least two men — American Tennys Sandgren and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert — skipped the first major tournament of the year due to the vaccine requirement.
Djokovic’s attempt to get the medical exemption for not being vaccinated sparked anger in Australia, where strict lockdowns in cities and curbs on international travel have been employed to try to control the spread of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Australia leaves door open for Djokovic to play at next year’s Open
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to compete at next year’s Australian Open despite the tennis superstar facing an automatic three-year ban from entering the country.
The world number one player left Australia late on Sunday after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa, capping days of drama over the country’s COVID-19 entry rules and his unvaccinated status.
Under immigration law, Djokovic cannot be granted another visa for three years unless Australia’s immigration minister accepts there are compelling or compassionate reasons.
“I’m not going to precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls he has to make,” Morrison told 2GB radio on Monday as Djokovic was en route to Dubai.
“It does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for (a person) to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time.”
The unanimous ruling by a three-judge Federal Court bench dealt a final blow to Djokovic’s hopes of chasing a record 21st Grand Slam win at the Australian Open, which starts on Monday, dismaying his family and supporters.
In a rollercoaster ride, the world’s top men’s player was first detained by immigration authorities on Jan. 6, ordered released by a court on Jan. 10 and then detained again on Saturday pending Sunday’s court hearing.
Djokovic, 34, said he was extremely disappointed by the ruling but he respected the court’s decision.
“I am uncomfortable that the focus of the past weeks has been on me and I hope that we can all now focus on the game and the tournament I love,” Djokovic said in a statement before flying out of Melbourne.
The player was filmed by Reuters wearing a mask and taking selfies with fans at the arrival gate in Dubai as he waited for his entourage to get off the plane. The group then headed through a security channel for transfer passengers.
The saga caused a row between Canberra and Belgrade, with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic calling the court decision “scandalous”.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday that she and Morrison had been in touch with Brnabic during the legal process last week.
“I am absolutely confident that the very positive relationship, bilateral relationship between Australia and Serbia will continue on the strong footing that it currently enjoys,” Payne told reporters.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke had said Djokovic could be a threat to public order because his presence would encourage anti-vaccination sentiment amidst Australia’s worst coronavirus outbreak.
The Federal Court judges noted their ruling was based on the lawfulness and legality of the minister’s decision, but did not address “the merits or wisdom” of the decision. They have yet to release the full reasoning behind their decision.
The Serbian tennis player’s visa troubles fuelled global debate over the rights of people who decline to get vaccinated as governments take measures to protect people from the two-year pandemic.
Djokovic had been granted a visa to enter Australia, with a COVID-19 infection on Dec. 16 providing the basis for a medical exemption from Australia’s requirements that all visitors be vaccinated. The exemption was organised via Tennis Australia and the Victoria state government.
That exemption prompted widespread anger in Australia, which has undergone some of the world’s toughest COVID-19 lockdowns and where more than 90% of adults are vaccinated.
The controversy became a political touchstone for Morrison as he prepares for an election due by May, amid wrangling over responsibility between his centre-right federal coalition government and the centre-left Victoria state government.
Morrison on Monday defended his handling of the situation and differentiated Djokovic’s case from vaccine sceptics within his own government.
“If you’re someone coming from overseas, and there are conditions for you to enter this country, then you have to comply with them,” he said. “This is about someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with the entry rules at our border.”
The men’s tennis governing body ATP said the decision “marks the end of a deeply regrettable series of events”, adding it respected the decision, a comment echoed by Tennis Australia.
On the tennis circuit, fellow players have become impatient for the media circus to end.
“The situation has not been good all round for anyone. It feels everything here happened extremely last minute and that’s why it became such a mess,” said former world number one Andy Murray.
(Reporting By Jane Wardell; editing by Diane Craft and Michael Perry)
Triathlon needs substance, not 'fake' social media – McCormack – Tri247.com
Eastern Europe TestNew Forms of Media Censorship – The New York Times
Letters: Art in the time of COVID – Richmond News
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
News9 hours ago
Back to school in 4 provinces as Omicron spreads – CTV News
News15 hours ago
Omicron: 'Let it rip' not the solution, experts say – CTV News
Business15 hours ago
UK government to cut funding for BBC – Mail on Sunday report
Business16 hours ago
HVAC scams and how to stop them; why can't retail workers get N95 masks? CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet – CBC News
Health24 hours ago
Another COVID outbreak at BGH – Brantford Expositor
Sports24 hours ago
6 Maple Leafs takeaways: ‘Roller coaster’ win over Blues full of thrills – Sportsnet.ca
Politics24 hours ago
Trailblazer for Women in Canadian Politics, Alexa McDonough, Passes Away at Age 77 – VOCM
Science8 hours ago
Roberta Bondar flew into space 30 years ago and never saw Earth the same after that – CBC.ca