Fast Action, And Fair So Far
All over the world, one of the first political acts after coronavirus declared itself was to shut down all sports events. Now, with the same coronavirus persisting, and in some cases expanding, its dismal influence, many of the same elected individuals are rushing to open those events as widely and as often as possible.
It’s obvious that presidents, commissioners and other leaders in the athletic world are doing their best to keep up with this mad charge to activity that features millionaires on local, national and international television. The majority agrees it is neither wise nor important to wait for fans to fill the seats before starting or replacing seasons in all major-league sports.
North America’s four most-watched pro sports – soon to be recognized as five, including soccer — have already declared preferred, possible or potential starting dates: officials in every case are ensuring that large or small COVID-19 outbreaks could force further adjustments and, of course, ultimate elimination of their entire project.
At this moment, baseball is dealing with the sad fact that many teams are dealing with fierce emergencies. A lot of programs have been shut down and there have been stated suspicions that some facilities will not be suitable for the 30 home games designated in a stormy agreement finally set by players and owners last week.
Like everyone else, the Toronto Blue Jays have standard concerns about staff and players contracting the virus, but finding a place for home games may turn out to be more urgent. Permission has been granted to train in Toronto for the scheduled 60-game season but some cautious souls still suggest it is more likely that the young Jays will be required to nest this season in nearby Buffalo or distant Dunedin, Fla. American infection numbers indicate the problem of bringing players across the border into Canada could become politically and medically improbable by the scheduled July 22 season opener.
Here in Alberta, the saga of the Blue Jays, as well as the fascinating basketball Raptors who will be competing by the end of July, fades in a dull colour by comparison with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers who open their official training camps on Monday.
A Stanley Cup playoff run could extend to as many as 33 games for survivors in the best-of-seven final, which will be staged entirely at spectacular Rogers Place. Only because of Alberta’s relative success in tamping down the coronavirus did the NHL finally designate Edmonton as a “hub city” after making it obvious from the beginning of all this talk that Las Vegas and Toronto (the other hub) were the favoured communities.
Almost from Day 1 after the NHL declared it would somehow present the 2020 Stanley Cup to a legitimate playoff champion, commissioner Gary Bettman insisted that safety was the “biggest issue and most serious concern” for all. Granting that some insiders were less than thrilled at the decision to involve so many teams in a one-series-loss-and-you’re-out scenario, he still believes the proper move was to involve teams that had not been officially eliminated when the season wrapped up on March 16.
“The competitive balance in our league is so extraordinary,” he said, “that we had to make sure it was for all to get a chance to win.”
Admittedly, the plan took effect in a massive hurry. Now, there is league-wide concern that one of the eight outsiders admitted to the playoffs might somehow win the Cup and wind up with a high draft choice – perhaps Number One. If that case, weaker teams who lose out can be expected to yell: “Not fair.!”
Calgary Flames take 2-1 series lead with 6-2 win over Winnipeg Jets
EDMONTON — Calgary scored a trio of power-play goals on Tuesday en route to a 6-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets and a 2-1 lead in their qualifying series.
Sean Monahan led Calgary’s attack with a goal and two assists. Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund each scored and had an assist.
Matthew Tkachuk and Milan Lucic also scored, and Johnny Gaudreau produced an empty-netter to go along with a helper. Andrew Mangiapane had a pair of assists.
Calgary starter Cam Talbot made 33 saves for the win. Winnipeg counterpart Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 in the loss.
Nikolaj Ehlers and Andrew Copp scored for the Jets.
Game 4 is Thursday night at Rogers Place. Calgary won the series opener 4-1 and Winnipeg took the second game 3-2.
The lower seed and thus the visiting team for the first two games of the series, Winnipeg was the home team Tuesday.
Playing their second game in as many days, and third in four, neither team asserted itself early. Calgary took control with a three-goal second period.
After scoring a pair of power-play goals in Game 1, the Flames had blanked on six chances Monday.
Calgary’s units recovered in the third game scoring three times on four opportunities.
The Jets were minus top-line centre Mark Scheifele, winger Patrik Laine and centre Mason Appleton a second straight day.
Scheifele hasn’t played since the first period of Saturday’s opener. He injured his left leg tangling along the boards with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.
Laine suffered an apparent wrist injury colliding with Flames captain Mark Giordano in the third period of Game 1.
Attrition continued for the Jets on Tuesday. Forward Mathieu Perreault went to the dressing room in the second period and did not return. He was checked hard by Sam Bennett near Calgary’s bench.
Defenceman Tucker Poolman missed the majority of the second period. He leaked blood onto the ice after taking a Backlund shot off his head.
Poolman was back on the bench to start the third, however, wearing a cage until switching to a full shield.
With the Jets trailing 5-2, Hellebuyck was pulled with four and a half minutes to play in a bid for extra-attacker goals.
Lucic buried a rebound off a Dillon Dube shot for Calgary’s fifth goal and third with a man advantage at 8:28 of the third.
Mangiapane fed Tkachuk in the slot from behind the net at 12:48 of the second period.
Winnipeg had pulled within a goal at 8:09. Copp stepped out from behind the net and went backhand top corner for a power-play goal.
Monahan lost his helmet when he was pushed hard into the boards by Jansen Harkins. On Harkins’ resulting minor, Monahan chipped a wobbling puck over Hellebuyck’s stick on a broken play at 7:49.
Winnipeg successfully challenged a Lucic goal for goaltender interference seven minutes into the second period. Calgary led 2-1 on Backlund’s goal at 5:17.
Just 18 seconds after Ehlers’ goal at 10:04 of the first period, Lindholm pulled Calgary even with a power-play goal.
Lindholm redirected Erik Gustaffson’s pass over Hellebuyck’s glove for the Swede’s second goal of the series.
From behind Winnipeg’s goal-line, Dmitry Kulikov put a pass off the wall to Ehlers lurking at Calgary’s blue-line. Ehlers beat Talbot far side with a wrist shot.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 4, 2020.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Alberta sees dip in COVID-19 cases over August long weekend: Hinshaw
EDMONTON — Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says the dip in COVID-19 cases over the long weekend appears to show that people are following public health guidelines about physical distancing and wearing masks.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Alberta’s case numbers have been below 100 for four days straight.
She says the downward trend began Friday with 97 new cases, followed by 67 new cases reported Saturday, 74 on Sunday and 65 on Monday.
Bylaws requiring masks be worn in public places went into effect in both Edmonton and Calgary on Saturday.
Hinshaw also reported five new deaths, bringing Alberta’s total to 201 since the pandemic began.
She says three of the five deaths were at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre in Edmonton, which has become the deadliest outbreak in the province.
The facility is reporting 24 deaths on its website on Tuesday. There have been 112 cases at the centre — 80 residents and 32 staff — since the outbreak began July 17.
Currently, there are 42 active cases among residents and 20 among staff members.
“This outbreak underlines the importance of our collective efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” Hinshaw said.
“Part of this protection requires continually evaluating our response efforts and using the best available evidence to update our approach when warranted.”
The most recent update reported 1,191 active cases in the province, down from the 1,386 cases reported before the long weekend.
Hinshaw said there were 85 people being treated in Alberta hospitals, 23 of them in intensive care.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2020
The Canadian Press
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