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Alberta

Future of junior football murky as Covid-19 forces cancellation of season

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This simple equation is perhaps the easiest way to enter a description of the Wednesday decision, and Thursday public announcement, that the Canadian Junior Football League has dropped all plans for games this year.

CJFL president Jim Pankovich made it clear that the decision by the Prairie Junior Football Conference and allied leagues in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia supported the decision unanimously.

“Canadian junior football has 18 teams with 18 different ideas — no, make it 18 teams with about 50 ideas — but this was a combined decision and every organization had a chance to provide input,” Pankovich continued. “It has been a long process.”

The Edmonton Huskies, Edmonton Wildcats and Calgary Colts are affected by the decision. All teams were part of the national negotiation.

Coupled with a previous USports decision to wipe out university football across the country in 2020, the junior move leaves only the Canadian Football League as an option for players and fans, with a decision due from the struggling CFL soon, after a bid for $30 million in federal support money is evaluated.

Pankovich, Prairie Football Conference leader Curtis Craig and Edmonton Huskies owner Bob Bula mentioned in separate telephone conversations Thursday afternoon that the COVID-19 regulations made it impossible to consider a 2020 season. All three mentioned the importance of keeping players involved .

“:Small-group sessions and skill-specific training” were mentioned by Pankovich as a necessity for all teams. He and others mentioned that the game is as important for the lessons it provides to young males as it is for the actual on-field competition.

As soon as the announcement became public, there was serious suggestion that high school players hoping to move into junior ranks and current juniors designing their athletic future around possible participation in university programs.may run into traffic jams because eligibility issues are more complicated than before.

Huskies head coach Iain MacLean agreed fully with the decision: “it’s about the safety of our players and all the others who would have to work with us during the virus.”

He lamented that “this will be the first year of my life without a football season since I was 10 years old” and suggested there will be less pressure than anticipated on young players competing against more potential teammates than usual.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few of the young guys just stop playing,” he added, “and I think a lot of coaches will be considering the same thing.”

Bula insisted that there was no opposition to government regulations that limit the number of persons — 50 in any on-field cohort at one time — able to participate in games. “We might need as many as 100 or more, including other staff.”

Craig, who also is vice-president of the national governing body, said no Prairie team has the potential to develop a “hub” similar to those now employed by the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association.

For CFL fans the last refuge is always hope

Alberta

Searchers find bodies in Jasper National Park, remains believed to be missing couple

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JASPER, Alta. — Alberta RCMP say searchers have found two bodies in Jasper National Park. 

Investigators believe the bodies are the remains of a couple who were reported missing after their vehicle was found in a parking lot at the Mount Edith Cavell Roads trail.  

Matthew Kozak and Zabrina Ferrier were last seen on Friday.   

Relatives had driven to the area to help with the search.  

RCMP say Parks Canada staff in a helicopter found the bodies just before dark on Tuesday night near Verdant Pass.  

Jasper RCMP and Parks Canada staff recovered the remains on Wednesday morning.  

“It is believed the couple were hiking and succumbed to their injuries after falling from a steep bank in the area,” RCMP said in a release.  

RCMP along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner continue to investigate.   

Police say family members have been notified.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020 

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Stamkos seen: Lightning captain returns for Game 3 of final

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EDMONTON — Seen Stamkos? Just in time for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is making his 2020 playoff debut Wednesday, 211 days since he last played in an NHL game. It’s a return that has the potential to change the course of the series against the Dallas Stars that’s currently tied.

Stamkos last played Feb. 25.

He had surgery in early March to repair a core muscle injury and aggravated it during informal workouts over the summer. It seemed like Stamkos was on the verge of returning at the start of the post-season but may have had another setback.

Stamkos was on a 15-game point streak when he was injured.

Dallas is without veteran forward Blake Comeau, who appeared to injure his right shoulder on a hit by Ryan McDonagh in Game 2. The team called Comeau unfit to play, and Nick Caamano will make his NHL playoff debut in Comeau’s place.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press

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