The start of the Western Hockey League season is still a tad more than four months away but as we enter the May long weekend, the WHL and many other junior hockey leagues may be advised to put more emphasis on back-up plans.

Pro leagues like the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL can try to make it work without fans because of the revenue they can generate from television contracts and sponsors.

I’m not sure how developmental leagues would be able to make it work if fans, and lots of them, are not allowed in the building.

“If we can’t get gate revenue then we can’t operate. If we carry on the way we’re going we’re losing significantly hundreds of thousands of dollars as time goes on. If we go the whole year, it’ll be into the millions. It’s not sustainable for a long period of time, that’s for sure,” said Ron Toigo, the Vancouver Giants’ majority owner and president while appearing with James Cybulski and Perry Solkowski on Sportsnet 650, a Vancouver radio station.

Toigo’s complete interview is right here.

Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry seems to have more power in B.C. than anyone else during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Henry is likeable, knowledgeable, well-respected and trustworthy and does not appear like someone that will sacrifice her principals for any one person or any team or league no matter how much pressure is applied.

Businesses, such as BC teams in the WHL, come under Phase 4 of the provincial restart plan because of the thousands of fans that enter their building on game night.

The province won’t reach that phase until there is either broad immunity to the virus, a vaccine or a widely-available and effective treatment.

In a recent interview with myprincegeorgenow.com, Henry gave no sign of optimism about her lifting the ban on big crowds in the next few months.

“I think it’s unlikely we will have a vaccine by the fall and I also think it’s unlikely that we’re going to have events that have large crowds. I am not removing the order of the 50-person limit.”

Henry is emphatic that sports teams are pretty much in the same boat as everybody else when trying to figure out how to operate during a unique time.

“We are in a very unusual time, it’s not just us in BC it’s around the world trying to figure out how we can get our economy and our life going again without giving the virus a chance to take off again and large crowds are not part of that.”

Premier Horgan is hoping that if the NHL resumes this season that Vancouver could be a hub city for games but keep in mind if that longshot happens, fans would more than likely, not be allowed to enter the building to watch.

“I’m not going to compromise safety for any organization, whether it’s the NHL or anything else, as much as I love hockey,” stated Henry.

Health Minister Adrian Dix, as you might expect, agrees.

“As in every other case, as in every other industry, we have to assess real plans and work together to ensure that everybody is safe,” Dix said.

“That applies to the NHL as it applies to every single other organization.”

No one knows what our short-term future holds, let alone the long term, but we do know these are unprecedented challenging times.

The CFL has resigned itself to the fact they probably will not get on the field this year.

Many other leagues are in a similar boat.

U Sports, which includes Canada West, have been pro-active regarding their schedule and have made adjustments should at some point they get the green light.

The UNBC Timberwolves, like other teams, will play fewer games with less travel.

The Timberwolves, are only scheduled for 10 regular-season soccer games (down from 15 for the men and 14 for the women) and 16 basketball games (down from 20 last season).

The WHL has not stated what contingencies they have for the 20-21 season although a delay to the start of the season is something that Toigo is prepared for.

“If we had to do something like that you can . . . probably start in the new year and get a relatively decent season in, and still be able to operate.”

Yes, the WHL still has time but as the clock ticks, Plans B, C, D and perhaps E, F, and G appear now to be the most realistic.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK

Governor Greg Ducey says professional sports can resume Saturday in Arizona. Would the 26-39 Phoenix Suns qualify?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

How about college and pro football games with no fans, but the networks covering the games could dub in crowd noise and scenes—-would those watching sense any difference? They could call the CFA National Championship Game The Milli Vanilli Bowl.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

How soon before we see these odds listed among the tiny type in the sports section: “Sept 10: COVID (-19) vs. NFL opener.”

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/


IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT:

A recent survey said Canadians ranked number five among the happiest people in the world. Number one if you exclude Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]