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Hockey is the No. 1 sport in Canada and no matter what anybody thinks, the Stanley Cup playoffs will start in less than a month, regardless of how many players are plagued with coronavirus (COVID-19 strain).
The virus is raging in many parts of the USA, including Las Vegas, which was expected to be one of the two host sites for the playoffs, and that has forced NHL officials to move to less-dangerous locations like Toronto and Edmonton. You heard the NHL will play from me six weeks ago and, as usual, The Prophet is usually correct in matters of sports and politics. I received plenty of applause for my stand on Kevin Lowe’s selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame, so let’s take a crack at another bizarre hockey issue.
The NHL draft lottery upsets me immensely.
The simple solution to the draft is the last-place team receives the first pick, the second-worst team gets No. 2 and so on and so forth.
Now, one needs a PhD in statistics to figure out in which order teams draft players. Keep it simple, the worst gets first.
The Detroit Red Wings, with 39 points, were the worst team in the NHL followed by Ottawa with 62, San Jose, L.A. Kings and Anaheim. These teams should be drafting 1-5. No matter how much of a spin the NHL hierarchy puts on this scenario, it is wrong and does nothing to rectify the imbalance in the NHL. Detroit now picks fourth when they should be getting top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.
Instead, one of the teams that loses in the play-in series for the playoffs will draft first.
Major League Baseball is pushing full speed ahead with their 60-game schedule despite the raging coronavirus in Florida, California and Arizona.
On the local baseball front, hats off to the organizers of the Kings County Baseball League (KCBL), who opened play yesterday. Premier Dennis King was once a tough out in the Cardigan line-up, now he’s an even tougher out on the political scene.
P.E.I.’s only professional baseball player, Morell’s Cole MacLaren, recently received word the minor league season will be cancelled and that is not good news for his career. Cole is hoping to get approval to play in the KCBL from Detroit Tigers’ officials and then the KCBL.
Golf may be the only sport benefitting from coronavirus. Last May, there were 2,900 paid rounds of golf at Belvedere and this year, there were 6,900 rounds — a whopping increase. I guess all those folks working from home decided that evening hours best suited their work schedule.
Fred Younker recently fired a hole-in-one on No. 5 at Belvedere, his first ace. At Dundarave, MacLaren carded an 85 and sent word to his buddy Ryan Wilkie, who trains for Marc Campbell, that he’s available for tips. At Avondale, one of the busiest golf instructors in the province, Dave Bowlan, has a new client in Cardigan’s Deanna Martel, another promising prospect for the women’s tour.
Popular hockey, softball and harness racing figure Jason Rice has taken up golf and is a frequent player at Anderson’s Creek, where he plays in the 90s. He’s getting tips from Scott MacDonald, including work with the pencil.
Live harness racing continues tonight at 6 p.m. in Charlottetown with a good 10-dash card. The Governor’s Plate eliminations are set for Sunday afternoon in Summerside.
In racing up-country, Wade and Ed Peconi’s top trot colt Lovedbythemasses was sixth the other night at Mohawk in 1:54:1 in a blistering fast race. Don’t worry about Peconi’s colt, he drew bad and got shuffled back, beware next outing.
Serge Savard’s Lady Arthur was second in 1:52:2 in a two-year-old pacing event for trainer Ian Moore and driver Jody Jamieson at Mohawk Saturday in a $15,000 two-year-old filly race.
Leigh and Casey Gavin’s two-year-old filly Plain Jane (by Shadow Play) was very impressive in winning her baby race recently here in 1:58:3, last quarter in 27:3. She’s on her way to Ontario.
At Tioga Sunday, Wally Hennessey bagged five winners, including a 1:50:3 New York sires two-year-old colt win (purse $38,900) with P.E.I. native Jim MacDonald’s J K Last Chance (by So Surrell).
At Harrah’s on Wednesday, Mark MacDonald drove Ray Schnittker’s Let’er Buck to a 1:55 victory for two-year-old fillies in a $53,000 Pennsylvania sires stake, the first major win by a Betting Line baby.
Gettin Messi, who was the champion Maritime trotter last year, was fourth by two lengths in 1:56 in a $16,500 trot Tuesday at Yonkers. At The Meadowlands tonight, Mark MacDonald has the outside Post 8 with speedster Hurrikane Emperor p, 1:48:1 in his $50,000 graduate series.
Popular Nova Scotia track official Joe Kennedy passed away earlier this week. Joe was the breeder of Firms Phantom, one of the greatest pacers ever to come out of Atlantic Canada. A gentleman always, he will be missed. Also this week, I regret to report the passing of the great race mare Ramblinglilly at age 10.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at [email protected].