Mondays With Murray: No One Can Say the Guy Chose the Wrong Field

TUESDAY, JULY 12, 1988, SPORTS

Copyright 1988/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

No One Can Say the Guy Chose the Wrong Field

   If you had a license from God to construct yourself a baseball manager, you would probably begin with one with a big belly and short legs that were slightly bowed or pebbled with lumps so that they looked like sacks of walnuts. You would want one who had his own syntax, a voice that sounded like an oncoming train in a tunnel. It’d have to be a nice part for Vincent Gardenia.

  He wouldn’t have been a big star in his youth. A .500 pitcher, perhaps. A .260 hitter who mondaysmurray2made a lot of noise. He’d have to know how tough this game is. He’d never have a self-doubt or a moment’s anxiety. He’d come into a room as if he were leading a parade. Everybody would be his best friend. He’d talk to shoeshine boys, parking lot attendants. He’d sell baseball. He’d be sure God was a baseball fan. He’d know that America was the greatest country in the world, otherwise how could a poor boy like him grow up to be part of the greatest organization in the world?

  He’d never be at a loss for words, he’d like to eat, he’d cry at sad movies, but he’d have a temper like a top sergeant whose shoes were too tight. He’d be sentimental, cantankerous, on speaking terms with the president of the United States but, if you asked him what his foreign policy was, he’d say, “Beat Montreal!”

  He’d be part press agent, part father figure, all man. He’d have an anecdote for every occasion, always with a moral attached. He’d tell at the drop of a hat of the time when he knocked the big league batter down the first time he faced him because that batter had refused him an autograph as a knothole kid years before. His stories would be more entertaining than true, but no reporter ever would leave his office with an empty notebook or stomach.

  He wouldn’t be one of those tense, secretive guys like the manager in the World Series last year who looked as if he was guarding a gang hideout and you were the Feds. He’d be selling baseball. It would be his job, and come from a long line of people who did their jobs.

  He’d have a lot of con in him. He’d never forget he was dealing with kids, and that he would make them pick the shell without the pea under it if he had to.

  When he’d have a player who didn’t want to transfer from the outfield to catcher, he’d say, “Didn’t you know the great Gabby Hartnett, the greatest catcher of all time, started out in the outfield?” Gabby Hartnett started out in a catcher’s mask, but a good manager is resourceful.

  When a team was floundering in a 10-game losing streak, this manager would reassure them that “the 1927 Yankees, the greatest team of all time, lost 11 games in a row that year!” The 1927 Yankees didn’t have 11 losing innings in a row, but that would be irrelevant.

  He’d know baseball wasn’t nuclear physics. It was show business. It was ‘Entertainment Tonight.’ The pictures on his wall would not be Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Stuffy McInnis, Connie Mack, John McGraw, guys sliding into second. They’d be the heavy hitters of show business — Sinatra, Rickles, Berle, Kaye.

  He’d be a star in his own right. People would have his picture on their office walls.

  He’d be Tommy Lasorda. He’d be Mr. Baseball, a guy with his own show. He’d get the best tables in restaurants, he’d be part of the fabric of the glitter and glitz of a town that prides itself in it. He’d never be out of character when the spotlight was on. He’d be on the dais of every black-tie dinner there was, he’d make a speech at the tap of a glass.

  Some managers are worth five games a year to their franchises. Sagacious moves can account for that much success. Tommy Lasorda is worth something more — a few hundred thousand in attendance.

  His predecessor, Walter Alston, was a great manager. He had to be. But he was as quiet as snowfall. He officed out of his pocket. He dressed with his coaches. He led by example. His office had a picture of his wife and grandchildren in it. He never made a headline in his life. He was patient, kindly, courtly, a gentleman of the old school. A guy you would most want to be in a foxhole — or a lifeboat — with. Dependable, mater-of-fact, as untemperamental as a butler, he knew more about the balk rule than any man who ever lived.

  It’s not what baseball is about. It’s no secret the late owner Walter O’Malley chafed under Alston’s monkish managerial policy. He was stuck with him because Alston was so good. It was hard to fire an annual pennant. So he did the next best thing: he gave him an annual one-year contract.

  It was all well and good to be low-key in the corner of the dugout when the Dodgers were new to the town and every night was New Year’s Eve and they had Koufax and Drysdale and Maury Wills and The Duke and the Davis boys and you didn’t have another major league baseball team, football teams (two) and pro basketball teams (two) and a hockey team and a lot of other promotions to vie for your space in the sports sheets.

  You think the Dodgers are going to hire Tom Kelly, or the manager of Seattle (if it has one) or some minor leaguer who understands the infield fly rule backward and forward (which reads the same, anyway)?

  Tommy Lasorda is as perfect for the Dodgers as peanut butter for white bread. Or Laurel for Hardy. A lot of people were surprised when the Dodgers broke precedent and signed him to an early extension on his contract. Why? Peter O’Malley is Walter’s son, isn’t he? The only way Tommy Lasorda could be let go is if Casey Stengel suddenly became available. God is not going to let that happen. Or the real Angels are going to have a drop in attendance.

  Neither is Peter O’Malley going to let his manager become available. There are, conservatively, 14 big league teams who would sign Lasorda tomorrow for more money than the Dodgers pay him. But Lasordas do not change their religions, either. “Who gave me a chance to manage?” he yells. “The Yankees? The Phillies? No, it was the Dodgers.” Lasordas dance with the one what brung them. “Lack of loyalty.” Lasorda shouts, “is rooning this country!”

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

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A special Kidney Walk for Dorothy . . . A milestone for the Blades’ voice . . . Some tidbits from opening weekend

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G Matt Hewitt (Regina, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Fassa Canazei (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, with University of British Columbia (Canada West, U Sports), he got into 20 games, going 12-5-2, 2.85, .920 with one shutout. . . . This summer, Hewitt played with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). In 26 games, he drew three assists, while going 23-2-0, 1.95, .925 with three shutouts. He led the league in wins, shutouts, GAA and SP. . . . CBR Brave won the AIHL championship, beating the Sydney Bears 4-3 in OT in the league’s Grand Final on Sept. 2 in Melbourne. . . .

F Marcel Noebels (Seattle, Portland, 2010-12) has been released from his PTO with the Boston Bruins (NHL) and will rejoin Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), where he is an alternate captain for this season. Last season, he had 11 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with Eisbären. . . .

F Nikita Popugayev (Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2015-18) has been traded by CSKA Moscow to Amur Khabarovsk (both Russia, KHL) for D Denis Nedilko (1999 born, playing for Amur’s junior team, Amurskie Tigry Khabarovsk). Popugayev had two goals and one assist in three games this season with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (Russia, MHL). . . . Krasnaya Armiya is CSKA’s junior team. MHL is Russia’s junior league.


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I’m back after being away for a few days while we put the finishing touches on the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you hadn’t guessed, Dorothy and I were among the organizers for the Kidney Walk that was held on Sunday at McDonald Park.

Yes, it was a success! Oh, was it!!

Let me tell you a little bit about it . . .

Dorothy had her kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, after almost four years of doing peritoneal dialysis, so this Kidney Walk marked the fifth anniversary of her new life.

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The Drinnan family, with the cake (donated by the North Shore Safeway) that celebrated the fifth anniversary of Dorothy’s kidney transplant.

We knew it was going to be special because our granddaughter Kara brought her parents — our son Todd and his wife, Joanna — to the Walk from their home in Burnaby.

Then, as Dorothy and I got out of our car at McDonald Park, a couple came walking in our direction. It turned out to be our best friends from Brandon — Darlene and Alan Silvius, who arrived completely unannounced. They actually had arrived in town on Saturday, but didn’t breathe a word about it. In fact, at one point, Darlene actually had sent a text to Dorothy indicating that they were in Portage la Prairie, Man., visiting with friends.

DrinnanSilvius
Darlene and Alan Silvius joined us at the Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sunday. Darlene and Dorothy have a special relationship.

Back in the day, Darlene was adamant that she would be the person to give a kidney to Dorothy. But it turned out that she wasn’t a match. Still, she refused to give up, and turned to the Kidney Paired Donation program.

So it was that five years ago she donated a kidney to a stranger in order to allow Dorothy to receive a true gift of life from someone else.

These two women have long had a strong relationship, but for the past five years they have grown even closer.

The look on Dorothy’s face when her brain finally recognized what her eyes were trying to tell her was priceless indeed.

All of you who read this blog and have donated on Dorothy’s kidney page were a big part of our day, too. In the end, Dorothy raised $3,250, which left her No. 1 in Kamloops for a fifth straight year.

Thank you all so much for your support. It really does mean a lot.

Now let’s get back to hockey . . . although it’ll be a bit spotty this week because, well, we’ve got some company to tour around.


In the meantime, here are some notes from the past few days. . . .

Old friend Les Lazaruk, who I may (or may not) have owned on the Strat-O-Matic field back in the day, opened the regular season with something of a milestone broadcast . . .


Aside from that milestone, the weekend’s biggest story may have been in Moose Jaw where the 50-50 draw at the Warriors’ home-opener on Saturday night reached $383,450.

There were two unclaimed winning pots from last season, so the carryover to this season was $166,615.

The winning ticket on Saturday was Z423428. As of Sunday morning, the jackpot apparently had yet to be claimed.

Now wouldn’t that be a carryover!


On the eve of the regular season, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman provided this note on the Kootenay Ice:

“The current season-ticket count rests at 1,670, a drop of 247 from last year. The club had set a goal for 2,500 as part of it’s Drive to 25 campaign that kicked off in May 2017.” . . . The announced attendance at the Ice’s home-opener — a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday — was 2,862. . . . F Connor McClennon, the second overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, scored twice for the Ice. A 16-year-old from Wainwright, Alta., he was pointless in five games with the Ice last season.


The Brandon Wheat Kings opened by sweeping a home-and-home series with the Moose BrandonWKregularJaw Warriors, winning 2-1 in the Wheat City and 4-2 on the road. . . . G Jiri Patera, a 19-year-old rookie from Praha, Czech Republic, recorded both victories. A sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft, Patera stopped 56 of 59 shots in the two victories. . . . Patera is the first European goaltender to play for the Wheat Kings in the franchise’s 52-year history. . . . The Wheat Kings have had at least one American-born goaltender in their history — Scott Olson, from Bloomington, Minn., got into 63 games over three seasons and was a part of the 1978-79 championship team that lost only five regular-season games.


A couple of WHLers signed three-year entry-level NHL deals on the weekend. . . . D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Brook, 19, is from Roblin, Man. He was picked in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Brook scored both Moose Jaw goals as the Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night. . . . F Jake McGrew, a 19-year-old from Orange, Calif., signed with the San Jose Sharks after being a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. McGrew has been with the Spokane Chiefs for two seasons, although knee problems kept him from playing in 2016-17.



The Red Deer Rebels released D Colin Paradis on Saturday in order to get down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Releasing Paradis left them with F Brandon Hagel, F Reese Johnson, who is the team captain, and F Jeff de Wit as their 20-year-olds. . . . Paradis, from Sherwood Park, Alta., has played 194 regular-season games — the first 165 with the Moose Jaw Warriors — over four seasons.


F Owen Blocker of the Lethbridge Hurricanes left the ice on a stretcher in the first period of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat.

According to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Blocker “targeted Dalton Gally Lethbridgefor a hit in the corner and went awkwardly into the boards. Blocker was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a lengthy delay and did not return.” . . . However, after being checked out at hospital and released, Blocker returned to the arena and returned to Lethbridge with his teammates after the game.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes added G Akira Schmid to their roster on the weekend, after he was assigned by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.

Schmid, 18, is from Nesslau, Switzerland, and was a fifth-round selection by the Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft.

He joins Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., and Carl Tetachuk, 17, from Lethbridge, as goaltenders on the Hurricanes’ roster. Klassen went the distance in the Hurricanes’ first two games as they split a home-and-home with Medicine Hat. The Tigers won 5-2 in Lethbridge on Friday.


The Portland Winterhawks got Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, 20, back from the NHL’s San PortlandJose Sharks as the WHL regular-season opened. Blichfeld, a seventh-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2016 draft, has signed a pro contract so is eligible to play with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Blichfeld’s arrival left the Winterhawks with four 20-year-olds and three imports on their roster. . . . Blichfeld joined F Conor MacEachern, D Brendan De Jong and D Jared Freadrich as the 20-year-olds. . . . MacEachern didn’t play in a 5-3 loss to the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday, while MacEachern sat out Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Silvertips in Everett. . . .

WHL teams have until mid-October to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds. . . . Should the Winterhawks choose to keep Blichfeld, they would have to release either Czech F Michael Kvasnica, 18, or Swiss F Dean Schwenninger. . . . Kvasnica and Schwenninger are first-year players, but teams are allowed to trade freshman imports only between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trading deadline. Prior to this season, teams were permitted to trade first-year imports. . . . Schwenninger didn’t play in either of the two weekend games. . . .

D Henri Jokiharju, a 19-year-old from Finland, is in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. He was named to the WHL-Western Conference’s second all-star team last season, and may still end up back in Portland.

Should that happen . . . well, I’m sure the Winterhawks won’t concern themselves with that until it actually does happen.


The Kelowna Rockets went 8-0-0 against the Kamloops Blazers last season. The Blazers Kamloops1showed on opening weekend that things are different now. Kamloops swept a home-and-home series, winning 4-1 at home on Friday and 3-1 in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ first-year head coach, picked up his first WHL victory on Friday and his family — wife Kelly and their children (Isabelle, 17, and Marc, 15) were there to witness it, having made the trip from their home in St. Albert, Alta. . . . “Up until (Thursday) night, I was texting with my daughter and my son and they made me believe they were both getting ready for bed and they were going to get up to go to school this morning,” Lajoie told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “It’s nice to be able to share this with them. I’m not here if it isn’t for them. I don’t lose sight of that.”


The Prince Albert Raiders opened with a two-game sweep of Regina, snapping a 15-game losing skid to the Pats with the first victory. The Raiders got started with a 7-2 victory on home ice on Friday, then travelled to Regina and beat the Pats 3-1 on Saturday. . . . The Raiders last beat the Pats on Sept. 23, 2016, when they posted a 4-3 OT victor in Regina on a goal by F Simon Stransky.


The Saskatoon Blades opened with a two-game sweep of the defending-champion Swift Current Broncos, winning 2-1 on the road and 8-0 at home, behind 17 saves from G Nolan Maier. . . . F Kirby Dach put up seven points in the two games, including three goals and two assists in Saturday’s shutout victory. . . . Only time will tell if this is a sign of things to come for the Blades, who have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons, and the Broncos, who went all-in last season in putting together the team that would win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.


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Looking at Hurricanes’ finances . . . Silvertips and Tigers make trade . . . Former WHL coach, exec dies in Moose Jaw

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In 2016-17, the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ announced average attendance for 36 home regular-season games was 3,709. In 10 home playoff games, the average was 4,730.

In 2017-18, the Hurricanes’ announced average attendance for 36 home regular-season games was 3,773, an increase of 64 from the previous season. For nine home playoff games, the number was 4,316, a decrease of 414.

For 2016-17, the community-owned Hurricanes announced a profit of $737,710.

For 2017-18, the Hurricanes revealed a profit of $422,443, after a payment of $167,000 to the City of Lethbridge to help pay for arena improvements.

Lethbridge

A few interesting notes as we compare the two seasons, using figures from the Statement of Operations that the Hurricanes presented to shareholders on Monday night.

As you can see from the above photo of that statement, most of the revenues were up. (Keep in mind that the financials are unaudited.)

Regular-season ticket sales were up more than $29,000, but were almost $50,000 under budget. At the same time, inventory sales were up $20,000; fund-raising, including that from the Hockey Hounds booster club, showed an increase of almost $63,000; and the sales of advertising was up more than $20,000 and was almost $70,000 over budget.

However, there was quite a difference in playoff-related revenues, despite the fact the Hurricanes reached the Eastern Conference final in each season. As noted earlier, the announced attendance was down 414 per game, leading to a season-over-season decrease of more than $250,000.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, the hockey operations’ expenses were up more than $210,000 over the previous season. In total, the organization’s expenses showed an increase of $307,503, and that was more than $550,000 over budget.

Still, the Hurricanes were able to put more than $400,000 in the bank, and hand $167,000 to the city.

All-in-all, it was another good season for a franchise that not too long ago was hanging on by its fingernails.

The Swift Current Broncos, who eliminated the Hurricanes and went on to win the WHL championship last season, are up next, with their AGM scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 25.


The Everett Silvertips have acquired F Jalen Price, 17, from the Medicine Hat Tigers in exchange for a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . From Campbell River, B.C., Price was selected by the Tigers in the third round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had 18 goals and 23 assists in 44 games with the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He added seven goals and nine assists in 16 playoff games as the Storm won the VIJHL title. . . . Price got into four exhibition games with the Tigers this time around, recording three assists.


The WHL’s first weekly roster report is right here. Released each Tuesday during the regular season, it includes roster moves and injury information, as provided by each team.

You are able to find updated news about WHL suspensions right here.


Bruce Luebke, who was the radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings for more than 20 years, has entered the world of civic politics. Luebke will run for city council in a ward in Brandon’s South Centre ward. . . . The election is scheduled to be held on Oct. 24. . . . Luebke started as the play-by-play man for Wheat Kings games in 1993 and stayed at it until he and radio station CKLQ parted company in July 2016.


Harvey Roy, a longtime WHL executive, died Friday in Moose Jaw from complications due to diabetes. He had been on dialysis for more than nine years. . . . At various times, during his long hockey career, Roy was involved with the Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Chiefs, New Westminster Bruins, Kamloops Junior Oilers, Kamloops Blazers and Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . There is an obituary right here.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!

Hurricanes bank more than $400,000 . . . Winterhawks, Ice, Blades trim rosters . . . Ex-WHLer joins coaching ranks


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G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) has cleared KHL waivers and been assigned by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL) to CSK VVS Samara (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season, with Nizhnekamsk, he got into one game playing 33 minutes and allowing three goals on 14 shots, for a 5.36 GAA and a.786 SP.


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The Lethbridge Hurricanes reported to shareholders on Monday that they made a profit Lethbridgeof $422,443 in 2017-18. . . . That was down from the $737,710 profit the previous season. However, the 2017-18 financials included a payment of $167,000 to the City of Lethbridge that was due after improvements were made to their home arena. . . . The Hurricanes lost out in the Eastern Conference final in each of the past two seasons. . . . There was other interesting item to come out of the annual meeting. The Hurricanes will be out of their arena early in the playoffs next spring, what with the World men’s curling championship in the ENMAX Centre from March 30 through April 7. General manager Peter Anholt told shareholders that the tentative plan is for the team to play early home playoff games, if necessary, in the Nicolas Sheran Arena. . . . According to the City of Lethbridge’s website, the Nicolas Sheran Ice Centre has a seating capacity of 978. It is home to the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s and men’s hockey teams. . . . “We’ve talked to a lot of other teams that have moved from their venue to another venue outside of their city, and it doesn’t work,” Anholt said. “We’ve got the Nicolas Sheran. It’s not perfect, there’s going to be some unhappy fans and unhappy advertisers, but we’ll deal with it.” . . . Aaron Mahoney of lethbridgenewsnow.com has more right here. . . . Interestingly, Mahoney reported that the Hurricanes didn’t make as much in 2017-18 as the previous season, despite “an increase in ticket sales by $30,000.”


The Portland Winterhawks appear to have gotten down to three 20-year-olds by releasPortlanding F Connor Barley, who no longer appears on their roster. Barley, from St. Andrews, Man., played last season with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers, putting up 35 goals and 32 assists in 58 games. . . . His departure leaves the Winterhawks with D Brendan De Jong, just back from a stint in camp with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, F Conor MacEachern and D Jared Freadrich as the three 20s. . . . The Winterhawks also got down to two goaltenders — sophomore Shane Farkas, who turns 19 on Dec. 1, and freshman Dante Giannuzzi, 16 — by releasing Evan Fradette, a 17-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., who was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Giannuzzi, from Winnipeg, was a fifth-round selection in the 2017 draft.


The Kootenay Ice dropped three veteran skaters from their roster on Monday, leaving it Kootenaynewwith 26 players on its roster, including two goaltenders and 10 defencemen. . . . F Gunnar Wegleitner, 20, F Sebastian Streu, who turns 19 on Nov. 22, and F Eli Lieffers, 18, all were released. . . . The Ice had acquired Wegleitner from the Brandon Wheat Kings on July 20 for a conditional sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. From Vancouver, he has also played for the Everett Silvertips and Victoria royals. In 112 regular-season games, he has 11 goals and nine assists. . . . From Neuwied, Germany, Streu had nine goals and three assists in 54 games as a freshman last season. He has dual Canadian/German citizenship so wasn’t classified as an import. . . . From Saskatoon, Lieffers was fourth-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft. He had one goal and one assist in 11 games over three seasons with the Ice. Lieffers was pointless in two games with the Ice last season. . . . Two of the 10 defenceman on Kootenay’s roster are imports — veteran Martin Bodak, a Slovakian who will turn 20 on Nov. 28, and Finnish freshman Valtteri Kakkonen. The Ice also has sophomore F Gilian Kohler, who is from Biel, Switzerland, on its roster.


The Saskatoon Blades are down to two goaltenders after returning G Koen MacInnes, 16, Saskatoonto the Burnaby Winter Club where he is expected to play for the Burnaby Winter Club’s midget prep team. A second-round pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, MacInnes started three exhibition games and went 3-0-0, 2.27, .929. . . . His departure leaves the Blades, as expected, with Nolan Maier, 17, atop the depth chart and Dorrin Luding, 19, as the backup, at least to open the regular season. . . . The Blades also dropped F Braden Plaschewsky, 16, from their roster. A second-round pick in that 2017 bantam draft, he is expected to play for the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He had two goals in six exhibition games with the Blades. . . . Saskatoon is carrying 26 players, including two goaltenders and nine defencemen.


Among the players making their way back to WHL teams from NHL camps on Monday — D Vladislav Yeryomenko to the Calgary Hitmen from the Nashville Predators; G Liam Hughes to the Seattle Thunderbirds from the Philadelphia Flyers; F Brett Davis to the Kootenay Ice from the Dallas Stars; and D Wyatte Wylie to the Everett Silvertips from Philadelphia. . . . Yeryomenko was a fifth-round pick by Nashville in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Hughes was on an amateur tryout with the Flyers. . . . Dallas selected Davis in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL draft. . . . The Flyers grabbed Wylie in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL draft.


Logan Proulx, who played two-plus seasons in the WHL, has joined the junior B Fairview, Alta., Flyers of the North West Junior Hockey League as an assistant coach. A defenceman, Proulx, who is from Trail, B.C., played 137 games over three seasons (2007-10) with the Edmonton Oil Kings, putting up nine goals and 13 assists.


You will recall mention here late last week of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League after they incurred a one-year suspension to owner Barry Dewar, a 20-game suspension to a head coach who wasn’t really the head coach, and a $10,000 fine, all for tampering. . . . Now comes word that Jassi Sangha, the club’s real head coach, has been suspended for a game after playing an ineligible player in a 4-3 loss to the visiting Princeton Posse on Saturday. . . . Larry Martel, the KIJHL’s first-year president, told Kamloops This Week that it was a clerical era. . . . KTW’s piece is right here.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. You might even be the person to push her total over $3,000. Thank you!


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Scattershooting late on a Sunday . . . Will CFL’s Man in Black return? . . . Check out Henri Richard’s first deal . . . WHLers trickling back from NHL camps

Scattershooting

I was remiss in posting the above tweet here Saturday night without an explanation, especially for those readers who may not be familiar with the CFL.

The gent in the photo is Chris Jones, who is the vice-president of football operations, general manager, head coach and defensive co-ordinator for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Until recently, he also was the CFL’s Man in Black. However, when the CFL unveiled this season’s Diversity Is Strength campaign, Jones donned the green t-shirt pictured in the tweet. The Roughriders promptly won four straight games, with him wearing green in each of them.

That streak came to an unceremonious end on Saturday night when the visiting Ottawa Redblacks beat the Roughriders, 30-25.

Thus the tweet from the Redblacks.


Are you old enough to remember when ABC-TV, sparked by Howard Cosell, turned Monday Night Football into a real event, one that carried with it an overwhelming feeling of excitement? Maybe it’s just me, but these days MNF seems to be just another game.


We all are aware that the Toronto Blue Jays have had something of an abysmal season. Right? No matter. There was Sportsnet on Thursday morning showing Red Sox-Blue Jays from the previous night on four channels. On Thursday evening, the Angels-Mariners, in something of a meaningless game, were on five Sportsnet channels.


Texas A&M now is U.S. college football’s MVP — most valuable program — with an average annual revenue of US$148 million. As Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot noted: “Still, universities can’t possibly afford to pay their athletes. Uncanny how that works.”



WHL players have started to find their way back from NHL camps. On Sunday, the Spokane Chiefs got back F Eli Zummack, 18, and D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20, both from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kral was a fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft. . . . D Brendan De Jong, 20, was returned to the Portland Winterhawks by the Carolina Hurricanes, who picked him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. The Winterhawks now have four 20s on their roster — De Jong, F Conor MacEachern, F Connor Barley and D Jared Freadrich. . . . The Maple Leafs also returned G Ian Scott, 19, to the Prince Albert Raiders and F Riley Stotts, 18, to the Calgary Hitmen. Toronto took Scott in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft, and picked Stotts in the third round in 2018. . . . The Hurricanes also returned F Stelio Mattheos, 19, to the Brandon Wheat Kings. He was a third-round selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft.


ICYMI, Al Maki of The Globe and Mail wrote an intriguing piece about the late Zarley Zalapski and the work his sister, Kyla, did in an attempt to learn as much as she could about his cause of death. That piece is right here.



An anecdote as related by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

Back when NCAA rules allowed it, Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden took movie star Burt Reynolds — an ex-FSU player and  a huge Seminoles booster   — on a recruiting trip to Ohio to better his chances of sealing the deal. I’ll pitch FSU to the player, Bowden told Reynolds, while you sweet-talk the kid’s single mother.

“Well, the kid ended up going to Notre Dame,” Bowden quipped, “and the mother came to Florida State.”


When he was at Florida State, the late Burt Reynolds was roommates with Lee Corso, who now is a popular analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay program. A few years ago, he told Florida State boosters about his relationship with Reynolds: “I was famous for one thing at Florida State: I was Burt Reynolds’ roommate. . . . With his looks and my car, we’d kill ‘em in Tallahassee.”


All is in readiness for the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. It’s set for Sunday, Sept. 23, at McDonald Park. My wife, Dorothy, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part. Oh yes, she also is on the organizing committee. She is the top fund-raiser in Kamloops for a fifth straight year, thanks to more than a handful of you who stop by here on a regular basis. Thank you so much because this cause really means a lot to her. . . . How did she spend part of Saturday? Down the highway in Chase, providing support to a kidney support group that is getting started in that community. . . . Yes, we think she’s rather special. . . . If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do that right here.


And finally . . . I think this won the Internet on Saturday . . .

Suspension’s length due to new standard or sheriff? . . . Paterson’s streak on the line . . . MacLeod needs our help


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Last season, according to the WHL website, the Department of Discipline handed out 75 different suspensions. One of those was for six games; none were for more.

D Parker Gavlas of the Regina Pats began serving a six-game suspension on Friday night whlafter he took a checking-to-the-head major and game misconduct late in a 3-2 loss to the host Saskatoon Blades on Thursday night. Gavlas also will miss the first five games of the regular season.

It could be that players in the WHL need to sit up and pay attention to this suspension.

Why?

Because there’s a  new sheriff in town and perhaps — just perhaps — this was his way of sending a message.

During the off-season, the WHL named Kevin Acheson its director of player safety, moving him from assistant director of officiating. Acheson, from Edmonton, was a long-time referee before moving into the off-ice position.

As the director of player safety, he will handle all on-ice and supplemental discipline, taking on that responsibility from Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s vice-president of hockey, who had handled discipline for a long, long time.

After its annual meeting in June, when the WHL revealed that Acheson would be handling discipline, the WHL also announced that it had taken “further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

Unfortunately, the WHL has yet to enlighten its fans with any specifics as to the new regulations and standards. So we don’t know if this suspension was in answer to that, or if it really was a message from Acheson to the players.

On the hit in question, Gavlas appeared to strike Saskatoon F Josh Paterson on the back of his head with an elbow.

Paterson was scratched from the Blades’ final exhibition game against the host Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. (The Blades finished with a 6-1-0 record after losing 5-2 in Prince Albert.)

If Paterson isn’t able to play in the Blades’ regular-season opener against the Broncos in Swift Current on Friday, it will end a stretch of 145 consecutive regular-season games for the 19-year-old from Edmonton. Last season, he had career highs of 31 goals and 22 assists in 72 games.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have released F Holden Katzalay, 18, who had two assists in 59 games as a freshman last season. Katzalay is from Vancouver, B.C. . . .

The Swift Current Broncos have released F Logan Foster, who had two goals and one assist in 23 games last season. Foster, 19, is from Kamsack, Sask. He also played 21 games with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires last season, recording eight goals and 11 assists.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


Wade MacLeod isn’t playing hockey this season; instead, he’s preparing for what will be the fourth brain surgery in five years.

MacLeod, 31, is from Coquitlam, B.C. He played two seasons (2005-07) with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials, then went on to spend four seasons at Northeastern U. He played last season in Germany, with Lowen Frankfurt of the DEL2.

MacLeod also is the son of Scott MacLeod, who played two seasons (1977-79) in the WHL, splitting 138 regular-season games between the Brandon Wheat Kings, Calgary Wranglers and New Westminster Bruins.

I received an email from a friend of Wade’s, all of which you also can read on a GoFundMe site . . .

“Wade has spent his entire life dreaming of being a husband and father while playing in the NHL. This dream almost came true five years ago, but while playing for the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, Wade suffered a grand mal seizure on the ice, which led to the discovery of the first tumour.

“Wade returned to the game a year later, after undergoing brain surgery to remove the tumour. Following surgery, Wade lost the ability of speech and spent three months undergoing speech therapy.

“His dream of being a husband and father has come true with a beautiful wife, Karly, and their 11-month-old baby girl, sweet Ava James. Wade’s courage and unwavering determination to be a loving husband and father and still play the game he loves so much has been an inspiration to us all.

“Since then, Wade’s tumour has relentlessly grown back three times. Each time, Wade returned to the game but his dream of playing in the NHL was over.

“Wade was going to return to playing hockey in Dresden, Germany, last month, but that dream was dashed as he now is preparing for his fourth brain surgery in less than five years. He has a Grade 3 Glioblastoma tumour and it has come back, once again, with a vengeance, this after he went through surgery only two months ago.

“What this means for Wade and his family is that they have to incur all prescription costs that he will have to take his entire lifetime as well as any treatments outside of his basic medical services plan, which is weighing heavily on their finances. They won’t be able to sustain the strain with no income.

“Wade’s recovery would be so much easier without the financial strain as he no longer is able to provide for his family.

“Thank you for taking time to read this and consider funding to this cause.”

Friends have started a GoFundMe page that is right here.


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Shots fired . . .

 

Hamilton talks a bit about lawsuit . . . Are Chiefs all-in on this season? . . . Pats player draws six-game suspension

Deer

We had some visitors to our backyard on Friday afternoon. Two does — one with two offspring, the other with one — stopped by to say hello and see how the hedge tasted. Oh, and the two moms also sampled what’s in the bird feeders. It’s amazing how their tongues fit perfectly in the slots in the feeders.



MacBeth

G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) has been placed on waivers by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL). In one game, he was 5.36, .786.


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Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, was in attendance earlier this week when the Moose Jaw Warriors held their annual general meeting.

Among other things, the Warriors, one of the WHL’s four community-owned teams, MooseJawWarriorsrevealed a profit of $704,182 for the 2017-18 season and a bank balance of $1,157,466. As Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com reported, that bank balance is “after the team spent $233,648 on new boards and glass at Mosaic Place.” (Smith’s story on the annual meeting is right here.)

After the formal part of the meeting, Hamilton took part in an open session that also included Warriors general manager Alan Millar and head coach Tim Hunter.

According to Smith, Hamilton provided an update on the minimum-wage lawsuit that some of the CHL’s teams are facing. If you’ve tuned in late, some past and present players are involved in a class-action lawsuit asking, among other things, that teams pay minimum wage to players. The leagues/teams are fighting the lawsuit.

“We have legislation in every province now except Alberta and Ontario,” Hamilton said, referring to legislation to exempt teams from minimum-wage laws in some jurisdictions. “We anticipate Ontario when the new premier can find time to work towards that . . . we feel confident that it will go through; Alberta, we may need to wait until there’s an election there.”

Of the possibility that the teams could lose the lawsuit, Hamilton said: “It’s sad because if it came to be, it would really impact a lot of other sports and amateur athletics in Canada.”

According to Smith, Hamilton also said: “We’re confident that in the end, we’ll succeed, but how long it takes is the thing that probably wears people out a bit. But we can only do what we’re asked to by the courts and in the end our plan is to be successful and save the amateur status for the players.”

What I don’t understand is this . . . major junior players aren’t amateurs. They just aren’t.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines amateur as “one who engages in a pursuit, study, science or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession.”

Over at dictionary.com, it’s “an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize.”

Another online definition: “A person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.”

By those definitions, there are few, if any, true amateurs left in our sporting world.

Major junior players already receive a stipend of some kind so they aren’t amateurs, something with which the NCAA obviously agrees.

So why not bring an end to all of this by negotiating a settlement, making certain that players receive, if not minimum wage, at least something from merchandise sales and cash cows like the World Junior Championship and Memorial Cup tournament?

If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the book written by former NCAA and NBA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. It’s title is Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA.

Yes, comparing the CHL and its teams to the NCAA is in a lot of ways comparing apples and oranges. But O’Bannon’s book is all about the rights of a player to control his likeness — including in computer games — and there are similarities, for sure.

By the way, Smith’s piece on the hot-stove session is right here.


The WHL’s three other community-owned teams are the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos.

The Raiders held their AGM on Aug. 21 and declared a loss of $168,430 for 2017-18, after losing $250,850 in 2016-17. The Raiders made the playoffs last spring, but lost a seven-game first-round series to the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Hurricanes’ AGM is scheduled for Sept. 17, with the Broncos’ on Sept. 25.

A year ago, the Hurricanes announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season. In 2017-18, they reached the Eastern Conference final for a second straight season.

For 2016-17, the Broncos announced a profit of $135,922. That came after reaching Game 7 of a second-round playoff series. In 2017-18, the Broncos won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as playoff champions, so it will be most interesting to see what that has meant to the franchise’s bottom line.


If early indications mean anything, it would appear that the Spokane Chiefs are all-in on SpokaneChiefsthe 2018-19 WHL season. . . . It isn’t often that a WHL team keeps two 19-year-old goaltenders on its roster, but that’s the position in which the Chiefs find themselves after dropping Campbell Arnold, 16, from their roster. . . . The move left the Chiefs with a pair of 19-year-olds — Dawson Weatherill, who has rejoined the team after being in camp with the NHL’s Boston Bruins, and Bailey Brkin. . . . Weatherill made 46 appearances with the Chiefs last season, going 26-12-6, 3.09, .893. . . . Brkin got into 23 games with the Kootenay Ice (7-12-2, 4.51, .874) before being acquired by the Chiefs. In Spokane, he was 4-2-0, 2.59, .913 in seven games. . . . Arnold, a second-round selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, will remain on the Chiefs’ protected list. He played last season at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . .

Last season, the Chiefs, under head coach Dan Lambert, who was in his first season in Spokane, went 41-25-6 to finish third in the U.S. Division. They lost a seven-game first-round playoff series to the Portland Winterhawks.


F Brian Harris has joined the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders after being released by the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Harris, 19, is from Wawanesa, Man. . . . Last season, he had two goals and one assist in 49 games with the Oil Kings. In 2016-17, he had one goal in five games with Edmonton. He also played with Swan Valley that season, putting up 15 goals and 11 assists in 60 games. . . . He was an 11th-round selection by Edmonton in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . .

G Nick Sanders, 20, who was released by the Calgary Hitmen, has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Sanders missed a lot of last season due to hip problems, but he did get into 13 games with the Bobcats and four with the Prince Albert Raiders, who dealt him to the Hitmen. . . .

F Blake Bargar, 20, who played the past four seasons in the WHL, has joined the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. Bargar, from Torrance, Calif., spent two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors and one each with the Victoria Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. In 238 regular-season games, he put up 19 goals and 23 assists.


The Moose Jaw Warriors now have four 20-year-olds on their roster after bringing in D Dalton Hamaliuk, who had been released by the Spokane Chiefs. Hamaliuk was in the Warriors’ lineup on Friday night for an exhibition game in Brandon against the Wheat Kings. He scored once in a 3-2 loss to the Wheat Kings. . . . From Leduc, Alta., Hamaliuk has six goals and 31 assists in 213 regular-season games, all with the Chiefs. . . . In Moose Jaw, he joins G Brodan Salmond, D Brandon Schuldhaus and F Tristin Langan in the competition for the three 20-year-old spots. . . . By the way, Schuldhaus will sit out the first three games of the regular season with a suspension left over from last season. He was suspended after taking a match penalty in Game 7 of a second-round playoff series with the visiting Swift Current Broncos on April 16.


D Parker Gavlas of the Regina Pats has been hit with a six-game suspension after taking a Patschecking-to-the-head major and game misconduct during an exhibition game against the host Saskatoon Blades on Thursday night. . . . Gavlas, 19, is from Saskatoon. He was pointless in eight games with the Pats last season. He had one goal and 11 assists in 35 games with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . The Blades won Thursday’s game, 3-2, to run their exhibition record to 6-0-0. . . . Gavlas sat out Regina’s final exhibition game — a 5-2 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night — and will miss the first five games of the regular season.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


There was an interesting development in the camp of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. They announced that, effective immediately, they will be much more specific when it comes to reporting player injuries. In other words, there won’t be any more lower-body and upper-body injuries in the Blackhawks’ injury reports.

They were as good as their word on Friday, too, with goaltender Corey Crawford speaking with reporters about a concussion he suffered last season. He admitted that he still has symptoms, so hasn’t yet been cleared to take part in training camp.


Riley Cote played four seasons (1998-2002) with the Prince Albert Raiders before going on to a pro career that included 156 regular-season NHL games. He was an enforcer with the Philadelphia Flyers, totalling one goal, six assists in 411 penalty minutes. . . . These days, the 36-year-old native of Winnipeg is “preaching the gospel of medicinal marijuana,” writes David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail. . . . Canada will legalize marijuana in October, and Shoalts also spoke with CHL president Dave Branch, who said that his organization is educating itself about what remains a banned substance. . . . Shoalts’s complete story is right here.


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