Don Dietrich, who played three seasons (1978-81) with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He and his wife, Nadine, have three sons, and the family has set up a Facebook page that is titled Don Dietrich — Tribute Page. The page includes this note:
“For those that don’t know, Don has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We have had so many people reach out to us to share stories of Don and the impact that he has had on their lives. He has thoroughly enjoyed hearing from everyone, so we wanted to give people the opportunity to share some of their own stories and experiences that they have shared with him. Please feel free to share your stories, photos, videos, memories and kind words with us on this page so he can see them all!”
The tributes that are pouring in include this one, from Norm Harris:
“Back in the ’80s the hockey fans in southern Maine had an AHL team, the Maine Mariners. We considered the players royalty.
“Our local high school team wasn’t very good. In 10 years they never had a winning season. It was just a bunch of country kids who grew up on the ponds who could now play in an arena. The winter of 1992-93, Don started to show up to our hockey board meetings as he had decided to settle in the area after his career was winding down. He convinced us to start a learn-to-skate program for the elementary kids so we would have a feeder system.
“The following year we needed a head coach for our high school team. Don stepped up to the plate. The players were so used to coaches who did more yelling and boasting about their own achievements than actually coaching. Don came in and started to teach not only the players but us other coaches from the learn-to-skate program, middle school and the high school assistant. Don would break down why you do certain things that past coaches never brought up.
“Each year that he coached the team’s record improved. Then he got sick and moved back home. The year after he left, the team made the playoffs for the first time and had won three-quarters of its games. It was all a because of Don’s vision.
“He showed us why we treated those pro players as royalty. He knew what it took to get the best not only out of a single player but an organization as well.
“We hold a school alumni game every year. Don graciously came to one a few years back which was a long trip for him. He came down and spent time in the locker room with his old players and worked a few games back on the bench. Before he left he gave back once again to the Bonny Eagle hockey program by donating a few of his books (No Guarantees)
“That year we not only had the most alumni come out to play but we packed the stands with fans as well. Many just to see Don.
“Thank you, sir, for all you have done.”
If you’re on Facebook, take a few minutes and check out this page. You will be blown away by the number of lives that have been touched by Don. If you have a memory or two or even a photo please feel free to post before leaving.
The GoFundMe page that was set up to benefit the Sopotyk family remains open and has gone past $190,000. Tyrell Sopotyk, who played the past two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, was injured in a snowboarding accident in January and remains in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . The page was set up by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, who has been friends with Sopotyk since childhood. . . . If you haven’t yet contributed to the fund and would like to, the page is right here.
The WHL hasn’t yet released a schedule for games to be played by its five Alberta-based teams starting later this month or early in March. And it appears that it is gearing up to approach health officials in B.C. and Washington state in the hopes of getting the OK to get more teams back on the ice. . . . The B.C. plan is to include bubble-type situations in Kamloops and Kelowna. It will be interesting to see how a plan for games in Kamloops might be welcomed by provincial health officials because the virus has found us in a big way in 2021. . . . There have been 81 cases reported in Royal Inland Hospital, with 51 of those being staff. On top of that, one of the high schools — Sa-Hali secondary — has experienced exposures with at least 12 positives — nine staff and three staff. The school has at least 200 students and 18 staff now in self-isolation. . . . Kamloops This Week has more right here. . . . Marty Hastings of KTW has more on the WHL’s B.C. Division plan right here.
Meanwhile, in the QMJHL, the Victoriaville Tigers, who have been playing in what the league calls a “protected environment” in Chicoutimi, have had a player test positive. All players and staff will isolate for 14 days and the team has left the protected environment. . . . The league is awaiting more results before releasing an updated schedule.
A report on harassment and bullying in major junior hockey is now in the hands of the president of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL),” report Nicolas Steinbach and Francois Le Blanc of Radio-Canada. “Dan MacKenzie confirmed to Radio-Canada that he had received the document, which has not yet been made public. The independent committee led by former Premier of New Brunswick, Camille Thériault, submitted its report at the end of December.” . . . McKenzie, in an email, told Radio-Canada: “We are in the process of reviewing and determining the next steps. This is an important issue, but we also need to manage the impacts of the pandemic and we are focused on getting our players, CHL staff and community back to safe play. It’s hard to put an exact date, but we’re hopeful that we can answer questions this spring.” . . . Three independent commissioners, including former WHLer Sheldon Kennedy, were appointed to looking into the situation after a class-action lawsuit was filed on June 19. Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Taylor Garrett, who played in the WHL, filed the suit. . . . The Radio-Canada story is right here.
THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
CBC News: As of 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 786,419 cases of COVID-19 — with 49,562 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,215.
CNN, Tuesday, 2 p.m. PT — 26.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.
CNN, Tuesday, 1:59 p.m. PT — 446,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.
The New Jersey Devils had 14 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday — F Jesper Bratt, D Connor Carrick, G Aaron Dell, F Jack Hughes, F Andreas Johnsson, F Janne Kuokkanen, F Michael McLeod, F Kyle Palmieri, D Damon Severson, D Ty Smith, D Matt Tennyson, D Sami Vatanen, G Pavel Zacha and F Travis Zajac. . . . G Mackenzie Blackwood came off the list earlier in the day. . . . The NHL has said that the Devils won’t play again until at least Saturday. . . . The Buffalo Sabres, who played the Devils on Saturday and Sunday, put F Taylor Hall and D Rasmus Ristolainen in the protocol list on Tuesday. The Sabres, who won’t play again until Monday at the earliest, are reported to be unhappy with the NHL, which allowed Sunday’s game to go ahead despite Palmieri having gone on the list after playing in Saturday’s contest.
The Detroit Pistons were back in action on Tuesday, after having a Monday game against the host Denver Nuggets postponed. Last night, the Pistons went into Salt Lake City and played the Utah Jazz. . . . The Monday game was scratched because of contact tracing in the Detroit organization. . . .
Hockey Alberta announced on Tuesday that it has ended its 2020-21 season, meaning its all over for tiered, AAA and AA hockey in that province. However, the association hasn’t given up on having some kind of spring development season should government clearance come at some point. . . .
The Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association has cancelled all provincial basketball championships for this school year.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.