A fond farewell to the Swamp Dog . . . Sopotyk family says ‘Thank You’ . . . Canmore opts out of AJHL return to play

Let’s start with a couple of stories involving old friends.

Andy Murray and I go back a long way . . . when I was getting started at the Brandon Sun, he was the starting QB for the Brandon U Bobcats, a ragtag football team full of guys who sure had a lot of fun. He also was a star forward on the Bobcats hockey team.

AndyMurray
ANDY MURRAY

Murray, of course, went on to a lengthy coaching career and now is the head coach of the Western Michigan U Mustangs. On Monday, Bods (@Bods27) posted three tweets involving Murray, and the story is just too good not to share.

“Since it’s the anniversary of Miracle on Ice, I’ll share a story about it.

“We were on a road trip to Miami several years ago and watching Miracle on the way down. We get to Goggin (the arena in Oxford, Ohio) with about 20 minutes or so left in the movie.

“The guys on the bus want to finish it since we were just going to unload the bus, not practice or anything like that. Coach Murray stands up and abruptly shuts off the DVD player. The guys all boo him.

“Murray simply looks down the aisle of the bus and says ‘In Canada, we don’t need to make movies about things that happen every four years,’ and then walks off the bus.”

O Canada . . .

And that brings us to old friend Murray Rauw, who died in Calgary on Sunday night after a long illness. We were part of the fun bunch in the sports department at the Winnipeg Tribune in the mid-1970s. Swamp Dog, as we called him, was one of those special people with a big, big heart and a laugh I’ll never forget.

Here’s a story from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, who was then writing out of Edmonton while Murray was covering the Stampeders for the Calgary Herald. . . .

“One of my favourite sports writing stories involved Murray Rauw, and then Stampeders head coach Wally Buono.

“I was down in Calgary for a game, and walked into Buono’s office after practice for his daily gab with the media. Murray, the Herald beat guy, was ill, and on leave.

“When I arrived, all the seats were taken but for a chair right in front of Wally’s desk. I hesitated in the doorway, wondering why that prime seat would be open.

“Wally noticed, quietly put up his hand as a stop sign, and said: ‘We’re saving Murray’s seat for when he comes back.’

“No scribe sat in that chair for weeks.

“I’m not sure if that story says more about Wally or Rauwser, but I consider myself lucky to have known both.”

Condolences to Maureen and family. Be safe.


It almost has been a month since F Kyrell Sopotyk of the Kamloops Blazers suffered a devastating injury while snowboarding near North Battleford, Sask. He was left paralyzed below the waist and remains in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . A GoFundMe effort had raised $195,868 as of Monday evening, with the money ticketed to his family to use for expenses, including whatever home renovations may be required.

On Monday, Lori Sopotyk, Kyrell’s mother, posted this update:

“Our family would like to express the immense gratitude and thanks for the overwhelming support and kindness during this tough time. Kyrell is working towards months of recovery with his medical and rehab team at Saskatoon City Hospital.

“We ask that you please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers on his long journey ahead. The incredible support of family, friends and the community makes a huge difference in Kyrell’s road to recovery and maintaining a positive attitude.

“Thank you to everyone for your support and generosity whether it be through cards, calls, texts, donations, food or the purchase of decals.”

If you haven’t donated and would like to, the page is right here.



The 15-team AJHL announced on Friday that it has been given the OK to return Canmoreto play, although it didn’t reveal a schedule or a start date. On Sunday, the Canmore Eagles announced that they are opting out “due to challenges in meeting the requirements of the approved Return-to-Play Plan and of existing restrictions due to COVID-19.” . . . A news release on the AJHL website added: “We have worked tirelessly through several options not only within the town of Canmore, but also exploring possible solutions to work with other communities. Regrettably, we have not been able to arrive at a workable solution.” . . . The Eagles were hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 in late November, one that resulted in at least 16 positive tests within the organization and some community transmission. Andrew Milne, the Eagles’ general manager and head coach, did some resulting media interviews in which he candidly discussed what the team had gone through. The AJHL followed by hitting him with a 15-game suspension and a $1,000 fine for “bringing discredit to the league.”



Bigfoot


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The New York Times — President Biden honored the “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” of 500,000 lives lost to the coronavirus at the White House on Monday. “The people we lost were extraordinary,” Biden said.

The New York Times — The United States reached a staggering milestone on Monday, surpassing 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths in a pandemic that has lasted almost a year. The nation’s total virus toll is higher than in any other country in the world. It has far surpassed early predictions of loss by some federal experts. . . . The United States accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s known Covid deaths, but makes up just 4.25 percent of the global population.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 9:37 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,720 have died from coronavirus; 854,190 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 9:37 p.m. PT — United States: 500,236 people have died. . . . 28,188,311 have tested positive.

CBC News — Manitoba announced 97 new cases of COVID-19, up slightly from the province’s 7-day average of 92. The test positivity rate for the last week is 5.4%. The province has also had 2 additional deaths.

CBC News — B.C. has confirmed 1,428 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths from the disease over the last three days. There are 223 people in hospital with the disease, 63 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Alberta reports 273 new COVID-19 cases, 16 more deaths from illness. Variant cases account for about 3.5% new infections in the province this month, Dr. Hinshaw says.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reports 177 new COVID-19 cases, up from the province’s 7-day average of 158. Announcement comes after province says it has reached agreement with pharmacists to help administer vaccines for the virus.

CBC News — Newfoundland and Labrador announces 14 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest total in 6 days and well below the 7-day average of 34. The number of recoveries is exceeding the number of new cases, a development the chief medical officer calls ‘encouraging.’

CBC News — Nunavut has 12 more confirmed cases of COVID-19, all in the small fly-in community of Arviat on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay. It’s the 1st time the territory has seen a double-digit daily increase since January 24.

CBC News — 805 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec as number stays below 1,000 for 9th straight day while 7-day average rises slightly to 773. Authorities are also attributing 11 additional deaths to the virus.

CBC News — Ontario reports 1,058 new COVID-19 cases, 5th day in a row number has exceeded 1,000. 7-day average up slightly to 1,045. Authorities also say there have been 11 more deaths. However, the number of hospitalizations and ICU patients continues to fall.

KTVZ NewsChannel 21 — Gov. Kate Brown today ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Friday in memory of the more than 500,000 Americans who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. This includes 2,155 Oregonians.

National Geographic — In 2020, the U.S. saw a more than 15 percent increase in deaths over the prior year, the highest year-on-year rise in deaths across the U.S. since 1918, which experienced both a global flu epidemic and the First World War

KOMO News — Washington State health officials reported almost 1,200 more COVID-19 cases, 77 hospitalizations and 35 deaths in the past two days as the United States reached a grim COVID-19 milestone. State officials have reported 334,962 cases, 19,110 hospitalizations and 4,857 deaths since the pandemic began.

The New York Times — More Americans have died from Covid-19 than did on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

——

Sooner or later, our lives are going to be able to return to some sense of normalcy, which will include being able to go back into arenas to enjoy hockey games, concerts and other shows. But what will the interior of those arenas look like? Well, the City of Kent is spending about $545,000 on the accesso ShoWare Centre to make it a “safer environment for fans,” as Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes right here. . . .

It was in November when Iona men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino pleaded with the NCAA to move the start of the season to March “and then have May Madness” because of the pandemic. The NCAA wasn’t listening. On Monday, Iona announced that the men’s team won’t be able to play its last five regular-season MAAC games because it doesn’t have enough healthy players. The Gaels (8-5) hope to play in the MAAC tournament that begins on March 8. . . . Earlier, Iona had a 51-day layoff, between Dec. 23 and Feb. 12, because of COVID-19.


Carpet


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The Moose Jaw Warriors are in the market for a general manager after Alan Millar announced that he is leaving to join Hockey Canada as director of player personnel. Millar joined the Warriors as director of hockey operations in 2010, then was named GM in 2012. Millar isn’t a stranger to Hockey Canada, having worked with the U-18 program for two years and then the U-20 team last year.


Ship

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