Enough of the ‘it’s just like the flu’ junk! . . . Virtanen latest Canucks player on protocol list . . . QMJHL has 15 more positives on two teams

Please don’t bother wasting your breath trying to tell me that “this is just like the flu.”

Because it isn’t.

I lost another friend to COVID-19 on the weekend, so I’m well aware that this isn’t just like the flu. It just isn’t.

Bob Watson was a photographer at the Regina Leader-Post during my time there. He was one of those people who was quick to smile and really would give you the shirt — or in his case, the photographer’s vest — off his back.

After we moved to Kamloops, Bob and I reconnected on social media. No, we didn’t communicate on a regular basis, but we did often enough to stay in touch. And he always — always — asked how Dorothy was doing.

Anyway . . . knowing Bob the way I did, I know that he and his wife, Karen, did all they could to stay safe. Still, she tested positive, and so did he. Karen has since recovered, but Bob didn’t make it. . . . Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post has more on Bob right here.

You may also want to take a few minutes and read this column right here from Daphne Bramham of the Vancouver Sun.

She, too, worked at The Leader-Post and was friends with Bob.

She writes, in part: “It’s why I can’t separate the sadness over his death from my raw anger at the stupidity of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers including the two Regina women fined $2,800 for organizing a Saturday protest that attracted 30 people, the owners and customers at the Corduroy and Gusto restaurants in Vancouver who ignored the ban on indoor dining, and the loudmouth Instagramer building an audience by provoking people as he drives up and down Robson Street with his megaphone.”


Another day, another player off the Vancouver Canucks’ roster added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The latest addition is F Jake Virtanen, who went on the list on Tuesday. His presence means that 18 of the Canucks22 players on the roster are on that list.

There were reports over the long weekend that some of the Canucks had tested positive for the P.1 variant, which first surfaced in Brazil and now is causing problems in Canada, especially in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

However, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, threw cold water on those reports.

“I’m not aware that any of the cases in the Canucks organization are related to P.1,” she told reporters on Tuesday.”I don’t know where that started, but not that I’m aware of.”

Neither the NHL nor the Canucks have made an official statement of any kind since the original positive test on Gaudette was confirmed. Reports of the P.1 variant being involved appeared to come from sources within the Vancouver organization, player agents and family members.

Dr. Henry also said that what the Canucks are going through shows that COVID-19 spreads “very, very easily.”

She added: “It just tells us that once this virus gets hold, it can spread very quickly, despite having routine testing protocols, having protocols to try and protect people as much as possible.”

F Adam Gaudette was the first of the Vancouver players to go on the protocol list on Tuesday, followed the next day by D Travis Hamonic.

Over the next few days, they were joined by forwards Travis Boyd, Jalen Chatfield, Jayce Hawryluk, Nils Hoglander, Bo Horvat, Zack MacEwen, Marc Michaelis, Tyler Motte, Antoine Roussel and Brandon Sutter, defencemen Alex Edler, Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers, and goaltenders Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby.

And now Virtanen.

There also have been reports that three members of the coaching staff have tested positive, and two players off the taxi squad have been deemed as close contacts.

So far, the NHL has postponed six Vancouver games, with the Canucks not likely to play again before mid-April.


Meanwhile, the Canucks AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, has issues of its own and hasn’t played since March 10. They have had players and staff in isolation since March 22. The Comets were back on the practice ice on Monday. . . .  Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch reported: “It is not clear how many Comets players had positive COVID-19 tests. The AHL does not disclose which players are unavailable because of positive tests or close contacts.” . . . The Comets hope to return to game action on Friday against the visiting Rochester Americans.


The NCAA’s Frozen Four is scheduled for this weekend in Pittsburgh. On Tuesday, the UMass Minutemen, one of the four competing teams, revealed that they will be missing at least four players because of COVID-19 contact tracing protocols. That includes starting G Filip Lindberg and F Carson Gicewicz, their leading sniper. Also out are G Henry Graham and F Jerry Harding. . . . Graham was the No. 3 goaltender. . . . This means that senior Matt Murray will be the starting goaltender on Thursday when UMass opens against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, the defending champs. . . . It also means that Zac Steigmeyer, a senior equipment manager, will be the backup goaltender. Steigmeyer played goal in high school. . . . The other semifinal on Thursday has the St. Cloud State Huskies meeting the Minnesota State Mavericks. . . . The final is scheduled for Saturday.

The QMJHL announced Tuesday that the Gatineau Olympiques have experienced 11 positive tests within qmjhlnewtheir organization, while the Quebec Remparts have had four players come up positive. . . . The Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Blainville-Boisbriand and Rimouski Oceanic, teams that played the Olympiques and Remparts last week, didn’t have any positives, nor did any of the officials who worked those games. Still, the QMJHL has had those three teams go into isolation for 14 days. . . . “Therefore,” the league said in a news release, “the 2021 President Cup playoffs will not begin until at least the end of the mandatory quarantine period. With player safety being the league’s top priority, the league will ensure that infected players have sufficiently recovered and are back to full health before even considering return to play scenarios.”

If you’re wondering when the U.S.-Canada border might open again to what now is termed non-essential travel, you should know that the bookmakers at Bodog have after June 1 as the most likely date, at -300 — you would need to bet $300 to make $100. The least likely outcome of before June 1 is +200 — you would need to bet $100 to make $200.

There were five games in the WHL on Tuesday night . . .

F Owen Pederson’s PP goal at 5:04 of OT gave the Winnipeg Ice a 3-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in WinnipegRegina. . . . Pederson has seven goals for the Ice (9-4-0). . . . The Blades (9-2-2) have lost three in a row (0-2-1) after opening with a 9-0-1 record. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs (7) had a goal and an assist, and also took some turns on defence. . . . Krebs has 23 points, including 16 assists, in 13 games. After being blanked in his first game, he has at least a point in 12 straight. . . . The Ice is down to four regular defencemen, with Mike Ladyman, Carson Lambos, Nolan Orzeck and Karter Prosofsky all sidelined. Owen Boucher, Anson McMaster, Brandt Young and Ben Zloty are left to shoulder most of the load, with some of the forwards dropping back on occasion. . . . Saskatoon F Evan Patrician tied the game, 2-2, at 1:53 of the third period. . . .

The host Everett Silvertips erased a two-goal deficit with the game’s last four goals and beat the Portland EverettWinterhawks, 6-4. . . . Portland led 2-0 before the game was two minutes old as F Jaydon Dureau (2) and F Reece Newkirk (4) scored on its first two shots. . . . F Seth Jarvis gave Portland a 4-2 lead with the club’s sixth shorthanded goal of the season at 9:29 of the second period. . . . Everett tied it on PP goals from F Jacob Wright (4) and F Hunter Campbell (4), the latter at 14:49 of the third period. . . . F Ben Hemmerling (2) broke the tie at 16:52, and F Jackson Berezowski (2) added the empty-netter. . . . F Gage Goncalves (6) had a goal and two assists for the winners. . . . Everett was 2-for-3 on the PP. . . . Everett (8-1-0) is 3-0-0 against Portland (4-3-2) this season. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf now is 7-1-0, 1.12, .961. . . .

The Tri-City Americans erased a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (3) gave the Thunderbirds (5-4-0) a 1-0 lead at 1:45 of the first period. . . . D Ian Ferguson (1) pulled the Americans (4-4-0) even at 2:18 and F Samuel Huo (6), playing in his 200th career game, gave them the lead at 2:36. . . . F Connor Bouchard (2) and F Booker Daniel (1) added second-period goals. . . .

F Connor Bedard scored twice and added two assists as the Regina Pats dumped the Swift Current Broncos, 6-1, in Regina. . . . Bedard has 10 goals and 16 assists in 14 games. His WHL season is expected to end after a game with the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday. He and eight other WHLers will begin preparations to join Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Texas. . . . F Carson Denomie scored his 12th goal of the season for the Pats (5-6-3). . . . D Mathew Ward (3) scored for the Broncos (3-9-1). Ward, who turned 17 on Jan. 24, has three goals and 13 assists in 13 games. . . .

F Brayden Tracey scored the winner as the Victoria Royals beat the Prince George Cougars, 3-2 in OT, in Kamloops. . . . Tracey, who won it at 4:36 of extra time, finished with two goals — he’s got three — and an assist as the Royals (1-3-1) picked up their first victory of the season. . . . G Connor Martin got the victory with 43 saves. . . . Tracey and D Gannon Laroque (1) gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the second period. . . . The Cougars (1-2-2) tied it on two goals from Jonny Hooker (2), the second one at 1:14 of the third.


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



Or, for more information, visit right here.



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