When you’re trying to figure out who are the powerbrokers in the WHL, you have to know that Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, is among the select few.
He was been a WHL owner since 1991 when he purchased the Tri-City Americans. He sold that franchise in 2000 and has been the Giants’ majority owner since he paid $2 million for an expansion team and got it on the ice for the 2001-02 season.
The point being that if you’re a WHL fan, you should be paying attention when Toigo speaks, as he did last week in an interview with Postmedia’s Steve Ewen.
This particular Ewen story dealt primarily with Toigo’s reaction to having the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks move their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, into the Abbotsford Centre, which is 34 km east of the Langley Events Centre, the facility the Giants call home.
However, it sounded like Toigo had a lot more on his mind concerning the 2021-22 season than having an AHL team nearby.
“Are people going to be allowed to come to games?” Toigo said as he looked ahead a few months. “If they are, how many will you be allowed to have in the rink? And, if they are allowed to come, how many are going to want to? There are still a lot of question marks.”
If this is what’s on Toigo’s mind, you can bet that this is the kind of conversation that has been happening whenever the WHL’s board of governors — or even the executive committee that includes Toigo — have hooked up for a meeting.
In other words, WHL teams are well aware that they may not be able to open the doors and invite everyone in come October.
The best quote I have seen recently on what’s ahead for all of us came from Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees’ ace right-hander.
“I don’t think this is going to be over for a few years,” he said one day last week. “I think we’re going to be dealing with this kind of thing for a while. Every time these things come up, we’re gonna have to adapt and learn as a species. So, well, we’re gonna take it one step at a time and do the best we can with it.”
I would suggest that is exactly what the WHL and its teams will be doing — one step at a time and doing the best they can under the circumstances.
The OHL, which wasn’t able to get in any games in a 2020-21 season that it ultimately cancelled on April 20, announced on Thursday that its 2021-22 regular season will open on Oct. 7. . . . Training camps are to open on Sept. 4. The schedule, which hasn’t yet been revealed, will call for each team to play 68 games, with playoffs to begin on April 7 and run through May 30. . . . The OHL release has the Memorial Cup, which is to be held in a QMJHL city yet to be named, running from June 2-12.
Here’s hoping that the OHL is able to meet these dates, which would mean that the WHL would be able to start up about the same time. However, that fly on the wall in the OHL office actually was the virus in disguise. “Hmm,” it buzzed. “We’ll see . . .”
The New York Yankees have reported eight positive tests among players, coaches and support staff. That includes one player — SS Gleyber Torres, who went on the COVID-19 protocol list on Thursday. Torres, who had tested positive during the offseason, has been fully vaccinated, as have each of the other seven people who tested positive. They all were given the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. . . . All eight of them are asymptomatic. That includes pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin, who had symptoms early on, first-base coach Reggie Willits and four members of the travelling staff. All are quarantining in Tampa. . . . Yankees GM Brian Cashman said: “The one thing I take from this is that the vaccines are working. . . . It will save you and protect you from a lot more than what you think.” . . .
The Philadelphia Phillies have placed C J.T. Realmuto on the COVID-19 protocol list after her reported a stomach ache and fever on Wednesday night. He was tested for COVID-19 and was found to be negative. But he didn’t travel with the team to Florida on Thursday. . . .
Meanwhile, Bill Maher, the host of Real Time With Bill Maher, has tested positive, forcing cancellation of this week’s taping. Maher, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive during weekly staff testing. He was reported Thursday to be asymptomatic.
Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.
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.
JUST NOTES: Derek Hulak has returned to the U of Saskatchewan, where he spent four seasons (2010-14) as a player, to work as an assistant coach with the Huskies under head coach Mike Babcock. Hulak also spent four seasons (2006-10) in the WHL, the first 19 games with the Regina Pats and the remainder with the Saskatoon Blades. Hulak, a 31-year-old native of Saskatoon, announced his retirement after playing eight games this season with HC Thurgau of the Swiss League.