I took some time away from the keyboard to sit back and watch the sporting world go by.
What I witnessed wasn’t at all pretty.
Of course, the situation involving Kyle Beach and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks gets messier every time an NHL or NHLPA official opens his mouth.
But let’s be honest. As far as the NHL is concerned, it’s all about protecting the shield. If it wasn’t, Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, would have put Sheldon Kennedy on the payroll as a consultant or advisor a long time ago.
But there’s more going on than that . . .
If you Google “Pittsburgh Penguins,” you will find the NHL team is embroiled in a scandal that involves a couple of coaches and one of their wives.
If you Google “Vancouver Whitecaps,” you will find that Major League Soccer has hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into the team’s handling of alleged misconduct by a couple of coaches. Those accusations were levelled more than 10 years ago; the Whitecaps led an investigation into them in 2019.
And then there was the high school boys hockey game in the Pittsburgh area the other day that was marred by the vulgar chants of students from one school towards the other team’s female goaltender. No, adults in the stands didn’t see fit to intervene.
Meanwhile, there were reports that F Nicholas Daigle of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres, who has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor, may — or may not — be going to play in the controversial Ukrainian Hockey League. Daigle is one of two players who was charged following the Tigres’ championship victory last season; the QMJHL subsequently suspended both players. Reports indicated that he would be going overseas to play for HC Rulav Oddr of the Ukrainian Hockey League. The team announced his acquisition with this: “To be found guilty and to be charged is a big difference. Nicholas will be the most famous young player in UHL history . . . and the fact that the guy is sexy, the residents of Kharkiv will like him. ” The UHL is the league that found itself embroiled in a nasty racist incident earlier this season. . . . The QMJHL, however, has said that it won’t be releasing Daigle to play in the UHL or, one can assume, in any other league.
PHEW! Take a breath because there’s more . . .
The NFL launched an investigation into allegations of workplace harassment and more with the Washington Football Team, but won’t release the results, although some emails leaked that resulted in the departure of the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach.
The NBA is investigating allegations of misogyny and racism involving the owner of the Phoenix Suns, while the Portland Trailblazers are investigating allegations of workplace misconduct against their general manager.
The National Women’s Soccer League had its commissioner resign amid a scandal involving misconduct and sexual misconduct. The league and the players association are launching a wholesale investigation.
As well, Rana Reider, who coaches Canadian sprinting star Andre De Grasse has been accused of sexual misconduct and SafeSport is investigating.
Meanwhile, former WHL/NHL D Bryce Salvador tweeted this on Oct. 31:
“I just spent 10 mins on the ice holding the hand of a 12yr player I coach. He lay there motionless, crying that his back hurt, unable to move at all.
“I ultimately called off the game as we waited until the ambulance came. (we were winning 4-1 with a 1min left in the semi-final game). . . . With the traumatic toll weighing on my 12-year players about the health of their teammate, I then decided we would forfeit the final game.
“What happened next is unbelievable. The coach of the team that we were scheduled to play in the final couldn’t believe that we were not going to play the final game because I felt it was unethical to put 12yrs back on the ice again that day.
“He insisted that we still had enough players to play . . . ‘. . . what, you are just going leave?’
“YES! I need to see how the player is doing! Where is empathy anymore?”
BTW, if you think the NHL will be in the market for a new commissioner because of recent happenings, well, it’s not going to happen. Bettman works for the owners and his No. 1 priority is to make money for them. During his reign, the NHL somehow got its players to accept a salary cap, and the last two expansion franchises brought in a total of $1,150,000,000. Yes, that’s more than a billion dollars in US funds.
Brock McGillis came out in 2016. A goaltender, he still was playing pro hockey so it was kind of a big deal. These days, he does a lot of speaking in the world of hockey, work that he hopes will help improve the inclusivity in that particular part of our world. . . . But there are roadblocks. I know, you’re shocked! . . . As he told Matt Larkin of The Hockey News:
“I really do appreciate the teams that bring me in – it matters. But I’ve been begging, pleading with the OHL for four years to do this and make it a mandatory program like they’ve done with so many others. Unfortunately, they haven’t. I’ve stopped pleading. I felt like I was a bother and it wasn’t accomplishing anything. I hope they circle back, because it’s needed but, until they engage that conversation, I can’t plead with them, but I will work with individual teams that see the value and other groups. . . . Frankly, I hope the CHL reaches out, especially considering they do have an out player (Luke Prokop). I’m hoping it’ll be the catalyst to a conversation with the CHL. I’m becoming exhausted with leagues and teams dipping a toe in with Pride nights. I’ve told them all, ‘This is performative.’ Sorry, but it is. Studies have shown that it doesn’t move the needle or impact the locker room or anything.”
Larkin’s complete story is right here.
Just wondering, but whatever happened to the coaches’ union in junior hockey? There was a time when junior hockey coaches had frequent conversations, oftentimes before or after games. . . . Could it be those in-season communications have gone the way of the mask-free goaltender? . . . In an email conversation with the head coach who took over a junior team prior to this season, I asked if any of the league’s other coaches had “called or emailed or contacted you in any fashion just to welcome you to the league?” . . . His response: “The answer to your question is ‘no.’ If they did reach out and give me some form of welcome, it was only because they had another agenda and/or were trying to screw me somehow!” . . . I guess the days of two coaches sharing a post-game beverage before one boards the bus for the trip home are over.
DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Who fell further faster — the Chicago Blackhawks or Aaron Rodgers? . . . Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “After Aaron Rodgers reported that he turned in a 500-page research paper to the NFL detailing supposed problems with the COVID vaccines, the world wondered, ‘What kind of college student was Rodgers?’ Well, he didn’t graduate from Cal (‘Thank God,’ sigh a million Cal alums). Rodgers did major in American Studies at Cal, and one of his classes was Food Appreciation. Food Appreciation.” . . . Here’s Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: “Even if the Packers win the Super Bowl, the people in charge at Lambeau Field will be willing to drive (Rodgers) to the airport next February.”
THE WORLD OF COVID: The Ottawa Senators, fresh off a six-day trip into the U.S., had two players (D Nick Holden and F Austin Watson) and assistant coach Jack Capuano in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday night. Yes, chances are there will be more in the days ahead. . . . S Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings didn’t play Sunday against the host Baltimore Ravens because he is on the NFL’s COVID-19 list. Smith, who isn’t vaccinated, is a Pro Bowler. The Vikings lost, 34-31 in OT. They also were without C Garrett Bradbury, who is vaccinated and tested positive. G Dakota Dozier, who is on their practice squad, also is on the COVID list. Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis StarTribune blamed the loss on “Smith’s unwillingness to get vaccinated and the offense’s inability to function without a script or a sense of panic.” . . . The San Jose Sharks have games in Calgary and Winnipeg this week, and because of COVID protocols they’re without head coach Bob Boughner, F Matt Nieto, D Erik Karlsson, D Jake Middleton, D Radim Simek, D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, F Kevin Labanc, F Tino Meier, trainer Ray Tufts and equipment manager Mike Aldrich.
WORK NEWS: It was good to see old friend Travis Crickard’s name in a news release the other day as he joined the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs as an assistant coach. Crickard spent four-plus seasons on staff with the Kelowna Rockets before Bruce Hamilton announced on Dec. 8, 2018, that they had “mutually parted ways.” (Wink! Wink!!) . . . Crickard had been head coach of the U-18 AAA Waterloo, Ont., Wolves. . . . Once upon a time he was a goaltender for two seasons with the Flin Flon Bombers. He also was the video coach with the Canadian team that won the IIHF U-18 tournament in Texas last spring. . . . Bobby Jo Love, one of the WHL’s regular referees, made his AHL debut in Abbotsford, B.C., last weekend. The 25-year-old from Smithers, B.C., worked the Ontario Reign’s sweep — 5-2 on Oct. 29 and 3-2 in OT on Oct. 30 — of the Canucks. . . . Congrats to Jayson Hajdu, another old friend, on his new position as director of communications for College Hockey Inc. The Regina native worked in the U of North Dakota’s athletic media relations office (1995-2018) and was the primary contact for men’s hockey there from 2008 through 2018. For the past two years, he’s been the marketing and communications strategist for The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City.
A GOOD READ: It seems the reports of the demise of Marc Habscheid’s Prince Albert Raiders were a bit premature. The Raiders are laughing at the critics after sweeping the Saskatoon Blades on the weekend, winning 5-1 at home and 5-2 in Toontown. Once 2-7-0, the Raiders now are 5-7-1. . . . The same holds true for Dave Struch’s Regina Pats. They also were 2-7-0, but now have won four in a row. . . . If you’re looking for an entertaining hockey-related read, you can’t go wrong with Bearcat Murray: From Ol’ Potlicker to Calgary Flames Legend. Murray, the legendary Calgary-based trainer, told his story and George Johnson, whose fingers play on a computer keyboard the way Oscar Peterson’s tickled the ivories, wrote it. Good stuff! . . . While watching the Nashville Predators and host Vancouver Canucks on Friday night I found myself wondering if the NHL’s crackdown on cross-checking had been relaxed.
JUST WHAT WE NEED: Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Clear evidence that we’re running out of things to investigate: On Nov. 19, FX/Hulu is offering up a probe into Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.” . . . Perry, again: “BASS announced its 2022 high-school bass-fishing schedule, four tournaments scheduled on weekend days called the Bassmaster High School Series. Back in the good old days, fishing took place on a weekday and we just called it hooky.” . . . You know what is really wonderful these days? You turn on the TV and tune into an NFL game. A woman is part of the on-field officiating crew and from the game’s start to its end no one mentions it.
OUR WORLD IS EMPTIER TODAY: Condolences to Verita van Diemen and sons Ryan and Chad and their families following the death of Case, who was a guiding hand for the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society when the WHL franchise, which then was owned by community shareholders, was going through some difficult times. Case, 74, died on Oct. 30. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 65. He did a two-year stint as the Blazers’ president and I always enjoyed conversing with him. He always gave an honest answer and/or opinion, which might be why I wasn’t surprised to read in his obituary that “Case was thankful to be able to have the choice to go out on his terms.” . . . I also won’t ever forget Case and Verita’s generosity when I was running the Christmas Cheer Fund for the Kamloops Daily News. They were on board with us from the beginning and I always, always heard from them early in the campaign.
The NHL may not want to speak with Sheldon Kennedy, but the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame certainly did. Kennedy was inducted into the Winnipeg-based Hall of Fame on Thursday night. . . .
NO TAG DAYS FOR BUSTER: Don’t be concerned about Buster Posey’s financial future now that the San Francisco Giants veteran catcher has announced his retirement. Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Financially, Posey should be OK. He invested heavily in BodyArmor sports drink around 2013. Coca-Cola just bought BodyArmor for $5.6 billion. That sale turned the late Kobe Bryant’s $6-million investment into a net gain for his estate of $400 million.” . . . I don’t know about you but I absolutely despise those computer-generated ads that TSN floats onto the field during CFL games and the ones that Sportsnet plasters on the glass during NHL games. . . . Here’s a for-real headline from FoxNews.com: Monkey belonging to Texas special-teams coach’s stripper girlfriend bites child on Halloween.
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