Border closure forces WHL schedule changes . . . Blazers cancel two home exhibition games . . . Brandon honours Don Dietrich

If you weren’t aware that Larry Walker was in camp with the Regina Pats — actually, he was in camp with the Pats on two occasions — there’s a piece right here that Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote on Jan. 22, 2020.


If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now — the WHL’s 2021-22 regular-season WHL2schedule is as fluid as the South Thompson River and it likely will continue that way for a while yet. . . . From a WHL news release that was issued on Wednesday: “Due to ongoing border restrictions preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S., WHL clubs in the U.S. Division will compete exclusively against U.S. Division opponents, while WHL clubs in the B.C. Division will compete exclusively against B.C. Division opponents during the month of October.” . . . The original plan was to have teams in each conference playing only within their conferences in 2021-22. That plan remains in place for the 12 Eastern Conference teams. . . . As things now stand, the U.S. and B.C. division teams will play within their divisions until Nov. 3 when the Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to visit the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Unless COVID-19 decides otherwise, of course. . . . Fans of the 10 Western Conference teams are advised to consult online schedules for changes that have been made. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia points out that the changes mean the Vancouver Giants, who were to have opened against the host Victoria Royals on Oct. 2, now will start their season in Kelowna against the Rockets on Oct. 1. But the Giants still are to play in Victoria on Oct. 2. No, they aren’t likely to fly from the Little Apple to B.C.’s capital. . . .

Another result of these changes is that the Royals and Prince George Cougars will play six straight games against each other. They are to meet Oct. 16 and 17 in Prince George, Oct. 22 and 23 in Victoria, and Oct. 26 and 27 back in Prince George.


Genetics


The Kamloops Blazers cancelled a pair of home-ice exhibition games, while Kamloopsscheduling another one in Prince George against the Cougars. . . . Interior Health, which covers Kamloops, won’t allow more than 50 fans to attend indoor events. Northern Health, which governs Prince George, will allow teams to play in front of crowds that are 50 per cent of capacity. . . . Why the difference? How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar? . . . Anyway, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told Radio NL in Kamloops that “this is why we’re bringing in the vaccine card. So that if we’re going to Blazer games — and there will be people going to Blazer games this year — will be able to do so safely. Knowing that everyone in the rink is vaccinated . . . vaccine cards don’t stop people from doing things, they enable people to do things.” . . . It all means that the Victoria Royals won’t play in Kamloops on Sept. 15, and the Cougars won’t visit on Sept. 17. . . . The Blazers, however, will play in Prince George on Sept. 15. Kamloops also will play in Prince George on Sept. 18 in a game that was on the original exhibition schedule.


Bugs


The BCHL also has had to adjust its schedule in the hopes of having the bchlWenatchee, Wash., Wild play a complete season after sitting out what there was of a 2020-21 regular season. . . . The Wild is the BCHL’s only American franchise. . . . The league announced Wednesday that because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel going north, the Wild will play only road games “in the early part of the season.” That means its four scheduled October home games have been dropped, hopefully to be rescheduled later in the season. . . . The Wild will open the season on Oct. 9 in Penticton against the Vees. It then will play five more road games from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30 and two in Vernon against the Vipers on Nov. 5 and 6. The Wild now is scheduled to play its home-opener on Nov. 12 against the West Kelowna Warriors. . . . “The BCHL’s Return to Play Task Force continues to investigate solutions if the land border remains closed beyond October,” the league said in a news release.


It was precisely the issue with the border that resulted in the junior B Spokane kijhlBraves pulling out of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for a second straight season. . . . If you’re a regular here, you will recall a piece I posted here on Aug. 29 that included snippets of a conversation between Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets. In that conversation, Hamilton said that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” He added: “To have our team travel (to the U.S.), we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.” . . . Taking Note was told that KIJHL teams weren’t about to pay that kind of money to go south, and that contributed in large part to the Braves’ decision. . . . You can bet that expense will impact WHL and BCHL teams, too, if the U.S. chooses not to open the border to Canadians for non-essential travel over the next two or three months.


FiveGuys


Former Brandon Wheat Kings D Don Dietrich, who died earlier this year at 59, is Brandonto have a street in the Wheat City named after him. City Council has voted unanimously to honour Dietrich by naming a street in the Bellafield development after him. . . . Dietrich was from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He spent three seasons with the Wheat Kings (1978-81), playing on a WHL championship team in 1978-79 and captaining the club in 1980-81. . . . According to the Brandon Sun, Coun. Shawn Berry said: “This was a man who through his life battled cancer twice and Parkinson’s disease most of his life from 30 on, and never once felt pity or sorry for himself. He went back to his hometown, gave back to the community, started a breakfast program for kids to come out and learn hockey before school started on his own time. . . . He left us way too young, but even through he wasn’t a Brandon boy, Don’s legacy in Westman is well known and I know the short time he was in Brandon here he was very well respected.” . . . Brandon also is home to other streets named after former Wheat Kings, including forwards Ray Allison, Laurie Boschman, Ron Chipperfield, Bill Fairbairn and Ray Ferraro, and G Glen Hanlon. . . . Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a street named after the late Brad McCrimmon. Perhaps the City of Brandon is preparing to name its next new development after the McCrimmon brothers, Brad and Kelly.


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Señor Froggy Restaurant, which has two FroggyKamloops locations. . . . Ownership is closing both restaurants from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20 for “a mental health break.”

“We’re all exhausted. Staff and owners alike,” management posted on social media. “Something critically important to our local business is putting our people first. So as we ease into fall and before the rush of school fundraiser lunches begins, we are practising what we believe in and will be closing for a one-week ‘mental health break.’

“This decision was made with the input and support of our team. (Don’t worry — we are taking care of our staff to thank them and ensure time off doesn’t impact their ability to pay their bills.)

“We know this temporary closure may inconvenience some and for that, we apologize and hope you’ll come back when we re-open.”

No apology necessary, and we’ll see y’all when you get back.




JUST NOTES — With the NFL regular season scheduled to open tonight (Thursday), I believe that only three teams — the Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks — have told fans they will have to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to be admitted to games. . . . It’s Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the NFL opener. Are you aware that Brady is 44 years of age? . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Swedish G Jesper Vikman, 19, has arrived in Vancouver and will be with the Giants until Tuesday when he heads to camp with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He is expected back with the Giants before Oct. 1, however. According to Ewen, the Giants still expect to see Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, and Slovak D Marko Stacha, 19, who was with them last season, in camp. Yes, WHL teams may keep only two imports. . . .

According to Rick Dhaliwal of The Donnie and Dhali Show, D Viktor Persson, a draft pick of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks who will be 20 this season, “will be flying into Kamloops next week.” . . . The Kelowna Rockets have added to their staff by signing Quintin Laing as an assistant coach. Laing, now 42, played 260 regular-season games over four seasons (1996-2000) with the Rockets. Of late, he has been coaching with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association, something he will continue to do. With the Rockets, Laing will work with head coach Kris Mallette, assistant Josh MacNevin and goaltending coach Adam Brown.


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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Unvaxxed

KIJHL delivering vaccine-related message . . . Seattle-area teams go to mandatory vaccination policies; Thunderbirds follow suit

A tip of the Keeping Score fedora to the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for this campaign . . .


We have news from the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, and let’s hope it isn’t a harbinger of things to come. . . . The Lake Cowichan Kraken, a new VIJHL team, and the host Westshore Wolves were to have opened the regular season tonight (Wednesday), but that won’t happen. . . . The game has been postponed “due to a COVID exposure,” according to the league, and “will be rescheduled and played later in the season.”


B.C. residents were able to start downloading proof of vaccination on Tuesday, with these co-called “passports” needed to access various non-essential businesses beginning on Sept. 13 and running through at least Jan. 31. . . . When scanned, these passports will show whether the holder is fully or partially vaccinated, or that no records were found. . . . Fans attending home games of any of the WHL’s five B.C. clubs will have to present proof of vaccination. . . . At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, suggested that people who aren’t vaccinated would be able to watch the Vancouver Canucks game on TV and contribute to local economies by ordering takeout. Presumably, the same will hold true for WHL fans in B.C. cities.


The NHL’s Seattle Kraken announced on Tuesday that it “will require all guests, Krakenages 12+, attending games, concerts and events at Climate Pledge Arena to provide proof of vaccination to keep fans, staff, players and artists safe.” . . . Ian Furness of Seattle radio station KJR followed that with a tweet: “My understanding is that every other major team/school will be making the same announcement for proof of vaccinations . . .” There were the usual comments — mostly in favour, but some others, too. Nothing beat this exchange in the comments after Furness’s tweet. . . . Someone with the handle Former Seattleite wrote: “F— em. That will be the end of 4 generations of season tickets at” U of Washington football. . . . UWDawgsPod followed with: “0-12 didn’t stop him, but getting a vaccine, that’s his line in the sand.”

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The Kraken is to play NHL exhibition games in three WHL arenas — in Everett, Kent, Wash., and Spokane. Proof of vaccination will be required to attend any of those games. . . . Following a tweet on that subject, one person responded with: “So only progressive democrats can watch hockey. So 10 fans?” . . . To which someone else responded: “Sell me your tickets since they are sold out already.” . . . Another person replied: “Guess I won’t be supporting hockey.” . . . That brought this response from someone else: “Oh no we are so devastated to lose you.”

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Later in the day, the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds announced that “all guests Seattleage 12 and older will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination” in order to attend their games at accesso ShoWare Centre. . . . “In accordance with current Washington state and King County mask mandates,” the Thunderbirds said in a news release, “fans and staff will also be required to wear masks at all times except while actively eating or drinking.” . . . Those policies will be in place on Oct. 2 when the Seattle Kraken and Calgary Flames meet in an NHL exhibition game, and on Oct. 9 when the Thunderbirds entertain the Portland Winterhawks’ in Seattle’s home-opener. . . .

The Winterhawks announced on Aug. 25 that “all fans ages 12 and up will be Portlandrequired to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 upon entry. . . . Your final dose of the vaccine must have been administered more than 14 days before the attending event. Those who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be allowed to show documentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of puck drop. Ticket holders with religious or medical exemptions against the vaccine must still provide documentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of puck drop. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from both the vaccine requirement and alternative testing option.” . . . As well, the Winterhawks announced that “all attendees and staff ages five and over will be required to wear masks at all times inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum, except when actively eating and drinking. This policy is per the mask mandate issued on Aug. 13 in Multnomah County.”

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On Aug. 23, the Calgary Hitmen announced that “Calgary Sports and Entertainment (CSEC) will be implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy that will require all fans (eligible to receive the vaccine), event staff and employees to be fully vaccinated for attendance at live events at the Scotiabank Saddledome and McMahon Stadium. We are targeting Sept. 15 as the effective policy date.” . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings are operating under a similar policy after the parent Edmonton Oilers announced that proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours will be needed for fans 12 and older to attend games at Rogers Place. . . .

On Aug. 16, the WHL announced that “effective immediately, all WHL roster players, hockey operations staff and other team and WHL office personnel along with officials must be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the 2021-22 WHL regular season. . . . In addition to players, the mandatory vaccination policy will apply to general managers, coaches, head scouts or director of player personnel, trainers, equipment managers, on-ice and off-ice consultants, on-ice officials and ice level off-ice officials (penalty box attendants, timekeepers and scorekeepers) and any other individuals who interact directly and on a regular basis with players.”

I have lost track of what other junior teams are doing in terms of demanding proof of vaccination from fans — just like I have lost track of all the recommendations and restrictions that seem to change every month in various jurisdictions — but I would guess that it will become standard procedure at every junior hockey arena in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest before long.



The IIHF’s 2022 men’s U-18 world championship will be played in Germany — in Landshut and Kaufbeuren — from April 21 through May 1.


NASA


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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


FatEddy

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching the Blue Bombers bring some heat to Regina . . .

Scattershooting2



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Whatever (head coach Bill) Belichick says, Cam Newton at least partially lost his job with the (New England) Patriots because he’s another bonehead in sports who hasn’t been vaccinated. . . . So pro sports continues to be a capital of Stupidville on the subject of COVID and vaccines. . . . Now John Smoltz and Al Leiter represent the Stupidville district as they’re not allowed inside the studio of the MLB Network because they’re anti-vaxx guys. . . . You’d say that on and on we go and where we stop, nobody knows, except we do know: This particular train stops in the place where the slow thinkers reside.”



So . . . Nebraska played host to Fordham in a college football game on Saturday. Darren Rovell, who reports on the business of sports, tells us that (a) Nebraska paid Fordham US$500,000 to play the game; (b) Scott Frost, Nebraska’s head coach, makes $416,667 per game; and (c) Fordham head coach Joe Conlin is making $250,000 this season. . . . Nebraska, a 41.5-point favourite, won the game, 52-7.


Justin Foster, a defensive end with Clemson, tested positive for COVID-19 last summer. So, too, did T.J. Quinn, a staff writer with ESPN. . . . You know what else they have in common? They are COVID long-haulers. If you’re one who thinks that COVID-19 isn’t a big deal and that it comes and then it’s gone, well, think again. Maybe this piece right here, written by Quinn, will change your mind.



Now that’s high-end trash talk — Phil Mickelson was prepping for a practice round with a couple of PGA lesser-knowns — Harry Higgs and Keith Mitchell — the other day, when he told them he would be using a ball with his logo on it. As he explained: “It’s from when I won the Masters. What are you guys using?”


And then there’s the guy who bet US$220,000 on the Thursday night football game between Tennessee and Bowling Green. He had Tennessee winning by at least 36. Uhh, the Vols won, but only by 32 — 38-6. . . . Easy come, easy go!



“I love the Field of Dreams concept,” writes columnist Norman Chad, as he hits the nail on the head. “I love the Field of Dreams buildup, I love the Field of Dreams setting, but then . . . it’s just another MLB game that takes forever to get from a 1-0 count to a 2-2 count.”



Peter King, in his weekly Football Morning in America column: “A football field, from end of end zone to end of end zone, is 360 feet long. Jeff Bezos’ new yacht is 50 feet longer than that. Bezos’ yacht will cost about $500 million to build. Twenty-one NFL teams play in stadiums that cost less to build than the yacht Jeff Bezos has under construction.” . . . The complete column is right here.


Kimi Raikkonen sat out Sunday’s Netherlands Grand Prix after testing positive. The Alfa Romeo team replaced him with Robert Kubica. Raikkonen, 41, has said he will retire from Formula One at season’s end.


The Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels won’t have head coach Lane Kiffin with them tonight when they open their NCAA football season against the Louisville Cardinals in Atlanta. He is fully vaccinated, but has tested positive. . . . Earlier this month, Kiffin revealed that 100 per cent of Ole Miss’s players, coaches and staff members were fully vaccinated.



ODDS AND ENDS — Hey, Toll Free Serv., you may as well give up because we’re not answering when you phone during an election. . . . We answered one unknown number recently and it was from a candidate in West Kelowna. Uhh, we live in Kamloops. . . . If you are looking for a really, really good read, you won’t go wrong with Billy Summers, the latest work from the prolific Stephen King. You can thank me later. . . . And if you’re looking for some good listening, you won’t go wrong with Rita Chiarelli. Start with her Breakfast at Midnight album. . . . DE Willie Jefferson of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers set the table for Sunday’s Labour Day Classic — the game is played the day before Labour Day — when he said Saturday that the host Saskatchewan Roughriders “ain’t played nobody special. Nobody with no heat, the way we’re coming. We know it’s a battle for first place in the West but we could care less. We just want to give them our best game and show them that their offence isn’t as prolific as people are saying.” It’s not bragging when you can do it; the Bombers won, 23-8. . . . D Matthew Gallant, 17, will be in camp with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. From Langley, B.C., he is the oldest of Kevin Gallant’s two boys. Kevin, you may remember, is a former play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats. The Warriors placed Matthew on their protected list last winter.



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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Arnie Caplan as general manager and head coach. Caplan, 53, is from Winnipeg. He has been living in Dauphin, Man., where he was the U18 AAA Parkland Rangers’ head coach in 2019-20. A goalie in his playing days, Caplan got into nine games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 1987-88. The Rebels actually signed Carter Duffin to a multi-year extension as general manager and head coach on May 29. Duffin left two months later to join the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as assistant GM and assistant coach. He had been the Rebels’ head coach for the previous three seasons. . . . Long-time NHL scout Marty Stein wasn’t out of work for long. Stein, who is based in Vernon, B.C., now is a Western Canada scout with the Buffalo Sabres. He had been with the Detroit Red Wings since 1996 when he recently was dropped as GM Steve Yzerman made some changes.


Printer

Looking for WHL rosters? Look no further . . . Thompson no longer on Sharks’ staff . . . NHL lays out restrictions for unvaccinated players

Unvaxxed


If you’re looking for WHL rosters, I would suggest that you check out the work of Alan Caldwell. He has the latest rosters right here, and you should know that they include a whole lot more than name and position. . . . And if you aren’t following him on Twitter, he’s at @smallatlarge.


The OHL, under commissioner David Branch, has issued an indefinite OHLsuspension to D Logan Mailloux of the London Knights. Yes, that’s the same Logan Mailloux who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Branch’s reasoning behind the suspension was that Mailloux “violated the league’s expectation of appropriate conduct for an OHL player.” . . . He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1 “based in part on his conduct since his return to Canada and the appropriate treatment, counselling, mentoring and/or education he receives from the date of this decision.”. . . Ken Campbell has more at his site right here.



The Prince Albert Raiders announced on Wednesday that Bruno Zarrillo is the club’s new director of player personnel, replacing Curt Brownlee “effective immediately.” . . . Brownlee had been with the Raiders since 2011, first as a scout and then as director of player personnel for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Zarillo has been scouting for the Raiders since 2011-12. . . . The last sentence of the Raiders’ news release stated: “No further comments will be made at this time.”


NoVax


You will recall that the Edmonton Elks weren’t able to play an Aug. 26 game after having 13 positive tests. That game, in Toronto against the Argonauts, now will be played on Nov. 16. . . . The Elks now will play their final three regular-season games in seven days, meeting the host Saskatchewan Roughriders on Nov. 13, playing in Toronto on Nov. 16, and facing the B.C. Lions in Vancouver on Nov. 19. . . . The Elks, Argos and Lions will be allowed to each add five players to their game rosters for those dates.


Rocky Thompson no longer is part of the San Jose Sharks’ coaching staff. The Covidformer WHL player and coach had been the NHL team’s associate coach. . . . “Due to a medical exemption that prevents me from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, under the new league protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time,” Thompson said in a news release.”I will have no further comment on this matter.” . . . As a player, Thompson split three seasons (1994-97) between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos. He later was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings for three seasons (2007-10). . . .

Meanwhile, in MLB, Bob Boone, a vice-president with the Washington Nationals, has quit rather than comply with the organization’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Boone, 73, is a former catcher, and is the father of New York Yankees manager Aaron and Bret, who also play in the majors. Bob had been with the Nationals since 2005. The Nationals told employees on Aug. 14 that they have until Sept. 15 to be fully vaccinated or face losing their jobs unless there is a medical exemption involved.


Demons


The NHL is going to make life a lot tougher on unvaccinated players than those nhl2who have been vaccinated once the approaching season gets started. . . . Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported: “On the road, unvaccinated players will not be able to go anywhere except for the team hotel, practice facility and arena, according to a 27-page document outlining the protocols, which was obtained by ESPN. At the team hotel, unvaccinated players can’t use the bar, restaurant, gym or pool and cannot have teammates or visitors in their rooms. . . . Unvaccinated players are prohibited from carpooling or using saunas. They are encouraged not to eat and drink on flights, attend bars or clubs or eat indoors — even at home — with people outside their households or personal bubbles.” . . . Kaplan has more, a whole lot more, right here.

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In the meantime, two NFL teams — the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — are 100 per cent vaccinated. That’s all players and staff. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to get rolling on Thursday with the Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions, entertaining the Dallas Cowboys, who were 0-4 in the preseason, if that means anything.



The Oakland A’s have closed their minor-league complex in Mesa, Ariz., at least through Sunday because of COVID-19 issues. . . . “Following a number of positive COVID-19 tests by members of the Oakland A’s organization at the Lew Wolff Training Complex, the Club will close the Mesa complex through Sunday,” a news release from the A’s reads.“We are following Major League Baseball’s recommendations for testing and protocols to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff.”


Marines


Boxer Oscar De La Hoya is in a Los Angeles hospital after having tested positive for COVID-19. De La Hoya, who said he is fully vaccinated, was quoted as saying: “I feel bad, bad, bad, bad. I have Covid, my chest doesn’t — I can’t breathe well.” . . . The 48-year-old was to have returned to the ring on Sept. 11 in Los Angeles against Vitor Belfort, a former UFC champion. That fight isn’t going to happen now. . . . De La Hoya last fought in 2008 when he lost to Manny Pacquiao.


Matt Hagan, the NHRA points leader in Funny Car and the defending champion, won’t be able to compete in the U.S. Nationals after testing positive. The Nationals are being held this weekend in Indianapolis.


Musketeers


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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: General manager Steve Yzerman has made some changes to the Detroit Red Wings’ scouting staff. Two men who know their way around the WHL — Bruce Haralson and Marty Stein — are gone, while Greg Hawgood has been added. Haralson had been with the Red Wings since 1996, first as an amateur scout and then, for the past 12 seasons, as a pro scout. Before joining Detroit, he split 10 seasons between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hartford Whalers. Stein had been an amateur scout since 1996. Hawgood, a former Kamloops Blazers defenceman who was the team’s head coach for part of one season, was a scout with the Chicago Blackhawks for the past three seasons. . . . Think about his for a minute or two — in his last three seasons with Kamloops, Hawgood put up 119, 123 and 133 points. . . .

The Regina Pats have added Ken Schneider to their staff as an assistant coach. Schneider spent the past three seasons scouting for the Pats. He is a former WHLer (Brandon, 1980-82). He has coached at various levels and was behind the bench with the Ile-des-Chenes, Man., North Stars when they won the Allan Cup as Canada’s national senior champions.


Coffee

Thinking about Ferris and Zach as clown cars pull up in front of hospitals . . .

While so many selfish folks chose to spend at least part of their Wednesday afternoon making fools of themselves in front of and around various hospitals, I couldn’t help but think of Ferris Backmeyer and Zach Tremblay and their families.

FerrisZach 2
Ferris Backmeyer and Zach Tremblay, new best friends waiting for kidney transplants. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

Ferris, 4, is from Kamloops; Zach, 18, is from Robson, B.C., which is across the Columbia River from Castlegar.

Both of these young people are awaiting kidney transplants. Each already has undergone one transplant, only to have it fail almost immediately.

Ferris has been on dialysis, either hemo or peritoneal, almost all of her young life; Zach does hemo-dialysis three times a week, but has to make the 65-kilometre round trip to Trail in order to get his treatment.

They both are at high risk of infection from any number of viruses, including COVID-19, as, of course, are thousands of others.

Of course, yesterday’s protesters lack the ability to see past the end of their noses, so they wouldn’t be aware of the number of immunocompromised people who live in their communities. If you want to protest about having your freedoms taken away, maybe you should speak with a few people who live with compromised immune systems and maybe learn what they have been going through while trying to stay alive during this pandemic.

(As an aside, you really have to wonder just how goofy some of these people can get. One week they are wanting to get horse medicine into their guts to help them fight this dastardly virus, and you shake your head and think that’s rock bottom. But then the clown cars show up in front of hospitals and it becomes obvious that, hey, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)

But we digress . . .

Kidney disease and the wait for a transplant often means sessions in Vancouver with members of a medical team. Such was the case recently for Ferris and Zach.

Zachgirls
Zach Tremblay got to hang out with the Backmeyer sisters — Tavia (left), Ferris and Ksenia — during a recent trip to Vancouver. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

Zach was being transitioned from a team at B.C. Children’s Hospital to one at Vancouver General Hospital that works with adults who are awaiting transplants. At the same time, Ferris and her mother, Lindsey, were at BCCH.

Yes, Ferris and Zach finally met. In fact, Lindsey reported that Zach “is Ferris’s new bestie. He’s such and amazing kid and just connected with my girls instantly.”

When Lindsey writes about the medical issues being experienced by Ferris the pain oftentimes cuts the reader almost like a scalpel.

Earlier this year, Ferris underwent a kidney transplant in Vancouver, but the new kidney was removed almost immediately after being transplanted.

Since then, well, it really is a game of wait and see, except that it’s hardly a game.

This week, Lindsey offered an update via Facebook, as she is wont to do, and this one hurts. . .

“Well when it rains it always pours in our world. We got what feels like devastating news (Tuesday) morning from Ferris’s transplant nephrologist.

“Her Anti off testing was repeated and it’s shown that Ferris has become highly sensitive. Not sure at all when the 30% antibodies were drawn but she is now sitting at 99%. From my understanding they have a fancy calculation that looks at all the organs that were donated in the past 5 years across Canada and all age groups. What percentage would have been a match for Ferris . . . 1 friggin percent.

“It’s changed everything. They are going to increase immunosuppression to try and prevent them increasing to 100% because, as he reminded me, it can always be worse.

“This terrifies me in the season of a friggin pandemic against a respiratory virus that my child doesn’t have any protection against. In a climate where now not only one but both of her parents will be working in close contact with patients that are infected.

“Her future is so incredibly uncertain . . . more so than it already was??  How can that even be a thing.

“Their goal still is to get her transplanted but the odds are NOT in her favour. I have never felt more confident in our decisions to making memories our number one priority. Everything needs to shift and her quality of life will come above everything else.

“I feel shattered and it’s hard to breathe. It’s just been so incredibly overwhelming and the constant feelings of fight or flight are wearing me down.

“It’s so important for us to really embrace where we are at right now because the reality of our situation is that this is likely the ‘good’ and I hope to keep things this way for as long as it takes!”

I should mention that Lindsey is a registered respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital, while Pat is in nursing school at Thompson Rivers U.

That won’t mean anything to the protesters who got their 15 minutes on Wednesday afternoon in front of and around RIH. But it should.

Ferrisposter

Zachposter2



If you are able to help, our friend Vic Morin of Kamloops is in need of a kidney transplant . . .

Vic1


——


Mike




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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Want an easy win to feel great? Register to be an organ donor today. It will only #TakeTwoMinutes and you could save a life. Great deed and fuzzy feels without any hassle. #Register2Give taketwominutes.ca

Peeters has a real fish story to tell now . . . Speltz signs on as GM in AHL . . . Blazers, Blades in mourning

TWEET OF THE DAY:


Former NHL/WHL G Pete Peeters now lives in Sturgeon County, just north of Edmonton. So it was only fitting that Peeters was involved in the catching of a fish on the Fraser River that Patrick Johnston of Postmedia writes was “a sturgeon bigger than anything that’s been measured in modern history.” . . . Johnston writes: “The fish’s fork-length was a B.C. record: 352 cm (or 11 feet, six inches). Its girth was 141 cm (55 inches) and was estimated to weigh 890 pounds.” . . . Johnston’s story, along with a couple of photos, is right here.


Speltz

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have hired former Spokane Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz as the general manager of their AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Speltz, who is a long-time friend of Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon, has spent the past five seasons on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the last three as their head amateur scout. He joined the Leafs after being the Chiefs’ general manager for 26 seasons (1990-2016). He also was the Medicine Hat Tigers’ GM for two seasons (1988-90). . . . Prior to signing Speltz, McCrimmon also was responsible for the Silver Knights, who are preparing for their second AHL season.



And wouldn’t you know it . . . I just pre-ordered another book, after discovering that Bearcat Murray: From Ol’ Potlicker to Calgary Flames Legend is scheduled to be released on Nov. 2. . . . You should know that this one is written by George Johnson, who once upon a time was part of the gang at the late, great Winnipeg Tribune. Say what you want about George, just don’t question his love for Ol’ Blue Eyes and classic movies, or his ability to write. He’s one of our best, so Bearcat’s story will be a winner. . . . And, yes, he did wind up plus-1 during an NHL game. You know that story will be included.


Finally . . . we have a cancellation that hasn’t anything to do with the pandemic. The Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds were to have played an exhibition game in Kennewick, Wash., on Sept. 19. However, the teams have decided to stroke that game off the schedule, apparently because of the number of players they expect to have in NHL camps at that time. . . . The game would have been part of the Tri-City Americans’ tournament.



ICYMI, the CFL’s Edmonton Elks released Canadian OL Jacob Ruby after he Covidbreached COVID-19 protocols. This had to have been serious because CFL teams value offensive linemen the way politicians love votes. Dave Naylor of TSN later reported that Ruby “did repeatedly misrepresent to (the) team (that) he was vaccinated.” . . . Ruby had been in the CFL since 2015 when he was with the Montreal Alouettes. . . . The Elks, of course, have had 13 players test positive over the last while, and that led to the postponement of a game in Toronto against the Argonauts that was to have been played on Aug. 26. . . . As of Tuesday, the Elks had gone five days without a positive test; they are expected to return to team activities today. . . .

Meanwhile, the NFL’s New England Patriots surprised the football world on Tuesday by releasing veteran QB Cam Newton, who had started all three of their exhibition games. We may never find out if his apparently being unvaccinated had anything to do with the move by head coach Bill Belichick, who will open the season with Alabama product Mac Jones, a rookie, as the starter. . . .

In Indianapolis, the Colts placed QB Carson Wentz, C Ryan Kelly, who is a Pro Bowler, and WR Zach Pascal on the COVID-19 list as close contacts of a staff member who tested positive. . . . If the three test negative and are asymptomatic they will be able to return in five days. . . . “The fact that the three players were placed on the list as close contacts is an indication they are not vaccinated for the coronavirus as, per NFL protocols, vaccinated players would only be placed on the list for a positive test result,” writes Mike Wells of ESPN. . . . The Colts now have had at least nine players on the COVID-19 list since training camp started. They also have had two coaches test positive, including head coach Frank Reich. . . . 

And from the world of baseball and television . . . the New York Post reported Tuesday that former MLB pitchers Al Leiter and John Smoltz have refused to be vaccinated so “will no long appear in-studio for MLB Network.” . . . MLB has a mandatory vaccination policy for all employees and it goes into effect today (Wednesday). . . .

On Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox took SS Xavier Bogaerts out of their game in the second inning after a positive test came back. The Red Sox lost the game, 8-5, to the host Tampa Bay Rays. . . . Boston has had six players test positive since Friday, the others being OF Kiké Hernández, INF Christian Arroyo, P Matt Barnes and P Martín Pérez. P Josh Taylor went on the list as a close contact.


Chapter 9,876 in the book How Did We Get Here From There — In chatting the other night with the husband and wife who own a couple of Dairy Queen franchises, I was told about a male and female who recently were refused service because she wasn’t wearing a mask. Yes, masks are mandatory indoors in B.C. . . . Anyway, the couple started beefing and the owners realized it was a waste of time and energy debating the issue so they walked away and the two disgruntled folks departed the premises. . . . That brings us to Port Alberni, B.C., where an idiot who was refused service because he wasn’t wearing a mask chose to leave the store, before returning to urinate on the counter. . . . Sheesh! What is happening to us? Just wear a mask. It’s not like you’re being asked to fight a grizzly bear with a plastic knife.


Plague


KING-TV in Seattle reports that if you’re planning on attending the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, you will have to wear a mask at all times — indoors or out — regardless of your vaccination status. . . . Why? Because Pierce County is experiencing unprecedented levels of COVID-19. . . . The State Fair runs from Sept. 3-26. . . . According to yaktrinew.com, “The masking requirement came one day after two hospital leaders said during a Washington State Hospital Association briefing that the Washington State Fair should be canceled due to the stress it would inevitably put on hospitals.”



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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Matt Calvert, who recently retired after an 11-year NHL career, has joined the Brandon Wheat Kings as their development coach. From a news release: “Along with assisting the coaching staff with day-to-day operations, Calvert will focus primarily on the career development of current players and prospects, emphasizing skill development, fitness, nutrition, mental health, and education.” Calvert, who is from Brandon, played three seasons (2007-10) with the Wheat Kings. . . . The ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones have promoted Jason Payne from assistant to head coach, replacing Matt Thomas, who now is with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Payne, who is from Toronto, is the lone Black head coach in pro hockey at the moment. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan has more on Payne right here. . . .

Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) reported Tuesday morning that former WHL F Yogi Svejkovsky is going to work with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as a skills coach, who also will work with the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks. He had been coaching at the Delta Hockey Academy. He spent 12 seasons (2006-18) as the Vancouver Giants’ skills coach. Svejkovsky, 44, had 101 points, including 58 goals, in his one WHL season (1995-96) with the Tri-City Americans. His son, Lukas, who turns 20 on Nov. 23, has split the past three seasons between the Giants and the Medicine Hat Tigers.


DrSues

Scattershooting one night after spending some time with The Bachman-Cummings Band . . .

Scattershooting2

Virus

Hey, is this a great time to be alive, or what? . . . I mean, some of the walking dead who live among us are taking their anti-everything protests to various hospitals on Sept. 1, choosing for some reason to thumb their noses and everything else at healthcare workers who mostly are in crisis after almost two years of this crap. . . . Some restaurant owners, who should be thankful that governments haven’t shut down eat-in dining again, say they won’t be checking for vaccination status when the mandates arrive. . . . And some of the New York Mets have taken to flashing thumbs down to their fans at Citi Field. Why? Javier Báez, the chief rocket scientist on that roster, says: “To let (the fans) know when we don’t get success we’re going to get booed, so they are going to get booed when we have success.” . . . Yeah, that’ll work. Especially in the Big Apple.


Saw this comment on Facebook earlier: “pages that are protesting vaxx passports say, if you don’t follow the rules you can’t join, haha oh the irony.”


Bear2
A black bear takes a stroll at the treeline of a hayfield near Barnhartvale, just southeast of Kamloops, on Saturday afternoon.

The  Bachman-Cummings Band rocked Shaw Park in Winnipeg as part of the Unite 150 show on Saturday night. I was fortunate enough to catch a lot of it on my laptop and, yes, it was a whole lot of fun, and a whole lot of Guess Who memories. . . . And, yes, it’s still hard to comprehend the decision by CBC Radio pooh-bahs to axe Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap after 16 years. . . . BTW, you are aware that Burton Cummings now calls Moose Jaw home, aren’t you? Seriously. You can look it up. . . . That has to stick in Regina’s craw, don’t you think?


While I was away from here for a few days, Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, had his title changed by the Portland Winterhawks. Where he was an assistant coach for the past three seasons in Portland, he now is the club’s associate coach. And here — silly me! — I thought he had retired in May 2018 after spending four seasons as head coach of his hometown Kamloops Blazers.



Ian Henry, who had been the media relations, communications and digital media director with the Seattle Thunderbirds, lost his job last month in one of those mind-numbing COVID-19-related moves. Henry, who had been with the Thunderbirds since July 2002, really was one of the WHL’s good guys, and if there is a team or organization out there in need of a communications/public relations-type with a boatload of experience, well, look no further. . . . Hey, Seattle Kraken, how about it?


Sorry, ESPN, I tried to watch the Sunday night game with the New York Yankees in Oakland against the A’s. I really tried. But there is way too much chatter. The game just doesn’t get a chance to breathe and a baseball telecast needs some of that in order to be watchable.


Family


ICYMI, the state of Oregon has imposed a mask mandate for people who gather outdoors. You’re right. This isn’t going away. . . . If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the numbers, trending and modelling aren’t good in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with Washington state. . . . Throw in Manitoba, where various mandates and restrictions are in place, that covers the six jurisdictions in which the WHL operates. . . . And don’t forget that indoor games being played in B.C. are limited to 50 spectators at least through Sept. 20.

——

Meanwhile, I would suggest that the WHL, which has teams scheduled to open training camps on Wednesday, will be coming up with a revamped 2021-22 regular-season schedule. . . . Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the league’s board of governors, has told Regan Bartel, the team’s long-time play-by-play voice, that “we do have plans in place that if we have to adjust for a month or two, we can.” . . . The original schedule doesn’t include any interlocking play between conferences. But the B.C. Division teams, for example, are supposed to play games against their U.S. Division counterparts. I wouldn’t bet on that happening, at least not before Christmas. . . . Hamilton told Bartel that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” Keep in mind that while the border is open to Americans wanting to visit Canada, the reverse isn’t true, with the next update expected around Sept. 21. . . . “To have our team travel (to the U.S.),” Hamilton explained, “we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.”

——

BTW, just because WHL training camps open in a couple of days doesn’t mean you should expect to see pre-season team-by-team rosters on the league’s website. As of Sunday evening, only the Edmonton Oil Kings and Kamloops Blazers had posted rosters. . . . It is absolutely mind-boggling that the WHL, which one might think needs a strong marketing effort after being mostly out of sight and perhaps also out of mind for far too long, isn’t able to provide its fans with something as basic as rosters.



Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “One of those stories I had to double check to make sure it wasn’t satire: National Rifle Association just announced they’ve canceled Sept 3-5 annual meeting because of worsening Covid-19 situation in Houston. Is this first time Texas has behaved too stupidly for the NRA?”


Randy


It isn’t often that I will pre-order a book, but I jumped all over the opportunity to do just that when I found out about Year of the Rocket: John Candy, Wayne Gretzky, a Crooked Tycoon, and the Craziest Season in Football History. . . . It was written by Paul Woods, a long-time fan of the Toronto Argonauts who was an editor with The Canadian Press. . . . The Rocket, of course, was Raghib Ismail and the Crooked Tycoon was Bruce McNall. . . . The bottom line is that the early-1990s was an amazing time — take that any which way you want — to be around the CFL, and this sounds like it will be a fun book. . . . Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun has more on it right here.



So . . . the Winnipeg Rifles travelled to Regina for a Prairie Football Conference clash with the Thunder on Sunday afternoon. Uhh, the Thunder turned a 64-3 half-time lead into a 64-19 victory. Now that’s calling off the dogs.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Here’s an idea for the NFL: Put all the non-vaccinated players on a new team named the Freedom Fighters. Each Sunday, tell the Freedom Fighters that their game is canceled due to COVID concerns, and they have been awarded a forfeit victory. At the end of the season, announce on some murky internet site that the Freedom Fighters have been declared Super Bowl champs by default. The team’s players will believe it, because they believe anything they read on the internet. The rest of the NFL players can play football. Everyone is happy.”


Organdonation

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Turnsignals

Major breakthrough involving anti-rejection meds . . . Kidney foundation calls for third dose for immuno-compromised

A Vancouver Sun headline jumped off my laptop screen and hit me square between the eyes the other day. It read: B.C. researchers discover way to reduce organ rejection following a transplant. . . . It carried this subhead: “Finding has the potential to eliminate need for drugs on which transplant recipients rely to prevent their immune systems from attacking a new organ as a foreign object.” . . . Gordon McIntyre of Postmedia wrote that UBC’s team “found that by using a special polymer to coat blood vessels on the organ to be transplanted, organ rejection in mice was substantially reduced, results confirmed by collaborators at Simon Fraser and Northwestern University in Illinois.” . . . Oh boy, this will be big, big in the transplant community if things continue to pan out. My wife, Dorothy, had a kidney transplant almost eight years ago. She takes anti-rejection drugs twice a day — 12 hours apart — every day. . . . It could be years before the process has gone far enough for clinical trials in humans, but, at least so far, the work involving mice really is looking promising. . . . The complete story is right here.


Dentist
If you are awaiting a kidney transplant, it doesn’t matter your age — there are all kinds of medical visits in your immediate future. That’s how Ferris Backmeyer, 4, of Kamloops found herself in a dentist’s chair on Thursday afternoon. Hey, is Ferris the picture of cool, or what? BTW, all went well. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)


Ferrisposter



Heron
Which one doesn’t belong? There was a stranger among a flock of geese in a hay field along Shuswap Road east of Kamloops on Thursday afternoon. The field is on the north shore of the South Thompson River where herons often spend time fishing.



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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Do good, feel good! Register to be an organ donor and get that warm fuzzy feeling. 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives. Taketwominutes.ca #TakeTwoMinutes

Terrific series on Wheat Kings wraps up . . . Robison says “95 per cent” of WHL players, staff fully vaccinated . . . Virus loose in Pil Country?

Vacation

After posting this, I’m outta here for a bit.

I’m taking some time off to prepare for the fourth or fifth or sixth wave, or whatever it is, that now has its tentacles all around us.

Health officials in B.C. revealed 717 new positives on Friday — up from 513 on Thursday — which tells me that we are headed back to mandatory masking and more restrictions. For what? The third time? Fourth time? I actually have lost count.

How many times do we have to go through this before the people who make these decisions reach the conclusion that we can’t just keep doing this? Open . . . close . . . open . . . close . . . on with the mask . . . off with the mask . . . on with the mask . . . off with the mask . . .

Oh, and by the way, one of these days it may dawn on the decision-makers that recommendations don’t carry a whole lot of water with a number of people. Yes, it’s far past time to ditch the carrot and go to the stick . . . make it a big stick.

I don’t know who said it first — “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” — but that someone surely had today’s society in mind. Because that is exactly what we keep doing. Over and over and over and over and over again.

I mean, really, are we any further ahead today than we were a year ago?

Of course we are, if only because there are a whole lot of people who are fully vaccinated. But B.C. is running more than 700 positives a day and Alberta is above 500. Alberta announced 582 positives on Friday, its third straight day above 500. Earlier in the day, the Alberta government backtracked on plans to lift most of its restrictions on Monday, saying that it will revisit things in six weeks.

What has become obvious is that the Delta variant is running the show now, and six weeks from now might not be much better, if at all, than what we are living with today.

While I’m away, get vaccinated, if you haven’t already, wear your mask when indoors and wash your hands . . . and stay safe.


If you haven’t already, you really should check out the 17-day series that Perry BrandonBergson put together for the Brandon Sun. It’s an oral history of the Brandon Wheat Kings’ 1978-79 season, the one in which they lost only five regular-season games, then went on to win the WHL championship before losing 2-1 in OT to the Peterborough Petes in the Memorial Cup final. That final game was to have been played in the Montreal Forum, but ended up in the arena in Verdun, Que., all of which is a story in itself. . . . Anyway, the gang at The Sun ran a whole lot of stories that appeared in the paper during that season, and Bergson interviewed almost every player who was on the Wheat Kings’ roster. Those interviews provide great insight into exactly what a WHL team goes through as it rides a bus through the grind of a championship season. . . . The series concludes in Saturday’s Sun, after which Bergson should take a bow.


Clubbing


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, says that 95 per cent of his league’s players and team staff are fully vaccinated. He made that statement in an WHL2interview with Guy Flaming on The Pipeline Show.

At the same time, Robison said the WHL isn’t following the OHL and QMJHL in mandating vaccinations, although he admitted that may change.

“We have strongly recommended to our players, staff and hockey operations side to be fully vaccinated in time for training camp and start of the regular season,” Robison said. “We have not taken the position of mandating it yet. . . . Through education and discussions with players and staff we’re over 95 per cent currently vaccinated. We’re not sure we’ll need to take the mandated position.

“But, quite frankly, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be vaccinated in order to play in our league because of the cross-border travel with the U.S., and currently some restrictions that are in place in Manitoba for quarantine if you’re not vaccinated. I think it really speaks to the fact that everyone needs to be vaccinated; we’re hopeful we’ll be able to get to 100 per cent and we’ll deal with those circumstances where there are some exceptions along the way.”

The WHL’s 22 teams will be opening training camps on Sept. 1.

When Flaming asked why the WHL hasn’t mandated vaccinations, Robison replied:

“That’s something we are continuing to consider. We started out in the process (hoping) that the restrictions would be relaxed further. That hasn’t occurred so as a result of that we may have to take some further measures and mandate it. But at this particular stage we haven’t taken that big step.”

You are able to hear the complete interview right here, and you should know it covers a lot more than COVID-19.


Some headlines from Friday in WHL territory . . .

CBC News — British Columbia announced 717 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — the highest daily case count since May 7 when the number was 722.

KIRO7 Seattle — COVID-stricken Oregon deploys National Guard to hospitals.

Daniel E. Slotnik, The New York Times — Oregon will deploy at least 500 National Guard troops to help its hospitals deal with a flood of coronavirus patients, as the state faces the largest wave of infections it has seen during the pandemic, the state’s governor said on Friday. . . . The governor, Kate Brown, said that hospitals were at risk of becoming overwhelmed, with 733 Oregonians hospitalized with severe cases of Covid-19, including 185 in intensive care. . . . The surge comes despite Oregon’s relatively high rate of vaccination, a fact that Ms. Brown noted in a videotaped address. “I know this is not the summer many of us envisioned with over 2.5 million Oregonians vaccinated against Covid-19,” Ms. Brown said. “The harsh and frustrating reality is that the Delta variant has changed everything.”


Salmon



The junior A Buffalo Jr. Sabres, who play in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, announced Friday that they won’t play in 2021-22 “due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on cross-border travel.” They also sat out whatever there was of the 2020-21 season. . . . If you’re in B.C., this makes one wonder about the immediate future of the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild and the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Neither the Wild nor the Braves played in their respective leagues in 2020-21.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, was making a case one day this week for these being the Dog Days of August because, as he put it, “while we are sweltering in the heat and humidity, there is a dearth of juicy sporting attractions to take our minds off our discomfort.” . . . I was trying to find a way to disagree with him, but I gave it up after he wrote this: “Finally, to demonstrate what I mean by having a dearth of things to write about in these Dog Days of August, consider this headline from (Tuesday) at CBSSports.com in the world of college football — LSU’s live tiger mascot, Mike VII, is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”



Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, prior to Thursday’s Field of Dreams MLB game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa: “Wouldn’t it add a comforting realism if the White Sox players actually conspire with real gamblers to throw this game?”


Stretcher

——

CTV News Regina — The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning of an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the Pil Country section at Mosaic Stadium at the Roughriders game on August 6. The SHA said a person or persons attended the game while infectious with COVID-19, between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Contact tracing is underway, however, the SHA added that the location of the case or cases in the Pil Country end zone makes contact tracing efforts difficult.

——

CBC News — The University of Saskatchewan announced Friday it expects all students, faculty and staff returning to campus this fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a move the U of S faculty association and student union have been calling for. (Note: The U of Saskatchewan was the first Canada West school to mandate vaccinations.)

——

Global News — The University of Regina is following the steps of other Canadian universities by requiring all faculty, staff and students to have both doses of COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.

——

A Friday afternoon tweet from Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada: “NHL sent a memo updating vaccination requirements to its teams: ‘Any person whose job, role, position or access entails or entitles them to have personal interactions (within 12 feet) with Club Hockey Operations personnel (including Players) are required to be Fully Vaccinated.’ ”

He added: “There are some limited exceptions — such as valet parking attendants. NHL/NHLPA protocols for players are not yet completed.”


Cure


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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scissors

WHL vaccine announcement on tap? . . . Blazers add Holick to staff . . . Winterhawks sign Czech defender

It has been suggested to me that the WHL will have an announcement of some WHL2sort regarding COVID-19 precautions today (Friday) or early next week. . . . No, I have no idea what that announcement might involve, but you have to think it will involve something to do with mandatory vaccinations for all involved. After all, that is exactly what the OHL and QMJHL have done, and the WHL also plays under the CHL umbrella. . . . It can’t be easy for the WHL with 22 teams scattered across four provinces and two states, meaning that there are a whole lot of health officials with whom to deal. . . . But training camps are less than three weeks away and there are nine exhibition games scheduled for the Sept. 10 weekend. In other words, as Danny Gallivan would have said, time is of the essence.

In the meantime, some Thursday headlines from WHL country . . .

Laura Sciarpelletti, CBC Saskatchewan — COVID-19 is once again ramping up in Sask. Today spike in new cases with 141, 51 higher than Wednesday. The province hasn’t recorded this many new cases in a single day since May 30. Two more deaths. 40% of all new cases are in the 20-39 age category.

Tri-City Herald — Public health officials fear they will see a surge in deaths from COVID-19 and even higher demand for hospital care as the delta variant drives new daily cases higher. . . . The Tri-Cities area had 470 new COVID-19 cases announced on Thursday, bringing the confirmed cases reported since last Friday to 220 per day on average. That’s up from an average of 58 new cases per day just three weeks ago.

CBC News — Alberta reports 550 new COVID-19 cases, highest daily case count since late May.

Byron Hackett, Red Deer Advocate — Most cases since late May. And on Monday, the province stops most contact tracing and isolation. Good times.

CBC News, 6:26 p.m. PT — Alberta is rowing back on plans to end COVID-19 protocols including isolation requirements, asymptomatic testing and contact tracing by Aug. 16, a government source told CBC News. The province’s health guidelines will remain in place for now, the source said.

CHAT News Today — A month ago on July 18, there were fewer than 10 active COVID-19 cases in Medicine Hat. Now the city has a record-high 361 active cases, with 12 people currently in hospital.

CBC News — British Columbia announced 513 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Thursday, as the seven-day rolling average of new cases in the province rises to its highest level since May 21. . . . A total of 81 people are in hospital, with 33 in intensive care. Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up 40 per cent from last Thursday, when 58 people were in hospital with the disease and have doubled from their 2021 low 18 days ago.

KIRO7 Seattle — Washington superintendent Chris Reykdal requested Gov. Jay Inslee to issue an executive order to make the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement for all K-12 school employees.

KATU News — Oregon — like Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana — has more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic.

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Guy Flaming, host of The Pipeline Show, asked his Twitter followers this week: “Should the WHL follow the lead of the OHL and QMJHL mandating full vaccination for ‘all players, coaches, trainers, team and league staff, officials, volunteers and billet families?’ ” . . . By Thursday night, he had received 335 responses with 79.1 per cent voting “Yes.”

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Asked about a mandatory vaccination policy by Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist, Dan Price, the Royals’ general manager and head coach, replied: “We don’t have an answer to that. The league is assessing that now. They are working with each health jurisdiction, including in the U.S.”

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CTV News has reported that the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers are discussing whether to follow the Winnipeg Jets, who have mandated that all employees, event staff and guests must be fully vaccinated and that masks will be required at all home games in 2021-22. In a statement to CTV, the Oilers ssaid: ”We are in on-going conversations with Alberta Health, Canadian venues, the NHL and other key stakeholders. Once finalized, we will communicate our plan at an appropriate time in advance on the 2021-22 NHL season.” . . . The Oilers own the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and both teams use the same facility. So you are free to wonder whether a decision one way or the other by the Oilers will impact the Oil Kings. . . . As for the Calgary Flames, who own the WHL’s Hitmen, they told CTV in a statement: “We aren’t in a position to make any comments on that at this point. See you in September.”


As expected, the Kamloops Blazers introduced Mark Holick as their new associate coach on Thursday. . . . Holick, 52, will work alongside general manager and head coach Shaun Clouston. . . . Holick replaces Cory Clouston, Shaun’s brother, who left the organization on Wednesday, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his daughter. . . . Holick, the U-18 prep head coach at Yale Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., for the past three seasons, is a former WHL coach of the year. He was the head coach of the Kootenay Ice (2007-10) when he was honoured as coach of the year for 2009-10. He also was the head coach of the Prince George Cougars for three-plus seasons (2013-16). . . . In his playing days, Holick played four seasons (1984-88) with the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has a story right here explaining how Holick ended up with the Blazers.


Arm


The Vancouver Giants have acquired F Ty Thorpe, 19, from the Brandon Wheat VancouverKings for a conditional sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2023 draft. . . . Thorpe, from Brandon, was selected by the Victoria Royals in the third round of the 2017 bantam draft. He was traded to the Wheat Kings in January 2018. In 136 regular-season games, all with Brandon, he had 10 goals and 20 assists. In the 2021 development season, he had three goals and three assists in 21 games.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Czech D Marek Alscher to a WHL Portlandcontract. They selected him in the CHL’s 2021 import draft on June 30. . . . Alscher, 17, had one assist in four games while playing for Czech Republic in the recently completed Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . Alscher has spent the past two seasons playing in Finland with the Pelicans organization. In 2020-21, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 games with the U-18 team. . . . The Winterhawks also hold the WHL rights to Danish D Jonas Brondberg, 20, who had six assists in 20 games in the 2021 development season. As a 20-year-old, he would be a two-spotter should he return.



The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Brendan Lee, 19, from the Everett Silvertips for G Koen MacInnes, 19. . . . Lee, from Seattle, had two goals and four assists in 17 games in the 2021 development season. In 71 career regular-season games, he has 11 goals and eight assists. The Silvertips signed the updrafted Lee out of the Colorado Thunderbirds program. . . . MacInnes backed up Nolan Maier each of the past two seasons, going 18-7-2, 2.78, .901 in 31 games. . . . Maier is expected to return for his 20-year-old season, with one of two 17-year-olds — Ethan Chadwick or Austin Elliott — backing him up. . . . In Everett, MacInnes, who is from Burnaby, B.C., will pair up with Braden Holt, 18, in goal.


Pi


CBC News — Everyone working in long-term care and assisted living in B.C., including volunteers and personal care workers, will now be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Rolling Stone — The Killers will require fans attending their New York City warmup gig on August 19th to be both vaccinated and show a negative Covid test.

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Claudia Cautillo, CTV News — Queen’s University now among growing number of Canadian universities requiring all students, staff, and faculty returning to campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (Note: In the past couple of days, Carleton U, U of Guelph, U of Ottawa, U of Toronto, and Western all have gone public with mandatory vaccination protocols.)

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The Victoria HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls of baseball’s West Coast League may not be playing this season because of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention. The teams are owned by Shwing Batter Investment Group and it has announced that vaccinations will be mandatory for all players, coaches and staff members. The protocol also will apply to the Victoria Golden Tide, a new team that is to play in the Canadian College Baseball Conference. . . . “Our people are out in the community,” Jim Swanson, the organization’s managing partner, told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist. “Our programs travel — we take ferries, and cross borders — we cannot operate in a bubble. The programs are too complex.”

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Proving that COVID-19 hasn’t forgotten about the stocks, Max Papis has tested positive so won’t be running this weekend in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series on the Indy road course. Papis, 51, was going to race for the first time since 2013 this weekend. . . . J.J. Yeley will replace Papis behind the wheel of the No. 17 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

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CBC News: The Toronto International Film Festival says proof of COVID-19 vaccination won’t be required to enter its venues, but masks will be mandatory for anyone attending in-person screenings, and talent and media will be tested regularly.

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KETV NewsWatch 7 — Nebraska health care systems will require employees to get vaccinated.

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The New York Times — San Francisco will impose some of the toughest restrictions on unvaccinated people in the U.S., barring them from indoor dining, bars, gyms and more.


Cinderella


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Irony