McCrimmon on verge of selling Wheat Kings? . . . KIJHL announces return-to-play plan, loses three teams . . . Two WHLers sign to play in Sweden


The smoke started with a query on Wednesday night. . . . An insider with one WHL team wanted to know if I had heard “any rumblings out of Brandon . . . BrandonWKregularthat the team is on the verge of being sold.” . . . I hadn’t. But it seems that there might be something happening, especially if the WHL’s board of governors has been alerted. . . . Kelly McCrimmon purchased one-third of the Wheat Kings from Bob Cornell in 1992 and became the sole owner in 2001. McCrimmon took a step back from the Wheat Kings when he joined the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, then an expansion team, as assistant general manager on Aug. 2, 2016. He moved up to general manager on May 2, 2019. . . . If a sale occurs, speculation has Jared Jacobson as being involved. His family is the Jacobson in the Jacobson & Greiner Group of Companies — he is the president and CEO — that has been a part of Brandon for more than 60 years. . . .

Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any news on the sale of the Portland Winterhawks, despite Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, having said in June that he hoped to have the situation resolved within weeks.

Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison said: “We’re hopeful that we will be in a position later this month and into July to select a candidate to become the new owner of the Portland Winterhawks. It’s important to have that resolved as quickly as possible. Our target is to have that resolved by sometime in July.”

Bill Gallacher, who had owned the Winterhawks, had used the franchise as part of the collateral for a $20-million loan. When he forfeited on that, the Winterhawks ended up in receivership.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League hopes to open its 2020-21 season on Nov. 13, a move from its original projection of Oct. 2. It also kijhlhas lost three teams, with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Spokane Braves all opting to sit out the season for pandemic-related reasons. . . . That leaves the league with 17 teams, each of whom will play 30 games in the regular season that is to begin without fans in the buildings. A schedule is to be released on Sept. 25. . . . The league’s news release is right here.

Interestingly, each of the three teams that opted out did so for a different reason.

Spokane isn’t able to participate because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel and that situation isn’t likely to change for a while now.

The Wranglers opted out because, as Greg Aiken, the organization’s president, told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press: “We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.” . . . Aiken also said that not having fans at games was a difference-maker, too. “We can’t survive on these few fans,” he said. “We rely on 500 fans coming per game.” . . . Aiken’s story is right here.

In Beaver Valley, the Nitehawks’ decision was made by 16 players who decided they weren’t going to play. . . . As Jamie Cominotto, the general manager, explained to Jim Bailey of the Trail Times: “Our players decided they were not going to play, and we don’t have time to replace 16 players.” Cominotto said he had a Zoom meeting with the players, “and we explained the league plan for play, as well as the costs for them to play. The team fees went up a little bit, and obviously we were unable to help with the billeting financially, because we just don’t have the money.” . . . Cominotto also told Bailey that “we don’t have the billet homes that we usually have.” That would seem to be a problem in more than one jurisdiction, at least judging by the number of teams on social media who are looking for billet homes. . . . Bailey’s story is right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled three 2020 events — the National Women’s U-18 Championship that was to have been decided in Dawson Creek, B.C., Nov. 2-8; the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, in Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 6-12; and the World Junior A Challenge, in Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 13-20. . . . Hockey Canada is hoping to be able to place those events in those same communities in 2021. . . .

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the NCAA will furlough about 60 staff members from its office in Indianapolis. They’ll be gone for between three and eight weeks starting later this month and running through January. . . . Senior management people have taken a 20 per cent cut in pay. . . .

The South African Ice Hockey Federation has pulled its U-20 men’s hockey team from the Division III championship that is scheduled to be played in Mexico City, Jan. 10-17. The tournament now will featured the host team and clubs from Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Israel and Turkey. . . .

Brandon’s three high school football teams won’t be playing this season, not even if the Winnipeg high school league is able to get off the ground. “We aren’t playing, plain and simple,” Neelin High head coach Rob Cullen told Thomas Friesen of the Brandon Sun. “We have already made our voice known that we will play in the spring as long as everything tapers down. I’m not going to put my athletes, my athletes’ families or anybody else at risk to play the sport of football at this time.”


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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.


Jokerit, the Helsinki-based team that plays in the KHL, was to have opened the regular season against host Dinamo Minsk on Thursday. Minsk is in Belarus, the site of a great deal of political unrest of late. . . . Jokerit didn’t show up for its flight to Minsk, and the KHL later announced that the game had been forfeited to Dinamo Minsk. . . . According to newsnowfinland.fi, “Jokerit have faced growing pressure this week over their decision to travel to Belarus, amid an ongoing brutal crackdown against democracy protesters by regime forces. The club’s official supporters association Eteläpääty Ry says they’re very happy with the decision to cancel Thursday night’s game, after calling for a boycott of home matches if the fixture went ahead as planned.” . . . That story is right here. . . .

There are all kinds of political angles to this story. For starters, Jokerit has Russian owners with ties to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. . . . The hosting duties for the 2021 IIHF World championship are scheduled to be shared between Belarus and Latvia. However, Latvia has said it won’t take part if Belarus is involved. . . . In other words, this story is far from over.


Bacon


Two WHL players — F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings — have signed one-year contracts with Karlskrona HK, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra. . . . Erik Belin, Karlskrona HK’s general manager, said in a news release that the club “gets this opportunity as we live in a troubled time and players are anxious to secure their situation for the coming season. In this category of players, this is the coolest news Karlskrona HK has ever launched! These players are here to deliver and keep their places in the national team and raise their positions before the draft.” . . . Greig had 26 goals and 34 assists in 56 games with Brandon last season. . . . McClennon put up 21 goals and 28 assists in 42 games with the Winnipeg Ice before suffering a shoulder injury. . . . Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2020 draft and are expected to be selected somewhere in the first two rounds. . . . The HockeyEttan Södra season opens on Oct. 3, with Karlskrona scheduled to play its first game on Oct. 4. . . . Both players are believed to have clauses in their contracts that would allow them to return to the WHL, which hopes to open its regular season on Dec. 4.


JUST NOTES: Tali Campbell has left the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers after one season as their general manager. He had been with the Clippers since Nov. 28, 2018 when he signed on as director of business operations. He took over as GM on Dec. 18, 2019. . . . The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League now is aiming to open its regular season on Sept. 21 or Sept. 28. This comes after it earlier had said it have four potential openings dates — Sept. 7 for a 48-game season, Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40) or Dec. 14 (32).


Ex-WHLer advocating for improved semi driver training. Again . . . NHL teams jump on NBA train . . . Two teams opt out of junior B league

Once again, Scott Thomas is calling for change in the training of big rig drivers in Canada. Thomas, a former WHL player, has been down this road before, shortly after his son, Evan, died in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, a tragedy that resulted in charges against a semi driver. Afterwards, Scott advocated for more stringent driver trainer. . . . These days, Scott is calling for change after a friend, Jeff Helperl, was involved in an accident in a construction zone near Wakaw, Sask., on Tuesday. . . . In that one, a semi rear-ended one vehicle and that resulted in a five-vehicle mess, the death of a 69-year-old man and other injuries. . . . The semi driver has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. . . . “Our truck drivers should be a skilled trade,” Thomas told Laura Woodward of CTV News. “They should be like plumbers, electricians, chefs. You go through a co-op program, apprenticeship and you work your way through a graduated licencing program before you’re in charge of an 18-wheeler.” . . . That story is right here.



The NHL’s players, at least those on the eight teams still involved in playoffs, jumped on board the NBA train on Thursday, meaning four games were postponed.

By postponing four games — two were to have been played Thursday and two more today — it allowed all eight of the surviving teams to participate in the protest.

With the NHL, NBA and WNBA postponing all of their games, and with NFL teams scrubbing practices and MLB moving some games, you now have to wonder: What’s next?

Do the leagues simply return to play and everybody moves on, or is it different this time? Have we witness the tipping point?

You will recall that there was a hue and cry following after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of policeman in Minneapolis on May 25.

The athletes’ protests this week stem from the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.

As I wonder what comes next, I read an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle in which Harry Edwards, a prominent sociologist who is highly respect and happens to be Black, suggested to Ron Kroichick that perhaps leagues/teams could refuse to play in Wisconsin.

“If the stars of the Bucks,” Edwards told Kroichick, “or LeBron James and Steph Curry — if athletes of this magnitude show up at the attorney general’s office in Wisconsin and say, ‘We made it here this time, but we may not make it back to the airport, because we could be stopped and shot. So what we’re asking, what we’re demanding, is change. We’re saying, Stop killing us.’

“If you have that kind of star power, with (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver and the owners and the rest of the players behind them . . . Even if it comes down to saying, ‘We’re not playing any more games in Wisconsin.’ If they went in there right after breakfast, they’d have action by lunchtime.”

Of course, were that to happen in Wisconsin, there would then have to be a move to another state and another and on and on.

In reality, who knows what the next move will be. It’s just that this time things feel different. When something like this happens and it results in hockey players — Black and White — standing elbow to elbow and singing the same song it signals that something is different.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

A sign of the times? Jayden Castle has organized a GoFundMe page in the hopes of helping him meet the cost of playing hockey for his junior B team in 2020-21. The intro the site reads: “Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic my hockey team has increased its fee to play to $10,000 and with a minimum wage it’s just not gonna cut it!” . . . A 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., Castle plays for the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . .

Sources have told Taking Note that the 20-team junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t start on Oct. 2 as it had hoped, and now is aiming for Nov. 13. It also won’t have the same 20 teams which it had last season; in fact, it now is down to 18 with the possibility of more franchises opting to sit out. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed for the foreseeable future, the Spokane Braves will take the season off and, in fact, informed their players of the decision on Thursday. The Braves are the KIJHL’s lone American entry. . . . The 100 Mile House Wranglers also are expected to take their leave, at least for one season. . . . There are believed to be other franchises pondering their immediate futures, too. They will have to decide before the KIJHL makes a number of announcements next week. . . .

Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reported that multiple sources have told them the Chicago Cubs are “slashing their scouting and player development staff . . . (including) scouts on the amateur and professional sides as well as double-digit staffers in player development, according to early estimates.” . . . One week earlier, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler reported that the New York Yankees began “a wave of layoffs and furloughs” that impacted minor-league coaches and support staff. . . . The Cubs and Yankees aren’t the first MLB teams to do go this route. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals also have furloughed employees. . . .

The NHL reported earlier in the week that its teams had spent another week in their bubbles without any positive tests. . . . Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted Wednesday that “it’s taken nearly 25,000 tests and cost nearly $8 million, but the NHL hasn’t had a positive COVID-19 test in almost five weeks. In 2020, that feels like a miracle.” . . .

The 62-team North American Hockey Classic, a minor hockey tournament that was to have been held in Winnipeg this weekend, has been cancelled. Kelly Moore of Global News reported that 61 of the 62 teams were from Manitoba, with the other from Kenora, Ont. The tournament was to be for girls and boys ages seven to 13. . . . Rhys Van Kemenade, the NAHC’s general manager, said in a news release that the decision to cancel was made because of a recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Manitoba that coincide with the impending return to school. . . . The NAHC is owned by 50 Below Sports+Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Manitoba Blues. . . .

The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles have said there won’t be any fans allowed to attend games at Lincoln Financial Field until further notice. . . . The Eagles are scheduled to open at Washington on Sept. 13, where there won’t be fans at any home games in 2020. . . . Philadelphia is to play at home on Sept. 20 and 27.


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.


Three players hospitalized with burns after something goes wrong . . . Giants need head coach . . . Wheaties mourn death of Borotsik

MacBeth

F Roman Horák (Chilliwack, 2009-11) signed a one-year contract with the Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 16 assists in 54 games, while averaging 19:13 TOI per game. . . .

F Levi Nelson (Swift Current, 2004-08) announced his retirement through an interview in The Sheffield Star. Last season, with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite), he had 16 goals and 26 assists in 55 games.


ThisThat

Two members of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and a former teammate are being treated in hospital for burns received on Saturday night.

Matt Alfaro, Jordy Bellerive and Ryan Vandervlis were injured when something went awry involving a bonfire.

Lisa MacGregor of Global News reported that “sources tell Global News they were hurt in a fire in Calgary . . . and one of the players is in critical condition.”

According to a news release issued late Saturday by the Hurricanes:

“All three players are currently being treated in hospital for various injuries sustained in the incident. . . . The Hurricanes’ focus and priority is on the health of the players injured and will have no further comments at this time. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Alfaro, from Calgary, was acquired by the Hurricanes from the Kootenay Ice during the 2016-17 season. He completed his junior eligibility by scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists in 20 games with the Hurricanes. In 263 regular-season games, 243 of them with the Ice, he had 62 goals and 93 assists. Last season, he had three goals and nine assists in 26 games with the U of Calgary Dinos.

Bellerive, a 19-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C., is the Hurricanes’ captain. Last season, he had 46 goals and 46 assists in 71 games, and was named to the Eastern Conference’s second all-star team. In 206 regular-season games, he has 84 goals and 100 assists.

Bellerive, who wasn’t selected in an NHL draft, signed a three-year entry-level contract with Pittsburgh after attending training camp with the Penguins prior to last season.

Vandervlis, 20, is from Red Deer. In 162 regular-season games, all with the Hurricanes, he has 30 goals and 37 assists. Last season, he was limited by injuries to 19 games, and he finished with 11 goals and eight assists. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in early December and was hoping to be completely for his final junior season.


The Vancouver Giants fired head coach Jason McKee on Friday, making the announcement in a late-day three-paragraph news release.

McKee spent two seasons with the Giants, missing the playoffs in 2016-17, with a 20-46-6 record, and making the playoffs in 2017-18, at 36-27-9, good for third in the B.C. Division, Vancouver12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets and three behind the Victoria Royals. The Giants lost a seven-game series to the Royals in the first round of the playoffs.

Barclay Parneta, who is into his first year as the Giants’ general manager, pulled the trigger on McKee, who had one year left on his contract.

According to Steve Ewen of Postmedia, Parneta said: “For me, I’d like someone I’m more familiar with. I don’t want to be starting a (season) with someone I’m just getting to know.”

A couple of free-agent coaches with whom Parneta has at least some familiarity are Serge Lajoie and Brian Pellerin.

Lajoie just finished a three-year stint as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears, guiding them to the 2017-18 Canadian championship. He took over the Golden Bears when Ian Herbers took a sabbatical to work as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. They chose to release Herbers after last season, and he has returned to the Golden Bears.

Parneta was the Tri-City Americans’ assistant general manager before signing with the Giants. The Americans selected Lajoie’s son, Marc, a defenceman, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft and also signed him, all on Parneta’s watch.

Pellerin, who played four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders, has been the associate coach with the Americans for four seasons. He also spent four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.

In between Portland and Tri-City, he coach with the Central league’s Amarillo Gorillas, the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and the Okanagan Hockey Academy.

The Giants join the Kamloops Blazers, Edmonton Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos as teams in search of a head coach.

You would think McKee, 39, would be of interest to the Oil Kings. From Lloydminster, Alta., he spent 10 seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints, the last six as general manager and head coach, before joining the Giants. Under McKee, the Saints won three AJHL titles in six seasons and he twice was the league’s coach of the year

The Oil Kings are looking for a head coach after firing head coach Steve Hamilton after four seasons on May 29. Hamilton had been an assistant coach for four seasons before moving up to head coach.

Of course, the Oil Kings also need a general manager, having parted company with Randy Hansch at the same time.

Ewen’s complete piece on McKee’s firing by the Giants is right here.


Jack Borotsik, who played two season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on June 8 at BrandonWKregularthe Brandon Regional Health Centre. He was 68. . . . Borotsik, who was from Brandon, played two seasons (1967-69) with the Wheat Kings when the WHL was the Western Canada Hockey League. He totalled 60 goals and 98 assists in 119 regular-season games. He got into one NHL game, that with the St. Louis Blues in 1974-75. . . . The family has asked that donations in his memory be made to a charity of one’s own choice. . . . In November 2016, Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun featured Borotsik in one of his stories on past Wheat Kings. That story is right here.


Myles Cathcart has resigned as general manager of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Cathcart, who had been in the position for seven seasons, left after the organization decided to charge each of its players a “travel fee” of $267 per month. “It’s just my philosophical view that junior hockey should be different than AAA (midget),” Cathcart told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. “I’m not mad, I just decided that it would be a good time for somebody to put their stamp on whatever they wanted to do. I’m not leaving on bad terms, I just didn’t want to do it.” . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.


TheCoachingGame

Phil Roy is the new general manager and head coach of the junior A Notre Dame Hounds, an SJHL team that plays out of Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Roy had been an assistant coach with the Clarkson U Golden Knights since 2011. From St. Leonard, Que., Roy takes over from Clint Mylymok, who resigned in order to sign on as GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Maryland Blackbears, an expansion team. Mylymok had been with the Hounds for four seasons.


The junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Dale Hladun, their general manager and head coach, to a three-year extension. Hladun is preparing for his fourth season with the Wranglers. Under Hladun, the Wranglers won the 2015-16 KIJHL championship, as well as the Cyclone Taylor Cup and the Keystone Cup.