Scattershooting on a Thursday evening while wondering if NHL teams are moving back to dump-and-chase game . . .

Scattershooting

Not in the Christmas spirit? Watch this . . .


In his weekly compilation, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times included an obit of the week for football fan John J. Ford, 86, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: ”Passed away surrounded by family on December 2nd after the Vikings allowed 17 unanswered points . . .”

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“A Las Vegas hospital billed the parents $2,659 to pull a tiny doll’s shoe from their child’s nostril,” Perry reported. “Imagine what it would cost to extract Antonio Brown’s foot from his mouth.”


Mozart


Congratulations and best wishes to Innes Mackie, who has been around the WHL since the Christmas Wish Book was used for shin pads, or maybe even earlier. . . .

And congrats, too, to Dan O’Connor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Giants. While Mackie, the Tri-City Americans’ equipment guru, was working Game No. 3,200, O’Connor was calling No. 600.


ICYMI, Part 1: D Nikita Zadorov of the visiting Colorado Avalanche recently took out Montreal Canadiens F Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was left with a brain injury. There wasn’t a penalty; there wasn’t a suspension. “So how could Zadorov get away with it?” Jack Todd writes in the Montreal Gazette. “Blame hockey’s pervasive knucklehead culture, which has survived well into the 21st century. The loudest of the braying donkeys in the barn may have been shuffled off to the Podcast Porch — but the brutal culture Don Cherry helped foster lives on.” . . . The complete column is right here.

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ICYMI, Part 2: Hockey Canada trimmed a bunch of players from the selection camp for its national junior team on Thursday. Yes, it has to be done. But why make these teenagers walk the media gauntlet after they’ve been chopped from the roster? Come on, Hockey Canada, be better than that.


Puppy


If the Kelowna Rockets continue to unload premium bantam draft picks and perhaps a prospect or two in the hunt for a Memorial Cup title in the spring, when they will be the tournament’s host team, you have to wonder if their aftermath will be more like the Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats or Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Raiders are 19-7-4 and atop the East Division after making a deal or three — but not selling out — that helped them win the WHL’s 2018-19 championship. The Pats are 7-18-3 after selling out as the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. The Broncos are 6-20-3 while still trying to recover after emptying the cupboard as they successfully chased the WHL’s 2017-18 title. . . . Over the past one season-plus, the Pats are 26-63-7 and the Broncos are 17-71-9. Neither team made the playoffs last spring and they won’t be there in 2020.


If you are wanting to attend the 2021 World Junior Championship, with games in Edmonton and Red Deer, you may want to see your banker about a loan. . . . Considering the political/labour situation in Alberta at the moment, it will be interesting to see how tickets sales play out. . . .


The New York Yankees signed P Gerrit Cole to a nine-year deal valued at US$324 million. . . . The Los Angeles Angels got 3B Anthony Rendon for US$245 million over seven seasons. . . . F Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has hockey’s richest deal — US$124 million over 13 years. That was signed in January 2008. . . . According to an entry at Wikipedia, Ovechkin’s contract, the richest in NHL history, is tied for the 79th richest in sports history. . . . That’s what having a hard salary cap does for you.


I didn’t finish Michael Connelly’s latest book — The Night Fire — in time to get it into my Bookshelf series that was posted here earlier in the week. But if you’re a fan of Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, you’ll enjoy this one. It features the retired-but-not-retired Bosch and LAPD Det. Renée Ballard doing their thing on the streets of L.A. and area. Good fun, unless you’re the bad guys.


The Kelowna Rockets were in Prince Albert to play the Raiders a week ago. Hear from both coaches — Marc Habscheid of the Raiders and Adam Foote of the Rockets — after the game, and then decide who won . . .

Habscheid: “I don’t blame referees or anything, but there were three soft calls and they talked to (Foote) all night. I don’t know if they wanted to get his autograph, because he was a Stanley Cup champion or what, but it didn’t look good. They talked to him all night, (and Foote) ran line changes. He did whatever he wanted, and he slowed the game down, and they just let him do it. I don’t know if they wanted his autograph or what the deal was.”

Foote: “The refs were pretty good all night . . .”

Thanks to Darren Steinke for the quotes. His complete blog post is right here.

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One night later, the Rockets visited the Blades in Saskatoon. The Rockets tied the game, 3-3, late in the third period and won it in a shootout, much to the chagrin of at least one Blades fan.

That fan was on social media bemoaning — you guessed it! — the officiating. Someone else asked: “Who were the refs?”

I laughed out loud when I saw the response: “Hamilton and Foote.” That, of course, was in reference to Kelowna owner/president/general manager Bruce Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Adam Foote, the Rockets’ head coach.



SocialMedia


JUST NOTES: Judging by video clips from the Wayne Fleming Arena, there certainly seems to be a lot of room available on the benches for Winnipeg Ice home games. I realize that a lot of people choose to stand during the games, but you have to wonder how the empty seat-look sits with the WHL’s board of governors. . . . And, hey, if anyone has any photos of the Ice’s future home under construction feel free to send them along to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. . . . Was anyone watching Monday Night Football and not pulling for Eli Manning? . . . With the Giants on MNF and the Jets on Thursday night, was it enough to make you feel sorry for the football fans of New York City? . . . A tip of the hat to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Saskatoon Blades for a deal involving F Alex Morozoff. A native of Saskatoon, Morozoff was traded for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 bantam draft. “Alex and his family are currently dealing with a family medical issue,” Seattle GM Bil LaForge said in explaining the deal in a news release. “We have made this trade to help get Alex closer to his family in Saskatoon.”

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering from where Hogan and his Heroes got their clothes . . .

Scattershooting

Sorry for all the hockey content in this episode of Scattershooting, but, hey, stuff happens. And, no, don’t be looking for any Don Cherry content here. I don’t know about you, but I am Cherryed out. . . .



ICYMI, Don Nachbaur, a former WHL player and head coach, is back in the coaching game. He had Andrej Podkonicky, also a former WHL player, now are co-head coaches of HKM Zvolen, a Slovakian team in the Extraliga. . . . Podkonicky and Michal Kobezda had been coaching the club; Kobezda remains as an assistant coach. . . . Nachbaur, who spent seven seasons as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs after also working with the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds, was an assistant with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings for 2017-18, but was dismissed 13 games into last season when head coach John Stevens was fired. . . . Podkonicky played two seasons (1996-98) with the Portland Winterhawks.


If you’re a WHL fan, you should know that the 2019-20 WHL Guide is available for download at whl.ca. . . . Just go to the tab slugged The WHL and click on WHL Guide and Record Book.


SpiderMan


When the Vancouver Canucks entertained the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, there was at least one celebrity in the stands. . . . Yes, Bill Murray had his 50/50 numbers; no, he didn’t seem to win. He also appeared to be wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, which wasn’t a surprise as he is from Evanston, Ill.


Yes, Monday night’s NFL game between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — who, by the way, don’t play in San Francisco — was messy and sloppy and all of those things. But, hey, was it exciting, or what? . . . If you weren’t aware, the 49ers visit the Seahawks on Dec. 29. Happy New Year a few days early!


In his story after the host Kamloops Blazers beat the Kelowna Rockets, 5-2, on Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week included this: “Rockets’ head coach Adam Foote refused a post-game interview request from KTW.”

Included in the WHL Guide is this, under Media Access to Players and other Team Personnel: “A member of the coaching staff of each team must be available to the media for interviews within 15 minutes following the game.”

Hmm, gotta wonder if the WHL will stick a hand into Foote’s wallet for this indiscretion?

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That loss on Monday was the Rockets’ fourth straight. The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, have allowed 25 goals in those four losses. That also was Kelowna’s 10th loss in 19 games this season. As well, veteran F Kyle Topping, 20, has had surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered during a 1-0 victory over the Royals in Victoria on Oct. 30, so he won’t play for a long time.

We now are left to wait and see how much of the winery the Rockets will sell in an attempt to bolster their roster for the tournament.

The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats sold their farms in order to make title runs in 2017-18 when both played in the Memorial Cup tournament, the Broncos as WHL champions and the Pats as the host team.

They since have fallen on hard times. Last season, they combined for 24 victories in 136 games and neither team made the playoffs. This season, they have totalled five victories — yes, five — in 33 games and, again, aren’t likely to appear in the playoffs.

The Rockets’ management, it would seem, has some big decisions ahead of it.

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When the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament to Kelowna, it also heard presentations from the Kamloops Blazers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Blazers are 13-6-0 and riding high atop the B.C. Division; the Hurricanes are 13-5-3 and second in the Central Division, one point out of first.

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This was ugly . . . big-time nasty . . . and it drew an eight-game suspension from the WHL early Wednesday evening.

(I would have started at 20 games, but then I was in the building the night that Brad Hornung was injured, so I’m a little sensitive about hits like this.)

That’s F Pavel Novak of the visiting Kelowna Rockets drilling Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk from behind during a Monday afternoon game. Sopotyk (shoulder) is expected to sit for up to two months.

The Blazers will open a six-game East Division trek against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Dec. 6 and Sopotyk, who is from Aberdeen, Sask., won’t make the trip.

That means he has been robbed of the opportunity to play in front of family and friends in his home province — Aberdeen is a few slapshots northeast of Saskatoon. He’s 18 so, due to the way the WHL works its schedule, will have to wait until the 2021-22 season for the next opportunity, in his 20-year-old season.

When the Blazers wrap up their East Division trip on Dec. 14, against the Prince Albert Raiders, Sopotyk will have missed 14 games.



I can’t remember anything like what is about to happen in the CFL’s West Division final in Regina on Sunday. I mean, the Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired quarterback Zach Collaros for the 2018 season, then signed him over the off-season thinking he would be their guy. But he got mugged three plays into this season and, once recovered from the concussion, was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their starter, Matt Nichols, and dealt for Collaros. On Sunday, then, Collaros will lead the Bombers into Regina with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line. . . . Wait, there’s more. . . . Cody Fajardo, who took over the Roughriders when Collaros was hurt, went on to have a fabulous season. But now there’s this problem with an oblique muscle, meaning Fajardo may not be able play on Sunday, which would give Isaac Harker his second career CFL start. . . . A year ago, you may recall, the Roughriders and Bombers played a West Division semifinal in Winnipeg. Collaros was concussed and wasn’t able to start for the Roughriders, who, after days of intrigue, trotted out Brandon Bridge. . . . The Blue Bombers won that one, 23-18.


Superman


In case you missed it, and I did, Team WHL played a touring Russian side in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. It was Game 5 of the annual CIBC-sponsored funfest. While the first four games — two each versus the QMJHL and OHL — got great exposure from the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, last night’s game started on something called OLN and then was joined in progress on some Sportsnet channels. . . . I wanted to watch, but I couldn’t find OLN and, no, I don’t stream. . . . But, hey, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders on five channels on my setup, with the Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils on another. Oh, and two channels had on something called Gotta See It, leading eventually into the Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames. . . . And by the time the WHL/Russian game was joined in progress, I had moved on to a couple of PVR’d episodes of Hogan’s Heroes. (Was a men’s wear store part of Stalag 13? If not, how is it that Hogan and Co. always seem to be wearing such well-fitting clothes?) . . . Anyway, I seem to recall a dearth of CHL playoff games on Sportsnet last spring and there was no sign of the outdoor game last month between the Calgary Hitmen and host Regina Pats. . . . Seriously, CHL, if this is the best your broadcast partner is able to do for you, it might be time to move on.

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BTW, I went to Google hoping to find out something about OLN. This is from Wikipedia: “OLN is a Canadian English-language Category A specialty channel. OLN primarily broadcasts factual-based adventure-related programming and reality television series primarily aimed at male audiences.”


You have to love the big story in Major League Baseball these days about the Houston Astros and cheating. Only in baseball is their ‘honest’ cheating — having a runner on second base stealing an opponent’s signs — and ‘dishonest’ cheating — doing it with a camera from centre field and banging a garbage can in a tunnel to let the hitter know that he’s about to see an off-speed pitch. . . . And we won’t even get into the fact that the Astros are investigating themselves on this one.


Gotta run. Time to dig into Ken Dryden’s latest work . . . Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other. You’re right. I couldn’t wait until Christmas.


DogVoice

They’ll talk Ice in Cranbrook . . . Foote’s in the door in Kelowna . . . Raiders just keep on winning


MacBeth

F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) has been recalled by ZSC Zurich (Switzerland, NL A) from GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B). This is Sigrist’s second call up by ZSC this season. He was called up on Sept. 21 for three games, in which he went pointless. This season, he has two goals and two assists with GC Küsnacht Lions, and three goals and one assist in one game with GCK Lions U20 (Switzerland, Junior Elite A).


ThisThat

They’ll be holding one of those ‘town hall’ meetings in Cranbrook on Thursday evening and the only topic on the agenda is the future of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice.

There has been ample speculation over the past couple of years that the Ice, who are Kootenaynewowned by Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, both of Winnipeg, will be relocating to the Manitoba capital at some point in time. Things heated up again last week with a story in the Winnipeg Free Press on that topic.

According to a story on the Summit 107FM website, the meeting also will “launch a new season-ticket campaign.”

A Cranbrook group known as the Green Bay Committee will play host to the meeting. It said in a news release that it “will be discussing the Winnipeg article, including how it affects our campaign and how our community leaders should respond to it. . . .

“We all understand the economic, social and entertainment value that the Ice brings to Cranbrook and the Kootenays. Like the Ice, we are concerned that the current season-ticket total is about 1,700, which is about 200 less than last (season).”

Another Summit 107 story, this one by Bradley Jones, indicates that the radio station “reached out to the WHL” and the Ice in an attempt to get reaction to the relocation speculation.

“The WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook,” Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said in a statement given to Summit 107. Robison apparently chose not to address the future beyond the end of this season.

As for the Ice, Jones reported that Summit 107 was told “no comment will be given.”

If you are in the Cranbrook area, the meeting is scheduled for the Heritage Inn at 6 p.m.


After firing head coach Jason Smith on Monday, Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told a media scrum that there were “a couple KelownaRocketsof guys that I’ve zeroed in on and I’ll probably have a good idea by (Tuesday). I’m dealing with a couple people and hopefully by (Tuesday) we’ll have somebody in place. Whether they’ll be here or not by then, time will tell.”

Late Monday night, Sportsnet’s John Shannon, one of Hamilton’s good friends, tweeted that former NHL D Adam Foote would be introduced as the Rockets’ head coach on Tuesday morning.

And, lo and behold, Foote was on the ice with the Rockets for a Tuesday morning practice. He made his game debut later Tuesday against the visiting Swift Current Broncos.

According to Alistair Waters of the Kelowna Capital News, Hamilton said Tuesday that Foote “was his only call when he went looking for a new head coach.”

Foote, 47, becomes the Rockets’ fifth head coach over the past six years.

He was a rugged defenceman in an NHL career that included three teams, and 1,154 regular-season and 170 playoff games.

“Our hope is that Adam can come in and take over a team that is in transition,” Hamilton said in a news release. “Because we host the 2020 Memorial Cup, we know a number of personnel moves will have to be made. We are confident Adam will be able to help us move forward, not just this year but next season also.”

On July 7, 2016, Hamilton had introduced Smith as the Rockets’ head coach, replacing Brad Ralph, who was one-and-done despite getting the team into the Western Conference final in the spring of 2016.

“I’m really excited that we have found a new head coach and I think that he will fit in really well with the team we have and the existing coaching staff,” Hamilton said at the time. “I  think our players will be really excited to have a coach of this calibre, with this kind of experience as a player and as a coach.”

Smith also had been a rugged NHL defenceman in a career that encompassed five teams, and 1,008 regular-season and 68 playoff games.

After retiring, Smith spent four seasons with the Ottawa Senators, the last team for which he had played, two as a scouting and development consultant and two (2014-16) as an assistant coach.

Those two seasons accounted for Smith’s only coaching experience. But that’s two more seasons than Foote, who hadn’t coached at all before Tuesday morning.

The Rockets, who were 4-10-0 when Smith was fired, will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. Smith was in the final year of a three-year contract and Hamilton’s decision made it clear that he wasn’t comfortable having Smith take the team into next season and, ultimately, the Memorial Cup.

Foote, who has a deal covering the remainder of this season and next season, will handle that, barring the unexpected.

Before Hamilton brought in Ralph as head coach, the Rockets had become known for having success by promoting from within. Foote is the third straight head-coaching hire from outside the organization.

Foote’s hiring also delivers a message to assistant coaches Travis Crickard and Travis Mallette, both of whom are in their fifth seasons with the Rockets and are signed only through this season.

Both were passed over when Hamilton hired Smith before the 2016-17 season, and now it has happened again, and they know that, all things being equal, the head-coaching post is filled until at least May of 2020.

Hamilton said on Monday that the future of the assistant coaches will be left up to the new head coach.


D Tylor Ludwar, who was released by the Kamloops Blazers on Oct. 12, has been traded by the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers to the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. Ludwar, 19, is from Regina. The Vipers got F Ben Sanderson and future considerations in the deal. . . . Ludwar was pointless in two games with the Vipers, after getting into only one game with the Blazers. . . . Sanderson, 18, is the son of former WHL/NHL F Geoff Sanderson. Ben has committed to Colorado College for 2019-20.


The Medicine Hat Tigers are likely to have D Damon Agyeman, 16, in their lineup tonight (Wednesday) against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. With D Joel Craven and D Trevor Longo sideline by injuries, the Tigers have brought Agyeman, a list player, in from the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons. Agyeman, from Cochrane, Alta., has one assist in eight games with the Bisons.


TUESDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Brett Leason scored twice and G Ian Scott record the shutout as the host Prince Albert Raiders blanked the Everett Silvertips, 3-0. . . . Leason scored the game’s first two goals, at PrinceAlbert13:17 of the second period and 17:20 of the third. He leads the WHL in goals (13), assists (17) and points (30), and has at least one point in each of the team’s 14 games this season. . . .  Scott stopped 24 shots in earning his second shutout of the season and the fifth of his career. This season, he’s 11-1-0, 1.50, .947. . . . The Raiders now are 13-1-0 and have won six in a row. They are 7-0-0 at home. . . . Everett (7-5-0) is 1-2-0 on its East Division tour. . . . The Silvertips were without F Connor Dewar, their captain, as he served the second of a four-game suspension. . . . With D Sergei Sapego (ill) out and D Max Martin suspended, the Raiders had D Nolan Allan, the third-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, make his WHL debut. . . . Everett F Alex Moar played his third game of the season; he spent the previous two seasons with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos.


G Carl Tetachuk stopped 34 shots to earn his first WHL victory in his first start as the LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, 2-1. . . . Tetachuk, who is from Lethbridge, is a list player who spent last season with the midget AAA Hurricanes. He was especially sharp in the third period as his guys were outshot, 16-3. . . . Lethbridge (6-4-3) has points in five straight (3-0-2). . . . The Wheat Kings (6-2-3) are 1-1-1 in their past three. This was Game 1 of a seven-game swing that will take them through the B.C. Division. They next will play at home on Nov. 9. . . . All the goals were scored via the PP. . . . F Jadon Joseph (5) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 17:19 of the first period. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos (12) tied it at 19:00. . . . F Taylor Ross (9) of the Hurricanes broke the tie at 18:05 of the second period.


D Alex Alexeyev scored the game’s first two goals and the Red Deer Rebels went on to a 3-Red Deer1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels (8-3-1) have won three in a row. . . . The Hitmen (4-7-2) had won their previous three games. . . . Alexeyev, who has six goals, scored at 2:14 and 14:14 of the first period. . . . The Rebels got 30 saves from G Ethan Anders. . . . G Carl Stankowski stopped 27 shots for Calgary. His night’s work included stopping Red Deer F Josh Tarzwell on a penalty shot at 19:14 of the third period with the Rebels leading 3-1.


The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s last four goals to beat the Cougars, 5-1, in Prince George. . . . The Americans (7-4-0) have won three in a row. They are 2-0-0 on an 11-game road trip. . . . The Cougars (5-6-1) had won their previous three games. . . . There’ll be a rematch tonight. . . . The Americans got the game’s first goal from F Wil Kushniryk (1), who was acquired Monday from the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Tri-City F Brett Clayton (1) broke a 1-1 tie at 3:52 of the second period. . . . The Americans got 35 stops from G Beck Warm. . . . As for the above tweet, Americans F Nolan Yaremko had two assists and was named the game’s second star.


F Jack Cowell got the game-winner as the host Kelowna Rockets got past the Swift Current Broncos, 3-2. . . . Kelowna won in Adam Foote’s first game as head coach. He replaced Jason Smith, who was fired on Monday with the Rockets at 10-4. . . . Kelowna had lost six in a row at home. . . . The Broncos (1-12-0) have lost five in a row. They went 0-5 on their B.C. Division trip. . . . Cowell broke a 2-2 tie with his second goal of the season at 10:12 of the second period. . . . Kelowna got the game’s first goal from F Lane Zablocki, 20, who played his first game with the Rockets on Friday, then was scratched from the next two because of an undisclosed injury. . . . The Rockets had a 33-25 edge in shots, but it was 21-5 in the first period. . . . G James Porter stopped 23 shots for Kelowna in his first start since Oct. 5. . . . With his father making his head-coaching debut, Kelowna F Nolan Foote was scratched with an undisclosed injury.


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