Restricted capacity coming to Ontario facilities; B.C. pondering it, too . . . OHL shuts down Erie Otters . . . Zimmer’s six-pack sparks Cougars

Merry Christmas . . .


The provincial government of Ontario announced on Wednesday that indoor arenas and venues with a capacity of more than 1,000 will be limited to 50 per cent capacity effective Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET.

Those same Ontario facilities had moved to 100 per cent capacity on Oct. 8.

After the announcement, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns Covidthe NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, issued a news release that included this:

“MLSE’s venue operations team will implement an enhanced mask protocol within the venue beginning with Saturday’s Raptors game called ‘Operation Mask Up (or out)’ that requires all attendees to strictly adhere to all mask-wearing protocols or risk ejection from the building. MLSE also strongly encourages all fans to get vaccinated and closely follow all public health protocols to protect each other and our community at large.”

Unfortunately for Toronto basketball fans, the first game to feel the pinch of 50 per cent capacity will feature the visiting Golden State Warriors and all-world Steph Curry on Saturday.

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Meanwhile, in B.C., we are bracing for more public health orders that are likely to be announced early next week.

During a late Wednesday afternoon news conference, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health, admitted that the government is considering reducing capacity for arenas and other venues.

A move back to 50 per cent capacity would impact four of the WHL’s B.C. Division teams — the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals. Their arenas have been at 100 per cent capacity only since Oct. 19.

The Prince George Cougars, located in the Northern Health region, haven’t been permitted more than 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre all season.

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The OHL’s Erie Otters suspended all operations after 13 players tested positive. OHLAccording to the OHL, all players are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. The Otters were to have met visiting the Guelph Storm on Friday and entertained the Kitchener Rangers on Saturday; both games have been postponed. . . . This comes after the Sudbury Wolves had shut things down late last month after 12 positive tests. They were scheduled to return to game action tonight (Thursday) in Barrie against the Colts. However, that game has been postponed as the Wolves continue to deal with virus-related issues. The Wolves now have had six games postponed. . . .

The OHL also postponed a game scheduled for last night (Wednesday) that would have had the Rangers in Owen Sound to meet the Attack. The OHL said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution. . . .

In the OHL, all staff, players and those eligible in billet families are fully vaccinated.

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And then there is the NHL where there were at least 53 players in protocol at the end of the day. That doesn’t include coaches and other staff members. Oh, and more positive tests are expected . . .

As of late Wednesday, the Calgary Flames had six players who WERE NOT in COVID-19 protocol — F Mikael Backlund, F Blake Coleman, F Dillon Dube, D Oliver Kylington, F Matthew Tkachuk and G Dan Vladar. The Flames added 17 people to their protocol list on Wednesday, including head coach Darryl Sutter and assistants Ryan Huska and Kirk Muller. There also are seven support staff members in protocol. . . . At that point, the Flames had 16 players, three coaches and seven staff members on the list. . . .

The Nashville Predators had six players and six other members of their travelling team in protocol. F Mikael Granlund, F Ryan Johansen, F Matt Luff, F Michael McCarron, F Philip Tomasino were on the list, along with head coach John Hynes, assistants Dan Lambert and Todd Richards, and goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok. . . . The Predators are scheduled to visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday; it could be that their AHL coaching staff — head coach Karl Taylor and assistants Scott Ford and Greg Rallo — running the Nashville bench. . . . Taylor spent one season (2013-14) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings moved F Robby Fabbri and F Michael Rasmussen into protocol. The Red Wings are scheduled to meet host Carolina tonight (Thursday), but the Hurricanes have six players and a trainer in protocol. Carolina was to have played the host Minnesota Wild on Tuesday but the game was postponed. . . .

The Vancouver Canucks, who put four players on the list on Tuesday, flew to San Jose on Wednesday evening where they are scheduled to play the Sharks tonight (Thursday). Assistant coach Jason King didn’t make the trip, as he went into protocol before the flight departed. . . .

The NHL and NHLPA will try to slow the virus’s spread by going back to protocols that were used last season. . . . From Bruce Garrioch, who covers the Ottawa Senators for Postmedia: “Essentially, the league is going back to last year’s rules, which means management, staff and players will be tested daily until at least Jan. 7. With the (Ottawa) Senators on a three-game road trip that will continue Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team will essentially go into its own bubble. That means all meals will have to be eaten at the hotel and there will be no dining out or shopping during breaks in the schedule.”


Closed


The NFL said that 88 players had tested positive on Monday and Tuesday, but with players being moved on and off the COVID-19 list, there are reports that it’s likely that at least 100 players have come up positive. . . . The Washington Football Team had 18 players on its protocol list after adding eight more on Wednesday. . . . The Cleveland Browns had 18 players, half of them starters, and two coaches on the COVID-19 list by the end of the day. That included head coach Kevin Stefanski, WR Jarvis Landry and QB Baker Mayfield. . . . Still, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said the league isn’t considering postponing or cancelling Cleveland’s scheduled game against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. . . .

Alvin Gentry, the interim head coach with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, tested positive so wasn’t with his team for Wednesday’s 119-105 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards. He will need two negative tests 24 hours apart before being allowed to return. . . . The NBA had more than two dozen players in health and safety protocols on Wednesday, including 10 players from the Chicago Bulls. They were to play the Raptors in Toronto tonight (Thursday), but the game has been postponed. . . . According to the NBA, about 97 per cent of its players are vaccinated, with about 60 per cent having received a booster shot. . . .

The AHL-Toronto Marlies have one player who tested positive and four others isolating for precautionary reasons. . . . According to the team, “All players are double-vaccinated and are being closely monitored for symptoms while being tested daily.” . . . The Marlies dropped a 4-2 decision to the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night. . . .

The AHL-Belleville Senators were to have played against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday night but it didn’t happen. The game was postponed, the AHL said, because of “protocols affecting Belleville.” . . . The Senators are scheduled to conclude a nine-day road trip against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday. . . .

Soccer’s Premier League postponed a game between visiting Watford and Burnley less than three hours before it was to start. The league postponed a third game in four days due to an outbreak on the Watford roster that left it without enough first-team players for a game.


It isn’t just the sporting world that is feeling the impact of this latest wave. The New York Time reported Wednesday: “Broadway has seen a raft of cancellations as positive Covid tests among cast and crew members have upended productions. The pandemic continues to pose a challenge to an industry struggling to get back on its feet after a lengthy and damaging shutdown.”




The New York Times, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. PT: “Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. surpassed 800,000 on Wednesday, as the pandemic neared the end of a second year and as known virus cases in this country rose above 50 million. The death toll is the highest known of any nation.”

Carolyn Dunn, CBC Calgary, Wednesday, 5:53 p.m. PT: “By tomorrow, 30,000 Canadians (and possibly many more) will have died from COVID-19. So many families/friends robbed of a day, a month, or many years.”



Election


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Koehn Zimmer of the Prince George Cougars put up six points Wednesday night in a 7-3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars, who erased a 2-0 deficit, have won four in a row. . . . Zimmer, who WHLturned 17 on Dec. 8, finished with two goals and four assists. He now has seven goals and 12 assists in 26 games this season. He started it with nine goals and three assists in 24 games. . . .

F Ollie Josephson, the fifth-overall selection in last week’s WHL draft, was in the Red Deer Rebels’ lineup for the first time on Wednesday as they met the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Josephson was pointless and plus-1 in a 6-1 Red Deer victory. . . .

The Victoria Royals went into Kamloops having earned at least a point in 10 straight games (7-0-3), but the Blazers dropped them, 3-0, as G Dylan Ernst recorded his first WHL shutout. At one point late in the second period, Kamloops held a 29-4 edge in shots and a 2-0 lead. The Blazers ended up with a 51-9 advantage. . . . Kamloops D Viktor Persson wasn’t on the bench for the third period after taking a hit from Victoria D Wyatt Wilson at 8:49 of the second period. Wilson was given a charging major and game misconduct. . . .

In Calgary, F Jakub Demek, a Slovakian freshman, had two goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Hitmen, 5-2. . . . Demek, a fourth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2021 draft, has 13 goals and 22 assists in 28 games. . . . Oh, yes, he’s also on a 17-game point streak. . . .

F Jack Finley and D Jonas Woo made their Winnipeg debuts on Wednesday as the Ice dumped the host Saskatoon Blades, 6-0. . . . Finley, who was acquired earlier in the month from the Spokane Chiefs, had been in camp with Canada’s national junior team before being released. He had a goal, his ninth, and an assist in his first game with the Ice. . . . Woo, whose father, Larry, is an assistant coach with the Ice, was the 18th overall selection in last week’s WHL draft. He was pointless and plus-1 in his debut. . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was at the game and his story is right here. . . .

Earlier in the day, the Ice acquired F Alessandro Segafredo, 17, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for Czech D Martin Bohm, 18, and a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. . . . Both players were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Mike Sawatzky (@sawa14) of the Winnipeg Free Press notes that “the Italian-born Segafredo was a teammate of current Ice D Max Streule with GCK Lions U20 in Zurich, Switzerland, last season.” . . . Segafredo is listed on Winnipeg’s injury list as being out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, while Bohm, who last played on Nov. 14, is out month-to-month with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Seattle roster includes three imports, including British D Leon Okonkwo Prada and Slovakian D Samuel Knazko. . . . The Thunderbirds will have to trim one, via release or trade, once Bohm is healthy. . . . The Red Deer Rebels are the only WHL team carrying one import.


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.


GPS

Thunderbirds sign two imports . . . Broncos acquire defenceman . . . Wheat Kings lose assistant to OHL



If you were watching Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final on Monday night, you may have seen intermission host Ron MacLean’s interview with Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner. And you may be aware that MacLean didn’t ask Bettman about the sexual assault investigation in which the Chicago Blackhawks have found themselves. . . . MacLean took a fair amount of heat, albeit on social media, for not asking. On Tuesday, Ken Campbell got MacLean’s side of the story and wrote about it right here. This, folks, is why I am a subscriber to Hockey Unfiltered with Ken Campbell. Check it out.


Aliens


The WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Alessandro Segafredo and D SeattleLeon Okonkwo Prada, their two selections in the CHL’s 2021 import draft on June 30. . . . From Italy, Segafredo, who won’t turn 17 until Sept. 15, played in Switzerland last season. He had a team-high 52 points, including 25 goals, in 26 games with the ZSC Lions U17 team in 2020-21. He also had a goal and an assist in one game with ZSC’s U20 team, and 10 goals and an assist with the GCK Lions U20 side. . . . Okonkwo Prada, who turns 18 today (Wednesday), was born in Colchester, Great Britain. He played in Sweden in 2020-21, putting up a goal and six assists in eight games with Rögle BK’s U18 team. . . . Each WHL team is allowed to use two import players. Seattle also holds the rights to F Vladimir Alistrov, a 20-year-old from Belarus, having acquired them from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Jan. 25 for D Simon Kubicek, who is from Czech Republic. . . . Alistrov, who had 19 goals and 16 assists in 57 games with the Oil Kings in 2019-20, spent this season in the KHL with Dinamo Minsk. He had a goal and three assists in 38 games, then signed a one-year contract extension on April 30. . . . The Oil Kings announced last week that Kubicek, who will turn 20 on Dec. 19, is committed to play for them in 2021-22.


The 2022 Memorial Cup championship will be decided in Quebec City or Saint CHLJohn, N.B. The QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts and Saint John Sea Dogs both are putting together bids in the hopes of earning hosting rights. Bids are to be in to the CHL by Aug. 23, with a winner to be announced the week of Sept. 6. . . . The Remparts have played host to the four-team tournament in 2003 and 2015; Saint John never has been the host city. . . . The 2022 tournament is scheduled for June 3-12. . . . Due to the pandemic, the Memorial Cup tournament hasn’t been held since 2019. The 2020 tournament was to have been held in Kelowna, with the 2021 tournament in Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie. Both events were cancelled due to the pandemic.


Icecream


MLB and team owners must be wallowing in poverty, because now they’re altering some of the most glorious uniforms in all of sports in what is an obvious attempt to sell, sell, sell. . . . That includes the uniforms of the San Francisco Giants, which look the way the best ones are supposed to look — neat and clean. . . . Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a column that was sharply critical of MLB. He ended that column like this:

“I hope one of our sharp Chronicle editors kills this column before it goes into print, realizing that the unveiling of those new Giants’ uniforms was a fake news flash from the Onion, or a late April Fool’s joke.

“But if it is for real, the Giants will wear those uniforms all weekend, and every Tuesday home game the rest of the season. Willie Mays must be spinning in his hammock.”


This reminds me of a story involving Dunc McCallum, then the coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Jake Milford, who was then the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, and centre Bill Derlago. . . . The Canucks had selected Derlago, who had piled up 437 points in 209 regular-season games with the Wheat Kings, with the fourth pick of the NHL’s 1978 draft. . . . When the Canucks arrived for training camp, players had to do some running, after which Milford, a one-time Wheat Kings’ GM/head coach, called McCallum to express his disappointment in Derlago, who, he said, had huge calves and couldn’t run at all well. . . . To which McCallum replied: “Jake, are you putting together a hockey team or a track team?”


Bike


The Swift Current Broncos acquired D Rylan Thiessen, 20, from the Brandon ScurrentWheat Kings on Monday, giving up a conditional ninth-round pick in the WHL draft. Thiessen, who is from Brandon, had three goals in 25 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who had signed him as an undrafted free agent. He later was dealt to the Wheat Kings, for whom he had one goal and nine assists in 31 games over two seasons. . . . Other 2001-born players on the Broncos’ roster that finished the 2020-21 season: D Cayde Augustine, F Aiden Bulych, F Eric Houk, D Alex Moar, F Cole Nagy and G Isaac Poulter. . . . The Wheat Kings still have four 2001-born defencemen on the roster that completed the 2020-21 season: Braden Schneider, who has signed with the New York Rangers, Jonny Lambos, Chad Nychuk and Neithan Salame, as well as forwards Marcus Kallionkieli, who is from Finland, and Ben McCartney.



Another reminder that the pandemic continues to live with us. . . . The Australian Grand Prix, that had been scheduled for Nov. 18-21 near Melbourne, has been cancelled. According to a news release from the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, it was cancelled “due to restrictions and logistical challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”


The NBA final began on Tuesday night with the host Phoenix Suns beating the Milwaukee Bucks, 118-105. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of this final will involved the TV ratings. As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon points out: “The big TV markets are on the sidelines. Phoenix is the 11th largest TV market per Nielsen and Milwaukee is the 35th largest. . . . The number of ‘TV homes’ in these two markets combined is about half the number in Los Angeles (No. 2 in market size) and about 40 per cent of the number in New York (No. 1 on the list).” . . . Game 2 is to be played on Thursday.


Carnival


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 QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada have signed head coach Bruce Richardson to a three-year extension. Richardson, 44, is preparing for his fourth season as the team’s head coach. . . . The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan have signed head coach Mario Durocher, 58, to a one-year contract. He also is readying for his fourth season as that team’s head coach. . . .

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs have lost Paul McFarland, their general manager and head coach, to the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. McFarland, 35, had been in Kingston for one season. He has signed on with the Kraken as an assistant coach. The Kraken also signed Jay Leach, 41, as an assistant under head coach Dave Hakstol. Leach had been the head coach of the AHL’s Providence Bruins for four seasons. . . . If you were wondering, the NHL expansion draft is scheduled for July 21. . . . The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs have signed Jay McKee, 43, as their head coach. McKee, a former NHL player, was the head coach of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers for two-plus seasons (2016-19). He was fired on Nov. 25, 2019. Hamilton also signed Andreas Karlsson, 45, and Andrew Campbell, 33, as assistant coaches. Karlsson, from Sweden, is a former NHL player, who spent three seasons (2017-18) as an assistant coach in Kitchener. Campbell, another former NHLer, played with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in 2018-19. . . .

The OHL’s Oshawa Generals have signed Todd Miller as their head coach. Miller spent 2020-21 as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Miller, 43, was an assistant coach with the OHL’s Barrie Colts for 10 seasons before his one season with Brandon. The Generals had announced on June 17 that they were “parting ways” with head coach Greg Walters, who said the parties weren’t able to come to terms on a contract. He had been there for three years. The Generals also announced on Tuesday the signings of associate coaches Kurtis Foster and Dave Matsos, and assistant coach Mike Hedden. Foster, 39, was the Kingston Frontenacs’ head coach for two seasons (2018-20). Matsos, 47, has been an OHL coach since 2010, most recently having spent three seasons (2017-20) with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Hedden, 36, has ended his playing career after spending 2020-21 with the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush.


Mother

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