Virus offers up reminder to NHL that it’s still around . . . NHL tells scouts to follow protocols . . . WHL deal includes 2025 draft pick

COVID-19 chose to rear its ugly head as the NHL regular season opened. . . . The Krakenexpansion Seattle Kraken played its first game on Tuesday night — it lost 4-3 to the host Vegas Golden Knights — with one player on the COVID-19 list after having five on there. F Cale Jarnkrok didn’t play, while F Joonas Donskoi, F Marcus Johansson, F Jared McCann and D Jamie Oleksiak, all of whom had been on the list, were cleared in time to play. . . . Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol had said during the morning skate that Donskoi, McCann and Oleksiak wouldn’t be available, but they were cleared in time to fly to Las Vegas and play. . . . As well, Everett Fitzhugh, the team’s play-by-play voice, was missing in action after he, too, tested positive. He is in the protocol and wasn’t able to travel to Las Vegas. . . . According to general manager Ron Francis, everyone on the roster is fully vaccinated. . . .

Meanwhile, F Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, one of the NHL’s best players, has tested positive, although he is asymptomatic. He won’t play tonight (Wednesday) against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. The Avalanche is hoping for negative tests so that McKinnon can play Saturday night when the St. Louis Blues visit Denver. . . . The Vancouver Canucks will be without F Brandon Sutter indefinitely as he deals with the long-term impact of having had COVID-19 when four coaches and 21 players tested positive in late March. There are reports that Sutter is dealing with fatigue-related issues. Sutter is the son of Brent Sutter, the owner and general manager of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.


Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his latest 32 Thoughts on Tuesday and it included this:

“There was a COVID breakout among scouts who attended the USHL Fall Classic Sept. 23-27 in Pittsburgh. Since then, the NHL has warned scouts there is a ‘zero tolerance policy with respect to the protocols in all partner leagues being respected and followed.’ Those leagues are being asked to make it known if anyone ignores protocols, with potential punishment of losing their ability to attend games — at the very least.” . . . The latest 32 Thoughts is right here.


Introverts


With the NHL’s 2021-22 regular season now rolling, there are three 18- and 19-WHLyear-old WHLers still in the big league. F Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks remains with the Carolina Hurricanes, while F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings is with the St. Louis Blues and F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers is on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ roster. . . . Jarvis, 19, was the 13th selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft and has signed, but has to be returned to Portland if he doesn’t stick with the Hurricanes. . . . Neighbours, 19, was the 26th pick in that 2020 NHL draft. He, too, has signed but has to play in the WHL if he doesn’t hang on with the Blues. . . . Sillinger, 18, was the 12th selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He played with the Tigers in 2019-20, then spent last season with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. Because Columbus drafted him off the Stampede’s roster, he is eligible to play this season in the AHL. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic explains: “If Sillinger had been drafted out of Medicine Hat (or any other CHL club), the Blue Jackets would have had only two options this fall: either keep him on the NHL roster or send him back to junior. Per the CHL’s agreement with the NHL, its players are not allowed to play in the American Hockey League until they’re 20 years old. The USHL has no such age restriction with the AHL, mostly because it’s a feeder program for U.S. colleges.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers learned Tuesday that D Quinn Schmiemann, 20, will rejoin them later this week after being with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. . . . Three other 20-year-olds remain unsigned in AHL camps — Portland F Jaydon Dureau is with the Syracuse Crunch, F Tarun Fizer of the Victoria Royals is with the Colorado Eagles, and D Jackson van de Leest of the Calgary Hitmen is with Lehigh Valley.

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JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed six members of their hockey operations side to contract extensions. Head coach Mark O’Leary, assistant coaches Scott King and Gord Burnett, goaltender coach Matt Weninger, athletic therapist Brooke Kosolofski and equipment manager Tanner Arnold all signed extensions. The lengths of the deals weren’t announced. . . . It’s early and there are various kinds of restrictions in place at WHL arenas. Still, it’s worth noting that the Seattle Thunderbirds had their smallest opening-night crowd since 1996-97 on Saturday when the announced attendance was 3,246 for a 4-2 loss to the Portland Winterhawks. The other two crowds in the bottom three: 4,010 (2009-10) and 4,659 (2019-20). . . . Why only back to 1996-97? That covers all the games available via the WHL website. . . .

All signs point to important news coming in the days ahead for WHL teams, especially those in the Western Conference. In B.C., it’s expected that health officials will clear arenas 100 per cent capacity in the immediate future. B.C. facilities are allowed 50 per cent capacity at the moment. As well, there were numerous reports on Tuesday night that the U.S. government is expected to open its border for southbound fully vaccinated travellers early in November. What restrictions will be involved for re-entry into Canada aren’t yet known. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets have acquired G Colby Knight from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2025 draft. Alan Caldwell (@smallatlarge) noted via Twitter that this “is the first traded pick from the 2025 WHL draft. That draft will be 2010-born players. The kid the Oil Kings will get for Colby Knight is 10 or 11 years old today.” . . .

There was one game in the WHL on Tuesday night. . . . In Victoria, the Kamloops Blazers opened up a 3-0 lead and went on to beat the Royals, 3-2. G Dylan Garand earned the victory with 16 saves. He was beaten twice in the third period. The Blazers (3-0-0) and Royals (1-3-0) will play again tonight in Victoria.



You will recall that the OHL and WHL announced recently the additions of one female to their on-ice officiating staffs. Well, the AHL announced Monday that its “roster of on-ice officials . . . includes female referees and linespeople for the first time.” . . . Not one. . . . Not two. . . . But 10 of them, including seven referees. . . . And one of the three women who will work the lines is Alex Clarke of Weyburn, Sask., the same Alex Clarke who is the first female on-ice official in WHL history. . . . Katie Guay will become the first woman to referee an AHL game on Saturday night when she works a game between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the host Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. . . . Amalie Benjamin of nhl.com has more on this story right here.


Monsters


The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets have cut ties with G Kyrie Irving “until he is eligible to be a full participant” in practices and games, general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. . . . Irving has chosen not to get vaccinated, at least to this point. . . . “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” Marks said. “Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.” . . . Marks later told reporters that the decision to exclude Irving was made by himself and owner Joe Tsai. . . . The Nets are scheduled to open the regular season in Milwaukee against the Bucks on Oct. 19.


There was a positive test in MLB with the Atlanta Braves revealing that OF Jorge Soler is out of action. The Braves were allowed a roster replacement so added OF Cristian Pache and he got into Tuesday’s game in the late going. . . . The Braves beat the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4, to win the best-of-five series, 3-1.


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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Ass

Raiders to hit road early for TV appearance . . . Bedard opens with a pair . . . Three hat-tricks, one shutout on WHL’s opening night

The CHL is back on TV this (Saturday) afternoon as the Regina Pats play host to CHLthe Prince Albert Raiders in a game that is to be shown on CBC. . . . If you tune in, you’re going to get Victor Findlay doing the play-by-play with analysis by Sam Cosentino, who is hardly a stranger to major junior hockey. . . . Findlay has a whole lot of play-by-play experience, having called a lot of Canadian university games, as well as a couple of Champions Hockey League finals, some Ottawa Senators games and an IIHF U-18 World championship. . . . It’ll be a quick turnaround for the teams after Regina won, 3-1, in Prince Albert on Friday night. The Raiders’ bus is to hit the road at 6:15 a.m. . . . You may recall that CHL climbed into bed with Sportsnet in 1998 and then the two parties signed a 12-year “partnership extension” on Feb. 18, 2014, that was to run through the 2025-26 season. . . . Their relationship ended this summer, with Sportsnet bailing and the CHL signing on with TSN, RDS and CBC on what the hockey people called “multi-platform, multi-year broadcast partnerships.” . . . It all starts today at 1 p.m. Regina time — that’s noon PT — and you can bet the spotlight will be on Regina F Connor Bedard, who, at 16, comes with all the adjectives you might imagine. He scored the game’s first and last goals on Friday in Prince Albert and, yes, he was named first star. . . . Blogger Darren Steinke was in Prince Albert on Friday night and his report is right here.

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Elsewhere in the WHL on Friday night . . .

G Isaac Poulter stopped 20 shots to record the first shutout of the season as the host Swift Current Broncos got past the Medicine Hat Tigers, 2-0. That was Poulter’s second career shutout. His first came on March 13, 2019, when he stopped 33 shots as the Broncos beat the host Regina Pats, 2-0. . . .

In Moose Jaw, F Brayden Yager, 16, who is from Saskatoon, struck for three goals as the Warriors beat the Blades, 7-1. Alex Clarke of Weyburn, Sask., became the first woman to work as an on-ice official in a WHL regular-season game when she partnered with Ryan Lundquist on the lines. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings got three goals from F Josh Williams and three assists from F Jakub Demek as they defeated the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 4-1. Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate points out that the Oil Kings have won 18 of their last 19 meetings with the Rebels. Yes, that’s domination. . . .

F Noah Boyko scored three times and F Justin Hall had a goal and four assists as the host Lethbridge Hurricanes dropped the Calgary Hitmen, 9-2. . . .

In Brandon, the Winnipeg Ice thrashed the Wheat Kings, 10-2. Winnipeg got two goals from each of F Skyler Bruce and F Mikey Milne. Ice G Daniel Hauser stopped 20 shots, including a pair of penalty shots. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Tri-City Americans scored twice in a five-round shootout to beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-4. Dwayne Jean Jr., a 17-year-old freshman from Edmonton, got the shootout winner.



Hygiene



In case you missed it, this from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a ball completely out of Dodger Stadium on Thursday night, a shot that landed on top of the left-field pavilion and disappeared into the night. According to the Dodgers’ website, only five other players have done that since the park opened in 1962: Willie Stargell (1969 Pirates), Stargell again (1973 Pirates), Mike Piazza (1997 Dodgers), McGwire (1999 Cardinals) and Giancarlo Stanton (2015 Marlins).”



F Zac Rinaldo refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 so it would seem the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets are through with him. Earlier, the team told Rinaldo to stay away from their training camp. On Friday, Rinaldo, 31, cleared NHL waivers and the Blue Jackets told him not to bother reporting to camp with the Cleveland Monsters, their AHL affiliate, when it opens on Tuesday. . . . Rinaldo signed a one-year, two-way contract in August. He won’t be getting his NHL salary (US$750,000), but will draw his AHL salary ($300,000) while he doesn’t play. . . . The Blue Jackets have told Rinaldo that he is free to look for other opportunities.


AuntEdna


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.


Fur

Boulet asks unvaxxed to take one for the team: ‘We need you now’ . . . COVID-19 puts SJHL team’s season on hold . . . WHL adds first female on-ice official

TobyBoulet
The number 6 means a lot to Toby Boulet, a leading advocate for organ donation. (Photo: Toby Boulet/Facebook)

Toby Boulet, perhaps Canada’s best-known advocate for organ donation, is asking people who aren’t yet vaccinated to take one for the team.

Boulet’s son, Logan, was one of 16 people killed in the crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos on April 6, 2018. Logan, who was 20, had registered as an organ donor a short time before the accident and his organs ended up helping six different people.

Now, with transplantation surgery having been halted in Saskatchewan —only living-donor kidney transplants are performed there — Boulet told Global News that he really wants people to pull together to help us get through this.

“If you can think of what happened with the Humboldt Broncos tragedy and what you did and how you responded,” he said in an interview with Global News, “how your love went out to the families of the Broncos and the families and the community of Humboldt . . . we need you now to help other families, other people.”

Boulet, who lives in Lethbridge, also pointed out that “organ transplants are a critical service and the fact that they’re being shut down is devastating and there will be loss of life because of the decisions of some,”

At the same time, he didn’t pull any punches when looking at the overall situation.

“I firmly believe it’s the selfishness of people that don’t see the community as being first,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about the team. And the team needs you right now.”

The Global News story is right here.

Earlier in the day, in an interview with Saskatoon radio station CKOM, Boulet asked those who are waiting for transplants not to give up the fight.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) shut down transplantation surgery on Thursday, a move that Boulet told me made him “feel physically ill.”

Lori Garchinski, SHA’s executive director, said that with COVID-19 hospitalizations surging in her province, staff normally involved in transplants has had to be transferred to intensive care units.

Boulet told CKOM the shut down is “an absolute tragedy.”

Libby Giesbrecht of CKOM has more right here.



Dr. Hassan Masri of the U of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine was mentioned here yesterday because of his tweet about that province having to halt organ transplantation.

Later, he posted this on Facebook and his words say everything:

“Most patients that come to the ICU come in a very critical condition and without any immediate and aggressive intervention most would die in a few short minutes to hours.

“Luckily most patients do make it out of the ICU and go on to their homes eventually and it brings all of us in the ICU a lot of joy to see that recovery.

“A small number of patients unfortunately don’t survive their disease and illness and they pass away. Many of those who pass away go on to become organ donors and in turn they save the lives of other people.

“Organ donation is a critical part of my job and it’s a role that brings me a lot of joy and satisfaction. More importantly, organ donors saves people’s lives because of the generosity of those who have died and their families. Being a small part of this process and facilitating this process is mind-blowing and it’s a feeling that I can’t describe to you in words.

“Effective (Thursday), Saskatchewan’s organ donation programs are shut down until further notice because of the pressure that COVID-19 has put on our ICUs. This means that no one can donate their organs and that is a shame, but it also means that no one will receive any organs and that is an equally big shame.

“Reading the email (Thursday) morning about the donation program being shut down was extremely painful and sad to me as I am sure it is sad and devastating to so many other colleagues who fought hard to have this program and to the families of those who have been waiting for an organ.

“The medical community and the SHA will continue to do their best to care for our citizens but the delay in taking any actions for weeks has a very tragic price.

“The impact of the COVID-19 fourth wave will be painful and this is just the beginning.

“I have said this and I will say this again. Fighting COVID-19 effectively cannot happen by adding more beds. It can happen by having our Saskatchewan government mandating vaccines for all who are eligible to receive it and by enforcing masks on everyone.”


Meanwhile . . .

The SJHL’s regular season was to have opened on Friday night with six games. sjhlBut, said COVID-19, “not so fast, my friends.” . . . Even before the league got to opening night it had to shut down the Melville Millionaires until further notice due to a positive test somewhere within the organization. . . . “The decision for postponement did not come easy, but we all feel that this is the best decision to make at this time to mitigate the potential risks,” read an SJHL news release signed by Bill Chow, the commissioner. “The SJHL will work with the Melville Millionaires and teams affected by the postponement in rescheduling and will announce when that information is available. Any health matter is private in nature, the SJHL and the Melville Millionaires will have no further comments at this time.” . . . The Millionaires had played eight exhibition games in 14 days through Sept. 19. They were to have opened the regular season in Weyburn against the Red Wings on Friday night and then played in Weyburn on Saturday. . . . The SJHL’s original schedule had Melville playing three games through Sept. 29 and six more from Oct. 1 through Oct. 9. That included four games in five days from Oct. 1 through Oct. 5.


When the Regina Pats met the Warriors in Moose Jaw in an exhibition game on Friday night, Alex Clarke of Weyburn was to be one of the on-ice officials, becoming the first female to work the lines in a WHL game. This comes after Clarke, 28, worked the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Calgary in August. . . . From a WHL news release: “Clarke boasts extensive international experience, having been assigned to the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championship, 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship (Division 1, Group B), 2018 4 Nations Cup, and 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship (Division II, Group B).” She also has worked various leagues on the Prairies, including the SJHL and U Sports women’s games. . . . BTW, the WHL news release announcing that Clarke has joined the league’s officiating team referred to her as a linesperson. Does that move linesman/linesmen out of the vernacular? . . . The Pats won the game, 4-1. Unfortunately, the online scoresheet doesn’t list Clarke as one of the on-ice officials — there isn’t a Linesman 1 shown. Hopefully the league is able to get her name in there so that this moment in WHL history is right there on the website.


Wolf


JUST NOTES: The Vancouver Giants will wear a patch on their sweaters this season in memory of Elizabeth Toigo, the mother of majority owner Ron Toigo, after she died on Friday morning. . . . The Ontario government and health officials announced some adjustments to restrictions on Friday, so OHL games played in Ontario arenas now can be opened up to 50 per cent capacity. . . . The CHL has cancelled the Canada-Russia series because of the pandemic. The six-game series last was held in 2019. . . . F Connor Zary, who played 203 regular-season games over four seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, will be out for a while — the NHL’s Calgary Flames show him as week-to-week — with a fractured ankle. Fortunately, the injury won’t require surgery. Zary, who turns 20 today (Saturday), was injured when he blocked a shot in a rookie game against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. He has signed with the Flames and likely is ticketed for their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat.


Organizers of the 2022 Manitoba Games announced Friday that they won’t be held. The Games were scheduled for Niverville, from Feb. 27 through March 5, and would have involved around 1,500 participants and about 1,000 volunteers. . . . From a Sport Manitoba news release: “Over the last 18 months, inconsistencies in competition and training opportunities had an effect on athlete development. Without regular training, conditioning, and recovery routines in this crucial stage, the risk of injury, mental fatigue, and overtraining were also factors in making this decision. Along with continued uncertainty about the pandemic, and public health restrictions, it became clear it would not be possible to host an event of this magnitude and execute a safe and successful multi-sport Games experience.”


Work


Andrew Wiggins, who is from Thornhill, Ont., was the first overall selection in the NBA’s 2014 draft. However, he really hadn’t had much of a career until last season when he joined the Golden State Warriors. But now it turns out he’s an anti-vaxxer and, well, here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle . . .

“If Wiggins carries through with his rejection of the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving the Warriors with a part-time player who had been counted upon to start, his career is essentially over. Remember Draymond Green’s unbridled fury at Kevin Durant because he might not be fully committed to the franchise? Imagine how Green, and the rest of the Warriors, will react if Wiggins joins the list of selfish, isolated professional athletes who choose principle — even if it’s something they can’t adequately explain — over the team dynamic and the health of others.”

Jenkins also reported that Wiggins, if he isn’t vaccinated, won’t “be able to play in any home games at Chase Center, due to San Francisco’s updated policy for large indoor gatherings.”

On Friday, the NBA announced that it had denied Wiggins’ request for a religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Health’s order requiring vaccination for anyone 12 and older at large indoor events.

Wiggins is scheduled to make something like US$29.54 million for 2021-22.


The Chicago Blackhawks were missing two players from Friday’s on-ice sessions because of COVID-19 protocols. G Kevin Lankinen and F Mike Hardman. That doesn’t mean either player tested positive; perhaps they were in contact with someone who did. No further details were released. . . . The Blackhawks are 100 per cent vaccinated, according to GM Stan Bowman.


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.


Born