Scattershooting on the eighth Sunday before Christmas . . . Desjardins goes to Hollywood . . . Tigers, ‘Hawks both get victories

Scattershooting

A note from Jack Finarelli, the Sports Curmudgeon: “Memo to Commissioner Manfred — I know you cannot predict which games will take forever and which ones will be over in short order. Nonetheless, please use your ‘Commish authority’ to require one game in the World Series to be played with an afternoon start. In fact, let me be more specific — make it the Saturday World Series game. You may get lucky and have a great game on TV at a time when a lot more people can be awake to see it happen.”


Headline at TheOnion.com: Golden State raises 2018, 2019, 2020 championship banners.



So . . . the NHL sends the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets to Finland and games on Thursday and Friday, both of which began at 11 a.m. PT, were regional telecasts via one TSN channel in Canada. Meanwhile, games between the Chicago Blackhawks and host Vancouver Canucks, and the Colorado Avalanche and host Calgary Flames, which had been played the previous nights, were being replayed Thursday and Friday mornings on four Sportsnet channels. . . . Is this what the NHL calls growing the game?

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Thankfully, ICYMI, the Christmas movie season is upon us. Yes, at least one channel on my satellite package is showing Christmas movies for something like 20 hours a day. Yes, every day. You’re welcome. Hey, that’s really growing the game.


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“A man using a blowtorch to kill spiders burned down his mother’s house in Fresno, Calif.,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “He reportedly got the idea watching Jon Gruden tinker with the Raiders’ roster.”

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One more from Perry: “We can just picture Dodgers shortstop Manny (Don’t Call Me Charlie Hustle) Machado drowning his sorrows after the World Series . . . ‘Bartender, make it a single.’ ”



On my way home from a Friday night hockey game, I drove past a home that featured a Christmas tree all lit up and standing in a corner of the living room. Umm, Friday was Nov. 2. . . . Just for those folks, right here is Darlene Love with All Alone for Christmas.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has a question: “How long until Vegas looks at the purchase of the Oakland Raiders under California’s Lemon Law?”


“Four kids came to our door dressed as Jacksonville Jaguars,” relates comedy writer Alex Kaseberg of Halloween, “handed us a $64,170 bar tab and then ran away.”



A note to Toronto sports writers from RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Auston Matthews is a good hockey player, but he’s not a god or a saint. So stop writing columns like hte Gospel According to Matthews.”

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“Retired Olympic gold-medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton just got divorced after 27 years,” reports Currie. “I’m not saying she’s ready to start dating, although she may give you a tumble.”


MacBeth

F Tyler Coulter (Brandon, 2012-17) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Vimmerby (Sweden, Division 1). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in 14 games with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), and two goals and one assist in 11 games with the University of Calgary (Canada West, USports).


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ICYMI, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings fired head coach John Stevens on Sunday morning in a move that had a number of WHL ties. . . . Willie Desjardins, 61, was named the interim head coach, which should take him through the remainder of this season. . . . Desjardins spent 2002-10 with the Medicine Hat Tigers, the first three seasons as head coach and the last five as general manager and head coach. . . . Desjardins also was the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks for three seasons (2014-17). The Kings are scheduled to visit Vancouver on Nov. 27. . . . Desjardins spent last season as the head coach of Canada’s national men’s team. . . . Assistant coach Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL history, also was fired by the Kings. Nachbaur, who was in his second season on the Kings’ staff, has coached in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. His 692 regular-season victories trail only Don Hay (750) and Ken Hodge (742). . . . Dave Lowry, a former WHL coach, remains on the Kings’ coaching staff, as does goaltending coach Bill Ranford. Lowry coached with the Calgary Hitmen (2005-09) and Victoria Royals (2012-17). He is in his second season with the Kings. . . . Ranford played three seasons (1983-86) with the New Westminster Bruins and has been with the Kings since 2006-07.

There is more right here from Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times.


Chances are that most hockey fans had never heard Elgar Petersen’s name before the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed on April 6. After that accident, though, his name was heard rather frequently because the arena in Humboldt, which is home to the SJHL’s Broncos, is named after him. Petersen died on Saturday evening at the age of 82. Phil Tank of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on Petersen right here.


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SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

D Linus Nassen scored two goals and added an assist to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a Tigers Logo Official5-4 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Tigers (9-7-2) had lost their previous two games (0-1-1). . . . The Hitmen (5-11-2) have lost two in a row. . . . Calgary was playing its third game in as many nights. It beat the visiting Tigers 7-5 on Friday, then dropped a 1-0 home-ice decision to the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday. . . . F Kaden Elder got the Hitmen to within a goal, at 3-2, at 6:16 of the second period. . . . Nassen, who has four goals, then stretch the lead to 5-2 with goals at 14:43 and 18:01, the latter on a PP. . . . The Hitmen got close on goals from F Luke Coleman (4), at 18:33 of the second, and Elder (8), at 17:55 of the third. . . . Nassen, a 20-year-old Swedish sophomore, has three three-point outings this season after enjoying two of them last season. . . . Medicine Hat was 2-4 on the PP. . . . Calgary held a 44-33 edge in shots, including 16-1 in the third period. . . . The Tigers got 40 saves from G Jordan Hollett.


The Portland Winterhawks struck for four PP goals en route to an 8-6 victory over the PortlandChiefs in Spokane. . . . The Winterhawks (10-6-1) won three games in as many nights this weekend. They swept a Friday-Saturday doubleheader from the visiting Victoria Royals, 7-3 and 2-1. . . . The Chiefs (8-6-3) have lost two in a row. . . . Spokane actually led this one, 5-3, with five minutes left in the second period. . . . F Jake Gricius (9) pulled Portland to within one, on a PP, at 15:22 of the second. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld, who finished with two goals and three assists, tied it at 4:04 of the third. . . . D Nolan Reid (3) gave the Chiefs the lead, again, at 5:41. . . . Portland put it away with the last three goals — from F Ryan Hughes (6), on a PP, at 6:18; F Reece Newkirk (10), on a PP, at 17:00; and Blichfeld (14), into an empty net, at 19:27. . . . Portland G Dante Giannuzzi came on in relief to stop four of the five shots he faced in 27:18 and earn his first WHL victory. . . . Blichfeld now has 35 points, including 21 assists, in 17 games. This was his second five-point game of his career, both of which have come this season. . . . Portland got four assists from D Jared Freadrich, who enjoyed the first four-point night of a career that is into its fourth season. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and two assists from F Riley Woods, who has 12 goals, with F Ethan McIndoe (4) scoring once and adding two assists, and F Jake McGrew drawing three assists. . . . Portland F Jaydon Dureau scored his second goal of the season on a penalty shot at 18:09 of the first period, tying the score 3-3 in the process. . . . The Winterhawks outshot the Chiefs, 53-23, including 23-10 in the first period. . . . Portland F Ryan Hughes, who left Saturday’s game in the first period after absorbing a hard hit, was back in the lineup last night and had a goal, his sixth, and an assist. . . . The Winterhawks were without F Cody Glass, while the Chiefs scratched D Ty Smith and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Glass and Smith are expected to play for Team WHL against a touring Russian side tonight in Kamloops as the annual CIBC Canada-Russia series gets started. Anderson-Dolan would play if healthy, but now has missed three games with an undisclosed injury. . . . F Seth Jarvis (Portland) and F Jack Finley (Spokane) are at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge.


Note that after Sunday’s games, the WHL is off until Friday.


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Scattershooting on Sunday, after a flat World Series . . . Will you pay to watch Phil vs. Tiger? . . . Blazers complete dominating weekend sweep

Scattershooting

Jack Finarelli, who writes daily at sportscurmudgeon.com, with a tip for all of us: “The latest news related to the Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson challenge match that will be on pay-per-view is that the only way you will be able to see it is on pay-per-view.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that no tickets will be available for the event; the only folks on the course with Woods and Mickelson will be those who are there to provide the TV coverage, sponsors and guests of the sponsors.  So, just in case you were thinking of heading out to Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend and trying to score tix to the event at Shadow Creek Golf Club, stay home.”



The neatest statistic from this season’s World Series is this one and it isn’t close. . . . Game 3 between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Kings went 18 innings and took seven hours 20 minutes to complete on Friday night. It took longer to play that one game than it did to play the entire 1939 World Series when the New York Yankees swept the Cincinnati Reds with the four games taking a combined 7:05.



Cam Hutchinson, in the Saskatoon Express: Toronto-based Postmedia columnist Steve Simmons is at it again. “Where does Auston Matthews fit in with this question: Best wrist shot in Leafs history? I’m figuring Wendel Clark and Lanny McDonald are 1-2. Matthews has the most deceptive shot. Over time he may wind up ahead of Clark and McDonald.” Please give us a break from this crap.


Hutchinson also passes along this one . . . From the Twitter account of @wrestlingbubble: “A woman at the grocery store asked me what self-checkup meant, so I told her grocery stores are on the honour system now, and she should just pay what she thinks is fair.”



“Now,” comedy writer Alex Kaseberg says of Boston pitcher Chris Sale, “I don’t want to say Sale is skinny, but if the Red Sox wore pinstripes, he would wear a pinstripe.”


From Vancouver comedy writer Torben Rolfsen: “John Tortorella says he misses ‘the hate’ in today’s NHL. He should go on Twitter.”


The readerboard at Beerhaus Las Vegas recently carried this message: “Marty, I just got back from 2078. Canucks still haven’t won a Cup.”



RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com has a question: “With hurricanes being named after both genders, shouldn’t we call them himicanes and hericanes?”


“SI.com reports Jon Gruden is on a three-year rebuild so the Raiders win the Super Bowl in 2020,” Currie writes. “Why not use his old formula? Have Tony Dungy build the team, then take over.”



Well, that World Series was definitely a letdown. I really expected more out of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were clearly inferior to the Boston Red Sox in all areas of the game. . . . Who knew the Dodgers wouldn’t seem to get any kind of lift from the 18-inning victory in Game 3? . . . But it was only fitting that Manny (The Hustler) Machado should make the series’ last out.


SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

D Aaron Hyman set up three goals and was plus-4 as the host Regina Pats skated to a 7-Patsvictory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Regina (4-11-0) had lost five in a row. This was the Pats’ first victory on home ice in nine starts — yes, they are 1-8-0. . . . The Broncos (1-14-0) have lost seven in a row. They are scheduled to entertain the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday. At 0-4-0, Swift Current is the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have won at home. . . . In Regina, the Pats took a 1-0 lead in the first period and stretched it to 4-0 before the second was seven minutes old. . . . F Austin Pratt and F Sergei Alkhimov each scored twice for Regina. Pratt has seven goals; Alkhimov has four. . . . Regina held a 40-22 edge in shots. . . . The Broncos are 13 points out of a playoff spot, while the Pats are seven points back. . . . Regina went 1-2-0 as it played three games in fewer than 48 hours.


F Kirby Dach scored twice and added an assist to help the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-3 Saskatoonvictory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Saskatoon (9-5-1) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). . . . Calgary (4-9-2) has lost three in a row. . . . Dach has 27 points, 10 of them goals, in 16 games. . . . The Blades had 2-1 and 3-2 leads. . . . Calgary tied it, 3-3, at 4:02 of the third period when F Zach Huber (4) scored. . . . F Kristian Røykås Marthinsen (5), a freshman from Norway, snapped the tie at 12:43 and Dach added the empty-netter at 19:50. . . . Saskatoon D Brandon Schuldaus played in his 200th regular-season game. A 20-year-old from Calgary, he has played 90 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds, 71 with the Red Deer Rebels, 28 with the Moose Jaw Warriors and 11 with the Blades. . . . Saskatoon was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. It went 1-1-1.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky continued to pile up the points as the host Edmonton Oil Kings EdmontonOilKingsdoubled the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 6-3. . . . Edmonton (9-7-1) has won four in a row. . . . Lethbridge (7-5-3) had points in its previous six games (4-0-2). . . . The Oil Kings went 3-0-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Fix-Wolansky finished with a goal, his 11th, and three assists. In 17 games, he has put up 32 points, including a WHL-leading 21 assists. He is second in the scoring race, three points behind F Brett Leason of the idle Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Edmonton F David Kope (2) broke a 1-1 tie at 8:05 of the first period. That was the first of five straight goals for the Oil Kings as they took control. . . . F Quinn Benjafield (7) scored twice — once while shorthanded and once on the PP — while F Jake Neighbours (5) scored twice and added an assist.


The Red Deer Rebels got out to a 6-2 lead before the second period was 12 minutes old Red Deerand went on to an 8-5 victory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Rebels (10-4-1) have won two in a row. . . . The Ice (4-7-3) has lost two straight. . . . Red Deer F Reese Johnson scored twice early in the first period — at 1:11 and 2:29 — for a 2-0 lead. . . . The Ice pulled even when F Brad Ginnell (3), at 4:06, and F Cam Hausinger (5), at 4:42, quickly replied. . . . F Blake Sydlowski (1) put Red Deer ahead at 7:59, and the visitors took control with three second-period goals. . . . The Ice got to within 6-5 early in the third period, scoring three PP goals, but F Jeff de Wit (9) upped Red Deer’s lead to 7-5 at 10:59 and Johnson (8) completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:58. . . . D Alex Alexeyev had a goal (7) and two assists for Red Deer, with F Brandon Hagel drawing three assists. . . . Ginnell added two assists to his goal. . . . The Ice had a 41-26 edge in shots. . . . The Ice has played two home games since a committee hoping to keep the franchise from moving to Winnipeg held a town hall meeting on Thursday. The announced attendance at those games was 2,208, for a 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings, and 2,094 yesterday. . . . The Ice’s next home game is scheduled for Friday when the Oil Kings make their third and final visit of the season.


G Trent Miner stopped 37 shots through OT and wasn’t beaten in the shootout as the VancouverVancouver Giants beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 3-2, in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants improved to 11-3-2. . . . Brandon (6-3-5) has lost five straight (0-2-3). The Wheat Kings are 0-2-2 on a seven-game road trip that continues Tuesday in Prince George. . . . Miner is from Souris, Man., and played one season with the bantam AAA Wheat Kings and two with the midget AAA Wheat Kings. . . . This season, Miner is 4-0-1, 1.41, .953. . . . Vancouver F Brayden Watts, the last shooter in the third round, scored the only goal of the shootout. . . . Three of the game’s four ‘real’ goals came via the PP, with Vancouver getting two of those. . . . F Connor Gutenberg (5) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 9:01 of the first period; Vancouver F Milos Roman (7) tied it at 13:26. . . . Brandon went ahead 2-1 at 12:29 of the second as F Caiden Daley (2) scored the game’s only even-strength goal. . . . Watts  (4) tied it at 10:30 of the third. . . . The Giants won 42 of the game’s 63 faceoffs. . . . Vancouver continues to play without D Bailey Dhaliwal, D Dylan Plouffe, D Matt Barberis, D Joel Sexsmith and F James Malm, all of whom are out with injuries. The Giants play once between now and Nov. 10, so hope to have some bodies back before then.


The Kamloops Blazers completed a weekend sweep with a 5-2 victory over the host Kamloops1Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kamloops (6-6-1) has won four in a row. . . . Portland (7-6-1) has lost three straight. . . . This was the final game of the season series with each team winning twice on the road. . . . The Blazers beat the Seattle Thunderbirds 7-2 in Kent, Wash., on Friday, then won 6-2 in Portland on Saturday. . . . The Winterhawks also played three games in fewer than 48 hours, but they went 0-3-0. They lost 4-1 in Spokane on Friday. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand stopped 32 shots and then, like a number of other WHL players, left for the U-17 World Hockey Challenge that runs from Nov. 3 through Nov. 10 in Quispamsis and Saint, John, N.B. . . . Garand, who backs up Dylan Ferguson, is 1-1-1, 2.52, .916 in five appearances. . . . The Blazers took control with the game’s first three goals — two in the second period and one in the third. F Josh Pillar and F Kobe Mohr each had a goal and an assist. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Jared Freadrich, who drew a one-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in Saturday’s game. He hit D Luke Zazula on the play in question.


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Scattershooting while watching Brady vs. The Kid . . . Haden wants a trade . . .Giants hand Royals first loss . . . Weekend sweep for ‘Tips

Scattershooting

Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, with a good question: “Idle thought: Was Orioles manager Buck Showalter fired? Or was he granted clemency?”


Another question, this one from me: Do the New York Yankees bring back Buck Showalter or Joe Girardi to replace Aaron Boone, whose handling of his pitching staff oftentimes was mystifying?



A note from humourist Brad Dickson: “It hasn’t been easy to resist the siren call of fantasy football. Indeed in 2018 playing fantasy sports has become America’s new pastime, having supplanted the erstwhile, laudable pursuits of Fidget-spinning, dabbing and searching for Pokemon.”


With the NBA season almost upon us, it’s worth noting that the sports books in Las Vegas have taken more bets on the L.A. Lakers winning the title than on any other team. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports  Babe, noted: “If anyone wondered how they got the money to build all those big hotels.”


When you’re watching an NFL game on CTV, don’t you get the feeling that the network could squeeze in at least one more promo for an upcoming show if it really tried?


Just last week, with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations having announced that she is leaving the post, Donald Trump suggested he might appoint his daughter, Ivanka, if not for the likelihood that he would be accused of nepotism. Here’s Hough: “Well that and it would interfere with her current duties as his real VP and First Lady.”


“The Nashville Predators, knocked out in Round 2 of the 2018 playoffs, raised three banners commemorating last season,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “I think one of them was for participation.”


Currie, again: “I heard on Sportsnet that the first requirement of a top-notch NHL goalie is a short memory. Hand me some goalie pads; I’m going to be an all-star!”


How naive am I? I had no idea that junior hockey players are using match-making apps like Tinder to meet up with young women while on the road.


Some scores for you to digest: 41-7, 59-1, 38-8, 79-7, 48-24, 36-16, 53-0, 48-7. . . . Those are the scores that carried junior football’s Saskatoon Hilltops to an 8-0 regular-season record.



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F Gary Haden has asked the Medicine Hat Tigers to trade him.

Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News reports that Haden, 19, made the request on Tigers Logo OfficialThursday, and that the Tigers sent him home on Friday.

This season, Haden had a goal and two assists in nine games. Last season, he had 17 goals and 25 assists in 70 games.

A ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft, the native of Airdrie, Alta., has 53 points, including 25 goals, in 115 regular-season games, all with Medicine Hat.

The Tigers acquired Haden on Jan. 10, 2016, when they sent F Cole Sanford to the Pats and also got back F Brian Williams, a third-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft, a fifth-round pick in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018.


The WHL’s Department of Discipline is just like New York City — it never sleeps. . . . On whlSunday, the DoD issued three suspensions resulting from incidents in Saturday night games. . . . F Ryley Appelt of the Kamloops Blazers was given a two-game suspension after taking a charging major and game misconduct during a 7-2 loss to the Silvertips in Everett. Originally, Appelt was penalized for a headshot, but was changed to charging. . . . D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors got one game after being hit with a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct during a 4-3 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . F Mike MacLean of the Prince George Cougars also got one game, this one for a boarding major and game misconduct during a 6-5 shootout victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. MacLean sat out the Cougars’ 2-1 OT victory over the host Kootenay Ice on Sunday.


F Brad Goethals, 20, who left the Saskatoon Blades earlier this month, now is with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. . . . They acquired his rights from the Selkirk Steelers over the weekend, giving up F Noah Basarab, 19, a 2019 sixth-round draft pick and future considerations in the exchange. . . . Goethals had 16 goals and 17 assists in 72 games with the Blades last season. . . . Goethals had a goal on Sunday, helping the Stampeders to a 3-2 victory over the visiting Steinbach Pistons.


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SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Vancouver Giants handed the host Victoria Royals their first loss of this regular-Vancouverseason, beating them, 3-2. . . . The Royals (7-1-0) had beaten the visiting Giants, 3-2 in OT, on Saturday night. . . . The Royals now are 5-1-0 at home. All eight of their games to this point have been against B.C. Division opponents. . . . At 7-0-0, the Royals had tied the franchise record for best start to a season. Last season, they also opened with seven straight victories. . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings now are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have lost in regulation time. The Wheat Kings (5-0-2) are scheduled to entertain the Spokane Chiefs on Tuesday. . . . Vancouver has points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Giants were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours, having beaten the Kamloops Blazers, 4-3 in a shootout, in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. . . . F Milos Roman (5) scored twice for Vancouver; he’s got goals in four straight games. . . . F Brayden Watts (3) got the winner when he broke a 2-2 tie at 16:21 of the second period. . . . The Giants held a 40-20 edge in shots. . . . Vancouver G David Tendeck stopped 18 shots in his third straight start. . . . Trent Miner, Vancouver’s other goaltender, missed all three games as he travelled home to Brandon after the deaths of both of his grandfathers. . . . According to the online scoresheets, the Giants didn’t dress a backup goaltender for any of the three weekend games.


The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last four goals to beat the Blades, 6-2, in PrinceAlbertSaskatoon. . . . The Raiders (10-1-0) are the first WHL team to 10 victories this season. They have won three in a row and now led the overall standings by three points over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blades (7-3-0) had won four in a row. . . . F Brett Leason (9) led the Raiders with two goals and an assist. He’s got at least a point in each of the Raiders’ 11 games. . . . Leason broke a 2-2 tie at 17:12 of the second period. . . . D Brayden Pachal (1) added a goal and two assists for Prince Albert. . . . Leason now is tied for the lead in the WHL’s points race. He and F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks have 22 points apiece. . . . Leason leads the WHL in goals with nine.


The Everett Silvertips completed a weekend sweep by beating the Winterhawks, 4-2, in EverettPortland. . . . The Silvertips (6-3-0) were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours, having beaten the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-3, on Friday, and the Kamloops Blazers, 7-2, on Saturday. . . . The Winterhawks (5-3-1), who had been 5-0-1 in their previous six games, hadn’t played since Wednesday. . . . Everett got 30 saves from Dustin Wolf, who is the only goaltender the Silvertips have used to this point in the season. Wolf is 6-3-0, 1.90, .922. . . . The Winterhawks were 0-10 on the PP. . . . F Connor Dewar had two assists for Everett, giving him 14 points, including seven helpers, in nine games.


G Taylor Gauthier turned aside 45 shots to help the Prince George Cougars to a 2-1 OT PrinceGeorgevictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice held a 46-27 edge in shots, including 21-5 in the third period. . . . Each team was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. . . . The Cougars lost 4-1 to the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday, then beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 6-5 in a shootout, on Saturday. . . . The Ice lost 3-2 to the visiting Regina Pats on Friday night, then dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Saturday. . . . On Sunday, F Jackson Leppard (1) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 13:32 of the second period. . . . The Ice pulled even at 3:39 of the third on a goal by F Peyton Krebs (3). . . . F Ilijah Colina (3) won it 33 seconds into extra time. . . . The Ice (3-4-1) has lost three in a row (0-1-2). . . . The Cougars improved to 4-5-1. . . . Prince George was without F Josh Maser and F Mike MacLean, both of whom were serving WHL-issued suspensions.


F Nick Henry scored 14 seconds into OT to give the visiting Regina Pats a 4-3 victory over Patsthe Calgary Hitmen. . . . D Aaron Hyman (3) had pulled the Pats (3-6-0) into a 3-3 tie, on a PP, at 11:06 of the third period. . . . Henry, who also had two assists, won it with his second goal of the season. . . . The Hitmen slipped to 1-5-2. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (4) had a goal and two assists for Regina. . . . F Cole Dubinsky, who won’t turn 16 until Dec. 4, scored his first goal for the Pats. From Ardrossan, Alta., he was a fourth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . F Tristen Nielsen was back in Calgary’s lineup after serving a three-game suspension.


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It’s time for WHL to do the right thing . . . Decision-makers must act . . . Fighting, headshots have to go

 


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Included in a WHL news release that was issued on June 14 following the league’s annual meeting in Vancouver was this sentence:

“The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

The news release didn’t provide any further details, but it says here that anything short of a complete ban on fighting and all contact with an opponent’s head, including incidental contact, is a complete failure.

If the WHL really — really, really, really — cares about the health and safety of its players it is time to make these moves. In fact, it’s well past time.

Why?

Well, let’s start with this Ken Dryden piece from the op-ed pages of the Washington Post.

And then there’s this piece right here from The Players Tribune. Written by Nick Boynton, a former major junior player who went to skate in the NHL, it isn’t pretty.

At one point, Boynton writes of his three-year-old son: “But I cannot, in good conscience, let him play the game of ice hockey until something changes and we start looking out for our players by taking the problems of head hits and concussions — and their potential impact on mental health — more seriously.”

Boynton also writes:

“Yes, ours is a physical, violent sport. And it may be the case that we cannot rid hockey of that violence and danger altogether. But at the very least let’s deal with the issues that arise as a result of that. Deal with the head trauma. Deal with the concussions. And deal with all of the ramifications that those things bring about.

“Stop telling people the world is flat and just do the right thing. Instead of ignoring the damage that occurs to the brain when you get your bell rung out on the ice, let’s own up to it and get guys the help they need. Not just after they retire, but while they’re playing the game.

“Let’s start addressing the problem. Let’s look closely at the brain — and how our sport as we currently play it might be harmful to the brain — and begin making things right.”

In a recent conversation with Brandon Rivers of dubnetwork.ca, WHL commissioner Ron Robison was asked about the fact that the OHL has fighting restrictions — Rivers pointed out that “If a player fights more than three times in a season, that player will be subjected to a two-game suspension for each fight over the number allowed” — while the WHL has no such thing.

Robison replied:

“I think that is another example. Each in our own way we are looking to reduce or eliminate fighting or what we would call . . . unnecessary fighting in the game. In our case, we have a WHL Player Safety Seven Point Plan, which has been in place for several seasons. We review that annually and make recommendations and we will be reviewing that actually with our general managers . . . It is an ongoing process. We each approach things a little differently but for the most part we are on the same page as far as what we are trying to accomplish.”

Robison, if you haven’t noticed, has got commissioner-speak down to a fine art where he uses many words to really say, well, not much. What he should have said is this:

“There is more and more scientific evidence linking CTE to blows to the head. Whether or not CTE is a direct result of blows to the head and/or concussions/traumatic brain injury, we are well aware that blows to the head aren’t good and may cause irreparable damage.

“As a result, the WHL is moving to the forefront of this issue by banning fighting. When a player has one fight, he will receive a warning. A second fight will carry with it a two-game suspension, with three games for a third, four for a fourth, etc.

“This is just another case of our wanting to protect the health of our players now and in the future.”

It would be easy for the WHL to adopt the IIHF’s rule that deals with checking to the head or neck. It’s Rule 124 in the IIHF rule book that is readily available at iihf.com.

Dryden, the former NHL goaltender whose latest book is Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey, spoke for 40 minutes at the See The Line symposium in London, Ont., on Thursday.

“Six years ago the process began (with See The Line),” he said. “Injuries happen, sometimes career-diminishing, sometimes career-ending, some that change a person’s life; and change them and make them not them anymore. In six years we are now more aware of that too.

“But after six years we still have this immense problem with brain injury in sports. Why? What can we do now? Our response to it is we need better science; we need to understand it better and that becomes our focus . . . to get better technology and the focus becomes on science. The problem is when it becomes so much of the focus; science takes time and games are played tomorrow.”

Later, he told Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press, whose piece is right here:

“If you don’t force decision-makers to do something, things will remain the same. We have to move beyond just awareness and science. As I said in the end it is up to the decision-makers to take all this awareness that’s been raised and apply it. They have every right to simply carry on and that’s the problem; they are the roadblock. Why do we let them off the hook? Put it into the hands of those whose hands it should be in. Say to them ‘you are not custodians of the game; but custodians of the people playing the game.’ What are you doing for them?”



If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.



Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting on a Sunday: No welcome back Carter . . . Kamloops adds a scout . . . DD Train is rolling now


Scattershooting

Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Former NFL running back Ricky Williams, who once took a break from smoking weed to swear to me that he was done smoking weed, is selling his own line of weed products, ‘Real Wellness by Ricky Williams.’  I hope it’s better than the line of baloney he used to sell.”


On the subject of weed and footballers, you don’t suppose the Saskatchewan Roughriders released Duron Carter because he had become too much of a distraction, do you? That being the case, the move should have been made weeks, if not months, ago.

Carter received an absolute discharge on June 21 in Winnipeg after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana-laced cookies — they also featured chocolate chips — following his arrest at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Nov. 25 in November.

He also has pleaded not guilty to another possession charge, this one stemming from an arrest at Saskatoon’s John G. Diefenbaker International Airport on Feb. 1. That case is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 3.

——

For any football fans expecting an honest explanation from the brass as to why the Roughriders dumped Carter, well, forget it. Chris Jones is the top dog there — actually, he is the vice-president of football operations, general manager, head coach and defensive co-ordinator — and the team’s playbook carries the title ‘My Way or the Highway.’ Jones also isn’t alone in footballdom in operating under a cone of silence. I mean, are you still expecting New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to explain why he didn’t use defensive back Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII?

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If you’re interested in an overview of the situation involving the Roughriders and Carter, Ian Hamilton, the senior reporter at riderville.com, has a good look right here.


The Kamloops Blazers have added Jason Pashelka to their scouting staff. Pashelka, from Kamloops1Calgary, spent 11 seasons scouting with the Portland Winterhawks, so has a connection to Matt Bardsley, the Blazers’ new general manager. Bardsley had been in the Winterhawks’ organization since 1999 before signing on with the Blazers. . . . Pashelka spent the past two seasons scouting southern Alberta for the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Earlier, the Blazers lost scout Mark Blair, who left after 11 seasons with them. He since has joined the scouting staff in Moose Jaw.


“Estaban Loaiza, who made over $40 million as a Major League pitcher, faces life in prison for attempting to sell $500,000 in cocaine near a San Diego school,” tweets comedy writer Alex Kaseberg. “Experts say this is the stupidest thing attempted since IHOP changed its name to International House of Burgers.”

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Kaseberg, again: “In Florida, a police helicopter filmed a fleeing woman who stole a car being herded by cows toward the police. Authorities do not consider this a full-blown Florida incident as she was not carrying an alligator under her arm at the time.”


The Kamloops Broncos dropped a 42-0 decision to the Vancouver Island Raiders in a junior football game played in Nanaimo on Saturday night. Judging from the above tweet, the Broncos had some issues with their punting game.


The Las Vegas Aces, a team in the WNBA, spent 24 hours en route to Washington, D.C., for a recent game with the Mystics. When they didn’t arrive in Washington until five hours before the scheduled game time, they chose not to play “for health and safety reasons.” . . . Seriously. . . . Under similar circumstances, how many junior hockey games wouldn’t get played over the course of a season? . . . The WNBA later forfeited that game to the Mystics.



“The Dallas Cowboys welcomed Randy Gregory to camp after he had been suspended by the NFL for a year due to substance abuse violations,” notes Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. “This is merely the latest in a series of suspensions for the same reason. A couple of weeks ago, Jerry Jones said without any modifiers that if one of the Cowboys did not stand on the sidelines for the national anthem, that player would not play for the Cowboys. So, a serial drug abuser is OK, but . . .”


Brian Elder is the new head scout for the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. Elder, who played three seasons (1994-97 ) tending goal with the Brandon Wheat Kings, lives and teaches school in Souris, Man. He spent the previous four seasons as a scout with the Oil Capitals. . . . Jamie Hodson, the Oil Capitals’ director of business and hockey operations, also is a former Wheat Kings goaltender (1997-2001).


The DD Train has started to roll. Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. This year, on Sept. 23, she will take part in her fifth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you may do so right here. As of last night, she was among the top-10 fundraisers in B.C. Yes, we are rather proud of her in these parts.


“Give Trump credit,” writes Janice Hough (leftcoastsportsbabe.com). “Before this year, almost nobody cared what the SCORES were for preseason football, let alone what players were doing during the anthem.”

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Hough, again: “The San Francisco 49ers now say there isn’t anything they can do about the intense sun and heat faced by fans on the east side of Levi’s Stadium. But they will lower the price of bottled water from $6 to $2 so fans can stay hydrated. That’s the NFL equivalent of ‘thoughts and prayers’.”


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting on a quiet Thursday . . . Organ donors front and centre . . . Four teams with special games this weekend

Scattershooting

Firstly, a huge thank you to the WHL and its 17 Canadian teams for all they have done and are doing in helping to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.

If you’re a regular here, you know how much this means to me because of my wife, Dorothy, having received a kidney more than four years ago. She helped out with the selling of 200 mini-helmets on Friday when the Kamloops Blazers did their part and wore the Don Cherry-themed sweaters. It’s worth noting that while there Dorothy was approached by three different women who have been kidney donors. As Dorothy says, “Donors are the real heroes.”

On Thursday, she volunteered at a World Kidney Day function that was arranged by nursing students from Thompson Rivers University.

If you are interested in how she is doing, there’s more right here, including video that appeared on CFJC-TV today.

Don’t forget that four WHL teams — the Kelowna Rockets, Red Deer Rebels, Saskatoon Blades and Victoria Royals — will hold their Organ Donor Awareness Nights this weekend.


You are aware that the WHL season is into its final 11 days, but are you aware there hasn’t been an in-season coaching change for a second straight season? In fact, the last in-season coaching change occurred in 2015-16 when Lorne Molleken was dismissed as the head coach of the Vancouver Giants. Of course, that happened with just two games left in the season so likely shouldn’t count.


When you pay attention to a television event like the Super Bowl or the Oscars while also keeping an eye on a computer, you are left to wonder what all the closet comedians did before Twitter.


Hey, Ichiro is going to be back with the Seattle Mariners this season. What better place for him to finish up his hall-of-fame career.


Next season’s WHL schedule will have each team play 68 games, down four from recent seasons. That means each team will play two fewer home games. . . . There are 22 teams in the WHL. With season-ticket renewals on the way to fans, what is the over-under for the number of teams that will have lowered their prices?


Oh, here’s a note that just arrived from a fan who has received his renewal offer from his favourite team:

“ ‘More money for less product’ is not a good marketing tool. I’m not sure what they’re thinking, charging more money for fewer games when attendance is down in nearly all WHL markets this season. I still maintain it’s a great deal for the price you pay vs. the quality of the hockey, but I’m much more than a casual fan and they’re obviously having challenges getting people to games.”


If you are on Twitter and haven’t seen it, I would suggest you visit Slava Malamud’s account at @SlavaMalamud and read his 21-take analysis of the KHL and how this season’s championship has been pre-determined. The whole explanation is gold. . . . None of that will be news to The MacBeth Report, who has been keeping me filled in on Putin’s pals and their roles in the KHL for a while now.


Whenever I watch curling on TSN, I am left thinking that Russ Howard may be the best analyst on TV today. Any sport. Any channel. Any stream. The chemistry between Cheryl Bernard, Vic Rauter and Howard is rarely heard in a three-person broadcast team.


Watching Brendan Leipsic score in OT and draw two assists for Vancouver on Monday night had me wondering: How long before the Canucks acquire Ty Rattie from the Edmonton Oilers? Rattie was a pure sniper when he was with the Portland Winterhawks, but really hasn’t been able to find an NHL home. Vancouver head coach Travis Green had Rattie in Portland and knows what he can do, just like he knows all about Leipsic, another Portland product.


If the WHL playoffs started today, one first-round series would feature the Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs. On Thursday, Dylan Bumbarger (@dylandb) tweeted: “Series starts in Portland even if the Winterhawks don’t have home ice because Spokane is hosting NCAA regional women’s basketball.”


If you aren’t a fan of the Boston Bruins, don’t ever watch one of their games on NESN on a full stomach. Why not? Well, there are broadcasters who leave you wondering what game they’re watching, and then there is Jack Edwards, whose work is slanted beyond comprehension. How slanted? If he has a vote for the Lady Byng Trophy, you can bet he’s writing in Brad Marchand’s name.



TheCoachingGame

The MJHL’s Waywayseecappo Wolverines have signed Taylor Harnett, their general manager and head coach, to what the club called a “multi-year contract extension.” . . . Harnett joined the team in November after first-year coach Arnie Caplan was dismissed following a 1-16-1 start. The Wolverines finished the season with an 8-48-4 record. They didn’t make the playoffs as they had the 11-team league’s poorest record.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have released Adam Redmond, their general manager and head coach, and Doug Hergenhein, who was the head scout and director of player personnel. . . . Redmond was an associate coach with the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks before signing with Olds prior to this season. . . . The Grizzlys finished 18-37-5, placing eighth in the eight-team Viterra South Division. . . . Hergenhein was in his first season with Olds.


IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Prince Albert at Moose Jaw

Brandon at Medicine Hat

Regina at Swift Current

Red Deer at Lethbridge

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle at Everett

Tri-City at Kelowna

Spokane at Portland

Vancouver at Victoria


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Calgary at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Regina vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Red Deer at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Vancouver vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Spokane vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.