Agent: Mandatory vaccines also coming to QMJHL, WHL . . . Blades set to introduce head coach . . . Clouston also GM in Kamloops

There hasn’t been a peep from the QMJHL or WHL since the OHL announced that it would be demanding mandatory vaccinations from all team personnel, players, officials, volunteers, billets, etc., and that proof of vaccination had to be presented to the league at least two weeks in advance of the openings of training camps. . . . However, on Tuesday, Allan Walsh, a powerful and outspoken player agent who is co-managing director with Octagon-Hockey, tweeted: “Hearing it will be the same in all 3 Canadian (major) junior leagues. Vaccinations will be required from all players and league personnel.” . . . Walsh has 47,400 followers on Twitter.


The Saskatoon Blades are expected to introduce their new head coach today Blades(Wednesday) at a news conference. That new head coach is expected to be Brennan Sonne, 34, a former WHL player and assistant coach who will take over from Mitch Love. He left after three seasons in Saskatoon to step in as head coach of the Stockton Heat, the AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames. . . . Jon Rosen, a former play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips and ex-Los Angeles Kings’ Insider, tweeted: “I’m hearing former Silvertips forward Brennan Sonne is getting a very good look for the vacant WHL-Saskatoon head-coaching job. . . . Sonne has coached in Ligue Magnus-Angers since 2017.” . . . Taking Note later confirmed Rosen’s information. . . . Sonne is from Maple Ridge, B.C. He played two-plus seasons (2005-08) with the Silvertips, then later returned and spent three seasons (2014-17) with them as an assistant coach. While he wasn’t a teammate of Love’s, the two spent those three seasons together as assistant coaches in Everett. . . . More from Rosen: “(Sonne is) part of the Kevin Constantine coaching tree. Constantine coached Everett from 2003-07 and 2013-17, as well as the Ducs d’Angers. Jay Varady, his assistant in Everett, spent last year on Rick Tocchet’s staff and returned to Tucson, where he was a 2020 AHL All-Star coach.” . . . If you’re wondering, Constantine has signed on as head coach with Fehérvár AV19 in Hungary, which plays in the ICE Hockey League. He finished 2020-21 as head coach of Unia Oswiecim in Poland.


Victory


As expected, the Kamloops Blazers named Shaun Clouston their general Kamloopsmanager on Tuesday morning. Clouston also is the Blazers’ head coach, having joined them prior to the 2019-20 season. . . . Under Clouston, the Blazers have twice finished on top of the B.C. Division. But, of course, there weren’t any playoffs in either of those seasons because of the pandemic. . . . Before heading to Kamloops, Clouston spent 16 seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers, the last seven as general manager and head coach. Who knows? Had the legendary Willie Desjardins not become available in Medicine Hat, Clouston might still be there. . . . As the Blazers’ GM, Clouston takes over from Matt Bardsley, who announced in May that he was leaving after three seasons in order to get his family back to the U.S. Bardsley guided the club through the CHL’s 2021 import draft on June 30 and then left for Portland. He now is an amateur scout for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . .

The Blazers haven’t had a GM/head coach since the first couple of months of the 2007-08 season. The Blazers, in their first season under new ownership headed up by Tom Gaglardi, opened with Dean Clark as the GM/head coach. Clark lasted until Nov. 7 when he was fired with the team at 6-9-2. A couple of days later, former Blazers D Greg Hawgood was hired as head coach. By the start of 2008-09, Craig Bonner, who had been with the Vancouver Giants as assistant GM/assistant coach, had been hired as the Blazers’ general manager and Barry Smith was the head coach. . . .

On Tuesday, the Blazers also announced the promotion of Tim O’Donovan from director of hockey operations to assistant GM. O’Donovan started with the Blazers as a volunteer in 2004.

——

The Blazers are the second team in a week to add the general manager’s duties to the role of their head coach. The Everett Silvertips named head coach Dennis Williams their interim GM after they chose not to renew the contract of Garry Davidson, who had been the GM through nine seasons. At the time, the Silvertips said that it was a cost-cutting move with the organization re-examining all aspects after two tough seasons. . . . Davidson has since joined the Calgary Hitmen as their director of player personnel. . . . When the Silvertips announced on July 12 that they had removed the ‘interim’ from Williams’ title, they also revealed that they had signed him to a contract extension. . . . The Blazers didn’t do the same with Clouston; at least, they didn’t announce it.


A tip of the Taking Note cap to the Edmonton Oil Kings. They have updated their Edmontonwebsite and have their 2021 preseason roster available for your perusal. Not only that, but it is completely up to date. . . . I’ve mentioned this in previous years, but it is shameful that all WHL teams don’t have their preseason rosters available at least by mid-July. You would certainly think that, coming off the past two pandemic-riddled seasons, every one of the 22 teams would be hungering to create interest and that making preseason rosters available to fans might help accomplish that. . . . Anyway, here’s a big thank you to the Oil Kings.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed German F Yannick Proske to a WHL contract. SpokaneThey selected him in the CHL’s 2021 import draft on June 30. Last season, Proske, 18, had one assist in 25 games with the Iserlohn Roosters of the DEL, the country’s top pro league. . . . He added four goals and two assists in six games with Jungadier Mannheim’s U-20 side. . . . Proske also had a goal and an assist in seven games with the German team at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World championship in Texas. . . . From the Chiefs’ news release: “Proske joins G Lukas Parik of the Czech Republic, D David Jiricek (unsigned) of the Czech Republic and D Tsimafei Kauharenia of Belarus on the Chiefs’ import player list. Parik, who starred for the Chiefs during the 2019-20 season, has signed an AHL contract with the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate).” . . . The Chiefs announced Kauharenia’s signing on July 14. . . . Spokane selected Jiricek in the 2020 import draft. He played with HC Plzen of the Extraliga, Czech Republic’s top pro league, in 2020-21, putting up three goals and six assists in 34 games. He was named the Extraliga’s rookie of the year.


Liquor


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: Jean-François Houle is the new head coach the Laval Rocket, the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate. Houle, 46, had been in the Edmonton Oilers’ organization for the past seven seasons, the last six as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. In Laval, he replaces Joel Bouchard, who left the Rocket to take over as head coach of the AHL’s San Diego Gulls, who are affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks. Houle’s father, Réjean, is a former Canadiens’ player and GM. . . . The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets have signed Josh MacNevin, 44, as an assistant coach. He had been with the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the previous six seasons. MacNevin’s hiring fills the vacancy created on June 1 when Vernon Fiddler chose to leave the Rockets after two seasons. . . .

Jean-Francois Plante of leDroit reported Tuesday night that the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s have hired Dave Cameron as their new head coach. Cameron will replace André Tourigny, now is head coach of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. Cameron, a former head coach of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, has spent the past three seasons with the Vienna Capitals in the Austrian League. James Boyd, general manager of the 67’s, worked as an assistant coach under Cameron for four seasons (2007-11) with the OHL’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.


Joints

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while waiting for the really hot weather to arrive . . .

Scattershooting2

Deck
This was the temperature in the sun on our deck on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Yes, it was in the sun. But it was still 33 C at 9:45 p.m. Oh, and it’s only supposed to get hotter from here.

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a couple of thoughts about the tacky mess in which MLB finds itself:

“Two substances I’m not sure pitchers have tried: Tar from the LaBrea Tar Pits in Los Angeles (Mastadon Mud), and lemon meringue. Or a combo.

“Why are pitchers complaining? Because they are the biggest divas in sports, with the possible exception of bullfighters. Pitchers have been allowed to drag down the pace of play by treating every pitch like it’s a 20-foot putt for the Masters’ green jacket. Let the pitchers eat some humble pie. But not lemon meringue.”



The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders held their annual general meeting on StampedersThursday night and announced a profit of $178,702. How did that happen in what was a pandemic-riddled season? Well, according to the team, it “had received close to $83,000 in government assistance programs, which include the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, CEBA loans and Manitoba Bridge Grants.” . . . As well, Cramer Coulthart, the team president, said that “year over year we generated approximately the same revenue, but expenses were down” $250,000. He added that “with the (season) cut short, the majority of season-ticket holders and sponsors have donated some or all of their packages back to the team. This puts us in a much better position moving forward into 2021-22 season.” . . . A year ago, at their AGM, the Stampeders announced they had lost $80,906 in the 2019-20 season, leaving them in the red to the tune of about $240,000. The profit from the 2020-21 season, then, will take a big chunk out of that debt.



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “One of these days former hero mayor Rudy Giuliani might need to borrow one of those raincoats that Wall Street guys used to throw over their heads when Giuliani was perp-walking them back in the day.”


Carts


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, which has scheduled its season-Lakersopeners for Oct. 15, announced on Friday that it has added the Okanagan Lakers to its roster of teams. The Lakers, according to a news release, “are an independent collegiate team based in Kelowna and consisting of student-athletes from both UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.” . . . Earlier, the Lakers had announced that Kevin Bathurst would be their first head coach. . . . With the Selkirk College Saints having ceased operations in March, the addition of the Lakers brings the BCIHL back up to five teams. . . . Like so many other leagues, the BCIHL didn’t play in 2020-21. The plan for 2021-22 is to have each team play 12 regular-season games with a four-game provincial championship to follow. The BCIHL will return to a 24-game schedule for 2022-23. . . . Chris Munshaw, the BCIHL’s president, also said that the league continues to look to expand. . . . The news release is right here.


In perhaps the poorest decision in the sporting world in 2021, MLB has decided that players in the All-Star Game no longer will wear their team uniforms as they have for years and years. . . . Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Isn’t it cool to see players wearing their own uniforms at the All-Star Game? It was a perennial treasure for the baseball-card companies, able to line up superstar pairings rarely seen, and I immediately think back to the Topps card ‘Managers’ Dream,’ showing Mickey Mantle alongside Willie Mays in 1962. It’s a big part of the charm for fans as the stars maintain their team identity. Well, MLB is all done with that. Players will be wearing homogeneous, corporate-looking jerseys — that’s right, during this year’s game in Denver — and everyone will look the same. Is that Buster Posey or Max Muncy? From a certain angle, maybe you’re not quite sure. Can you imagine anyone actually thinking this is a good idea?”


Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe, notes: “Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso was arrested Wednesday in Texas for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Silly man. Pot is legal in Los Angeles. In Texas he’d have been better off carrying a couple unregistered guns.”



Noah Doherty, who played briefly in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, is one of two men charged after Calgary police said they seized more than $1 million worth of drugs. . . . Doherty, 18, is from Airdrie, Alta. A defenceman, he was pointless in three games with the KIJHL’s Fernie Ghostriders in 2020-21. . . . According to a news release, Calgary police acted on two search warrants and “seized more than 11,000 grams of fentanyl, nearly 500 grams of methamphetamine, 200 grams of cocaine, 87 Oxycodone pills, along with smaller amounts of heroin, crack cocaine, and other unknown substances. The total street value of the drugs seized is estimated to be $1.187 million.” . . . Also charged was Justin Fedoruk, 21, who is from Airdrie. . . . Fedoruk was to have appeared in court on Friday (June 25), with Doherty scheduled to appear on Friday (July 2).


Spiders


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: Jimmy McKnight has signed on as the Edmonton Oil Kings’ head athletic therapist. McKnight had been with the OHL’s Barrie Colts, as head athletic therapist and strength coach since the 2017-18 season. He takes over from Brian Cheeseman, who left the Oil Kings for the CFL’s Edmonton Elks. . . . Brandon Switzer is joining the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as assistant general manager and associate coach. He spent last season scouting for the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines, a role with which he will continue. Prior to that he coached with the bantam AAA Brandon Wheat Kings and the Brandon AAA U17 program.


Marriage

Todd: No vaccine for what ails NHL . . . Bedard, Stankoven, Canada are big in Texas . . . WHL’s Americans opening sections for vaccinated fans

Donkey


When the NHL awoke on Thursday, it should have been awash in T.J. Oshie and Marc Andre Fleury, Anze Kopitar and David Backes.

Oshie, a forward with the Washington Capitals, scored three goals on nhl2Wednesday night. It was his first game back following the death of his father, Tim, at 52, from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Fleury and his Vegas Golden Knights won another game on Wednesday night. This one was Fleury’s 490 regular-season victory, moving him into third place on the career list.

Kopitar, the captain of the Los Angeles Kings, earned his 1,000th regular-season point on Wednesday night.

Yes, there was lots for the NHL to celebrate.

But, by Thursday morning, none of those things mattered unless you were related to one of those three players.

Instead, any NHL-centred conversation was all about the shenanigans that had taken place at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. And then the NHL threw more gasoline on the conversation by announcing that it had fined the New York Rangers $250,000 for going public with its disgust over the league’s decision not to hit Washington F Tom Wilson with anything more than a $5,000 fine for his actions in a Monday night game.

And then, not long after announcing it had fined the Rangers, the league, as if to try and prove that this all really was part of a Saturday Night Live skit, announced it has cut a sponsorship deal with Clorox, which now is the “official cleaning and disinfecting product partner of the NHL.”

You just can’t make this stuff up. You just can’t.

——

Jack Todd, a regular contributor to the Montreal Gazette, sat down at his keyboard on Thursday morning and wrote this piece right here that kind of explains the NHL in about 1,200 words.

As Todd wrote, “The NHL is a sick league and for this sickness, there is no vaccine in sight.”

——

——


Team Canada won the gold medal at the IIHF U18 World championship in CanadaFrisco, Texas, on Thursday, beating Russia, 5-3, in the final. . . . Canada last won this tournament in 2013 in Sochi, Russia. . . . Sweden won the bronze medal, whipping Finland, 8-0, earlier in the day. . . . Canada got two goals F Shane Wright, its captain, F Brennan Othmann, F Logan Stankoven and F Connor Berard. . . . Stankoven, who plays for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, gave Canada a 4-2 lead at 16:39 of the second period and that goal stood as the winner. . . . Stankoven finished with four goals and four assists in seven games. . . . Russian F Matvei Michkov was named the tournament MVP. He scored his tournament-leading 12th goal in the final. He also led the tournament with 16 points. . . . F Shane Wright, Team Canada’s captain, and Bedard tied for second, with 14 points. Wright, who played five of his team’s seven games, had a team-high nine goals. . . . Bedard had a goal and an assist, to finish the tournament with seven goals and seven assists in seven games. He tied the tournament record for most points (14) by a 15-year-old and now shares it with F Connor McDavid, who did it in Sochi in 2013.


Teleport


The Tri-City Americans didn’t play on Thursday night, but they’ll will be in Americansaction at home tonight against the Seattle Thunderbirds, and they will have five sections open to fans who have been vaccinated. . . . Fans will have to show proof of vaccination. . . . From a news release: “There will not be refunds or exchanges if you cannot show proof of vaccination. A face-covering must be worn at all times except while actively eating or drinking. Children ages 2-15 may sit in the vaccinated section, but only with proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours of the game.” . . . Meanwhile, there were two WHL games last night . . .

G Sebastian Cossa stopped 29 shots as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the host TigersMedicine Hat Tigers, 3-0. . . . Edmonton finished its season at 20-2-1 with its second straight win, while the Tigers wound up at 14-8-1. . . . This was the final game of the schedule involving the five Alberta teams. . . . Cossa, who is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft, put up four shutouts in 19 appearances. Last season, as a freshman, he had four shutouts in 33 games. This season, he finished 17-1-1, 1.57, .941. . . . F Scott Atkinson, the Oil Kings’ captain who was playing his final WHL game, opened the scoring with his sixth goal at 10:26 of the first period. . . . F Logan Dowhaniuk (5) made it 2-0, on a PP, at 16:32 of the second. . . . F Kaid Oliver (11) got the empty-netter. . . . F Ethan Cap, also playing his final WHL game, drew two assists. . . . The Tigers got 25 stops from G Garin Bjorklund. . . .

In Kelowna, the Kamloops Blazers got two goals from each of F Orrin Centazzo Kamloopsand F Matthew Seminoff as they beat the Victoria Royals, 5-1. . . . The Blazers, who have won three in a row, now are 15-4-0. They went 6-0-0 against Victoria in this developmental season. . . . The Royals (2-15-2) have lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . Centazzo, who has five goals, opened the scoring at 4:00 of the first period and made it 2-0, on a PP, at 1:26 of the second. . . . Seminoff made it 3-0 at 6:01 and F Caedan Bankier (9) upped the lead to 4-0 at 7:22. . . . F Tarun Fizer (6) got Victoria’s goal 12 seconds into the third period. . . . Seminoff finished the scoring with his 10th goal at 12:12. . . . F Josh Pillar helped out with three assists. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 28 shots for Kamloops. He is 13-3-0, 2.36, .915.


Media coverage of the WHL has taken a hit with the news that Greg Harder, the Regina Leader-Post’s man on the Pats beat for more than 20 years, has left sports. Harder, who absolutely owned the Pats/WHL beat in that city, now is the newspaper’s arts and features editor. . . . Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post has more on Harder right here. . . . Vanstone’s piece doesn’t mention whether Harder will be replaced in the sports department, but recent history would indicate that won’t happen. The Leader-Post sports department that once was home to 10 or 12 writers and copy editors now is down to two.


Yes, today is May 7. And, yes, Green Shirt Day was on April 7. . . . But what’s to keep us from promoting organ donation on the seventh day of every month, saving the really big annual push for April 7? . . . If you have even had a glimmer of thought about registering for organ donation, do the research and ask some questions. . . . And if you have thought about being a living kidney donor, again, please do the research and ask the questions. Be sure to investigate the Living Kidney Donor Program. You will learn, for example, about how you are able to be a living donor without being a blood-type match for any one person in particular. Yes, you can look it up!

And, hey, happy Green Shirt Day for May.

——

Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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.


Lie

Kelowna positives no surprise to IHA top doc: We knew this was most likely going to happen . . . AJHL has positives on three teams


If you’re keeping track, you will be aware that the virus had a pretty good day on Thursday.

One MLB Opening Day game was postponed due to positive tests, while the NHL, WHL and AJHL were forced into shutting down teams and/or shuffling schedules, or both.

You could even make a case for the virus having caused some national consternation in Canada where the QMJHL has chosen not to free up any of its players to play for the U18 team at the IIHF world tournament in Texas later this month.

But no to worry because, according to a tweet from Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate, Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, at a news conference Thursday was “continually saying we will be out of this in ‘a few weeks.’ ”

So there’s that ray of sunshine amid all the gloom. Right?

Oh, did I mention that the numbers in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan are indicative of huge victories for the virus? Yes, the three western provinces could best be described as disaster zones at the moment.


Hockey Canada named its 25-player roster and the coaching staff for the U18 team that will play in the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas, from April 26 through May 6.

The Canadian roster includes nine players from WHL teams — G Thomas Milic (Seattle Thunderbirds), G CanadaTyler Brennan (Prince George Cougars), D Nolan Allan of the Prince Albert Raiders, D Olen Zellwegger (Everett Silvertips), F Logan Stankoven (Kamloops Blazers), F Conner Roulette (Seattle Thunderbirds), F Connor Bedard (Regina Pats), F Dylan Guenther (Edmonton Oil Kings) and D Carson Lambos (Winnipeg Ice). Lambos is out with a leg issue and there were reports that he won’t play again this season. So chances are that he won’t be available.

F Cole Sillinger, who played last season with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is on loan to the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, also is on the Canadian roster.

With those players having to self-isolate beginning on April 12, they aren’t long for the WHL teams that will have to continue without them in this developmental season. Bedard, for example, will play his final game with Regina on April 9, meaning he will miss the Pats’ last nine games.

While in self-isolation, players and staff will be subjected to three COVID-19 tests before the team heads for Texas on April 17. The team then will go into a four-day quarantine before starting a pre-tournament camp on April 21.

Canada will play Finland in an exhibition game on April 26, before opening the 10-team tournament against Sweden on April 26. Canada will be in Group A with Belarus, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. Group B comprises Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia and the U.S.

Dave Barr is Canada’s head coach, with Gordie Dwyer and Mike Stothers, a former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach, as the assistants. Barr has extensive coaching experience, most recently as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks (2017-19). Dwyer was head coach of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes last season. Stothers spent five seasons (2015-20) as head coach of the AHL’s Ontario Reign.

The Hockey Canada news release is right here.


The WHL and its teams are playing games without any fans in the arenas and without any playoffs on the horizon, so obviously don’t have an issue with having players leave for the IIHF U18 tournament in Texas. The OHL hasn’t been able to get started, so it wasn’t an issue there either, and it has 13 players on the roster. There are two from the USHL, including Sillinger, and one from the AJHL.

No, there aren’t any players on the Canadian roster from the QMJHL. It is trying to finish a regular season that is nearing its completion and has a plan to hold playoffs, so apparently didn’t want to give up any of its players for an international competition just now.


If you stop off here regularly, or even on occasion, and if you like what you see here, or even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and help out the Taking Note coffee fund. Thank you in advance. . . . If you are one of the followers who gets my work via email, you are able to donate by going to greggdrinnan.com.


The Kamloops Blazers were to have travelled to Kelowna to play the Victoria Royals on Thursday night. However, with the Kelowna Rockets having experienced seven positive tests, four of them to players, the WHL2WHL chose to postpone the game “out of an abundance of caution.”

Instead, the Blazers stayed home and met the Prince George Cougars in a game that originally was scheduled to be played on Sunday.

Despite the positives in Kelowna, Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Interior Health Authority’s chief medical officer, said there aren’t any plans to shut down the WHL’s B.C. Division, which is playing games in Kamloops and Kelowna.

Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ long-time play-by-play voice, tweeted Thursday that de Villiers said: “We were anticipating there might be a few cases because it’s young people and they live in the community and they isolated as best they can.

“We knew this was most likely going to happen and (the WHL) do have things in place to make it safe.”

The Rockets are staying with billets, while the Royals are in a Kelowna hotel. In Kamloops, the Blazers are staying with billets, with the Cougars and Vancouver Giants in a hotel.


Walmart


The Swift Current Broncos scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 8-5, in ScurrentRegina on Thursday. . . . F Brad Ginnell (1) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead on a PP at 18:40 of the second period. . . . The Broncos tied it on D Owen Pickering’s first WHL goal at 19:40, then took the lead at 3:14 of the third on D Mathew Ward’s second goal of the season. . . . F Aiden Bulych (4) and F Michael Farren (7) added insurance. . . . Farren and Bulych also had two assists each. . . . Broncos D Kaleb Bulych, Aiden’s older brother, scored his first goal — Aiden drew the lone assist — and was plus-5. . . . The Broncos (3-7-1) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Warriors (4-6-1) have lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored four times in the first period, two of them by F Lynden McCallum (9), en Brandonroute to a 7-2 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . The Wheat Kings (8-2-1) have won five in a row. . . . The Pats (4-5-2) had won their previous two games. . . . Brandon D Braden Schneider (3) gave his guys a 2-0 lead with a shorthanded goal in the first period. Brandon, in 11 games, and the Portland Winterhawks, in six games, lead the WHL with four SH goals apiece. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 11 games — his WHL career is 11 games old — with an assist on F Carson Denomie’s 10th goal. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers struck four times in the second period and went on to dump the Prince George KamloopsCougars, 6-1. . . . The game had been scheduled for Sunday, but was moved up because of the virus-related difficulties in Kelowna. The Blazers had been scheduled to play the Victoria Royals in Kelowna last night. . . . Kamloops now is 3-0-0; the Cougars are 1-2-0. . . . D Mats Lindgren (1) gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 7:38 of the first period, with D Jack Sander (1) equalizing at 17:14. . . . F Matthew Seminoff broke the tie 45 seconds into the second period and it was all Kamloops after that. . . . Seminoff added a second goal, his fourth, and F Caedan Bankier added a goal and two helpers for the winners. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Blazers were without F Logan Stankoven with an undisclosed injury, while F Dylan Sydor, 17, made his WHL debut and picked up an assist. He is the son of Darryl Sydor, a former Blazers and NHL defenceman who owns a piece of the Blazers.


F Adam Gaudette of the Vancouver Canucks tested positive on Tuesday and a Wednesday night game against the visiting Calgary Flames was postponed 90 minutes before the puck was to be dropped because of another positive and a coach going into COVID-19 protocol. . . . On Thursday, Vancouver D Travis Hamonic, who opted out of the last NHL season for family reasons, was added to the protocol list and the NHL postponed the team’s next three games — on Saturday in Edmonton against the Oilers and in Winnipeg against the Jets on Sunday and Tuesday. . . . The Canucks next are scheduled to play on April 8 in Calgary. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia spoke with Gaudette’s wife, Micaela, and has a rather interesting story right here.


The AJHL has three teams from the same cohort each with at least one positive test. . . . The Drayton Valley ajhlThunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines were playing on one cohort. Earlier Thursday, the league announced that the Thunder had a positive test. Later in the day, the league revealed that “positive COVID19 results” also have been identified with the Storm and Wolverines. . . . All three organizations have been shut down for at least 14 days. That includes the cancellation of games involving those teams through Sunday, which is when the schedule involving the three-team cohort is to end. . . .

At the same time, the AJHL has cancelled two weekend games involving the Okotoks Oilers “to allow for the analysis of a COVID-19 test” as per its return-to-play protocol. The Oilers were to have played the visiting Calgary Canucks tonight (Friday) and the host Brooks Bandits on Sunday.


Chips


The Washington Nationals were to have played host to the New York Mets in one of Opening Day’s most-anticipated games — the starters were Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom — but it didn’t happen “because of contact tracing within the Nationals organization.” . . . MLB decided that out of an abundance of caution the teams won’t play a makeup game on Friday. . . . At the time of the announcement, the Nationals had one player having tested positive and four others quarantined as close contacts. Later, GM Mike Rizzo said that two other players had were positive and another was “likely positive.” . . . Rizzo also said that he has no idea when the Nationals might play their first game.

——

The San Francisco Giants will be allowed to have about 8,900 fans for games in Oracle Park, at least to start the MLB season. In order to attend, a fan is going to have to have had a negative test or proof of vaccination. Their home opener is scheduled for April 9. . . . Larry Baer, the Giants’ CEO, told the San Francisco Chronicle: “This is all about April right now. We understand the inconveniences here, but we’ve also heard from our fans that they want to the safest experience possible.” . . . In the meantime, the Oakland A’s, who like the Giants play in California, had 10,436 fans at their home opener last night. The A’s don’t have any requirements attached to attendance. . . .

And this brings us to the Texas Rangers, who could have as many as 43,000 fans in the stands on Monday when they play their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. That, U.S. President Joe Biden told ESPN, is “not responsible.” . . . He added: “I think it’s a mistake. They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.”


——

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.


Computers

Rockets dinged by positive test . . . Brandon to get hockey academy, rink . . . P.A. moves closer to three new arenas

Someone within the Kelowna Rockets organization has tested positive for RocketsCOVID-19, with one other individual identified as a close contact. The WHL announced Thursday that “the positive test result was discovered during the initial return-to-play testing phase.” . . . That means that person will self-isolate, as will the person who was found to be a close contact. . . . The Rockets hadn’t yet moved into team activities, so at this point their schedule won’t feel any impact from these positive tests. . . . The Rockets and Victoria Royals are headquartered in Kelowna as the five B.C. Division teams prepare for a return to play. The Rockets’ players are with billets, while the Royals are staying in a hotel owned by the GSL Group, which also owns the WHL team. . . . The Royals and Rockets are scheduled to meet in Kelowna on March 26 in the division’s first game of the developmental season. At this point, the Rockets’ schedule hasn’t needed to be changed. . . .

The three other B.C. teams — the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants — are centred in Kamloops. The Blazers are with billets; the Cougars and Giants are in a hotel owned by Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . The Blazers, Cougars and Giants have been cleared to begin skating and, in fact, were on the ice for the first time in Kamloops last night. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted Thursday that Giants F Cole Shepard has an undisclosed injury and that GM Barclay Parneta has said Shepard, 19, isn’t likely to play in this 24-game set. Shepard has 11 goals and 18 assists in 2019-20 after having hip surgery in May 2019. That was his first season with Vancouver after playing with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.


Ladder


F Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks was tied for the AHL scoring lead with 11 points in nine games when he had to leave the Chicago Wolves, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

F Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers had seven points in nine games with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, when he had to leave, too.

Obviously, both were doing just fine in their first tastes of pro hockey. But under the terms of the NHL-CHL agreement (aka the pro-junior agreement) Jarvis and Zary had to return to their WHL clubs. Drafted players under the age of 20 have two options — play in the NHL or return to major junior.

However, there could be interesting times ahead for that agreement, which expired after the 2019-20 season, but was extended for a year because of the pandemic.

There long has been a feeling among NHL executives and scouts that exceptional 18- and 19-year-old players should be allowed to play in the AHL once they are seen as having nothing left to prove in major junior. At the same time, major junior operators don’t want anything to do with such exceptions because they don’t want to prematurely lose their best players.

This is going to be worth watching over the next while.

Frank Seravalli has a whole lot more on this situation right here.


Drivers


Jared Jacobson isn’t about to let the ice melt under his feet. The new owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings — he purchased the WHL team from Kelly McCrimmon in September — is building a new ice surface in Brandon and also will open a hockey academy in the city. . . . Jacobson is CEO and president of the Jacobson and Greiner Group of Companies. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun reports that the new facility that will be home to the Western Canadian Hockey Academy “will include a National Hockey League-sized ice surface, three shooting bays on ice, a performance centre, middle-years classroom, six-lane 100-metre track and on-ice video training.” . . . Jacobson is hopeful that this will do something to keep younger hockey players at home longer. As he told Bergson: “For me it’s about developing players and keeping people in the centres they grew up in. Time flies by for families, and I just look at when kids are 12, 13, 14, it’s tough to leave home . . . I just wanted to look at a hybrid model to help the mid-market centres keep kids if they want to have another choice in their years of hockey to stay local and develop. I think it’s just a great fit, and it’s been well received by Hockey Brandon. I’m so happy for that because we wanted to create an opportunity, not a conflict.” . . . Players who attend WCHA will play for their minor hockey teams. The academy will ice teams — the Wolves — in the spring. . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.


Hey, who knew that Saskatchewan was a province of such riches?

No sooner had I wondered here yesterday whether Regina or Saskatoon would be the first city with a new arena than I received a note informing me that “you forgot the third entry in the race: PA. They might even be in the lead.”

Yes, it’s true. And, yes, Prince Albert is in the lead. And it isn’t close!

Prince Albert is working towards a facility that will include three arenas — one with 4,500 seats and two others, each with an NHL-sized ice surface and perhaps 800 seats. Also included will be an aquatic centre with wave pool, water slides and a whole lot more.

That is Phase 1 of the project, and it might be ready late in 2023.

Phase 2 will include a new home for the WHL’s Raiders, with 20 corporate boxes and a banquet room. Opening date? Sometime in 2024.

The total cost is likely to run around $140 million.

Work already has started on getting the site ready for construction, which is to begin late this fall.

Now back to Saskatchewan and all that money . . .

You will recall that Regina now is home to Mosaic Stadium, a football facility that opened in 2017 and cost in the neighbourhood of $278 million. . . . And let’s not forget Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw that opened in 2011 — yes, it already has been almost 10 years — and cost $61.2 million to build.

Hey, Swift Current, are you getting in on this, too?


Toby Boulet sees the contradiction and, seriously, it’s hard not to. While the Alberta government studies a private member’s bill that would raise some speed limits to 120 km/h from 110 km/h, another private member’s bill that would promote organ and tissue donation didnn’t make the cut so won’t get to the floor this spring. . . . In fact, as Boulet said, “It’s not going to happen for a long, long time.” . . . Unfortunately. . . . Yes, one bill is certain to lead to more accidents and deaths, while the other would save lives, providing people with the opportunity to enjoy extended lives. . . . Boulet has been a leading proponent for organ donation in Western Canada since his son, Logan, died as a result of the bus crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos on April 6, 2018. Logan had registered as an organ donor and his organs went to six people. . . . Colette Derworiz of The Canadian Press has more on this story right here.


The AJHL announced Thursday night that it has “completed a fourth round of testing in its return-to-play plan with no positive COVID-19 results across 391 players and staff.” . . . There have been 1,532 tests conducted to day and the weekly tests will continue through the end of the season.


The QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar had two players come up positive on Thursday, so the team has had to pull out of a protected environment event — that’s what the league calls its scheduled events where three or four teams play in one city — that was to run in Sherbrooke from March 19-24. The Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Sherbrooke Phoenix now will play each other four times over that stretch. . . . Meanwhile, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will be without general manager/head coach Mario Pouliot indefinitely after he suffered a heart attack. Brad Yetman has taken over as the interim head coach.


Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 622 cases of #COVID19 announced in B.C. today, as the province is now at its highest rolling average of new cases since January 12. . . . Hospitalizations up to 286, a 32% increase in one month. . . . Eight new deaths.

——

CBC News — Alberta reports 505 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. The province has identified 91 new variant of concern cases which account for 12% of all active cases.


March Madness got rolling in Indianapolis with play-in games on Thursday, but it is without six game officials who were to have worked the tournament. One of them tested positive and contact tracing impacted the other five. . . . The NCAA had four other officials on standby, so those four now are in the regular rotation.



The AHL’s Utica Comets were to have met the visiting Rochester Americans tonight (Friday), however the game has been postponed. According to the league, the move was made due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Comets, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. In this pandemic season, the Canucks also are sharing the Comets with the St. Louis Blues.




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 Northern Alberta Xtreme announced Thursday that Adam Stuart has taken over as the head coach of the academy’s U15 team for 2021-22. He had been on the staff of the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks after working for two seasons as an assistant coach with Edge Academy’s U18 prep team. . . . Kevin Undershute, who played four WHL seasons (2004-08) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks, has signed on as an assistant coach alongside Stuart.


Wings

Seattle NHL team has nickname; Washington NFL team doesn’t . . . Neepawa MJHL team does but it’s changing it

So . . . on a day when Seattle’s expansion NHL franchise dug into the depths for its nickname — Kraken — the NFL’s Washington franchise announced that it will spend the approaching season as the Washington Football Team. . . . The New York Yankees and host Washington Nationals opened the delayed MLB season with a game that was played in front of empty seats and was shortened by inclement weather, while the visiting San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers played before cardboard cutouts. . . . What a time to be alive, eh?


The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives have begun the process of changing their nickname. . . . Ken Pearson, the club’s general manager and head coach, told CBC News: “We’re just trying to get ahead of the curve here and . . . be ahead of the game.” . . . Neepawa has had a team with that nickname, either in intermediate or junior hockey, since the early 1960s. . . . A decision on a new nickname for the MJHL team is expected before the 2021-22 season.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

OF Juan Soto wasn’t in the Washington Nationals’ opening night lineup Thursday after testing positive. He was placed on the injured list about five hours before game time. . . . Soto, 21, is reportedly asymptomatic and will need two negative tests before he is allowed to return. . . .

OF Hunter Dozier of the Kansas City Royals has tested positive. He said he has a “couple of symptoms” so won’t be available when the team opens the season in Cleveland on Friday. . . . He is the ninth Kansas City player to have tested positive. . . .

Veteran MLB scout Johan Maya died of COVID-19 on Thursday. Maya, 40, had been working for the Arizona Diamondbacks and was in the Dominican Republic at the time of his death. . . .

Former MLBer Mike Napoli, now a quality assurance coach with the Chicago Cubs, has tested positive so has been away from the team. . . .

Two more NHL players have revealed that they tested positive and have recovered. . . . D Anthony Bitetto, who was back on the ice for the first time with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, said he tested positive about a month ago and self-quarantined for 29 days. . . . D Xavier Ouellet of the Montreal Canadiens actually tested negative before coming up positive and never did have any symptoms. He returned to the ice on Wednesday. . . .

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has announced a tentative plan under which some fall sports, including football, soccer and volleyball, will start on March 1. . . . Under the plan, basketball would get going on Jan. 4, with track and field starting on April 26. . . . Other sports like cross-country, slo-pitch, golf and tennis are to begin on Sept. 7. . . . Mick Hoffman, the WIAA executive director, said everything remains fluid. “When you look at dates,” he said, “those are definitely written in pencil.” . . .

Earlier in the week, the Florida High School Athletic Association went against the recommendation of its medical people and said football season would begin with practices starting on Monday. After a whole lot of backlash, the FHSAA reversed its field on Thursday and pushed things back until at least Aug. 24. But like so many other things these days all of that seems to be fluid. . . .

The KHL has made it official. With the Russia-China border closed to people — it’s open to the transportation of goods — a decision was made that Kunlun Red Star Beijing will play its home games for 2020-21 in Mytishchi, which is on the northern outskirts of Moscow. . . . The KHL, unsure of how many teams will play this season, has yet to release a schedule but has said that should happen by month’s end.


Social


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from former MLB owner Bill Veeck: “Baseball is almost the only orderly thing left in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off.”


The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs are looking for a general manager, having revealed on Thursday that they won’t be renewing Darren Kelly’s contract when it expires on Aug. 12. . . . The Frontenacs added a new head coach this summer, with Paul McFarland returning after three seasons as an NHL assistant coach. . . . Kelly had been with the Frontenacs since 2008, including the past three seasons as general manager.


Alexander Gusev, a defenceman on the Soviet Union team that played Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, died on Wednesday, according to his former club, CSKA Moscow. Gusev was 73. . . . He was a contributing factor on the Soviet national teams of the 1970s. . . . Andy Potts of iihf.com has more right here.


Pam

CHL: ‘Independent review panel’ on way . . . Hammett, ex-WHLer, to join class-action lawsuit . . . BCHL gets even tougher with fighters

The CHL issued a release on Friday in response to the class-action lawsuit that was filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor with allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse during their time in major junior hockey. . . . According to the news release, the CHL’s board of directors agreed Thursday “to the appointment of an independent review panel to thoroughly review the current policies and practices in our leagues that relate to hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying, and the allegation that players do not feel comfortable reporting behaviours that contravene these policies.” . . . The CHL says it will announced this panel’s chair person “in the coming weeks” and “our goal is to have the review process completed in time for the start of the 2020-21 season.”



On Thursday TSN’s Rick Westhead reported on a former WHL player who detailed the physical and sexual abuse he endured during two seasons in the league.

Westhead, who granted the player anonymity, revealed on Friday that the former player Bighornsis Brad Hammett, who played with the Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders (1981-83).

According to Westhead, Hammett “subsequently decided he wanted to publish his story under his name, hoping that doing so might provide support to other players nervous about coming forward with similar stories.”

Hammett, 56, is joining the lawsuit filed against the CHL by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor, alleging various forms of abuse during their major junior careers. They are hoping to have the lawsuit certified as a class-action.

“I’ve lived with this a long time,” Hammett told Westhead, “and my family has often wondered why I have had moods. Talking about this, I feel there’s a weight off my shoulders. I know that it’s going to get better. I’m not hiding something.”

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told TSN via email that “the league has spoken with Hammett and will investigate his claims.”

Westhead’s story is right here.


Some of Garrett Taylor’s allegations in the lawsuit against the CHL involve the 2008-09 LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes. According to the statement of claim:

“He and a number of other rookies on the Hurricanes suffered abuse throughout the 2008-09 season. The abuse was perpetrated by older Lethbridge Hurricanes players and team staff, agents, employees and servants.”

Earlier this week, 26 players who played with the Hurricanes in 2008-09 signed a letter that appeared in the Lethbridge Herald.

That letter, which is right here, reads in part:

“None of us can say that we were aware of absolutely everything that happened to every player on our team during their time with the Hurricanes. However, after thorough reviews and discussions among ourselves over the past few days, we can all unequivocally state that we were all treated with great respect and professionalism throughout that year and throughout all our years with the coaching staff of the Hurricanes.”


In an editorial published earlier this week, The Globe and Mail wrote:

“The underlying problem is that the system enables abuse. It’s time to get rid of a draft that treats children as chattel, and which allows a hockey league to operate under prehistoric notions of labour relations.

“Major junior hockey has to change, because hockey has changed. The NHL now prizes skilled players far more than the grinders and cement-handed role players of the past. . . .

“Many of the most sought after players these days are coming from Europe and the United States — including Canadians skipping major junior altogether, in favour of the U.S. college route. Mr. Carcillo’s lawsuit is just the latest reminder that Canada’s major junior hockey system has run its course.”

The complete editorial is right here.



The Medicine Hat Cubs announced Friday that they won’t play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League’s 2020-21 season. . . . “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and due to diminishing sponsorship revenues the board of directors voted in favour to not play in the upcoming season,” the team said in a news release. . . . The Cubs’ departure leaves the league with 13 teams. . . .

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas has halted voluntary workouts until at least July 5 after four student-athletes tested positive. . . . An undisclosed number of others who came in contacted with them also are in quarantine. . . .

Morehouse College, a historically black school in Atlanta, cancelled all fall sports, including football, on Friday. . . . David A. Thomas, Morehouse’s president, told The New York Times: “Responsible leaders have to see us as being in a crisis, and a characteristic of a crisis is unpredictability. Good management says any uncertainty you can take out of the equation you should take out. One element where we could create certainty is what are we going to do with athletics.” . . . An NCAA Division II program, the football team was to have opened its season on Sept. 5. . . . Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, later told The Times: “I’m afraid and confident in my fear that we’ll see more sports be dropped, whether it’s programs or entire seasons canceled.” . . .

Clemson U reported on Friday that 14 more of its football players have tested positive. That brings the the total of Tigers testing positive to 37 since training facilities open earlier this month. . . . All told, Clemson has had 43 student-athlete and four staff members come up positive. A total of 430 tests have been administered.


CB Melvin Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints isn’t comfortable about starting the NFL season in September. . . . Here’s what he told CNN:

“The NBA is a lot different than the NFL. They can actually quarantine all of their players, or whoever is going to participate, whereas we have over 2,000 players; and even more coaches and staff who can’t do that. So we end up being on this trust system — the honor system — where we just have to hope that guys are social distancing and things like that, and that puts all of us at risk. That’s not only us as players, and whoever’s in the building(s), but when we go home to families.

“I have parents that I don’t want to get sick. I think until we get to the point where we have protocols in place, and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it — we have to understand that football is a non-essential business. We don’t need to do it. So the risk has to be eliminated before we — before I would feel comfortable with going back.”



Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle with a great idea: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.”


The BCHL appears bound and determined to eliminate fighting from its games and, hey, good for them.

Brian Wiebe, who operates the BCHLNetwork, reports:

“The league has imposed stricter penalties for fighting in 2020-21. Players who engage in a fight are currently assessed a major penalty and an automatic game misconduct. Under the Junior A Supplement, which is the minimum standards adhered to by all 10 leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, a player received supplemental discipline on their fifth fight of the season.

“The new rule sees a player receive supplemental discipline upon their second fighting major. The league has also cracked down on players deemed to be the instigator and/or aggressor in a fight, with both penalties now receiving a suspension upon the first offence. Subsequent instigator and/or aggressor penalties after the first one received will see a significant increase in suspension.”

Wiebe has a whole lot more on the BCHL and rule changes right here. If you’re a junior hockey fan and you aren’t following Wiebe, you really are cheating yourself. You’ll find him on Twitter at @Brian_Wiebe.


Jeff Harvey has signed on as the Saskatoon Blades’ goaltending coach. Harvey is a former SaskatoonWHL goaltender (Kootenay Ice, Swift Current Broncos, Everett Silvertips, 2000-04). . . . Harvey, now 37, and Blades head coach Mitch Love were teammates with the Silvertips in 2003-04 when Everett reached the WHL’s championship final in its first season in the league. . . . They also played together with the Broncos and with the Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central league in 2010-11. . . . It also should be pointed out that Harvey helped the Rosetown Redwings of the Sask Valley Hockey League to a pair of Saskatchewan senior AAA provincial titles and twice played in the Allan Cup. . . . Harvey replaces Tim Cheveldae on the Blades’ coaching staff.


Dell

CHL, teams settle minimum-wage lawsuit for $30 million . . . Next up: Concussion-related action . . . Gaglardi: It all comes down to testing

Six years later . . . if you were hoping for a clear-cut winner and loser, well, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

The CHL and its leagues have agreed to pay $30 million to settle three class-action CHLminimum wage-related lawsuits that were filed six years ago.

The suits were filed by former players against the three major junior leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — that operate under the CHL umbrella. They later were certified as class action.

“This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs,” the CHL said in a statement. “It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.” 

Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, who was the lead for the plaintiffs, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The lawsuits were filed in 2014, with players claiming that the major junior teams are businesses and that players, as employees, should be eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay. The players also requested back pay.

While the lawsuits were before the court, the major junior leagues, which are of the belief that the players are student-athletes, lobbied various governments and were successful in gaining exemptions from minimum-wage laws.

As TSN’s Rick Westhead said in an on-air interview: “Over the last few years, the CHL has been very diligent about going to provinces and U.S. states where there are CHL teams and trying to successfully have minimum-wage laws amended so that players are exempt from minimum-wage legislation.”

In the west, governments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Washington state all amended labour codes to provide exemptions. Oregon politicians chose not to provide an exemption.

According to the CHL and the plaintiffs, they agreed on a settlement in February with the help of a mediator.

“Earlier this year we met with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and agreed on a settlement that would see the end of the court case and an award of $30 million which will cover their lawyer’s fees, funder’s fees and other legal costs,” the CHL said in its statement. “The remainder will be distributed to players in the class. We did this because cases like these are very expensive and are a distraction to the league and as we had publicly disclosed, we had $30 million in insurance for these lawsuits.”

Lawyers are expected to get about $10 million off the top, with the remainder to be split among players. There are believed to be about 4,000 players who played from 2010-19 eligible to share in the money — players who have signed NHL contracts aren’t eligible — but it’s unlikely that all will apply.

It is believed that the CHL and its teams will pay half of the agreed-upon sum, with the CHL’s insurance paying the other half. Interestingly, the CHL purchases its insurance through Hockey Canada, which means that insurance premiums for the governing body of minor hockey in Canada are likely to rise. Those costs could be passed on to minor hockey players throughout the country.

If all 60 CHL teams are on the hook for a share of the payout, each will pay $250,000. But there are seven Americans teams involved, five of them in the WHL. If the American teams, which were exempted from the class action, aren’t required to pay, each of the remaining 52 teams would pay more than $288,000.

One of the five players who was in on the lawsuit from the beginning, Samuel Berg (Niagara IceDogs, OHL), is to receive a $20,000 honorarium. Each of the other four — Travis McEvoy (Saskatoon Blades, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, WHL), Kyle O’Connor  (Kootenay Ice, WHL), Thomas Gobeil (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) and Lukas Walter (Tri-City Americans, WHL; Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) — is to get $10,000.

As Westhead reported, with the amendments having been made to minimum-wage laws in various provinces and states, “This does not open the door to future claims like this. . . . it’s unlikely the CHL is going to have to worry about a case like this down the road.”

Unless, of course, there are changes in governments and new faces choose to rewrite the employment standards legislation that includes the exemptions from minimum-wage requirements.

“There was a belief the provincial changes showed the CHL to be on the right side of the law,” Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote, “but legal advice indicated the case could continue for up to another decade. That would cost millions in fees and, according to sources, the insurance fund topped out at $30 million. Clearly, that was a major factor in deciding to settle the case.”

What’s next? According to a tweet from Westhead: “After a settlement approval hearing (likely Aug/Sept), eligible players will need to file claims with a court-appointed administrator to get a payout.”

So, as the lawyers like to say on TV, in summation . . . the winners and losers.

Well, the only winners would appear to be the lawyers.

Yes, I would suggest that everyone else loses.

The CHL teams lost because financial filings necessitated by the lawsuit allowed people on the outside to learn just how much money some of these franchises make. Yes, major junior hockey no long is a mom-and-pop operation. It is a big business.

Players, past and present, certainly didn’t win. Yesterday’s players aren’t likely to get more than a few thousand dollars out of this settlement and, as far as today’s players are concerned, nothing is going to change in terms of what they are paid.

Perhaps the biggest winners, aside from the lawyers, of course, are WHL fans in whlcities that won’t lose their teams.

Three years ago, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, issued a statement  after the lawsuit was certified as a class-action. In that statement, Robison said: “If WHL clubs were required to provide minimum wage, in addition to the benefits the players currently receive, the majority of our teams would not be in a position to continue operating.”

That is a position that he repeated more than once or twice over the past three years. Presumably those unnamed franchises won’t cease operations now. Although considering the uncertainties presented by the pandemic-related situation in which all teams now find themselves, you wonder how they will handle getting a bill for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

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“Well, major junior hockey operators in Canada got rid of one of the biggest headaches they’ve had in their history and all it cost them was $30 million, much of it paid by insurance, and a ton of negative headlines. Now they’re free to go back to paying their ‘student athletes’ less than minimum wage,” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

“Sounds like a pretty good deal for them. Because essentially what has happened when the CHL minimum-wage lawsuit was settled to the tune of $30 million is that the former players who bravely and persistently fought for this chunk of money were able to win in court for themselves and the roughly 3,600 other players in the lawsuit. But in the bigger picture, the Canadian Hockey League won in the far more important political arena by convincing each province to consider its players student athletes, which exempts it from annoying employment standards legislation. Once they managed to do that, they were happy to settle. It’s believed it cost each team about $250,000.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.

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It should be pointed out that what came to be known as the minimum-wage lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with another class-action lawsuit facing the CHL, its three leagues and Hockey Canada. . . . James McEwan, a former WHL player, filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada in January 2019. The lawsuit later was refiled with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include the OHL and QMJHL. . . . Preliminary discussions regarding the certification of the lawsuit as class action were to have been held in Vancouver in March. If the pandemic didn’t play havoc with that, all parties involved will be awaiting Madam Justice Neena Sharma’s ruling. . . . McEwan played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting his time between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.


Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, says the league is Kamloops1“trying to figure out what the season’s going to look like . . . when it’s going to start.”

Appearing on TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Gaglardi chatted with Jeff Paterson and The Moj (aka Bob Marjanovich) on Friday.

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, frequently mentioned the importance of testing in terms of getting the economy rolling again.

Even for the WHL, he said, “it really all comes down to . . . testing.”

“There’s now a swab,” he said, “that you can get that you can swab your mouth and it tells you in 30 seconds whether you’ve got the virus. If this is something that we can get out into the mainstream market, how far are we from having fans in arenas?

“We’re really waiting for something . . . it may not be a vaccine . . . I’m certainly not counting on a vaccine in 2020. But I do think we’re going to have better testing soon, more access to testing, and somewhere we’re going to get some drug that’s therapeutic that will mean a 65- or 70-year- old guy can go to a hockey game and not worry about dying, and if he comes down with a virus then we can treat him and he’s going to be OK. We need to get to there to get this economy back going.

“At some point I think we’ll get there, with a combination of testing, tracing and hopefully something’s that therapeutic that allows people to feel safe to go to events like hockey.”

Asked about playing WHL games without fans in the building, Gaglardi replied: “The WHL is a gate-driven league. Without people in the buildings, it’s hard to see how we can operate for a great length of time.”

The WHL, according to Gaglardi, has got “contingency plans like every league there is. The Western Hockey League’s not the only league in that position . . . we’ll look at all kinds of scenarios.

“At the same time, too, we’ve got an obligation . . . to develop young hockey players, so if our league starts up a little late . . . we’ve got contingency plans to get the kids into Kamloops and to develop them. We’ve got all kinds of schemes of games and day games and things we might do . . . we take that obligation seriously.”

The complete interview is right here.

Gaglardi’s appearance on the Vancouver radio station came one day after his NHL and AHL organizations were hit with more furloughs, these ones to run through July 3.

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News reported that the latest cuts included “most of the remaining front office,” but excluded anyone who is a vice-president or higher.

“The Stars’ hockey operations department was not affected by the furloughs, but management, coaches and scouts took 20% pay cuts,” DeFranks wrote.

His complete story is right here.


The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League will have an expansion franchise in 2020-21 — the Chilliwack Jets. That begins the number of teams in the league to 13. . . . Clayton Robinson, the majority owner, will be the general manager and head coach. . . . The Jets will play out of the Sardis Sports Complex.



Honda Indy Toronto, which had been scheduled for July 10-12, has been cancelled. The move came after the City of Toronto cancelled event permits for major events for July and August. . . .

Organizers for what was to have been Ironman Canada’s return to Penticton, B.C., announced Friday that the event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Aug. 30. The Ironman last was held in Penticton in 2012, ending a run that began in 1983. . . .

The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. The 41st running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 11. Last year’s race drew more than 8,000 participants. . . .


Nominate1


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


The U.S. national junior team has filled out its coaching staff by adding four assistants — Ted Donato (Harvard), Theresa Feaster (Providence), Kris Mayotte (U of Michigan) and Steve Miller (Ohio State). All will work alongside head coach Nate Leaman of Providence College. . . . Feaster, the director of men’s hockey operations at Providence, is the first woman named to the coaching staff. She will be Team USA’s video coach. . . . She is the daughter of Jay Feaster, a former NHL general manager with the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He now is the Lightning’s vice-president of community hockey development. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


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Scattershooting on a Sunday night while realizing Dave Ayres is getting more than 15 minutes . . .

Scattershooting

The sporting world was still abuzz on Sunday, the day after the night when goaltender Dave Ayres, 42, came on in relief in his NHL debut and helped the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the host Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I find most interesting in Ayres’ post-game world is that so many writers have made a bigger deal about his being a Zamboni driver than the fact that he underwent a kidney transplant.

Time after time, you will read something like this: “Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver . . .” And, later, you’ll see this: “Ayres, who underwent a kidney transplant . . .”

This is why the renal community continues to work hard on educating people on things like this — yes, Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, but he still has kidney disease. There isn’t a cure for kidney disease. Once you’ve got it, there’s no divorce. Dialysis is a treatment. A transplant is a treatment.

Ayres, whose transplanted kidney came from his mother, will be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

In the meantime, I look forward to someone doing a story on how Ayres dealt with kidney disease, dialysis and the early days after his transplant.

Ayres flew into New York City on Sunday evening. On Monday, the Hurricanes have Ayres lined up for media hits with the likes of NBC’s Today Show, Golic & Wingo on ESPN Radio/ESPN 2, Fox & Friends, CBS Sports Radio, Dan Patrick Show, Dan Le Batard Show and CNN World Sport.

Later Monday, Ayres will head for Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes are to meet the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. Besides being saluted by the team and its fans, Ayres will serve as the pre-game Siren Sounder.

On top of that, Mary-Ann Baldwin, the mayor of Raleigh, as proclaimed Tuesday as David Ayres Day.

Immediately after the game, the Hurricanes announced that t-shirts with their logo on the front and Ayres’ name and number (90) on the back were for sale — at US$28 a pop. At one point on Sunday, sales went over 4,000. A portion of the proceeds are to go to a kidney foundation of his choosing.

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Once a year, I join a few friends for an evening of sports trivia. As luck would have it, our 2020 gathering took place on Friday night.

One of the questions asked was this: “Who is the oldest rookie in NHL regular-season history?” . . . The answer was D Connie (Mad Dog) Madigan, who played his first NHL game with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6, 1973. He was 38 years and four months old when he played in a 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens.

While that was the correct answer on Friday, it wouldn’t have been just 24 hours later. The answer now is G Dave Ayres, who made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the age of 42 years 194 days. Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004.

BTW, the record-holder before Madigan came along was F Bob Barlow, who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota North Stars at the age of 34 on Oct. 12, 1969.

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If you are at all into hockey history, you will want to read this piece right here from puckstruck.com. It chronicles the NHL career of Morrie Roberts, who like Dave Ayres also served as an EBUG. However, that was in 1928.


Road


A couple of questions from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “With the spectre of opposing pitchers plunking Houston Astros hitters at a record rate over the team’s sign-stealing scandal, just have to ask: Will Houston’s promotional giveaways include Astros Replica Jersey Night, sponsored by Target? By season’s end, will Houston — not Boston — be laying claim to the title of ‘Bean Town’?”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “It is interesting that the same people who thought drug cheating in baseball was just the cost of doing business now seem to think that sign-stealing cheating is the crime of the century. At least we might have a possible new baseball novel come out of this whole mess: ‘Bang the Can Slowly’.”


Turkey


Greg Robinson, an offensive lineman who played last season with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, was arrested earlier in the week near the U.S.-Mexico border. Among other things, he had 157 pounds of week in his vehicle. As Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports noted: “(Police) also found 23 mason jars, a can sealing machine, an electronic scale and over $3,000 in cash. It would seem that either there was some entrepreneurship going on or Robinson was on his way to the greatest party ever.” . . . WR Quan Bray, last of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, was with Robinson at the time. Whoops! . . . As the afore-mentioned Perry put it about Bray: “So much for trying to shake his reputation as just a possession receiver.”


There had been reports that the QMJHL’s board of governors would vote during a Thursday meeting on whether to ban fighting. Stephane Leroux of RDS reported Thursday afternoon that the vote wouldn’t take place.

Michael Roy of Radio-Canada reported that “there was no vote, but a lot of discussion.” Roy also tweeted that “the file will be on the menu . . . at a meeting in August.”

A story carrying a Canadian Press byline included this quote from Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner: “My main goal is to implement new rules to improve player safety. That’s the focal point of this discussion. Whether it’s fighting, blind-side hits, head shots, we’re carefully looking at all of that.”

It also included this from Sherbrooke Phoenix general manager Ronald Thibault: “It may sound strange, but what we’re trying to do is keep our players safe. There are divergent opinions on how to protect players. That’s it.”

Of course, if they really were that concerned about player safety, you would ban fighting. So would the other two major junior leagues— the WHL and the OHL.

The complete CP story is right here.

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On the topic of fighting in major junior hockey, here is part of a blog entry by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News:

“Junior hockey does not believe the debate is at all nuanced when it comes to paying its players a living wage. All three major junior leagues are very clear on that one. But when it comes to their ‘student athletes’ giving and receiving bareknuckle punches to the head it suddenly becomes a vexing dilemma for them?

“Like any other league, the QMJHL could have easily increased the penalties for fighting. Actually, it’s a lot easier for one of Canada’s three junior leagues to do it because none of them has to deal with a players’ association or go through the approval of a rules committee. The omnipotent rule they hold over these young men is astounding, so perhaps it’s time they used it for something good.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Marriage


Have I mentioned how much I love The Sports Curmudgeon, aka Jack Finarelli? After the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers moved on from head coach John Beilein just 54 games into his stay, the curmudgeonly one pointed out that the Cavs have a 130-318 record (.290) in recent times without LeBron James. TSC then came up with three possible explanations as to why things are so rotten in Cleveland, which, you may recall, also is home to the NFL’s Browns: “Something in the Cleveland water supply causes coaches to fail . . . An ancient civilization hexed the land there for eternity. . . . Ownership for the two franchises is well short of competency.” . . . As he put it: “You make the call . . .”


The Oakland A’s won’t have any of their games available on a Bay Area radio station this season, as they become the first team in Major League Baseball to make such a move. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, team president Dave Kaval has said, among other things, “we’re excited” and “we’re trying to be innovative” and “we’re . . . trying to attract younger fans” and “I think this is the direction of the future.” . . . If you live in the San Francisco/Oakland area, games will be available via streaming and they will be on some radio stations outside the area. . . . “It’s a big win,” Kaval said. . . . “No,” wrote Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins. “Try two other words: colossal failure.”



JUST NOTES: Is there a better anthem singer anywhere in the sporting world than Lauren Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers? All she does is sing, without any of the extras. . . . Chris Speier, a flash from the past for followers of the Montreal Expos, is on manager Dusty Baker’s staff with the Houston Astros. Speier has signed on as a “quality control coach.” With the mess surrounding the Astros, Speier is likely to have lots on his plate. . . . The Toronto Blue Jays opened their spring training schedule with games on Saturday, against the New York Yankees, and Sunday (Minnesota Twins). Both games were on Sportsnet, which picked up the feeds from the Yankees and Twins rather than have their own crew in place. Interesting?

Czech goalie appears headed to Chiefs. . . . ‘Canes’ Cozens suffers thumb injury. . . . Campbell staying in Portland


MacBeth

F Brandon McMillan (Kelowna, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, in 47 games, he had seven goals and 12 assists. An alternate captain he averaged 19:04 TOI. . . .

D Anatoli Yelizarov (Edmonton, 2015-17) has been traded by Salavat Yulaev Ufa to Sochi (both Russia, KHL) for monetary compensation. Last season, with Salavat Yulaev, he was pointless in 40 games. He also had one assist in 16 games with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), and had one assist in two games with Tolpas Ufa (Russia, MHL). . . . MHL (Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga) is Russia’s national junior league.


ThisThat

Allan Walsh is a prominent player agent and the co-managing director at Octagon-Hockey. One of his clients would seem to be Czech G Lukas Pařík, 18, who was selected by the Spokane Chiefs in Thursday’s CHL import draft and it would seem that he is bound for the WHL. . . . A few days earlier, Pařík had been selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the NHL draft, then spent a few days in the Kings’ development camp. . . . At this point in time, he joins three other goaltenders on the Chiefs’ depth chart — veterans Bailey Brkin and Reece Klassen, both of whom are prepping for their 20-year-old seasons, and Campbell Arnold, a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft who played last season with the junior B Spokane Braves.


F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes suffered an injury to his left thumb on Saturday while in the Buffalo Sabres’ development camp. It appears that the thumb was hurt as he put his hand down in the hopes of easing a fall as he tried to absorb a hip check from D Brandon Hickey. . . . Cozens, who is to see a specialist on Monday, later told reporters: “It’s good. I saw the videos and stuff. I think it looked a lot worse than it really was. . . . but right when it happened I wanted to get right back out there, so I’m feeling good.” . . . Cozens told reporters that the thumb isn’t broken. He also kept his left hand in the pouch of his hoodie as he spoke with reporters. . . . The Sabres selected Cozens with the seventh pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft.


You may recall that the Prince George Cougars’ 2018-19 schedule included an 11-game road trip that began in early December and ran into Christmas, all but ruined their season and may well have cost head coach Richard Matvichuk his job. . . . So what kind of schedule are the Cougars looking at for 2019-20? . . . Hartley Miller of 94.3 the GOAT and the analyst on Cougars’ home broadcasts, takes a look right here.


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An interesting item from Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, who is a must read whenever she posts a smorgasbord of thoughts and opinions, which usually is a couple of times a week

“Can it really be true that parents are required to pony up $12,000 for their 17- and 18-year-old kids to skate with Winnipeg Blues in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League? That, according to an article by Taylor Allen in the Drab Slab, is up from $3,000 last season. I don’t make a habit of telling folks how to spend their money, but in this case I will: Are you people nuts? That’s a lot of coin for a handful of hope. I mean, if the goal for your boy is the National Hockey League, you might be better off buying $12,000 worth of lottery tickets. I don’t blame parents for dreaming, though. The bad guys here are the mucky-mucks at 50 Below Sports + Entertainment. That $12,000 price tag is just wrong.”

The “Drab Slab” is the Winnipeg Free Press, in which Allen wrote:

“To suit up for the Blues this (season), it will cost $12,000 for players between the ages of 17 and 18, and $6,000 for 19- and 20-year-olds. Last (season), players had to pay roughly $3,000, with some of the cost offset by fundraising. The price has gone way up, as the Blues, who are owned by the same ownership group as the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, are now a club whose main intention is to develop players in hopes of getting them ready to play in the WHL.”

Are the Blues the only junior A team in all of Canada whose goal is to groom players for the WHL rather than try to get them hockey scholarships with NCAA teams?

Swansson’s complete piece is right here.



The Portland Winterhawks have re-signed Rich Campbell, their athletic trainer/strength Portlandand conditioning coach, to a contract extension, the length of which wasn’t revealed. . . . Campbell is prepping for his 12th season with the Winterhawks. . . . “Rich Campbell is the longest serving member of our current staff, and we are pleased to announce that he will be returning for several more seasons,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. “One of the key reasons we are able to develop players for the National Hockey League is because of the work Rich does off the ice.” . . . Campbell’s resume includes a stint with the 2008 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that played in the Beijing Games, and working as the head trainer for the NHL’s New York Islanders from 1997 to 2006.


JUST NOTES:

The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Dave Hakstol as an assistant coach under head coach Mike Babcock. Hakstol, the former U of North Dakota head coach, was fired as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 17. . . . The Leafs had an opening on their staff after Jim Hiller, a former WHL player and coach, left after four seasons to join the staff of the New York Islanders. Hiller was the head coach of the Chilliwack Bruins for three seasons (2006-09) and the Tri-City Americans for five (2009-14). . . .

Mike Vellucci, who was the head coach of the AHL-champion Charlotte Checkers for two seasons, now is the head coach of that league’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. . . . The announcement was made on Friday, one day after Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli resigned for personals reasons. . . . Vellucci is the AHL’s reigning coach of the year. . . . He spent five seasons (2014-19) with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations. For the past two seasons, he also was Charlotte’s head coach. Before joining Carolina, he spent 14 seasons (2001-14) as the GM/head coach of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers. . . .

The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have named Clayton Robinson their general manager and head coach, with Jesse Hammill coming on board as associate coach. . . . Robinson has owned the franchise since May 1, 2018. . . . Curtis Toneff, the team’s GM/head coach for two seasons, left to join the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos as an assistant coach.

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