Scattershooting on Sunday night while wondering if summer has left us for another year . . .


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Swift Current Broncos. They opened their ScurrentWHL exhibition schedule on Friday night and admittance was $5 “or free with food donation.” The Broncos also had a vaccine clinic on site. Anyone getting a vaccination was given free entry to the game. Well done!

It would seem that the Boston Bruins have all but decided to send Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, their first selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft, to the WHL’s VancouverVancouver Giants. Don Sweeney, the Bruins’ general manager, told reporters at a prospects tournament in Buffalo on Sunday that “in all likelihood” Lysell will play in Vancouver.

What kind of player is Lysell?

“He’s got some areas, in traffic, and some things that he’s going to have to be aware of, and defensively,” Sweeney added. “All are things we believe we can teach those young players as long as they are willing and receptive to learn. But he’s got the skill set that’s pretty unique for us to be adding to our group and to be excited about.

“It will be important for him to play against kids in his peer group. We’re excited that he’s going to play over here. We do believe the transition to the smaller ice surface, especially with young guys, they have to play in the hard areas of the ice in order to be successful. He’s more than willing to do that but he’s got to find his space.’’

For more, check out Rinkside Rhode Island with Mark Divver, who pays particular attention to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. His latest file is right here.

Via Twitter, Steve Ewen of Postmedia explained the Giants’ import situation:

“Assuming Swedish goalie Jesper Vikman is re-assigned to the Giants,  Vancouver would have three Euros (Vikman, Lysell and Slovak D Marko Stacha). They can only keep two. They’d have two weeks from the start of the WHL regular season to pick.

“Stacha and Lysell are both trade eligible, since Stacha played with the  Giants last season and Lysell was on their roster all season. Vikman, who was Vancouver’s import pick this off-season, is not trade eligible.”

Vikman, 19, was a fifth-round pick by Vegas in 2020, but has yet to sign with the Golden Knights.


After the NFL’s Buffalo Bills announced that you will need to be fully vaccinated in order to attend home games, some fans said they’ll start going on the road. After all, at this point in time the Bills, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks are the only NFL teams that are implementing such a restriction. . . . So now the likes of receiver Cole Beasley, the Bills’ vocal anti-vaxxer, and centre Reid Ferguson are offering to buy tickets for those fans to some road games. . . . One of those fans, who won’t get vaccinated, told Jason Wolf of the Buffalo News: “I’ve had Covid, so in my opinion, I’ve already got the antibodies. I think they’re just as good as the vaccine. The vaccine came out pretty rushed. I don’t really know all the information. In my opinion, there’s so little information out there and it all seems to be one-sided. And then, personally, my religious beliefs. I think God created me for a purpose. He has a plan for my life. And whether I have the vaccine or not, I’m taken care of.” . . . That particular fan is 39 years of age and has five children.



The Blackfalds Bulldogs made their AJHL debut on the road on Friday night. The Brooks Bandits welcomed them to the league by dropping them, 17-0. Yes, 17-0. . . . (On Saturday, the Bulldogs went into Olds and beat the Grizzlys, 5-4.)




So . . . the Minnesota Vikings had the opportunity to beat the host Arizona Cardinals with a last-play field goal on Sunday. The kick was wide right, but Paul Allen, the radio voice of the Vikings, thought, well, give it a listen . . .

OF Eddie Rosario of the Atlanta Braves hit for the cycle Sunday afternoon in a 3-0 victory over the host San Francisco Giants. Yes, hitting for the cycle is a big deal in baseball. But think about this for a moment — in those four at-bats, Rosario saw a total of five pitches.


A note from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “Jim Hughson, one of Canada’s premier sports broadcasters, is telling people that he has retired. Most recently, Hughson was the No. 1 play-by-play voice at Hockey Night In Canada, and long before that was the voice of the Blue Jays on TSN. He won’t be easily replaced. Rogers Sportsnet, as is their custom, has made no official announcement on his future of the Hall of Fame broadcaster.” . . .  Retirement? Already? Sheesh, it’s only been 43 years since we both were on the Brandon Wheat Kings’ beat, Jim with CKLQ radio and me with the Brandon Sun!

The OHL’s board of governors has approved the sale of the Guelph Storm. The franchise now is owned by Joel Feldberg and Jeffrey Bly, a pair of Toronto businessmen, who purchased it from Rick Gaetz, John Heeley, Rick Hoyle and Scott Walker. . . . Feldberg is the president/CEO of The Global Furniture Group of companies; Bly is the senior vice-president.


The best part of waking up today (Monday) will be knowing that it’s election day in Canada, which means all those attack ads on TV will be a thing of the past, at least until next time. And all those signs that are such a horrible blight around our intersections and on our hillsides will be gone.

Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “SF Giants starter Alex Wood, out nearly 3 weeks with COVID-19,“politely declined again to disclose his vaccination status.” Translation: He hasn’t been vaccinated. Sigh.”


JUST NOTES: I spent part of Saturday night watching the CFL game in which the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat Edmonton, 37-22, and when it was over I was left thinking that the Elks just may be on to something with quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who made his first appearance. He’s a 6-foot-5 product of Oklahoma State and he can fling it. . . . Trevor Harris (neck), the Elks’ starting QB, is on the six-game injured list. . . . The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the visiting Toronto Argos, 30-16, on Friday night before an announced crowd of 25,883. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post pointed out that it was the Roughriders’ “lowest crowd since July 8, 2007 (25,862); ’Riders beat Calgary 49-8. . . . When we last heard from Andrew Milne, the general manager and head coach of the Canmore Eagles, the AJHL had fined him $1,000 and hit him with a 15-game suspension for the dastardly sin of discussing with the media a COVID-19 outbreak that had hit his team and community. He has served two games of that sentence and the Eagles won both games. With Milne in AJHL jail, the Eagles’ bench will be run by a three-headed monster featuring assistant coach Bryan Arneson; Mike Glawson, an Eagles’ scout who is the head coach of the U-18 AAA Calgary Flames; and Kyle McLaughlin, who was on the Eagles’ staff last season.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.



No hockey games for Saskatchewan until late March? . . . Savoie on Fighting Saints’ roster . . . Toporowski shines for Stampede

A brief letter from the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) to its members on Thursday seems to indicate that any chance of playing hockey games in that jurisdiction between now and April is slim.

The letter, from Kelly McClintock, the SHA’s general manager, came after Saskatchewan health officials extended Public Health Orders until Jan. 29.

Then, on Wednesday, Ken Dueck of the government’s Business Response Team informed the province’s sport governing bodies that, according to McClintock, “there would be no consideration of return to play (games) for at least four weeks and that a return to game play is unlikely to happen before the end of March.”

McClintock wrote: “With the current rate of positive cases per 100,000 people placing Saskatchewan near the top in Canada, the likelihood of things changing before the end of March is looking bleak. . . .

“Please be aware that the landscape related to COVID-19 in the province can change at any time.”

At the same time, Saskatchewan health officials rejected CurlSask’s proposal for using a bubble-format to select it’s men’s and women’s champions. That resulted in the provincial association cancelling its championships and selecting teams for the Canadian men’s and women’s championships via a performance-based system covering the previous two seasons.

The New York State Amateur Hockey Association posted a letter on its website on Thursday, part of which reads: “The New York State Amateur Hockey Association (NYSAHA) Board of Directors has retained the services of the law firm of Hogan Willig of Amherst New York for the purposes of filing a legal action against the Honorable Andrew Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York et al to obtain a court ruling that will allow the resumption of hockey in New York State.” . . . Hockey is considered a high-risk sport under restrictions presently in place in the state, so teams are limited to practices only and aren’t allowed to scrimmage. . . . There’s more on this story right here.


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice was added to the roster of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints on Thursday. Savoie, from St. Albert, Alta., played four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders this season, scoring three goals and adding three assists. . . . The Fighting Saints announced on Jan. 5 that they were adding Savoie, the first selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, to their roster. . . . Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, is eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. He and his brother, Carter, now a freshman at the U of Denver, attending the Fighting Saints’ main training camp prior to the 2019-20 season. . . . Dubuque is scheduled to play two homes games this weekend — against the Waterloo Black Hawks tonight (Friday) and the Des Moines Buccaneers on Saturday night. . . .

F Luke Toporowski of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs played his first game with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede on Thursday night. He was the game’s first star with a goal — the game-winner — and two assists in a 3-2 OT victory over the visiting Sioux City Musketeers. Toporowski won it 2:08 into OT. . . . F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers also played his first game with the Stampede, but went pointless.



CBC News — Manitoba announces 2 additional COVID-19 deaths and 261 new cases, the highest daily total since January 2 and well above the 7-day average of 174. More than half of the new cases are in the Northern health region.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 312 new COVID-19 cases, which is consistent with the province’s 7-day average. . . . Saskatchewan Health Authority releases latest modelling forecast. Daily bump in COVID-19 cases could triple even if people closely follow rules, province warns.

Lethbridge Herald — Alberta reports Thursday 967 new cases of COVID-19 . . . 12,434 active cases . . . 806 in hospital, 136 of those in ICU . . . 21 additional deaths for a total of 1,389 fatalities provincially.

CBC News — Alberta to ease some COVID-19 restrictions starting Monday, health minister says. The province is reporting 967 new cases, 21 more deaths.

CBC News — B.C. reports 536 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths. . . . B.C. identifies case of infectious coronavirus variant first seen in South Africa.

CBC News — New COVID-19 cases in Ontario surge above 3,000 for the 1st time in 3 days. 3,326 reported, with 968 in Toronto, 572 in Peel, 357 in York. 62 people died. Just over 71,000 tests were done.

CBC News — Quebec adds 2,132 new COVID-19 cases. It’s the highest number in 4 days but below the 7-day average of 2,330. Health authorities are also attributing 64 additional deaths to the virus.

CBC News — New Brunswick has 23 new COVID-19 cases as the province experiences a surge in 2021; the number of new cases has been in double-digits for all but 3 days in January. There are now 246 active cases, the highest since the pandemic began.

CNN, Thursday, 1:52 p.m. PT — 387,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Thursday, 4:48 p.m. PT — 388,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CBC News — Global COVID-19 cases top 93M with over 1.99M deaths: Johns Hopkins University.


Early this week, the NHL said that 17 players with the Dallas Stars had tested positive since Dec. 30. On Thursday, 13 players were missing from practice. Saad Yousuf of The Athletic reported that these players weren’t on the ice — forwards Nick Caamano, Jason Dickinson, Justin Dowling, Radek Faksa, Rhett Gardner, Riley Tufte and Joel Kiviranta; and defencemen Taylor Fedun, Miro Heiskanen, Julius Honka, Esa Lindell, Jamie Oleksiak and Mark Pysyk. . . . The Stars’ first three games have been postponed. They are scheduled to open Jan. 19 against the host Tampa Bay Lightning, but there are rumblings that game also may be postponed. The Stars’ next scheduled game is Jan. 22 against the visiting Nashville Predators. . . .

The NBA’s Phoenix Suns have had a third straight game postponed. They were to have entertained the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, but that game won’t happen. . . . The Suns were to have played the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday and the Golden State Warriors tonight (Friday), but neither game happened. . . . The Suns are dealing with contact tracing. . . . The Saturday postponement will be the 10th since Dec. 23. . . .

The Australian Open, which is scheduled for Feb. 8-21, has lost American Madison Keys after she revealed that she has tested positive. Keys is the 16th-ranked women’s player. . . . Andy Murray, who received a wild-card berth, also has tested positive so likely won’t play. He is isolating at his London-area home. . . . Charter flights will begin taking players to Australia in the coming days. Upon arrival, players must quarantine for 14 days. . . .

Organizers of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am have cancelled the pro-am part of the PGA tournament, meaning Bill Murray won’t be putting on a show this year. The tournament is scheduled for Feb. 11-14 at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. . . . Next week’s event at La Quinta in Riverside Country also has cancelled its pro-am. . . .

San Jose State’s women’s basketball team won’t play again this season. The Spartans had played four games while having seven cancelled. The university cited “health and safety concerns stemming from COVID-19” in making the announcement on Thursday. . . . The U of Virginia Cavaliers women’s team also has ended its season. They haven’t played since Dec. 13, having missed six games since a positive test.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.

JUST NOTES: You will recall that just before Christmas the AJHL suspended Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the Canmore Eagles, for 15 games and fined him $1,000. His sin? It seems he spoke with media about a COVID-19 outbreak that hit his team and, in turn, the community. Well, it seems that supporters set up a GoFundMe page and in fewer than 24 hours raised more than enough to cover the fine. Now if the AJHL would get off its high horse and do the right thing by erasing the suspension. . . . The MJHL’s Dauphin Kings have signed Doug Hedley, their general manager and head coach, to a contract extension that runs through 2022-23. In his third stint with the Kings, Hedley has been the GM/head coach since April 24, 2018.


Hard to figure AJHL’s reasoning in disciplining Eagles’ Milne for “bringing discredit” to league . . . OHL ditches Feb. 4 start . . . QMJHL has playoff format

Andrew Milne, a former WHL player and coach who now is the general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles, has been suspended for 15 games and fined $1,000.

His crime?

Ryan Bartoshyk, the AJHL commissioner, told Meghan Grant of CBC News that ajhlMilne was disciplined for “bringing discredit to the league.”

Did Milne rip into the on-ice officiating? Was he stealing hotdogs from the concession stand in Drumheller? Did he throw a plastic straw onto the concourse in Sherwood Park? He must have cross-checked a little old lady from behind in Calgary. Right?

Actually, none of the above.

According to Postmedia, Bartoshyk said Milne, who is in his 13th season with the Eagles, was whacked for “bringing discredit to the league in the reasonable opinion of the board.

“Milne’s comments in several media interviews reflected his lack of knowledge regarding the league’s COVID protocols, or at the very least a misinterpretation of those protocols, which has resulted in the public misconceptions that strong protocols were not in place and put the AJHL’s partnership with AHS (Alberta Health Services) in jeopardy, both of which have now negatively impacted a return-to-play plan. Consequences of his actions led to inconsistent statements regarding the circumstances and damaged the extensive work undertaken by the league office and its members to operate.”

It’s worth pointing out that the AJHL didn’t announce the suspension and fine, both of which apparently were decided upon at some point last week. Nor is there a news release of any sort on the AJHL’s website. You would think that a 15-game suspension and a four-figure fine to a junior A GM/coach might be worthy of some kind of news release. Heck, it’s not even included in the discipline section of the website.

Did the AJHL really think no one outside of the Eagles and Milne’s immediate family would find out? Hey, 15 games and a grand is a lot more than a slap on the wrist. But now it’s out in the open and . . .

To go back, Milne first became aware that something was happening during a Nov. 14 game with the host Drumheller Dragons when one player took ill following the second period. At the time, it was thought that the player simply was fatigued because it was the Eagles’ second game in two days — they had played the Dragons in Canmore the previous night — after not having played since Nov. 7.

But by the time the team bus arrived back in Canmore it was obvious that the player in question was ill. So he went right into isolation at his billet’s home.

A couple of days later, six more players had symptoms and were isolated.

So the entire team was tested and 16 players and coaches came up positive.

In an interview with CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener that aired on Nov. 27, Milne said: “We tested everybody and that’s when obviously the numbers started climbing. And . . . it was evident that we had a massive outbreak in our club.

“I think part of the reason for the large numbers was the fact that we were just on a bus and there was very limited ability for us to move about in some recycled air.”

Milne said that number (16) didn’t include families that were impacted. Yes, there were positive tests among billet families. Milne’s wife tested positive, as did one of their children.

Milne said that “it is quite amazing” how rapidly the virus spread.

“We were a pretty tight group,” he told the Eyeopener. “We didn’t do much outside of our group. That’s why you see the infection rate pretty high within our group because we were together all the time. Right from the bus, the practice, to travelling to and from the facility, a group of four or five guys are car-pooling. They’re hanging out in the evenings because they’re not supposed to be outside of their bubble. You can see how fast it moves and how quickly it gets from one guy to the next.”

Near the end of the interview, Milne mentioned other teams that ended up with positive tests.

“(Drumheller) had some positives,” he said. “The Calgary Canucks, the team we played the week before, had some positives. I heard Okotoks (Oilers) had some positives.

“It’s definitely something that I think can be transferred through game play and that’s something that I’m assuming that we’re doing some research into to figure out. It wasn’t our team alone and where we got it we don’t know.

“These kids are in such tight groups and out and about that it becomes a challenge to sort of mitigate where it’s come from. But we’ve had a  number of teams that have been affected by the virus for sure.”

Meanwhile, CBC’s Grant also reported that the AJHL now “is preventing teams from speaking publicly or posting on social media ordering all media requests related to the pandemic or the league’s return to play plan to the AJHL office.

“The AJHL has also changed its protocols, deciding not to publicly report confirmed cases of COVID-19 in players and staff, according to a Nov. 21 email obtained by CBC, sent from Bartoshyk to team executives.”

When I checked late Thursday night, Grant’s story on the CBC website had drawn 106 comments. The AJHL wasn’t being treated at all favourably.

Perhaps the most pertinent of the comments was posted by Lisa Rosvold of Canmore:

“This is so ridiculous. I am a billet Mom for one of the Canmore Eagles players. I thought Coach Milne handled this whole thing in a very professional, transparent and caring way. The fact that the AJHL is now shaming Milne for being transparent is disgraceful. The fine and suspension are heavy-handed, and the AJHL should retract their COVID shaming punishments immediately. The AJHL should instead be thanking Milne for being so forthcoming and providing a human experience to COVID and helping to take the stigma out of it.”

For what it’s worth, I agree wholeheartedly with Rosvold. For some reason, the AJHL has decided to make a mountain out of something that is less than a molehill. Hey, why don’t you be the judge? Check out the three links that follow and see what you think.

The Eyeopener interview is right here.

The first story done by CBC News is right here.

The CBC News story from Wednesday is right here.

As expected, the OHL announced on Wednesday that it has chosen to delay the ohlstart of its regular season. It had said it would open on Feb. 4. . . . From a news release: “This decision follows Premier Ford’s announcement of a province-wide shutdown in Ontario commencing on Dec. 26. The league will continue to consult and work closely with governments and health authorities to determine potential start dates in the new year. The safety of all of our stakeholders and communities is our priority and we are committed to starting the 2020-21 season when it is safe to do so. We know that this is difficult news for many of our players, fans, billets, parents, staff and teams. However, the restrictions both provincially in Ontario as well as nationally with regards to cross-border travel have informed our decision.” . . . Last week, the WHL ditched its proposed Feb. 4 start date and now will wait until some time in January to assess its situation. . . . The QMJHL, which received $12 million from the provincial government for its Quebec-based teams, plans on resuming play in late January under a bubble-type format. The QMJHL has revealed its playoff format and it has all 18 of its teams taking part. See the tweet below.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes announced on Wednesday that their 2020 annual Lethbridgegeneral meeting will be held on Jan. 18. The team had announced in September that it would be held in November, but that didn’t happen. . . . The Hurricanes are one of four community-owned teams in the 22-team WHL. The other three — the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos — announced losses totalling more than $1.5 million for 2020. The Warriors lost $391,299; the Raiders $331.895; and the Broncos $791,000. However, those totals included payments totalling $612,513 as their portions of a class-action lawsuit that the major junior leagues announced had been settled, only to have the courts reject the settlement. Lawyers are believed to be working on refining the settlement.


CBC News: There are 201 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba and 15 more deaths, the province reports. Manitoba’s 5-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is down to 10.4% from 11.5% on Tuesday.

CBC News: 159 new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, the lowest daily total since Nov. 19 and 2nd day in a row it has been below 200. Health authorities are also reporting 5 additional deaths due to the virus.

CBC News: Alberta reports 19 more deaths and 1,301 new cases of COVID-19. As case numbers decline, hospitalizations across the province continue to rise.

Vancouver Sun: Second wave has peaked, B.C. health officials say, announcing 518 new cases.

Chilliwack Progress: COVID death toll nears 800 in B.C.; 5,600 people have received first dose of vaccine

CBC News: Ontario has 2,408 new COVID-19 cases, the 2nd-highest daily total of the pandemic. 629 are in Toronto, 448 in Peel Region, 234 in Windsor-Essex, and 190 in York Region. 1,002 people are in hospital, with a record 275 people in ICUs. 41 people died.

CBC News: 74 additional deaths due to COVID-19 in Quebec as province sets record with highest number of daily cases since the pandemic began. Health authorities say there were 2,247 new cases Wednesday, which tops the high of 2,183 reported Tuesday.

CNN, 4 p.m. PT: 326,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

KOMO News: Washington state’s COVID-19 cases eclipsed 230,000 Wednesday according to the state health department’s latest reporting. State health officials confirmed 2,315 new COVID-19 cases, 27 additional hospitalizations and 31 more deaths in the past 24 hours. This brings the state’s totals to 230,202 cases, 13,617 hospitalizations and 3,162 deaths. Health officials reported 8,507 “probable cases” of COVID-19 in its Wednesday reporting. Health officials said as many as 150 confirmed cases could be duplicates as test result data from Wednesday is incomplete. 1.4 percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Washington have died, according to the state.

KATU News: The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday reported 1,000 new cases of coronavirus and 21 new deaths. 1,403 people have now died from the disease in the state. OHA said there are currently 527 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 109 of whom are being treated in the ICU. The state has now reported 105,970 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.


F Keyontae Johnson of the Florida Gators, the SEC’s preseason player of the year, collapsed during a basketball game on Dec. 12. He was released from hospital on Tuesday. Zach Abolverdi of the Gainesville Sun reported Tuesday night that Johnson “has been diagnosed with a heart inflammation that may be related to an earlier infection for COVID-19. Following the collapse that left Johnson unresponsive, he was transferred last Monday from Tallahassee Memorial to UF Health in Gainesville, where an MRI on his heart led to a diagnosis of acute myocarditis, according to a person with first-hand knowledge. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensibility of the situation.” . . .

The NBA opened its regular season on Tuesday, and postponed its first game for virus-related reasons on Wednesday when the Houston Rockets didn’t have the mandated eight players available for a game against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets had three players with tests that were positive or inconclusive and four others who were quarantined because of contact tracing. . . . As well, James Harden, their star, was ruled out because of a violation of health and safety protocols. There is a video making the rounds that shows a mask-less Harden at a private party on Tuesday night. . . . Harden also was fined $50,000 for what the NBA said was violating protocols, “which among other things prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.” Harden is to be paid US$38.2 million this season. . . .

The NAHL has decided to extend its regular season until May 16, with the opening round of playoffs to run from May 20-30. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

An NCAA men’s basketball game between visiting UCLA and No. 25 Oregon didn’t happen Wednesday afternoon after one of the referees tested positive. . . . Chicago State suspended its men’s basketball program for the remainder of the season on Wednesday. The Cougars (0-9) lost head coach Lance Irvin before the season started due to COVID-19 concerns and have had virus-related issues since then.

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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.

COVID-19 has landed in Eagles’ nest; AJHL team has 16 positives . . . Virus forces multitude of schedule changes

Hockey’s worst nightmare showed up in Canmore, Alta., the picturesque Alberta community that is home to the AJHL’s Eagles and is located just over an Canmorehour west of Calgary.

On Nov. 19, the AJHL reported “a member of the Canmore Eagles has tested positive for COVID-19.”

On Friday, reports indicated that at least 16 members of the Eagles have tested positive, along with an untold number of their contacts. For example, general manager/head coach Andrew Milne tested positive, as did his wife and one of their sons.

According to Milne, a former WHL player and coach, the first indication that something might be wrong came on Nov. 14 during a game in Drumheller against the Dragons. It was then that one player began to feel ill.

That player tested positive on Nov. 19 at which time all team members were isolated, including those living with billets.

“We tested everybody,” Milne told Calgary Eyeopener, “and that’s when obviously the number started climbing. And . . . it was evident that we had massive outbreak in our club.

“I think part of the reason for the large numbers was the fact that we were just on a bus and there was very limited ability for us to move about in some recycled air.”

One of the things that seems to have caught Milne by surprise was the quickness with which the virus chewed through his roster.

“It’s amazing how fast the web can unwind and get going,” he said. “You can see how fast it moves and how quickly it gets from one guy to the next.”

The AJHL has three other teams believed to be dealing with positives. The league announced on Nov. 20 that the Calgary Canucks had a positive test, then, the next day, said the Dragons also had one positive. Then, on Nov. 22, the league revealed a positive test with the Okotoks Oilers.

The AJHL season was paused on Tuesday as a result of restrictions implemented by the Alberta government. The league’s board of governors is to meet on Dec. 19 to study its options.

Jennifer Dorozio of CBC News has more right here.

Milne’s interview with Calgary Eyeopener is right here.

The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes won’t be playing their football game at Illinois today (Saturday) after the game was cancelled because of positive tests. Those positives include Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, who also will miss a game next Saturday at Michigan State. Conference protocols call for coaches who test positive to sit out for 10 days. . . . Nick Saban, the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, also is sideline this weekend after testing positive. . . . And yet you watch NCAA college football, like the Thursday game that had Nebraska at Iowa, and you see head coaches with their facemasks constantly around their chins. You really would think that the pooh-bahs at these universities would have a word with these men about being better. Of course, the other side of the coin is that there are few people in the sporting world who are more oblivious to their surroundings than football coaches.


CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 344 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths related to the virus. 178 of the new cases are in the Winnipeg region. The 5-day test positivity rate is 14.5%. A record 322 people are in hospital, including 45 in intensive care.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 4 more deaths and 329 new COVID-19 cases, an increase from the previous 7-day average of 244. Concern is also growing about the impact on hospitals, which are up 400% in the last 30 days and forecast to continue accelerating.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,227 new cases of COVID-19 and 9 new deaths. There are 14,217 active cases in the province. 405 people are in hospital, including 86 in intensive care.

Janet Brown, CKNW Vancouver: 911 new cases, 11 deaths (395), 301 hospital (+7), 67 ICU (+3).

CBC News: Elementary school order to close after COVID-19 outbreak leads to 16 cases in Surrey, B.C.

iNFOnews Kamloops: Anti-masker throws hot coffee on Kelowna IGA employee.

CBC News: Ontario reports over 58,000 more COVID-19 tests completed. Data shows 541 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario, 151 are in ICU and 101 are on a ventilator.

CBC News: 38 additional deaths, 1,269 new COVID-19 cases reported in Quebec. That’s higher than the previous 7-day average of 1,208. Currently, 669 people are in hospital, and 90 of them are in intensive care.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 12 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 new recoveries. The province has seen a total of 477 cases and 356 recoveries since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19, all in the central zone. The provincial state of emergency has been renewed, and will now extend to noon on Dec. 13.

CBC News: 4 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, bringing province’s total case number to 331. There are currently 31 active cases.

Ryan Struyk, CNN: Today is the 25th consecutive day that the United States has reported at least 100,000 new coronavirus cases, according to data from CNN and Johns Hopkins University.

CBC News: Los Angeles County announces a stay-home order as COVID-19 cases surge in the most populous county in the U.S. The order, which takes effect Monday, comes as the county confirms 24 new deaths and 4,544 new coronavirus cases.

The New York Times: Coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 13 million on Friday, even as many Americans ignored Thanksgiving travel warnings.


Oh my, but the NFL is a messy place these days. . . . With the Baltimore Ravens fighting an outbreak — QB Lamar Jackson is on the reserve/COVID-19 list — their game at the Pittsburgh Steelers that was to have been played Thursday night and then was moved to Sunday afternoon now is scheduled for Tuesday night on NBC. Got that? . . . On the original schedule, Baltimore was to have played at Dallas on Thursday (Dec. 3). That game now will be played on Monday, Dec. 7 (FOX). The regular Monday Night Football game (San Francisco at Buffalo, ESPN) will follow to give us a doubleheader. . . . On top of all that, the Steelers played three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos had a player and two staffers test positive so shut down their facility on Friday. This was the third time this season that the Broncos have had to cancel a practice. The New Orleans are scheduled to visit Denver on Sunday. . . . The Los Angeles Rams also shut things down, saying the move was made out of an “abundance of caution.” One player and a staff member tested positive, but later twice tested negative. . . . Assistant coaches Nick Eason and Steve Jackson of the Cincinnati Bengals will miss Sunday’s game against the New York Giants for what the team says is COVID-19 related reasons. . . . The Arizona Cardinals, who allowed 1,200 fans at each of their previous two games, won’t be allowing fans at their Dec. 6 game against the Rams as numbers rise in the state. . . . The Cardinals will be without veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald when they meet the New England Patriots on Sunday. He and WR Trent Sherfield are on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . .

UFC Fight Night on Saturday was to have been headlined by a heavyweight scrap featuring Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. That won’t happen, however, because Blaydes has tested positive. . . .

Scratch the Pinstripe Bowl off your schedule of football bowl games. The game, which was to have featured teams from the Big Ten and ACC in Yankee Stadium, was dumped because of an increase in positive cases and travel restrictions that are in place in New York. . . . Eight bowl games now have been scratched. But you can relax because there still are 35 on the schedule. For now. . . .

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team, ranked No. 1 in the NCAA, played Friday morning in Fort Myers, Fla., despite learning that one of its players had tested positive. “We had people out for quarantine due to contact tracing, we had a positive test on an administrative staff, then we had a positive test on a player,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after a 90-67 victory over Auburn. “It’s how the preseason has went. You just wait to get the news on testing, then you have to react, have to stay agile. We followed COVID protocols with the tournament, and the Florida health board down here have all been great. Our guys have been incredibly diligent about following all the rules.” . . .

Zach Braziller of the New York Post pointed out that some schools have paused their men’s basketball teams for less than what happened with Gonzaga.

“Meanwhile, several programs have shut down for less than what is happening with Gonzaga,” he wrote. “Those schools seem to understand what experts have said, that someone can test negative and not show symptoms, yet still be able to transmit the virus to others because the incubation period can last up to 14 days, according to the CDC.

“Not everyone seems to get that. Playing college basketball during a pandemic is a risk. It’s an even greater risk not to be extra safe.”

His complete column is right here.

You want more? Arizona’s men’s basketball game against visiting UTEP on Sunday won’t happen. UTEP has had a positive test. Arizona was to have opened Wednesday but there Northern Arizona had someone come up positive. . . . Middle Tennessee’s football game today against Florida Atlantic has been postponed. . . . In hockey, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) will begin its schedule in an Omaha bubble on Tuesday, but has had to move Colorado College’s first four games because of a positive test with the Tigers. . . . The Georgetown women’s basketball team experienced a positive test so their opener at Richmond on Sunday has been postponed. . . . Northern Kentucky’s men’s basketball program is on hold after a positive test. . . . The Temple Owls also have paused team activities after a positive test in their men’s basketball team. . . . The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is having to make scheduling adjustments after positive tests in the Ferris State, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan programs. . . . UMass Lowell was to have opened its men’s hockey season on Saturday but that won’t happen after a positive test was discovered in its program on Friday. The university has halted team activities while team members are tested. . . . The River Hawks game with Providence will be rescheduled.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


Mallette staying on Rockets’ staff. . . . Raiders, Oil Kings even after Game 4. . . . Holt everything! Giants have 3-1 edge


F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, in 62 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists. The team captain, he averaged 18:29 TOI per game. . . .

F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 52 games.


The Kelowna Rockets have signed assistant coach Kris Mallette to an extension that runs KelownaRocketsthrough the 2020-21 season. Mallette’s contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

Mallette, 40, has been on the Rockets’ coaching staff since the 2014-15 season.

A defenceman, he played four seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1996-2000), before going on to a nine-year pro career. He has been coaching since 2010-11 when he was an assistant coach with the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

With the Rockets, he works alongside head coach Adam Foote, who is preparing for his first full season with Kelowna.

For what it’s worth, Kris Mallette, who has signed a two-year extension with the Kelowna Rockets, was on my list of the ‘next ones’ — high-end candidates for head-coaching positions in the WHL or elsewhere.

Mallette just finished his fifth season on the Rockets’ coaching staff, and he obviously likes it just fine right where he is. Of course, re-signing with the Rockets means he’ll get whlto coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, what with Kelowna being the host team.

At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have a head coach under contract. They and head coach Serge Lajoie went their separate ways on April11, after just one season together.

Many hockey people are assuming that co-owner Darryl Sydor will be the Blazers’ next head coach, and that the feeling will prevail until/unless the team announces otherwise. Sydor was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Mallette is just one of a number of WHL assistant coaches who would seem ready to step up.

Jeff Truitt, 53, is a former Kelowna head coach who now is an assistant under Marc Habscheid with the Prince Albert Raiders. Before moving to the Raiders, he spent five-plus seasons on the Red Deer Rebels’ coaching staff.

Kyle Gustafson, 38, has been on staff with the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04 and is more than ready to be a head coach. He has been with the Winterhawks in good times (a WHL title in 2013) and bad (11 victories in 2007-08). You can bet that he has learned the business and the game while working with the likes of Ken Hodge, Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Don Hay.

Ryan Marsh, 44, is a former WHL player (Tri-City, 1992-95), who has been in the coaching game since 2003-04 when he signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders. He later spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and four with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He just completed his first season as the Saskatoon Blades’ associate coach.

Scott Burt, 42, is another former WHL player (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98) and now is in his fifth season on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. He spent the last three seasons of a 13-year pro career as the captain of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and then began his coaching career by spending two seasons with them.

Luke Pierce, 35, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but may be ready for a second stint as a WHL head coach. He spent five-plus seasons in his hometown as general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials before spending two seasons as head coach of the faltering Kootenay Ice. When looking at Pierce’s background, you can’t discount that fact he spent five seasons playing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Mark O’Leary, 34, just completed his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors. From Owen Sound, Ont., he played in the OHL with the Mississauga IceDogs and Guelph Storm (2003-06), before playing professionally for five seasons.

Brian Pellerin, 49, has been coaching since 2002-03 when he was a playing assistant coach with the CHL’s Amarillo Gorillas. He went on to spend four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks and now has been the Tri-City Americans’ associate coach for five seasons. As a player, he spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some really experienced head coaches who just may be available, too.

Don Hay, 65, the guy with more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history, isn’t retired. He spent this season as an assistant coach in Portland and you can bet that he wants to keep on coaching.

Don Nachbaur, 60, is the third-winningest regular-season head coach in WHL history. He has worked as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach after the 2016-17 season. His posting in L.A. lasted a season and a bit; he was fired when the Kings dumped head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This spring, Nachbaur provided analysis on broadcasts of Tri-City playoff games.

The Kings also hired Dave Lowry, 54, as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 season after he had been the head coach of the Victoria Royals for five seasons. Lowry was dismissed by the Kings on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

Steve Konowalchuk, 46, was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons, guiding them to a WHL title in 2016-17. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a job that lasted one season.  He now is an amateur scout with the New York Rangers. But, hey, maybe he’s got the coaching bug, again.

There also are other men out there with previous WHL playing and/or coaching experience who might be worth another shot, like Mark Ferner, the director of hockey operations and head coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers; Mike Vandekamp, the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals; Jason Becker, who has completed three seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees; Ryan Papaioannou, the GM and head coach of the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits; Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Paul Dyck, the general manager, director of hockey operations and head coach of the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons. . . .

Of course, in this day and age, there also are former WHL coaches like Mark Holick and Enio Sacilotto who now are coaching at hockey academies.

So . . . if your favourite WHL team ends up changing coaches, there are a lot of capable coaches out there.

The Selkirk College Saints, who play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League out of Castelgar, B.C., are looking for a new head coach. Brent Heaven, the head coach for the past four seasons, “is leaving to pursue other interests,” according to a news release. . . . Under Heaven, the Saints went 62-25-0-10 and won the BCIHL championship in 2016. . . . There’s more on Heaven and the Saints right here.


NOTES: The four remaining WHL teams all were in action on Wednesday night, and they’ll be back on the ice Friday night after changing venues. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders beat the Oil Kings, 2-1, in Edmonton to tie the Eastern Conference final, 2-2. They’ll be in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night, then return to Edmonton and play Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. . . .

This was the 68th playoff victory of Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. He had been tied with Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur, but now is seventh on the all-time list. . . . Ahead of Habscheid on the list are Don Hay, 108; Ken Hodge, 101; Ernie (Punch) McLean, 87; Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80; and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . (If you don’t recognize him, that’s Ginnell to the left of Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice Bob Ridley in the tweet at the top of this post.) . . .

In Spokane, the Vancouver Giants erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and beat the Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 3-1, with Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night.



The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . That tied the Eastern Conference final at 2-2 with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . F Brett Leason (4) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 13:01 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (6), off a nifty pass from F Ozzy Wiesblatt, made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the third period. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (4) got the Oil Kings to within a goal at 13:54 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 10-4, 1.96, .924. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . To refresh, the Raiders won 1-0 at home in Game 1, with the Oil Kings winning Game 2, 4-3 in OT. In Edmonton, the Oil Kings won 5-1 and then dropped a 2-1 decision last night. . . . Had the Raiders lost Game 4 it would have marked their first three-game losing skid of the season.

F Dawson Holt’s OT goal gave the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in VancouverSpokane and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final. . . . The Giants get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley B.C. . . . Last night, the Chiefs skated to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from F Adam Beckman (7, 8), at 18:38 of the first period and 10:06 of the second. . . . The Giants, outshot 26-13 through two periods, began the comeback when F Jadon Joseph (7) scored on a delayed penalty at 4:26 of the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram (6) tied it, on a PP, at 9:11, and F Brayden Watts (4) gave the Giants the lead at 10:04. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods (7) forced OT when he scored at 16:25. . . . Holt won it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:07 of OT. . . . F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had two assists for Vancouver, and Byram added one assist to his goal. Byram and his defence partner, Alex Kannok Leipert, drew the assists on the winner. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck, while Spokane G Bailey Brkin blocked 26 shots. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who hasn’t played since the early moments of Game 1. Last night, he was behind the bench in a coaching role. . . . Spokane also scratched D Filip Kral, who left Game 3 after taking a hit from Giants F Justin Sourdif in the first period. Kral returned in the second period and finished the game, but obviously wasn’t able to play last night. . . . With Kral out, D Egor Arbuzov got into the lineup. . . . Vancouver remains without F Adian Barfoot, who hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.


%d bloggers like this: