Don Dietrich says thanks and farewell . . . Psst! Wanna buy a BCHL team? . . . Ahh, yes, baseball’s back!

Don Dietrich, a defenceman who played three seasons (1978-81) with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on Feb. 16. He was 59. If you are on Facebook and haven’t checked out the tribute page that his family set up, you should take the time to do just that. This was a special, special man whose memory will long remain with the people he touched, and he touched a lot of us.

Earlier this week, Nick, one of Nadine and Don’s three sons, posted this on the tribute page . . .

Before dad passed, he asked me to send this message out to everyone after he was gone. Transcribed directly from his words.

“I truly am a lucky man. Having two chronic illnesses has taught me patience and compassion, and I really believe that they have made me a better person. A better father, son, and husband.

If I came home with a flat tire, kicked the furniture and swore at the dog, I’d look out the window and the tire would still be flat.

I wouldn’t have gotten to do so many things in my life if it wasn’t for Parkinson’s and cancer. I am grateful that these illnesses have given me another opportunity to teach and inspire.

I would like to thank everyone for the stories they’ve shared and all of the nice things that they’ve said about me. It appears that I’ve fooled you all

I’ve just tried to be a good human being and treat people with dignity, and respect.

It’s been an honour to have known and met you all. Smell ya later!

— Don Dietrich, Dieter, Dins, Beaker, Heathcliff, Double D, Redbird”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “NFL owners are pushing to implement a 17-game schedule for this coming season. “A$ you might $u$pect, we have our rea$ons for playing $eventeen,” said one.


Penguin


It seems that Wes Mussio, the owner of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, is fed up with Dr. Bonnie Henry, who is B.C.’s provincial health officer, and the NDP government so now wants to sell the franchise that he purchased in November 2017.

NanaimoMussio, a lawyer from Vancouver, wrote: “With games suspended for 1 year now and Dr. Bonnie Henry giving the league no indication of any starting up this year, I see no path forward to any full return to normal in hockey, even in 2021-2022.”

Mussio continued: “The NDP has offered zero financial support to the suffering teams of the BCHL or for that matter, any hope of a full return to hockey for year(s). So, it is time for me to stop my huge personal and financial contribution to BC Hockey and I will be selling the team effective immediately. Serious enquires (sic) only at mussio@mussiogoodman.com. Nanaimo needs an ownership group who can wait out the PHOs.”

Mussio told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News-Bulletin on Sunday that he already had “close to a dozen” tire-kickers contact him.

When Mussio purchased the Clippers, he said he was going to buy a home in Nanaimo. Sakaki reported that Mussio has sold his Nanaimo condo and “has been living in Florida of late.”

Sakaki’s story is right here.

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It’s interesting to watch the approaches taken by the BCHL and WHL as they work to hopefully get government approval for their teams to return to play.

While the BCHL and its 17 teams and the WHL’s five B.C. Division teams BCHLsupposedly are working in concert in terms of presenting return-to-play protocols to government and health officials, the opposite would appear to be happening in the public eye.

While silence seems to be golden for the WHL teams, the BCHL, or at least people associated with the league, seem to think that lots of noise is the best approach.

Former NHLer Garry Valk has taken an active role by starting a petition requesting that the NDP government loosen the reins. To be fair, he also wants to see WHL teams back on the ice, but he got involved because his son Garrett, 18, plays for the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Andy Prest of vancouverisawesome.com has more on Valk and his petition right here.

And then, on Sunday, Valk posted this on Facebook:

“So help me understand John Horgan. You approved the NHL teams to play in 24 hours? Why have we not heard anything from you or Dr. Bonnie Henry or Adrian Dix regarding our junior teams in BC? I know BCHL has sent you multiple proposals months ago, still nothing has been said at all about it. I guess our youth are not as important as multimillionaires.”

Horgan is the premier of B.C., with Dix the health minister and Dr. Henry the provincial health officer.

The BCHL hasn’t commented on Valk’s petition. News 1130, a Vancouver radio station, reported that it asked the league for a response, “but a representative said the league isn’t commenting until after the province responds about whether or not play will resume.”

You also can read into Wes Mussio’s announcement that he wants out of Nanaimo — is it at least in part a pressure tactic aimed at government officials, especially after he appears to have left himself an out?

Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin wrote: “(Mussio) said if things change and he gets ‘surprised pleasantly’ and can see a pathway forward, he won’t sell the Clippers, but he has been living in Florida and has started thinking about buying a hockey team in the U.S.”

And then there was a tweet from Tali Campbell, the Clippers’ general manager until early September when he left the organization. He now is the vice-president of team operations for the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.

On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted: “First time in my six years in the BCHL I have had to talk to two players about the thoughts of suicide. So sad.”

It’s not often a junior hockey official broaches such a subject in a public forum, and, if you’re at all like me, you are wondering about the timing of this tweet.

If you’re at all like me, you’re also wondering how government and health officials might respond to these kinds of messages. Hopefully, they treat them as white noise, but human nature being what it is, you also might wonder if the noise results in the BCHL’s cause being bumped just a bit further down the priority list.


BowlingShoe


CBC News — Prince Edward Island closes schools, shuts down personal gatherings for 72 hours as it tries to a quash clusters of COVID-19 cases in Summerside and Charlottetown. The province is reporting 5 new cases for a total of 18 active cases.


Old friend Kevin Dickie, now the executive director of athletics and community events at Acadia U in Wolfville, N.S., tells me that university hockey in Nova Scotia has been shut down due to new restrictions. They had started up on Feb. 12, and now are hoping to get the OK again for a March 27 restart. . . . A lot of ice has been made and melted since Dickie was coaching in Saskatchewan with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs and later the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He coached the Acadia Axemen for three seasons after leaving Melfort and before coaching with the Blades. He moved into the administration side of things in 2005 and really hasn’t looked back, having spent six years at the U of New Brunswick before moving over to Acadia. . . . And it’s always great to hear from a native of Shaunavon, Sask.



Headline at Fark.com: Patrick Mahomes welcomes first child, Sterling Skye Mahomes, expected to play against Tom Brady in about 20 years.


The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees opened their MLB exhibition seasons on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. Yes, it was an exhibition game. I watched every pitch and it was glorious.


John Harbaugh, the head coach of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, paid the entire restaurant bill of more than $2,000 at a recent charity event. Or, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com put it: “Harbaugh covered the spread.”


Crane


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: Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, will be a bit late in joining his team in the Regina hub where seven teams are to play some games starting on March 12. Teams arrived in Regina over the weekend, but Habscheid is with family after the death of his brother Robert. . . . Irv Cross died on Sunday near his Minnesota home. He was 81. Back in the day, the former All-Pro cornerback was part of CBS Sports’ Sunday NFL preview show The NFL Today, along with Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder. If you were an NFL fan, you started your Sunday with Brent, Phyllis, Irv and the Greek.

One hockey academy on outside looking in . . . Time to think about Christmas shopping? . . . TRU v-ball team adds hockey bloodlines


With all that has happened over the past few weeks, and the way things seem likely to continue for the next while, you really have to wonder how much trepidation there is in the business of hockey academies.

With unemployment rates skyrocketing, many small businesses struggling, with more of them shuttering every day, and with some borders closed and a lot of other travel not recommended, you really wonder what our world is going to look like six months from now, a year from now . . .

Whenever we are able to come out the other end of this situation are families going to have the money necessary, in most cases more than $20,000 a year, to have children attend hockey academies?

Meanwhile, the West Vancouver Hockey Academy, which started in 2015 and operated out of Sentinel Secondary and the Hollyburn Country Club, is done, at least for one season. That decision didn’t have anything to do with the finances of parents.

In January, the West Vancouver School District told the academy’s owner, the Spartan Sport Group (SSG), that it wasn’t renewing its agreement for 2020-21. After getting that news, SSG had hoped to cut a deal with Seycove Secondary in North Vancouver, but that isn’t going to happen.

Earlier this week, Jane Seyd of the North Shore News reported that a letter to Seycove parents from North Vancouver school superintendent Mark Pearmain informed them that a decision on an agreement has been suspended.

The West Van Warriors were part of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, with teams at the midget prep, elite 15, bantam prep and bantam varsity levels.

One of West Van’s student/athletes was Connor Bedard, a 15-year-old from North Vancouver who has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and is expected to be selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

Seyd and Andy Prest reported in February that money didn’t have anything to do with the West Vancouver School District’s decision on West Van.

A letter to parents stated that the decision was due to “concerns about academic success, and other challenges such as student programming and scheduling as well as the increased enrolment at Sentinel.”

Seyd and Prest reported that “fewer than half the players” attending the academy were from North or West Vancouver, “with several coming from across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley and others from more distant locales such as Vancouver Island, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Denver and Beijing.”

In the end, though, it could be that West Van was done in, at least in part, by COVID-19. At least one meeting that was to have been held involving Seycove parents was postponed because of the physical distancing restraints now in place. According to Seyd, Pearmain told parents that things have been suspended because officials haven’t been able to have a proper consultation process.

Seyd’s complete story is right here.


Dense


I am here to tell you that Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, was at his best in his Thursday rant. He wrote a lot about changes he would like to see come to his favourite sports once they are back in our lives. . . . Changes like:

“In MLB — and even in some minor league games — players come to bat with walk-up music.  It is stupid and not part of the game.  Any player who allows walk-up music to be played for him should also expect to hear Chopin’s Funeral March played for him every time he makes an out. . . .

“Any golf writer who focuses on anything Tiger Woods says or does in a tournament where Woods is 15 shots off the lead should be banned from covering golf and made to cover camel racing in Saudi Arabia.”

He was on his game and it’s all right here.

——

The curmudgeonly one’s Thought for the Day comes from Will Rogers: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”


ICYMI, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his daily address, told us Thursday morning:

“Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this. . . . That will be a very long way off.”

Then, in French, he added: “We will have to remain vigilant for at least a year.”

Might be a good time to think about starting your Christmas shopping because delivery times may be about to get lengthier than they already are.


Bass


Santa Clara County in California is home to the San Francisco 49ers (NFL), San Jose Sharks (NHL) and the San Jose Earthquakes (MSL), as well as three major universities. . . . On Tuesday, Jeff Smith, the SCC executive officer, told his board of supervisors that “I don’t expect we’ll have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’ll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not going to be something that is easy to do.”

FYI, American Thanksgiving will arrive on Nov. 28.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Smith added:

““When the orders are weakened, it’s pretty much guaranteed there will be new infections because, at least at this point, there’s no herd immunity for those who are uninfected.

“There will definitely be individuals who will get sick. And because there are individuals who get sick, there will be individuals who die after the order is released, unless we come up with a foolproof immunization, which is highly unlikely.”


One of these days, the NHL will get around to cancelling what is left of its 2019-20 season, including the playoffs. Around that same time, perhaps even on the same day, the NBA will follow suit.

After that, it will be Major League Baseball’s turn, although the boys of summer likely will hold out a lot longer just in case Agent Orange was right when he said the virus will die off in the heat.

Then it will be the turn of the big dog — football.

The college football season is about 140 days away. Mike Gundy, the head coach at Oklahoma State, shot holes in both his feet this week when suggesting he wanted to get his program up and rolling on May 1. Uhh, that’s not going to happen, as Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated points out right here.

In another SI piece, this one by Forde and Ross Dellenger, it becomes evident that athletic directors throughout the NCAA are beginning to face up to the fact that football, the engine that drives everything in their world, may well be about to go away for at least part of a season and maybe for the whole thing.

But no matter how you look at it, the numbers in this piece right here are mind-boggling and you have to wonder if college football — indeed, college sports — will ever get back to such a level again.


Here is Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports with one of the decisions many of us are faced with on a daily basis in these strange times:

“If you’re working from home, when do you prefer to brush your teeth? I feel like that’s the most difficult decision I have to make each day. I could brush them first thing in the morning but I know I’m going to be drinking coffee right after that so, like, what’s the point? But sometimes I drink coffee right up until lunch, and by the time lunch rolls around I’m not thinking about brushing my teeth. So basically what I’m saying here is that I keep forgetting to brush my teeth lately. I am a disgusting troll.”


The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball announced an interesting signing on Thursday in the person of Maxim Turgeon, a 6-foot-6 outside hitter/middle from Calgary. . . . His father is former NHLer Sylvain Turgeon, an an uncle is another former NHLer, Pierre Turgeon. . . . Two of Maxim’s former teammates with the Canuck club in Calgary also are playing at TRU.


Fish