Grand Forks doctor buys junior B team . . . Dyck, Schneider with Team Canada to Worlds . . . Whistle, Holoien get head-coaching spots

Here’s a tremendous hockey story from small-town Canada for you . . .

When Dr. Mark Szynkaruk moved to Grand Forks, B.C., in 2017, the thought of owning a hockey team had to have been the furthest thing from his mind. . . . But, hey, here he is, the new owner of the junior B Grand Forks Border Bruins of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . Dr. Szynkaruk, a family practitioner and a married man with two young sons, purchased the franchise from the Grand Forks Border Bruins Association, the community group that owned the team. The Border Bruins have played in the KIJHL since 1969. . . .  “The first thing,” he said in explaining what owning the Border Bruins means to him, “is that the Border Bruins is a legacy team. It comes with an immense amount of pride to be involved with something that has been run successfully for that long. The team means a great deal for the community, so as somebody who’s immersed in the well-being of folks in town I think this investment to make the on-ice product the best possible in Junior B is wonderful to be part of.” . . . There is more on this terrific story right here.

Some things to think about if you are hoping for a WHL season to open in October with bums in the seats . . .

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Friday that the country needs 75 per cent of all adults to have at least one shot and 20 per cent to be fully vaccinated before public health restrictions should start to be lifted. Statistics released Friday showed 50 per cent of Canadian adults with one shot.

From CBC News: “The U.S. is much further along in fully vaccinating its adult population; about 45 per cent of American adults have had two doses, compared to fewer than 4 per cent of all Canadians. Canada has delayed second doses by up to 16 weeks to give more people at least some level of antibody protection against COVID-19.”

Patty Hajdu, Canada’s health minister, said on Friday that restrictions on indoor sports can start to be lifted in the fall if 75 per cent of the country’s adults have had two shots.

She said: ”We should be able to do more activities indoors with people outside our household. More people need to be vaccinated so we can ease restrictions.”

Tam also said on Friday that Canadians should plan on social distancing and wearing masks for the foreseeable future.

Tam said: “I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we will advise people to remove.”

Meanwhile, the closure of the U.S.-Canada border to non-essential travel is expected to be extended on May 21 when it is next scheduled to expire. But preliminary talks aimed at re-opening it have begun but there apparently is a lot of work left to do, so that won’t be happening soon.

And, in Washington state, the goal is to reopen by June 30. Gov. Jay Inslee said that may happen earlier if 70 per cent of people over 16 have received at least one shot.

He said: ”Trends suggest it won’t be until late June when we reach our desired vaccination rate, which is why we’ve set June 30 for reopening, but I hope people will see this as an opportunity to reopen even sooner if we can stay motivated, stay informed and get more people vaccinated faster.”

According to the state’s Department of Health, 57 per cent of those 16 and over have received at least one shot, with 43.7 per cent fully vaccinated.

Washington State reported 2,375 new positives on Friday. . . . B.C. announced 494 new cases, with Alberta at 1,433, Saskatchewan 227 and Manitoba 491.

As you may be aware, eight members of the New York Yankees — one player, three coaches and four support staff — have tested positive for COVID-19. All eight had been vaccinated, each one receiving the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccination. . . . But what does this mean? How can someone who is fully vaccinated test positive? . . . The best piece I’ve read about the situation involving the Yankees is right here. It includes a lot of questions and answers, and is well worth a read.

Soccer’s Canadian Professional League said Thursday that it continues “to move forward with our plans for a full 2021 season” and that “our target date to start the season is mid-June to early July.” . . . The plan is to bring all eight teams into one city and begin the season without fans. By season’s end, it is hoped that each team will have played 28 games.


The WNBA began its 25th season on Friday, but it did it without guard Asia Durr of the New York Liberty, who has been ill for more than a year now. . . . “I haven’t been able to (practice),” she told HBO’s Real Sports. “It’s really challenging for me. But I’ve talked to doctors and they’ve told me I’m not cleared yet. I’m not cleared to be able to do anything physically, which could cause flare-ups . . . and that’s what’s really hard for me because in life whenever something was hard I would go and play. I can’t even do that now. I can’t even shoot a free throw.” . . . Durr was the No. 2 pick in the league’s 2019 draft, but opted out of last season because of complications from COVID-19. She apparently has lost 30 pounds and remains symptomatic. . . . Asia Durr is 24 years of age.

Michael Dyck, the head coach of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, has been added Canadato the coaching staff of the team that will represent Canada at the IIHF World Championship that opens in Riga, Latvia, on May 21. . . . Dyck will work alongside head coach Gerard Gallant and assistants Mike Kelly and Andre Tourigny. . . . Earlier this year, Dyck was an assistant coach with the Canadian team at the World Junior Championship. . . . Team Canada’s roster for Riga also includes D Braden Schneider, who played this season with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

The Canada Cup International, a women’s softball championship tournament, has been cancelled for a second straight year. It was to have run July 2-11 with most of the games at Softball City in Surrey, B.C. Greg Timm, the tournament’s chair, told Nick Greenizan of the Surrey Now-Leader: “The decision to cancel this year’s event is terribly disappointing, but there are simply too many health-related concerns and logistical issues to allow the event to take place. “The health and safety of players, their families, our volunteer base and the fans needs to come first and foremost.” . . . The NTT Indycar Series has pulled the Honda Indy Toronto out of the Ontario city because of ongoing restrictions in that province. It was to have held July 9-11.


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



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: Dave Whistle is the new general manager and head coach of the Leeds franchise in Great Britain’s NIHL. He is no stranger to hockey in that part of the world, having previously coached the Belfast Giants, Bracknell Bees, Cardiff Devils and Sheffield Steelers. Whistle, 55, has been coaching at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C. . . . Rob Holoien is the new head coach of the junior B Carrot River Outback Thunder of the Prairie Junior Hockey League. Holoien, who is from Melfort, Sask., had been an assistant coach with the team for two seasons (2016-18). Most recently, he was an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. Holoien, 34, played four games with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans in 2004-05.



COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc . . . MLS tourney starts tonight without FC Dallas . . . Ryder Cup to be postponed

About the MLS is Back tournament . . .

FC Dallas was taken out of the tournament on Monday after having 10 players and one coach test positive. . . . There still are 25 teams in the competition, which is to begin today (Wednesday) with Orlando City and Inter Miami CF meeting.

The Vancouver Whitecaps left for Orlando without Lucas Cavallini, Fredy Montero, Georges Mukumbilwa, Tosaint Ricketts and Andy Rose. . . . Cavallini said he has lost two family members to COVID-19 and stayed behind “to support my loved ones.” . . . Rickets said he has a pre-existing condition. . . . Rose stayed at home to be with his pregnant wife. . . . Montero cited family reasons. . . . Mukumbilwa apparently isn’t cleared for travel outside of Canada at this time. . . .

Nashville SC arrived in Orlando on Friday, and reported Tuesday that it had five positive tests with four others ruled inconclusive. . . . As a result, Nashville’s game against the Chicago Fire that had been scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) has been postponed.


Bulgarian soccer club Cherno More revealed that it has had 12 players and four officials test positive after playing Sunday against Tsarsko Selo in Sofia. Tsarsko Selo apparently had one player test positive prior to the game, but didn’t reveal it.


G Asia Durr of the WNBA’s New York Liberty won’t play this season after testing positive on June 8. She has had symptoms and hasn’t yet recovered. . . . Durr was the second overall selection in the 2019 draft. . . . The league revealed Tuesday that seven of 137 players tested had come up positive over the past week. . . . The WNBA hopes to play a 22-game season in at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., starting later this month.

With NHL teams to open training camps on July 13 with teams travelling to Edmonton and Toronto on July 26, the league announced Monday that it had nine more players test positive. That brought the total to 35. The NHL announces its numbers on a weekly basis.

OF Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves has opted out after a conversation with teammate Freddie Freeman, who tested positive and has symptoms. “Just hearing him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough,” Markakis, 36, said. “It was kind of eye-opening. With everything that’s going on, not just with baseball but all over the world, it makes you open your eyes.”

The Philadelphia Phillies reported that coaches Rob Thomson, Jim Gott and Greg Brodzinski all tested positive and aren’t in camp. . . . As well, players Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter and Mikie Mahtook have tested positive. . . . Kingery was diagnosed on June 11 and isn’t anywhere near ready to play baseball. More on that right here. . . .

P Eduardo Rodriguez and Bobby Dalbec of the Boston Red Sox have tested positive. Rodriguez, who had been tabbed as Boston’s opening day starter, has some symptoms but is feeling better. Dalbec, an infield prospect who apparently contacted it at home, is asymptomatic. . . .


Some positive tests with a high school baseball team in Newberg, Ore. . . .


OF Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers has been tested four times over the past 10 days. Two came back negative; two were positive. . . . The negatives came from nasal swab tests; the positives were after PCR/saliva tests. . . . Gallo hasn’t yet been allowed to work out with the Rangers as he awaits the result of yet another saliva test, one that was taken on Tuesday evening. . . .

OF Kole Calhoun of the Arizona Diamondbacks became the third player on that team’s 40-man roster to test positive. He is said to be asymptomatic and, according to manager Torey Lovullo, “feeling great.” . . .

The San Francisco Giants reported two positive tests on Monday. Here’s Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The club did not identify them, and the news release specifically did not describe the two who tested positive as players. It used the term ‘individuals,’ which means one or both could be coaches or other staff members.” . . . Both individuals are in self-isolation. . . .

P Brad Keller and 1B Ryan O’Hearn of the Kansas City Royals have tested positive. Keller has minor symptoms.

G Spencer Dinwiddie won’t be with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets as they open camp in Orlando where the season is to resume on July 30. Dinwiddie has tested positive and has symptoms so won’t be playing in Orlando. . . . Earlier, C DeAndre Jordan of the Nets tested positive and opted out.


In golf, the women’s British Open will be played at Royal Troon, Aug. 20-23, without spectators. That’s one week after the Ladies Scottish Open is scheduled to be played. . . .

ESPN reported on Tuesday that the PGA of America and the European Tour will announce today that the Ryder Cup has been postponed to 2021, with the Presidents Cup pushed back to 2022. . . . The Ryder Cup was to have been held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Sept. 25-27. . . .

The PGA Tour had hoped to have some fans on course next week for the Memorial at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. But those plans have been scrapped because of the pandemic. . . .

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, in writing about the kerfuffle about the NFL Washington franchise’s nickname, has a suggestion: “One team name that should offend no one because it is so obviously correct would be Washington Gridlock. That would honor the traffic situation here and the political situation nationally.” . . . He’s got more right here.

The curmudgeonly one also sent a Thought for the Day, along with this note — H.L. Mencken wrote this more than 70 years ago. Imagine what he might say today on a similar topic. . . . Here it is: “Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow. What would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?”

The Moose Jaw Warriors have added Gord Burnett to their coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Mark O’Leary. The coaching staff also includes assistant Scott King and coaching assistant Olivia Howe. . . . Burnett spent last season as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, who are owned by the owners of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. Burnett, who is from Regina, spent four seasons (2015-19) on the Kootenay Ice’s staff before the franchise moved to the Manitoba capital.

James Gaertner has signed on as the head coach and assistant general manager of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Last season, he was the head coach of the VIJHL’s Kerry Park Islanders. Prior to that, he was on the coach staff of the U of Victoria Vikes for five seasons. . . . He takes over the Buccaneers’ bench from Brad Knight, who was hired on May 8 but stepped down late last month.


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