Canucks to return on Sunday vs. Leafs . . . Wheat Kings get new GM . . . BCIHL may add some Heat

OK. We think that the Vancouver Canucks’ schedule has been settled on . . . at least for now.

The Canucks, who last played on March 24 and have been in the midst of a CanucksCOVID-19 outbreak since March 30, are to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday and Tuesday nights. Earlier in the week, the schedule called for the Edmonton Oilers to visit Vancouver on Friday with the Maple Leafs there on Saturday.

The schedule, as it now sits, has the Canucks concluding their 56-game season by playing 19 games in 32 nights. They actually began the season by playing 19 times in 34 nights.

F Bo Horvat, the Canucks’ captain, addressed the media on Friday and provided some insight into what the club has been through.

“I’ve had the flu before,” he said, “and this doesn’t hit you like a normal flu. It’s not something you want to get, it’s not something you want your family go through either. I can’t stress enough to follow the protocols.”

Horvat also said that he had passed the virus on to his wife, Holly, and that “it hit her a little harder than it hit me.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “My symptoms were fairly mild . . . I’m not going to lie. It was tough to know my family got it from me.”

At the same time, Jim Benning, the Canucks’ general manager, confirmed that the team had been hit by the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil. It is more aggressive than the original virus, which explains why the Canucks, as a group, had so much more illness than any of the other teams that have been hit this season.

Benning also said that the Canucks have three or four players who may not be ready to return on Sunday, while head coach Travis Green, who also tested positive, has yet to return to the practice ice. The team is hopeful that he will be on the ice today.

Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet has more right here.

And there’s a story right here from Karen Larsen of CBC News.


Before Kelly McCrimmon left to join the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, he had been the Brandon Wheat Kings’ general manager since 1989, or for 27 seasons.

With Friday’s announcement that Darren Ritchie is leaving, the club promoted BrandonDoug Gasper, making him its third general manager since McCrimmon’s departure.

Grant Armstrong, who had been the Victoria Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel, succeeded McCrimmon as Brandon’s GM on Aug. 23, 2016.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7, 2019, that they wouldn’t be renewing Armstrong’s contract.

On July 12, 2019, Ritchie was promoted to general manager. He will be leaving after the completion of this season to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. He spent 14 seasons with Brandon, moving up from assistant coach (2007-16) to director of scouting (2016-19) and then into the GM’s office.

Gasper, a familiar face in WHL circles, joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019. From Rosetown, Sask., he had been scouting for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks before joining the Wheat Kings. He also spent six seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, including a stint as their director of scouting (2015-17). Gasper also has scouted for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Ritchie will work for Toronto out of Brandon; Gasper will be relocating to Brandon from Saskatoon at some point in May.

The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.

McCrimmon sold the franchise in September to the Brandon-based J&G Group of Companies, headed up by Jared Jacobson, the president and CEO.


The BCHL announced Friday that the Nanaimo Clippers “have been cleared to Nanaimoresume team activities.” The organization had been shut down Thursday to allow for further analysis of a COVID-19 test. It was found to be a negative, so the shackles have been removed. . . . The Clippers are scheduled to play the Victoria Grizzlies this afternoon in Port Alberni. Nanaimo’s Thursday night game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs had been postponed because of the COVID-19 scare. . . . In that cohort on Friday night, Victoria beat the Cowichan Valley Capitals, 10-0.


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League is exploring adding an expansion franchise in Kelowna — the UBCO Heat, which would call UBC’s Okanagan campus home. . . . The Heat has put together a committee that, according to its Facebook page, “now is recruiting marketing staff and potential student-athletes to help build a new team for the BCIHL in Kelowna.” . . . The BCIHL is down to three active teams, with the Trinity Western Spartans moving to USport’s Canada West conference and Selkirk College having cancelled its hockey program. . . . You know that expansion will be on the agenda when the BCIHL holds is annual general meeting virtually on May 18 and 19.


Donuts


It would appear that Mark Rassell, a former WHLer, is thinking about a new career! A native of Calgary, he played four seasons (2014-18) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, then spent two seasons at the U of New Brunswick. . . . He doesn’t mention here whether he knows how to drive a bus, though.


The Kelowna Rockets are scheduled to return to game action tonight in Kamloops against the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets have played only two games in this developmental season, having been sidelined since March 28 because of a COVID-19 outbreak. While the original schedule had the Rockets playing 24 games, the one now on the WHL website has them with 13 games remaining. . . .

Meanwhile, there were four games played on Friday night . . .

F Owen Pederson broke a 3-3 tie at 10:27 of the third period and F Michael Milne Winnipegadded another at 12:30 as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Swift Current Broncos, 5-4, in Regina. . . . Pederson, who has 10 goals, and Milne, who has three, each scored twice in this one. . . . D Owen Williams (4) got the Broncos’ last goal at 15:57 of the third. . . . While the Ice improved to 13-5-0, the Broncos (3-14-1) have lost seven in a row. . . . Winnipeg F Peyton Krebs had his point streak snapped at 16 games. Krebs put up nine goals and 21 assists over that stretch. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon, who had his 12th goal and an assist, ran his streak to 11 games. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 18 games and has only been blanked twice. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 40 shots for Winnipeg. . . . Swift Current was presented with the only PP opportunities of the game, and went 1-for-5. . . . The Ice went into the game with a PP that was running at a 34.6 efficiency rate (27-for-78), behind only to the Medicine Hat Tigers (41.8). . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers scored the game’s last four goals and beat the visiting TigersRed Deer Rebels, 4-2. . . . F Ben King scored both Red Deer goals, at 10:14 of the first period and 4:36 of the second. He has seven goals, and has put up four goals and five assists over his past five games. All told, he’s got seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games for a Red Deer team that now is 2-13-2 and has lost 10 in a row. . . . F Corson Hopwo (12) scored twice for the Tigers, getting them started at 13:34 of the second period and adding the insurance goal at 13:08 of the third. . . . Hopwo has goals in seven straight games. . . . F Brett Kemp (9) tied the game, at 3:29 of the third, and D Eric Van Impe (3) snapped the tie just 33 seconds later. . . . The Tigers, with points in seven straight (6-0-1), now are 10-3-1. . . . Medicine Hat was 3-for-5 with the man advantage. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored three goals in the second half of the third period to Everettbeat the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-3. . . . Everett, which had lost two in a row, improved to 10-3-0. . . . Seattle, which had won its previous two games, now is 7-6-0. . . . F Gage Goncalves gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 17:20 of the third period and F Cole Fonstad made it 2-0 just 50 seconds later. . . . Seattle F Henry Rybinski (4) scored in his third straight game, getting his guys on the board at 10:03 of the second period. . . . F Jared Davidson (5) put Seattle out front with goals at 13:48 of the second and 9:25 of the third. Davidson also assisted on Rybinski’s goal. . . . The Silvertips tied it on F Jacob Wright’s fifth goal, at 10:15. . . . Goncalves, who has 10 goals, broke the tie at 11:17 and Fonstad, now with 10 goals, got the empty-netter. He also had an assist. . . . Goncalves also had two assists. He has 19 points in 13 games. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 34 shots. He’s 9-2-0, 1.81, .938. . . . Seattle dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum, with F Payton Mount sitting out this one. He was taken to hospital following a game on Tuesday after being struck on the head by a puck that glanced off the wall behind the Seattle bench. He was checked over and released on Wednesday morning. . . .

In Kelowna, F Jonny Hooker broke a 2-2 tie at 18:08 of the second period and PGthe Prince George Cougars went on to a 5-2 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Victoria (1-8-1), which has lost five straight, led 1-0 after one period on a PP goal by F Brayden Tracey (6). . . . D Majid Kaddoura (1) pulled the Cougars even at 2:09 of the second period and D Keaton Dowhaniuk (1) gave them the lead just 1:14 later. . . . Dowhaniuk, the third overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal. . . . F Trentyn Crane, a fifth-round pick in 2018, got the Royals into a tie at 11:40 with his first WHL score. . . . Hooker broke the tie, and F Kuren Gronick (2) and F Tyson Upper (1) added insurance in the last minute of the period. . . . Prince George (4-3-2) outshot Victoria, 41-21, and had a 39-16 edge in the face-off circle.


Carpenter


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

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: Gaelan Patterson is leaving the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves to take over as director of hockey operations for the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association. Patterson, 30, who played four seasons (2006-10) with the Saskatoon Blades, joined the Ice Wolves prior to the 2018-19 season. From La Ronge, he had been the Ice Wolves’ associate GM/associate head coach. . . . Blaine Gusdal won’t be returning for a 14th season as the head coach of the U of Alberta-Augustana Vikings. The school made the announcement on March 31. Gusdal, 53, is from Erickson, Man. He played two WHL seasons (1984-86), splitting time between the Prince Albert Raiders (one game), Moose Jaw Warriors (59) and Saskatoon Blades (34).


Brunch

Canucks’ sked remains unsettled . . . BCHL’s Clippers put on hold . . . Shutouts gone wild in WHL


One day after F J.T. Miller said he and his Vancouver Canucks teammates needed more time to recover from a COVID-19 outbreak before returning to game Canucksaction, the NHL scrubbed at least one of their upcoming games.

The Canucks, who haven’t played since March 24, have been in the middle of the outbreak since March 30.

They were scheduled to play host to the Edmonton Oilers tonight (Friday) and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. The NHL acted Thursday to postpone the game against Edmonton, and more changes could be announced today.

Including tonight’s game, the Canucks have had nine games postponed.

The Canucks had at least 21 players test positive, along with four members of the coaching staff, including head coach Travis Green. After once having 19 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, only three players were there on Thursday — F Nils Hoglander, D Nate Schmidt and F Jake Virtanen.

On Wednesday evening, the Canucks had indicated that their Thursday morning practice — the first since March 31 — would be open to the media. However, Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) tweeted on Thursday at 9:08 a.m., saying that “today’s practice, originally scheduled open to media, is now a closed practice.”

Miller, who was able to escape the virus, had said on Wednesday that “it’s kind of frustrating if I’m being 100 per cent honest with you. We try to talk about the No. 1 priority is the players’ health and the families’ safety, and it’s almost impossible to achieve that with what they’ve asked us to do here on our return.”


The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers stopped all team activities on Thursday “to allow Nanaimofor further analysis of a potential positive COVID-19 test result,” the league announced. . . . All team members, who have been tested once a week since the BCHL returned with a pod-type season, went into isolation until results are confirmed one way or the other. . . . The league said it would “provide an update once further analysis has been completed.” There wasn’t an update as of Thursday at 10 p.m. PT. . . . The Clippers were to have played the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last night, but that game was postponed. . . . The Clippers, Bulldogs, Victoria Grizzlies and Cowichan Valley Capitals have been playing in Alberni Valley under the cohort format. . . . Victoria and Cowichan Valley are scheduled to play tonight, with Nanaimo and Victoria on tap for a Saturday afternoon game, followed by the Capitals and Bulldogs that night.


Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, held a news conference on Thursday morning.

Among other things, she indicated that the OHL won’t be starting up anytime soon.

With COVID-19 and variant numbers on the rise in many jurisdictions, including Ontario, she said: “The ground has shifted significantly. . . . We will not be putting young athletes at risk.”

There is a whole lot more right here from Queen’s Park Briefing.


Radio-Canada reported Thursday morning that the 2021 Canadian Grand Prix has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for June 13 in Montreal. According to Radio-Canada, “Montreal public health authorities concluded that even behind closed doors without spectators, the risk of spreading COVID-19 during the Formula One event is too high.”


Boxes


Shutouts were the order of the night in the WHL on Thursday, with three goaltenders in the spotlight . . .

D Rhett Rhinehart scored three times to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 4-1 Bladesvictory over the Pats in the Regina hub. . . . Rhinehart, who went into the game with one goal, came out of it with his first career hat-trick. Interestingly, Regina’s lone goal went in off one of Rhinehart’s skates. It was credited to F Logan Nijhoff. . . . The last Saskatoon defenceman with three goals in one regular-season game? Ryan Flaherty (@RFlahertyGlobal) tweeted that Darren Dietz had four goals in a 7-3 victory over Swift Current on Feb. 17, 2012. . . . Rhinehart scored his first two goals at 8:07 and 11:41 of the first period. . . . Nijhoff counted his ninth goal at 3:08 of the second, but Rhinehart got that one back at 18:23. . . . Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (8) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon had a 35-21 edge in shots, including 16-3 in the third period. . . . The Blades (14-2-2) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Pats, who are 0-3 since F Connor Bedard left to join Canada’s U18 team, are 6-9-3. . . . The Pats were without F Zack Smith, who absorbed a headshot from D Landon Kosior of the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday. Kosior has been suspended for three games. . . .

G Max Paddock turned aside 45 shots to earn the shutout as the Prince Albert RaidersRaiders beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 2-0. . . . The Warriors (7-10-1), who have lost three in a row, outshot the Raiders, 45-25, including 21-8 in the second period. . . . The Raiders now are 7-8-3, with points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . This was Paddock’s first shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. . . . Prince Albert’s goals came from F Michael Horon (4), at 17:41 of the first period, and F Eric Pearce (7), at 16:37 of the second. . . .

G Sebastian Cossa stopped 30 shots to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-0 Edmontonvictory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The 6-foot-6 Cossa now has won 12 straight games. He has two shutouts this season and six for his career. This season, he is 12-0-0, 1.33, .948. Yes, he is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored the only goal Cossa would need, at 16:55 of the first period. . . . F Jayden Henderson (1), F Jalen Luypen (11) and D Matthew Robertson (3) added third-period goals. . . . The Oil Kings (13-1-0) have won four in a row. . . . Lethbridge (6-7-2) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). . . . Edmonton was 3-for-9 on the PP. . . .

G Drew Sim earned his first career shutout as the Vancouver Giants dumped the VancouverVictoria Royals, 4-0, in Kamloops. . . . Sim, who is 2-1-0, was making his fourth appearance of the season. . . . Vancouver had a 40-16 edge in shots, including 14-5 in the second period and 17-5 in the third. . . . The Giants are 6-3-0 and have posted shutouts in four of those victories. . . . The Royals (1-7-1) have lost four in a row. . . . Vancouver was 2-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Justin Sourdif (4), D Alex Kannok Leipert (3) and D Mazden Leslie (5) had second-period goals, with F Tristen Nielsen (8) scoring in the third. . . . Leslie, who turned 16 on Thursday, scored his fifth goal in eight games for the Giants. He was the 10th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft.


Mower


F Payton Mount of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who was taken to hospital on a Seattlestretcher after a Tuesday night game against the visiting Tri-City Americans, was back with his billets on Wednesday morning. . . . According to the Thunderbirds, “All of Mount’s diagnostic tests at the hospital showed positive results and he was diagnosed with a contusion from the impact of the puck.” . . . Mount was seated on the Seattle bench near game’s end when he was struck on the neck by a puck that glanced off the back wall. . . . The Thunderbirds are next scheduled to play tonight against the visiting Everett Silvertips.


G Braden Holt of the Everett Silvertips will play for Team USA at the U18 IIHF EverettWorld championship that opens April 26 in Frisco and Plano, Texas. Holt is the only player on Team USA’s roster who isn’t out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. . . . Holt, 17, is from Bozeman, Mont. The Silvertips selected him in the 12th round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, Holt is 1-1-0, 2.75, .862. Last season, in eight games backing up Dustin Wolf, Holt was 4-2-0, 1.82, .926. . . . With Holt gone, the Silvertips are left with Wolf and Evan May, a 16-year-old from Nanaimo, as their goaltenders. An 11th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, May has yet to appear in a WHL game.


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.


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.


West

Canucks getting hammered by virus; Brazilian variant discovered . . . Oil Kings d-man sets franchise record . . . AJHL shuts down a fourth team

By Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks had seven players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and a taxi squad player identified as a close contact. There also was one unidentified coach who was confirmed nhl2as having tested positive.

A few hours later, it became apparent that things are going to get worse for a team that is headquartered in B.C., a province that is having serious issues with COVID-19. How bad is it? Well, we won’t really know until Tuesday because government and health officials don’t provide briefings or news releases on weekends, and this is the Easter weekend. The virus, however, doesn’t take weekends off and this is turning out to be a rough one for the Canucks.

Late Friday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that “as expected, additional positive cases have been determined with the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also believed a variant has been identified in some of the cases.”

TSN’s Farhan Lalji tweeted that “Brazilian P.1 variant likely in play here,” something that later was confirmed by Patrick Johnston of Postmedia.

Lalji also tweeted he was told “that in some cases team medical staff may have gone to the homes of players to administer IV treatments.”

As Johnston wrote: “That variant has been growing in number in B.C. over the past month and was recently identified as a major driver of an outbreak that originated in Whistler. Some research has shown the P.1 variant is as much as 2.5 times more transmissible than earlier strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

There have been various reports that more positive tests among the Canucks are expected to be revealed on Saturday.

F Adam Gaudette went on the COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday, with D Travis Hamonic joining him on Wednesday. Since then, D Alex Edler, G Braden Holtby, D Quinn Hughes, F Zack MacEwen and F Antoine Roussel all have gone on the list.

The NHL has postponed four Vancouver games, and it’s likely that there will be more. The Canucks are scheduled to next play on Thursday and April 10 in Calgary against the Flames.


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 WHL said Friday that it had eight positives from 897 tests that were administered from March 27 through Friday. . . . The Kelowna Rockets experienced seven of those positives — four players and three staff members — so all team activities have been shut down for 14 days.

The WHL also said that one of its on-ice officials, who hasn’t worked a game since March 20, tested positive on one test, but was negative on a second test.

The league added that it is “awaiting test results for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Regina Pats” and will provide an update when they become available.

Through Friday, the WHL has had nine positives from 4,991 tests.

Also on Friday, the WHL announced some schedule changes. You are able to find those changes on the WHL’s website.

Meanwhile, there were six games on Friday . . .

G Gage Alexander turned aside 31 shots to lead the Winnipeg Ice to a 3-0 victory over the Prince Albert WinnipegRaiders in Regina. . . . Alexander, 18, from Okotoks, Alta., earned his first career shutout in his 12th career appearance, five of them this season. . . . He is 3-2-0, 2.01, .926 this season. . . . The Ice (7-4-0) scored the game’s first two goals after Raiders F Dallyn Peekeekoot was tossed with a charging major. . . . F Cole Muir (4) scored at 2:51 of the second period and F Owen Pederson made it 2-0 just 35 seconds later. . . .  The Raiders are 3-6-2. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 15 shots for the Raiders in his first appearance since March 22. While Paddock was sidelined, the Raiders were down to one goaltender. That changed on Friday when they signed Max Hildebrand and had him on the bench in support of Paddock. That mean that Carter Serhyneko was given the night off. . . . Hildebrand, 16, is from Martensville, Sask. He was a 13th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. His father, Steve, is the Saskatoon Blades’ associate general manager. . . .

G Boston Bilous stopped 29 shots as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat Saskatoon, 4-0, in Regina, handing the Blades (9-1-1) their first regulation loss of this season. . . . The Warriors (5-6-1) went into the game having lost six in a row; the Blades had won seven straight. . . . Bilous, who turned 20 on Feb. 2, has four career shutouts, one of them this season. He had been yanked from each of his previous two starts, stopping four of 10 shots in a total of 10 minutes of play. . . . D Cole Jordan (2) scored the game’s first goal at 16:31 of the first period. . . . The Warriors put it away with three third-period goals, with D Denton Mateychuk and D Lucas Brenton both scoring his first WHL goal. . . . The game was played in 2 hours 7 minutes, the quickest game this season. . . . After the game, Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ radio voice, wrote at cjwwradio.com: “To say that (Blades’) head coach Mitch Love wasn’t happy is severely understating the fact. His post-game media availability lasted for just three questions and 42 seconds in total.” . . .

F Simon Knak scored twice, including his third shorthanded goal of the season, to lead the host Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Winterhawks lead the WHL with five shorthanded goals. . . . Portland (4-1-2) scored the game’s last five goals. . . . Knak has seven goals this seaosn. . . . F Seth Jarvis (3) had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . . F Sasha Mutala (3) scored twice for the Americans (2-4-0). His second goal, 19 seconds into the second period, gave Tri-City a 2-1 lead. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (1) tied it on a PP at 15:22 of the second and Knak gave Portland the lead at 16:28, also on a PP. . . . D Nick Cicek also had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored two third-period goals to skate away with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . F Payton Mount (2) gave the Thunderbirds (4-3-0) a 1-0 lead on a PP at 6:27 of the first period. . . . Everett D Gianni Fairbrother (1) tied it on a PP at 8:11 of the second period and F Jacob Wright (3) broke the tie 49 seconds into the third. . . . F Cole Fonstad (4), who also had two assists, got the empty-netter. . . . Everett improved to 6-1-0. . . .

F Lucas Svejkovsky scored the game’s last two goals to help the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory Tigersover the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (6) and F Corson Hopwo (8) gave the Tigers (8-3-0) a 2-0 lead after one period. . . . F Josh Prokop (5) got Calgary to within one at 14:23 of the second. . . . Svejkovsky, who has eight goals, put it away with a pair of third-period PP scores. . . . The Hitmen are 5-6-1. . . . D Carlin Dezainde made his WHL debut with the Tigers. He is a grandson of Brian Carlin, who played one season (1970-71) with the Tigers. Carlin also played three seasons (1967-70) with the Calgary Centennials. . . . According to Bob Ridley, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Tigers, Medicine Hat has added a familiar name to its coaching staff. Ridley tweeted on Friday that “alumni Derek Dorsett has joined the Tigers’ coaching staff.” Dorsett, 34, played three seasons (2004-07) with the Tigers before going on to a pro career that included 515 NHL games. A neck injury forced him into retirement. He last played in 2017-18 with the Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s last nine goals and beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 9-2. . . . The EdmontonOil Kings’ night included four goals in 82 seconds in the third period and a power-play that was 4-for-5. . . . The Oil Kings (10-1-0) have beaten the Rebels four times in this shortened season. Go back to last season and Edmonton has beaten Red Deer 15 straight times. . . . The Rebels now are 2-7-2. . . . Edmonton got a single-game franchise-record six points, including four assists, from D Logan Dowhaniuk, and a goal and three helpers from D Matthew Robertson. . . . Dowhaniuk now holds the franchise record for most points by a defenceman in one game. . . . F Josh Williams, F Jalen Luypen, F Carter Souch and F Jake Neighbours each had a goal and two assists. . . . The online game sheet shows Dowhaniuk with five points. However, Andrew Peard, the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice, said an assist will be added to Dowhaniuk on Neighbours’ goal. . . . Dowhaniuk, an 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., has a goal and nine assists in 11 games. He had six points, including five assists, in 33 games his freshman season (2018-19), then put up two goals and 10 assists in 62 games in 2019-20. . . . Edmonton was without F Scott Atkinson, its captain, with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Rebels played a lot of the game with five defenceman after Blake Gustafson left with an undisclosed injury. Red Deer already was without D Chase Leslie and D Kyle Masters, both of whom are listed as week-to-week with undisclosed injuries.


The AJHL now has four teams locked down, with the Okotoks Oilers the latest to experience a positive test. ajhlThe AJHL revealed on Friday that “as the result of a positive COVID-19 test by a member” of the Oilers, team activities had been suspended for at least 14 days. . . . That resulted in the Oilers’ games of April 2, 4 and 6 being cancelled. . . . The Oilers, who last played on Sunday when they edged the visiting Brooks Bandits, 2-1, joined the Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines, who also have been shutdown because of positive tests. . . . The AJHL has yet to release a schedule of games after April 6.


The BCHL, which hadn’t played any games since Nov. 19, was back in action on Friday, with five games in bchlfive different communities. It was playing only exhibition games when things came to a halt in November. . . . Now it’s playing what it is calling a “pod season” with Friday’s games in Alberni Valley, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Penticton and Vernon. . . . On Thursday, the BCHL announced that there weren’t any positives from the first round of testing. All told, 439 players and staff were tested.


MLB announced on Friday that it had scrubbed the entire opening series between the New York Mets and Washington due to testing and contact tracing involving the Nationals. As of Friday afternoon, the Nationals had four players with positive tests, and five others and one staffer in quarantine after contact tracing. . . . The Mets and Nats were to have played in Washington on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. . . . The Mets will spend the weekend there, working out at Nationals Park, before leaving for Philadelphia on Sunday where they are scheduled to open against the Phillies on Monday. . . . The Nationals are scheduled to play host to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.


——

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.


Zoom

Are the messages mixed, or what? . . . SJHL cancels its season as BCHL unveils schedule . . . Canadiens on pause; Bruins hope to skate today

Yellow


If the past year has proven anything, it has been the inability of the politicians and health officials from the various provinces to work together. Forget about them being on the same page; they aren’t even reading from different chapters in the same book.

I would go so far as to say that this is one of the most disappointing things to come out of the pandemic.

Lockdown? Stop complaining. We have yet to see a complete lockdown, certainly not in western Canada. And it’s too late now because COVID-19 is so entrenched that a true lockdown isn’t going to keep it and its variants from multiplying. It’s just too bad that we couldn’t have been locked down months ago, just for six or eight weeks, because I really would like to know what normal would look like today had that happened.

But, of course, the embarrassingly selfish society that we have created and in which we now live couldn’t live with that kind of inconvenience for any length of time.

So we are where we are today, entirely dependent on vaccines, and we are going to need to get perhaps 70 per cent of the population inoculated before we are able to find out what the new normal will be.

In the meantime, consider the following and then try to figure out how the politicians and health officials are making their decisions . . .

Other than the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, there aren’t any hockey games being played in Manitoba. That has been the case since late October or early November.

The province’s two WHL teams — the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice — are secluded in school dorms in Regina where they are playing in that league’s developmental season with five teams from Saskatchewan.

The 12-team MJHL cancelled the remainder of its season on Feb. 12, explaining that “in the end, our advocacy efforts were not enough for Public Health to allow for a return to on-ice team training activity, even in a non-contact, professionally managed, closed to public, distanced, 100 per cent masked and extremely protected environment.”

——

Cameron MacLean, CBC News — Manitoba won’t move down to orange-level COVID-19 pandemic restrictions after spending more than four months in the red zone, the province said on Tuesday. The decision to keep the province at the highest level of restrictions during the pandemic stemmed from feedback from Manitobans, concern over rising numbers of more transmissible coronavirus variants, and the need to maintain stability in the health-care system, the province said.

680 CJOB — Another Manitoban with COVID-19 has died and the province says an additional 98 people have been infected with the virus. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 5.3 per cent provincially and 3.9 per cent in Winnipeg.

——

Next door in Saskatchewan, the 12-team SJHL announced Tuesday that its sjhlseason is over. In a news release, the league said: “A decision by Saskatchewan Government and Health has been made on the submissions that have been before them; unfortunately the SJHL will not be allowed to return to play.”

Taylor Shire of Global Regina reported that the SJHL proposed putting seven teams into a Weyburn hub, with the other five teams having decided to opt out of continuing the season.

The WHL has seven teams playing in a Regina hub, with players staying in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College. According to Shire, the SJHL plan called for teams to stay in two Weyburn hotels, one of which would still have been open to the public. According to Shire, SJHL president Bill Chow told him that the league “had a process in place it felt would be able to overcome the public/hockey players interaction in the partial hotel but he said SK Gov/health authority were not ok with this and the submission was not approved.”

Shire also reported that the SJHL could have “altered the proposal and submitted it again . . . which would have taken two to three more weeks.”

Instead, the SJHL held a governors’ meeting on Monday night and decided to end the uncertainty.

The SJHL, which received $1 million from the Saskatchewan government in January, last played on Nov. 23.

With COVID-19 numbers in Regina seemingly out of control, the province has announced that effective immediately “travel is not recommended in or out of the Regina area unless absolutely necessary” and that effective Sunday “event venues such as conference facilities, museums, libraries, live theatre, cinemas, bowling or any non-essential indoor locations that had limits of 30 individuals are not permitted to operate.”

——

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 150 new COVID-19 cases, just below the province’s 7-day average of 158. However, the daily number has fluctuated dramatically during that time, from a low of 87 to a high of 205. . . . From CBC’s Adam Hunter: Due to increased COVID-19 transmission risk in Regina area all indoor gatherings must be household only effective immediately. As of Sunday, restaurants, bars must close to in-person dining. Non-essential indoor venues like movie houses, museums must close. . . . Restaurants to close Sunday, private gatherings banned under new Regina public health orders.

——

That brings us to Alberta, where the WHL’s five teams have been playing since Feb. 26, with the schedule now calling for six games involving four teams each weekend. One of the teams has a bye each weekend, while the other four play tripleheaders — one here, one there, one here — with no overnight trips.

The 15-team AJHL, which had two teams opt out, began play on March 12 with games on weekends. It postponed a March 20 game that was to have had the Okotoks Oilers meet the Bandits in Brooks “due to precautionary measures within the AJHL Return-to-Play Plan.” The Bandits played the Canucks in Calgary the next night.

Who knows what happened with the Oilers or Bandits, and the AJHL has things locked down when it comes to anyone mentioning COVID-19. The last AJHL insider to discuss the subject with the media now is believed to be roommates with Alexei Navalny.

——

CBC News — Alberta reports 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. 197 new variants of concern cases recorded Tuesday, making it the highest daily variant case count to date. Variant cases now account for 18 per cent of all active cases in the province. . . . The province reported Tuesday that 290 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, 53 in intensive care beds. . . . The Alberta government will not move into the next phase of reopening, Step 3. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Monday that no restrictions will be eased at this time because hospitalizations are on the rise. . . . Hospitals in Alberta are preparing for a third wave of the pandemic, driven by more aggressive variants of the coronavirus. Doctor says teams are planning how to isolate those with variants.

——

In B.C., where COVID-19 numbers continue to climb, the five WHL teams are to start playing games in Kamloops and Kelowna on Friday. The Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals are set up in Kelowna, with the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants holed up in Kamloops. The Blazers and Rockets are with billets; the other three teams are in hotels.

The WHL announced a positive test “within the Rockets team cohort” on March 18, but nary a word has been said since then, and Kelowna’s scheduled wasn’t impacted.

Meanwhile, as the SJHL was announcing that it was done until September, the bchlBCHL was revealing a 20-game schedule that will open on April 2 and conclude May 9. The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild is out due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, while the Langley Rivermen opted out of a return to play. That leaves 16 teams left, with each assigned to one of five pods— in Chilliwack, Coquitlam (games will be played in Burnaby), Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon.

All three of B.C.’s junior B leagues had already announced they were done for this season.

——

CBC News — B.C. records 682 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. There are 314 people in hospital with the disease — the highest total since Jan. 25 — including 83 in intensive care. . . . The latest numbers mean that the seven-day rolling average of new cases has hit 617, the highest since Dec. 20. . . . There are currently 5,409 active cases of coronavirus in the province, the highest total since Jan. 9. Public health is now monitoring 9,488 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.

Rod Mickleburgh, former Globe and Mail correspondent — BC reported more new COVID-19 cases Tuesday than the state of Washington (682 compared with 566) . . . that may be a first.

——

And as of Monday evening there had been 22,735 deaths in Canada, including 19 on Tuesday. There have been 942,325 confirmed cases, with 3,607 of those reported on Tuesday. There have been 883,280 recoveries.



The virus found the NHL’s Canadian division this week, with the Montreal nhl2Canadiens having been shut down through Sunday. They put F Joel Armia and F Jesperi Kotkaniemi on the COVID-19 list and by Sunday will have had four games postponed. They were to have played Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers and Sunday at home against the Ottawa Senators. . . . These are the first postponements involving Canadian teams this season. . . . The Canadiens hope to return to practice on Monday. . . . The Oilers are scheduled to play the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. . . .

Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins, with five players on the protocol list, hope to skate today (Wednesday). The Bruins are scheduled to meet the visiting New York Islanders on Thursday, and there should be some fans in attendance for the first time since March 7, 2020. . . . Boston hasn’t played since beating the Sabres 4-1 in Buffalo on Thursday. Forwards Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith went on the protocol list the next day. . . . The Bruins were to have played the Sabres again on Saturday and the Islanders on Tuesday.


The AHL’s Utica Comets were to have played at home against the Rochester Americans tonight (Wednesday). But the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, the fifth straight Utica game to meet that fate.



Vaccine


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.


Account

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching ‘Socks’ Bottcher win the Brier . . .

Opening Day for Major League Baseball is April 1. That also is the date when the shift or not-to-shift debate will begin anew. That argument has been ongoing, mostly quietly, during spring training, but it will heat up when the regular season begins and once again it’s strikeout or hit it out for so many hitters, when launch angle becomes more important than advancing the runner.

When the Double-A season begins, they will be experimenting with an anti-shift rule that reads: “The defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield dirt.” So no more second basemen on the outfield grass.

Look, the only thing wrong with MLB games these days has to do with their length — anything more than three hours is too much. But that isn’t going away because of the number of TV commercials and you know that no one is going to do anything about that.

On Oct. 30, 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the visiting New York Yankees, 10-9, in Game 7 of the World Series on a ninth-inning home run by Bill Mazeroski. There were 10 runs scored over the last two innings. The teams combined to use nine pitchers. The game was over in two hours 36 minutes.

So, MLB, just leave the game alone. If you want more balls in play, maybe hitters — yes, even the big boppers — should trying going the other way, or, gawd forbid, try bunting a time or two.

You know, maybe be like ‘Wee’ Willie Keeler, who once said that the keys to hitting success were “keep you eye clear and hit ’em where they ain’t.”

And, please, don’t be telling me that it’s the long ball boys who get the big money. Keeler was a career .341 hitter; how much do you think an average like that would be worth in this day and age?


The Langley Rivermen have opted out of the BCHL’s return to play. In a bchlstatement released on Saturday, the Rivermen explained: “After discussions with each player, the Rivermen made the tough decision not to play. There are a variety of reasons behind the decision, including educational commitments and the mental and physical health implications of both the 14 days of isolation followed by a five-week strictly controlled season.” . . . The Wenatchee Wild aren’t involved this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. . . . The BCHL is planning to have its 16 remaining teams play out of pods in Alberni Valley, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton and Vernon.



How are things going for NFL team owners? Well, it was in 1989 when Jerry Jones paid US$140 million for the Dallas Cowboys. On Monday, he signed QB Dak Prescott to a contract valued at $160 million, with a $66-million signing bonus and $126 million guaranteed. . . . Yes, business in the NFL is pretty good these days.


Are you old enough to remember when we were able to sit in the comfort of our TV rooms and watch the Toronto Blue Jays play exhibition games in Florida? . . . Hey, Blue Jays, this spring you are out of sight and out of mind. Why?



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Vintage ‘Hey, what page are we on?’ from MLB: The Texas Rangers plan to sell every seat for their April 5 home opener. The Washington Nationals aren’t allowing any fans at all, at least as things stand now. Neither plan makes a whole lot of sense, and the Rangers’ idea is glaringly reckless.”


Drugs


“Virginia joined Duke on the sideline at the ACC basketball tournament after a positive COVID-19 test, and Kansas is similarly out of the Big 12 tourney,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “So can we just end the suspense early and proclaim the virus as this year’s national champion?”

——

Perry, again: “And, in news about free agents, the Blue Jays signed George Springer, the Phillies signed J.T. Realmuto and the Royals slammed the door on Prince Harry’s possible return.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Kansas and Virginia now out of their respective men’s basketball tournaments due to positive virus tests. So in this year’s March Madness brackets will there be a way to bet on COVID-19?”


The New York Islanders placed F Jean-Gabriel Pageau and D Noah Dobson on the COVID-19 protocol list on Sunday, and you have to wonder if this might be the start of something. We’ll have to wait to see if the Islanders get shut down for any length of time.


If you are a reader of fine novels, perhaps you have read one or more that were written by Carl Hiaasen, the columnist for the Miami Herald who has a fine sense of humour and, as colleague Dave Barry put it, “a comic novelist’s eye for the absurd.” Anyway, Hiaasen is moving on from the Herald and you will want to read his final column, which is right here.

The afore-mentioned Barry says farewell to his column-writing pal right here.



Magic



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 Tim Hortons Brier wrapped up on Sunday night and you can give an Emmy to TSN’s announcing crew of Vic Rauter, Cheryl Bernard, Russ Howard, Bryan Mudryk and Cathy Gauthier. They know their audience and they deliver to that audience. Well done! . . . Brendan Bottcher’s Alberta rink won the Brier after having lost the previous three finals. And if you don’t know about Bottcher and his winning socks, well, Google is your friend. . . . With the Vancouver Canucks boasting a 5-2 record in March, you have to think the bandwagon is filling up again. They’re on the road for four this week — two with the Ottawa Senators and two with the Montreal Canadiens. . . . Meanwhile, the Darryl Sutter Revival Tour continues with his Calgary Flames at home to the Edmonton Oilers tonight and Wednesday. It could be fun. . . . But all the while you are free to wonder if the Winnipeg Jets are the best of Canada’s NHL teams.


Meet

The strain of loving a critically ill child . . . Bedard scores twice in WHL debut, but Pats lose . . . BCHL prepping to play games

Ferris2
That’s Elmo from Sesame Street keeping Ferris company in her hospital bed in Vancouver. Ferris’s mother, Lindsey, says her daughter often crosses her legs in this fashion. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

If you’re a parent with a young child, you will have known the helpless feeling that takes over when your youngster is ill. Still, you know that the illness will be gone in a day or two and your child will be back to running and playing and generally creating havoc.

But what if your child was four years of age and had been ill, seriously ill, for most of that time? What does that do to your emotional state and to that of others in your family? What about your family’s financial status when there have been numerous trips to Vancouver, along with a number of lengthy stays?

That is the situation in which Lindsey and Pat Backmeyer find themselves. Ferris, their four-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino Syndrome shortly after birth and has been on dialysis — peritoneal dialysis (PD) or hemo-dialysis — for most of her life. She now is in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after having undergone a kidney transplant a week ago. Unfortunately, the kidney began bleeding into Ferris’s abdomen and had to be removed a few hours later.

Ferris was moved from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on Thursday but still has a long road ahead of her.

Lindsey is a respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and hasn’t been shy about telling Ferris’s story, even if it means baring her own soul. It’s hard to read Lindsey’s writings without your gut tightening, your heart breaking and your eyes tearing up.

“We have felt an overwhelming cocoon of support by my work family . . since the beginning,” Lindsey wrote earlier this week after Alexa McMillan, a co-worker, issued a plea for financial help to the Kamloops business community. “They protect me, provide for me and my family and have provided endless emotional support.”

As someone who works in the healthcare field, Lindsey has “a pretty solid understanding of critical care medicine and the reality is Ferris has been critically ill for a huge part of her life.

“I’ve spent four years assessing her and caring for her and very few people actually know what it’s taking to keep our ship afloat. My immediate family, closest friends, home nurses and then my work people probably understand best.

“I’ve worked on the other side of what I witnessed Saturday. It was like the hardest night shift ever, where you just did all the things working on your patient for hours except I so rarely see people survive that. I’ve been scared for Ferris’s life before and every time I’ve had a work person by my side . . . through the night. Saturday night was no exception.”

Her training and understanding of all that she and her family — including daughters Tavia, 9, and Ksenia, 7 — have been through has Lindsey knowing full well what’s happening to them from an emotional standpoint, but also financially.

“I have ridiculous trauma to overcome,” Lindsey explained. “My work family would also attest that I’ve worked really hard to keep it all going. If we aren’t here or she’s not admitted, I’ve been at work. Lots of times it’s the very next day. The reality is Ferris’s life has been financially devastating and I really just want to be able to maintain the quality of life we’ve had. For my big girls and for Ferris.

“Even if we get to make our way home . . . I know now this will never be over.”

While the Backmeyers do have a home in Kamloops, they have been in a rental in Vancouver since the last week of December. Pat has been doing a lot of commuting as he attends Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, with plans to become a registered nurse.

The whole family, including Lindsey’s mother, Leslie, thought they were on their way back to Kamloops last weekend, but then the call came saying that a kidney was available and transplant surgery had been scheduled.

“Living in limbo is pretty accurate,” Lindsey wrote, “or like a marathon that you never get to finish but always have to run. Feels like we are on a runaway train. It’s bumpy and scary and makes you nauseous and every once in awhile we get allowed off and create life and memories and then the train comes and we have no choice but to get back on.

“If and when we get to go home I need to give myself a bit of time before coming back. I never have done that before. Ever.”

In her plea to local businesses, McMillan asked that they contact her or donate to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to benefit the Backmeyers. That page is right here.



The WHL’s Regina hub swung into game action with two games on Friday. The Pats dropped a 6-3 decision to the Prince Albert Raiders in the second game, with highly touted Regina F Connor Bedard, 15, scoring his first two goals at 5:01 and 5:49 of the second period. . . . In the earlier game, the Moose Jaw Warriors got past the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3, in OT. . . .

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks announced that their final 11 home games of this developmental season will be played at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Their first home game, on March 21, is to be played at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. . . .

As first reported by Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post earlier this week, Shaun and Gavin Semple of the Brandt Group of Companies now own all of the Regina Pats. They had owned 50 per cent and now have purchased the other half from Todd Lumbard and Anthony Marquart. The move was unanimously approved by the WHL’s board of governors on Friday. Shaun Semple has replaced Marquart as the franchise’s governor. Lumbard, a former goaltender with the Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, had been the team president; he remains with the organization as an advisor.


Menu


The BCHL has received the all-clear for the return of game play from provincial government and health officials. The league plans to set up pods in five league centres — Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon — with three or four teams in each place. The abbreviated season will begin the first week of April and the hope is that each team will play 18 or 20 games before it ends. . . . The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild opted out of this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. That leaves the BCHL with 17 teams that could being play in April, although the league has given teams a couple of days to make that decision. . . .

Meanwhile, the AJHL had 13 of its 15 teams back playing games on Friday for the first time since Nov. 21. The final all-clear came earlier in the day when it announced that its third round of testing featured 389 players and staff, and no positives. . . . The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats are the only two teams not playing, both having opted out. . . . On Friday, five games were played in five different venues with all teams playing in their home arenas.


Deadspin has put together a brief slideshow that provides some first-person information on a handful of high-profile athletes who have contracted COVID-19 and their experiences. It’s right here and well worth a look.

One slide features Demi Washington, a Vanderbilt basketball player. Washington, 19, had a mild case, but wasn’t allowed to return to play until she had a cardiac MRI. That test uncovered acute myocarditis.

“It’s horrifying to think that, without that MRI, I would have gone back out there and played and something could have gone wrong,” she wrote for The Athletic. “I could have passed out on the court. I could have died. I saw what happened to Keyontae Johnson and it terrified me. After he collapsed, he was ultimately diagnosed with acute myocarditis — just like me. I wonder how many other athletes are playing with it right now and have no idea.”


Quarantine


The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team had its season come to an end on Thursday with the news that one player tested positive. That knocked the Blue Devils (13-11) out of the ACC tournament and may have taken away any chance they had of qualifying for March Madness. The last time Duke was in the NCAA tournament was 1995. . . . “If they do get an invitation, it will be a basketball equivalent of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote on Friday. “This year’s Duke squad is not nearly as powerful as the ones that fans have come to expect for most of the Mike Krzyzewski Era in Durham.” . . . On Friday came word that No. 16 Virginia had to pull out of the ACC tournament because of a positive test, thus forfeiting a semi-final game to Georgia Tech. Virginia no doubt will get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Virginia won the title in 2019; there was no tournament a year ago. . . . Also on Friday, No. 11 Kansas withdrew from the Big 12 tournament after a positive test. The Jayhawks were to play No. 13 Texas in a semifinal game, so the Longhorns now are into the final. . . . Florida International and North Carolina A&T are among smaller schools that have had to withdraw from tournaments. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled to begin on Friday in Indianapolis. . . . The Sports Curmudgeon has more on the tournament right here.


You will recall that Clarkson shut down its men’s hockey program for this season earlier in the week and there was speculation that the move was virus-related. College Hockey News reported via Twitter on Thursday that it “was a school decision based not on positive COVID tests — but on a party attended by most of the team that broke the school’s COVID safety protocols.”

——

College Hockey News also reported that the Bentley Falcons (5-11-0) had withdrawn from the Atlantic hockey tournament. One week earlier, Holy Cross pulled out before the first round began. . . . Bentley had beaten Air Force to move into a second-round best-of-three series against American International, which now gets a bye into the semifinals. . . . From CHN: “For its part, AIC hasn’t played since January, due to its own COVID-19 issues and that of other league teams. By the team of the semifinals, the Yellowjackets will have gone almost seven weeks without a game. Bentley missed most of January with COVID issues, though played most of February.”


Once again, thanks for asking how things are going in B.C., as government and health officials work on loosening some restrictions . . .

Robyn Crawford, CKNW/Global BC — 648 new cases; no new deaths; 255 in hosp, 67 in ICU; 5,070 active; 9,155 in isolation; 79 new variant cases (total at 717).

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 425 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 additional deaths. And 365 more people have recovered from coronavirus.

CBC News — Number of new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan climbs again with 176. That pushes the province’s 7-day average up to 134; 3 additional deaths have also been recorded.

CBC News — Manitoba announces 104 new cases of COVID-19, the 1st time the number has been above 100 since February 18. The province’s 7-day average now rises to 74. Health authorities also say there has been 1 additional death.


——

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: Former WHL F Ryan Hollweg is the new head coach of the U18 AAA Vancouver North West Hawks. Hollweg, 37, played 233 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers over five seasons (1999-2004) before going on to a pro career that included 228 NHL games. He finished up playing (2012-18) with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga. Hollweg was the North West Hawks’ associate coach for two seasons (2018-20) under Chris Shaw.


Wreath

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering if Golden Knights will have to pay that hotel bill . . .

Scattershooting2


Kelly McCrimmon has eaten hundreds of pre-game meals since 1977. That’s when he first played junior hockey, with the Prince Albert Raiders, who then were in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

VegasBut even with that kind of history, McCrimmon, 60, experienced a first involving a pregame meal on Friday in San Jose.

The former owner, general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, McCrimmon now is the general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, who were in San Jose on Friday to begin a weekend doubleheader with the Sharks.

The Golden Knights were staying at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose, which is where they gathered for their pregame meal early on Friday afternoon. As things turned out, those were the last meals anyone will be having in that hotel, at least for a while.

That’s because the hotel declared bankruptcy — the San Jose Mercury News reported that its owners’ debts are between $100 million and $500 million — and it shut its doors as the Golden Knights were enjoying dessert.

“Crazy times,” McCrimmon told me on Saturday night. “Staff had no idea it was coming. They got ushered right out of the building.”

The Golden Knights, had to pack their bags, then head to the SAP Center for Friday’s game, knowing that at game’s end they would be going to a different hotel.

While the disruption no doubt gave them something to talk about, it didn’t seem to bother the players on the ice. The Golden Knights beat the Sharks, 5-4 in OT, on Friday, then 4-0 on Saturday.

Justin Emerson of the Las Vegas Sun pointed out: “This will affect more than just the Golden Knights. Because of NHL virus protocols, the league designates one hotel in a city to serve as every visiting team’s lodging to ensure the hotel abides by league rules. So when the St. Louis Blues come to town on Monday, they won’t be staying at the Fairmont Hotel.”


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Many spring training ballparks have opened up to a limited number of fans, so how do half of those fans show their gratitude to be at a live ballgame after a year of quarantine? By refusing to mask up and protect the other fans from that still-deadly virus. I salute you anti-maskers for your fearlessness and courage, your refusal to be bullied by nerdy scientists, but some of your fellow fans are allergic to death.”


I smiled when I heard from an old friend the other day. He and his wife had had to make a driving trip that took them along the Yellowhead Highway and through Hinton, Alta.

After arriving back home, he messaged me: “I smile when I see ‘Old Drinnan Town’ sign.”

That would be the same sign that welcomes all comers to this website. Yes, it’s a real sign, located just off the highway a few slapshots east of Hinton.

(BTW, a chunk of the Trans-Canada Highway that runs through Hinton actually is Gregg Avenue. Oh, and Gregg Lake is about 30 km north of Hinton. And let’s not forget Mount Drinnan, which is located near Drinnan Creek about 30 km south of Hinton.)


Headline at The Onion: COVID Announces Plan To Move Operations To Texas Full-Time To Escape Burdensome Regulations.


“A Tom Brady rookie trading card — an autographed 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket version — sold for a record $1.32 million last week,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Or more than 1½ times what his latest Super Bowl counterpart, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, got paid in base salary last season.”

——

Here’s Perry, again: “March 4, in case you missed it, was supposed to be National Grammar Day. So we checked a bunch of breathless-fanboy message boards, and no, it didn’t appear to be.”


Triangle


The Sports Curmudgeon (aka Jack Finarelli) was at his best earlier this week after the Washington Football Team announced that it is replacing its cheerleading squad with a co-ed dance team. . . . Remember that the curmudgeonly one lives in the Washinton, D.C., area, and that he has referred to the team as the WTFs since the moment the organization dropped its previous nickname. . . .

“I know,” he wrote about the co-ed dance team announcement. “It is enough to take your breath away.”

He continued: “That announcement is about as important as nose hairs on a statue; cheerleaders for NFL teams are worthless and co-ed dance teams for NFL teams are no better.  At its absolute best, consider this announcement by the team — and obliquely by the NFL — as a means to divert attention to the fact that after 8 months of ‘investigating,’ there are no findings regarding sexual harassment and a ‘toxic work environment’ for female cheerleaders there.”

You are able to find his entire thoughts on all of this right here.



The WHL and the AJHL announced their latest virus-testing results on Friday. . . . The WHL was clean through 602 tests for the period from Feb. 27 through March 5. That involved 428 tests on the seven teams in the Regina hub and another 159 for the five Alberta teams. . . . The five Saskatchewan and two Manitoba teams in Regina had each player and staff member tested twice — once upon arrival and again after quarantine. As a result of all tests being negatives, teams were cleared to start on-ice work on Friday. . . . Meanwhile, the AJHL ran 385 tests through 13 teams without a positive test among players and staff. Everyone will be tested once more before games begin on March 12.



The Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League announced Saturday that it has suspended play for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. “Our decision reflects the uncertain timeline and lack of direction from Public Health with respect to game play,” the league said in a news release that carries the signature of Levi A. Taylor, its commissioner. . . . On the heels of that announcement, the Manitoba Female Hockey League (U18 AAA) cancelled its regular season and playoffs.


Goat


Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune with something worth thinking about: “Players hate going to the NBA All-Star Game — as they should — and get upset when they’re not invited.”


Curlers got through the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for the Canadian women’s championship without any issues in a bubble in Calgary. The Tim Hortons Brier for the Canadian men’s championship started on Friday. . . . Earlier in the day, it was announced that the LGT world women’s championship will be played in the same bubble with 14 teams competing from April 30 through May 9. This is a big event because the top six finishers qualify for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. . . . That same Calgary bubble will be home to the Home Hardware Canadian mixed doubles championship, and the BKT Tires/OK Tire world men’s championship, and two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events.


There is smoke coming out of Seattle and it has to do with whether QB Russell Wilson wants to leave the Seahawks. LaToya Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans, went so far as to make a pitch on behalf of her Saints. . . . That elicited this response form Jenny Durkan, Seattle’s mayor, who tweeted: ““I love you Mayor, but keep your eyes off @DangeRussWilson. His home is Seattle. #GoHawks. And so you know, Seattle is in the market for a @NBA team. Don’t make me go there.”


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: Kyle Chipchura, who played in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06), is getting into the coaching game. He has joined the Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 prep team as an assistant coach for 2021-22. Chipchura, 35, was the first overall pick in the WHL’s 2001 bantam draft. He went on to play 481 regular-season NHL games and was in the KHL for the past four seasons (2016-20). . . . Brayden Toma is the new head coach of the U15 prep team. He has been at the academy since the 2017-18 season.


Sheep

B.C.’s WHL, BCHL teams are looking for $9.5 million from gov’t . . . We remember Mickey Mouse Night at the Crushed Can . . . Hey, whatever happened to Doyle Potenteau?

——

Walter Gretzky would have loved this little guy’s approach to the game . . .


As the sun set on Thursday, there didn’t seem to be anything new to report on bchlthe BCHL, its 17 teams and a potential return to play. . . . During Question Period on Wednesday in Victoria, Shirley Bond, the interim leader of the B.C. Liberals and the MLA for Prince George-Valemount, asked: “Simple question, hopefully a very simple answer: Will the premier provide B.C.’s local hockey teams with the $9.5 million in funding they need to survive the hockey season? They are asking for $9.5 million so that WHL teams and B.C. Hockey League teams, like the premier’s own Victoria Grizzlies and my Prince George Spruce Kings, can survive.” . . . Premier John Horgan, the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island, replied: “There’s going to be more news about both hockey leagues. They provide an economic benefit. Certainly the WHL restart will be a bonus for Kamloops and Kelowna. But it will also be a difficult time for those teams, because outside of those two cities, they will not be having revenue coming in. We understand the issue. We’ve been working on it for a number of months. I regrettably have to say, ‘Stay tuned’ at this point.” . . . Bob Mackin of theBreaker.news obtained a letter written last week by Chris Hebb, the BCHL’s commissioner, to government and health officials. In his report, Mackin wrote: “If (the) BCHL does not get the go-ahead by March 3 for the its return-to-play plan, Hebb wrote that a motion will be prepared for team owners to vote March 4 to cancel the season.” . . . Apparently, that didn’t happen on Thursday. . . .  Jay Janower of Global tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that “it’s my understanding that as of right now, league will continue to hold its vote on cancelling the season on Friday.” . . . That, of course, would be today. The waiting game continues.


Trees


It was on Feb. 25 when I wrote this:

“We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days.”

It turns out I wasn’t alone with that thought.

Steve Ewen, who covers junior hockey, the Vancouver Giants in particular, for Postmedia, wrote this on Wednesday:

“The WHL fanned on a glorious opportunity to show they believe intentions outweigh outcomes. . . .

“No one official has ruled it out, but playoffs aren’t likely. This is going to be an exhibition season. At its very best, it’s giving players something to grasp onto in the midst of this pandemic chaos. For some, it’s also a chance to show their wares for NHL teams or minor-pro clubs, or even Canadian universities moving forward.

“So why did the WHL stick to the traditional roster construction and only allow three 20-year-olds per team? Why not give teams a fourth or even a fifth 20-year-old so they can bolster the resume of some older players who have been loyal to the league in this very tricky time?”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.



What ever happened to . . . Doyle Potenteau?

Potenteau spent a lot of years at the Kelowna Daily Courier and was a regular on the WHL beat as he wrote and wrote and wrote, mostly about the Kelowna Rockets.

At one point, he started up an on-line publication — DubNation — that was all WHL all the time, and really was ahead of its time.

He left print journalism a while back — he had left sports and was the Daily Courier’s managing editor — and now is in TV with Global Okanagan out of Kelowna. That’s him in the above photo — top row, second from right.


The 2022 Arctic Winter Games have been postponed. They were to have been held in Wood Buffalo, Alta., from March 6-12, 2022. The Games that attract about 2,000 international participants normally are held every two years. The 2020 Games were to have been held in Whitehorse but were cancelled a week before opening. Organizers didn’t want a repeat of that so made the decision well in advance.



It is readily apparent that the medical profession continues to learn new things about COVID-19 as we move through this pandemic. On Thursday, there were reports about a peer-reviewed study of pro athletes returning to play after dealing with the coronavirus that found few cases of myocarditis or pericarditis. . . . Thomas Ketko of Sportsnet reported that “several professional North American sports leagues collaborated on the effort, including the NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, WNBA and MLS. A total of 789 athletes who had COVID-19 participated in the study, which took place between May and October 2020 and sought to gauge how often the leagues’ return-to-play cardiac screening techniques found instances of inflammatory heart disease.” . . . Only five of those athletes were found to have inflammation of the heart. . . . Ketko also reported that “prior studies on the risk COVID-19 poses to the heart drew more uncertain conclusions, too.” For example, one earlier study found that 60 of 100 people who had tested positive had at least some signs of myocarditis. . . . Yes, the learning continues. . . . Ketko’s complete story is right here.


Bernie Lynch, a former WHL coach (Regina Pats, 1988-89), has been suspended by the junior A Fort Frances Lakers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League. According to a report from CBC News, Lynch was suspended on Jan. 2 via a letter that referenced “inappropriate” emails and conduct. He also was ordered to have no further contact with the players. . . . The CBC report also notes that “more than two months later, neither the team nor the league has publicly disclosed this.” . . . According to the CBC story, “Hockey Canada says it has launched an investigation, under the guidance of Glen McCurdie, its vice-president of insurance and risk management. Yet neither the player nor his parents have been contacted. Nor, apparently, has Lynch.” . . . The entire CBC story is right here.


Hello there, ESPN. It’s been a long winter so I really have been looking forward to watching some baseball. But I have tried to watch two of your telecasts in the last few days — Cubs and Mariners, then Nationals and Mets — but have bailed on both of them. I want to watch baseball with the accompanying play-by-play and commentary, and not be subjected to a bunch of interviews over top of the play. Please stop trying to re-invent the wheel. . . . Thank you for listening!


Bacon


The IIHF’s nine-team 2021 women’s world championship that is scheduled to be held in Halifax and Truro, N.S., has been moved to May 6-16. It had been scheduled for April 7-17 in those communities. . . . The 2020 tournament was to have been held there but was cancelled. . . . The IIHF is hoping that a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend games.


Some NCAA hockey teams are dealing with virus-related issues. . . . Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) reported via Twitter on Thursday: “Merrimack won’t be able to continue with its season. Games vs. UVM (the U of Vermont) this weekend are canceled and per a source, Merrimack won’t compete in the HEA playoffs, which is scheduled to begin with the first round on Wednesday.” . . . St. Lawrence U cancelled its last four regular-season games, all of which were to have been against Clarkson. . . . Earlier, Colorado College had cancelled its final two games, both against Denver, that had been scheduled for last night (Thursday) and Saturday. . . . College Hockey News has more right here.


Restrictions are being loosened in Nova Scotia, meaning the province’s three QMJHL teams will be allowed to play home games again. The Halifax Mooseheads are scheduled to play at home three times in the next 10 days, while the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have one home game scheduled.



DrGoogle


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: Phil Andrews is returning as the radio voice of the Regina Pats on 620 CKRM. He had been the play-by-play voice since 2011, and took over as director of media and communications in 2016. He left that post in July and the position was filled by the hiring of Evan Daum, who will serve as the analyst on Pats’ broadcasts. CKRM will carry 19 of the club’s 24 games in the upcoming developmental season, with five weekdays games available on the station’s website. . . . The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers have signed Justin Falk as assistant general manager/assistant coach. A 32-year-old native of Snowflake, Man., Falk will work alongside GM Jeff Jeanson and head coach Kelvin Cech. Falk played in the WHL (2005-08) with the Calgary Hitmen and Spokane Chiefs before going on to a pro career that included stints with five NHL teams. He last played in 2018-19, when he spent time with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles and Belleville Senators and the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. . . . The Flyers also announced that Mike McAulay has added the director of player personnel duties to his previous job as head scout.


Pizza

A thank you from Brad Hornung . . . WHL’s five B.C. teams to hub up in Kamloops, Kelowna . . . BCHL’s 17 teams still waiting as self-imposed deadline approaches

There is a book out there that includes a chapter on Brad Hornung and it’s well worth a read — the entire book, I mean, not just the chapter on Hornung.

Written by Roy MacGregor, one of Canada’s best writers, it is titled The Home Team: Fathers, Sons & Hockey, and was published in 1995. It was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award.

The book, which definitely rates as one of the best ‘hockey’ books out there, is available in hard cover, paperback and ebook. If you haven’t read it and choose to, you won’t be disappointed.


Players and staff members from the WHL’s five B.C. Division teams will begin WHL2quarantining on Saturday, then report to their teams on March 13 as they begin preparations for a return to play on March 26 with games in two cities.

The Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and the Blazers will be in Kamloops, with the Victoria Royals and the Rockets in Kelowna.

In Kamloops, the Cougars and Giants are expected to stay in a hotel owned by Tom Gaglardi, the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars who is the Blazers’ majority owner. The hotel is kitty-corner from the Sandman Centre in Kamloops. The Blazers players will stay with their billets.

In Kelowna, Victoria is expected to stay in a hotel owned by the GSL Group that was founded by Graham Lee, who owns the Royals. The Rockets will be with billets.

A schedule that has yet to be released will have each of the five teams play 24 games without fans, likely in about seven weeks. Games will be played only in Kamloops and Kelowna, although teams will travel between cities for games. There won’t be any over-night stays and there won’t be any stops while in transit.

Players and staff will undergo testing when they report to their teams in Kamloops and Kelowna, and then will go into quarantine again. Each participant will have to pass another test before being allowed to begin team activities.

Players and staff will be tested on a weekly basis, with a positive test resulting in a team having to shut down for at least 14 days.

From a WHL news release:

“Enhanced screening for all WHL players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings as well as symptom monitoring through the WHL Athlete RMS Mobile Application. Masks must be worn by all WHL players at all times with the exception of when participating on ice for games and practices. WHL coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practices and while behind the benches during games.”

The B.C. teams will be the last of the WHL’s 22 clubs to begin play in what is strictly a developmental season. The five Alberta teams began play on Feb. 26. Seven teams — five from Saskatchewan and two from Manitoba — have gathered in Regina and are to open play on March 12. The five U.S. Division teams will open on March 19.

The WHL news release is right here.


While the WHL’s five B.C.-based teams have gotten the OK for games, the BCHLBCHL’s 17 teams keep on playing the waiting game.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said Tuesday that her staff continues to work with the BCHL on its proposed return-to-play protocol.

Keep in mind that the WHL’s B.C. Division teams are going to play in two cities — Kamloops and Kelowna — in the same health authority, while the BCHL’s proposal apparently calls for cohorts set up in five separate communities involving multiple health authorities.

“Right now, they are continuing to work with the BCHL and with our regional teams because the (BCHL’s) plan is dispersed around the province in a way that is slightly different than the Western Hockey League, for example,” Dr. Henry said. “(It) is still in the consultation process and there have been a number of concerns identified — I’ll be blunt about that — that need to be addressed before that can happen safely.”

In a letter to government and health officials on Friday, Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, wrote that if a decision allowing a return to play wasn’t received by Wednesday, which would be today, the league’s owners would be voting Thursday on a motion to cancel the season.

Tick . . . tick . . . tick!

Brian Wiebe of BCHLNetwork has more right here.

——

What Garry Valk is doing in trying to influence a decision by government and health officials regarding a return to play for the BCHL’s 17 teams is admirable. It really is. He started a petition that has accrued something around 3,000 signatures, and he has kept the fires burning on social media.

But tweets like the one above don’t do anything to help the cause. “All the other Junior A teams in Canada” aren’t playing games, he writes.

Well, the 12-team Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled its season on Feb. 12. The 12-team Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has been paused since Nov. 21. The seven-team Superior International Junior Hockey League cancelled its season on Monday. The Ontario Junior Hockey League, with 21 teams in Ontario and one in Buffalo that opted out of this season, isn’t playing, in part because it has to deal with 10 regional health units. I could go on, but you get the point.

If you are going to be the face of a cause like this, you have to protect your credibility with the people you are trying to influence, which means you also have to do the research.



CBC News: Texas to drop requirement for people to wear masks. The state is averaging about 7,700 new COVID-19 cases a day; 6 weeks ago it was over 20,000. Texas has a population of 29M, about twice the size of Ontario, which is averaging roughly 1,100 cases a day.


The New York Times — Mississippi joined Texas on Tuesday in lifting state mask mandates, despite federal health officials warning governors not to ease restrictions yet, because national progress in reducing coronavirus cases appears to have stalled in the last week.


Mob


The Toronto Raptors and visiting Detroit Pistons are scheduled to play an NBA game in Tampa, Fla., tonight. The game was postponed from Tuesday because the Raptors have run into virus-related issues. If tonight’s game goes ahead, Toronto will be without three starters — OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet — along with Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn, who come off the bench. Head coach Nick Nurse and a number of his staff also are expected to be missing tonight. . . . Donta Hall and Jalen Harris have joined the Raptors from their G League affiliate. . . . The NBA now has postponed 31 games this season because at least one of the teams didn’t have at least eight healthy players.



If you’re a country music fan, you should know that the CMA Fest has been cancelled for a second straight year. It’s now scheduled to run in 2022, from June 9-12, in Nashville.


New York Post — New Yorkers would have to flash COVID-19 passport to enter venues under new program. . . .  Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday the rolling out of a new pilot program where New Yorkers would have to flash a sort of COVID-19 passport in order to enter sports arenas, theaters and other businesses as the state continues reopening efforts. . . . The pass was tested at Tuesday night’s New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.


Worst



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.


Boss

WHL’s B.C. teams closer to playing . . . Oilers new goalie had myocarditis . . . Junior A league cancels season

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told media on Monday afternoon that the WHL2WHL’s return-to-play protocol for its five B.C. Division teams has been approved. Richard Zussman of Global BC tweeted that Dix said he “expects the season to go ahead. Says there are some health authority issues still being worked out, but the season will be played.” . . . Postmedia’s Steve Ewen reported: “Through the negotiations, there had been some suggestion from the health authority about a one-city hub. There’s been talk as well through the process of a 24-game season spread over six weeks. WHL officials weren’t sure Monday what exactly had been approved.” . . . Ron Toigo, the Vancouver Giants’ majority owner, told Ewen: “We’re definitely going in the right direction.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here. . . .

Wondering why the WHL apparently has received clearance to play, while the BCHL continues to wait? It might have to do with the WHL hubs in Kamloops and Kelowna both being in the Interior Health Authority, while the BCHL wants to play in five hubs which means it will be dealing with more than one health authority. . . . Also, WHL teams are to stay in hotels; the BCHL plan apparently calls for the use of billets. . . .

The WHL reported on Friday that it hadn’t received any positives from 481 tests done on its five Alberta teams. The schedule involving those teams began on Friday. The five Saskatchewan-based teams and two from Manitoba have gathered in Regina and will begin play on March 12. The five U.S. Divisions are scheduled to start up on March 18. . . .

B.C. health officials don’t report COVID-19 numbers during weekends — it is the only jurisdiction in Canada that chooses not to — and on Monday it was announced that the province experienced 1,478 news cases over the previous three days. Eight weekend deaths brought B.C.’s total to 1,363.



Selfish


The Edmonton Oilers claimed G Alex Stalock on waivers from the Minnesota Wild on Monday, despite the fact that he hasn’t played all season. Stalock was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November, then was listed by the Wild as being out with an upper-body injury. . . . Stalock told Michael Russo of The Athletic that he was found to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can come along with COVID-19. Upon being diagnosed, he was told to rest for six weeks. . . . Here’s what he told Russo: “Those first couple weeks were scary. You go on the internet and read stuff and you’re like, ‘Holy shit.’ I was completely asymptomatic, but they think because I had no symptoms and had it in my system that because it was right at the time where we were ramping things up with skating and working out and ramping up for the season that my heart was working and working and working and started to get stressed and swell because of the virus in my system.” . . . Stalock also said: “It was mentally draining and very frustrating. Every doctor you talk to, they’re like, ‘This is so new, we don’t know what can happen.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, that doesn’t help.’ “


The seven-team junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League’s board of governors announced on Monday that it has “discontinued its effort to resume play in 2020-21 . . . effective immediately.” . . . From a news release:

“Throughout the entire return-to-play process, the league has never sought exemptions from public health guidelines and recommendations. The stark reality is that the Thunder Bay District and Northwestern region is currently amongst the hardest hit in the province — perhaps even the country — with virus activity and trending in the wrong direction.

“The SIJHL is confident that its strict safety protocols mitigated risk and ensured the league has not contributed to the spread of the virus, it is simply no longer reasonable to hold out hopes that the region will revert to an environment that permits return to play in time to resume any sort of meaningful competition this season.”


Speed


In the world of NCAA men’s hockey, a series between visiting Denver U and Colorado College that was to have been played Thursday and Saturday has been cancelled. Why? Positive tests, contact tracing and quarantining in the Colorado College program. The NCHC playoffs are scheduled for March 12-16 in Grand Forks. The cancellations meant teams haven’t played the same number of games, so playoff seedings were determined by points percentage. Colorado College’s status — it is the No. 7 seed — will be monitored over the next few days.


The Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons were to have played an NBA game in Tampa tonight, but it was postponed and now it’s hoped that they will be available to play on Wednesday night. According to the NBA, the move was made because of “positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization.” . . . A game between the Raptors and Chicago Bulls that was to have been played Sunday also was postponed, and Toronto played without F Pascal Siakam, head coach Nick Nurse and five members of his staff on Friday,


Tim McCarver, a former MLB catcher, opted out of his job as an analyst on Fox Sports Midwest’s telecasts of St. Louis Cardinals games last season. McCarver, 79, likely won’t be taking part in telecasts again this season. “Everything is fine with me, I’m very healthy — and plan on keeping it that way,” McCarver told Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I just have to use common sense.”


James Bradshaw, The Globe and Mail — CIBC has pushed back its return-to-office plans again, telling employees currently working remotely that most of them shouldn’t expect to come back until the end of June, at the earliest.


The AJHL will resume its season on March 12 with its 13 remaining teams playing in five cohorts. The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats have opted out. . . . Teams will play on weekends through April 14, without fans, then pause, change groups and start up again. . . . The first round of COVID-19 testing didn’t return any positives from 367 players and staff.


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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


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