Scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching Dean and Frank do the Christmas thing . . .


I spent some time running errands on Sunday afternoon, which means I stayed in the Tucson while Dorothy went in and out of a few stores. Why did I stay in the Tucson? So that I could listen to the CFL’s West final. It was the last game of Hall of Famer Bob Irving’s superb play-by-play career and he went out — as one might expect — by having an excellent game. . . . While he now may be official retired, he does have to be on the air at some point during the Grey Cup game’s national broadcast, doesn’t he?


It was Sunday at 5:05 p.m. PT when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted: Canucks“Hearing tonight that Bruce Boudreau will be the next coach of the Vancouver Canucks.” . . . And the social media feeding frenzy was on. It continued for the better part of five hours until the Vancouver Canucks issued a news release at 10:30, confirming what had already been leaked, that general manager Jim Benning, assistant GM John Weisbrod, head coach Travis Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner had been fired. . . . Stan Smyl now is the interim GM, with Ryan Johnson the interim assistant GM. Bruce Boudreau is the head coach, apparently signing on for the remainder of this season and 2022-23, with Scott Walker coming in as assistant coach. . . . If you think coaching is responsible for the Canucks’ woes, you really haven’t been paying attention. . . . BTW, Green is signed through next season. . . . Surely it is only a coincidence that the Canucks have been mostly dysfunctional since then-president Trevor Linden disappeared into the ether. . . . And here’s hoping the Canucks’ fans are prepared for another four- or five-year plan to be put into place because that’s where this is headed.


HEY, KID, SEAL THAT EDGE: Mike Vrabel, now the head coach of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, played for the New England Patriots and, according to former QB Matt Cassell, was on the phone while on the way home after a game in Kansas City. Cassell wrote at that Vrabel was saying: “We’ve got to be better at the end of the line of scrimmage on the defensive side! . . . We’ve got to set the edge in the run game! The interior guys, look, we can set up some stunts!” . . . Cassell then pointed out that Vrabel “was talking to a fellow dad — about the Pee Wee team of 7- and 8-year-olds he was coaching.”

NYET, NYET: Bill Peters, once the head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, was fired on Tuesday by Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. He was in his second season with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist signed Peters in April 2020. He had been head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames until resigning on Nov. 29, 2019 after he was alleged to have used racial slurs and been physically abusive with players while in the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization. . . . Avtomobilist was 14-15-5 and holding down the Western Conference’s last playoff spot when Peters was replaced by Nikolai Zavarukhin. . . . Peters, now 56, spent three seasons (2005-08) as the Chiefs’ head coach.

VIEW FROM BEANTOWN: I was watching the Detroit Red Wings and the Bruins from Boston on Tuesday night and Jack Edwards, the TV voice of the Beantowners, kept referring to F Brad Marchand as having been suspended for an “alleged” slewfoot when he took down D Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Vancouver Canucks. And that’s when it dawned on me that Edwards really is “alleged” to be an NHL play-by-play guy. . . . Edwards wouldn’t even admit that there was a slew-foot after watching a replay, or maybe his Bruins toque had slid over his eyes.


HEADLINES: At — MLB insider Marcus Stroman breaks the news that he signed with the Cubs. . . . At Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy tests positive for COVID-19, blames the officials.

PERRY TIME: “Oklahoma Sooners coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to seek his fortune in California,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, who also supplied the above Headlines, “finding about $100 million when he got there. In other words, he fared a little better than Tom Joad.”


One more from Perry: “Topps, Donruss and Score are scrambling to produce the first fake Antonio Brown trading card. Or is it Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson?”

HEY, UNCLE, HOW’S THAT? D Graydon Gotaas, who scored the Edmonton Oil Kings’ Teddy Bear goal on Saturday night, is the nephew of Steve Gotaas, who put up 314 points in 266 regular-season games with the Prince Albert Raiders (1983-87). Graydon, 17, scored his first Edmonton goal in his first game with the Oil Kings, who acquired him from the Raiders in October. He had been playing for his hometown Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL.


NOTHING WRONG HERE: Here’s Ken Campbell of Hockey unfiltered after Hockey Canada issued invitations to its national junior team’s selection camp:

“Connor Bedard is not a lock to make Canada’s World Junior team, but it would be a shock if he were not on the final roster. All Canada’s coaching staff has to do is go back and look at the tapes of both Bedard and Shane Wright in last summer’s World Under-18 championship and see what those two young men did with the maple leaf on their chests. Granted, there is a big difference between being 15 and playing against 17-year-olds and being 16 and playing against 19-year-olds, but still. People keep looking at the scoring totals put up by Bedard and Wright this season and continue to ask what is wrong. Nothing is wrong. These two young men are going to be just fine.”


In the same piece, Campbell also dropped this gem: “Patrick Roy claims the Montreal Canadiens have nothing to lose by making him the GM. That’s some sound reasoning right there.”

WHEELING AND DEALING: If you ever wondered what the best junior hockey Raidersplayer in the world might bring in a trade, well, we found out on Wednesday. That’s when the Prince Albert Raiders dealt D Kaiden Guhle, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings for F Carson Latimer, 18, D Eric Johnston, 17, and as many as four draft picks — a 2021 first that originated with the Kelowna Rockets, a 2023 first, a 2022 sixth and a conditional 2025 third. . . . The deal came just four days after Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s a special player.” . . . Do you think Habscheid really meant it, or was he just trying to drive up the price?


NOT A POSITIVE TIME: The OHL postponed a Saturday night game that was to have had the Mississauga Steelheads visit Peterborough after a Petes player came up positive. “Our actions were to hopefully alleviate concerns,” David Branch, the OHL commissioner, told the Peterborough Examiner. “There was a positive test, the numbers we’re not disclosing and the names we’re  not disclosing, and we took the action. The player are being tested once again and we’ll see how it evolves.” . . . Earlier in the week, the OHL had to shutdown the Sudbury Wolves after 12 positive tests.

ICYMI: G Nolan Maier made his 177th regular-season appearance for the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday night in a 6-2 victory over the Ice in Winnipeg. That equalled the franchise record that he now shares with Braden Holtby (2005-09). . . .

Some shutouts are more special than others. Right, Jackson Unger? Unger, a 16-year-old from Calgary, posted his first WHL victory and shutout — he stopped 30 shots — on Friday night when the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Rebels, 4-0, in Red Deer. This one was extra special, though, because Unger blanked the Rebels in their Teddy Bear Toss game. . . . As for the Teddy Bears, the fans tossed them late in the game after the Warriors had scored their final goal into an empty net.

NO LOVE HERE: Olen Zellweger put up six points — a goal and five assists — Everettas the Everett Silvertips beat the visiting Tri-City Americans, 8-2, on Friday night. That set a club record for most points by a defenceman in one game, breaking the mark that had been held by fan-favourite Mitch Love, who had a goal and four assists in a 5-2 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon on Nov. 6, 2004. Interestingly, Love scored his goal on the PP and added three PP assists and one on a shorthanded EN goal. That was Love’s first WHL season — he finished with nine goals and 20 assists in 59 games. . . . Zellweger, 18, came out of his six-pointer with seven goals and 19 assists in 19 games. He went into this season with 25 points, including 21 assists, in 70 career games over three seasons. . . . No, he isn’t related to Renée.

THE COACHING GAME: The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks fired Doug Johnson, their general manager and head coach, on Saturday. Johnson, 45, who played three seasons (1993-96) with the Hawks, had been with Nipawin since March 2010. He is a three-time SJHL coach of the year and the franchise’s winningest head coach. Assistant coach Tad Kozun, a 28-year-old Nipawin native, has been named interim head coach. At the time of the firing, the Hawks were 10-12-5, and tied for third in the four-team Sherwood Division, six points out of second.


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Oh my, those are some horrid numbers . . . How do you hit a homer and not get credit for a run? . . . Some coaching news here, too

OK. I need someone to tell me that isn’t a nightmare. Surely this isn’t really happening . . . I must have fallen asleep while hunkered down in my recliner . . . Tell me that I did and that none of what follows really happened . . .

It was Wednesday evening when I saw a couple of tweets from Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) of CNN.

The first one showed reported U.S. coronavirus cases (I have added Thursday’s updated numbers):

Feb. 15: 15 cases.

March 15: 3,485 cases.

April 15: 638,111 cases.

April 16: 671,151 cases.

The second one showed reported U.S. coronavirus deaths:

Feb. 15: 0 deaths.

March 15: 65 deaths.

April 15: 30,844 deaths.

April 16: 33,268 deaths.

More than 2,000 people a day are dying from this virus and Agent Orange is nattering on ad nauseam about opening things up. On Thursday, he said: “Our experts say the curve has flattened and the peak in new cases is behind us.”

While still digesting those numbers, all of which are from Johns Hopkins University where they are tracking these things, there came news that Brian Allen, a centre with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, tested positive three weeks ago. Allen, who now is said to be symptom-free, is the first active NFLer to publicly acknowledge having tested positive. . . . On Thursday came word that Von Miller, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Denver Broncos, became No. 2 when he tested positive.

And then, as if those figures aren’t bad enough, I awaken Thursday morning to the news that some quack doctor, who surely is in cahoots with Agent Orange, doesn’t think it would be a big deal if schools go back in and a bunch of children die. Obviously, he is perturbed by the fact that there wasn’t even one school shooting in the Excited States in March for the first time since something like 2002. And later in the day, it was Dr. Phil’s turn. (I don’t know if it means anything but the two quacks were given their TV starts by Oprah Winfrey, whose first names spelled backwards is . . . 

And let us not forget the goofy Nebraska state senators who, as Brad Dickson put it on Twitter, “want to basically end social distancing so everyone catches Covid & develops herd immunity. Ya know, it may be faster to just behead the elderly and the vulnerable. #WorstIdeaEver.”

Oh, and what about those covidiots in Michigan who protested at the state capitol in Lansing, demanding that the economy be reopened and damn the consequences. Hey, gang, yes, you have the right to protest but maybe you should first check with the doctors, nurses, first-responders, police and all of those people who are fighting the good fight on your behalf.

Somewhere in all of this I saw something about Agent Orange suggesting the U.S.-Canada border “will be one of the early borders to be released.” The man who speaks in word salad also said this: “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well, so we’ll see.” Yes, so much winning in the Excited States!

It remained for Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, to explain things: “I don’t want (Americans) in Ontario.”

In fact, let’s close that border permanently, or at least until Agent Orange and all of his old white pals sail off into the sunset, which might be the only thing that will bring an end to this nightmare.

Hey, maybe we could build a wall and have the Americans pay for it.

On a lighter note, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game 12 years ago when a batter hit a single that was turned into a home run after video review, but that same batter didn’t score a run. . . . Seriously! . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic has that great story right here. . . . Stories like these are why I subscribe to The Athletic, which will give you a 90-day free trial these days.


Webster Garrison, a former manager of baseball’s Vancouver Canadians, is breathing on his own and looks to be on the way to recovery after testing positive more than a month ago. . . . Garrison now is a minor-league coach with the Oakland A’s. . . . Garrison, 54, had been intubated for more than three weeks and remains in a Louisiana hospital.

The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, which is based in Calgary, has shut down for the rest of 2020, cancelling its October induction gala in the process. Also cancelled is the Hall’s Sport + Spirit Charity Gala that was to have been held on May 27. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball Team (CEBL) has postponed the start of its regular season and now is hoping to get started at some point in June. It was to have begun its second season on May 7. . . .

The Tour de France now is scheduled to start on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 20. Originally, it was to start on June 27. . . . As the race ends, tennis’s French Open will be be starting. . . .

In soccer, the Belarusian women’s Premier League, which was to have opened its season today, has postponed the start of its season indefinitely. . . .

The Mackenzie Tour — aka PGA Tour Canada — has postponed the first six events of its 2020 schedule. Those events had been scheduled for Vancouver (May 28-31), Victoria (June 4-7), Kelowna (June 11-14), Lethbridge (June 25-28), Cardigan, P.E.I. (July 2-5) and Toronto (July 9-12). . . . The MacKenzie Tour plans on issuing an update before the end of this month.

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” . . . OK, that actually was the Thought for Yesterday. Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Will Rogers: “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”


Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late George Steinbrenner and a co-owner of the New York Yankees, died on Tuesday after a long battle with various health-related issues. . . . It was in 2008 when Hank endeared himself to Yankees fans with this:

“”Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”

Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, spent some time chatting with Steve Ewen of Postmedia earlier this week. . . . The BCHL was founded in 1961. “We’ve never taken a dime of government support in the history of this league,” Hebb told Ewen. “Here we are, in 18 communities now. In many cases, we are the Vancouver Canucks of those communities, and we could lose teams out of this (COVID-19 crisis).” . . . Reading Hebb’s comments leaves one wondering how many other junior leagues are faced with this same predicament. . . . Ewen’s piece is right here.

Bill Peters is the new head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, a Russian team in the KHL. . . . Peters has been out of coaching since he resigned as the head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Nov. 29. That came after he was accused of using a racial slur and of kicking a player. . . . Peters signed a two-year contract with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist’s top players are former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk and Nigel Dawes, who was a terrific player with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (2001-05). . . . Via a video hookup, Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs coach, told Russian reporters: “I think as time goes on we all grow and improve and become better versions of ourselves, and I’m no different than that. You learn from all the experiences that you’re in, and you become better.”

The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Dan Cioffi as its new head coach. . . . In 2019-20, he was the head coach of the B.C. Major Midget League’s Valley West Giants. . . . Cioffi has BCHL experience, having worked as an associate coach with the Express (2007-10) and also with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (associate coach) and Trail Smoke Eaters (director of player personnel). . . . In Coquitlam, Cioffi replaces Jason Fortier, the reigning BCHL coach of the year who left after being unable to come to terms on a contract. He has since signed on as the general manager and head coach of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes.


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins fired Chris Lewgood, their general manager and head coach, on Wednesday. . . . According to a news release, Cory Prokop, the Bruins’ president, announced “that the board made this very difficult decision after determining that the future success of the team, both on and off the ice, would be best served with new leadership at the GM/head coach position.” . . . Lewgood just completed his seventh season as the Bruins’ head coach and had never finished out of the playoffs. They lost the 2017-18 final in seven games to the Nipawin Hawks. . . . In 2019-20, the Bruins finished second in the Viterra Division, at 31-23-4. . . . Estevan is scheduled to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup tournament.

Todd Woodcroft, who had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, has signed on as the head coach of the U of Vermont Catamounts. . . . Woodcroft takes over from the retiring Kevin Sneddon, the head coach for the past 17 seasons. . . . The Catamounts finished with a 5-23-6 record in 2019-20, their poorest showing since 2001-02.

Jeff Tambellini is leaving the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters after two seasons as general manager and head coach. Tambellini, 36, is joining the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as an NCAA free-agent recruiter and pro scout. . . . In his two seasons in Trail, the Smokies were 70-46-15 with one tie. . . . Tambellini is to help in the search for his replacement in Trail, and he also will serve as a special advisor for 2020-21.


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