Vanstone honoured with Ridley award . . . Hitmen crown Royals . . . Pats’ radio voice big on geckos

Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post is the most-deserving recipient of the WHL’s 2022 Bob Ridley Award. He has covered the WHL and the Regina Pats for more than 30 years. . . . At one point, he was part of a sports department that featured 12 or 13 people. That same sports department today is down to two writers and he continues to provide the WHL and the Pats with great coverage. . . . The award was unveiled on Feb. 27, 2021, and immediately presented to, yes, Bob Ridley, the longtime radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers. Vanstone is the second recipient of the award. . . . According to the WHL, the award “is presented annually to a distinguished member of the radio, television, and print journalism industry in recognition of their outstanding contributions to sports journalism and the WHL.”


In a game postponed from Wednesday night, the Calgary Hitmen beat the CalgaryVictoria Royals, 5-2, on Thursday. The game was played in the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on Tsuut’ina Nation, which is located at Calgary’s southwest edge. . . . Inclement weather in Calgary and area on Wednesday resulted in the postponement. . . .  F Riley Fiddler-Schultz scored Calgary’s last two goals, giving him nine this season. . . . Calgary has won four straight. . . . D Kalem Parker had a goal for Victoria. He has eight points, including seven assists, over his past six games. . . . The Royals are 1-4-0 on a trek through the Central Division that wraps up Friday night against the Edmonton Oil Kings.


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Kamloops experienced its first snowfall of the season on Monday. Shortly after it began, a visitor stopped by our front yard to take a break. She wanted to stay off the roads and highways, which turned into a real mess.


On Wednesday in the WHL . . .

F Ryan Hofer scored three times to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 6-3 victory Everettover the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Hofer, who is from Winnipeg, has 10 goals. He had scored once on Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to the Ice in Winnipeg. . . . F Joby Baumuller made his debut with the Wheat Kings. He was a first-round pick by Brandon in the WHL’s 2022 draft. Baumuller, 15, plays for the U18AAA Notre Dame Hounds in his hometown of Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Wheat Kings have lost four in a row. . . . They also lost G Carson Bjarnason and D Mason Ward during the game. Bjarnason left early in the second period and didn’t return when he came up ill, while Ward left in the third period after a collision with Hofer.

In Saskatoon, F Trevor Wong had a goal and two assists as the Blades beat the SaskatoonTri-City Americans, 5-1. . . . D Lukas Dragicevic had the Americans’ goal as he ran his point streak to eight games. He’s got two goals and eight assists during that time. . . . The Americans were without F Reese Belton, who started a two-game suspension after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in Prince Albert on Tuesday.

D Sam McGinley scored at 2:57 of OT to give the host Swift Current Broncos a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . McGinley, who finished plus-4, has two goals this season. . . . Vancouver had erased a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals from F Jaden Lipinski and F Samuel Honzek. . . .

In Portland, F Noah Boyko’s goal in the fifth round of a shootout gave the Prince George Cougars a 4-4 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . The Cougars forced OT on third-period goals 49 seconds apart by F Hudson Thornton and F Ondrej Becher, his second of the game.


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The doe’s rest was interrupted by the arrival of four friends, three of whom are pictured here. While all of this was happening, there were eight deer in a field to the east of here.



Bob Irving, the longtime radio voice of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers who retired following the 2021 season, is exactly right with his thoughts on the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and Gerry James, whose coaching history includes a stint with the Moose Jaw Warriors. If you aren’t aware of James’ exploits as a football-playing hockey player — or was he a hockey-playing football player? — let Google be your friend.


Dante De Caria, the radio voice of the Regina Pats, lives with a few pets. That includes, according to Drew Postey of CTV News Regina, “two crested geckos, Reginatwo gargoyle geckos, three pink tongue skinks and a black and white Argentine tegu.” . . . Yes, De Caria has quite an interest in reptiles. . . . “The geckos,” he told Postey, “are kind of from the same family tree, an island called New Caledonia, a French colony very close to Australia, the pink tongue skinks come from the east coast of Australia and the black and white Argentine tegu hails from Argentina or South America.” . . . De Caria is in his second season with the Pats, who will be boarding their bus late this month and heading into the B.C. Division for the first time since mid-November, 2018 — hey, the Kootenay Ice (remember them?) were still in the WHL. Before the Pats head west this time, you have to think the players will do a reptile check before letting De Caria on the bus. Right? . . . Postey’s complete story is right here.


Sign


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings have added G Jake Pilon to their roster. Pilon, 16, plays for the U18AAA Calgary Flames. . . . Andrew Peard, the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice, reports that G Alex Worthington “sustained a minor injury in practice earlier this week and likely won’t be available this weekend.” Peard also notes that Pilon is the son of Jeff Pilon, a former offensive lineman with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels have added D Luke Vlooswyk, 15, to their roster as they head out on a swing into the East Division. Vlooswyk, who plays for the U18AAA Calgary Buffaloes, was a first-round selection in the WHL’s 2002 draft. . . . The Rebels, who are 13-0-0 this season, open an eight-game road trip tonight against the Swift Current Broncos. The Rebels are on the road because the Canadian Finals Rodeo has taken over the Centrium. . . .

F Ethan Rowland, 20, who began this season with the Kamloops Blazers, has joined the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. They acquired his rights from the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers on Thursday in exchange for future considerations. . . . Rowland lost his spot on the Kamloops roster because of a rule that limits WHL teams to three 20-year-old players. . . . Rowland will join his younger brother, Jackson, in Okotoks. Jackson, 18, is in his first season with the Oilers. . . . F Kobe Verbicky, 19, who also started this season with Kamloops, had his BCHL rights dealt by Vernon to the Cowichan Capitals on Thursday.


Yale


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.


Whisper

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

Scattershooting2

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?


Elf


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.


Denial


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 NBC.com 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.


Peanuts


HEADLINES: At AwfulAnnouncing.com — MLB insider Marcus Stroman breaks the news that he signed with the Cubs. . . . At fark.com: 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.


Empty


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?


Waldo


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.


Donuts


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.

Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while pondering the CFL without Knuckles . . .

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Blackie Sherrod would have turned 102 years of age on Tuesday. Born on Nov, 9, 1919, he left us on April 28, 2016. He won’t be forgotten.


Bob Irving has been the radio voice of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers on 680 CJOB since 1974.

But the time has come . . .

Irving, 71, revealed on Tuesday that he is retiring and that his final game will be the Blue Bombers’ last home game of this season — the West Division final on Dec. 5.

Irving, a native of Regina, has been inducted into the Blue Bombers Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He also is a member of the Order of Manitoba. No doubt more honours will follow his retirement.

He joined CJOB in 1973 after a stint at Brandon radio station CKX. His time there included a run as the all-night DJ — remember when real, live people played the tunes all night? — and I would join him on occasion after the Brandon Sun’s sports pages had been put to bed.

Later, I would leave Brandon for the Winnipeg Tribune, and the Irvings and Drinnans were known to drop a bob or two on the nags at Assiniboia Downs.

I would spend some of my time at The Trib covering the Blue Bombers, which meant the odd road trip with the likes of Irving, “Cactus” Jack Wells and Kenny Ploen.

Irving is known far and wide by his nickname — “Knuckles” — which reflects an awful fear of flying that I believe he has overcome.

Anyway, once upon a time, we were on a jet plane for Winnipeg after another of those Labour Day Classics in Regina. And, wouldn’t you know it, we encountered some turbulence.

Well, “Cactus” Jack never travelled without his medication. He brought out the leather case — it was round, with a zippered top on it — and extracted the bottle. I can’t remember if it was Canadian Club or Johnny Walker.

“Knuckles,” he said, as the plane rocked and rolled, “we better have a drink just in case it’s our last one.”

I seem to recall the knuckles turning even whiter.

Ahh, those were the days.

Irving was blessed with great pipes and a knack for calling football games. If you have never listened to him, you should treat yourself and tune in to one of the Blue Bombers’ final games of this season. There are two left — Saturday at Montreal and Nov. 20 at Calgary — before the West final.


IF . . . IF . . . IF: If you have been watching the Vancouver Canucks in the early going of this NHL season you have to think that G Thatcher Demko is in the hunt for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. . . . Demko didn’t play Tuesday night as the Canucks dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the visiting Anaheim Ducks. . . . If you watch sports on TV you have to have noticed the gambling-related commercials and conversations that seem to be part of every live telecast. What this means is that video review isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I would suggest that video reviews will become more and more prevalent because of the importance — it really is all about the Benjamins — of getting things correct.


Apples


It would seem the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets will be Kamloopswaiting for a while longer before being allowed to play to crowds of 100 per cent capacity in their home arenas.

COVID-19 protocols implemented by health officials mean that both teams have been limited to 50 per cent capacity so far this season.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said that COVID-19 is causing problems at hospitals in the two cities.

Kelowna General Hospital has had to close operating rooms.

“Last week, Kelowna General Hospital had reduced two operating rooms to Rocketscompensate for staff who did not meet vaccination requirements,” Dix said. “This week, only one operating room had to be reduced for this reason. To support critical care, though, Kelowna General Hospital has reduced an additional two operating rooms.”

Meanwhile, in Kamloops, Royal Inland Hospital is battling two COVID-19 outbreaks, one involving four patients testing positive on 7N, which deals with cardiac and renal patients. An outbreak on 5S that started last week has had 27 positives — 21 patients and six members. There also has been one death.

Dr. Carol Fenton, Interior Health’s medical health officer, told CFJC-TV that officials had hoped Kamloops’ high vaccination rates would have prevented such outbreaks.

“But,” she said, “our surrounding areas continue to have the lowest vaccination rates in the Interior and that’s definitely affecting us and we are seeing that.”

Castanet Kamloops reported Tuesday that “some areas within the Interior Health region have some of the lowest vaccination rates within the province, including Enderby, Kettle Valley, Cariboo/Chilcotin, Creston and Kootenay Lake health areas (that) are all below 70 per cent.”

According to B.C. health officials, about 90 per cent of those eligible have had one dose of vaccine, with more than 85 per cent having had two.


MORE COVID NOTES: Public Health Sudbury and Districts issued a new set of restrictions on Monday, so the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves are back to having their arena capacity set at 50 per cent. . . . The NHL’s Ottawa Senators were without Covidfive players when they dropped a 3-2 decision to the host Boston Bruins on Tuesday. D Victor Mete was added to Ottawa’s COVID-19 list earlier in the day, joining F Connor Brown, F Dylan Gambrell, F Austin Watson and D Nick Holden. Assistant coach Jack Capuano also is on the list. . . . The 2021 U.S. college football season has its first pandemic-related postponement. A game between the USC Trojans and host California Golden Bears that was to have been played on Saturday in Berkeley has been moved to Dec. 4. It’s all because of COVID-19 issues with the Golden Bears. . . . The NFL’s Cleveland Browns have had four positive tests this week — RB Nick Chubb, RB Demetric Felton, RB John Kelly and WR Lawrence Cager, who was on the practice squad. It all left the Browns with one active RB — D’Ernest Johnson — as they prepare to face the host New England Patriots on Sunday. . . . Looks like there is an Australian Open story developing. From 7NEWS Melbourne: “Australian Open organizers are pushing for capacity crowds at January’s grand slam. But a standoff with unvaccinated tennis stars is looming as the Premier doubles down on his threat to lock them out.”


Journey


After Aaron Rodgers doubled down on Tuesday, columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted: “Steph Curry tried to get more information on COVID so he conferred with Dr. Fauci. The GB QB tried to get more information so he conferred with Joe Rogan and ‘about a dozen friends of mine.’ ”

—— 

On Monday, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, weighed in on the Aaron Rodgers clown show . . .

“In the case of Aaron Rodgers, I am afraid that his ‘star player status’ could get in the way of him suffering some consequences of his behavior.  And by ‘his behavior’ I do not mean his decision not to take the vaccine — that is HIS business and HIS decision. What I mean by ‘his behavior’ is his mendacity and his deceit.  Here is my position on the matter and I suspect that it will not resonate well with many NFL fans:

  1. Tom Brady was suspended for four games a few years ago. The nominal behavior that got him suspended was deflating footballs; that charge was not well-supported by evidence and science said there were environmental factors that could have caused whatever measurements were made to have been what they were. Brady was also non-cooperative with the investigation and supposedly was not candid with the folks doing the investigating.
  2. Aaron Rodgers’ behavior is potentially far more consequential than was Tom Brady’s. Rodgers has been lying about this status and availing himself of the relaxed restrictions enjoyed by vaccinated players for at least two months — and probably four months.
  3. I think Aaron Rodgers deserves a longer suspension than Tom Brady got. For me, it is a minimum of six games.

——

I hope my friend, the curmudgeonly one, wasn’t holding his breath waiting for the NFL to drop the hammer on Rodgers.

——

THAT’LL TEACH HIM: The NFL has fined the Packers $300,000 for violating COVID protocols. Aaron Rodgers and WR Allen Lazard were fined $14,650 for violating those same protocols. Reports indicate that the NFL’s investigation is over. . . . The Packers also apparently were told that future violations could result in more discipline, like the loss of draft picks. . . . Rob Demovsky of ESPN reported: “The violations included the unvaccinated Rodgers not wearing a mask during his news conferences and because the team did not report that Rodgers and Lazard attended a Halloween party, even though it was away from the team facility. By attending, Rodgers and Lazard violated the protocol that prevents unvaccinated players from gathering in groups of more than three, which was the reason for their fine. The amount of the players’ fines were part of the jointly agreed upon fine schedule between the league and the players union.” . . . All is well because the shield has been protected. Again.

——

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) did the math. Based on Aaron Rodgers’ salary of $22.4 million, the fine of $14,650 is “the equivalent of fining the average American $33.80.”


ANOTHER SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Big Bird, almost everyone’s friend from Sesame Street, encourages youngsters to get vaccinated and ends up involved in a social media tiff with a U.S. senator.


Relationship


GET OFF MY LAWN: I was in a grocery store — one of the big chains — for the first time in about 20 months on Tuesday. One thing I didn’t miss? People blocking aisles while chatting on their phones.


JUST NOTES: Some of the organizers will be in Whistler, B.C., on Nov. 17 to reveal details of a WHA 50th anniversary reunion that is to be held there in November 2022. . . . If you haven’t read the statement issued Tuesday by Carey Price involving his decision to enter a residential treatment facility “for substance use” please find it and give it a look. It’ll make you a bigger fan than you already are. . . . Headline at The Beaverton: Saskatchewan demands to be recognized as a nation whose main export is ICU patients. . . . The Saskatoon Blades staged quite a comeback in scoring a 4-3 OT victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday night. Now, with Canada’s Olympic curling trials taking over their home arena through Nov. 28, the Blades will head out on the road for a nine-pack. Their next home game is scheduled for Dec. 10. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at last night’s game and his report is right here.


Lottery


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.


Pickup

Remembering my days at The Trib . . . Like the time I was given Earl Lunsford’s suite . . .

Trib1

By Aug. 27, 1980, I had been back at the Brandon Sun for almost two years. So, no I wasn’t at The Trib when Southam folded it on the same day that Thompson buried the Ottawa Journal.

That left Thompson with a monopoly in Winnipeg with the Free Press, while Southam now owned Ottawa with the Citizen. But none of this was underhanded or in violation of any laws. Wink! Wink!!

Even though I had left Winnipeg, that day still stung. You bet it did. And it still does.

I had started what turned into an almost-43-year newspaper career at The Sun in the summer of 1971, catching on as the sports department was expanded from two writers (Bill Davidson and Bruce Penton) to three. In time, after I had done what seemed like a million rewrites and answered a gazillion phone calls and done a whole lot of learning, I got to cover the Manitoba Senior Baseball League. If this was heaven, I loved it.

Two years later, Matty came calling. Jack Matheson, the legendary sports editor at the Winnipeg Tribune, wanted me. If memory serves, he offered me $125 a week, up from the $75 I was making at The Sun.

Truth be told, I would have gone for a whole lot less.

A few years earlier, while growing up in Lynn Lake, Man., I had delivered The Trib. The papers came in via rail three times a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I would load my wagon at the post office and head out in the dark of night. During the summer, on occasion, I would visit a garden, grab a few carrots and find a street light. There I would sit on the paper and read The Trib’s sports section.

One summer, maybe even two of them, Uncle Vince Leah, who was almost as much a legend as was Matty, brought a bunch of Winnipeg boys to Lynn Lake. They were there to fish and play a little baseball and soccer. Uncle Vince always wrote a column or two while there, and I would hop on my bike and take his copy to the CN station so that it could be sent via telegraph to Winnipeg.

Now here I was, all those years later, heading to the Manitoba capital to work for Matty and be in the same office as Uncle Vince.

SteelersHockyGods
The 1973-74 Selkirk Steelers, winners of the Centennial Cup.

I spent a lot of time covering the MJHL, which, in those days, meant spending springs with George Dorman’s Selkirk Steelers, who always seemed to meet up with Terry Simpson’s Prince Albert Raiders along the playoff trail.

It was in my first year at The Trib that I saw one of the two best hockey games of my writing career.

The Steelers won the 1974 Centennial Cup by beating the Smiths Falls Bears, 1-0 in OT, on a goal by Gord Kaluzniak in Nepean, Ont. (There wasn’t ice in the Smiths Falls rink, so the best-of-seven series was played in the Nepean Sportsplex.) In those days, under Canadian Amateur Hockey Association rules, teams played a 10-minute OT session before going into sudden-death. Kaluzniak scored with two minutes left in that first OT period and the Steelers were able to hold the lead.

I also learned an important lesson during that series. With the Steelers leading the series, 3-1, I wrote that the Bears were done like dinner. LOL! Lesson learned.

(BTW, the other best game that I witnessed was the final of the 1979 Memorial Cup with the Brandon Wheat Kings losing 2-1 in OT to the Peterborough Petes in Verdun, Que.)

Back then, The Trib didn’t have copy editors who laid out the sports pages. Rather, the writers shared the layout duties; if you weren’t writing, chances are Trib2you were laying out pages. It wasn’t long before I realized that I didn’t want to spend summers in the office, so I decided to turn motorsports into a beat, even though I wouldn’t know how to put air in a tire. So I ended up spending time at Bison Dragways, an NHRA-sanctioned strip located 29 miles east of Winnipeg, and Winnipeg Speedway, where the stock cars ran on a short track south of the city. I point this out because it’s how I picked up the nickname Greaser, which is what Matty started calling me after my first motorsport-related byline.

In time, I ended up covering the Blue Bombers, spending time at training camp at St. John’s-Ravenscourt and travelling to the odd regular-season game whenever Matty wanted to stay home.

That’s how I got to be in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on June 22, 1978, when a limousine pulled onto the field and Tom Jones — yes, that Tom Jones — climbed out to handle the ceremonial opening kickoff before a CFL exhibition game.

“The ball,” I wrote, “went off the side of his shoe and travelled about 12 yards.”

A week later I was in Calgary with the Blue Bombers when I ended up the beneficiary of something of a mistake by the front desk at the hotel in which we would stay. I picked up the key to my room and headed upstairs, with Bob Irving, (Cactus) Jack Wells and Ken Ploen, all of radio station CJOB, who were on the same floor. I opened the door to my room, took a look and suggested that the three might want to take a look. I had been given the suite that was to have gone to general manager Earl Lunsford. Yes, it was well-stocked with booze and snacks.

Before I could close the door, the wrapping was removed from sandwiches and drinks were poured. I spent the next day and game night avoiding Lunsford.

Upon returning to Winnipeg, I filed my expenses and then made sure to steer clear of Matty. There was a news conference prior to the next Bombers’ home game, which I was to cover. I knew that Matty would be there, meaning there no longer would be a way to avoid him.

And here he came, strolling into the room with a glint in his eyes.

“Hey, Okie,” he said in Lunsford’s direction, “do my guys travel first class, or what?”

I never heard another word, nor did I ever again end up in Lunsford’s suite.

Later that year, with The Sun looking for someone to cover the 1978-79 Wheat Kings, perhaps the best team in WHL history, I left The Trib and returned to Brandon.

Patti Dawn Swansson was one of the other sports writers at The Trib when I was there, and wrote a wonderful piece last week on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the newspaper’s closing.

If you wonder what it was like working there, give this a read right here. Yes, I got a little misty-eyed while reading it. But, damn, those were great times!

The stories about sitting around late at night and arguing about the chances of hitting a home run off Nolan Ryan or surviving a jump from a fifth-floor window are accurate. Those are the conversations that were important in the mid-’70s.

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