Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

——

One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


A few words from Dr. Brad Hornung . . .

Brad Hornung received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the U of Regina on Friday as part of spring convocation. If you’re unfamiliar with Hornung, he was a centre with the Regina Pats when he was checked into the end boards during a home game on March 1, 1987, and was left a quadriplegic. . . . Hornung later graduated from O’Neill High School in Regina and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Campion College at the U of Regina in 1996. . . . According to a U of Regina news release, he “also took several courses in the Faculty of Business Administration until his graduation from Campion College. ” . . . He has scouted for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, and now does work for NHL Central Scouting. . . . The Pats have retired his number (8) and the WHL’s Brad Hornung Trophy goes to the player who best epitomizes a combination of talent, desire, and sportsmanship. . . . The U of Regina honoured Hornung because of the way he has continued to live life and offer hope and inspiration to others in his situation.

His mother, Terry, later posted Brad’s acceptance speech on Facebook and it’s simply too good not to share.

So here it is . . . straight from Dr. Hornung:

First, I would like to thank the University for awarding me this honorary degree. It is especially meaningful because I am a University of Regina alumnus, having received my history degree on this stage in 1996. I am honoured to receive another degree 22 years later. Better late than never, I always say!

I want to take a few moments to speak to our graduates.

Spoiler alert – I have both good news AND bad news for you! But rest assured, at the end of the day it’s mainly good news . . .

I want you to think back on some of the challenges you faced during your studies here. You had to learn how to balance school, work, family life, and time with friends. You probably had difficult classes, and on rare occasions, maybe even difficult professors or classmates!

You are on this stage today because you found something in yourself that helped you overcome these challenges. And what you found in yourself might have been something you didn’t even know you had! How you responded to adversity in those difficult times has helped define you, show your character, and get you here today.

This is an exciting day for you – and I know there are many more exciting times ahead. But it is important to understand that, like in your university career, in your life you will also have difficult days – times of tremendous challenge, pain, heartbreak and loss. In those dark times, I know you will find something in yourself that will help you move on in a positive way.

As humans, we are remarkably fragile and vulnerable – but we are also remarkably resilient. And if I can serve as an example of that for even just one of you, my time here will have been well-spent.

The day before my accident, when I was 18 years old, if you had told me I would become a quadriplegic, I would have said three things to you. The first I cannot repeat in polite company! The second would have been, “That will never happen to me.” And the third would have been, “It that happens, my life will be over.”

On the surface, there was no evidence to demonstrate that independent 18-year-old Brad would have handled such an injury very well at all. But in retrospect, I handled it far better than I ever imagined I would have.

I am not a special or isolated case, because I see this happen every day. I see it in people who come through the doors of the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre – people like my neighbour, a fellow quadriplegic who is now in Law School at the University of Saskatchewan. And we are seeing it in the recovery of those who were affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy.

If there is a moral to my story, it is that people tend to underestimate themselves and how well they would react to difficult circumstances. You may be one of those people who underestimate yourself, but you need to believe in yourself, knowing in your heart that you will find a way to cope with whatever life throws at you. I don’t fully understand how we find that strength in difficult times, but we nearly always do.

So to sum up . . .

The bad news is that unpleasant things are going to happen to all of you at one time or another in your lives. Sadly, that is a fact.

The good news, however, is that you have the strength within you to face these challenges in ways you cannot even imagine right now. Happily, that is also a fact. And it is the most important one to remember.

Congratulations on your graduation, and please don’t ever forget – even in what may seem like your darkest hour, there is always a place in your life for hope.

La Forge takes over from Farwell in Seattle . . . Bragin gets new deal . . . U of R honours Hornung, Kennedy

MacBeth

D Bohdan Višňák (Saskatoon, 2007-08) signed a one-year contract extension with Montpellier (France, Division 1). This season, he had three goals and 12 assists in 18 games in Division 2. Montpellier won promotion to Division 1 for next season. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with University of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he was 16-7-0, 2.29, .920 with three shutouts in 23 games. . . . Cooke was named Canada West goaltender of the year for the third straight season. He also was a first team Canada West all-star and a second team All-Canadian.


Scattershooting

Russ Farwell, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ general manager through 23 seasons, has moved upstairs, with Bil La Forge moving over from the Everett Silvertips to take over as the Seattlenew GM. . . . Seattle owners Dan and Lindsey Leckelt made the announcement on Wednesday. . . . Farwell, 62, now is the vice president of hockey operations. Farwell took over as the general manager in time for the 1988-89 season, after six seasons as GM of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who won two Memorial Cups during his time there. . . . He spent two seasons in Seattle before leaving for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers with whom he spent four seasons as GM. He returned to Seattle for the 1995-96 season. He was part of a group that purchased the franchise in 2002; the Leckelt brothers bought it last summer. . . . La Forge, 44, joined the Silvertips as a scout in 2008, was named head scout prior to 2011-12, and has been the director of player personnel through for seasons. He also has scouted with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Tri-City Americans.


Headline in the New York Post after Game 1 of the NBA final: Who shot? Not J.R. . . . Headline at BorowitzReport.com: NFL adds First Amendment to list of banned substances. . . . A note from comedian Argus Hamilton: “The NFL just slapped a 15-yard penalty on players who don’t watch Fox News in their hotel rooms.”


What do hockey coaches do in the off-season? If you’re Enio Sacilotto, you keep busy by playing host to The Mental Edge Training Seminars. Sacilotto, a former WHL assistant coach with the Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals, has seminars scheduled for June 16 at Delta Planet Ice and Aug. 17 at Hollyburn Country Club. . . . He also runs all kinds of hockey camps for players of all ages in such places as Coquitlam Planet Ice, Nanaimo, Hollyburn CC, Burnaby Winter Club and Victoria. . . . For more info on any of this, visit www.coachenio.com. . . . These days, Sacilotto is coaching at the West Vancouver Hockey Academy, and also is the head coach of the Croatian national men’s team. He also is the mental skills coach with the Simon Fraser U men’s team. . . . During his 35-year coaching career, he has worked in five countries. . . . With his experience and with at least three WHL teams looking for a head coach, you might think Sacilotto could be a prime candidate for a bench job.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times wonders: “With Brewers infielder Travis Shaw lighting up Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova to the tune of a .786 batting average, eight RBI and three homers in just 17 career at-bats, does that make him the Bossa Nova?”



Valeri Bragin has had his contract with the Russian Hockey Federation extended for two seasons, with the federation holding an option on two additional seasons. . . . Bragin, 62, has been the head coach of the Russian national junior team since 2010-11. . . . Bragin will be behind the bench of the Russian team that is scheduled to play Team WHL in the CIBC Canada-Russia series in Kamloops on Nov. 5 and Vancouver on Nov. 6. . . . Bragin will be back in B.C. for the 2019 World Junior Championship that is to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26.


A recent tweet from reliever John Axford of the Toronto Blue Jays: “Dear couple that clearly broke up while standing near our bullpen in the 5th inning today: Lovely entertainment for a few minutes, but we hope you’re OK. Feel free to come back tomorrow and discuss with us. We can provide the third-party point of view! Love, the Jays bullpen!”


With soccer’s World Cup about to start in Russia, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald notes: “Vladimir Putin has already decided who’ll join Russia in the final, but he isn’t saying.”


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