Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how Canucks fans are taking things . . .

Scattershooting

Heavyweight Deontay Wilder blamed his loss to Tyson Fury on a 40-pound costume that he wore into the ring for the introductions. Said it took all the zip out of his legs. What did Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, think of that excuse? “And women are going, ‘40 pounds? Meh, that’s the weight of my small purse,’ ” she wrote.



Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, is of the opinion that there is “a very real human element” to the David Ayres story. “He has one of his mom’s kidneys, you see,” Swansson writes, “and his new-born celebrity allows Ayres to raise awareness and funds for a disease that, according to the National Kidney Foundation, causes more deaths in the U.S. than breast or prostate cancer. One in 10 Canadians has kidney disease, and I happen to be among them. I’m at Stage 4, and there’s no cure for the silent killer. Not surprisingly, though, the kidney angle is too often an afterthought in the telling of the Ayres tale, because who thinks about their kidneys until they go on the fritz?” . . . You can read The River City Renegade right here.

——

One more from Swansson: “Wow, CBS will be paying Tony Romo $17 million to flap his gums during National Football League games next season. Hmmm, I wonder how much it would take for Fox to get Terry Bradshaw to stop talking.”


Honey


Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Hey, NFL, let’s just make your season an even 30 games. That would really jack up the income of the owners and the salaries of the players . . . for one season. Then every player would be injured or dead, and the league would fold. But let’s not dwell on the down side.

“It’s called greed. NFL owners simply can’t get enough money, and players can’t resist a slight pay hike, even if it costs them dearly in terms of injuries and shortened careers. Richard Sherman’s lonely voice of sanity was drowned out by the merry cha-chinging of the cash register.”


“It’s February 28,” wrote Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, on Thursday. “Not sure what we’re going to call Donald Trump’s coronavirus strategy. Alas ‘March Madness’ is already taken.”


Onion


There was a time when Brandi Brodsky was the vice-president of business with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. . . . There were good times and there were bad times — a house that was egged, needing an escort from the press box to the office, having to lock the office door with the team on the road. . . . She talks about all that and more on Hartley Miller’s Cat Scan, a podcast that is right here.


Gillian Kemmerer, who blogs at The Caviar Diplomat, sat down with Scotty Bowman on the day of the NHL trade deadline. Most of the conversation was about Russian hockey and players, and it’s well worth reading. It’s all right here.


D Ty Smith had eight points on Friday night, leading his Spokane Chiefs to a 9-2 WHL victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Spokane Spokesman-Review posted five brief paragraphs — not one containing a quote from Smith — about the game on its website. . . . On Saturday, the host Chiefs beat the Tri-City Americans, 4-3 in a shootout. This game got seven paragraphs. . . . You don’t suppose that the Spokesman-Review has stopped sending writers and photographers to Chiefs’ home games, do you? If so, what’s up with that?


“Ever notice,” writes Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, “that there are no grammar-checking editors anywhere in radio or television, including talk-show hosts? Thus, the steady stream of ‘would have gave,’ ‘should have went,’ ‘as we seen,’ ‘that’s what he do,’ and other fractured offerings. No need to get upset; nobody else is. Apparently, it’s absolutely fine.”



JUST NOTES: Al Strachan, who spent a lot of years covering the NHL and was a regular on Hockey Night in Canada, has a new book on the way. Hot Stove: The Untold Stories of the Original Hockey Insiders is to be released on Nov. 17, just in time for Christmas. . . . Former WHL F Carter Rigby will return as head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes, who didn’t qualify for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs this season. Rigby stepped in has the Coyotes’ head coach in December. . . . ICYMI, the Vancouver Canucks went east and lost to the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets, blowing a late 3-1 lead in the latter game on Sunday. They aren’t rioting in the streets of Vancouver — yet — but the panic is running in the streets like so much rain water.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while realizing Dave Ayres is getting more than 15 minutes . . .

Scattershooting

The sporting world was still abuzz on Sunday, the day after the night when goaltender Dave Ayres, 42, came on in relief in his NHL debut and helped the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the host Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I find most interesting in Ayres’ post-game world is that so many writers have made a bigger deal about his being a Zamboni driver than the fact that he underwent a kidney transplant.

Time after time, you will read something like this: “Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver . . .” And, later, you’ll see this: “Ayres, who underwent a kidney transplant . . .”

This is why the renal community continues to work hard on educating people on things like this — yes, Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, but he still has kidney disease. There isn’t a cure for kidney disease. Once you’ve got it, there’s no divorce. Dialysis is a treatment. A transplant is a treatment.

Ayres, whose transplanted kidney came from his mother, will be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

In the meantime, I look forward to someone doing a story on how Ayres dealt with kidney disease, dialysis and the early days after his transplant.

Ayres flew into New York City on Sunday evening. On Monday, the Hurricanes have Ayres lined up for media hits with the likes of NBC’s Today Show, Golic & Wingo on ESPN Radio/ESPN 2, Fox & Friends, CBS Sports Radio, Dan Patrick Show, Dan Le Batard Show and CNN World Sport.

Later Monday, Ayres will head for Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes are to meet the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. Besides being saluted by the team and its fans, Ayres will serve as the pre-game Siren Sounder.

On top of that, Mary-Ann Baldwin, the mayor of Raleigh, as proclaimed Tuesday as David Ayres Day.

Immediately after the game, the Hurricanes announced that t-shirts with their logo on the front and Ayres’ name and number (90) on the back were for sale — at US$28 a pop. At one point on Sunday, sales went over 4,000. A portion of the proceeds are to go to a kidney foundation of his choosing.

——

Once a year, I join a few friends for an evening of sports trivia. As luck would have it, our 2020 gathering took place on Friday night.

One of the questions asked was this: “Who is the oldest rookie in NHL regular-season history?” . . . The answer was D Connie (Mad Dog) Madigan, who played his first NHL game with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6, 1973. He was 38 years and four months old when he played in a 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens.

While that was the correct answer on Friday, it wouldn’t have been just 24 hours later. The answer now is G Dave Ayres, who made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the age of 42 years 194 days. Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004.

BTW, the record-holder before Madigan came along was F Bob Barlow, who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota North Stars at the age of 34 on Oct. 12, 1969.

——

——

If you are at all into hockey history, you will want to read this piece right here from puckstruck.com. It chronicles the NHL career of Morrie Roberts, who like Dave Ayres also served as an EBUG. However, that was in 1928.


Road


A couple of questions from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “With the spectre of opposing pitchers plunking Houston Astros hitters at a record rate over the team’s sign-stealing scandal, just have to ask: Will Houston’s promotional giveaways include Astros Replica Jersey Night, sponsored by Target? By season’s end, will Houston — not Boston — be laying claim to the title of ‘Bean Town’?”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “It is interesting that the same people who thought drug cheating in baseball was just the cost of doing business now seem to think that sign-stealing cheating is the crime of the century. At least we might have a possible new baseball novel come out of this whole mess: ‘Bang the Can Slowly’.”


Turkey


Greg Robinson, an offensive lineman who played last season with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, was arrested earlier in the week near the U.S.-Mexico border. Among other things, he had 157 pounds of week in his vehicle. As Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports noted: “(Police) also found 23 mason jars, a can sealing machine, an electronic scale and over $3,000 in cash. It would seem that either there was some entrepreneurship going on or Robinson was on his way to the greatest party ever.” . . . WR Quan Bray, last of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, was with Robinson at the time. Whoops! . . . As the afore-mentioned Perry put it about Bray: “So much for trying to shake his reputation as just a possession receiver.”


There had been reports that the QMJHL’s board of governors would vote during a Thursday meeting on whether to ban fighting. Stephane Leroux of RDS reported Thursday afternoon that the vote wouldn’t take place.

Michael Roy of Radio-Canada reported that “there was no vote, but a lot of discussion.” Roy also tweeted that “the file will be on the menu . . . at a meeting in August.”

A story carrying a Canadian Press byline included this quote from Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner: “My main goal is to implement new rules to improve player safety. That’s the focal point of this discussion. Whether it’s fighting, blind-side hits, head shots, we’re carefully looking at all of that.”

It also included this from Sherbrooke Phoenix general manager Ronald Thibault: “It may sound strange, but what we’re trying to do is keep our players safe. There are divergent opinions on how to protect players. That’s it.”

Of course, if they really were that concerned about player safety, you would ban fighting. So would the other two major junior leagues— the WHL and the OHL.

The complete CP story is right here.

——

On the topic of fighting in major junior hockey, here is part of a blog entry by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News:

“Junior hockey does not believe the debate is at all nuanced when it comes to paying its players a living wage. All three major junior leagues are very clear on that one. But when it comes to their ‘student athletes’ giving and receiving bareknuckle punches to the head it suddenly becomes a vexing dilemma for them?

“Like any other league, the QMJHL could have easily increased the penalties for fighting. Actually, it’s a lot easier for one of Canada’s three junior leagues to do it because none of them has to deal with a players’ association or go through the approval of a rules committee. The omnipotent rule they hold over these young men is astounding, so perhaps it’s time they used it for something good.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Marriage


Have I mentioned how much I love The Sports Curmudgeon, aka Jack Finarelli? After the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers moved on from head coach John Beilein just 54 games into his stay, the curmudgeonly one pointed out that the Cavs have a 130-318 record (.290) in recent times without LeBron James. TSC then came up with three possible explanations as to why things are so rotten in Cleveland, which, you may recall, also is home to the NFL’s Browns: “Something in the Cleveland water supply causes coaches to fail . . . An ancient civilization hexed the land there for eternity. . . . Ownership for the two franchises is well short of competency.” . . . As he put it: “You make the call . . .”


The Oakland A’s won’t have any of their games available on a Bay Area radio station this season, as they become the first team in Major League Baseball to make such a move. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, team president Dave Kaval has said, among other things, “we’re excited” and “we’re trying to be innovative” and “we’re . . . trying to attract younger fans” and “I think this is the direction of the future.” . . . If you live in the San Francisco/Oakland area, games will be available via streaming and they will be on some radio stations outside the area. . . . “It’s a big win,” Kaval said. . . . “No,” wrote Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins. “Try two other words: colossal failure.”



JUST NOTES: Is there a better anthem singer anywhere in the sporting world than Lauren Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers? All she does is sing, without any of the extras. . . . Chris Speier, a flash from the past for followers of the Montreal Expos, is on manager Dusty Baker’s staff with the Houston Astros. Speier has signed on as a “quality control coach.” With the mess surrounding the Astros, Speier is likely to have lots on his plate. . . . The Toronto Blue Jays opened their spring training schedule with games on Saturday, against the New York Yankees, and Sunday (Minnesota Twins). Both games were on Sportsnet, which picked up the feeds from the Yankees and Twins rather than have their own crew in place. Interesting?

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how much Habs’ coach will pay . . .

Scattershooting


After blowing a 3-0 lead and dropping a 4-3 OT decision to the visiting Dallas Stars on Saturday night, Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien had a good rant. . . . Here’s part of it: “(The officials) looked frustrated tonight — the referee. He should have been because to me it was embarrassing. I can’t say anything else. We take responsibility for some of our stuff and when we’re not good I’m going to stand up here and say we aren’t good enough tonight. Well, tonight we had to beat two teams and it was tough.” . . . If you watched this game, you know that Julien had a point — the officiating wasn’t very good. . . . But what I want to know is this: Are the ghosts that used to live in the Montreal Forum not hanging out in the Bell Centre?

Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers was hit with a US$35,000 fine by the NBA after saying out loud that his team had been the victim of “home cooking” in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. . . . This being the NHL, I’ve gotta think Julien will get touched for 10 grand, in Canadian funds of course.


It’s too bad that there isn’t one WHL team with an in-house organist; in fact, an NHL scout has told me that he doesn’t think there is a team in the 60-team CHL with an organist. . . . Mal Isaac, a sports writer with the Regina Leader-Post back in the day, wrote this in the Feb. 12, 1972, edition: “The stadium is no longer a dull place to watch a hockey game, organist Alan Vanstone has taken care of that. His work on the keyboard has done wonders to liven up the crowd.” . . . The stadium was Exhibition Stadium, then the home of the Regina Pats. Vanstone was the father of Rob Vanstone, today The L-P’s sports columnist. . . . If a team can’t afford an organist and keyboard, how about a trumpeter? . . . The goal is to bring some spontaneity into your building and this is a great way to do it.


Joggers


——

Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “All it would have taken was for one Astro — Jose Altuve? Alex Bregman? — to stand up in the clubhouse and say, ‘Guys, we don’t need this. We’re good enough to win without banging on trash cans.

“Another way that message could have been stated: ‘Fellas, have you ever seen Shoeless Joe Jackson’s induction plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame?’ ”

——

One more from Ostler: “Some songs we’re going to hear over ballpark PA systems when the Astros are in town: ‘Knock Three Times,’ ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart,’ ‘Woman, Woman (Have You Got Cheating On Your Mind?),’ ‘We Got The Beat,’ ‘Knock-Knock-Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ ”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, after the Astros held a news conference in an ill-fated attempt to put the cheating scandal behind them: “Let me say that Thursday’s questioning by the media was uninspired. Perry Mason’s place as an icon of incisive interrogation is in no danger this morning. . . . Let me say that the answers provided by the Astros’ owner were as unresponsive as Jimmy Hoffa would be should someone find him this afternoon.”


“Pitchers and catchers have reported and spring training games start next week,” noted Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “When is spy camp?”


Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle, referencing MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and former pitcher Mike Krukow: “If Manfred takes the proper steps, and teams know it’s time to limit sign-stealing to acceptable means, ‘You’ll see a lot less cheating,’ Krukow said. ‘And if the hitters don’t know what’s coming, you’ll see a lot less offense. That’s going to be a big thing this season.’ ”


Murrow


“Bob Knight, the winningest basketball coach in Indiana history, returned to Assembly Hall for a Hoosiers game for the first time since the school fired him 20 years ago,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Apparently it took that long to make sure all the chairs were bolted down.”

——

Another report from Perry: “This just in: Astros hitters seek permission to wear catcher’s gear during their at-bats this season.”



The Boston Celtics are going to retire Kevin Garnett’s number (5) at some point next season. Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “KG will be the 24th player to have his number retired by the Celtics (though none of those other jabronis have starred in a movie as good as ‘Uncut Gems’) and soon enough all Celtics players will have to wear triple-digit uniform numbers.”



Former WHL D Chris Joseph will be inducted into the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame on Feb. 27. . . . Joseph, 50, was born in Burnaby, moved with his family to Golden, B.C., for three years as a youngster, then returned to Burnaby where he played at the Burnaby Winter Club. He went on to play with the junior B Burnaby Blazers and in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1985-87). . . . He also played for the Canadian junior team at the 1987 World Junior Championship, the one whose medal chances ended with a brawl against the Soviet Union at Piestany. In 1988, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers lent him to the Canadian team and he helped the club win WJC gold in Moscow. . . . Pittsburgh selected him fifth overall in the NHL’s 1987 draft and he went on to play with the Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers. He retired after playing four seasons in Europe. . . . Joseph and his family live in St. Albert, Alta., where he operates a hockey academy and is a firefighter. He and his wife, Andrea, lost their son Jaxon in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018. Chris now speaks frequently about the need for mandatory seat belts on buses and better training for big rig drivers. “The Humboldt Broncos affected the nation so much we do feel we have to speak out for those that haven’t got the attention and make the roads safer for everyone,” Chris told Grant Granger, the Hall of Fame’s chairman.“We feel a little bit of responsibility to use that for the greater good.” . . . The reception is at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7. Tickets are $85 each, at tickets09@shaw.ca, or 604-436-6372. It all will happen at the Firefighters’ Banquet Hall, 6515 Bonsor Ave., in the Metrotown area of Burnaby.


Whale


JUST NOTES: Hey, NHL, it’s Friday night and the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge is on seven of the eight Sportsnet channels here. There isn’t one NHL game available. I think Sportsnet is your Canadian broadcast partner. No? . . . The eighth Sportsnet channel? It’s showing WWE Friday Night Smackdown, followed by WWE Main Event. . . . Hey, NHL, TSN and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts say “Thank you.” . . .

Isn’t it about time that someone inside Houston’s organization told the Astros to shut up? BTW, they open the regular season on March 26 against the visiting Los Angeles Angels. I’ve got the over-under on Houston batters to be plunked at 5.5. . . . You have to know that at least some part of MLB doesn’t mind this cheating mess because the TV ratings for Houston’s games are going to be up, up, up. Everyone is going to watch the train wreck. . . . And we await MLB’s ruling on whatever it is that the Boston Red Sox were doing.

Scattershooting on a Monday evening while wondering how many ex-WHLers have been Saran-wrapped to pillars . . .

Scattershooting


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, has written a piece involving former Spokane Chiefs player/assistant coach Kevin Sawyer. It has to do with a hazing incident that Sawyer says occurred with the Chiefs early in the 2005-06 season.

At that time, Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs; Jared Spurgeon was a freshman defenceman who hadn’t yet had his 16th birthday.

“Sawyer, for those who haven’t been introduced, is a former hockey goon and coach who now wears rose-tinted glasses and prattles on endlessly about the do-no-wrong Winnipeg Jets on TSN3,” Swansson writes, “and he attained unparalleled standards in stupidity by sharing his ‘favourite’ Jared Spurgeon story on Saturday.

“ ‘He was a 15-year-old . . . two months into the season we Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air. He was tiny. He looked like he was 12. So smart,’ Sawyer informed viewers.

“Seriously. Sawyer engaged in the boys-will-be-boys hazing of a 15-year-old kid while an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs and now, in today’s climate of zero tolerance and retro-punishment for bullying, he’s bragging about it on TV?

What part of ‘you have the right to remain silent’ does he not understand?”

Spurgeon, an Edmonton native, played five seasons (2005-10) with the Chiefs. He now is into his 10th season with NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs from 2004-06, and again in 2013-14.

Bill Peters was the Chiefs’ first-year head coach in 2005-06 when the incident of which Sawyer spoke would have taken place.

This kind of behaviour, and worse, was rather commonplace in the WHL back in the day, which, when you think about it, wasn’t that long ago. There are a lot of former players out there, like Sawyer, who don’t see anything wrong with this kind of thing. Because it happened to them, the seem to think, it should happen to even today’s first-year players.

In fact, the way some of them see it, those who play hockey at the junior level have become a lot softer due to the elimination of hazing and the decrease in the number of fights.

I fail to understand how Saran-wrapping someone to a post, stuffing naked teenagers into a bus washroom and cranking up the heat, making those same players run up and down the aisle in a bus while whacking them in the area of the genitals with various items such as coat hangers, urinating on teammates while they sit naked in a shower, or shaving a young player’s genitals and painting the area with shoe polish had anything to do with someone’s degree of toughness. And, no, not everyone enjoyed it; in fact, there are players out there who lost their love for the game after being hazed.

Anyway . . . Swansson’s complete piece is right here.


If you haven’t yet read about the Russian people who thought their boys had won yesterday’s WJC final because they were watching a game from another year, well, Check out the thread on Slava Malamud’s tweet . . .


It wasn’t long after Canada had wrapped up its 4-3 championship game victory over Russia at the World Junior Championship on Sunday that Hockey Canada posted a message to social media: Get your gold medal-winning merchandise here.

Just wondering, but how much of the money from the merch goes to the players?


The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer. Canada, of course, will play its games in Edmonton where the arena is almost three times larger than the Centrium in Red Deer.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has looked at some numbers and determined that based on the prices being charged for ticket packages, the tournament “has the potential to generate about $38 million in revenues before it sells a single advertisement, corporate sponsorship package or replica sweater.”

In a column that is right here, he suggests the time has come to pay the players — not just the Canadian players, but all of the players.


Reese Kettler, 19, suffered a catastrophic injury while playing for the St. Vital Victorias of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League in Winnipeg on Dec. 19. He was left with four fractured vertebrae and is paralyzed from the chest down. . . . His father, Trevor, has told Winnipeg radio station CJOB that the family is taking things one day at a time. “We’re celebrating the small victories as they occur,” Trevor said. . . . There is a whole lot more right here, including a link to a GoFundMe page.


Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history, died on New Year’s Day. He was 90. . . . Larsen’s perfect game came while he was with the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series. . . . But there was more, a whole lot more, to Larsen than his right arm. It was outfielder Mickey Mantle who once referred to Larsen as “easily the greatest drinker I’ve known, and I’ve known some pretty good ones in my time.”

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle reminisced about Larsen:

“In 1956, the Yankees were startled to learn that Larsen had a secret marriage. In July ’55 he had left his wife, Vivian, only three months after she had given birth. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, ‘Don insisted that the marriage be kept secret; he was marrying her only for the sake of the child. He left her with no intention of returning because he was not ready to settle down.’

“Such matters do not remain private for long. In October ’56, Vivian filed a complaint over Larsen’s failure to pay child support. A judge had ruled that Larsen’s World Series share was at risk of being seized by the Bronx Supreme Court — and there was a court order at his locker on the day he took the mound at Yankee Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series.

“Rattled? Not exactly. Larsen pitched the only perfect game in Series history. Up in the press box, New York Daily News writer Joe Trimble experienced a bit of a freeze, unable to find the appropriate beginning to his story. As the story goes, legendary colleague Dick Young leaned over and typed these words into Trimble’s typewriter: ‘The imperfect man pitched a perfect game.’ ”

I happened to stumble across a rebroadcast of Game 5 from the 1956 World Series on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM on Sunday afternoon. Oh my, what a treat to be able to spend some time listening to Mel Allen and Vin Scully.



Referee Mike Dean booked Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho during a recent 1-0 loss to Southampton. “I clearly deserved the yellow card, as I was rude,” Mourinho told reporters. “But I was rude to an idiot.”



General manager Alan Millar announced Monday afternoon that the Moose Jaw Warriors have fired head coach Tim Hunter. The Warriors are 2-15-1 since they last won MooseJawWarriorstwo straight games on Nov. 8 and 9. . . . Hunter, 59, was in his sixth season with the Warriors. In his first season, the Warriors went 32-35-5. This season, they are 11-22-2 and 15 points out of a playoff spot. In between, he never had a losing regular season, but wasn’t able to get past the second round of playoffs. Hunter had a 189-134-33 regular-season record in Moose Jaw. . . . Mark O’Leary, who had been the associate coach, is the new head coach. . . . O’Leary, a 34-year-old native of Owen Sound, Ont., is in his seventh season with the Warriors. . . . Millar is in his 10th season with the Warriors. He was the director of hockey operations for two seasons before being named general manager. Millar said that he chose to make a decision now because Hunter was in the last year of his contract and a new one wasn’t going to be offered. . . . Hunter leaves as the winningest coach, with those 189 victories, and second in games coached (356). . . . O’Leary takes over with a 24-6-5 record, having filled in while Hunter fulfilled Hockey Canada commitments, including a stint as head coach of the national junior team just one year ago. . . . The Warriors, who are scheduled to entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday, are the first WHL team to make a coaching change during this season.


“Maddon’s Post — the Wrigleyville restaurant co-owned by Joe Maddon — closed after just seven months in business and just three months after Maddon was fired as Cubs manager,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Repeat customers figured something was amiss when the bar ran out of relief pitchers.”

——

One more from Perry: “Useful household hint making the rounds on the internet — ‘Remember, every time the Cleveland Browns fire a head coach, you should change the air filter in your furnace.’ ”



JUST NOTES: Just wondering but how long before there is a t-shirt available the front of which is that TV camera with a gold medal hanging from it? . . . Having survived another year of pre- and post-Christmas shopping and a Sunday afternoon trek to Costco, I have reached the conclusion that it is time for big box stores to make shoppers hand over their phones before entering. That is sure to cut down on the near mid-aisle collisions involving those who make sudden stops to check/use their phones. . . . It appears that Dan Lambert, a former player and coach, has survived something of a coaching purge in Nashville where the Predators dumped head coach Peter Laviolette and associate coach Kevin McCarthy, himself a former WHLer, on Monday. Lambert spent the past two seasons as head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs before signing with Nashville over the summer. . . . Thanks to Gary Bettman and the NHL’s regional telecasts, four of the TSN channels available in my home were blacked out on Monday evening. Yeah, that’s the way to market your game.

Scattershooting on a Monday as we await the arrival of spring. . . . It is coming, isn’t it?

Scattershooting


“It’s doubtful Marie Antoinette, beheaded former queen of France, ever played hockey,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “If she had, history would note her as out indefinitely with an upper body injury.”


McMars


Hey, Sportsnet, if you’re going to make a to-do about a pregame fight you should know that it happened in the ECHL, as opposed to the East Coast Hockey League. If you’re wanting to be a nation’s hockey network, you should be aware of that. Once again . . . that pregame scrap took place in the ECHL. OK?



So . . . my wife, Dorothy, was in Brandon last week. While they were paying 97.9 for a litre of gasoline, the price in Kamloops was 1.27.9. Does anyone have a clear and reasonable and sensible explanation for that? And you can’t use the word ‘gouging’ in your explanation.


A couple of Robservations from Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post: 1. Why are hockey referees so oblivious to obvious cross-checks? On Friday, for example, Logan Nijhoff of the Regina Pats was cross-checked into the Brandt Centre boards by Dakota Krebs of the Calgary Hitmen. No call. The Hitmen proceeded to score a goal when they should have been killing a penalty. The laissez-faire officiating was also on display when Nijhoff gave Kaden Elder an extra shot after finishing a check. No call (repeat). Why employ two referees if they are going to ignore penalties? . . . 2. There isn’t any justification for fighting in hockey — not when player safety is supposedly an area of emphasis.


Santa


Here’s columnist Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times on the Dodgers’ attempts to sign Bryce Harper: “They flew to his Las Vegas home this week in what appeared to be a successful attempt to convince him of their charms. It seemed like Harper was all but begging to come to Los Angeles. Yet the Dodgers let him go to the one place he clearly didn’t want to go. . . . When it comes to bringing a star to Hollywood, the Dodgers are more about raising prices than raising hopes.”


Headline at SportsPickle.com: Report: Man agrees to live in Philadelphia for $330 million.



Headline at SportsPickle.com: Somehow this Bryce Harper deal will end with the Mets paying him $1 million every month through the year 2095.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, notes: “With Bryce Harper’s $300-million, 13-year contract,  there are kids not even born in Philly who will be booing him someday.”

——

Hough, again: “Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper at the Oscars had more chemistry than we’ve seen live since Trump and Putin in Helsinki.”



“By now,” writes Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, “I’m sure you have seen photos of the exploded sneaker that led to Zion Williamson’s ‘Grade 1 knee sprain’. Photos of Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ didn’t get wider distribution than the exploded shoe has gotten.”


If you’re looking for a good read, get a copy of Bower: A Legendary Life. Written by Dan Robson, it chronicles the life and times of Johnny Bower, and what an amazing story it was. It helps, too, that Bower was a perfect gentleman. It should be mandatory reading, too, for every player who is making his living playing hockey today.


OnHold


Wondering what’s in the future for outfielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels? Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “It’s nice to envision Mike Trout wearing a Giants uniform when he becomes a free agent two years from now, but that’s a pipe dream. Trout is an East Coast guy (New Jersey). His buddies are tired of staying up past midnight to watch a dreadful Angels game on television. Only the Dodgers could keep him in California.”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times flagged this one . . . Rich de Give, via Twitter, on former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort’s sentencing memo taking up 800 pages: “Wait until you get to the end, when you find out not only did he remove a mattress tag, he used the descriptions and accounts of a game without the express written consent of Major League Baseball.”

Estephan the OT hero as Broncos tie WHL final . . . Boschman recalls first-year Senators . . . NYT’s Branch on the late Jeff Parker

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The host Swift Current Broncos erased a 3-0 deficit and beat the Everett Silvertips, 4-3 in OT, on Saturday night, tying the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, for the Ed SCBroncosChynoweth Cup, at 1-1. . . . The series now heads for Everett and the next three games — on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. . . . Last night, F Giorgio Estephan (12) won it for the Broncos at 9:25 of extra time when he scored off a rebound. . . . The Silvertips had taken a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from F Matt Fonteyne (7), at 3:14; F Martin Fasko-Rudas (5), at 10:11; and F Riley Sutter (7), at 14:26. . . . F Matteo Gennaro (9), who also had two assists, got the Broncos on the scoreboard at 8:17 of the second period. . . . D Colby Sissons (4) pulled the home side to within a goal at 6:22 of the third period. . . . F Tyler Steenbergen (12) tied it at 18:23, with G Stuart Skinner on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Skinner finished with 40 saves, six more than Everett’s Carter Hart. . . . Referees Stephen Campbell and Reagan Vetter gave the Broncos four of the game’s seven minors. . . . Everett had been 8-0 on the road in these playoffs. . . . According to Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow), this was the first time since Nov. 30, 2014, that Everett had blown a 3-0 lead. On that date, Brandow tweeted, Everett dropped “a 4-3 (OT) decision to the Kootenay Ice after going up 3-0. A span of 310 games between the regular season and postseason.” . . . Attendance was 2,890.


What does it say about the NHL that it didn’t put the clamps on Boston Bruins F Brad Marchand after the first time he licked an opponent’s face? And what is the difference between licking and spitting in someone’s face? Spitting surely would bring a suspension, wouldn’t it?


Kevin Mitchell, the superb writer from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, stopped by the intersection of Saskatchewan highways 35 and 335 on Friday, exactly four weeks after the tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus. . . . “It’s a restless corner,” he writes. “Cars drive past, passenger necks craned. Kids peek out the window as a school bus makes its daily pass. People stop, exit, wander through paths carved out beside piled hockey sticks, flowers, brightly-spinning pinwheels.” . . . The complete piece is right here and it’s well worth you time.


According to Bleacher Report, the UFC heavyweight championship is “the hardest title to keep.” . . . RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com begs to differ, noting “For my money, it’s world’s oldest man.”


Laurie Boschman, who played on the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings, has memories from playing on the Ottawa Senators when they were an NHL expansion franchise. While the Wheat Kings lost only five games in that WHL regular season, that Senators team is remembered as one of the worst in NHL history. Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail chatted with Boschman and the result is right here.


Just the other day I posted something here about the OHL having suspended F Givani Smith of the Kitchener Rangers for two games after he flipped the bird to the Son Greyhounds’ bench after a playoff game. Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record did some digging into what Smith, who is black, has dealt with during his career. I’ll give you a hint: This isn’t pretty. . . . Brown’s piece is right here.


John Branch of The New York Times wrote the book on former WHL and NHL player Derek Boogaard — Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard — and has continued to write on the concussion issue and hockey. In his latest piece, Branch writes about Jeff Parker, “who played in the NHL from 1986 to 1991 and died last year at age 53, and will be seen as another link between hockey head hits and CTE; the league has denied such a link exists.” . . . That story is right here.


If you are paying attention to Major League Baseball, you will be aware that there are an insane number of strikeouts in the game these days. How much of it can be blamed on hitters searching for the perfect launch angle? Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle had a conversation about just that with Tim Flannery, a former player and long-time coach, and it’s all right here. . . . It’s all part of a three-dot column, and those almost always are fun and full of interesting info. Enjoy!


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