Checking in on WHL coaching game — one signing and some scuttlebutt . . . 2022 WJC “a turd in a punch bowl”? . . . Rockets’ voice moves to The Lizard


Luke Pierce was introduced Monday as the new head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Pierce, 38, spent the past four seasons as an assistant Edmontoncoach with head coach Brad Lauer, who has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant alongside head coach Rick Bowness. . . . From an Oil Kings’ news release: “In his four seasons behind the Edmonton bench as an assistant coach, Pierce helped guide the club to a record of 154-46-13-10, four straight Central Division championships and the 2022 WHL championship while overseeing the team’s defence and penalty-kill unit.  During his tenure, the Oil Kings have finished in the top 10 in penalty killing each season and had the best penalty kill during both the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons.” . . . Pierce has previous WHL head-coaching experience from two seasons (2015-17) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . From Merritt, B.C., he was the general manager and head coach for his hometown Centennials of the BCHL for five-plus seasons (2009-15). . . . It also must be pointed out that Pierce has served as vice-president and chairman for Hockey Gives Blood since 2018.


Scam


With the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince Albert Raiders — Jeff Truitt taking over from Marc Habscheid — having named new head coaches over the past few days, the 22-team WHL doesn’t have any openings for head guys. . . . But there are some teams with vacancies on their coaching staffs. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers, for example, have an opening after associate coach KamloopsMark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach. . . . The Blazers will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, and wouldn’t it be fitting for Hay to conclude his long coaching career in his hometown? . . . You may recall that Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, announced Hay’s retirement on May 10, 2018. “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history,” Gaglardi said in a news release. . . . Not so fast, though. Hay, it turns out, wasn’t finished. He has spent the past four seasons (2018-22) with the Portland Winterhawks, the first three as assistant coach and last season as associate coach. . . . All told, Hay has spent 13 seasons on the Blazers’ coaching staff — six (1986-92) as an assistant coach and seven (1992-95, 2014-18) as head coach. . . .

So . . . if Hay returns to Kamloops, the Winterhawks would have an opening. PortlandWell, it just so happens that Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 seasons in their organization, is available. Gustafson, 41, is from Portland. He was an assistant coach with the Winterhawks for 14 seasons (2003-17), the associate coach for one (2017-18), and the assistant general manager and associate coach for three (2018-21). . . . He spent last season as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks, but lost his job in the offseason as the NHL team shuffled its coaching staff. . . . A return by Gustafson to Portland also would allow the Winterhawks to put in place a plan of succession that could see him take over the head-coaching duties from Mike Johnston, 65, in a year or two. . . . Johnston, who has been with the Winterhawks for a total of 12 seasons covering two stints, also is the franchise’s vice-president and general manager. . . .

And then there are the Vancouver Giants, who have a vacancy on head coach VancouverMichael Dyck’s staff because associate coach Keith McCambridge, 48, left after two seasons to join the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, as an assistant coach. . . . Don’t be surprised if the Giants sign Adam Maglio, 36, to fill that spot. He joined the Spokane Chiefs as the associate coach for 2019-20, then was promoted to head coach on Aug. 27, 2020, replacing Manny Viveiros, who had moved on to the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . The Chiefs fired Maglio on Feb. 10, and named assistant coach Ryan Smith the interim head coach. Smith has since had the interim tag removed and is preparing for his first season as the Chiefs’ head coach. . . . Maglio, who is from Nelson, B.C., spent four seasons with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, the last two as head coach, before signing with the Chiefs.

In digesting all of this buzz just remember that it wasn’t that long ago when Gustafson was rumoured to be ticketed for Spokane as the Chiefs’ head coach.

OK?


Last week, it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders who discovered that COVID-19 COVIDhad made its way into their locker room. This week, it’s the Calgary Stampeders. . . . The Roughriders had at least 11 players, including starting QB Cody Fajardo, test positive and had to push back their game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts from Saturday to Sunday. . . . Now the Stampeders have a problem. Five players, three of them starters, missed Tuesday’s practice. Danny Austin of Postmedia reported that head coach Dave Dickenson “confirmed there was at least one case of pneumonia and several in COVID protocol.” . . . The Stampeders (4-1) are scheduled to entertain the two-time defending Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-0) on Saturday night.


With the Hockey Canada mess on centre stage in Ottawa and with the warm HockeyCanadasummer weather — on Tuesday, at 8 p.m., it was 32 C in Kamloops — it’s easy to forget that the 2022 World Junior Championship is scheduled to open in Edmonton on Aug. 9. . . . It’s hard to disagree with Dan Barnes of Postmedia who wrote on Tuesday that the tournament “seems much less like a potential money-maker and far more like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl.” . . . Yes, it seems ticket sales for games not involving Team Canada are in the dumper. Because, as Barnes wrote, “it seems the boys of winter are not the same kind of draw in the dog days of summer.” . . . He also wrote: “Two weeks out, the tournament does not have an overt presence in the city. Officials from Hockey Canada and the IIHF have not answered interview requests from Postmedia regarding the tournament.” . . . Could it be that there is some ducking and running going on, what with Hockey Canada neck deep in other things these days? . . . Barnes’ column, which is well worth a read, is right here.



RedBull


Just like the Kelowna Rockets, Regan Bartel, their play-by-play voice, is taking Lizardhis show to The Lizard. . . . Bartel, the Rockets and Kelowna radio station 104.7 FM — aka The Lizard — announced on Monday that he will continue as the play-by-play voice of the local WHL team, a job he has held for 22 years. . . . The Rockets had been with Bell Media’s AM 1150 for more than 20 years, but announced earlier this month that they were making the move to The Lizard, which is owned by Pattison Media. At the time, Gavin Hamilton, the Rockets’ vice-president of business development, said in a news release: “We especially want to recognize Regan Bartell (sic). Regan has an incredible voice and his dedication to our fans to produce a first-class broadcast for all Rockets games will always be appreciated.” . . . In a news release on Monday, The Lizard offered that Bartel’s signing is “all part of a strategy to restore the Rockets profile in the city.”



The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs have signed former WHL D Ryan Rehill as an assistant coach. Rehill, 26, is from Edmonton. He played four seasons (2012-16) with the Kamloops Blazers, before going on to the U of Alberta for four years. . . . Last season, while working as a teacher, Rehill spent time on the ice with the Bulldogs and the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . With the Bulldogs, Rehill will be working alongside general manager/head coach Joe Martin.


THINKING OUT LOUD: ICYMI, the St. Louis Cardinals, without their two best players, who couldn’t get into Canada because they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, dropped a 10-3 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. The Cardinals will play in Toronto again tonight and they’ll again be without 1B Paul Goldschmidt and 3B Nolan Arenado, who are back home, presumably doing more research. . . . The Cardinals are clinging to the NL’s last wild-card spot by half-a-game over the Philadelphia Phillies. . . . If you’re a fan of the Boston Red Sox, you have to be wondering what happened! Your Sox now are in the AL East cellar, the first time that has happened in a full season since 2015. Yes, they are trailing the Baltimore Orioles. . . . BTW, Boston’s payroll is at $243,815,233, while Baltimore is at $46,217,169. . . . It was great to see Buck Martinez back in the broadcast booth for the Blue Jays’ game Tuesday night. And wasn’t that a welcome back that he received from the fans!


Bears


And there isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” The first one is the “inaugural;” the second one is the “second annual.” Thank you!


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.


GolfBalls

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching Canucks ring the pipes in loss to Blackhawks . . .

Scattershooting2

You know what I wish? I wish people would quit talking about wanting things to get back to “normal.”

I mean, what is “normal?” If you are remembering how things were two years ago, forget about it. Well, maybe don’t forget about it, but file those days in your memory bank, preferably in a chamber way in the back.

You may remember the good old days when someone would dial 911 if you walked into a store wearing a mask. When you didn’t use hand sanitizer at least a dozen times a day. When you didn’t have to wear a mask to a hockey game and there weren’t capacity limits on any of the arenas. When vaccination status didn’t matter when you invited friends over for dinner. When some areas of our hospitals weren’t bursting at the seams and when our healthcare workers weren’t burning out quicker than cheap candles.

You may remember them, but those days are gone. They’re not coming back, either, no matter how much you want to see them again.

In a year or two, when enough people have been fully vaccinated, including booster shots, and COVID-19 has been beaten down, perhaps society will be able to develop a new “normal.”

But we are a long way from there these days.

For now, the only Normal in our world is a town in Illinois.

Here in B.C., we have no idea what our normal will look like. We’re almost two years into the pandemic. We’ve had wildfires and all the smoke that came with them. We’ve had the landslides and the flooding.

About all that’s left is the locusts and I hear they’re gathering over the Pacific with a spring invasion in mind.


HELPIN’ OUT THE PACK: I have a dear friend who is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers. A news release arrived in my inbox on Friday, and I could hardly wait GreenBayto forward it to him. . . . “Green Bay Packers fans in Canada now have the opportunity to purchase shares in the iconic franchise, the organization announced today,” the release reads. “Approximately 174,000 shares remain available for purchase. The team has clarified Canadian regulatory requirements and now is able to proceed with sales in Canada. The offering will continue until Feb. 25, 2022, subject to extension, or until fully subscribed. . . . The cost of a share in Canada is US$300, with a handling fee for each transaction.” . . . You are limited to purchasing a maximum of 200 shares and remember that they don’t appreciate in value. . . . So, for a mere Cdn$379.25 — that was the exchange rate on Friday — you are able to help the Packers pay Aaron Rodgers’ salary. . . . My friend? I would expect him to give himself a Merry Christmas with a share or five.


Liquor


TWO NEW IMPORTS: A pair of WHL franchises added import players late in the week. . . . The Regina Pats claimed Slovakian F Alex Geci, 18, off waivers from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, which had selected him in the 2020 CHL import draft. He had one goal and two assists in nine games with the Sting this season. . . . Meanwhile, Russian F Alexei Shanaurin, 17, has arrived in Swift Current and is skating with the Broncos. They selected him in the 2021 import draft. . . . Neither Geci nor Shanaurin played on Saturday night. . . . Alan Caldwell, who tracks these things, informs that 21 of the WHL’s 22 teams now have their limit of two imports. The exception? The Red Deer Rebels.



CHANGES, CHANGES: The CFL’s West Division semifinal will feature the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Sunday. CFLThe West final is to be played in Winnipeg on Dec. 5. . . . Between those dates, pandemic-related rules regarding flying will change in Canada, with travellers needing to be fully vaccinated after Nov. 30; negative test results no longer will be enough. . . . Dave Dickenson, the Stampeders’ head coach, admitted on Saturday that should the Stampeders advance they will have a different look in Winnipeg than they will in Regina. In other words, there are a few unvaccinated players in the Calgary locker room. . . . Meanwhile, the Roughriders moved third-string QB Paxton Lynch to the practice squad late last week because he is unvaccinated so is unable to fly. According to Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post, Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson said that Lynch is the lone unvaccinated player on the team’s roster. . . . “We’ve encouraged guys to get vaccinated and given them motives and incentives, which are mainly about the ability to play and travel,” Craig Dickenson said. “If they chose not to, that is their choice. We do the best we can. If someone doesn’t want to get vaccinated, we aren’t going to force them.” . . . With Lynch out of the picture, QB Mason Fine came off the Saskatchewan practice roster and is behind starter Cody Fajardo and Isaac Harker on the depth chart.


Early


PERRY’S CORNER: “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke for 8½ hours into the early hours Friday morning in futile opposition to President Biden’s social spending bill,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Veteran observers say it was like watching a Yankees-Red Sox doubleheader.”

——

More from Perry: “Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Aminata Diallo has been arrested for allegedly setting up an attack on a soccer teammate. Jacques Gillooly immediately proclaimed his innocence.”

——

Perry also had this one: “According to NFL memes, NFL teams with cat names and those with bird names are tied at 209-209-10 all time. The Jaguars and Falcons will break the tie Nov. 28 — we hope.”


STORM WARNING: The junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League were back on home ice Sunday night, beating the North Okanagan Knights, 4-1. The Storm had one game postponed — it was to have entertained the Chase Heat on Nov. 17 — because its home arena is being used as an evacuation centre for Merritt residents who have had to flee a massive flood.


BIG GAME COUNTRY: It you’re a hockey fan, you might be eagerly awaiting WHLSaturday night. That’s when the Kamloops Blazers, now 14-2-0, are scheduled to visit the Everett Silvertips (14-0-1). . . . The Blazers beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-1, in Kent, Wash., on Saturday and will be back there on Wednesday. Kamloops then will meet the host Portland Winterhawks on Friday before moving on to Everett. . . . The Silvertips, who dropped the visiting Thunderbirds, 5-2, on Sunday, are at home to the Tri-City Americans on Wednesday and then will visit the Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Kamloops holds an 11-point lead over the second-place Kelowna Rockets (8-4-1) in the B.C. Division. . . . The Silvertips are atop the U.S. Division, eight points ahead of Seattle (11-5-1). . . .

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference-leading Winnipeg Ice (19-1-0) will play their next seven games at home, starting Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos (6-9-3). Of note are a doubleheader with the Saskatoon Blades (11-7-1) on Dec. 3 and 4, with the Edmonton Oil Kings (14-3-3) there for two on Dec. 8 and 11. . . . When the Ice finishes the homestand it’ll be wrapping up a stretch in which it played 12 of 14 games on home ice.


Map


CHEF’S KISS: Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a cooking-related anecdote: “Antonio Brown’s former live-in chef outing Brown for allegedly obtaining a fake vax card is the best sports-chef story since 2004. That’s when Gary Sheffield accused Barry Bonds of luring away his live-in chef with a car, a home and repayment of student loans. It was history’s most celebrated case of chefjacking.”


JUST NOTES: After a day of NFL watching, I am left to wonder if the magic has left Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. You don’t hear Seahawks fans saying the team needs to “Let Russ Cook” these days. . . . Remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers ran the ball, ran the ball and ran the ball some more? . . . Some games you just aren’t destined to win. That’s what the Vancouver Canucks will be telling themselves today after hitting five posts in a 1-0 loss to G Marc-Andre Fleury and the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night. Of course, another loss won’t do anything to keep the vultures from circling Rogers Arena. . . . It won’t happen, but it wouldn’t hurt if MLB added player-of-the-year awards to its trophy case, because that’s what the MVP honours have become. Why not have MVP and POY awards? . . . We can only hope that Sunday’s CFL division semifinals are more entertaining than what we’ve seen down the stretch.


Mental


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.


Igram

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