Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while wondering if I will get my shopping finished . . .

I am one of those people who quite enjoys Christmas music, especially the traditional stuff. Having said that, I don’t think it gets any better than this one. It’s Fairytale of New York, from The Pogues, featuring the late Kirsty MacColl.


I don’t know how many, if any, other businesses have done something like this, but check it out . . .


Clam


If you have ever wondered why he’s called The Sports Curmudgeon, here’s something he wrote after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Washington Redskins, 37-27, on Sunday:

“After the Skins lost to the Eagles, one of the post-game talking heads declared that the ‘fight’ and the ‘grit’ shown by the Skins — despite the season being a total loss — meant that this game was a ‘moral victory’ for the Skins.  I have heard about ‘moral victories’ many times in the past; but Sunday’s label made me wonder:

“Is there such a thing as a ‘moral defeat’?

If there is such a thing, are ‘moral defeats’ paired with ‘moral victories’? Or can ‘moral defeats’ exist on their own?

If they are paired entities, should the Eagles chalk up Sunday’s win as a ‘moral defeat’?”


“This is the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese calendar,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “though one could argue that Russian doping and the can-banging Astros make it seem like the Year of the Cheetah.”

——

One more from Perry: “Prince Charles’ office released a statement saying 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth has no plans to step down at 95 ‘or any other age.’ In other words, she’s the Tom Brady of royals.”



I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are a few Christmas movies on TV this year. . . . I checked out our PVR the other night. There were 41 items recorded. One Bob Dylan special. Two Hogan’s Heroes episodes. And more than 30 Christmas movies. . . . Christmas Vacation wasn’t among them. . . . Neither was Bad Santa.


Cotton


On Sunday night, F Gage Concalves of the Everett Silvertips won a game with a nifty move that resulted in a shootout goal against G Campbell Arnold of the Spokane Chiefs. Arnold later responded with a tweet for the ages . . .


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Request to the International Olympic Committee: Let Russia compete as an official country at next year’s Olympics. Russia has been banned from the Tokyo Games due to its state-sanctioned program of doping. But IOC, if you let Russia compete, maybe their government will be too busy rigging the Olympics to rig the U.S. presidential election. #Priorities.”



Condolences to the family and friends of Ron Areshenkoff, who died on Sunday. He was 62. A native of Grand Forks, B.C., he played two seasons (1975-77) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, totalling 76 goals and 77 assists in 131 games. He was a second-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 1977 draft, but never played for them. His NHL experience amounted to four games with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80. . . . He had missed all of the 1978-79 season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. . . . The New England Whalers had selected him with the 11th overall pick in the WHA’s 1977 draft. . . . Areshenkoff was a financial advisor in Estevan, Sask., where he was quite involved in the minor hockey scene.


Dog


The price seems to be right in Victoria where there is, yes, hope for the Royals. Hey, I’m here all night and again later in the week. . . . The Victoria Royals, under president and general manager Cam Hope, have signed head coach Dan Price to a “multi-year” extension. No terms, including precise length, were announced. . . . Price is in his third season as the Royals’ head coach; they are 89-67-12 with him in charge. . . . He had spent one season as a Royals’ assistant coach, under then-head coach Dave Lowry, before moving up.

Meanwhile,  former WHLer Ryan Aasman is the new head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. The Storm fired Matt Keillor, the head coach and associate GM, on Tuesday. . . . Aasman’s WHL career included stints with the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos and Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Keillor had been head coach since being promoted during the 2016-17 season and had guided the Storm into the playoffs each of the past three seasons. This season, the Storm was 12-16-3 when Keillor was replaced by Aasman. He is in his first season with the Storm after coaching with bantam and midget teams in Lethbridge.


JUST NOTES: Is there a secret to keeping the top of the toothpaste tube neat and orderly as opposed to being a gooey mess? . . . The best part of watching the Detroit Red Wings playing the host Montreal Canadiens? The uniforms of two of the NHL’s Original Six. . . . Are you ready for the Arizona Coyotes as Stanley Cup contenders? . . . City council in Nanaimo is talking about a five-year financial plan. No, there isn’t any chatter about a new arena. . . . Hey, is John Shorthouse hockey’s best play-by-play voice? . . . As a fan of MLB, it’s great to have Joe Girardi back managing a team, and wouldn’t it be great to see his Philadelphia Phillies and his former club, the New York Yankees, in the World Series? It could happen. . . . Right now, the most-watchable player in the NHL is F Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. . . . With their home arena unavailable due to equipment issues, the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing out of Cranbrook these days. On Tuesday night, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Kimberley Dynamiters before an announced crowd of 1,350 at Western Financial Place, the former home of the WHL team that now is the Winnipeg Ice. Meanwhile, the Ice dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings in front of a crowd announced as 1,621. . . . ICYMI, next season Western Financial Place will be home to the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks.

Rebels’ Radar reaches milestone. . . . Ice’s run in Kootenays almost over. . . . Chiefs add a Bear to their roster

MacBeth

Wednesday was the last day of the regular season in Finland’s Liiga. . . . F Malte Strömwall (Tri-City, 2011-13), playing for KooKoo Kouvola, finished the season leading the league in goals and points. In 52 games, he put up 57 points, including 30 goals. . . . Strömwall is the first player from KooKoo to win either title. He also is the first points leader in 31 years and the first goal leader in 24 years from a team that missed the playoffs. KooKoo finished in 13th place. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current, 2016-18), playing for Kärpät Oulu, led all Liiga rookies in assists (30) and points (46), in 50 games. . . . Heponiemi led his team in points, tied for the lead in assists for first-place Kärpät, finished in 12th place overall in points & 13th place overall in assists.


ThisThat

Dave (Radar) Horning was in Cranbrook for the Kootenay Ice’s first WHL game, and he’ll be there Sunday for the last one. . . . Horning is the equipment manager for the Red Deer Rebels, and he worked his 2,000th game on Tuesday night. . . . Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate has more on one of the WHL’s good guys right here.


F Tristan Zandee has made a commitment to the Colorado College Tigers. Zandee, 15, is from Chestermere, Alta., and was a second-round selection by the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Zandee made the announcement via Twitter on Thursday evening. . . . He had 20 goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the midget Airdrie CFR Bisons this season. He also was pointless in one game with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints.


The Kootenay Ice’s first home game? On Sept. 26, 1998, F Jarret Stoll had two goals and two assists to lead the Ice to a 6-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Steve McCarthy, F Andy Penny, F Kyle Wanvig and F Mike Green also scored for Kootenay. . . . Red Deer goals came from F Kevin Marsh, with two, and F Shawn McNeil. . . . G Clayton Pool stopped 38 shots for the Ice. . . . Dustin Schwartz and Shane Bendera combined for 26 saves for the Rebels.

——

The Kootenay Ice is to entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight in Cranbrook, B.C., and the Red Deer Rebels come calling on Sunday.

After that game, the curtain will drop on 21 seasons of the WHL in the Kootenays.

Owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell are taking the Ice to Winnipeg, choosing to leave Cranbrook’s 4,264-seat Western Financial Place to spend at least two seasons in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, which right now has about 1,400 seats, as they await construction of a new facility.

The Ice (12-44-10) is in the process of missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Last season, its first under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell, it finished 27-38-7.



The Spokane Chiefs have added F Bear Hughes, a 17-year-old native of Post Falls, Idaho, SpokaneChiefsto their roster. . . . Hughes, who signed a WHL contract in January, spent this season with the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He led the team with 66 points, including 41 goals, and was named the league’s top rookie. . . . In the playoffs, he added six goals and four assists in seven games. . . . Hughes is the second player off the Braves to have been added to the Chiefs’ roster this week. G Campbell Arnold, who turned 17 on Jan. 2, is from Nanaimo, B.C. He was a second-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2017 WHL bantam draft.



The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives have signed Craig Anderson as head scout and assistant Neepawageneral manager, while adding Kori Pearson as director of U,S. scouting. . . . Both are former Neepawa players. . . . Anderson, from Brandon, played two seasons (1993-95) with the Natives, then played for the Brandon U Bobcats. . . . Anderson served in a similar capacity with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers when Ken Pearson was the GM/head coach there. Pearson now is the Natives’ GM/head coach. . . . Kori Pearson played three seasons (1993-96) with the Natives, then played with Dakota College in Bottineau, N.D., and Concordia, Minn., College. He now is an assistant coach with the East Ridge Raptors of the Minnesota High School Hockey League, while living in Cottage Grove, Minn. He also worked under Ken Pearson as Winkler’s director of U.S. scouting.


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WHL marketplace starts to heat up . . . Blades add a defenceman, move out two . . . Chiefs juggle to firm up goaltending


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Wednesday’s action:

No. of trades: 4.

Players: 5.

Bantam draft picks: 4.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 21.

Players: 42.

Bantam draft picks: 32.

Conditional draft picks: 10.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


The Saskatoon Blades made a pair of trades on Wednesday, both of them involving defencemen.

The Blades began the day by acquiring D Reece Harsch, 19, from the Seattle SaskatoonThunderbirds for D Zach Ashton, 17, and a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 bantam draft.

Later, the Blades sent D Seth Bafaro, 19, to the Vancouver Giants for a fifth-round selection in the 2021 bantam draft.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Harsch was selected by Seattle in the eighth round of the 2014 bantam draft.

In 149 regular-season games with Seattle, he had 15 goals and 32 assists. He also was part of the Thunderbirds’ 2016-17 championship team. This season, Harsch has two goals and eight assists in 28 games.

“Reece is an experienced player we’ve had our eye on for a while,” Saskatoon general manager Colin Priestner said in a news release. “He plays a hard game, has 25 games of playoff experience, and knows what it takes to win a championship in this league.”

Harsch should be available Friday when the Blades entertain the Regina Pats.

Ashton, from Calgary, was a third-round selection by Saskatoon in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, as a freshman, he had one assist in nine games with the Blades. He played the previous two seasons with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes.

This season, Bafaro, who was born in Kamloops, has four goals and three assists in 27 Vancouvergames this season. In 116 career games, 31 with the Tri-City Americans and 85 with the Blades, he has seven goals and 11 assists.

Vancouver general manager Barclay Parneta is quite familiar with Bafaro. Parneta was Tri-City’s head scout and assistant GM when Bafaro began his WHL career with the Americans in 2016-17. The Americans selected him in the third round of the 2015 bantam draft.

Tri-City traded Bafaro to Saskatoon on July 5, 2017, getting back two bantam draft picks — a third-rounder in 2019 and a fifth-rounder in 2020.

The Giants are four games into their Central Division trip, having played in Medicine Hat on Wednesday night. Bafaro wasn’t in the lineup for that one, but should be available on Friday in Lethbridge.

BTW, Vancouver’s roster now includes nine defencemen, including Matt Barberis, who is injured and has only played nine games this season.


The Tri-City Americans have acquired F Nick Bowman, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a tri-citysixth-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. . . . Bowman, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., was acquired by the Ice, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft, from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Oct. 22, in exchange for forwards Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, who are twins. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings selected Bowman in the sixth round of the 2015 bantam draft. On May 3, they dealt him to Moose Jaw, with a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, for F Vince Loschiavo. . . . This season, Bowman had one assist in 10 games with the Warriors, then scored twice in 10 games with the Ice before choosing to leave the team. . . . In 137 career WHL games, he has 15 goals and 14 assists. . . . Bowman is playing for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and, according to Tri-City general manager Bob Tory, will remain there for the remainder of this season “and will affiliate with the Americans.”


The Spokane Chiefs did some juggling in their goaltending department on Wednesday.

For starters, they announced that Dawson Weatherill won’t play again this season. SpokaneChiefsAccording to a news release, Weatherill “is awaiting surgery.” The Chiefs didn’t specify what kind of surgery.

They then acquired Reece Klassen from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

And, finally, the Chiefs returned Campbell Arnold to the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Arnold got into one game with the Chiefs, stopping 10 of 11 shots.

Klassen, 19, is from Cloverdale, B.C. The Hurricanes signed Klassen in 2017 after he went undrafted. This season, with the Hurricanes, he is 11-4-7, 3.57, .891. In 49 regular-season games over two seasons with the Hurricanes, he is 16-12-10, 3.59, .889.

The Hurricanes moved Klassen after acquiring Liam Hughes, 19, from the Seattle LethbridgeThunderbirds on Tuesday. The Hurricanes now have Hughes and freshman Carl Tetachuk as their two goaltenders.

In Spokane, Klassen will team up with Bailey Brkin as the Chiefs’ goaltenders. Brkin, 19, is 14-7-2, 2.68, .919.

Weatherill, 19, is from Red Deer, and was a second-round pick by the Rebels in the 2014 bantam draft. This season, he was 6-6-2, 4.33, .862 with the Chiefs, but hadn’t played since Dec. 16, which was Spokane’s last game before the Christmas break.

In 102 career appearances — five with the Rebels and 97 with the Chiefs — he is 44-33-14, 3.46, .885. The Chiefs acquired him from Red Deer on Sept. 28, 2016, in a deal that had G Tyson Verhelst go the other way.

The Chiefs are scheduled to entertain the Kamloops Blazers on Friday night.

Hamilton talks a bit about lawsuit . . . Are Chiefs all-in on this season? . . . Pats player draws six-game suspension

Deer

We had some visitors to our backyard on Friday afternoon. Two does — one with two offspring, the other with one — stopped by to say hello and see how the hedge tasted. Oh, and the two moms also sampled what’s in the bird feeders. It’s amazing how their tongues fit perfectly in the slots in the feeders.



MacBeth

G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) has been placed on waivers by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL). In one game, he was 5.36, .786.


ThisThat

Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, was in attendance earlier this week when the Moose Jaw Warriors held their annual general meeting.

Among other things, the Warriors, one of the WHL’s four community-owned teams, MooseJawWarriorsrevealed a profit of $704,182 for the 2017-18 season and a bank balance of $1,157,466. As Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com reported, that bank balance is “after the team spent $233,648 on new boards and glass at Mosaic Place.” (Smith’s story on the annual meeting is right here.)

After the formal part of the meeting, Hamilton took part in an open session that also included Warriors general manager Alan Millar and head coach Tim Hunter.

According to Smith, Hamilton provided an update on the minimum-wage lawsuit that some of the CHL’s teams are facing. If you’ve tuned in late, some past and present players are involved in a class-action lawsuit asking, among other things, that teams pay minimum wage to players. The leagues/teams are fighting the lawsuit.

“We have legislation in every province now except Alberta and Ontario,” Hamilton said, referring to legislation to exempt teams from minimum-wage laws in some jurisdictions. “We anticipate Ontario when the new premier can find time to work towards that . . . we feel confident that it will go through; Alberta, we may need to wait until there’s an election there.”

Of the possibility that the teams could lose the lawsuit, Hamilton said: “It’s sad because if it came to be, it would really impact a lot of other sports and amateur athletics in Canada.”

According to Smith, Hamilton also said: “We’re confident that in the end, we’ll succeed, but how long it takes is the thing that probably wears people out a bit. But we can only do what we’re asked to by the courts and in the end our plan is to be successful and save the amateur status for the players.”

What I don’t understand is this . . . major junior players aren’t amateurs. They just aren’t.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines amateur as “one who engages in a pursuit, study, science or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession.”

Over at dictionary.com, it’s “an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize.”

Another online definition: “A person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.”

By those definitions, there are few, if any, true amateurs left in our sporting world.

Major junior players already receive a stipend of some kind so they aren’t amateurs, something with which the NCAA obviously agrees.

So why not bring an end to all of this by negotiating a settlement, making certain that players receive, if not minimum wage, at least something from merchandise sales and cash cows like the World Junior Championship and Memorial Cup tournament?

If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the book written by former NCAA and NBA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. It’s title is Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA.

Yes, comparing the CHL and its teams to the NCAA is in a lot of ways comparing apples and oranges. But O’Bannon’s book is all about the rights of a player to control his likeness — including in computer games — and there are similarities, for sure.

By the way, Smith’s piece on the hot-stove session is right here.


The WHL’s three other community-owned teams are the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos.

The Raiders held their AGM on Aug. 21 and declared a loss of $168,430 for 2017-18, after losing $250,850 in 2016-17. The Raiders made the playoffs last spring, but lost a seven-game first-round series to the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Hurricanes’ AGM is scheduled for Sept. 17, with the Broncos’ on Sept. 25.

A year ago, the Hurricanes announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season. In 2017-18, they reached the Eastern Conference final for a second straight season.

For 2016-17, the Broncos announced a profit of $135,922. That came after reaching Game 7 of a second-round playoff series. In 2017-18, the Broncos won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as playoff champions, so it will be most interesting to see what that has meant to the franchise’s bottom line.


If early indications mean anything, it would appear that the Spokane Chiefs are all-in on SpokaneChiefsthe 2018-19 WHL season. . . . It isn’t often that a WHL team keeps two 19-year-old goaltenders on its roster, but that’s the position in which the Chiefs find themselves after dropping Campbell Arnold, 16, from their roster. . . . The move left the Chiefs with a pair of 19-year-olds — Dawson Weatherill, who has rejoined the team after being in camp with the NHL’s Boston Bruins, and Bailey Brkin. . . . Weatherill made 46 appearances with the Chiefs last season, going 26-12-6, 3.09, .893. . . . Brkin got into 23 games with the Kootenay Ice (7-12-2, 4.51, .874) before being acquired by the Chiefs. In Spokane, he was 4-2-0, 2.59, .913 in seven games. . . . Arnold, a second-round selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, will remain on the Chiefs’ protected list. He played last season at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . .

Last season, the Chiefs, under head coach Dan Lambert, who was in his first season in Spokane, went 41-25-6 to finish third in the U.S. Division. They lost a seven-game first-round playoff series to the Portland Winterhawks.


F Brian Harris has joined the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders after being released by the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Harris, 19, is from Wawanesa, Man. . . . Last season, he had two goals and one assist in 49 games with the Oil Kings. In 2016-17, he had one goal in five games with Edmonton. He also played with Swan Valley that season, putting up 15 goals and 11 assists in 60 games. . . . He was an 11th-round selection by Edmonton in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . .

G Nick Sanders, 20, who was released by the Calgary Hitmen, has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Sanders missed a lot of last season due to hip problems, but he did get into 13 games with the Bobcats and four with the Prince Albert Raiders, who dealt him to the Hitmen. . . .

F Blake Bargar, 20, who played the past four seasons in the WHL, has joined the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. Bargar, from Torrance, Calif., spent two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors and one each with the Victoria Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. In 238 regular-season games, he put up 19 goals and 23 assists.


The Moose Jaw Warriors now have four 20-year-olds on their roster after bringing in D Dalton Hamaliuk, who had been released by the Spokane Chiefs. Hamaliuk was in the Warriors’ lineup on Friday night for an exhibition game in Brandon against the Wheat Kings. He scored once in a 3-2 loss to the Wheat Kings. . . . From Leduc, Alta., Hamaliuk has six goals and 31 assists in 213 regular-season games, all with the Chiefs. . . . In Moose Jaw, he joins G Brodan Salmond, D Brandon Schuldhaus and F Tristin Langan in the competition for the three 20-year-old spots. . . . By the way, Schuldhaus will sit out the first three games of the regular season with a suspension left over from last season. He was suspended after taking a match penalty in Game 7 of a second-round playoff series with the visiting Swift Current Broncos on April 16.


D Parker Gavlas of the Regina Pats has been hit with a six-game suspension after taking a Patschecking-to-the-head major and game misconduct during an exhibition game against the host Saskatoon Blades on Thursday night. . . . Gavlas, 19, is from Saskatoon. He was pointless in eight games with the Pats last season. He had one goal and 11 assists in 35 games with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . The Blades won Thursday’s game, 3-2, to run their exhibition record to 6-0-0. . . . Gavlas sat out Regina’s final exhibition game — a 5-2 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night — and will miss the first five games of the regular season.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


There was an interesting development in the camp of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. They announced that, effective immediately, they will be much more specific when it comes to reporting player injuries. In other words, there won’t be any more lower-body and upper-body injuries in the Blackhawks’ injury reports.

They were as good as their word on Friday, too, with goaltender Corey Crawford speaking with reporters about a concussion he suffered last season. He admitted that he still has symptoms, so hasn’t yet been cleared to take part in training camp.


Riley Cote played four seasons (1998-2002) with the Prince Albert Raiders before going on to a pro career that included 156 regular-season NHL games. He was an enforcer with the Philadelphia Flyers, totalling one goal, six assists in 411 penalty minutes. . . . These days, the 36-year-old native of Winnipeg is “preaching the gospel of medicinal marijuana,” writes David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail. . . . Canada will legalize marijuana in October, and Shoalts also spoke with CHL president Dave Branch, who said that his organization is educating itself about what remains a banned substance. . . . Shoalts’s complete story is right here.


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