Who knew the WHL had different eras? Live-puck and dead-puck? . . . Tigers bring back 14-year-old for a look . . . Ex-WHLer getting a look in QMJHL

Darlene4
The fall colours are glorious along the South Thompson River, about 14 kilometres east of Kamloops.

The WHL’s latest available Official Guide includes a category — it’s on Page 273 — with the header: LONGEST WINNING STREAK.

It shows that the Victoria Cougars hold that record, having won 24 straight games from Feb. 6, 1981, through Oct. 9, 1981. That streak obviously overlapped two seasons.

It has the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins next, with 22 straight victories, from Oct. 6, 1967, through Dec. 12, 1967. That was a season-opening streak.

In third spot are the 2013-14 Portland Winterhawks, who won 21 in a row from Jan. 11, 2014, through Feb. 28, 2014.

There is nothing in this particular entry to indicate that Victoria and Portland were playing in “modern WHL history,” while Estevan was playing in some other era. In fact, there is nothing anywhere in the WHL records to indicate that the league differentiates between records set prior to 1978 and after.

In fact, prior to Sunday night I had never heard anyone involved with the WHL refer to “modern WHL history” or “modern WHL mark” or anything else of that ilk.

And yet there was the WHL on Sunday night, tweeting that the Red Deer Rebels “improved their season-opening win streak, becoming the first team in modern WHL history (1978-present) to start a season with 13 consecutive victories.”

No, the WHL didn’t use the word ‘record,’ as in “the Rebels have set a modern WHL (1978-present) record for the longest season-opening win streak.”

However, Chris Wahl the WHL’s senior manager, communications, wrote a piece that was posted on the league’s website on Sunday. It included:

“Over the past 44 years, no Western Hockey League team had ever started a season with 13 consecutive wins.

“Until Sunday.

“The Red Deer Rebels dispatched the Edmonton Oil Kings 7-2 at Rogers Place, earning their 13th win in as many tries, setting a new, modern WHL mark in the process. . . .

“The Rebels streak unseats the 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos 12-game run as the longest season-opening winning streak since the WHL adopted its current name in 1978. . . .

“The all-time League record for consecutive wins to begin a season is 22, set by the WCHL’s Estevan Bruins in 1967.”

(In its first season, it was the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL). Prior to its second season, 1967-68, it changed its name to Western Canada Junior Hockey League (WCJHL). Before a third season got started, there had been another name change, this time to the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). That name lasted through the 1977-78 season, after which it was changed to Western Hockey League.)

It would seem, then, that the WHL has decided to split its record book into two sections — 1966-67 through 1977-78, and 1978-19 through the present.

If that’s the case, it really is too bad because this league has a whole lot of interesting history, some of it from before 1978. For example, the New Westminster Bruins won a record four straight WHL championships — 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978. Does that now become the olden day record? If that’s the case, it would leave the Kamloops Blazers (1994, 1995) and Medicine Hat Tigers (1987, 1988) to share the ‘modern’ WHL record of two straight.

Wouldn’t it have been easier just to point out that the Rebels have the second-longest season-opening winning streak (13 games) in league history, and that the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins hold the record (22)? This doesn’t diminish what the Rebels are doing this season. Not at all. And, who knows, maybe they’ll get to 22 before they’re done.

And wouldn’t it be a terrific move for the WHL to hire a historian, provide that person with a desk, a computer and a subscription to newspapers.com, and turn her/him loose?


Darlene1
The trumpeter swans are back on the South Thompson River, which means winter won’t be far behind. This was one of about 30 of the noisy birds that had gathered on the river’s south shore 20 kilometres east of Kamloops on Monday.

The Red Deer Rebels got to 13-0-0 with a 7-2 victory over the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday. . . . The Rebels, who scored the game’s last six goals, got a RedDeergoal and two assists from F Kai Uchacz, who has 11 goals and three assists in 13 games. . . . The defending-champion Oil Kings went 1-11 on the PP as their record slipped to 1-12-1. . . . Troy Gillard, the Rebels’ director of broadcasts and media, tweeted on Monday that the Rebels’ winning streak “is the second-longest in team history.” In 2001-02, the Rebels put together a 14-game streak. They got it started on Jan. 6 with a 4-2 victory over the host Saskatoon Blades. On Feb. 9, Red Deer won its 14th in a row, 6-2 over the visiting Portland Winterhawks. The streak ended on Feb. 13 when the Rebels, playing at home, lost, 5-4 in OT, to the Prince Albert Raiders. Interestingly, the Rebels went on to win their next three games. . . . The Rebels take their 13-0-0 mark into Swift Current on Friday, so could equal the franchise record for longest victory streak in any era while stretching their ‘modern’ era record for longest victory streak to open a season. . . .

In Regina, F Connor Bedard scored twice and added three assists on Sunday in leading the Pats to a 7-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans, who had won four Reginain a row. . . . The Pats had lost their previous four games. . . . Bedard, who is on a 14-game point streak, enjoyed the third five-point game of his career. . . . He leads the league in goals (13), assists (16) and points (29), all in 15 games. . . . Regina D Corbin Vaughan drew a major and game misconduct for a headshot at 12:23 of the first period. He was playing in his second game after serving a four-game suspension that was issued under supplemental discipline following a game against Prince Albert on Oct. 12. . . .

In Sunday’s other game, F Riley Fiddler-Schultz gave host Calgary a 3-1 lead Calgaryover the Vancouver Giants and the Hitmen held on for a 3-2 victory. . . . Fiddler-Schultz has seven goals this season, including a five-goal outing. . . . Calgary now has won three straight. . . . The Hitmen will play their next two homes games — Wednesday against the Victoria Royals and Friday against the Medicine Hat Tigers — at the 2,000-seat Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina Nation. The Hitmen bill the facility as “our home away from the Dome.”


Darlene2
This guy was in a field in front of hoodoos along Shuswap Road east of Kamloops on Monday afternoon. He was slowly walking east . . .

JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Gavin McKenna, a 14-year-old who earned four assists in the only WHL game he has played, will be in the Medicine Hat Tigers’ lineup tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . F Cayden Lindstrom has been added to the Team White roster for the U17 World Hockey Challenge that is to run in Langley, B.C., from Thursday through Nov. 12. . . . Lindstrom got the call after F Ollie Josephson of the Red Deer Rebels was ruled out because of an undisclosed injury. . . . McKenna, who will turn 15 on Dec. 20, was the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft. From Whitehorse, he made his WHL debut by setting up four goals in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sept. 24. . . .

D Trevor Thurston, 20, has joined the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. He has totalled 107 WHL regular-season games, spending time with the Kamloops Blazers, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders. He started this season with the Raiders, getting into three games before going on to the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. . . . A fourth-round pick by Kamloops in the 2017 WHL draft, he put up 13 goals and 14 assists in those 107 games. . . . Brent Thurston, Trevor’s father, played in the WHL with the Victoria Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. He was with the Chiefs when they won the 1991 Memorial Cup in Quebec City. . . . The Thurstons are from Delta, B.C. . . .

F Lucas Ciona of the Seattle Thunderbirds has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, who selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2021 NHL draft. This season, he has seven goals and 10 assists through nine games for the Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle took him in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. In total, he has 92 points, including 38 goals, in 165 regular-season and playoff games with the Thunderbirds. . . . The 9-1-0 Thunderbirds, who play out of Kent, Wash., are at home to the Prince George Cougars tonight. . . .

The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, who started 3-7-1, fired head coach Craig Duncanson on Monday, with assistant general manager Ken MacKenzie taking over on an interim basis. . . . Duncanson played three seasons (1983-86) with the Wolves. He had been the head coach since July 2021. . . . He is a former NHLer, having been a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1985 draft. . . . The Wolves open a seven-game homestead on Wednesday.


Darlene5
And here’s the fellow from the earlier photo, having quickly moved from a slow walk to a trot. Why? Because the ladies were a couple of hundred metres to the east. (BTW, a photographer I worked with in Regina told me that some blur in a photo denotes speed.)

THINKING OUT LOUD — If this World Series goes deep, Game 6 would be played on Thursday, which is Nov. 5. A seventh game would be played on Nov. 6. Until now, the latest ever date for a World Series game was in 2001 and 2009 when they played on Nov. 4. . . . Might be time to move the entire series to a neutral site with a dome. Just kidding. I think. . . . And let’s not forget that Thursday is going to feature the Houston Astros and the host Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series, while Thursday Night Football will have the Houston Texans against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. . . . The Estevan Bruins hold the WHL record for the longest winning streak to open a season, at 22. Case closed. Unless the league wants to split its history into four eras — CMJHL, WCJHL, WCHL, WHL — and declare record-holders for each, that is. . . . Sheesh! It wasn’t that long ago that the WHL was making a big deal, and rightfully so, about its 50th anniversary season. There wasn’t any talk then about live-puck and dead-puck eras.


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.


Darlene3
This lady stopped by one afternoon last week to dine on leaves from a peach tree from which I had trimmed a few branches. She and some friends cleaned up that pile of leaves in about two days.

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering if CFL will have to postpone a game . . .

scattershooting

You have to think warning bells are going off in team offices of various leagues these days.

The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders didn’t practise on Tuesday. They didn’t COVIDpractise on Wednesday. Their scheduled game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts on Saturday is likely to be postponed.

All because the team has had 13 players and five members of its support staff test positive for COVID-19. TSN’s Dave Naylor reported that “at least one QB” had tested positive.

Jeremy O’Day, the Roughriders’ general manager and vice-president of football operations, told reporters on Wednesday: “We’re not at the point where we’re changing or postponing any games right now, but it is getting close to the point where it becomes difficult to have a game if you haven’t had enough time to practise or to make sure that you have enough players to put on the roster.”

The Roughriders last played on Saturday when they dropped a 30-24 decision to the Argos in a game played at Acadia U in Wolfville, N.S.

It turns out that Saskatchewan had one player miss that game with symptoms; he later tested positive.

Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote on Wednesday: “Comprehensive testing has been a daily occurrence since the team returned to the Queen City. Dating back to July 12, the Roughriders have had 13 players and five staff members test positive. Three players had been removed from COVID protocol, as of Wednesday afternoon.”

Vanstone’s comprehensive story is right here.


Facebook


As the pandemic drags on — I see some in the medical/scientific communities are referring to a seventh wave on the way or maybe even here already — I continue to be dumbfounded by the apparent inability of  provincial health officials to get on the same page. Some recent headlines . . .

From Winnipeg radio station 680 CJOB on Wednesday: Manitoba’s chief public health officer says the province has no immediate plans to expand fourth COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to include all adults.

From CBC News on July 13: Sask. not offering 2nd COVID-19 booster doses to people under 50 until fall, despite low booster rates.

From CBC News on Tuesday: Alberta expands access to second COVID-19 booster shots to all adults.

From the Saanich News on July 7: B.C. rolling out fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose in the fall.


Milk


Jim Souhan, a columnist with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, writing in advance of the PGA Tour’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minn., this week: “Imagine being worried about losing Dustin Johnson to LIV Golf. Have you ever met Dustin Johnson? He needs a caddie to make it through a sentence. Beige wants its personality back.”

More from Souhan’s column: “The only humorous aspect of LIV has been watching formerly popular golfers who joined it trying to defend the move. They can’t, and they embarrass themselves trying.

“On Friday (at The Open), Woods limped to the 18th green while receiving a massive ovation as he missed the cut. Phil Mickelson also missed the cut. LIV golf’s biggest name received a few golf claps.

“Woods will be remembered as a champion. Mickelson will be remembered as a sellout. Even LIV money won’t buy back his reputation.”

Souhan’s complete column is right here.



The tweet above is Marc Habscheid introducing himself to fans of his new team. . . . Over the past couple of days, the Pioneers have signed former WHLers Matt Revel and Clayton Kirichenko.

THE COACHING GAME:

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles have hired Jon Goyens as their new head coach. He was the head coach of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar for 2019-20, but left the team during the pandemic season of 2020-21. Prior to that, the Montreal native was with the Lac St-Louis team in the Quebec M18 league. . . . Goyens replaced Chadd Cassidy, who resigned as the Eagles’ head coach on July 6. . . . BTW, the Eagles issued the news release announcing Goyens’ hiring at midnight local time. Why? Because it’s the Q. . . .

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks have added Angus Redmond to their staff as the goaltending coach. Redmond, 26, is from Langley, B.C. He is a former Silverbacks goaltending, having played 132 games over four seasons (2012-16) before moving on to Michigan Tech for one season. He has spent the past five seasons playing in the ECHL and AHL.


Waiter


THINKING OUT LOUD: Does anyone have any idea what Hockey Canada will look like in a year? Two years? . . . Hey, Calgary Flames fans, how are you coping? First, Johnny Hockey takes a hike and now it seems that Chucky is going to follow him out the door. Ryan Pike (@@RyanNPike), the editor of @FlamesNation, points out that “in the salary cap era (2005-06 onward), there were 39 100+point seasons prior to 2021-22. All 39 of those players were on the same team the following season. To call Calgary’s off-season ‘unprecedented’ would be an understatement.” . . . Pike also points out that “Jaromir Jagr being traded by Pittsburgh following the 2000-01 season is the last time a 100-point player changed teams before the following season.” . . . The MLB All-Star Game always seems to be worth watching, but those uniforms have got to go. Whatever happened to each player wearing his club’s uniform?


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.


Turn

Rockets take their show to The Lizard . . . Thank Bartel as they make move . . . Thunderbirds add potential key piece of puzzle

Lizard

A WHL season without the dulcet tones of Regan Bartel on the airwaves?

Who knows?

But the Kelowna Rockets, the team whose play-by-play Bartel has handled for 22 seasons, announced Wednesday that they are changing radio stations, moving from Bell Media’s AM 1150 to Pattison Media’s 104.7 The Lizard.

That’s right! A team that has the Ogopogo lake monster on its primary logo now will have its games heard on a radio station that calls itself The Lizard.

And, at least for now, it appears that Bartel won’t be making the move with the Rockets.

“We especially want to recognize Regan Bartel,” Gavin Hamilton, the Rockets’ vice-president of business development, said in a statement. “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.”

The Rockets, who have been in Kelowna for 27 seasons, were on AM 1150 for 23 years, with Bartel, who also works in the AM 1150 newsroom, calling the play for 22 of those seasons. Prior to that, he was the voice of the Swift Current Broncos for five seasons.

The Rockets and AM 1150 signed what turned out to be their final contract, a three-year deal, in March 2019.

“The decision to move was one that required much deliberation and thoughtful consideration,” the Rockets said in a statement.

Ken Kilcullen, Bell Media’s general manager for stations in B.C.’s Interior, said in a statement: “The Kelowna Rockets have elected to end our long-time association, having not renewed a play-by-play agreement with Bell Media. I believe we at Bell Media made a very competitive offer in return for a new three-year agreement, but in the end, Rockets’ management is moving in a different direction.”


sneeze


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Gracyn Sawchyn, who was the first Seattleoverall selection in the inaugural two-round draft of U.S. players that was held in 2020. Sawchyn, who had never made a commitment but was believed to be NCAA-bound, actually was selected by the Red Deer Rebels. They dealt his rights to Seattle for a conditional second-round bantam draft selection on May 14, 2021. It’s likely safe to assume that the pick was conditional on Seattle signing Sawchyn. . . . Thom Beuning, the long-time radio voice of the Thunderbirds, explained the trade on Twitter on Wednesday: “The 2nd Red Deer gets could be Van’s (acquired last summer by Seattle). Seattle already owes a 2023 2nd to Med Hat from the (Lukas) Svejkovsky deal. Of course, the deal really ends up being Seattle trading Kai Uchacz for Sawchyn, as a 2nd round pick went both ways in those separate deals.” . . . Sawchyn, 17, is from Edmonton but spent the past five years in Minnesota. In 2021-22, he had 10 goals and 23 assists with the U.S. national U-17 team, and had eight goals and 14 assists in 35 games with a U.S. National Team Development Program team in the USHL. . . . The Thunderbirds selected Lukas Sawchyn, Gracyn’s younger brother, with the sixth-overall pick in the 2022 U.S. draft in May. Lukas put up 35 goals and 50 assists in 52 games with a 14U AAA team at Shattuck St. Mary’s in 2021-22.


CovidWar

From Shanifa Nasser of CBC News: Ontario has officially entered its seventh wave of COVID-19, driven this time by the Omicron BA.5 subvariant, the province’s top doctor confirms. “Sadly yes, we’re in another wave,” Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer, told CBC News Wednesday after Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table pointed to exponential growth in most public health units.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Kamloops Blazers will make a tour of the Central Division in February with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the Canadian women’s curling championship — in their home arena. The curling is scheduled to run from Feb. 17 through Feb. 26. The Blazers, the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup (May 26-June 4), are to play at home on Feb. 11 and then not again until March 3. . . .

On Tuesday night, I wrote in this space that Norm Daley was introduced as the Blazers’ president and alternate governor at a Tuesday news conference. It actually was held on Monday morning. Hey, don’t laugh. When you’re retired and every weekend is a long one, there will be times when you won’t know what day it is either. . . .

We now know why the Winnipeg Ice is to open the 2022-23 season on a 13-game road trip. Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted on Wednesday that “Wayne Fleming Arena is getting a new ice plant and ventilation system to replace the 40-year-old infrastructure. Installation was delayed by Ice playoff run.” He added that the U of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey team won’t play there until Nov. 4; the men’s team is out until Nov. 11. . . . All three of those teams are to hold their training camps at the RINK Training Centre in Oak Bluff, Man. The Ice also will play two exhibition games there. . . . As for that new arena that Ice ownership said would be built after the franchise was moved out of Cranbrook after the 2019-20 season, well, Sawatzky tweeted: “No news to report on arena.” 


Anxiety


THE COACHING GAME: Chadd Cassidy has resigned as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. “It was my every intention that my family would be moving with me to Cape Breton when I took the job,” Cassidy, 48, said in a statement, “but my family situation has changed and we are unable to relocate to Cape Breton. After getting back home with my family it became more and more clear to me that I can’t be without them.” . . . Cassidy, whose home is in Lake Placid, N.Y., joined the Eagles in January, replacing Jake Grimes who resigned on Nov. 30 citing “personal/family reasons.” . . .

Grady Nursey, who spent the past four seasons playing for the junior B Westshore Wolves, is staying with the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team as an assistant coach. He was the team captain for the past two seasons. . . . With the Wolves, he will work alongside general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter.


Tat


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.


Wisdom

Scattershooting on a Sunday evening while enjoying Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap . . .

scattershooting

NormDaley
Norm Daley is to be introduced as the Kamloops Blazers’ president on Monday. (Photo: Daley and Co. LLP/Facebook)

GOOD MORNING, MR. PRESIDENT: The WHL’s Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to hold a news conference today (Monday) to introduce Norm Daley, who is well-known in the city’s business and sporting communities, as the organization’s president. . . . Daley will fill the office vacated when Don Moores died of a heart attack while golfing on June 30, 2021. Moores was 65. He had been the team’s president since June 30, 2016. . . . Daley, who recently retired from Daley and Company LLP, an accounting firm, already is chairman of the organizing committee that won the right for Kamloops and the Blazers to play host to the 2023 Memorial Cup. He also has been the chairman of the Blazers’ advisory board that helps the organization connect with the community. . . . Daley also is co-owner of the Kamloops NorthPaws, who are in their first season in the West Coast League, a short-season summer baseball league. . . . Among other things, he was co-chair of the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship that was held in Kamloops.


SORRY, BUT IT ISN’T OVER: If you regularly tune in to Donnie and Dhali on Victoria’s CHEK-TV, well, you can skip today (Monday). That’s because co-hosts Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal, and producer Ryan Henderson, all tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. . . . According to a Tweet from the show’s account, they are in isolation and “won’t have a show” on Monday. “We hope to be back on Tuesday.” . . . No, the pandemic isn’t over. And, by the way, it’s here for at least another year or two. . . . Get vaccinated. . . . Get boosted. . . . Wear a mask. . . . Thank you!


Bodies


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Supreme Court overturns Alien v. Predator.


“The Dallas Cowboys coined the term Hail Mary, and now they’re putting a different spin on the coffin corner,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Rabid fans of the team have something to die for — a custom casket decked out in the NFL team’s colors and iconic lone-star logo. For a proud franchise that hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1996, it’s just one more letdown.”

——

Perry, again: “Major League Baseball will allow its teams to sell sponsorships to cannabis companies that market CBD products, the Sports Business Journal reported. ‘Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain’ is about to be supplanted by ‘Cheech and Chong and Pass the Bong.’ ”


There can’t be anything more painful in sports these days than watching Joey Gallo of the New York Yankees at the plate with a bat in his hands. He is more lost than was Dr. Livingstone. You want proof? In June, Gallo struck out 32 times. The late Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres struck out 27 times — total— in the final three seasons of his career.


TurnSignal


There is an expression in major junior hockey that goes like this: “Because it’s qmjhlnewthe Q.” . . . It has long been a way for observers to shrug off some of the bizarre things that often seem to occur involving the QMJHL and its teams. Take Saturday, for example. The QMJHL’s summer trading period opened and no one was more active than the Cape Breton Eagles. How active were they? Well, they made 10 trades in one day — yes, 10 . . . in one day. When they were done, the Eagles had acquired seven players and nine draft selections while moving out eight players and nine picks. . . . Only in the Q.



THINKING OUT LOUD: Wouldn’t you love to know how today’s NHL players really feel about the salary cap under which they play? F Kevin Fiala put up 33 goals and 52 assists in 82 games with the Minnesota Wild in 2021-22, but then was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings for cap-related reasons. He signed with the Kings for US$55.125 million over seven years. At the same time, NBA teams were giving players five-year deals worth $200 million or more. . . . F Chris Boucher, who played about 20 minutes per game last season, re-signed with the Toronto Raptors for $35.25 million over three years. . . . F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, arguably the best player in hockey today, is about to enter the fifth year of his eight-year, $100-million contract. . . . Here’s Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “When the NHL went to (a) salary cap in 2004, the highest-paid players were Jaromir Jagr and Peter Forsberg, each at $11 million a year. The salary cap then was $39 million. It has more than doubled in the 18 years since then, but the highest-paid player’s salary has only grown from $11 million to $12.5 million. The salaries of the middle-range players have grown out of control in the NHL, and that’s happened at the expense of the superstars, who aren’t paid comparable to what the greats are paid in other leagues.” . . . There was a time early in my newspaperin’ career when the item referred to in the following tweet was my favourite book. . . .


WifeTrunk


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News, on the NBA and its teams’ penchant for throwing around the Benjamins: “This has become a league that is ridiculous with money, a league where Bradley Beal — maybe you’ve ever actually watched him play, maybe not — can command a $250-million contract with the Wizards and where (Kyrie) Irving, whom the Nets don’t even want, can exercise an option and put the Nets on the books for $36.5 million. And who wouldn’t want to pay Dr. Irving that, after he was such a team guy in 2021-22?”

——

Lupica, again: “The Blue Jays missed the postseason by one game last season and if that happens to the Red Sox this time, they might remember a couple of games they lost this week in Toronto because they didn’t have the unvaxxed Jarren Duran or their unvaxxed closer Tanner Houck with them. Two more graduates of the Kyrie Irving School of Medicine.”


Headline at fark.com: Kevin Durant the player not happy with the team Kevin Durant the GM has created, demands to be traded to any team that was in the Finals in the last 3 years.


Let’s close with one more from Dwight Perry: “Muhammad Ali on a commemorative stamp? It’s way overdue. As the ever-confident heavyweight champ, who died in 2016, once said: ‘I should be a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.’ ”


Alien


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.


Cosell

WHL’s second round set to begin . . . It’s Rebels at Oil Kings tonight . . . Bardsley takes over in Spokane

WHLplayoffs2022After taking a couple of nights off, the WHL playoffs resume tonight (Thursday) as the second round gets started with an Eastern Conference matchup — the Red Deer Rebels visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . No, I’m not going to make predictions but I will tell you that the teams met 10 times this season — the Oil Kings were 5-3-2, while the Rebels were 5-5-0. . . . Edmonton had a 34-29 edge in goals scored. . . . Over 68 games, the Oil Kings finished 50-14-4, which left them 10 points ahead of the Rebels (45-19-4). . . . If you’re looking for a harbinger, perhaps this is it — they evenly split their last four regular-season meetings, all of which came in April, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Edmonton outscored Red Deer, 16-15, in those four games. . . . Does that signal a close series? . . . The Oil Kings are coming off a sweep of the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes, while the Rebels took six games to shake off the No. 6 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .

The other Eastern Conference semifinal is to open Friday night in Winnipeg with the Ice playing host to the Winnipeg Warriors. . . . They met seven times in the regular season, with Winnipeg going 5-1-1 and Winnipeg 2-5-0. . . . There was a large discrepancy in offence with the Ice holding a 37-16 edge. . . . Winnipeg had the WHL’s best regular-season record (53-10-5) and wound up 20 points ahead of the Warriors (37-24-7). . . . They met three times late in the regular season, with Winnipeg winning, 4-0 and 8-1, on March 16 and 29. The last time they played each other, on April 2, the host Warriors won, 3-1. . . . In the first round, the Ice took care of the No. 8 Prince Albert Raiders in five games, while the Warriors did the same to the No. 5 Saskatoon Blades. . . .

Meanwhile, one Western Conference semifinal opens Friday night, with the other swinging into action on Saturday. . . .

The Vancouver Giants, fresh off perhaps the biggest upset in WHL playoff history, are to be in Kamloops to face the Blazers on Friday night. . . . The Blazers are the highest seed in the Western Conference now. They went in as the second seed, but the top-seeded Everett Silvertips were ousted by the No. 8 Giants. . . . Kamloops finished the regular season at 48-17-3, 46 points ahead of Vancouver (24-39-5). . . . The Blazers, who swept the No. 7 Spokane Chiefs while outscoring them, 23-3, dominated the regular-season series, going 10-1-1 — Vancouver was 2-9-1 — and outscoring the Giants, 50-24. . . . These teams have met four times since Feb. 1 with Kamloops winning three of them — 3-2, 4-3 (OT) and 5-2 — while losing 4-3 in OT at home. . . .

The No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds are to open on Saturday night. Because the arena in Portland is busy with high school grads, this series will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format, meaning it is to begin in Kent, Wash., before moving to Portland for two games. . . . The Winterhawks, who swept the No. 6 Prince George Cougars, had a 47-16-5 regular-season record, leaving them five points ahead of Seattle (44-18-6). . . . The Thunderbirds took out the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets in five games. . . . Portland and Seattle met 13 times in the regular season with the Winterhawks going 9-4-0; the Thunderbirds were 4-6-3. . . . Nine of the games were decided by one or two goals with Portland outscoring Seattle, 44-36. . . .

Go ahead. Make your picks. Then let the fun begin . . .


In the OHL, the No. 7 Kitchener Rangers took out the No. 2 London Knights on Wednesday night . . .


Cables


As expected, the Spokane Chiefs have signed Matt Bardsley as their general Spokanemanager, replacing Scott Carter who announced earlier in the season that he is leaving for health and family reasons. Carter had been the GM for six seasons (2016-22). . . . Contract terms weren’t revealed, but you would be safe to say that Bardley got three years and perhaps as many as five. . . . Bardsley is only the Chiefs’ third GM since 1990. Carter had replaced Tim Speltz (1990-2016), who left to scout for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Bardsley was the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager from 2018-21. Recently, he has been working as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . Bardsley, who is from Portland and spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ organization, left Kamloops for family reasons in May 2021. . . . Bardsley was in Kamloops last week for the third game of the Chiefs’ first-round playoff series with the Blazers and, in fact, was spotted in the Spokane dressing room after the game. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here.


In case you thought the pandemic was over, it isn’t. . . . Jackson Browne was supposed to have opened for James Taylor and his All-Star Band tonight (Thursday) at the Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg. But that isn’t going to happen because a “small number of positive COVID-19 cases” were found among tour staff. . . . According to a note on the tour’s website, the decision “was made out of an abundance of caution for the touring personnel, general public and the audience in Winnipeg.” . . . The next stop on the tour is scheduled for Saturday in Calgary. If the virus approves, of course.


Marathon


Mitch

Mitch Love, a former WHL coach and player, has been named the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s coach of the year. Love, 37, is in his first season as head coach of the Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Love played five seasons (2000-05) in the WHL, splitting time with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos and Everett Silvertips. He was an Everett assistant coach for six seasons before spending three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Stockton went 45-16-7 to finish atop the Pacific Division and is awaiting a first-round playoff opponent.


JUST NOTES:

F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs will finish up this season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears after signing an amateur tryout agreement with them. Hughes, who just completed his 20-year-old season, was a fifth-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

D Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips has joined the AHL’s San Diego Gulls for the remainder of the season. The Anaheim Ducks selected Zellweger, who will turn 19 on Sept. 10, in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . .

F Ridley Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings has joined the AHL’s Belleville Senators for their playoff run, as long or short as it may be. The Ottawa Senators grabbed Greig, 19, with the 28th overall pick in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

CapFriendly reported Wednesday that F Ryder Korczak of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Korczak, 19, was selected by the Rangers in the third round of the 2021 draft. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have been purchased by brothers Ron and TJ Brar from Chuck Westgard, who had owned the team for 12 seasons. The league’s board of governors approved the sale last weekend, and it is effective immediately. . . . The Brars own Evergreen Herbs, which, according to a BCHL news release, is “a Surrey-based business that has grown into a leading provider of fresh herbs and vegetables to grocery stores across the country.” . . .

Rob DiMaio, a former WHL player, has been named assistant general manager with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. He also will serve as the general manager of their AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. DiMaio was with the St. Louis Blues for the past 13 seasons, most recently as director of player personnel. He won back-to-back (1987 and 1988) Memorial Cups with the Medicine Hat Tigers and was the tournament MVP in 1988. . . .

Adam Nightingale is the new head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. For the past two seasons, he was a head coach with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He also has experience as an NHL assistant coach, most recently (2019-20) with the Detroit Red Wings. Nightingale replaces Danton Cole, the head coach for the past five seasons. . . .

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles have renewed the contract of head coach Chad Cassidy. He took over the Eagles’ position on Jan. 7, replacing Jake Grimes, who had resigned for personal reasons.


Therapist


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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.


Cake

Jets won’t be landing in Saskatoon . . . WHL has 15 teams on pause; two others cleared to return; weekend sked down to two games


As of Friday afternoon, the WHL had 15 teams on pause “as a result of multiple players and staff” having been placed on the COVID-19 protocol list “due to Covidexhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

The Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Prince George Cougars, Red Deer Rebels, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Victoria Royals and Winnipeg Ice all went into the weekend having paused all team-related activities.

At the same time, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Swift Current Broncos were cleared to return. In fact, they are scheduled to play on Wednesday in Lethbridge.

As a result of all this, the WHL also postponed eight more games — Spokane at Seattle (Teddy Bear Game), tonight (Saturday); Calgary at Regina, Prince Albert at Edmonton, Spokane at Victoria, and Kelowna at Prince George, on Tuesday; and, Calgary at Moose Jaw, Spokane at Victoria, and Kelowna at Prince George, on Wednesday.

You may recall that Spokane was to have visited Victoria on Nov. 12 and 13, but that doubleheader was postponed after two of the Chiefs tested positive. Going into the Christmas break, those were the only two positive tests in the 22-team WHL to that point. The total number of positive tests now likely is somewhere north of 100.

With the postponement of tonight’s game in Spokane, it means that only two of the 23 games originally scheduled for this weekend are still alive — the Portland Winterhawks are to visit Kelowna tonight and then play the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Sunday.

The Winterhawks, who left four players in Portland because of protocol, have added three 16-year-olds to their roster for the two weekend games — F Josh Zakreski of the U-18 Saskatoon Blazers, F Nick Johnson of the Calgary-based Edge School’s U-18 prep team, and D Rhett Ravndahl of the U-18 Prince Albert Mintos.

The Winterhawks were to have played in Kamloops last night. That game was postponed, of course, after the Blazers came up with a number of positives. The Winterhawks practised in Kamloops on Friday morning, then climbed on the bus and headed for Kelowna.

Despite all that has gone on, including 34 postponements since Christmas, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said in a statement that the league and its teams “remain fully committed to playing through” a 68-game regular season and playoffs.

Remember that not all of the postponements have been due to COVID-19. A handful of games in Brandon and Winnipeg have been postponed because of the provincial government restricting attendance, while a few games this weekend were scrubbed because of inclement weather in the Pacific Northwest.

——

If you are wondering about the WHL’s procedure in dealing with COVID-19, this is from a news release issued on Friday:

“WHL clubs are responsible for monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 among players and hockey operations staff on a daily basis. Upon a player or hockey operations staff member exhibiting symptoms, the individual completes a rapid antigen test and isolates. If the rapid antigen test result is positive, the individual is sent for a PCR test to confirm the positive result and determine next steps.

“If there are multiple rapid antigen positive test results for COVID-19, WHLall team activities are paused immediately. The entire team completes one round of PCR testing and isolates until the results are received and the WHL Chief Medical Officer is made aware of the situation. The WHL, in consultation with its Chief Medical Officer, treats each situation as unique. As such, the WHL Chief Medical Officer reviews all positive test results and scenarios on a case-by-case basis, factoring in a number of variables, including travel, recent schedule, and potential exposures that may have occurred.”


Idol


Because of COVID-19, there are all kinds of moving parts in the WHL these days. BrandonLet’s take a look at the Brandon Wheat Kings’ upcoming schedule. . . . The Wheat Kings are one of seven teams not have had to pause team activities. But that doesn’t mean that won’t be impacted. . . . First, they were to have entertained the Calgary Hitmen last night (Friday), but that game was postponed because of the attendance restrictions imposed by the Manitoba government. . . . In the coming week, the Wheat Kings are scheduled to venture into Alberta for four games in five nights. But all four opponents — Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary — have been shut down by the WHL as part of their protocols. . . . After that road trip, the Wheat Kings next games are scheduled for home ice, against the Regina Pats on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. But what if the provincial government hasn’t lifted its restrictions by that time? . . . And so it goes. . . . One would assume that the Wheat Kings have a few uncertain days ahead of them as they and so many others wait to see if/how this all sorts itself out. . . . The Wheat Kings also were planning a reunion of the 1978-79 WHL championship team and had hoped to hold it on the Feb. 4 weekend. The reunion was postponed on Friday, and the organization now is looking to hold it at some point during the 2022-23 season.


The BCHL put the Merritt Centennials and Vernon Vipers on pause for at least five days on Friday, citing COVID-19 protocol and provincial health regulations. The Vipers had three games postponed, while the Centennials lost a pair.


So . . . there are reports of a racial slur having been made during a junior B hockey game in Prince Edward Island on Dec. 17. It seems that a player on the Kensington Vipers directed the slur at a player on the Sherwood Metros. The guilty party drew a two-game suspension for his transgression. . . . Keegan Mitchell, 20, of the Metros was suspended for two games for slashing the offender across the legs in retribution. . . . Then, on Jan. 5, Mitchell took to social media and criticized officials for their response to the incident. . . . The Canadian Press reported that Mitchell posted: “For those of you who know me personally or through hockey, I am almost absolutely certain you recognize me as someone who always stands up for themselves, but more importantly for my friends and teammates. If Hockey P.E.I. took these scenarios as seriously as they say they do, this player would have been suspended appropriately. . . . A two-game suspension for a racist slur is absolutely disgraceful.” . . . Mitchell added that the “pitiful suspension is making our whole community look racist.” . . . This week, Mitchell was suspended indefinitely by Hockey P.E.I. for violating the league’s social media policy. Mitchell was told that has been found to be “a member not in good standing.” . . . Seriously! . . . There’s more right here.


Ricky


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

As expected, Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, has heard from the WHL’s Dept. of Discilpine and was dinged for $500 “for public comments” following a 2-0 loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on New Year’s Eve. . . . Among other things, O’Dette told Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com: “I saw the worst officiated game in my nine years in the WHL, plain and simple.” . . .

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles signed Chadd Cassidy as their head coach on Friday. Cassidy, who is from Lake Placid, N.Y., replaces Jake Grimes, who stepped down on Nov. 30, citing personal and family reasons. Assistant coach Matt Anthony stepped in as interim head coach. . . . Cassidy began this season as the head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. . . .

In the OHL, the Kingston Frontenacs had only 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defencemen — available for a game against the visiting Peterborough Petes on Friday night. The Petes won, 6-5, snapping Kingston’s eight-game winning streak. . . . The OHL had eight games scheduled last night, but had to postpone four of them. . . . It also has postponed four of 11 games scheduled for Saturday.


The 2022 Saskatchewan Winter Games organizing committee announced Friday that the Games have been cancelled “due to COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of all participants.” . . . The Games were to have been held in Regina, Feb. 20-26.


FixinTo


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.


Hearing

NHL’s Jets circling Saskatoon . . . WHL’s weekend schedule takes pounding . . . Maritime junior league shortens sked, pauses until February

Santa


The WHL’s Saskatoon Blades and NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush may be about to get some company in their home arena, SaskTel Centre. Elliott Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada tweeted on Thursday night:

“Earlier tonight, the Winnipeg Jets sent out a survey asking season-seat holders their opinion on the possibility of home games in another jurisdiction. It is believed the Jets are exploring playing some games at Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre while there are attendance restrictions in Manitoba. That arena seats 15,000. At this point, Saskatchewan does not have restrictions. Obviously, there is work that needs to be done, and approvals to be secured. But the Jets are doing their legwork.”


The Portland Winterhawks boarded their bus on Thursday and headed for B.C., Portlandand what they thought would be a three-game weekend. They would meet the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday night, play the Rockets in Kelowna on Saturday and finish up in Langley against the Vancouver Giants on Sunday.

But . . .

The Winterhawks were about halfway to Kamloops when they found out that Friday’s game had been postponed due to an unknown number of positive tests in the Blazers organization.

So instead of having a morning skate in Kamloops today, the Winterhawks will have a full-blown practice.

As of Thursday night, Portland’s games in Kelowna and Vancouver remained on the schedule.

The Winterhawks listed six players in COVID-19 protocol when the WHL released its roster/injury report on Wednesday. They left four players in Portland and will add three new faces to their roster for the games in Kelowna and Langley.

G Taylor Gauthier, who was acquired from the Prince George Cougars on Dec. 27, likely will start one of the two games if they, indeed, get played. Gauthier, a 20-year-old veteran, has had three practices with his new club. He was in protocol, but is out, on the trip and ready to go.

The Blazers, meanwhile, are waiting for results of more tests before being able Kamloops1to decide what’s next for them. The schedule has them heading into the U.S. Division next week for games against the Winterhawks on Wednesday, the Tri-City Americans on Friday and the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday. Of course, a bunch of positive tests could put that trek in jeopardy.

The Rockets reported that their Friday game against visiting Vancouver had been postponed “as a result of multiple Giants players and staff being added” to the protocol list. The Giants listed four players in COVID-19 protocol in the WHL’s roster/injury report that was released on Wednesday. The Rockets said they don’t have any players in protocol.

Between COVID-19 and inclement weather, the WHL’s schedule has taken quite a beating.

Before Thursday was done, all 10 games scheduled for Friday night had been postponed, while eight of 10 games on Saturday’s schedule had met the same fate, as had two of three Sunday games. Yes, the WHL ended up postponing 20 of the 23 games that had been on the schedule.

The changes actually started rolling on Wednesday when the league postponed a doubleheader that would have had the Victoria Royals in Prince George. It also scrapped a home-and-home doubleheader between the Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades.

Most of the postponements were for positive tests among players and staff with various teams. Some, however, were scrubbed due to miserable weather in the Pacific Northwest.

The Everett Silvertips were to have visited Spokane on Friday, Tri-City on Saturday, and then entertained the Americans on Sunday. But all three games have been postponed because of road closures, potential traffic delays and safety concerns. Also scrubbed is a Friday game that was to have had Seattle visit the Americans.

Games in Brandon and Winnipeg have been postponed because of provincial government-issued restrictions limiting attendance in facilities there. The hope is that the government eventually will lift those restrictions and the games can be rescheduled.

Meanwhile, the WHL issued its roster/injury report on Wednesday. WHLInterestingly, the WHL, before Wednesday, frequently stated in virus-related news releases that “in accordance with WHL policy” the teams involved and the WHL “will not be providing comment or identifying the individuals concerned.”

However, in its first roster/injury report since Dec. 14, the WHL identified the players who were in protocol and those who have come out of it with the 14 teams who filed the information with the league office.

Regina had one player in protocol, as did Saskatoon. The Saskatoon player is F Noah Boyko, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who had 14 players/staffers go into protocol. At the same time, the Blades listed three players as having returned from protocol. The Prince Albert Raiders also showed one player in protocol — D Trevor Thurston, who was acquired from Lethbridge.

Prince George didn’t list any players in protocol, while Victoria showed seven. (On Thursday, the Royals announced they were shutting down their Team Store “until Jan. 11 or until further notice to help curb the spread of COVID-19 at” Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.)

All told, the report — it is available right here — showed 42 players in protocol with another six having come out of protocol. Seattle and Swift Current each listed eight players in protocol.

However, Brandon, the Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Red Deer Rebels and Winnipeg Ice, all with no games on tap, didn’t report.

According to the report, the 14 teams that did report also had a total of four players out with undisclosed illnesses, with another seven having returned from being out with undisclosed illnesses.

What all of this means is that you should check your favourite team’s website to make sure a game still is on the schedule before you leave home and head for the arena.


Change


A chronology of the WHL’s battle with COVID-19 since the Christmas break ended:

Jan. 6 — The WHL announced the postponement of two games involving the CovidPrince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos “due to multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list. . . . The league also announced the postponement of seven games, all of them involving Western Conference teams, “as a result of travel delays due to weather in the Pacific Northwest or multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list.

Jan. 5 — The WHL announced the postponement of four games involving the Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars “as a result of multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list.

Jan. 4 — The WHL announced that the Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors and Red Deer Rebels have paused all team-related activities “as a result of multiple players and staff” having been added the COVID-19 protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.” The Rebels say that they had eight players and/or staffers test positive as of Monday.

Jan. 1 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being” on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

Dec. 30 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players” being on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure . . . occurred outside the team environment.”

Dec. 29 — The WHL announced the postponement of a game scheduled for that night that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks meet the host Tri-City Americans. The move was made “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.”

Dec. 27 — The WHL announced that “a total of 36 players or hockey operations staff” were added to the protocol list “as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result.” The league reported that Spokane and Victoria each had four people in protocol, with Portland, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Winnipeg each at three; Brandon, Everett, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Regina each at two; and Kelowna, Moose Jaw, Red Deer, Seattle, Swift Current and Tri-City each at one. Calgary, Edmonton and Prince Albert didn’t have anyone in protocols, while Kamloops and Prince George had yet to report.


Noah


The OHL’s board of governors held a Wednesday meeting and later released a OHLstatement saying “the league has reaffirmed its commitment to continue the 2021-22 season.” . . . The OHL has 17 teams in Ontario and three in the U.S. At present, the OHL teams aren’t allowed to have fans attend their games, something that will continue for at least the next three weeks. . . . Later in the day, the OHL announced the postponement of seven more games due to COVID-19 protocol. At that point, the OHL had postponed 49 games, with 20 of those already having been rescheduled. . . . As of Thursday night, the OHL had postponed eight of the 24 games it has scheduled for this weekend.

——

The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced Thursday that it had postponed weekend games involving the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Castlegar Rebels, Fernie Ghostriders and Kelowna Chiefs “due to a number of positive COVID-19” tests. . . .

The BCHL announced on Thursday that the Powell River Kings and Wenatchee Wild “have paused all team activities for the next five days per COVID-19 protocol and provincial health regulations.” . . . On Wednesday, the Victoria Grizzlies were shut down. . . . Earlier, the BCHL put four other teams on pause — the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Langley Rivermen, Penticton Vees and Trail Smoke Eaters. . . .

The Maritime Junior Hockey League has cut its regular season from 52 games to 42, and is paused until at least Feb. 2. . . . According to the league: “This decision is due to the amount of time remaining to play the season and playoffs, as well as the dates for both the Fred Page Cup in Summerside and the National Championship. This will remove one home game and one away game for every team against each of their divisional opponents.” . . .

The AJHL announced Thursday that five games involving the Lloydminster Bobcats have been postponed “due to COVID-related issues.” . . .


Meanwhile, even with all the uncertainty, teams in the OHL and QMJHL continue to shuffle the deck chairs. . . . In the QMJHL, there were 13 deals made on Thursday. The Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for the 2022 Memorial Cup, assuming COVID-19 gives its approval, were especially busy.




JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The Kamloops Blazers will be out of their home arena, the Sandman Centre, for a couple of weeks in February 2023. That’s because the building will be home to the 2023 Canadian women’s curling championship, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, from Feb. 17-26. . . . The Blazers also are expected to bid on the 2023 Memorial Cup, which is scheduled to be held in the home of a WHL franchise. . . .

Slovakian F Peter Repcik, who started this season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has signed on with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. Repcik, who will turn 18 on Jan. 9, had two assists in 25 games with Lethbridge. The Hurricanes grabbed him in the 2021 CHL import draft. Repcik helped Slovakia to a silver medal at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with eight pints in five games. . . . Repcik lost his spot in Lethbridge when the Hurricanes claimed Swiss F Liekit Reichie, 18, off waivers from the Prince George Cougars.


Plunger


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.


Commit

COVID-19 forces OHL to shut down Wolves . . . Issues in NHL, AHL and MHL, too . . . Blazers, Rockets get good news . . . BCHL revamps schedule

Oh boy, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head all over the hockey world . . .

In the OHL, the Sudbury Wolves suspended all team activities after 12 players OHLtested positive. According to the OHL, “All players affected are currently asymptomatic or exhibiting mild symptoms. . . .” All of the players are fully vaccinated as per OHL regulations. As the league pointed out in a news release: “The Ontario Hockey League had previously incorporated specific COVID-19 protocols including mandatory vaccination for all members of the OHL Community including players, staff, officials and billets.” . . . The Wolves have had their next three games postponed — they were to have visited the Soo Greyhounds tonight, played host to the Barrie Colts on Friday and then played in Barrie on Saturday. . . .

——

With COVID-19 numbers seemingly on the rise, the NHL sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday that puts new restrictions in place “due to the recent increase nhl2in the number of COVID-19 infections, the number of clubs under enhanced measures, and the temporary shutdown of two NHL clubs.” . . . Through this memo, the NHL instructed clubs to cancel all team-organized Christmas parties, speaking events, autograph sessions and any charity events that would have been open to the public. . . . The memo reads: “Players and staff are reminded to limit the amount of exposure they have to large groups over the holidays, including large family gatherings, in order to reduce the risk of introducing infection into their team.” . . .

If you have watched any NHL games on TV over the past couple of nights you will have noticed what appears to be an enhanced effort by coaches to properly wear their masks. Have to think the NHL has talked with its coaches about that, too. . . .

The Edmonton Oilers cancelled their Tuesday practice after placing D Cody Ceci in COVID-19 protocol. . . . The New York Islanders are in the midst of an outbreak and have had three games postponed. . . . The Ottawa Senators are trying to get back on track after at one point having 10 players and an assistant coach in protocol. They also had games postponed. . . . The Carolina Hurricanes have three players in protocol — D Ethan Bear, D Tony DeAngelo and D Brett Pence — while F Tyler Bozak of the St. Louis Blues also is in protocol. . . .

The Boston Bruins were without head coach Bruce Cassidy when they dropped a Covid2-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night game because he went into protocol. With Cassidy out, assistant coach Joe Sacco ran the bench. . . . The Bruins had F Jake DeBrusk in their lineup on Tuesday night despite acknowledging that he has asked to be traded; the Boston faithful welcomed him with some booing. The Bruins also were without F Brad Marchand, who has been suspended for three games after a slew-footing incident, and F Anton Blidh (injured). . . .  Boston general manager Don Sweeney said that the Bruins weren’t able to bring up anyone from the Providence Bruins because of COVID-19 issues with their AHL affiliate. Providence actually has ceased all team activities because of what is reported as a mounting number of cases.

——

The AHL also has shut down the Bridgeport Islanders, while a Wednesday night game that was to have had Hartford entertain the Springfield Thunderbirds was postponed because of COVID-19 issues involving the WolfPack. . . . The AHL also postponed a Wednesday game that was to have had the Bakersfield Condors visit the Stockton Heat. There is a COVID-19 issue with the Condors and the organization now is following enhanced protocols. . . . The Hershey Bears also have problems. They postponed a Nov. 27 game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and won’t play tonight in Lehigh Valley as they deal with COVID-19.

——

Let’s not forget that the NHL has a schedule that will free up players to skate at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing that aren’t that far away. . . . But, as Elliotte Friedman writes in his latest 32 Thoughts, “As the COVID cases grow, it’s harder and harder to be optimistic about Beijing.” . . . His complete column is right here.

——

The junior A Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Junior Hockey League said Tuesday that a player on their roster tested positive on Saturday. That test resulted in the postponement of a game that night against the visiting Campbellton Tigers. The player in question took a rapid test on Saturday that came back positive; he later took a PCR test that came back positive on Monday evening. . . . The Timberwolves have also had to postpone a Thursday game against the visiting Fredericton Red Wings.

——

Despite all of the above and with the Omicron variant on its way, Dr. Bonnie WHLHenry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, lifted some restrictions in the Interior Health region on Tuesday, including one that limited indoor sporting events to 50 per cent capacity. That means the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets now are able to have all the seats in their facilities available to fans who are fully vaccinated for the first time since March 2020. . . . At the same time, restrictions remain in place for the Northern Health region, so the Prince George Cougars remain limited to 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre. . . . The Blazers’ next home game is scheduled for Saturday, when the Rockets visit. Kelowna is scheduled to entertain the Vancouver Giants tonight (Wednesday). . . . The Blazers will honour the memory of Don Moores during Saturday’s game. Moores, who was the club’s president and COO, died of a heart attack on June 30. Moores, 65, collapsed while on the course at the Kamloops Golf and Country Club.


IKEA


The BCHL has announced more schedule changes due to “travel issues and highway closures in the province.” . . . The league also announced that “due to ongoing floods, road closures and the approaching winter weather, the BCHL will remove all out-of-conference games for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.” . . . If you are planning to attend a game of any kind, it’s best to check a website or make a phone call to be sure that it’s still on the schedule. . . . The BCHL news release is right here.


COVID-19 didn’t ignore the NBA, either, as the Los Angeles Lakers were without LeBron James on Tuesday night when they met the Sacramento Kings. James had gone in to what the NBA calls its health and safety protocols. The Lakers went into Sacramento and beat the Kings, 117-92, without King James.


CIA


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: USA Hockey has announced a 31-player roster for its national junior team’s selection camp that is to open in Plymouth, Mich., on Dec. 12. There are three major junior players on the roster, all of them from the OHL. The roster is right here. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has a look at the team right here. This year’s tournament is set to open in Edmonton and Red Deer on Dec. 26. . . . Hockey Canada is to announce its selection camp roster this morning and F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats is expected to be on it. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks are believed to have set a WHL record on Tuesday when they put letters on the sweaters of eight — yes, eight! — players. They named D Clay Hanus and F Tyson Kozak co-captains, with the alternates being Jonas Brøndberg, Jaydon Dureau, Robbie Fromm-Delorme, Cross Hanas, Gabe Klassen and Kurtis Smythe. You get a letter and you get a letter and you . . . well, not so fast. . . . According to a news release: “Hanus will begin wearing the ‘C’ when the Winterhawks wear their red and black jerseys and Kozak will act as captain when the team wears its white jerseys.” . . . The six alternates will, uhh, alternate at home and on the road. . . .

Jake Grimes has resigned as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles, citing “personal/family reasons,” according to a team-issued news release. Assistant coach Matt Anthony has taken over as the interim head coach. Chris Culligan remains as assistant coach, with John Hanna now an interim assistant coach. . . . Grimes, 49, was in his second season as the Eagle’s head coach. Before joining the Eagles, he spent two seasons as associate coach with the Guelph Storm, helping it to the OHL championship in 2018-19. . . .

The website Victoria Cougars Hockey Project did a countdown of the defunct team’s “TOP 10 All-Time Moustaches.” . . . It was quite a ride. . . .


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.


Theory

Rockets hit with another positive test; will this one cost them 14 days? . . . Virus may have found Canucks, too

The Kamloops Blazers were to have visited the Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night. However, that game didn’t happen after the Rockets were forced to put WHL2all team activities on hold after the organization experienced a positive test. . . . According to the WHL, “The positive COVID-19 test results belong to a hockey staff member . . . within the team cohort. No players within the team cohort have tested positive at this time.” . . . The WHL also said that it would provide further information “pending determination of close contacts and further test results.” . . . Upon its return to play, the WHL stated: “If a WHL club has one or more players or staff test positive for COVID-19 at any point in the season, the club will be required to suspend its club activities for a minimum of 14 days.” . . . It would seem, then, that the Rockets are done until at least April 13 unless this turns out to be a false positive. The Rockets are scheduled to play eight games from March 30 through April 13. . . . This is the second positive in the Kelowna organization. The WHL said on March 19 that a positive test had been found during the return-to-play testing phase. That individual and someone who was identified as a close contact had to self-isolate for 14 days, but it was business as usual for the rest of the team because it was determined not to have occurred during the season. . . .

The Rockets have played two games to this point — they beat the Victoria Royals 5-0 in Kelowna on Friday and lost 6-0 to the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops on Sunday. They next are scheduled to play on Friday against the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops. . . . The Rockets also announced on Tuesday that F Ethan Ernst is out indefinitely after having surgery to repair a scaphoid fracture. The scaphoid is a small bone in an area of the wrist that has poor blood supply, so the healing time may be longer than normal. Ernst, who turned 19 on Jan. 26, was pointless in two games this season. He was injured in Sunday’s loss to Vancouver.


Prison


Meanwhile, the QMJHL has scrubbed a Wednesday game that was to have had qmjhlnewthe Cape Breton Eagles play host to the Charlottetown Islanders. According to the Eagles, “Even though all Eagles players and staff have tested negative to COVID-19, the league is postponing the game as a precaution due to a few players experiencing flu-like symptoms.” . . . This move follows the cancellation of a game between the Eagles and Islanders that was to have been played on Sunday. That morning, the league said that “a few players from the Eagles experienced flu-liked symptoms and as a precaution, the QMJHL has cancelled the game. In the current context and as per QMJHL protocols, all Eagles’ players and staff will be tested for COVID-19 and put in preventive isolation prior to returning to regular team activities.”


These pandemic times can call for interesting manoeuvring to get players on the ice. Such was the case on Tuesday when the Spokane Chiefs announced that PGthey have acquired F Mitchell Kohner from the Prince George Cougars “on a one-year loan agreement.” . . . The Chiefs have lost veteran F Jack Finley, who will be out at least six months once he has surgery to repair a should injury, so had room to add Kohner. “This is a unique situation where an American player wasn’t able to rejoin his team due to COVID restrictions . . .,” Scott Carter, the Chiefs’ general manager, explained in a news release. . . . Kohner, from Rosemount, Minn., turned 19 on Feb. 11. A 10th-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he had two assists in 49 games with the Cougars in 2018-19, then put up eight goals and six assists in 59 games in 2019-20. . . . Kohner is expected to being practising with the Chiefs in about a week, after clearing WHL protocols. . . . His playing rights will revert to the Cougars after this season. . . .

The Cougars also announced that F Ilijah Colina, who turned 21 on Feb. 18, “is no longer with the team due to personal reasons.” . . . He has played 200 regular-season games — 117 with the Cougars, 83 with the Portland Winterhawks — over five seasons with 27 goals and 52 assists. . . . Prince George has added D Hudson Thornton, 17, to its roster. He will complete his quarantine period and then join the team. From Winnipeg, Thornton had two goals and two assists in 23 games with the USHL’s Fargo Force this season. He was a second-round pick by the Cougars in the 2018 bantam draft.


Valet


The Brandon Wheat Kings got goals from seven different players en route to a Brandon7-1 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina on Tuesday night. . . . F Ridly Greig (3), F Ben McCartney (6) and F Reid Perepeluk (2) each had a goal and an assist. . . . Greig scored 22 seconds into the game and the Wheat Kings (7-2-1) built a 4-0 lead in the second period. . . .  Brandon, which was 4-for-7 on the PP, has won four in a row. . . .  Even with F Dallyn Peekeekoot making his WHL debut, the Raiders (3-5-2) were able to dress only 17 skaters, including 10 forwards. Peekeekoot, from Ahtahkakoop First Nation, Sask., was a 10th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. The Raiders announced his signing earlier Tuesday. . . . The Raiders had G Max Paddock back on the bench in support of Carter Serhyenko, who went the distance. . . . Raiders D Kaiden Guhle remains out with an undisclosed injury, while F Ozzy Wiesblatt, who has 11 points in nine games, also sat out this one. . . . F Kyle Crosbie, who turned 21 on Feb. 18, no longer is shown on the Raiders’ roster and apparently has left the team for personal reasons. He was pointless in six games. . . .

D Layton Feist scored at 4:33 of OT to give the Regina Pats a 3-2 victory over the PatsMoose Jaw Warriors. The game was played in Regina with the Warriors designated as the home team. . . . Feist, who has three goals, had tied the game 2-2 at 12:34 of the third period. . . . The game’s first two goals came from 15-year-old skaters. F Connor Bedard (8), the first overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, got Regina on the board at 10:29 of the second period. F Brayden Yager (3), the third-overall selection, tied the score at 1:59 of the third. . . . Bedard, who drew the lone assist on the winner, now has 19 points in 10 games; Yager, who turned 16 on Jan. 3, has seven points in 10 games. . . . F Eric Alarie (7) had Moose Jaw’s other goal. He scored seven goals in 61 games as a freshman in 2019-20. . . . The Pats improved to 4-4-2; the Warriors, who have lost five straight, are 4-5-1. . . . So just to go over that again — the Pats won on the road, while the Warriors won a home game that was played in Regina. Try explaining that to someone 10 years from now. . . .

F Eric Florchuk, who had a goal and two helpers, broke a 4-4 tie at 18:03 of the Vancouverthird period as the Vancouver Giants beat the Victoria Royals, 5-4, in Kamloops. . . . Flochuk, who has two goals, had drawn an assist on F Tristen Nielsen’s fifth goal in three games, this one on a PP, at 16:51 of the third. . . . The Royals (0-3-0) erased a 2-0 first-period deficit to hold leads of 3-2 and 4-3. . . . Nielsen also had an assist, giving him nine points in three games. . . . F Adam Hall (3) had two goals for the Giants (2-1-0), with F Justin Sourdif earning three assists. . . . F Brayden Tracey and F Taran Fizun each had a goal and an assist for the Royals (0-3-0). . . .D Alex Kannok Leipert, the Giants’ captain, played his 200th regular-season game.


Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post had a birthday on Tuesday. How did he celebrate? The same way he did a year ago. Well, not quite. This time, he wrote about what has changed over the past year, which, as he discovered, wasn’t much. . . . In fact, as he laments in this column right here, there isn’t much evidence to show that we the people are prepared to rid ourselves of this virus and that means that he may well be writing the same column a year from now, too. Unfortunately, he is correct.


F Adam Gaudette of the Vancouver Canucks left Tuesday’s practice after being informed that he had tested positive for COVID-19. The Canucks are scheduled to play the visiting Calgary Flames tonight (Wednesday). The Flames flew into Vancouver on Tuesday evening. . . . There will be more testing and contact tracing before a decision is made on tonight’s game. . . . F Jake Virtanen didn’t practise on Tuesday; the Canucks said he was ill, but didn’t indicate that it was virus-related. . . .

Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens played their first game since March 20 on Tuesday night, beating the visiting Edmonton Oilers, 4-0. F Jesper Kotkaniemi, who had been on the COVID-19 protocol list, scored one of the goals. F Joel Armia didn’t play as he remains on the protocol list.


Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., announced on Tuesday that Kevin Dickie has retired as its executive director of athletics. He spent 13 years at Acadia. That included three years as head coach of the Axemen hockey team for three seasons. . . . Before moving into administration, Dickie was a coach in the SJHL and WHL. He was the head coach of the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs for five seasons, then spent three seasons with the Axemen before joining the Saskatoon Blades as an assistant coach for 1999-2000. He took over as head coach the next season, a position he held for three seasons. . . . According to a news release, Dickie will leave his position after the USports annual general meeting in June. . . . That news release is right here.


If you missed it, the Texas Rangers opened up their home park — Globe Life Park  — to fans on Monday night for an exhibition game with the Milwaukee Brewers. The park has a capacity of 40,300 and a big crowd was anticipated; attendance was announced at 12,911. . . . “Plenty of fans sat shoulder-to-shoulder, but large portions of the stadium were empty as the Rangers lost to the Brewers, 4-0,” reported Jonathan Zizzo in The New York Times. . . . Texas announced 3,484 new cases and 41 more deaths on Tuesday, increasing the seven-day totals to 28,667 and 688. . . . On Tuesday night, with the Brewers beating the Rangers, 6-3, attendance was announced as 10,859.


Masks


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.


Arrow

%d bloggers like this: