Saying goodbye to a funny man . . . Chiefs to retire No. 9 . . . Two former WHLers to see NHL time in stripes

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The Spokane Chiefs will retire No. 9 in honour of F Tyler Johnson on Feb. 4 Spokanebefore they meet the Kelowna Rockets. Johnson, who is from Spokane, will be the second player to have been honoured in this fashion, after F Ray Whitney (14). Johnson won a WHL title with the Chiefs (2008), a World Junior championship with Team USA (2010), an AHL crown with the Norfolk Admirals (2012) and a pair of Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning (2020,2021). He now is with the Chicago Blackhawks.



Two former WHL forwards will be officiating NHL games in the approaching nhl2season. . . . Linesman Travis Toomey, who worked NHL and AHL games last season, has been promoted to a full-time NHL position. Toomey played four seasons (2007-11) in the WHL, the first three with the Saskatoon Blades and the fourth with the Seattle Thunderbirds. He then spent four seasons at the U of Alberta with the Golden Bears. . . . Cody Beach, a referee now, will split his time between the AHL and NHL. Beach, 29, played in the WHL for three seasons (2009-12), spending one-plus with each of the Calgary Hitmen and Moose Jaw Warriors.




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Khari Jones, the head coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, is in isolation after CFLhaving tested positive for COVID-19. He will be away from the team for at least 10 days, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated. . . . The Alouettes are coming off a bye week, during which time Jones travelled to his home in Surrey, B.C., and then went to Toronto where he has a daughter in university. . . . Jones was found to be positive on Sunday. Everyone with the team was tested on Monday, but no more positives were found. . . . Montreal is to play the visiting B.C. Lions on Saturday. . . . While Jones is away, assistant coach André Bolduc will be the acting head coach.



In the NFL, the New Orleans Saints had experienced eight positives tests as of early Monday. Six offensive coaches, one player (WR Michael Thomas) and a nutritionist all tested positive. . . . A source told The Associated Press that the entire Saints’ coaching staff has been fully vaccinated. . . . Thomas is on the Saints’ PUP list (physically unable to perform) so isn’t eligible to play until after the sixth game of the season. . . . From AP: “For now, the entire team is operating under the NFL’s enhanced mitigation protocols, meaning mandatory masking inside facilities, daily testing, no in-person meetings and grab-and-go meals.” . . . The Saints, who beat the Green Bay Packers, 38-3, in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday are practising at TCU in Dallas as they await a return to storm-ravaged New Orleans. They are scheduled to visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.



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.


Deaf

Derkatch back with Pats . . . Cougars, Blades add coaches . . . Americans to introduce head coach today

The Regina Pats brought one of the most-exciting players in WHL history back Patsinto the fold on Friday with the announcement that Dale Derkatch has joined the team’s scouting staff. . . . Derkatch, 56, had spent five seasons (2015-20) as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Derkatch holds the Pats’ career records for goals (222), assists (269) and points (491). He accomplished that in 204 regular-season games. . . . Derkatch played three full seasons (1981-84) with the Pats, putting up 142, 179 and 159 points. He won the scoring title in 1982-83 with 179 points. . . . He was the Pats’ head coach for one season (2008-09), and spent six seasons (2009-15) with the Prince Albert Raiders as their director of player personnel and skills coach.


The Prince George Cougars have hired Josh Dixon as their associate coach. He replaces Jason Smith, who has left after two seasons to join the coaching staff of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . Dixon has been coaching since 2002, including three seasons (2011-14) as an assistant with the Regina Pats and one (2014-15) on staff with the Swift Current Broncos. He was an associate coach with the Broncos, whose general manager and head coach at the time was Mark Lamb. Lamb now is the Cougars’ GM/head coach. . . . Dixon also spent two-plus seasons (20-17-19) as head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed Dan DaSilva as an assistant coach. From Saskatoon, this will be the former WHL player’s first coaching job. . . . DaSilva, 36, played three seasons (2002-05) with the Portland Winterhawks and then went on to play professionally for 16 years, splitting most of that between the AHL and Europe. He spent his last five pro seasons (2015-20) with the Black Wings Linz of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. . . . With the Blades, he will work alongside new head coach Brennan Sonne, associate coach Ryan Marsh, goaltending coach Jeff Harvey and veteran assistant coach Jerome Engele.


The Vancouver Giants have signed Swedish G Jesper Vikman to a WHL contract. VancouverVikman, 19, was a selection in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . The Vegas Golden Knights selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . . In 2020-21, he was 5-4-0, 4.10, .851 in nine games with AIK’s U-20 side and 2-1-0, 3.42, .885 in five games with AIK in Sweden’s second-highest pro league. He also went 3-5-0, 3.00, .897 in eight appearances while on loan to Tyreso/Hanviken of HockeyEttan, the third tier league in Sweden. . . . From the Giants’ news release: “Vikman is the third Swedish-born player ever selected by the Giants in the CHL import draft, joining Casper Carning (2010) and Fabian Lysell (2020). He’s also the third goaltender ever selected by the Giants in the import draft, joining Jonathan Iilahti (Finland, 2011) and Marek Schwarz (Czech Republic, 2004). . . . Lysell, an 18-year-old forward, was a first-round pick by the Boston Bruins in the NHL’s 2021 draft, and the Giants are hoping that he will end up signing with them.


The Tri-City Americans are poised to introduce their new head coach today (Saturday). The Americans chose not to re-sign Kelly Buchberger, their head coach for the past three seasons, and he has since joined the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, signing a three-year deal as an assistant coach.


The CFL announced on July 30 that it had completed more than 6,000 COVID-19 CFLtests in the previous two weeks without even one positive test. . . . On Friday, the Edmonton Elks, who are to open their season at home tonight (Saturday), were found to have two positives in their camp — one a roster player (LB Brian Walker) and the other an unidentified non-roster player. . . . The team all was tested again on Friday morning, with results expected back at any time. . . . The Elks are to entertain the Ottawa RedBlacks in the home-opener. . . . The CFL announced in mid-July that it had 10 positives out of more than 6,000 tests in the early days of training camps. Five of those positives involved a player before he crossed into Canada, while three of the other five turned out to be false positives. . . . On July 30, the league announced that there weren’t any positives from the second round of testing.


Scary


Michael Russo, The Athletic — With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the NHL sent a memo to all clubs this week prohibiting all organized corporate, community and charitable interactions with fans (handshake lines, fist bumps, autograph sessions, speaking engagements, etc.).

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NBC News — United Airlines will require its 67,000 U.S. employees to get vaccinated against Covid or risk termination in one of the strictest vaccine mandates from a U.S. company.

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The New York Times — California is now requiring all health care workers who work indoors with or near patients to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, largely removing an option that let unvaccinated employees submit to regular testing instead.

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The Onion — DeSantis threatens to cut hospital funding if surgeons keep wearing masks.

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The New York Times — All students, teachers, staff members and visitors in New Jersey will have to wear masks inside of school buildings when public schools open in a few weeks, Gov. Philip Murphy said Friday.

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CBC News — Ottawa’s Carleton University is the latest post-secondary institution to require students to be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine for certain activities. . . . Vaccines will be required to live in residence, represent the school in athletics, and for some music instruction like private lessons, ensemble participation and for performances or rehearsals, according to the university update tweeted Thursday afternoon. Theory and history classes related to music do not require proof of vaccination, clarified a university spokesperson.

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Global News — Quebec health officials say the number of COVID-19 vaccine bookings doubled on Thursday after the province announced it would be implementing a vaccination passport system.  Health Minister Christian Dubé said on Friday that 11,519 Quebecers booked their first dose Thursday, which he says is double the number from the days before.

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The Associated Press — Starting Monday, Amazon will be requiring all of its 900,000 U.S. warehouse workers to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. The move follows steps by a slew of other retailers, including Walmart and Target, to mandate masks for their workers. In many of those cases the mandates apply to workers in locations of substantial COVID-19 transmission.


Organ


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.


Pee

CFL trying hard to get more players vaccinated . . . Warriors sign two imports . . . Murray leaves Western Michigan


Are you ready for some football? . . . The CFL season opens on Thursday night CFLwhen the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a rematch of the 2019 Grey Cup game. That just happens to have been the last CFL game played because of the pandemic. . . . Winnipeg won that game, 33-12, in Calgary, taking possession of the Grey Cup for the first time since 1990. . . . On Tuesday, the CFL announced a cancellation program that could result in teams forfeiting a game and players not being paid. . . . “Our goal is to ensure we have zero game cancellations due to issues caused by an outbreak of COVID-19 within our football operations,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “While this policy spells out what will happen if cancellations do occur, its main purpose is to encourage all of our players to get fully vaccinated in order to minimize the risk to our season and, most importantly, their health and safety.” . . . There is more on this story right here.



The WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors have signed Slovakian F Robert Baco and Czech F Martin Rysavy, both of whom were selected in the CHL import drafts. . . . Baco, 18, was selected in the 2021 draft on June 30. He played last season with Karlovy Vary’s U-20 side, scoring two goals and adding four assists in nine games. He also had one goal and an assist in nine games while on loan to SK Kadan in the Czech2 league. He added two goals and two assists in six international games for Slovakia. . . . Rysavy, also 18, was the sixth overall selection in the 2020 import draft. He played last season at home with HC Prerov in Czech2, putting up three goals and six assists in 19 games. He was pointless in six games with HC Vitkovice in the Czech Republic’s top league. He also played in the IIHF U-18 Worlds in Texas, finishing with two goals and an assist in five games. The Columbus Blue Jackets selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2021 draft.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings are expected to name a new general manager/head coach on Thursday. The club revealed Tuesday that Rich Pilon, its general manager and head coach, no longer is part of the organization. . . . Greg Nikkel of sasktoday.ca wrote a brief story that quoted team president Brent Stephenson as saying: “There will be no further details at this time due to legal reasons.” . . . According to Nikkel, Stephenson added that the matter may end up in court, so no additional comment can be made.” . . . Pilon, 53, is a former WHL and NHL defenceman. He joined the Red Wings as general manager and head coach on April 29, 2019. . . . On Tuesday afternoon, the team’s website didn’t list a general manager/head coach or an assistant coach.


CNN — New York City will require proof of vaccination to enter all restaurants, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday. “If you’re unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things,” de Blasio said. “If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated.”


Virus


RHP Luis Gil made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees on Tuesday night, taking the spot in the starting rotation that usually belongs to Gerrit Cole. . . . Cole tested positive on Monday, so is likely to be out until at least sometime next week. . . . On Tuesday, the Yankees revealed that LHP Jordan Montgomery also has tested positive so he, too, is likely to be out at least 10 days. . . . Last month, the Yankees, who have more than 85 per cent of their people fully vaccinated, had six players test positive, including OF Aaron Judge. . . . BTW, Gil pitched six scoreless innings, giving up just four singles and one walk, as the Yankees beat the visiting Baltimore Orioles, 13-1, on Tuesday night.



Western Michigan U announced on Tuesday that Andy Murray has resigned after 10 seasons as head coach of the men’s hockey team, with Pat Ferschweiler promoted to replace him. . . . “The last 10 years at WMU have been as rewarding as anything I have done in my life,” Murray said in a news release. “I am in great health and full of energy, so this is not a retirement. I still have a number of things on my bucket list and now is the time to pursue those.” . . . Murray, 70, has coached since 1976 when he was the head coach of the MJHL’s Brandon Travellers. His past includes stints as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars and Winnipeg Jets. He also worked as the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings for six seasons and the St. Louis Blues for two seasons and parts of two others. . . . He also owned the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks for six seasons with childhood friend Garry Davidson. . . . Ferschweiler has been the program’s associate coach since 2019. He joined the program as an assistant coach in 2010 under head coach Jeff Blashill. Ferschweiler left the Broncos to work under Blashill with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins and then the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, before returning in 2019.



The host Winnipeg Goldeyes dumped the Sioux City Explorers, 14-6, on GoldeyesTuesday night in the first American Association baseball game in the Manitoba capital since Sept. 2, 2019. There were 2,716 fans in Shaw Park. You will recall that I had something here yesterday about the problems the Explorers were having fielding a team because a majority of their players aren’t vaccinated and even some of those who are vaccinated didn’t want to come over the U.S.-Canada border for fears of testing positive and having to quarantined. . . . Here’s Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun: “That was a big problem for the Explorers, who had only nine of 24 players on the roster who were vaccinated. Eight of those nine vaccinated players were leery about crossing the border and chose not to travel to Winnipeg. So the Explorers signed a bunch of players from the Pecos League, considered a step down from the American Association, to travel to Winnipeg.”


DNA



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.


Gift

WHL dumps inter-conference play, changes playoff format . . . Sasakamoose book well worth your time . . . Raiders’ radio voice steps aside

The WHL’s 2021-22 season won’t include any interlocking play between WHL2Eastern and Western conferences, which means, unfortunately, that fans in U.S. and B.C. division centres won’t get to see F Connor Bedard, the most-publicized prospect to enter the league in some time, live and in person. . . . Bedard is the first player to receive exceptional status in order to allow him to claim a full-time WHL roster spot as a 15-year-old. Bedard, who will turn 16 on July 17, has 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games for the Pats in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. He left the Pats mid-season in order to play for Canada at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas, where he had seven goals and seven assists in 14 games. . . . Bedard is eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . It also means that those same U.S. and B.C. division fans won’t get to see F Matthew Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice. He was denied exceptional status prior to the 2018-19 season, but still got into 22 games and earned seven assists. He spent 2020-21 with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, putting up 21 goals and 17 assists in 34 games. . . . Savoie is eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . .

The WHL didn’t offer a reason for dumping inter-conference play in the news release it issued on Tuesday following the conclusion of its annual general meeting. However, I think we can assume that it’s all about trying to save money after not seeing any playoff revenue for two seasons now. . . . The WHL also announced that it plans to open its regular season on Oct. 1, with each team playing a 68-game schedule within its own conference. . . . The WHL added that “with the anticipated lifting of health restrictions in all jurisdictions” it expects to play its games without attendance restrictions. . . . If all goes according to plan, the regular season will end on April 3. . . . That would mean the WHL playoffs would start on April 8. Keep in mind that because of the pandemic the WHL hasn’t featured a playoff game since May 13, 2019, when the host Prince Albert Raiders won the championship with a 3-2 OT victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The WHL has changed its playoff format, going back to a conference format that last was used in the spring of 2014. The two division winners will be seeded first and second, with the next six teams slotted three through eight. The first round will have one vs. eight, two vs. seven, etc., with teams reseeded by points after each round. . . . The WHL’s complete news release is right here.


With the Vegas Golden Knights having opened one Stanley Cup semifinal on VegasMonday night with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens, it seems the rest of the hockey world is learning what WHL fans have known for a long, long time. Yes, Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ general manager, knows what he is doing.

Here’s columnist Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, writing about the Golden Knights prior to the start of the series:

“Just four years into their history, the stunning story of their rookie season is kind of yesterday’s news. Today, they are merely one of the best teams in the NHL. Owned by Bill Foley. The fans are of another level. The presidential work and so much other work done by George McPhee. The GM, McCrimmon, is the most effective in the NHL. Unafraid of making enormous trades. Unafraid of giant-sized signings. Unafraid of drafting players and then sending them packing in exchange for tangible assets. Unafraid of doing what others may think about, but rarely act upon.”

Doesn’t that pretty much describe the way McCrimmon operated when he owned the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings?

Simmons’ complete piece is right here.


SasakamooseIf you are in the market for something to read, may I suggest you take a gander at Call Me Indian, a book that was published last month and tells the story of Fred Sasakamoose. What’s it all about? Well, the subtitle pretty much tells it all — From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treat Indigenous Player. . . . To think that Sasakamoose went from playing hockey and trying just to survive at a residential school in northern Saskatchewan to the lineup of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks in a few short years almost beggars belief. But he did just that, and a whole lot more. . . . Considering all that is happening these days involving residential schools and their history, both here and in the U.S., this really is a timely read. . . . Sasakamoose, who died of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 so didn’t live to see his book published, doesn’t go easy on himself either. He bares his heart and soul, including his issues with alcohol and parenting. In fact, if there is a hero in this book it isn’t Sasakamoose, rather it’s his long-suffering wife Loretta with whom he had nine children. . . . Give this book a try; I guarantee it’ll stay with you for a long time after you’re finished with it.



ICYMI, the CFL’s board of governors voted Monday to have the league’s nine CFLteams begin a 14-game regular season on Aug. 5. The season is to begin with a rematch of the last Grey Cup game — the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-12, in Calgary on Nov. 24, 2019. . . . The CFL hasn’t played a game since then because of the pandemic. . . . The 2021 season is to open with that rematch being played in Winnipeg. . . . The 2021 Grey Cup game is to be played in Hamilton on Dec. 12. . . . Training camps are to open on July 10, with players needing to report and go through a quarantine process that will be decided in conjunction with local health officials. . . . There won’t be any exhibition games. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun takes a look at the CFL situation right here. . . . BTW, the Labour Day Classic in Regina is scheduled for Sept. 5, with the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg on Sept. 11. In other words, all is almost right with the world.


Bobcats


Abbotsford Aces? Fraser Valley Falcons? The Vancouver Canucks are asking hockey fans in the Fraser Valley what they should name the AHL franchise that is to begin play in Abbotsford in the fall. The Canucks are moving their AHL affiliate, formerly the Utica Comets, to Abbotsford. . . . Daniel Wagner of vancouverisawesome.com has more right here.


Eric Bélanger has signed on as the first head coach in the history of the Trois-TRLionsRivières Lions, an expansion ECHL franchise that will be affiliated with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . Bélanger, 43, spent the previous two seasons as the head coach of the midget AAA Chevaliers de Lévis. . . . His playing career included 820 NHL regular-season games split between the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, Washington Capitals, Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers. . . . In 2008-09, he was teammates with Marc-André Bergeron with the Minnesota Wild. Bergeron now is the Lions’ general manager.


Milkyway


The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, a 20-team junior B league, kijhlsaid Monday that it will open its 2021-22 season on Oct. 1 and wrap things up on Feb. 20. . . . “All 20 of the KIJHL’s member clubs will complete a 42-game regular season schedule that includes eight games against divisional opponents and two games each against teams in the opposing division within the same conference,” the league said in a news release. . . . That means that the Spokane Braves will be back after not operating in 2020-21 due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential traffic. . . . The KIJHL news release is 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.


JUST NOTES: Trevor Redden, the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders for the past four seasons, is leaving the position, citing wanting to prioritize “a different work-life balance, and being able to spend more time with family and friends.” He made the announcement via social media on Tuesday. Redden said that he will be remaining in Prince Albert where he works with Pattison Media Ltd. . . . Former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Mike Stothers has joined the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks as an assistant coach. He spent the previous five seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Stothers, 59, was the Warriors’ head coach for three seasons (2011-14). . . .

The junior B Creston Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Bill Rotheisler, their general manager and head coach, to a one-year deal through 2021-22. Rotheisler is preparing for his second season in Creston, although his first season amounted to only three games because of the pandemic. If you aren’t familiar with Rotheisler’s story, including his battle with lymphatic cancer, Google is your friend. . . . Serge Lajoie, who spent one season (2018-19) as head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, has been named head coach of Alberta’s male U16 team. Lajoie also is the head coach of OHA Edmonton’s U18 prep team.


Backseat

Nova Scotia, with virus numbers rising, pulls plug on Women’s Worlds . . . WHL adjusts schedule; some teams won’t get in 24 games . . . CFL provides an update

It sure looked as though the IIHF Women’s World Championship was going to start in Halifax and Truro on May 6. But that’s before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and said: “Not so fast.”

On Wednesday, with Team Canada already training in Halifax and one day WomenHockeybefore nine other teams were to begin arriving for their quarantine sessions, the Nova Scotian government chose to inform the IIHF and Hockey Canada that the tournament was off.

In a statement, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO, said: “While we are disappointed with the cancellation, we understand the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants and the community at large as the top priority.”

René Fasel, the IIHF president, said: “This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin. We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia reported 25 new COVID-19 cases, which, according to CBC News, is “the highest daily total since November 24 when 37 cases were diagnosed. It pushes the province’s seven-day average to 10, which is the first time it has been in double digits since early December.”

On April 15, Nova Scotia had 42 active cases; on Wednesday, it announced that it now had 79.

In a news release, Premier Iain Rankin admitted to being “very concerned” about the rising number.

“We are seeing early signs of community spread and we must strictly follow all public health protocols to get back on track, especially in the greater Halifax region,” Rankin said.

CBC News reported that “19 of the new cases are in the central health zone, which includes the Halifax area. Four cases are related to travel outside the region.”

Canada’s Atlantic provinces have done better than the rest of the country — the far north excluded — at keeping COVID-19 at bay and one of the major weapons has been travel restrictions. So with the numbers threatening to keep going up, the province chose the health of its citizens over playing host to an international tournament.

Really, it’s hard to argue with the decision.

The IIHF and Hockey Canada are still hopeful of holding the tournament at some point during the summer. There also were reports later Wednesday that the Dallas Stars and USA Hockey are exploring the possibility of playing it in Texas, perhaps in Frisco and Plano, where the U18 IIHF World championship is to open on Monday.

But, at least for now, the Women’s world championship has been scrubbed for a second straight year. The tournament also was to have been held in Halifax and Truro a year ago.


Hotel


The WHL announced a number of schedule changes on Wednesday, all of them WHL2necessitated by teams having missed games because of positive tests. . . . The end result is that without any more postponements a number of teams won’t play 24 games in this developmental season as was originally hoped. . . . Two of the teams that have experienced positive tests, the Calgary Hitmen and Kelowna Rockets, will play 21 and 16 games respectively. . . . The Hitmen, by the way, have completed their 14-day isolation period and have been cleared to resume team activities. They now are scheduled to return to game action on Friday afternoon against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The WHL’s news release on the schedule changes is right here. . . .

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Meanwhile, there were three WHL games played on Wednesday and PP goals were the hot item. All told, the six teams involved struck for 26 goals, with 13 of them coming with the man advantage. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored twice to help the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-2 victory Brandonover the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Wheat Kings (16-3-2), who have won five straight, now hold a three-point lead over the idle Saskatoon Blades (14-3-3) and the Winnipeg Ice (15-5-1), which beat the Moose Jaw Warriors last night, atop the Regina hub standings. . . . The Broncos (4-16-1) have lost two in a row. . . . F Lynden McCallum (13) gave Brandon a 1-0 first-period lead, with Ritchie, who has 10 goals, making it 2-0 at 14:49 of the second. . . . D Mat Ward (5) scored for the Broncos, on a PP, at 16:39. . . . Ritchie got that one back at 17:33 and D Rylan Thiessen (1) added another at 19:04. . . . F Brett Hyland (3) and D Vince Iorio (5) added PP goals for Brandon in the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings were 3-for-6 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-for-6. . . . Brandon held a 33-18 edge in shots. . . .

F Jakin Smallwood opened and closed the scoring as the Winnipeg Ice got past Winnipegthe Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-5 in OT, in the Regina hub. . . . The Ice (15-5-1) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Warriors are 8-11-2. . . . F Cade Hayes (4) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead with a PP goal at 14:38 of the third period. . . . F Peyton Krebs (13), who now has points in 20 straight games, tied the game at 18:48 with G Carl Stankowski on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Smallwood, who had opened the scoring at 1:08 of the first period, won it with his 13th goal at 1:46 of OT. . . . The Ice erased deficits of 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 to win this one. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 2-for-3. . . . Krebs finished with two goals. After being blanked in his first game, he’s got 13 goals and 26 assists in his 20-game streak. Last season, he scored 12 times in 38 games. . . . The Ice also got two goals from F Skyler Bruce. He has three on the season. . . . Hayes finished with two goals and an assist. . . .

F Justin Sourdif and D Alex Kannok Leipert each scored once and added two Vancouverassists to help the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 lead over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . The Giants (9-3-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Royals (1-10-1) have lost seven straight. . . . The game’s first five goals came via the PP. . . . F Brayden Tracey (8) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the first period. . . . Kannok Leipert (4) tied it at 15:32. . . . Victoria went back out front on a goal by F Tarun Fizer (3) at 2:58 of the second period. . . . The Giants took control with the next three goals — from F Eric Florchuk (4), at 14:58, Sourdif (5), at 16:21, and F Zack Ostapchuk (4), at 3:18 of the third. . . . F Ty Yoder (3) got Victoria to within a goal at 4:57, but F Justin Lies (2) restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead at 13:47. . . . The Giants finished 3-for-9 on the PP; the Royals were 2-for-5. . . . Vancouver had a 38-20 edge in shots, including 11-5 in the first period and 12-5 in the second.


Masks


The CFL said Wednesday that it hopes to open its 2021 season on Aug. 5, which CFLwould be almost two months later than the June 10 opening date at which it once was aiming. . . . The plan is to open training camps in late June, have each team play 14 games, down from the normal 18, and hold the Grey Cup game in Hamilton on Dec. 12 instead of Nov. 21. . . . Here’s Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner: “We will play CFL football in 2021.” . . . He then admitted that it all hinges on getting approval from public health officials in various jurisdictions and getting the OK from government and health officials to have “a significant number of fans in the stands, in a significant number of venues at the start of the season, and in the rest of our venues soon after that, so a 2021 season is financially tenable for our clubs.” . . . In the end, like so many other things, the CFL will go ahead if the virus allows it. . . . In the meantime, get vaccinated so that we can get all sports back and with fans in the stands. . . .

In Regina, Jeremy O’Day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager, informed players that the reporting date is July 2, followed by a seven-day quarantine period. Training camp is set to open on July 10. . . . O’Day also had this message for players: “We know these have been challenging times. One major way to help us with our return to play and getting fans in the stands is by getting vaccinated. Our medical professionals are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and are critical to getting our team back on the field. If you would like to speak to one of the Roughrider doctors about the vaccine, please let me know and we will arrange that.” . . . Justin Dunk of 3Down Nation has more right here.


The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was to have opened its 2021 season on June 5. It announced on Wednesday that it has moved opening day of its 14-game season to June 24. Under normal circumstances, teams each would play 20 games. . . . The CEBL spent its 2020 season in a bubble in St. Catharines, Ont., but says it won’t be playing in that environment this season.


——

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.


JUST NOTES: The Regina Pats unveiled their player card sets on Wednesday morning and sold out the first printing — 500 sets — in fewer than three hours. It wasn’t long before there was a Connor Bedard card available on eBay for $100, and a complete set — including “Connor Bedard Official WHL Rookie Card” — for $149.95 or best offer. . . . The AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs, who are to being their first season in the fall, have added Brady Bakke to their coaching staff. He spent two seasons (2017-18) as an assistant coach with the U18 AAA St. Albert Raiders, and then two seasons as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Bakke, 27, is from Red Deer.


Earth

WHL hires lobbyists to meet with B.C. health officials . . . Hoping to discuss return-to-play protocol . . . CFL makes some changes

The WHL has two lobbyists from the Vancouver-based Bluestone Consulting Group working to lobby officials in the B.C. government as it hopes to make its way through the pandemic and get back on the ice in the fall.

The WHL suspended its 2019-20 regular season on March 12 and later cancelled the whlremainder of its season, including the playoffs.

Hoping to stick to a schedule that would have it start the 2020-21 season in late September, the WHL has contracted with lobbyists Mark Jiles, the principal owner of Bluestone, and Rob Nagai, its vice-president.

Jiles has more than 20 years worth of experience “in helping organizations achieve their strategic communications, government relations, goals and objectives.” Among other things, he spent four years (2002-06) on the board of directors of the bid and organizing committees for the 2006 World Junior Championship, the bulk of which was held in Vancouver.

Nagai has been with Bluestone since January 2018. Prior to that, he spent almost seven years working as a fundraiser with the B.C. New Democratic Party that now governs the province.

According to details filed with the B.C.’s Office of the Registrar and Lobbyists, the WHL wants to lobby Adrian Dix, B.C.s Minister of Health, and the Provincial Health Services Authority, which “oversees the co-ordination and delivery of provincial programs and highly specialized health-care services.”

The WHL is hoping to be “included (in the) B.C. government’s restart program.”

The WHL also “would like to discuss a Return to Play protocol” with the government. “This would detail what it would take to reopen the league and these regulations and guidelines would ultimately apply” to five B.C. teams in the WHL.”

Jiles and Nagai began working for the WHL on May 11, with a projected end date of July 31.

The arrangement with Bluestone doesn’t have anything to do with lobbying the B.C. government for financial aid.

The CHL, the umbrella under which the WHL operates, along with the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, has hired Bluesky Strategy of Ottawa to lobby Canada’s federal government in the hopes of garnering financial aid for its 52 Canadian teams.

I reported on that in a piece that was posted here late on Tuesday night.


Bears


The CFL is hoping to get its 2020 season underway at some point in September. And if it does end up playing a season of some sort, it won’t end with a Grey Cup game in Regina as had been planned.

Regarding the start of the season, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release: “Barring some huge development, like a vaccine for COVID-19, it now seems clear we can rule out playing games this summer.

“There are several reasons, including the continuing restrictions on assemblies, travel and border crossings. Notably, several provinces and municipalities have already decided to prohibit until Sept. 1 all sporting events featuring large gatherings.”

Ambrosie also admitted that “a cancelled season is also possible . . . it’s too soon make a sure call at this point.” As he put it: “We are not announcing or promising a return this fall.”

Meanwhile, the CFL also announced a change to its format for the Grey Cup game. Originally scheduled for Regina on Nov. 22, the championship game, if it is played, will take place in the home stadium of the finalist with the best regular-season record in 2020. Depending on when the season would start, the championship could be decided some time in December.

Hamilton will remain as the host city for the 2021 game, with Regina now to play host in 2022.

The CFL also cancelled its Touchdown Atlantic game that was to have been played in Halifax on July 25. The game was to have featured the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders.


Greeneggs


Edmonton is hoping to be one of the so-called hub cities should the NHL get up and running again. If you are wondering whether NHL players crossing the U.S.-Canada border to get there would be exempt from the self-isolating rules in play right now, well, here is Alberta Premier Jason Kenney:

“Obviously the players and their support staff would need to comply not only with our own public health orders but also with the federal 14-day quarantine requirement for international travellers arriving from abroad.”

The NHL has said it would need a three-week training camp for its players before games could be played. So that period of self-isolation takes it up to five weeks.



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and also put a smile on her fact by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The average man does not get pleasure out of an idea because he thinks it is true; he thinks it is true because he gets pleasure out of it.”


For the record, The Sports Curmudgeon, who is based in the Washington, D.C., area, is hoping that the CFL survives this pandemic. As he writes: “I enjoy CFL games; often the CFL Friday night game is more interesting than other Friday night sports offerings on my cable system and I tune in.  For purely selfish reasons, I hope that Commissioner Ambrosie is successful in finding ways to keep the CFL afloat; it has been around for longer than the NFL and it provides an interesting alternative football experience.” . . . For more of the curmudgeonly one’s ruminations on this subject, click right here.


Corn