Winterhawks get whole new look; remembering how they came to land in Portland . . . Pair of ex-WHLers retiring? . . . Thunderbirds’ camp closed to fans

With the Portland Winterhawks having unveiled their new look — a new logo came prior to the 2021-22 season and now there is a whole new uniform — it’s worth taking a look back at how the WHL ended up in the Oregon city.

Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the longtime radio voice of the Winterhawks, wrote the story that first appeared here on March 30, 2008. Remember, too, that they originally were Winter Hawks; Winterhawks came later.

Enjoy!

——

It was the summer of 1975 and Brian Shaw, Ken Hodge and Innes Mackie were unemployed. With nothing but time on their hands, they decided to go duck hunting in Stettler, Alta.

Shaw and Hodge had been fired by ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter, who owned the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers and the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Mackie had just returned from Kimberley, B.C., where he had turned down a job offer at a mine. The offer Mackie had received included a chance to play a little hockey on the side.

Shaw was in the process of putting together a group of investors to buy the Oil Kings from Hunter. Shaw would run the show. Hodge would coach. Mackie would be the trainer. They didn’t know it at the time but they were embarking on a 20-year relationship — relationships of hockey, business and friendship.

The Three Amigos became inseparable until Shaw passed away in the summer of 1994.

On this day in Stettler, the three men, who would become the three original members of the Winter Hawks’ front office, were solidifying the mutual respect and trust needed. The ducks weren’t flying that day, at least not in the Stettler area, so the three erstwhile hunters headed for a local bar to shoot a little pool. Everyone was having fun, too, until a cowboy in a black hat came over and started yipping at Hodge for monopolizing the pool table. After an unflattering comment from Hodge regarding the cowboy’s hat, feathers started to fly — and it had nothing to do with ducks.

“He started to take his jean jacket off and when it got about half way down each arm, I smoked him,” Hodge remembers. “It’s Saturday night and the place is full. There were five of us — and two of them bailed out. Brian, who was always quick with the wit, was not ready to handle this type of negotiation. So that left Innes and I — and, needless to say, we had our hands full. There were probably eight of them involved by now. The pool cues are getting broken, I’m getting thumped in the back of the head and Innes got jumped. Finally, we hear sirens and red lights. The three of us were never so happy to see the RCMP.”

That incident was neither the first nor the last for friendships that would last more than 20 years.

When he was 16 years of age, Hodge earned a job as a defenceman with the Jasper Place Mohawks — a high-profile team in Edmonton. Coincidentally, the general manager and head coach was Shaw, who was working in the first of what would be many dual roles. It didn’t take Shaw long to earn his reputation as a slick team manager.

“The team was the talk of the town,” Hodge says. “People in Edmonton were very envious. Brian started out with just one bantam team and ended up with the first true feeder system in the Edmonton area when he expanded to midgets and junior. The Jasper Place Mohawks were first class all the way. They paid all their bills, wore flashy uniforms and won lots of hockey games.”

Hodge was one of four players from Jasper Place chosen by Shaw to play the next season with the Moose Jaw Canucks of the newly formed Western Canada Hockey League. Shaw was the general manager and head coach and Hodge was a key defenceman.

Other than the Canucks, the WCHL featured the Oil Kings, Estevan Bruins, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Weyburn Red Wings and Calgary Buffaloes. Moose Jaw finished fourth in a 56-game regular season, 16 points behind the first-place Oil Kings, but went on to win league’s first championship trophy by beating the Oil Kings — the Canucks won that series 3-2 with four games tied — and then Regina, winning the best-of-seven final, 4-1.

It was the pivotal season of Hodge’s career. In a regular-season game against Regina, Hodge was struck in an eye by a high stick. In the playoffs, he again was hit in the same eye. After a series of operations during the summer, doctors told him that they would know by early 1968 if his eye would ever recover.

On Nov. 15, 1967, Hodge received a call from Gordon Fashaway inviting him to Portland to play for the Buckaroos of the professional Western Hockey League. Hodge was excited about the offer and pushed the doctors for an answer. Unfortunately, the answer he received wasn’t the one he had hoped to hear. Hodge’s playing career was over.

The next season, Shaw moved on to the St. Catharines Black Hawks of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. While Hodge was helping with training camp, he accepted an offer to coach the Sorel Eparviers of the Quebec Junior A Hockey League.

Hodge, at 21 likely the youngest head coach in the history of Canadian junior hockey, had quite a debut season. Sorel put up a 33-16-1 regular-season record and went all the way to the Eastern Canadian best-of-five final where it lost 3-1 to the Montreal Jr. Canadiens, who would go on to win the Memorial Cup. It’s worth noting that the Jr. Canadiens played in the OJHL, where they ousted Shaw’s Black Hawks from the best-of-seven championship final in five games.

Hodge’s impressive season in Sorel opened up an opportunity for him to coach in the International Hockey League, with a team in Flint, Mich. He would spend four seasons in Flint.

Meanwhile, Shaw returned to Edmonton where he coached the Oil Kings, winning the WCHL’s 1971-72 title in his first season. That put the Oil Kings into what was the first Memorial Cup to be decided in a tournament format — this one also featured the Peterborough Petes and Cornwall Royals, but no host team — in Ottawa. The Oil Kings were eliminated with a 5-0 loss to Cornwall during which Edmonton defenceman Keith Mackie, Innes’s brother, was struck in an eye by a deflected puck and suffered a torn iris. For the record, Cornwall edged Peterborough 2-1 in the final.

The next season, Hunter, the Oilers’ general manager who was most impressed with Shaw’s championship season with the Oil Kings, offered him the head-coaching job with the WHA team. When Shaw accepted, Hunter hired Hodge to coach the Oil Kings.

“I jumped at the opportunity because the Oil Kings were a very prestigious team,” Hodge remembers. “I wanted to get on with my career in hockey and I saw too many people stagnating in Flint.”

As it turned out, Hodge made the wrong move at the wrong time. He got caught in a rebuilding program with the Oil Kings. Much of the talent from the previous season graduated and Hunter gave Hodge a little over a year to win. He didn’t, so Hunter fired him.

Meanwhile, Shaw’s Oilers got off to an amazing start — winning 18 straight games. Unfortunately for Shaw, the team was playing over its head and it didn’t take long for reality to set in. Hunter enjoyed the winning streak and wanted it to continue. When the wins stopped coming, Hunter, never know for his patience or for a willingness to avoid headlines, fired Shaw.

Two months later brought Shaw, Hodge and Mackie to a pool room in Stettler.

Eventually, Shaw’s group bought the Oil Kings from Hunter and 16 games into the 1975-76 WCHL season the three amigos became the WCHL club’s new management team. Shaw was the general manager, Hodge the head coach and Mackie the trainer.

However, things weren’t all coming up roses. Shaw’s one year at the helm of the Oil Kings was less than successful. Edmonton hockey fans weren’t in any hurry to go to the old Memorial Gardens to watch the Oil Kings when they could watch the WHA’s Oilers in the brand new Northlands Coliseum.

“Brian and I felt we knew more about the game than anyone else,” Hodge says. “We thought we would be able to turn the Edmonton Oil Kings into the premier franchise in the Western Hockey League and a very profitable venture. We found out very quickly that we weren’t as smart as we thought we were. We thought we could compete with a major league team on a minor league budget, but we lost more money than any of us could afford to lose.”

Mackie had played on Shaw’s and Hodge’s Oil Kings and, contrary to what you might have guessed, the relationship didn’t begin on the best of terms. When Mackie was an 18-year-old defenceman playing for Shaw in Edmonton, he had been asked to go to Crosstown Motors, an Oil Kings sponsor, and pick up a new car for Shaw.

“Innes and Brian probably came to an understanding after Innes smacked up two of Brian’s brand new cars,” Hodge says with a laugh. “One of the accidents was just one of those things, but the other was pretty funny. Innes went to Crosstown Motors, picked up Brian’s big Dodge, and only had to cross one busy two-way street. Smack! He couldn’t have been more than 40 feet out of the parking lot when he’s done and it’s tow truck city.”

As a player, Mackie quit the Oil Kings early in the 1973-74 season after being taken out of a game by Hodge.

“It’s all water under the bridge now,” Mackie says. “When I was 18, I played for Brian as a fifth or sixth defenceman. At that time they only used four defencemen and sometimes three. I wasn’t getting very much ice time and I wasn’t going to go through the same thing when I was 19. So, Hodgie sat me out one game and that was it. Goodbye.“

“Innes and I didn’t see eye to eye as coach and player,” Hodge agrees. “But I always enjoyed Innes as a person. His brother Keith and I were golfing buddies and Innes was the little brother who always tagged along.”

Even through their trials and tribulations, Hodge had enough respect for Mackie to make him the Oil Kings trainer.

Since then, Mackie has always been more than just a trainer. He looks for statistics, quotes and any other information he can find out about every player in the league. One of his attributes is a near photographic memory, and Hodge and Shaw came to depend on that over the years. If there is ever a question about a player, Mackie is the first person asked.

“Innes sometimes confirmed my feelings about hockey players,” Hodge says. “He has always been a very knowledgeable hockey person. Innes helped Brian and I on some of our decisions on who we would keep and who we would release or trade. He also had input on people from other teams that might help our franchise if we traded for them. The early years of the Winter Hawks was basically built through trades. Most of our trades were very positive for us and Innes had a role in many of them.”

Mackie also scours the rule book on the long bus rides. He knows the rules inside and out — and has a knack for memorizing them, no matter how obscure.

Mackie earned the nickname ‘Eagle Eye’ for his ability to spot illegal curves in the blades of opponents’ hockey sticks. Players with illegal sticks were sent to the penalty box with minor penalties and several Portland victories were earned as the result of subsequent power plays. In 18 seasons, he was wrong about one stick — and he still claims that the referee didn’t measure that one properly.

“When the game is on, I watch things differently,” Mackie, who now is with the Tri-City Americans, points out. “I watch what’s happening behind the play, on the other team’s bench, and away from the puck. If I see something the coaches don’t, I can help out once in awhile. Sometimes, I can relay information to the coaches if an opposing player misses a shift, or a guy is hurt.”

All three of the amigos were involved in the move from Edmonton to Portland.

Originally, Shaw went to Vancouver to meet with Nat Bailey, who owned the Mounties of baseball’s Pacific Coast League. Bailey wanted to get involved in hockey and was going to underwrite all the costs of moving the Oil Kings to Vancouver. Bailey also was prepared to give Shaw plenty of working capital to get started. This dream move never happened, however, because the New Westminster Bruins, a nearby WCHL franchise, blocked the move.

At the time, Hodge wanted to move to Spokane. Shaw, though, wanted to check out Portland and arranged a meeting with Dick Reynolds, the general manager of Memorial Coliseum.

“I didn’t have any idea where Portland was,” Mackie says. “I had to get a map. All I knew was that the Edmonton Oil Kings were in the Western Canadian Hockey League — and Portland wasn’t in Canada.”

Shaw’s meeting with Reynolds and the Coliseum staff was very positive and soon the Oil Kings were to become the Portland Winter Hawks.

“It was one of the best decisions that Brian made,” Hodge recalls. “At that time, we both had an equal vote. So, it was one vote for Spokane and one vote for Portland. Brian decided his vote was bigger than mine and he won.


Bear


THE COACHING GAME:

Brock Sheahan is the new head coach of the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Caroline Hurricanes. Sheahan, 38, had been the head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel since being promoted from assistant coach on Dec. 1, 2019. The Steel was the USHL’s regular-season champion in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and won the playoff title in the spring of 2021. . . . With the Wolves, the AHL’s reigning champions, the Lethbridge native replaces Ryan Warsofsky, who left to join the NHL’s San Jose Sharks as an assistant coach. . . . The Steel, meanwhile, promptly named general manager Mike Garman as its new head coach. He will carry both titles for 2022-23.


Your


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

An interesting tweet from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday revealed that “training camp is closed to the public” except for the annual Blue vs. White game on Sept. 4. . . . An explanation wasn’t provided. . . .

Ryan Campbell is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager. He spent 2021-22 as an assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, a franchise that has since relocated to Calgary as the Wranglers. . . . In Seattle, Campbell replaces Justin Sturtz, now the head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks.


The above tweet from the Brandon Wheat Kings appeared here last week. Stacey Preston now has started a GoFundMe for her nieces and nephews, who “have lost their best friend, their Dad. . . . Unfortunately, the kids do not have the financial resources to lay him to rest. If anyone would like to help they would be grateful, and so would I.” . . . Al Gibbs left behind four children, including 18-year-old twins. . . . A friend of his told me: “In 2015 he had a chronic infection in a shoulder and hip that resulted in his kidneys failing, exacerbating his diabetes and setting off a litany of other health challenges. There were a couple of periods of time over the past seven years when Al was told he qualified for a kidney transplant and a niece was found to be a match. The catch was always that Al needed to be healthy enough for the surgery. . . . This never quite happened.”

If you would like to help, the GoFundMe page 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.


Optimist

Will WHL decision be gift horse for Pats? Or is Winnipeg simply too good? . . . Bains stretches points lead . . . Milic, Davidson spark Seattle


When the Regina Pats rolled out of bed on Wednesday morning, they were two points away from a WHL playoff berth with three games remaining, only one of them at home.

By the time they had poured the milk on their cereal, they still were two points Reginaaway from the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot with three games remaining — but now all three of those games will be played on home ice.

Oh, they won’t be the home team for two of those games, but they’ll be playing in their home facility, meaning they won’t have to ride the bus along the wind- and snow-swept Trans-Canada Highway and they’ll spend Easter weekend sleeping in their own beds.

So . . . what happened?

Well, the Pats were to have visited the Winnipeg Ice, the WHL’s best team this regular season, for games tonight and Friday. But a blizzard has engulfed much oWinnipegIcef southern Manitoba so the WHL has moved both games to Regina’s Brandt Centre on Friday and Saturday nights.

As the Pats put it in a news release, they “stepped up to assist the Ice . . .” Some assist! They get an unexpected share of two home games, no bus rides, no hotels, no road food.

Then, on Sunday, the Moose Jaw Warriors are scheduled to visit Regina.

This all comes with the Pats (26-34-5) riding along in a 10th-place tie with the Prince Albert Raiders (26-35-5), one point behind the Calgary Hitmen (25-33-8) and two in arrears of the pace-setting Swift Current Broncos (26-34-7).

For the games against Winnipeg, the Pats will be housed in their own dressing room and use their own bench, but the Ice will have last change. The teams also have come to some kind of gate-sharing arrangement, something that the Winnipeggers likely salivated at because chances are good that each of the games in Regina will draw more fans than the often announced attendance of 1,621 at the Wayne Fleming Arena on the U of Manitoba campus.

It is unfortunate that fans in Winnipeg won’t get to see Regina’s Connor Bedard and Winnipeg’s Matt Savoie, two of the WHL’s brightest lights, go head-to-head in back-to-back games. But, if you’re a follower of the WHL, you know that disappointment is no stranger to Ice fans.

If you’re wondering what kind of chance the Pats have against the Ice in these two games, well, you should know that Winnipeg (51-10-5) leads the season series, 5-0-0, and has outscored Regina, 26-9 in the process. These teams last met on April 2 with the Ice winning, 7-0, in Regina.

In fact, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post tells us that “the Ice has won all 14 of its games against Regina since the franchise moved to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., after the 2018-19 season.”

History suggests, then, that the Pats are beaten before they even show up. On the other hand, the Ice has nothing at stake, other than to keep its players healthy, having clinched the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions. The Pats’ coaching staff, meanwhile, will be imploring the players not to kick this gift horse in the teeth.

Still, despite the long odds faced by the Pats, you have to think the Broncos, Hitmen and Raiders can’t be too thrilled with this development. Really, could they be at all faulted if they were furious at the way this has unfolded?

There is a lot at stake here as teams, coming of a couple of seasons of COVID-related losses and no playoff games, really want those playoff gates. Only one those four teams is going to get in and the reward will be a first-round matchup with the Ice. Still, it means at least two gates, and that can’t hurt the bottom line.

Look, the Pats are likely to get their lunch handed to them as they are clearly outmatched here. But what if the Ice chooses to rest two or three of its seven 20-plus goal scorers in each game, purely in the interests of good health, you understand? How much would that shift the odds? And, of course, as football coach/philosopher Herm Edwards once explained: “You play to win the game.”

None of this has stopped the Pats’ marketing department from declaring Friday’s game to be Guaranteed Win Night. If the Pats lose, each fan in attendance will be given a voucher for a free ticket, not for Saturday’s game but for any regular-season game next season.


Idea


The WHL’s 22 teams are into the final four days of their 68-game regular seasons. Here’s a look at where things are in terms of playoff opponents (GR — games remaining) . . .

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Everett Silvertips — Hold three-point lead over Kamloops, each with two games to play. Will meet Vancouver, Spokane, Prince George or Victoria in first round. . . . Will be without Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, until at least the start of the playoffs. . . . GR (2): at Portland on Friday, at Tri-City on Saturday.
  2. Kamloops Blazers — Three points behind Everett and tied with Portland. . . . GR (2): at home to Prince George on Friday and Vancouver on Saturday.
  3. Portland Winterhawks — Will finish second or third. Beat host Tri-City in OT on Tuesday night to move into tie with Kamloops. . . . GR (1): at home to Everett on Friday.
  4. Seattle Thunderbirds — Will finish fourth and have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . GR (1): at Tri-City on Friday.
  5. Kelowna Rockets — Will finish fifth and meet Seattle in first round. . . . GR (2): at Vancouver on Friday, at home to Prince George on Saturday.
  6. Vancouver Giants — Have two games remaining, after dropping a 6-0 decision to visiting Seattle last night. . . . One point ahead of Spokane and Prince George. . . . GR (2): at home to Kelowna on Friday, at Kamloops on Saturday.
  7. Prince George Cougars — Tied with Spokane for seventh with same records (23-28-5), one point behind Vancouver and one ahead of Victoria. . . . GR (2): at Kamloops on Friday, at Kelowna on Saturday.
  8. Spokane Chiefs — Tied with Prince George. . . . GR (2): at Victoria on Friday and Saturday.
  9. Victoria Royals — One point behind Prince George and Spokane. . . . GR (2): at home to Spokane on Friday and Saturday.
  10. Tri-City Americans — Not this season.

——

EASTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Winnipeg Ice — Will finish atop the overall standings so is assured of home ice through the playoffs. First-round opponent will be Swift Current, Calgary, Regina or Prince Albert. . . . Two home games versus Regina now will be played in Regina on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . GR (2): Ice will be designated as home team for games in Regina on Friday and Saturday.
  2. Edmonton Oil Kings — Will finish second and open against Lethbridge. . . . GR (2): at Medicine Hat on Friday, at Red Deer on Saturday.
  3. Red Deer Rebels — Will finish third and meet Saskatoon or Brandon in the first round. . . . GR (1): at home to Edmonton on Saturday.
  4. Moose Jaw Warriors — Won 5-2 in Brandon on Tuesday to move two points ahead of Saskatoon. . . . GR (2): at Lethbridge on Friday, at Regina on Sunday.
  5. Saskatoon Blades — Two points behind Moose Jaw and each team has 37 victories. . . . Three points ahead of Brandon. . . . GR (1): at home to Brandon on Friday.
  6. Brandon Wheat Kings — Three points behind Saskatoon. . . . GR (2): at Saskatoon on Friday, at Prince Albert on Saturday. . . . Depending on road conditions, Wheat Kings may not leave for Saskatoon until Friday.
  7. Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (2): at home to Moose Jaw on Friday, at Calgary on Sunday.
  8. Swift Current Broncos — Hold down conference’s last playoff spot but have only one game remaining. . . . One point ahead of Calgary, two ahead of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . GR (1): at home to Prince Albert on Friday.
  9. Calgary Hitmen — One point behind Swift Current, one in front of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . GR (1): at home to Lethbridge on Sunday.
  10. Regina Pats — Tied with Prince Albert, two points behind Swift Current and one behind Calgary. . . . Three games remaining, all at home after two games scheduled for Winnipeg were moved to Regina. . . . GR (3): at home to Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday, at home to Moose Jaw on Sunday.
  11. Prince Albert — Tied with Regina, two points behind Swift Current and one behind Calgary. . . . GR (2): at Swift Current on Friday, at home to Brandon on Saturday.
  12. Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.

Internet


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

In Calgary, F Arshdeep Bains, the WHL’s leading scorer, had two goals and two assists to lead the Red Deer Rebels to an 8-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . He now leads the league with 110 points, seven more than linemate Ben King, who had two goals, and eight up on F Logan Stankoven of the idle Kamloops Blazers. . . . Bains also leads the WHL in assists, with 68. . . . King now has 52 goals, three more than F Connor Bedard of the idle Regina Pats. . . . This was the first time the Rebels and Hitmen have played each other since Dec. 19. . . .

In Langley, B.C., the Seattle Thunderbirds struck for five goals in the first period en route to a 6-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . G Tomas Milic earned the shutout with 25 saves. It was his third this season and the fourth of his WHL career. . . . F Jared Davidson led the offence with three goals, giving him 39.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The USHL’s Chicago Steel has landed one of hockey best young prospects in F Macklin Celebrini, 15, who will be eligible for the 2024 NHL draft. He was born in Vancouver, but moved to California after his father joined the NBA’s Golden State Warriors as their director of sports medicine and performance. Macklin played one season of minor hockey in San Jose and has spent the past two seasons at Shattuck St. Mary’s. The Seattle Thunderbirds selected Macklin with the first-overall pick in the WHL’s U.S. draft on Dec. 8. . . . The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have named Dana Dirks as their assistant general manager. He spent this season as an assistant coach with Tad Kozun, the general manager and head coach.



If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation in these parts. That’s because my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation 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.


Floppy

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering if the Dodgers will sleep tonight . . .

Scattershooting

Aware early on that they weren’t going to have enough billets for a new season, Sicamousthe junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League put the wheels in motion. Last weekend, they moved into The Eagles’ Nest — a dormitory that was built on the grounds of the Sicamous and District Rec Centre. . . . Wayne March, the Eagles’ general manager, told Jim Elliot of the Eagle Valley News that he looks at this as a pilot project that other teams may be interested in checking out. . . . Elliot reported that the District of Sicamous paid for the construction and the team pays rent, which “is covered by fees paid by the players who would usually fund a stipend given to billet families.” . . . This is an interesting story, and you wonder if this is soon to become part of our new normal. . . . Elliot’s complete story is right here.


The BCHL postponed a pair of Saturday exhibition games after a player with the BCHLSurrey Eagles tested positive. . . . According to the league, as of Saturday afternoon, “The athlete has been placed in a 14-day quarantine and all other players and team personnel have been tested and we are awaiting results.” . . . The BCHL postponed an afternoon game between the Eagles and Langley Rivermen. Also postponed was a game scheduled for last night between the Coquitlam Express and Chilliwack Chiefs. . . . On Friday night, Surrey and Chilliwack played the sixth of six straight exhibition games against each other. . . . The BCHL said it is awaiting “further direction from Fraser Health.” . . . Earlier in the week, the Eagles had said they were desperately in need of billet families. “We’re in desperate need for one but I could really use four,” Jim Turton, the team’s billet co-ordinator, told the Peace Arch News.


Meanwhile, in the QMJHL, Jonathan Habashi, the sports editor of the qmjhlnewDrummondville Journal Express, tweeted Saturday that he was told the Voltigeurs now have five positives. The Voltigeurs had suspended all in-person activities on Thursday after one player tested positive. At that point, other players and staff members were isolated and were being tested. . . . The QMJHL had shut down its 12 Quebec-based teams on Oct. 14 with the number of positives rising in the province. The league said things would be on hold until at least Oct. 28.


Perishable


I don’t know how your week was, but let’s take a moment to think about Andrew Burke of Calmar, Alta. If you haven’t heard his story, well, he accidentally purchased two Lotto 6-49 tickets with the same numbers for the same draw. Later, he was getting the tickets checked at the gas station in which he had bought them when the clerk told him: “You’ve won $2.5 million.” Burke told The Canadian Press: “I said she better check the other ticket because it’s the same number.” . . . Poor guy. Had to share the $5-million jackpot. With himself! LOL!!



With the WHL now allowing players to transfer to junior A teams, at least until Dec. 20, the Chicago Steel of the USHL has let it be know that it isn’t interested in adding any CHL players. . . . Ryan Hardy, the Steel’s general manager, tweeted: “We are empathetic to any player without a place to play but we will not be adding players on loan from the CHL. We are committed to the development of our current players and will not sacrifice their growth for a perceive short-term gain.”


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “COVID-19 was listed among those ‘also receiving votes’ in the latest AP football poll. Or did we just wake up from a bad dream?”

——

“The Japan Swimming Federation has stripped Daiya Seto, the reigning world champion in two individual-medley events, of his team captaincy for the Tokyo Olympics after he was caught cheating on his wife,” Perry reports. “In other words, he got DQ’d for not staying in his own lane.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “If you were watching Monday Night Football and were unaware, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is one of Donald Trump’s biggest NFL supporters. Who knew karma might be a football fan? Carry on.”

——

Hough also pointed out this headline from si.com: Nick Saban Adds to His Legacy With Victories Over No. 3 Georgia, and COVID-19 in Same Week.



Roast


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

In spending a chilly Saturday afternoon watching U.S. college football, it dawned on me that the mostly leaderless United States of America has decided that if it has to sacrifice a few hundred thousand people before a vaccine arrives, so be it. . . . The number of college football coaches who should have their facemasks stapled to their faces is off the charts. For example, every time Fox-TV’s cameras showed Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, his facemask was serving as a chin diaper. . . . Hey, Mike, why even bother? . . . Oklahoma State was playing Iowa State and the Cyclones’ head coach, Mike Campbell, wasn’t much better. . . . No, neither announcer, Tim Brando nor Spencer Tillman, uttered a discouraging word. . . . However, Tillman did use the occasion to introduce a new term into the football lexicon — intentionality. As in, when a linebacker is closing on a running back, he needs to arrive with some “intentionality.”

——

Here’s Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Something to consider: The pandemic dead in America would fill the Bay Area’s six professional sports venues (Chase Center, Oracle Park, Oakland Coliseum, Levi’s Stadium, SAP Center, Avaya Stadium) with only about 2,700 seats to spare.

“We’re days away from full capacity.”

——

Ostler also related a story involving former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Fred Dean, who died the other day of coronavirus-related causes. Ostler said he heard the story years ago “from a former 49ers’ exec. Dean sat down with the 49ers to hammer out a contract, in the days before agents. The two sides were close to an agreement, so the 49ers threw in a sweetener. ‘We’ll give you $500 for every sack.’ Dean said, ‘OK, but does my wife have to know?’ ”


Plumber


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: Every autumn, tundra and Arctic swans arrive on the South Thompson River and spend the winter here. We have come to recognize their arrival as the start of winter. Uhh, the advance scouts showed up on Wednesday afternoon. The first snow in the river valley, which is where we live, fell overnight Thursday. While the swans will hang around, the snow won’t. I hope. . . . Dorothy was chatting with a longtime married friend from Regina the other day. When she asked the friend how things were going in these pandemic times, the response was: “Well, there’s nobody buried in the back yard yet.” . . . Ron St. Clair, a former radio voice of the Prince George Cougars, will be one of 15 inductees into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame this year. In an earlier life, St. Clair was the official announcer at the Delaware Speedway in Delaware, Ont. He also was the voice of CASCAR. Catherine Garrett of MYPGNOW has more right here.


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