Scattershooting on a Monday night while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, following news that New York Giants QB Eli Manning was about to announce his retirement: “So, I’ll ask you . . do you think he’s a Hall of Famer? You can let me know by tweeting me your thoughts, but just know that I don’t care what you think because I’m a Patriots fan and Eli Manning has been dead to me for years.”


Larry Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., later this year. But how close was he to becoming a goaltender? . . . Legend has it that he was in camp with the WHL’s Regina Pats and ended up being cut — twice! — by general manager Bob Strumm, who is one of the most popular figures in WHL history. . . . Anyway, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Strumm for a column that is right here.


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Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Baseball Hall of Fame: “The truth is, (Barry) Bonds deserves to be in the Hall. Not for his hitting — the PED business makes it hard to fairly evaluate Bonds’ hitting — but because baseball is the rudest sport, and Bonds should be in the Hall representing that aspect of our national pastime.”

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Ostler, again: “If I had a HOF vote, I’d write in Mike Fiers.”


The Bosa family doesn’t talk about it a whole lot, but it’s a story you are going to hear about as Super Bowl LIV (54) approaches. . . . It seems the great-grandfather of San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa was a Chicago mobster who worked with Al Capone. Seriously! . . . Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has more right here.


Congrats to Kelly Kisio, who is to be honoured by the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on March 1. CalgaryKisio will become the third person to be saluted as Forever A Hitmen, after players Ryan Getzlaf, who was honoured in 2015 and Andrew Ladd (2017). . . . In 18 seasons with Calgary, Kisio filled various roles, including stints as general manager, head coach and president of hockey operations. He twice was named the WHL’s executive of the year. . . . My favourite Kisio story doesn’t involve the Hitmen. In 1982-83, he was playing with HC Davos in Switzerland. He had eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. That was Kisio’s second-last game with Davos; three days later he was with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . . . He finished that season with Davos with 87 points, 49 of them goals, in 38 games. . . . Now a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Kisio will be honoured prior to an afternoon game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.


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The NFL’s 2020 draft is to be held in Las Vegas, which now has its own franchise — the Raiders. . . . As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out, “The NFL has come a long way in just a few years.  About five years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of ‘close ties to gambling’. This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for three days.”

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Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, tweeted the other day: “Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

That was enough for The Sports Curmudgeon to come up with this response: “There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the U.S. That tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades have taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi. I have been to Lubbock TX and to Pullman WA and to Starkville MS. Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth. If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a ‘bustling burb’ — but it won’t be easy. That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

“Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens. There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

“As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events. I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list.”


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You may have been watching when RB Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers’ defence in the NFC final. As Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it: “There hasn’t been anything carved up like that since Emeril Lagasse was introduced to his first turkey.”


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Prior to a recent NBA game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, StubHub was listing tickets for as low as $4. The Left Coast Sports Babe wondered: “Are they asking or paying?”


Sportsbetting.ag, an offshore site, has listed a whole lot of prop bets for the Super Bowl. . . . Here’s one: “Which will be higher? (Tweets and retweets count). Donald Trump total tweets on 2/3/20 or the 49ers point total?” . . . Yes, Trump’s total will come from the day after the Super Bowl. . . . BTW, the over/under for Demi Lovato’s version of the U.S. anthem is two minutes one second. Take the over.


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You know how an NHL team now might fire its head coach and then hire a head coach who recently had been fired as the head coach of a different team? Well, it seems that trend has reached the junior A ranks. . . . The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have hired Scott Atkinson as general manager and head coach, replacing Joe Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 15. The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks had ousted Atkinson on Dec. 30.


The Kamloops Blazers beat the host Prince George Cougars, 3-0, on Friday night, the first time in franchise history that its goaltenders have put up three consecutive shutouts. The Kamloops1Blazers had beaten the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-0, on Jan. 18 and the host Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Jan. 19. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots on Friday night. He blocked 21 against Vancouver, with G Rayce Ramsay turning aside 24 against the Americans. . . . The Cougars got a split on Saturday night, beating the Blazers, 3-1, and ending Kamloops’ shutout streak at a franchise-record 233 minutes 30 seconds. . . . The Blazers also put together back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 15 and 18, beating the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-0, and Vancouver, 6-0. Ramsay had 23 saves against the Broncos, with Garand stopping 23 in the victory over the Giants. . . .

Kamloops first posted back-to-back shutouts in 1991-92 when Corey Hirsch made 20 and 21 saves respectively in home-ice victories — 13-0 over the Tacoma Rockets and 9-0 over the Seattle Thunderbirds — on Feb. 7 and 9. . . . Kamloops scored 11 times in the second period against Tacoma. . . . Those two shutouts came in a seven-game stretch during which Hirsch put up four shutouts. . . .

Back-to-back shutouts didn’t occur again until 2006-07 when Dustin Butler did it on Jan. 10 and 13. He stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane, then turned aside 18 in beating the visiting Prince George Cougars, 6-0. . . .

In 2011-12, Cole Cheveldave did it on Jan. 1 and 6, blocking 22 shots in blanking the visiting Cougars, 5-0, then turning aside 32 shots in a 2-0 triumph in Prince George. . . . Cheveldave did it again in 2012-13, on March 3 and 5. He kicked out 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets, then stopped 14 in a 6-0 beating of Victoria. Both games were in Kamloops. . . .

It was Connor Ingram’s turn in 2016-17, when he made 28 stops in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Cougars on Feb. 19, then blocked 23 shots in a 7-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Kamloops on Feb. 21. . . .

One other shutout-related note involving Kamloops: In 2004-05, 19 of the Blazers’ 72 games ended in a shutout. Unfortunately for Kamloops, it was on the wrong end in 13 of those.


“Just wondering,” ponders the always deep-thinking Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions, what is the Breakfast of Upsets, Coco Gauffs?”



JUST NOTES: If you watched Serena Williams lose a third-setter to China’s Qiang Wang in the third round of the Aussie Open the other night/morning, you have to wonder if we are watching the end of an era. Serena, who was the No. 8 seed, certainly seemed to be suffering from fatigue near the end of her loss to the No. 27 seed. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Williams just once would give some credit to her opponent? . . . The NHL all-star stuff on Friday and Saturday evenings? Not in my home. The Aussie Open was on my TV. . . . One of the best things about the Aussie Open, and other tennis tournaments, is the lack of commentary while the ball is in play. . . . I did find time to watch The Irishman during the week. If you like gangster movies and know at least a bit about Jimmy Hoffa, you should like this one. If you aren’t aware, though, it’s three hours and 20 minutes long. . . . The book with the movie tie-in — The Irishman: Frank Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa — is rather good, too. . . . Sheesh! If only some people would learn the difference between cancelled and postponed!

Giants set to name head coach . . . Brockman signs on as Broncos’ tamer . . . Oil Kings add Hill, Lauer to front office

MacBeth

Glen Hanlon (Brandon, 1974-77) signed a one-year plus option year contract as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This is the club’s first season playing in Slovakia’s Extraliga. Hanlon was GM of the Vancouver Giants the past two seasons.


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The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce Michael Dyck as their newest head Vancouvercoach today. Dyck, 49, will take over from Jason McKee, who was fired by incoming general manager Barclay Parneta on June 15. At the time, Parent said he wanted a head coach “I’m more familiar with.” . . . In 2002-03, Parneta was scouting for the Giants, while Dyck was an assistant coach. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on the story right here.


Dean Brockman was introduced Wednesday as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of SCBroncoshockey operations and head coach. Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, who guided the Broncos to the WHL championship in May, in his second season in Swift Current, then joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. . . . Brockman spent the past four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, the last two as head coach. He was fired when the 2017-18 season ended. Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He is a four-time winner of the SJHL’s coach-of-the-year award.


After being away for 11 seasons, Brad Lauer is returning to the WHL, this time as the EdmontonOilKingshead coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. His signing was announced on Wednesday. Lauer replaces Steve Hamilton, who was fired on May 28. Hamilton had been on the Edmonton coaching staff for eight seasons, the last eight as head coach. . . . Lauer, 51, is a former WHL player and coach. He played three seasons (1983-86) for the Regina Pats, before going on to a pro career that ended after the 2001-02 season. His NHL career comprised 323 regular-season and 34 playoff games. . . . He spent five seasons (2002-07) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice and has NHL coaching experience with the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning. For the past three seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Lauer hiring right here.

The Oil Kings also introduced Kirt Hill, 30, as their president of hockey operations and general manager. He takes over from Randy Hansch after he and the Oil Kings parted company. . . . Terry Jones of Postmedia has more on the Hill hiring and the state of the Oil Kings right here.


Importdraft

The CHL’s 2018 import draft is scheduled to be held today (Thursday), starting at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT). The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs hold the first pick, followed, in order, by the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.

As of late Wednesdsay night, 52 of the 60 CHL teams were poised to pick in the first round, with 27 of them to take part in the second round.

The CHL finally made official on Wednesday what has been widely reported for weeks now. According to a news release: “For the first time since 2013, goaltenders will be eligible for selection in the CHL import draft, in addition to forwards and defencemen.”

Here’s a look at the 22 WHL teams and their import situation . . .

Brandon Wheat Kings — They have released Czech D Daniel Bukac, 19, freeing them to make two selections. The Wheat Kings also hold the CHL rights to Czech F Martin Kaut, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he was a first-round pick, the Wheat Kings are allowed to make that second pick in the import draft.

Calgary Hitmen — D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus) and D Egor Zamula (Russia) both will be back, so the Hitmen will sit out the import draft.

Edmonton Oil Kings — F Andrei Pavlenko (Belarus) is returning, while F Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) has completed his junior eligibility. The Oil Kings will make one selection.

Everett Silvertips — With F Martin Fasko-Rudas (Slovakia) returning, the Silvertips have room for one import. D Ondrej Vala (Czech Republic), who finished with Everett last season, is 20 and is expected to play in the Dallas Stars’ organization.

Kamloops Blazers — They traded Vala to Everett in January and have released F Justin Sigrist (Switzerland), so are expected to pick twice.

Kelowna Rockets — They are bringing back D Libor Zabransky, but have released F Marek Skvrne, so they will make one selection. Both players are from Czech Republic.

Kootenay Ice — With F Martin Bodak (Slovakia) unsure whether he will return, the Ice is expected to make one selection as it looks for an import to join F Gillian Kohler (Switzerland). Bodak, 20, would be a two-spotter should he return, so there’s that, too.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — D Igor Merezhko (Ukraine) is 20, so would be a two-spotter were the Hurricanes to keep him. They have released F Yegor Zudilov (Russia), so will make two selections.

Medicine Hat Tigers — D Linus Nassen (Sweden) is preparing for his 20-year-old season, but would be a two-spotter. D Kristians Rubins (Latvia) was a two-spotter last season so has aged out. The Tigers are expected to pick twice.

Moose Jaw Warriors — They had two Russians last season — D Oleg Sosunov and D Dmitri Zaitsev — both of whom now are 20. Neither is expected back and the Warriors are expected to make two selections.

Portland Winterhawks — F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) is 20 and should play in the San Jose Sharks organization. D Henri Jokiharju (Finland), 19, was a first-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL draft. The Winterhawks, then, will be making two selections.

Prince Albert Raiders — They will make one selection. D Sergei Sapego (Belarus) will be back, but D Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic) is 20 and won’t be returning.

Prince George Cougars — F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Belarus) is expected back for his sophomore season, so the Cougars are preparing to make one selection. F Pavel Azhgirei (Belarus) won’t return.

Red Deer Rebels — F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is 20 and his future is up in the air, while D Alex Alexeyev (Russia) will be back after being a first-round selection by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because of the situation, the Rebels are eligible to make two picks.

Regina Pats — D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic), 20, should play in the New York Rangers organization, while F Emil Oksanen (Finland), 20, has signed to play at home. The Pats are planning on making two selections.

Saskatoon Blades — D Mark Rubinchik (Russia) has signed to play with a KHL team, leaving the Blades to make a pair of picks.

Seattle Thunderbirds — They also will make two selections, having released F Nikita Malukhin (Russia) and with F Sami Moilanen having signed with a pro team in Finland.

Spokane Chiefs — They will select once, having chosen to release Slovakian F Milos Fafrak, who will turn 19 on July 8. Spokane’s other import is Czech D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20.

Swift Current Broncos — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), 20, will be a two-spotter should they bring him back, while F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) has signed to play at home. Thus, the Broncos are expected to make two picks.

Tri-City Americans — They’ll make one selection as they try to find an import to join D Roman Kalinichenko (Russia), who returns for a second season. D Juuso Valimaki (Finland) turns 20 on Oct. 6, but should be in the Calgary Flames organization.

Vancouver Giants — They’ll pass as they plan on going with F Milos Roman (Slovakia) and F Yannik Valenti (Germany), a 2017 import draft pick who signed with them on March 9.

Victoria Royals — The Royals have F Igor Martynov coming back, while they have released F Andrei Grishakov (Russia). Therefore, they will make one selection.


Work is underway at Mosaic Place, the home of the Moose Jaw Warriors, to upgrade the MooseJawWarriorsboards and glass. The Warriors announced Wednesday that they will share the $446,313 cost with the DFFH (Downtown Facility and Field House). . . . “This new CrystalPlex dasher board system is in the best interest of player safety and will benefit not only our WHL players, but all users of the facility,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, said in a news release. . . . The upgrades are scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018-19 season.


The Portland Winterhawks are looking for a new broadcast team after announcing PortlandWednesday that Evan Richardson, their play-by-play voice, and analyst Andy Kemper have stepped aside, both of them citing a desire to spend more time with family. . . . Richardson spent one season calling Winterhawks’ games. He has decided to return to his hometown of Toronto. . . . Kemper began his broadcasting career in 2004, alongside the legendary Dean (Scooter) Vrooman. He will continue to be part of the Winterhawks organization as the team historian.


G Connor Ingram, who played with the Kamloops Blazers, spent last season with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Lukas Favale, the Crunch’s radio voice, pledged $1 to the fundraising attempts for every save made by Ingram from then through the end of the AHL playoffs. Ingram immediately said he would match that total.

Earlier this month, F Kaleb Dahlgren of the Broncos and Ingram took part in a cheque presentation with some folks from STARS Ambulance.


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