Where do Silvertips, Blazers go from here? . . . Would WHL expand for the money? Who and where?

I STAND WITH ETHAN BEAR . . .


What is sure to be an interesting summer in WHL circles is off to quite a start with two teams presently without general managers and one club looking for a head coach.

The Everett Silvertips parted company with general manager Garry Davidson on EverettMay 20, ending a highly successful relationship that was more than nine years old. The Silvertips chose not to renew Davidson’s contract, just 10 days after the club wrapped up the 2020-21 developmental season with a 19-4-0 record, easily the best in the five-team U.S. Division.

On Tuesday, Matt Bardsley announced that he was resigning as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, citing a desire to move his family back to the U.S., to be closer to relatives and so that grandparents in California and Oregon would have more access to their two grandchildren.

Bardsley made his announcement just 13 days after the Blazers wound up their Kamloopsseason with an 18-4-0 record, easily the best in the five-team B.C. Division. The Blazers also had the division’s best record when the 2019-20 season was cut short by the arrival of COVID-19.

I wrote on Tuesday night that Bardsley was believed to have one year left on his contract with Kamloops. That turned out to be incorrect. A source with knowledge of the situation has since told Taking Note that Bardsley signed a five-year contract with the WHL team when he joined it from the Portland Winterhawks. Then, with COVID-19 coming along and employees taking pay cuts, the Blazers’ ownership group extended his contract another year.

So . . . where might those two teams go from here.

Well, in the news release announcing Davidson’s departure, the Silvertips said: “The past two seasons have necessitated the restructuring of Silvertips hockey operations, and this process is ongoing.”

That would suggest that the Silvertips are cutting payroll and perhaps trimming positions, what with not having had any playoff revenue for the past two years and having had to play a shortened season in front of empty seats for 2020-21.

Does it all mean that the Silvertips will operate without a traditional general manager, perhaps giving Mike Fraser, their head scout, more responsibilities?

(Of course, the administrative staff page on the team’s website still listed Davidson as the general manager as of Wednesday evening, so maybe . . .)

Meanwhile, in Kamloops, you can bet that the Blazers will take a serious look at adding the GM’s title to head coach Shaun Clouston’s portfolio. After all, he was the GM/head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers for seven seasons before landing in Kamloops. He still might be in Medicine Hat had the beloved Willie Desjardins not come available prior to the 2019-20 season.

Or perhaps the Blazers will turn Clouston into strictly a general manager, and promote his brother, Cory, to head coach. Cory, on staff as an assistant coach, certainly has ample experience as a head coach.

I really expect the Blazers to promote from within their organization rather than add a new face to the structure. And I would think that the vast majority of WHL teams will be taking the same approach to any vacancies that may arise in the next while.

Except for the Red Deer Rebels, who are in the market for a head coach after RedDeerBrent Sutter, who also is the owner, president and general manager, stepped down on April 10.

Assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn, along with assistant GM Shaun Sutter, handled the team for the remainder of the season. Brent was in his 17th season as the team’s head coach, although he spent some time in the NHL during that stretch.

The Rebels were 2-10-2 when he announced that he was stepping down; they finished 4-15-4.

While Sutter no doubt has some ideas and may well already have sounded out a few candidates, I would imagine that he isn’t in a hurry and will wait until the NHL season ends to see just who shakes free.

But ever since he announced his decision, I have wondered: What if he conducts a search and discovers that the best candidate for the job is Brent Sutter?


Scams


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote a bit on Wednesday about whether the NBA might be able to recoup some pandemic-related losses by selling a couple of expansion franchises.

As he pointed out, the Los Angeles Clippers recently changed hands for US$2 billion, while the Houston Rockets went for US$2.2 billion and the New Jersey Nets for US$3.2 billion.

So if the NBA was to sell two expansions franchises for US$1.5 billion each, well, that would put $100 million in the jeans of each of the existing franchises. That kind of cash might help some of the franchises get over the pandemic pain.

All of which got me to thinking about the WHL, whose teams no doubt also have felt the pain, although not nine figures worth of it. But deep six-figure losses will sting a WHL franchise as much if not more than what NBA teams might be feeling.

Still, if the WHL could peddle a couple of expansion franchises for, say, Cdn$4 million apiece and then divvy up the proceeds, each of the existing teams would get about Cdn$364,000.

Remember, now, we’re just spitballin’ here . . .

Of course, I have no idea what an expansion franchise would be valued at, especially with the WHL working to escape the grip of this pandemic. Nor do I have any understanding as to whether there is anyone out there who might even be interested in purchasing a franchise.

On top of that, are there any arenas out there that aren’t being used by a junior team that would meet the WHL’s standards?

Nah, didn’t think so. Back to the drawing board.


Robert Morris U, which is located in Moon Township, Pa. announced on Wednesday that it has dropped it’s men’s and women’s hockey teams, both of which played at the NCAA Division I level. . . . RMU played host to the NCAA men’s Final Four in Pittsburgh just two months ago. . . . USCHO.com reported that the university attributed the decisions to a “series of strategic initiatives” intended to “position the university to be amongst the most agile and professionally focused schools in the nation” as it prepares for its upcoming 100th anniversary. . . . According to USCHO.com, “Approximately 55 student-athletes and seven staff positions will be impacted by this decision, which is effective immediately.” . . . Derek Schooley had been the men’s head coach since 2004-05, while Paul Colontino has been the women’s coach for 10 seasons.


Birthday


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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: Parker MacKay has joined the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints as an assistant coach. He will work alongside head coach Bram Stephen. MacKay played three seasons (2012-15) with the Saints, winning one title, before going on to the U of Minnesota-Duluth where he won two NCAA championships. There is a news release right here. . . . Burt Henderson is taking over as the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen. Henderson, 46, spent the past two seasons as president and head coach of the junior B Langley Trappers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. With the Rivermen, he replaces Bobby Henderson, a cousin, who hasn’t been with the team since some time in March although the team didn’t mention his departure until May. . . . The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Tali Campbell, its vice-president and general manager, to a three-year extension. He joined the team in October 2020.


Cxn

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after not watching Canucks and Flames . . .

Scattershooting2


If you think MLB has a problem with pace of play, how about a high school girls softball game in Montgomery, Alta., in which Park Crossing defeated Sidney Lanier, 46-45?  The winners struck for 11 runs in the first inning but had to come from behind in the final inning for the victory. . . . The teams combined for 20 hits and 14 errors. But there were 65 walks — that’s right! 65!!! Oh, there also were 29 HBPs. One player got to plate eight times and was 0-for-0 with seven runs. She had five BBs and three HBPs. . . . It took almost five hours to play the game.


Stud


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Park Crossing High School’s 46-45 win over Lanier in the Alabama Class 6A girls softball regionals featured 29 batters hit by pitches and 65 walks. Somewhere, Bob ‘Just A Bit Outside’ Uecker was smiling.”

——

Perry, again: “Albert Pujols, just released by the Angels and signed by the Dodgers, has grounded into an MLB-record 403 double plays in his career. Instead of having a street renamed in his honor, maybe he should be awarded his own 643 area code.”



You easily can make the argument that no one athlete in Saskatchewan’s history has had a larger impact on the province than George Reed, one of the two biggest names to have worn the green and white of the Saskatchewan Roughriders — the other being Ron Lancaster, of course. . . . There isn’t anything shocking about that statement. . . . What might be a surprise to you is what Reed faced in Regina, especially in his early days with the Roughriders. . . . Jason Warick of cbc.ca has that story right here and it’s a great read.



Did Joey Meyer of the Denver Zephyrs, a Triple-A baseball team, really hit a 582-foot home run at Mile High Stadium on June 2, 1987? . . . Benjamin Hochman tried to find out and ended up with a great story that is right here.


Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot has a question and the answer: “Is anyone’s enjoyment of a baseball game enhanced after being told the exit velocity of a batted ball? Of course not.”


I would suggest that we may never find out exactly how many NHL players were hit by COVID-19 this season. Consider this from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun, following a post-game Zoom session after the Jets beat the visiting Vancouver Canucks, 5-0, on Tuesday night:

“Jets forward Dominic Toninato, an unheralded free-agent signing in October who has languished on the taxi squad most of the season, revealed he’d come down with COVID in November and had some concerning complications from it, delaying his return.”

Makes a guy wonder just how many similar cases there have been in the NHL. Also has a guy wondering if that’s an upper- or lower-body injury in the NHL?


“Standard Magazine reports heavy-metal fans are among the most anxious and depressed in the world,” notes RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com. “In fact, they rank a close second to followers of the Toronto Maple Leafs.”


Coyote


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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 junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are in the market for a new general manager/head coach with the news that Jeff Wagner has left to join the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as associate coach and director of scouting. Wagner spent three seasons with the Ghostriders. . . . The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles and head coach Cam Keith have signed a contract extension through the 2023-24 season. He has been the Eagles’ head coach since March 2019.


Grandpa

Junior hockey coaching carousel starts spinning . . . Blazers, Rockets close WHL season with wins . . . Recchi commits to Thommies

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tweeted on Wednesday: “Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline.” . . . Is this a great time to be alive, or what?


The MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons have signed Paul Dyck, their general manager Steinbachand head coach, to a contract extension running through the 2025-26 season. Yes, that’s a five-year extension. He started with the Pistons as assistant coach/director of sales and marketing in prior to 2010-11. He has been head coach since taking over on an interim basis during the 2011-12 season, and added the GM’s duties over the summer of 2012. From a news release: “Since 2012-13, the Steinbach native has guided his team to three regular season titles, one Addison Division title, four league finals appearances, two Turnbull Cups in 2013 and 2018, the ANAVET Cup championship in 2018, and an appearance at the Centennial Cup in 2018.” . . . Dyck, now 50, played two WHL seasons (1989-91) with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Pistons’ news release is right here. . . .

In the BCHL, the Coquitlam Express has signed Brandon Shaw to a two-year Coquitlamdeal as head coach and assistant general manager. Shaw, 26, was the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ associate coach and director of player development for two seasons. He was with the Merritt Centennials for three seasons before that, working as an assistant coach/scout and then assistant coach/director of scouting. . . . Shaw takes over from interim head coach Adam Nugent-Hopkins, who stepped in in March after Dan Cioffi, who was head coach/assistant GM, left the organization. . . . Brian Wiebe has more on the Express right here.

——

Meanwhile, two junior hockey coaches who were employed on Tuesday are free agents today. . . .

The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes have fired head coach Ron Choules, who just completed his second season with them. The Cataractes had the third-best record (21-10-3) in the QMJHL’s regular season, then lost a best-of-five first-round playoff series, 3-2, to a Rimouski Oceanic team that went 13-22-4 in the regular season. Shawinigan held a 2-1 series lead before dropping the last two games — 4-3 and 2-0 — on home ice. . . .

The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have decided not to renew head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter’s contract when it runs out on May 31. He took over the team early last season after Barry Wolff was fired and went 12-31-4. Merritt was 3-17-0 while playing in a just-completed pod in Chilliwack.


The San Diego Padres, who put three players on the injured list on Tuesday due to health and safety protocols, added two more on Wednesday. . . . INF Eric Hosmer and OF Wil Myers will sit for a while after SS Fernando Tatis Jr., INF Jurickson Profar and SS Jorge Mateo on the list. . . . Hosmer was identified as a close contact and was removed during a Tuesday game with the Colorado Rockies in Denver. Myers started that game in right field but was removed in the third inning after he was found to have tested positive. Tatis Jr. also tested positive, with Profar and Mateo later identified as close contacts.


Tent


The curtain came down on the WHL’s 2020-21 season on Wednesday night with games in Kamloops and Kelowna. . . . The WHL hopes there is some sense of normalcy back in our society by October when it wants to begin a 68-game regular season. . . .

In Kamloops, G Dylan Garand stopped 28 shots to lead the Blazers to a 4-0 Kamloopsvictory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers completed an 18-4-0 season with six straight victories. . . . The Cougars (9-10-3) lost their last three. . . . Garand recorded his third shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. He finished this season 15-3-0, 2.15, .921. . . . F Josh Pillar (11) opened the scoring at 3:59 of the first period. . . . D Logan Bairos (1), D Ethan Brandwood (1) and F Orrin Centazzo (7) also scored. . . . Bairos, a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, got his first WHL goal in his 19th game, 17 of them this season. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 34 shots for the Cougars. . . . The game was played in 2 hours 4 minutes, which I believe ties it for the fastest game in the WHL this season. The Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1, in an April 7 game that also was clocked in 2:04. . . . The Blazers completed their season without F Connor Zary, who missed the last seven games after taking a high hit on April 28. F Jonny Hooker of the Cougars served a four-game suspension for the hit. . . .

In Kelowna, the Rockets scored the game’s first two goals en route to a 3-2 Rocketsvictory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kelowna, which played only 16 games because of COVID-19 issues, finished 10-5-1. . . . Victoria wound up at 3-17-2. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff (6) gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 6:45 of the first period, with D Noah Dorey (1) making it 2-0 at 16:12. . . . Dorey, a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal in his ninth game. . . . F Ty Yoder (4) pulled Victoria to within a goal at 16:42. . . . D Jake Lee (3) restored Kelowna’s two-goal lead at 9:02 of the second period with what stood up as the game-winner. . . . F Brayden Tracey (9) scored the Royals’ second goal at 19:14 of the third period. . . . The Rockets got 28 saves from G Roman Basran, while Adam Evanoff stopped 35 at the other end.


Push


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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: F Cameron Recchi of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks said Wednesday that he has committed to play NCAA hockey for the U of St. Thomas Thommies of the CCHA. The school is based in St. Paul, Minn., with the hockey team to make its Division 1 debut in 2021-22. Recchi, 19, is the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, who owns a piece of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. . . . Jeff Harris has left the WHL’s Victoria Royals to join BC Hockey as executive vice president, communications. He spent the past 10 years with the Royals as assistant general manager, hockey operations and communications. While with Victoria he worked under Cameron Hope, who now is BC Hockey’s chief executive officer.


Bags

Two B.C. junior B leagues cancel seasons . . . WHL continues to get good news from tests . . . Can you take time for this GoFundMe page?


Two of B.C.’s junior B leagues pulled the plug on their 2020-21 seasons on Tuesday. . . . The 12-team Pacific Junior Hockey League, which is based on the Lower Mainland, had been shut down since November, with teams only allowed to practice. Ronnie Patterson, the owner of the White Rock Whalers, told the Peace Arch News: “We battled through some issues . . . but we just felt in fairness to the athletes and all the programs, we would show some leadership in the hockey community and shut it down, and then hopefully we can start our spring and summer programs at some point, and just focus on having a successful 2021-22 season.” . . . The nine-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League also cancelled its season. “The current Public Health Authority discussions show it is unlikely there will be any changes in their current direction . . . and with the added pressures from facilities comparing the teams’ need for ice usage against the need for the removal of the ice for other sport- or health-related events, it seems that this is the time to make this decision,” Simon Morgan, the league president, said in statement from the league. . . . The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, another B.C.-based junior B league, cancelled its season on Feb. 6.


The WHL announced on Tuesday that there weren’t any positive tests among 455 tests administered to the five U.S. Division teams from Feb. 27 through WHL2March 5. From a WHL news release: “The WHL’s U.S. Division clubs are utilizing a private antigen testing strategy and will be conducting testing three times per week. Testing will be administered to all members of the team delegations of players and staff.” . . . All five teams were cleared to begin practices on March 5. . . . From Feb. 12 through March 5, the WHL has gone through 1,554 tests without even one positive. . . .

Interestingly, the Alberta-based teams, who began play on Feb. 26, move into playing three-in-three this weekend. This weekend, the Lethbridge Hurricanes will visit the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night, then they’ll play in Lethbridge on Saturday, and then it’s back to Red Deer for a Sunday game. The Medicine Hat Tigers and Calgary Hitmen will go Calgary-Medicine Hat-Calgary. The Edmonton Oil Kings will sit out this weekend, and then will play a triple header the following weekend. . . .

Games are scheduled to begin in the Regina hub on Friday. The five Saskatchewan-based teams and the two from Manitoba are playing in the Brandt Centre. A Friday doubleheader will have the Brandon Wheat Kings meet the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Prince Albert Raiders playing the Regina Pats. . . . There will be at least one game played in Regina on every day from Friday through April 28. . . .

The U.S. Division teams are scheduled to begin playing games on March 19. They’ll play in Kent, Everett, Spokane and Kennewick, Wash. . . . The five B.C. Division teams, whose schedule was released on Tuesday, are to start up on March 26 with games only in Kamloops and Kelowna.


Lindsey
Ferris Backmeyer remains in a Vancouver hospital with her mother, Lindsey, by her side.

Please allow me to remind you of an active GoFundMe page that will benefit the Backmeyer family of Kamloops. That page is right here. . . . Ferris, who recently turned four, underwent a kidney transplant in Vancouver on Saturday night. Unfortunately, there were complications shortly afterwards and the kidney had to be removed. . . . Ferris remains in hospital, and this means that her mother, Lindsey, and two older sisters are going to have to stay in Vancouver for the foreseeable future. Father Pat will be there, too, although he also is attending school in Kamloops as he works to become a registered nurse. . . . All money raised from this GoFundMe page will be used to help the Backmeyers meet expenses pertaining to their stay in Vancouver and to keep their home in Kamloops.


The 2021 RBC Canadian Open, a PGA Tour stop that was scheduled for St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto, June 7-13, has been cancelled for a second straight season. . . . The CP Women’s Open, an LPGA Tour event, is still on the schedule for Aug. 26-29 at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in Vancouver.



Dang! I just love it when Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, does things up right. Here he is from Monday, writing about the NIT, which was held at Madison Square Garden in its glory days but this year has been shuffled off to, uhh, Texas:

“Your junior varsity post-season men’s basketball tournament now has the potential to be a highly visible pandemic super-spreader event. If you think that it is a good thing to have attached to ‘the NCAA Brand,’ may I suggest that linking ‘the NCAA Brand’ to Typhoid Mary is not a good thing?”

His complete rant is right here.

——

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot on the same subject: “Now that the college basketball anachronism called the NIT has been moved from New York to wide-open Texas, expect some teams to take a pass. Not to mention that the three-week-long NCAA women’s tournament must deal with mask-less Texans. Good luck, ladies.”


Pig


CP24 — Ontario reports nearly 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 as ICU doctor warns third wave is ‘upon us.’


The AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights were to have played the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colo., on Monday night. That didn’t happen, though, as the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Silver Knights.


We can only hope that G Taran Kozun has some kind of clause in his contract that calls for him to be paid some mileage this season. In a Monday ECHL trade, Kozun moved from the Allen Americans to the Wheeling Nailers for cash considerations. (BTW, what does cash considerations mean? Is it the same as cash?) . . . Kozun, 26, was the WHL’s top goaltender in 2014-15 (Seattle Thunderbirds), and the top goaltender in Canadian university hockey for 2018-19 and 2019-20 while with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . The Nailers will be his seventh team this season, following the Kansas Mavericks, Pensacola Ice Flyers, Indy Fuel, Rapid City Rush, Orlando Solar Bears and the Americans. Those all are ECHL teams with the exception of the Ice Flyers, who play in the SPHL. Through all of this, Kozun, according to eliteprospects.com, has played in only five games this season — one each with the Mavericks, Ice Flyers, Fuel, Rush and Solar Bears.


——

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 BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has named Adam Nugent-Hopkins as its interim head coach, at least for whatever might be left of this season. He takes over from Dan Cioffi, the assistant general manager and head coach who left the club to, according to a news release, “focus on his family and pursue a new opportunity.” Cioffi took over during the pandemic and went 8-3 in the BCHL’s exhibition season. Nugent-Hopkins, 32, was the head coach of the U15 AAA Greater Vancouver Canadians in 2019-20. Yes, he is the older brother of Edmonton Oilers F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Portal

Don Dietrich says thanks and farewell . . . Psst! Wanna buy a BCHL team? . . . Ahh, yes, baseball’s back!

Don Dietrich, a defenceman who played three seasons (1978-81) with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on Feb. 16. He was 59. If you are on Facebook and haven’t checked out the tribute page that his family set up, you should take the time to do just that. This was a special, special man whose memory will long remain with the people he touched, and he touched a lot of us.

Earlier this week, Nick, one of Nadine and Don’s three sons, posted this on the tribute page . . .

Before dad passed, he asked me to send this message out to everyone after he was gone. Transcribed directly from his words.

“I truly am a lucky man. Having two chronic illnesses has taught me patience and compassion, and I really believe that they have made me a better person. A better father, son, and husband.

If I came home with a flat tire, kicked the furniture and swore at the dog, I’d look out the window and the tire would still be flat.

I wouldn’t have gotten to do so many things in my life if it wasn’t for Parkinson’s and cancer. I am grateful that these illnesses have given me another opportunity to teach and inspire.

I would like to thank everyone for the stories they’ve shared and all of the nice things that they’ve said about me. It appears that I’ve fooled you all

I’ve just tried to be a good human being and treat people with dignity, and respect.

It’s been an honour to have known and met you all. Smell ya later!

— Don Dietrich, Dieter, Dins, Beaker, Heathcliff, Double D, Redbird”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “NFL owners are pushing to implement a 17-game schedule for this coming season. “A$ you might $u$pect, we have our rea$ons for playing $eventeen,” said one.


Penguin


It seems that Wes Mussio, the owner of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, is fed up with Dr. Bonnie Henry, who is B.C.’s provincial health officer, and the NDP government so now wants to sell the franchise that he purchased in November 2017.

NanaimoMussio, a lawyer from Vancouver, wrote: “With games suspended for 1 year now and Dr. Bonnie Henry giving the league no indication of any starting up this year, I see no path forward to any full return to normal in hockey, even in 2021-2022.”

Mussio continued: “The NDP has offered zero financial support to the suffering teams of the BCHL or for that matter, any hope of a full return to hockey for year(s). So, it is time for me to stop my huge personal and financial contribution to BC Hockey and I will be selling the team effective immediately. Serious enquires (sic) only at mussio@mussiogoodman.com. Nanaimo needs an ownership group who can wait out the PHOs.”

Mussio told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News-Bulletin on Sunday that he already had “close to a dozen” tire-kickers contact him.

When Mussio purchased the Clippers, he said he was going to buy a home in Nanaimo. Sakaki reported that Mussio has sold his Nanaimo condo and “has been living in Florida of late.”

Sakaki’s story is right here.

——

It’s interesting to watch the approaches taken by the BCHL and WHL as they work to hopefully get government approval for their teams to return to play.

While the BCHL and its 17 teams and the WHL’s five B.C. Division teams BCHLsupposedly are working in concert in terms of presenting return-to-play protocols to government and health officials, the opposite would appear to be happening in the public eye.

While silence seems to be golden for the WHL teams, the BCHL, or at least people associated with the league, seem to think that lots of noise is the best approach.

Former NHLer Garry Valk has taken an active role by starting a petition requesting that the NDP government loosen the reins. To be fair, he also wants to see WHL teams back on the ice, but he got involved because his son Garrett, 18, plays for the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Andy Prest of vancouverisawesome.com has more on Valk and his petition right here.

And then, on Sunday, Valk posted this on Facebook:

“So help me understand John Horgan. You approved the NHL teams to play in 24 hours? Why have we not heard anything from you or Dr. Bonnie Henry or Adrian Dix regarding our junior teams in BC? I know BCHL has sent you multiple proposals months ago, still nothing has been said at all about it. I guess our youth are not as important as multimillionaires.”

Horgan is the premier of B.C., with Dix the health minister and Dr. Henry the provincial health officer.

The BCHL hasn’t commented on Valk’s petition. News 1130, a Vancouver radio station, reported that it asked the league for a response, “but a representative said the league isn’t commenting until after the province responds about whether or not play will resume.”

You also can read into Wes Mussio’s announcement that he wants out of Nanaimo — is it at least in part a pressure tactic aimed at government officials, especially after he appears to have left himself an out?

Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin wrote: “(Mussio) said if things change and he gets ‘surprised pleasantly’ and can see a pathway forward, he won’t sell the Clippers, but he has been living in Florida and has started thinking about buying a hockey team in the U.S.”

And then there was a tweet from Tali Campbell, the Clippers’ general manager until early September when he left the organization. He now is the vice-president of team operations for the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.

On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted: “First time in my six years in the BCHL I have had to talk to two players about the thoughts of suicide. So sad.”

It’s not often a junior hockey official broaches such a subject in a public forum, and, if you’re at all like me, you are wondering about the timing of this tweet.

If you’re at all like me, you’re also wondering how government and health officials might respond to these kinds of messages. Hopefully, they treat them as white noise, but human nature being what it is, you also might wonder if the noise results in the BCHL’s cause being bumped just a bit further down the priority list.


BowlingShoe


CBC News — Prince Edward Island closes schools, shuts down personal gatherings for 72 hours as it tries to a quash clusters of COVID-19 cases in Summerside and Charlottetown. The province is reporting 5 new cases for a total of 18 active cases.


Old friend Kevin Dickie, now the executive director of athletics and community events at Acadia U in Wolfville, N.S., tells me that university hockey in Nova Scotia has been shut down due to new restrictions. They had started up on Feb. 12, and now are hoping to get the OK again for a March 27 restart. . . . A lot of ice has been made and melted since Dickie was coaching in Saskatchewan with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs and later the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He coached the Acadia Axemen for three seasons after leaving Melfort and before coaching with the Blades. He moved into the administration side of things in 2005 and really hasn’t looked back, having spent six years at the U of New Brunswick before moving over to Acadia. . . . And it’s always great to hear from a native of Shaunavon, Sask.



Headline at Fark.com: Patrick Mahomes welcomes first child, Sterling Skye Mahomes, expected to play against Tom Brady in about 20 years.


The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees opened their MLB exhibition seasons on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. Yes, it was an exhibition game. I watched every pitch and it was glorious.


John Harbaugh, the head coach of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, paid the entire restaurant bill of more than $2,000 at a recent charity event. Or, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com put it: “Harbaugh covered the spread.”


Crane


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: Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, will be a bit late in joining his team in the Regina hub where seven teams are to play some games starting on March 12. Teams arrived in Regina over the weekend, but Habscheid is with family after the death of his brother Robert. . . . Irv Cross died on Sunday near his Minnesota home. He was 81. Back in the day, the former All-Pro cornerback was part of CBS Sports’ Sunday NFL preview show The NFL Today, along with Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder. If you were an NFL fan, you started your Sunday with Brent, Phyllis, Irv and the Greek.

COVID-19 finds the Penticton Vees . . . How’d Bedard do in Sweden? . . . Hey, NFL, how was your Saturday? Uhh, don’t ask . . .


The BCHL revealed on Saturday afternoon that one player with the Penticton Vees has tested positive. . . . From a news release: “At this point, all of the Vees have been placed in a 14-day quarantine and all other billets, team personnel and staff that have been in contact with the player will be tested as soon as possible. The Provincial Health Office will dictate any further measures they may feel are necessary, based on the results of those additional tests.” . . . The Vees last played on Nov. 14 when they beat the visiting Vernon Vipers, 3-2, in an exhibition game. . . . This is believed to be the second BCHL team to deal with a positive test. The league announced on Oct. 30 that a player with the Surrey Eagles had tested positive. . . . The BCHL has been shut down since Nov. 19. It had hoped to begin its regular season on Dec. 2, but has pushed that back to Dec. 8.


The Saskatchewan government’s daily COVID-19 news statement included a couple of interesting notes. . . . 1. A recent outbreak on a teenage hockey team resulted in nine players and one coach testing positive. Multiple teams are currently self-isolating as a result. . . . 2. A recent outbreak at a curling bonspiel resulted in positive cases on teams from several cities and towns across the province.


The junior hockey season in Sweden, just like in Western Canada, is on hold thanks to COVID-19. That means that F Connor Bedard’s stint with HV71 is over. Bedard, the first player in history to be granted exceptional status to play in the WHL at 15, will be joining the Regina Pats. In Sweden, he had three goals and three assists in five games with HV71’s U-20 and U-18 teams. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here on Bedard’s stint in Sweden. . . .

If you’re wondering what Bedard thought of his experience in Sweden, Harder’s got you covered on that, too. It’s all right here.


Chick


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bartley Kives, CBC Manitoba: Manitoba announced 487 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. . . . Active cases: 9,024* . . . Total caseload: 16,118. . . . Recovered: 6,804. . . . Deaths: 290. . . . *Inflated due to data-entry backlog.

Global News: Boy under 10 years old the youngest COVID-19 death in Manitoba.

Global News: 197 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death reported in Saskatchewan. This brings the province’s COVID-19 death toll to 45 since the pandemic began, with 20 people having died just this month. The province’s total caseload rose to 7,888.

CBC Saskatchewan: Self-isolation ordered after COVID-19 exposures at Christopher Lake, Shellbrook curling rinks: SHA.

CBC News: Alberta reports a record 1,731 new COVID-19 cases. The province also reports 5 deaths, 1,012 new recoveries.

rdnewsNOW: Red Deer with 170 active COVID-19 cases.

CTV Calgary: Several hundred people gather in Calgary in protest of the province’s COVID-19 rules.

Looking for numbers from B.C.? As usual, it’s crickets until Monday afternoon when numbers will be ugly because the virus doesn’t take weekends off to go skiing. . . . But the clown cars were more than full in some locations on Saturday.

castanet.net: Hundreds protested B.C. COVID-19 restrictions in Kelowna on Saturday.

Castanet Kamloops: Some 80 people gathered in Vernon to protest infringement of rights.

CBC News: Ontario reported 1,822 new cases on Saturday. The province has announced 29 new deaths linked to the illness. So far this month, 479 people with COVID-19 have died in the province.

CBC News: Quebec reported 1,480 new cases and 37 additional deaths on Saturday. New infections have topped 1,450 twice in the last 3 days. The province also passed a grim milestone: more than 7,000 Quebecers have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

CBC News: 2 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in N.L., for a total of 32 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital due to the virus. 1 of the new cases is travel-related; the other shares a household with a previously identified case.

Taryn Grant, CBC Nova Scotia: 14 new COVID cases in Nova Scotia Saturday. 12 in Central zone, 1 in Western, 1 in Northern. That makes for 125 active cases in the province. New record-high for testing with 3,644 tests completed, plus 670 rapid tests (3 positives)

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19, all in the Fredericton region. All of the new cases are under investigation, and all 4 people are self-isolating. There are now 111 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital.

CBC News: Prince Edward Island reports 2 new cases of COVID-19.

CBC News: Nunavut reports 5 more COVID-19 cases in Arviat.

CBC News: Canada’s chief medical health officer says Canada is on a ‘troubling’ track with COVID-19. Dr. Theresa Tam says at the current pace, there could be up to 10,000 new cases a day by the middle of December.

CBS News: U.S. hospitalizations top 90,000 for the first time; approximately 50 Americans now are dying every hour.

CBS News: U.S. tops 13 million COVID-19 cases as experts fear holiday “surge upon surge upon surge.”

Reuters U.S. News: China reports 11 new COVID-19 cases vs six a day earlier.

——

Santa Clara County public health officials issued an order on Saturday that temporarily prohibits activities “that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports.” This will come into effect on Monday and impacts professional and college sports through at least Dec. 21. . . . The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers play in Santa Clara County and have two home games scheduled before Dec. 21. Under the order, they also won’t be allowed to practice at Levi’s Stadium. . . . Teams from Stanford U and San Jose State also play in Santa Clara County. . . . According to the San Francisco Chronicle: “Santa Clara County reported 760 new cases of the coronavirus and 239 COVID-related hospitalizations on Saturday, both single-day records since the onset of the pandemic.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos placed their three quarterbacks on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday and are expected to start WR Kendall Hinton at QB against the visiting New Orleans Saints today (Sunday). . . . This all began Thursday when QB Jeff Driskel tested positive. Three other QBs — Blake Bortles, Drew Lock and Brett Rypien — didn’t wear masks and have been deemed high-risk close contacts so can’t play against the Saints. . . . Denver LB Von Miller tweeted that he is ready to take a turn at QB: “Been waiting my whole life for this moment. ‘Von ELWAY.’ ” . . .

By now you will be aware of the problems the NFL has had getting the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers on the field for a scheduled game. They were to have played on Thursday, but the game was moved to Sunday and then to Tuesday. All of that juggling was because the Ravens had a number of positive tests, including one to QB Lamar Jackson. . . . The Ravens, who apparently have three defensive lineman and one QB available now, had 18 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Saturday and there are reports that at least two more will be added on Sunday. . . . On Friday, the Steelers placed three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and they had more positives on Saturday, including RB James Conner, who as a cancer survivor is high-risk. . . . You can be excused for thinking Tuesday’s game may be at risk. . . .

LT Terron Armstead, a Pro-Bowler, has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the New Orleans Saints. He won’t play Sunday against the Denver Broncos. . . . The Indianapolis Colts have three starters on the reserve-COVID-19 list, including RB Jonathan Taylor. They won’t play against the visiting Tennessee Titans today. . . .

The U of Minnesota revealed on Saturday that it has had more than 40 positives with it’s football team since Nov. 19. That includes at least 20 players. On Wednesday, the school had said it had 25 positives. . . . The Golden Gophers’ game against Wisconsin on Saturday was cancelled; they are scheduled to Northwestern on Dec. 5. . . .

The Florida State Seminoles’ football game against Virginia didn’t happen on Saturday. It was dumped Saturday morning — yes, the morning of the game — due to “positive tests, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Florida State football team.” One week earlier, FSU wasn’t able to play Clemson after a positive test on the Tigers. . . . Also scratched Saturday was the scheduled game between San Jose State and Boise State after the latter had COVID-19 issues.

——


Pizza


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: Tali Campbell now is the general manager of the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. Campbell had been the Nanaimo Clippers’ GM before leaving in October and joining the Express as vice-president. Brian Wiebe of bchlnetwork.ca reported that Campbell “takes over the Express’s GM role from Dave McLellan. There’s no mention of Coquitlam parting ways with McLellan, but he is no longer listed under the hockey or business staff on the team’s website. Express head coach Dan Cioffi is listed as assistant general manager.”


Etch

May 8, 1957, belonged to Flin Flon . . . Frey to step back after today’s draft . . . Pats sign top prospect Bedard

Bombers
The 1957 Memorial Cup-champion Flin Flon Bombers. (Photo: reminder.ca)

OK. It’s obvious that you need a hockey fix. Well, you’ve come to the right place . . .

It’s May 8, 1957. The Ottawa Canadiens and Flin Flon Bombers are playing Game 7 of the Memorial Cup final in Regina’s Exhibition Stadium.

The Bombers will take a 2-1 lead into the third period. . . .

Flin Flon is led by the line of Ted Hampson between Paddy Ginnell and Mel Pearson. Ginnell got the game’s first goal at 17:23 of the FlinFlonfirst period, with Pearson counting at 18:14. Mike Legace got Ottawa to within a goal at 19:43 of the second period.

The goaltenders are George Wood for Flin Flon and Ottawa’s Claude Dufour.

Sam Pollock is running Ottawa’s bench, with Bobby Kirk the Bombers’ coach.

We now take you to Regina’s Exhibition Stadium and the play-by-play voice of Lyle Armitage, all thanks to Flin Flon radio station CFAR. All you have to do is click right here and scroll down a couple of items.

While you’re listening, you may want to read about the series and the hijinks that went on. . . . That’s all right here in a history I wrote a few years ago.

Hampson, now 83, went on to play 676 regular-season NHL games, putting up 108 goals and 245 assists. He has been an NHL scout since 1983-84, the last eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.

When CFAR first aired a replay of Game 7’s third period earlier this month, Hampson was listening and, at the same time, texting with Erin Ginnell, 51, one of Paddy’s sons. Erin scouts for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

“It was pretty special,” Erin told me via email.



Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that “the 2020 Ivan Hlinka-Wayne Gretzky U-18 tourney scheduled for August” in Edmonton and Red Deer “is going to be cancelled.” . . . As he pointed out, it is the “first big event for the 2021 NHL draft class and 2003-born players.” . . . He also suggested that Hockey Canada is looking at what to do with its U-17 and World Junior Summer Showcase camps and series. The U-17 event is scheduled for July, with the Summer Showcase in August. . . . “No one is optimistic, obviously, but decisions on those still to come,” McKenzie tweeted. . . . Don’t forget, too, that the 2019 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is scheduled for Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7.



The Regina Pats will select F Connor Bedard of North Vancouver with the first selection Patsin the WHL’s bantam draft today (Wednesday). The Pats signed Bedard, 15, to a contract on Tuesday. . . . Bedard has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada, something that allows him to play full-time in the WHL as a 15-year-old. It used to be that a player in that age group was limited to five games with a WHL team until his club team had its season end. However, F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice, who wasn’t granted exceptional status prior to last season, got into 22 games in 2019-20 and would have played even more had he not suffered a concussion in December. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more on the Bedard signing right here.


Tea


Baseball’s independent American Association, which includes the Winnipeg Goldeyes, has postponed the start of its season that was to have opened on May 19. The 12-team league now is hoping to get rolling at some point in July. . . . “We will not jeopardize the safety of our fans, staff, players, umpires or vendors and will abide by all national and local restrictions when determining if we can open in early July,” commissioner Joshua Schaub said in a statement. . . . The U.S.-Canada border will have to re-open before play starts; the Goldeyes are the only Canadian-based team. . . .

The 12-team West Coast League, which includes teams in Kelowna and Victoria, is scheduled to open on June 5. In a statement posted on its website on March 25, it said it “continues to monitor” the situation . . . “while preparing for the upcoming season.” . . . The league’s other 10 teams are in Oregon and Washington state. . . .

Andy Dunn, the president of the Vancouver Canadians, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that their season is “in a holding pattern.” The Canadians, who play in the eight-team single-A Northwest League, are an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Vancouver’s season is scheduled to open on June 17. Dunn also told Ewen that the Canadians have plans in place for a “full season, a half season or no season.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here.


The Thought for the Day, thanks to Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with this one from Will Rogers: “Things will get better — despite our efforts to improve them.”


Barry Petrachenko’s run as the chief executive officer of BC Hockey is over. The organization has revealed that he was done on Monday. . . . A new CEO is expected to be named before the next hockey season starts. In the meantime, Jeremy Ainsworth, the chief program officer, and CFO Jen Cheeseman are in charge. . . . Petrachenko had been the CEO since March 2000.


Hands


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have added Lukáš Lomicky as their associate coach. He spent the past three seasons with the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, moving from assistant coach to associate coach to head coach. He also has worked as video coach for the Czech team at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . In Prince George, he will work with general manager Mike Hawes and head coach Alex Evin.

——

Ryan Hollweg has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as the associate coach. He will work alongside Dan Cioffi, who signed on as assistant general manager and head coach earlier this month. . . . Hollweg, 36, is from Downey, Calif. He is a former BCHL player who went on to play for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers (1999-2004). He also got into 228 NHL games, playing with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes, before concluding his playing career with HC Skoda Plzen in the Czech Extraliga in 2018. . . . He has been an associate coach with the North West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . The Express has been rebuilding its coaching staff since losing Jason Fortier, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, when they couldn’t agree on a new contract.



The Summerland Steam of the junior B Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League announced Tuesday that Ken Karpuk won’t be returning as head coach. . . . Karpuk was the head coach for one season, having replaced John DePourcq, who resigned on May 6, 2019. . . .


Bacon

Oh my, those are some horrid numbers . . . How do you hit a homer and not get credit for a run? . . . Some coaching news here, too

OK. I need someone to tell me that isn’t a nightmare. Surely this isn’t really happening . . . I must have fallen asleep while hunkered down in my recliner . . . Tell me that I did and that none of what follows really happened . . .

It was Wednesday evening when I saw a couple of tweets from Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) of CNN.

The first one showed reported U.S. coronavirus cases (I have added Thursday’s updated numbers):

Feb. 15: 15 cases.

March 15: 3,485 cases.

April 15: 638,111 cases.

April 16: 671,151 cases.

The second one showed reported U.S. coronavirus deaths:

Feb. 15: 0 deaths.

March 15: 65 deaths.

April 15: 30,844 deaths.

April 16: 33,268 deaths.

More than 2,000 people a day are dying from this virus and Agent Orange is nattering on ad nauseam about opening things up. On Thursday, he said: “Our experts say the curve has flattened and the peak in new cases is behind us.”

While still digesting those numbers, all of which are from Johns Hopkins University where they are tracking these things, there came news that Brian Allen, a centre with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, tested positive three weeks ago. Allen, who now is said to be symptom-free, is the first active NFLer to publicly acknowledge having tested positive. . . . On Thursday came word that Von Miller, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Denver Broncos, became No. 2 when he tested positive.

And then, as if those figures aren’t bad enough, I awaken Thursday morning to the news that some quack doctor, who surely is in cahoots with Agent Orange, doesn’t think it would be a big deal if schools go back in and a bunch of children die. Obviously, he is perturbed by the fact that there wasn’t even one school shooting in the Excited States in March for the first time since something like 2002. And later in the day, it was Dr. Phil’s turn. (I don’t know if it means anything but the two quacks were given their TV starts by Oprah Winfrey, whose first names spelled backwards is . . . 

And let us not forget the goofy Nebraska state senators who, as Brad Dickson put it on Twitter, “want to basically end social distancing so everyone catches Covid & develops herd immunity. Ya know, it may be faster to just behead the elderly and the vulnerable. #WorstIdeaEver.”

Oh, and what about those covidiots in Michigan who protested at the state capitol in Lansing, demanding that the economy be reopened and damn the consequences. Hey, gang, yes, you have the right to protest but maybe you should first check with the doctors, nurses, first-responders, police and all of those people who are fighting the good fight on your behalf.

Somewhere in all of this I saw something about Agent Orange suggesting the U.S.-Canada border “will be one of the early borders to be released.” The man who speaks in word salad also said this: “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well, so we’ll see.” Yes, so much winning in the Excited States!

It remained for Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, to explain things: “I don’t want (Americans) in Ontario.”

In fact, let’s close that border permanently, or at least until Agent Orange and all of his old white pals sail off into the sunset, which might be the only thing that will bring an end to this nightmare.

Hey, maybe we could build a wall and have the Americans pay for it.


On a lighter note, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game 12 years ago when a batter hit a single that was turned into a home run after video review, but that same batter didn’t score a run. . . . Seriously! . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic has that great story right here. . . . Stories like these are why I subscribe to The Athletic, which will give you a 90-day free trial these days.


Cockroach


Webster Garrison, a former manager of baseball’s Vancouver Canadians, is breathing on his own and looks to be on the way to recovery after testing positive more than a month ago. . . . Garrison now is a minor-league coach with the Oakland A’s. . . . Garrison, 54, had been intubated for more than three weeks and remains in a Louisiana hospital.


The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, which is based in Calgary, has shut down for the rest of 2020, cancelling its October induction gala in the process. Also cancelled is the Hall’s Sport + Spirit Charity Gala that was to have been held on May 27. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball Team (CEBL) has postponed the start of its regular season and now is hoping to get started at some point in June. It was to have begun its second season on May 7. . . .

The Tour de France now is scheduled to start on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 20. Originally, it was to start on June 27. . . . As the race ends, tennis’s French Open will be be starting. . . .

In soccer, the Belarusian women’s Premier League, which was to have opened its season today, has postponed the start of its season indefinitely. . . .

The Mackenzie Tour — aka PGA Tour Canada — has postponed the first six events of its 2020 schedule. Those events had been scheduled for Vancouver (May 28-31), Victoria (June 4-7), Kelowna (June 11-14), Lethbridge (June 25-28), Cardigan, P.E.I. (July 2-5) and Toronto (July 9-12). . . . The MacKenzie Tour plans on issuing an update before the end of this month.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” . . . OK, that actually was the Thought for Yesterday. Here’s the Thought for the Day, from Will Rogers: “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”


Bacon


Hank Steinbrenner, son of the late George Steinbrenner and a co-owner of the New York Yankees, died on Tuesday after a long battle with various health-related issues. . . . It was in 2008 when Hank endeared himself to Yankees fans with this:

“”Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of bullshit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”


Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, spent some time chatting with Steve Ewen of Postmedia earlier this week. . . . The BCHL was founded in 1961. “We’ve never taken a dime of government support in the history of this league,” Hebb told Ewen. “Here we are, in 18 communities now. In many cases, we are the Vancouver Canucks of those communities, and we could lose teams out of this (COVID-19 crisis).” . . . Reading Hebb’s comments leaves one wondering how many other junior leagues are faced with this same predicament. . . . Ewen’s piece is right here.


Bill Peters is the new head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, a Russian team in the KHL. . . . Peters has been out of coaching since he resigned as the head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Nov. 29. That came after he was accused of using a racial slur and of kicking a player. . . . Peters signed a two-year contract with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist’s top players are former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk and Nigel Dawes, who was a terrific player with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice (2001-05). . . . Via a video hookup, Peters, a former Spokane Chiefs coach, told Russian reporters: “I think as time goes on we all grow and improve and become better versions of ourselves, and I’m no different than that. You learn from all the experiences that you’re in, and you become better.”


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Dan Cioffi as its new head coach. . . . In 2019-20, he was the head coach of the B.C. Major Midget League’s Valley West Giants. . . . Cioffi has BCHL experience, having worked as an associate coach with the Express (2007-10) and also with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (associate coach) and Trail Smoke Eaters (director of player personnel). . . . In Coquitlam, Cioffi replaces Jason Fortier, the reigning BCHL coach of the year who left after being unable to come to terms on a contract. He has since signed on as the general manager and head coach of the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes.


Toast


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins fired Chris Lewgood, their general manager and head coach, on Wednesday. . . . According to a news release, Cory Prokop, the Bruins’ president, announced “that the board made this very difficult decision after determining that the future success of the team, both on and off the ice, would be best served with new leadership at the GM/head coach position.” . . . Lewgood just completed his seventh season as the Bruins’ head coach and had never finished out of the playoffs. They lost the 2017-18 final in seven games to the Nipawin Hawks. . . . In 2019-20, the Bruins finished second in the Viterra Division, at 31-23-4. . . . Estevan is scheduled to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup tournament.


Todd Woodcroft, who had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, has signed on as the head coach of the U of Vermont Catamounts. . . . Woodcroft takes over from the retiring Kevin Sneddon, the head coach for the past 17 seasons. . . . The Catamounts finished with a 5-23-6 record in 2019-20, their poorest showing since 2001-02.


Jeff Tambellini is leaving the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters after two seasons as general manager and head coach. Tambellini, 36, is joining the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as an NCAA free-agent recruiter and pro scout. . . . In his two seasons in Trail, the Smokies were 70-46-15 with one tie. . . . Tambellini is to help in the search for his replacement in Trail, and he also will serve as a special advisor for 2020-21.


Typing

A summer without Wimbledon seems likely . . . And what about the CFL season? . . . BCHL coach of year unemployed


Make sure you watch the video because that will explain the second tweet . . .


Here is why we love Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. His Monday posting contained a considerable amount of writing about the chances of the pro leagues and/or college football resuming/starting their seasons. As he pointed out, it’s awfully hard to practise physical distancing in a sporting facility that contains 106,572 fans.

He finished with this:

“Baseball has had some experience dealing with crowds where social distancing can be maintained:

“Spread out the attendees at a typical Miami Marlins home game and social distancing is not a challenge.

“Look at the fans sitting behind home plate in Yankee Stadium. The cost of those seats has effected social distancing by economic measures and not medical ones.”

Look him up at sportscurmudgeon.com for more fun.

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BTW, here’s Jack’s Thought of the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Our public men are speaking every day on something, but they ain’t saying anything.”


Weather


The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames announced cutbacks on Monday. . . . Edmonton has reduced its staff by 139 employees with all others taking a “compensation rollback,” which is fancy-speak for a pay cut. . . . As well, senior hockey and business executives are taking a 50-100 per cent cut. . . . The Flames cut their workforce by 150 employees, or 50 per cent, hitting them with a 60-day temporary layoff. The rest of the staff will see 10-25 per cent cuts in pay. . . .

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The CFL has postponed the start of training camps that were to begin in May. In some instances, rookie camps were to start on May 11 and main camps on May 17. . . . The B.C. Lions were to train in Kamloops from May 13 through June 3. . . . The CFL’s regular season is scheduled to begin on June 11, but that obviously is in doubt. . . . There already is speculation out there about whether the CFL will be able to get in a 12- or even an eight-game regular-season schedule. . . .

Farhan Lalji of TSN tweeted that sources have told him everyone in the Calgary Stampeders “organization, including all football ops/coaches, have been told by ownership that they will be taking pay cuts. Range is 10-25 per cent and will be re-evaluated in three months.” . . . That would take them to July 1. . . .

Sky Sports reported that German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordoff told it that Wimbledon organizers will announce the cancellation of the tournament this week. The tournament’s scheduled dates are July 29 through July 12. . . . While the French Open has been postponed from May until late September, Wimbledon would be cancelled because it has just two covered courts and it isn’t possible to play on the grass courts that late in the season. . . . Mark Masters of TSN has more on the Wimbledon situation right here with an interesting interview with Grant Cantin of Stony Plain, Alta., who was on the grounds crew for 17 years. . . .

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have rescheduled the Summer Games and now they are to open on July 23, 2021, and run through Aug. 8. They had been scheduled to open on July 24, 2020, and go through Aug. 9. . . . The Paralympics now are scheduled to run from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021. . . .

In golf, the Irish Open, set for May 28-31, has been postponed, meaning the next scheduled European Tour men’s event is the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, June 4-7. . . .

The seven-team Western Women’s Canadian Football League has cancelled its 2020 season, which would have been No. 10. The league’s teams: Calgary Rage, Edmonton Storm, Lethbridge Steel, Manitoba Fearless, Regina Riot, Saskatoon Valkyries and the Winnipeg Wolfpack. . . .

The 2020 Saskatchewan Marathon has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Saskatoon on May 31. . . .

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The International Boxing Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 Hall of Fame weekend. . . . What should have been this year’s inductees will be part of the celebrations in 2021. . . . The Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Canastota, N.Y. The big weekend had been scheduled for June 11-14. . . . From wktv.com: “This class makes history, featuring the first enshrined females in the Hall of Fame’s 31 years of existence. The women’s Trailblazer category gains Barbara Buttrick, while the Modern category adds ‘The Coal Miner’s Daughter’ Christy Martin, and ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ Lucia Rijker. Other inducted boxers include lightweight champion Frank Erne in the Old Timer category, and Paddy Ryan to the Pioneer category.”


While there have been lots of postponements and cancellations, the NFL is going ahead with its annual draft. . . . That has irked Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, who points out that a lot of people have learned a lot over the last while, “everyone except, apparently, Roger Goodell.”

Killion continued:

“Commissioner Tone Deaf now has turned into Dictator Obtuse. In announcing that the NFL draft would take place as planned April 23-25, Goodell also sent a memo warning teams not to criticize his decision.

“The memo, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, said in part ‘public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.’

“We know how hard the hammer can fall in the NFL. Just ask old friend Colin Kaepernick.

“There’s no place for personal opinion or free speech in the No Freedoms League.”

Killion’s complete column is right here.


This one actually had me chuckling out loud, while watching The Pride of the Yankees on Sunday night . . .

https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1244459963558264832?s=20


The Tri-City Americans announced the departure of associate coach Brian Pellerin in a terse two-sentence news release on Monday afternoon. . . . Pellerin, the pride of Hinton, Alta., which is just west of Old Drinnan Town, spent six seasons with the Americans, one as assistant coach and the last five as associate. . . . The 50-year-old Pellerin played four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . He also worked four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.


The Philadelphia Hockey Club has signed Rylan Ferster as one of its head coaches for 2020-21. Ferster will be involved with the Tier-2 team in the National Collegiate Development Conference. . . . Ferster is a veteran of the junior A ranks, especially in the BCHL where he recently spent seven seasons with the Westside/West Kelowna Warriors, guiding them to a national championship in 2015-16. . . . In December, the PHC hired Troy Mick, another former BCHL coach, as the general manager of the Tier-2 program and the head coach of the U-16 teams. . . .


The BCHL’s reigning coach of the year no longer is with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. . . . Jason Fortier had signed a three-year contract in November 2017 when he replaced Barry Wolff. . . . Veteran BCHL observer Brian Wiebe (@Brian_Wiebe) first tweeted the news on Monday, adding later in the day that “Express assistant coaches Jamie Jackson and Sam Waterfield are no longer with the team either. Jackson was brought on board in November 2017, while Waterfield was with Coquitlam since June 2019.”


Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins

MacBeth

F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


ThisThat

The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.


The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.

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The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.


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Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


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