WHL’s off-ice season begins today . . . Bedard gets exceptional status . . . Cranbrook Bucks have their GM/coach

Turnsignals


The WHL will hold its inaugural two-round U.S. prospects draft today (Wednesday), along with its annual bantam draft lottery. . . . The lottery, which won’t be streamed live, is to be held at 11 a.m. (MT) and will originate from the WHL office in Calgary. The U.S. prospects draft will be held online, starting at 2 p.m. MT. . . .

Meanwhile, the WHL announced that it has cancelled its annual awards show and changed the date of its bantam draft. . . . The awards show was to have been held in Red Deer on May 6. . . . The bantam draft that was scheduled for Red Deer on May 7 now will be held online on April 22. . . .



In loading up for a run at the 2020 Memorial Cup, no one went to the lengths as did the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats and Chicoutimi Sagueneens. The Wildcats, under general manager Ritchie Thibeau, traded for three star players, giving up 13 draft picks and a prospect. Chicoutimi GM Yanick Jean bettered that by adding five players for 18 picks, seven of them first-rounders, and two players. . . . And, of course, there won’t be any playoffs in the QMJHL, nor will there be a Memorial Cup. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reviews the situation involving the two big buyers right here. . . .


Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday morning that “the NHL is temporarily cutting the pay of league office employees by 25 per cent.” . . . The cuts will come into play on April 1. . . . Kaplan wrote, “According to sources, the NHL is hoping that the temporary pay cut among league office employees will prevent layoffs during this uncertain time.” . . . The NHL had 189 games remaining in its regular season when it halted play on March 12. . . .

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The owners of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers had told salaried employees that they would be hit with pay cuts of 20 per cent and would be moving to four-day work weeks. . . . However, on Tuesday, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, reversed course. . . . “Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation,” Josh Harris, HBSE president, said in a statement. “As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. . . . To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.” . . .

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Groupe CH, which owns the Montreal Canadiens and the AHL’s Laval Rocket, has announced layoffs that will affect 60 per cent of the employees in the organization. The layoffs will begin on Monday. . . . From a report by The Canadian Press: “Groupe CH says it has established a $6-millon assistance fund to help employees. The organization says the fund will help enhance employment insurance benefits for eight weeks, ensuring that employees will receive 80 per cent of their base salary for that period. The fund also will provide loans to employees in difficult financial situations.” . . .



Janet Brown of Vancouver radio station CKNW tweeted Tuesday morning that “White Spot restaurants has laid off about 3,000 employees in last week . . . owner Ron Toigo says restaurant industry was already hurting . . . he uses the words ‘bleak and staggering’ describing impact of COVID-19.” . . . Toigo also is the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . .



Former Boston Bruins star Johnny Bucyk was to have had a hip replaced this week, but — guess what! — yes, the surgery was postponed. Dave Stubbs of nhl.com caught up with Bucyk, who is 84, and wrote this story right here. . . . You will enjoy this one. I guarantee it. . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” . . .


The headline on the IIHF website reads: Ireland Coaches Italy. . . . Seriously. . . . Greg Ireland has signed on as the head coach of Italy’s national men’s hockey team. . . . Ireland, 54, takes over from Clayton Beddoes, who resigned earlier this year. . . . Ireland has been the head coach of HC Bolzano of the EBEL since January. . . . Prior to that, he spent three seasons as the head coach of Switzerland’s HC Lugano. . . .



BC Hockey announced Tuesday that F Connor Bedard has been granted exceptional status, so the 15-year-old will be eligible to play full-time in the WHL next season. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player granted such status for WHL play. . . . Bedard, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, had 84 points, including 43 goals, in 36 games for West Vancouver Academy’s midget prep team this season. . . . The WHL bantam draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, WHL teams were allowed to use a 15-year-old in only five games before his club team had its season end. However, the Winnipeg Ice got F Matthew Savoie into 22 games, turning that ‘rule’ into something of a fallacy. Savoie, who applied for exceptional status by Hockey Canada but didn’t get it, finished with seven points, all of them assists. . . .

Two other players — F Riley Heidt and F Brayden Yager — also applied for exceptional status in the hopes of playing in the WHL next season as 15-year-olds. They both are from Dundurn, Sask., and both played with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Heidt had 17 goals and 20 assists in 44 games; Yager had 18 goals and 24 assists in 44 games. . . . There was no mention of either in the announcement involving Bedard. . . .

Bedard is the seventh player to have been granted exceptional status, after Sean Day, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Shane Wright, all of whom played in the OHL, and Joe Veleno, who played in the QMJHL. . . .


Floss


Ryan Donald is the first general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks, who are scheduled to begin play in the BCHL in 2020-21. The Bucks have signed Donald to a four-year contract. . . . Donald, who is from Edmonton, has been an assistant coach at Yale U for five seasons. Earlier, he played at Yale for four seasons. . . . “Ryan is an incredible hire for our club,” Bucks owner and president Nathan Lieuwen said in a news release, “and is absolutely the right person to build this franchise. “Not only does he have quality experience coaching at high levels, but he also has great connections throughout the NCAA.”


Ryan Oulahen has been named head coach of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. He signed a three-year contract. . . . Oulahen had been the interim head coach since Dec. 10, when he replaced Stan Butler. . . . A former captain of the Battalion when the franchise was based in Brampton, Oulahen spent two seasons (2016-18) as head coach of the Flint Firebirds. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Battalion for five seasons. . . . Butler had been the Battalion’s head coach since 1998-99. . . .


CHL cancels playoffs, Memorial Cup; next tournament set for OHL in 2021 . . . Winterhawks lay off employees; more to come

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The University of Toronto Schools won the 1919 Memorial Cup, the first time the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association had put the trophy into competition. It was to go to the champion of junior hockey.

The Memorial Cup has been awarded every single year since then — not even the Second 2020MCWorld War could get in the way.

However, it won’t be awarded in 2020, the COVID-19 virus haven’t knocked the major junior hockey season for a loop.

The 60-team CHL announced Monday afternoon that the major junior hockey season is over. That means that there won’t be any playoffs in the OHL, QMJHL or WHL.

Nor will there be a Memorial Cup tournament. This year’s four-team affair was to have been played in Kelowna, March 22-31. Interestingly, it would seem that the 2021 Memorial Cup won’t be decided in Kelowna, but in an OHL city.

The last line of the CHL’s Monday statement:

“We look forward with hope that next season will provide new opportunity to celebrate, and that the MemorialCup will be presented at our prestigious national championship, hosted by the OHL in May 2021.”

The CHL follows a three-year rotation among the three leagues. The QMJHL is to be the host in 2022, with the WHL back for 2023.

According to the Kelowna Daily Courier, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president KelownaRocketsand general manager, said that the city “may not have had the steam to muster a tournament in 2021.” The newspaper added that “it could tax volunteers, staff, players and sponsors too much.”

Hamilton also expressed doubts that he and his hockey staff would be able to ice a Memorial Cup-calibre team.

According to the newspaper, “Hamilton said he’d also been building a team that could compete for a national title this season, and he’s losing too many veterans to be ready for next spring.”

After cancelling the remainder of the regular seasons on March 12, the CHL said in a news release on Monday that it “continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played. Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.” . . .

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Losing a handful of regular-season games and the playoffs is going to hurt a few WHL teams. When WHL teams are preparing their budgets, they usually look upon playoff Lethbridgerevenue as gravy. But how much gravy might that be?

Well, let’s take a look at the Lethbridge Hurricanes, one of the WHL’s community-owned teams, which means they hold an annual general meeting and announce profits and/or losses.

After the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes announced a net profit of $422,443, with playoff revenue of $885,558. That came after a playoff run that included 16 games, nine of them at home.

One year earlier, the Hurricanes had played 10 home playoff games during a 20-game run. At the 2017 AGM, they announced a profit of $737,710, with playoff revenue at $685,000.

A year ago, the Hurricanes’ playoff run was short-circuited when they lost a first-round series in seven games. Four of the games were played in Lethbridge, some of them in the 1,200-seat Nicholas Sheran Arena because the world men’s curling championship was being played in the ENMAX Centre. At the 2019 AGM, the team announced a profit of $282,168, with $336,397 in playoff revenue, some of that was compensation from the City of Lethbridge for having been forced from their home arena.

Yes, there was a lot of money — A LOT OF MONEY — at play in the decision to pull the plug on the playoffs. The story will become more explicit when the Hurricanes hold their 2020 AGM.

The WHL’s other publicly owned teams are the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. The Raiders are the WHL’s defending champions and finished atop the East Division this season. The Warriors and Broncos wouldn’t have qualified for this season’s playoffs. . . .

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The Portland Winterhawks have laid off employees from their front office and from their Portlandhockey staff, Taking Note was told on Monday morning. . . . The Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers both have laid off staff and implemented pay cuts. . . . According to one WHL insider, the league, with the playoffs and Memorial Cup having been cancelled, also is expected to lay off some of its office staff. . . . The 22-team WHL suspended its regular season on March 12 and then cancelled it on March 18. The Winterhawks finished atop the U.S. Division and won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions; the Blazers finished first in the B.C. Division. . . . On Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week wrote that Blazers president Don Moores, in a text, had confirmed the “layoffs and pay cuts and opted to make no further comment.” . . . 



Dick Pound of Montreal, a longtime influential IOC Committee member, told Christine Brennan of USA TODAY on Monday: “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.” . . . Her story is right here. . . .



Here’s how Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times began his Monday column:

We are surrounded by a cacophony of chaos, our lives filled with words of warning and dread and doom.

“I need a sound of spring. This being the formerly opening week of the postponed baseball season, I crave the melodious tones of the ballpark, the bunting, the hope.

“So, what the heck, I call Vin Scully.

“And, wouldn’t you know, he answers on the first ring.”

This is what we need in these trying times, and it’s all right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has his thought for the day, courtesy of H.L. Mencken: “Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.” . . .


During a brief drive on Sunday afternoon, I spotted two curb-side signs advertising Garage Sale. . . . Seriously! . . . Yeah, like I want to buy and bring home garage sale items during a pandemic. Yikes! . . .


Spruce Meadows, one of the world’s best show-jumping facilities, announced Monday that it has cancelled its summer season, clearing its calendar through July 5. The cancellations include four tournaments that had been scheduled over a five-week span, starting on June 4. . . . The Masters, scheduled for Sept 9-13, remains on the calendar, at least for now. . . .


Scattershooting on a Friday night while remembering the Pocket Rocket . . .

Scattershooting

Henri Richard, the Pocket Rocket, died on Friday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 84. . . . When he first earned a spot on the Montreal Canadiens’ roster, many observers felt he was in training camp only because his brother, Maurice (Rocket) Richard, was the Habs’ star. However, Henri earned a spot and before he was done he had won 11 Stanley Cups. . . . The great Roy MacGregor remembers the great Henri Richard right here.


While the Everett Silvertips topped the visiting Tri-City Americans, 6-0, in front of an announced crowd of 4,912 on Friday night, all signs point to the WHL at some point having to postpone, cancel or move games involving at least those teams in the Pacific Northwest.

The numbers in the Puget Sound region continue to rise, with the number of COVID-19 cases having reached 79 on Friday, including at least 15 deaths. The number of positive whltests are going up, up, up as more and more people are tested. The U.S., it seems, is woefully behind when it comes to testing citizens who are requesting tests, so no one has any idea just how many ill people are out there.

Meanwhile, everywhere one looks experts are recommending the shutting down of events that draw hundreds or thousands of fans, while the list of impacted events continues to grow.

On Friday, for example, Austin, Texas, declared a local disaster and that resulted in organizers cancelling the 34th annual South by Southwest — a music, technology and film festival that a year ago drew 417,000 people, many of them from international destinations. It was to have run from March 13 to 22.

In Seattle, organizers of Emerald City Comic Con, which was to begin next Thursday, announced that they were postponing their event.

But back to the WHL . . .

It could be that the WHL ends up playing in empty, or near-empty, arenas, either because fans are barred from games or just stop showing up.

“Each individual has to weigh their own risk tolerance,” Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert and professor at the U of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday. “If things remain as they are, or get worse, I think the prudent thing to do would be to not go to things that are not essential.

“And I consider sporting events not essential.”

Dr. Swartzberg also told Killion:

“I’m looking at this through the lens of a physician and public health professor. If things continue as they have been, I would encourage people not to go (to large events). It’s very hard for me to condone the idea of doing anything that throws more gasoline on the fire.”

Meanwhile, a public health board in San Jose suggested that the NHL should be postponing games; the league and the San Jose Sharks chose to ignore the suggestion.

“The National Hockey League’s decision to reject a public health board’s recommendation to postpone a game in San Jose on Thursday night is being criticized by several infectious disease experts who say indoor venues such as NHL arenas are ideal breeding grounds for the spread of coronavirus,” reported TSN’s Rick Westhead.

“The Santa Clara County department of public health recommended Thursday that the NHL delay a game in San Jose between the Sharks and the Minnesota Wild. There are at least 24 documented cases of coronavirus in Santa Clara County, Calif., the public health department said, with four new cases on Friday, adding that avoiding large gatherings may help slow the spread of the virus.”

The Sharks played Thursday before a season-low announced attendance of 14,517 in the SAP Center. On Friday, the Sharks said that Saturday night’s game against the visiting Ottawa Senators will be played as scheduled. On Friday night, the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda entertained the San Diego Gulls at the SAP Center.

Dr. Stephanie DeWitte-Orr, an assistant professor in the department of health sciences and biology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., told Westhead that the NHL is being “unwise” in not following the recommendation.

“The virus is now community circulating, meaning you don’t have to go to a country like Iran or China to get it,” Dr. DeWitte-Orr told Westhead. “It can be transmitted by respiratory droplets and at an NHL game you have a lot of people in a close proximity and a lot of people yelling. There are going to be a lot of respiratory droplets in the air. If someone with coronavirus touches seats and railing and then you touch those spots and touch your face, you’re exposed to the virus. It’s not going to help you that after the game those surfaces are cleaned.”

Westhead’s story is right here.


JUST NOTES: Speculation on the Kootenays has Derek Stuart as the first general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks, who will begin play in the BCHL next season. At present, Stuart is in his third season as GM/head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. The Dynamiters are into the second round of the KIJHL playoffs. . . . Hey, Tim Hortons, I’m thinking that you have the worst commercial on TV today. For the record, it isn’t anywhere close to being lit.

Ayres 2
David Ayres, the most famous EBUG in hockey history, was in Saskatoon on Friday night as the Blades beat the Regina Pats, 2-1 in OT. Ayres, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, was signing autographs and promoting organ donation at the WHL game. (Photo: Darren Steinke)

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while pondering QB Eli Manning’s career earnings . . .

Scattershooting

The Kansas City Chiefs last appeared in a Super Bowl in 1970. Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports with a look back at a few things from January 1970: M*A*S*H” and Patton were the two-highest grossing films; Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, by B.J. Thomas, was in the top spot on the Billboard Top 100; Abbey Road, by The Beatles (ever heard of them?), was the top album; All My Children premiered and The Carol Burnett Show was one of the the top shows on TV; and the average price of gas in the U.S. was 36 cents a gallon.

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BTW, CBS Sports ran a Madden 20 simulation of Sunday’s game. According to Blackburn, the San Francisco 49ers intercepted Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes three times en route to a 20-7 victory.

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NFL security apparently will be using some new-fangled facial recognition software on Sunday in Miami in an attempt to keep bad guys from getting into the Super Bowl. As comedian Argus Hamilton noted: “We’ll be lucky if the NFL can field two teams.”


Hey, Regina, don’t ever change . . .


Podcast


ICYMI, Kevin Sawyer, a former Spokane Chiefs player and assistant coach,  has issued an apology after he made comments in reference to an incident that involved D Jared Spurgeon, who was a 16-year-old freshman with the WHL team at the time. It was during 2005-06 when the Chiefs, according to Sawyer, “Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air . . . he was tiny. He looked like he was 12.” . . . Sawyer, now an analyst for TSN on Winnipeg Jets’ telecasts, apologized late last month, saying that  after “reflecting on my comments,” he was “insensitive in sharing a story that was inaccurate and should never have been told on television in the first place.” . . . Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more right here.



Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post, after watching the Harlem Globetrotters eke out a 43-41 victory over the Washington Generals on Tuesday night: “If it’s any consolation to the Generals, they have defeated the Globetrotters more recently than the Toronto Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup. Washington last prevailed in 1971, four years after the Leafs’ most-recent title.”



You likely are aware that NFL teams employ an incredible number of coaches. Well, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area and noted the other day that the Redskins had named Brett Nenaber director of player performance and Jeff Zegonia assistant defensive line coach.” . . . This prompted the curmudgeonly one to write: “I can imagine what the responsibilities of an ‘assistant defensive line coach’ might be for an NFL team; I may not have the full scope of the duties of that position in mind, but I think I have the drift. Such is not nearly the case with the position of ‘director of player performance’. Is he the guy who works with the team on those choreographed TD celebrations that sometimes rise all the way up to the level of ‘SILLY’?

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Here’s The Sports Curmudgeon on Wednesday, discussing the asking price for Super Bowl tickets:

“Super Bowl tickets on the secondary market are very expensive this year.  If you expect to make it to the game in Miami, expect to shell out at least $4,500 per seat at the game and some tickets have an asking price this morning that is just north of $15K per fanny-holder. Perhaps you really want to go to the game but just don’t have access to that sort of cash for you and your main squeeze at this moment. Not to worry. StubHub and its new partner, Affirm, will let you buy the tickets and finance them with a loan directly from Affirm that will let you pay over a period of three months or six months or 12 months at an interest rate of 10-30 per cent.

“I don’t want to go into full ‘Suze Orman Mode’ here, but somehow I doubt that incurring a debt in the $10K range or higher at an interest rate near or above 20 per cent is even marginally sound financial planning.”

You are able to find The Sports Curmudgeon at sportscurmudgeon.com. Be forewarned, though, that reading him daily will quickly become a habit.


Milk


“When it comes to baseball lexicon,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “the Houston Astros’ trash-can antics certainly give ‘bang-bang play’ a whole new meaning.”


In its last four seasons in Cranbrook, the Kootenay Ice won 12, 14, 27 and 13 games, failing to make the playoffs each time. This season, the franchise’s first in Winnipeg after moving east following last season, the Ice is second in the East Division and playoff bound, while playing before hundreds of fans in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena. All of which makes one wonder how many fans a contending team might be playing in front of had it stayed in Cranbrook.


The 22-team WHL has its 16 playoff clubs all but settled, with only some jockeying for position left for the final 20 games or so. There won’t be playoff hockey in Red Deer, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Prince George or Kennewick, Wash., the home of the Tri-City Americans. . . . As for the Kelowna Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, they just dropped a home-and-home series with the Spokane Chiefs, who won 7-3 in  the Little Apple on Friday and 6-0 across the line on Saturday. The Rockets appear headed to a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, which could lead to a first-round matchup with, yes, the Kamloops Blazers, who are atop the B.C. Division. And wouldn’t that be something . . . a Battle of B.C., perhaps to match the Battle of Alberta!



The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks are to begin play in September. With that in mind, season tickets went on sale Saturday morning. Early-bird prices, through March 13, are $350 for adults, $330 for seniors and $160 for children. And a tip of the fedora to the Bucks for allowing children under 10 to get into games free of charge. . . . If you were wondering, the WHL’s Ice season-ticket prices prior to their final season in Cranbrook were $725 or $630 for adults, $590 or $510 for seniors, and $300 for children and students.


JUST NOTES: “Not only does Andy Reid deserve a Super Bowl title,” writes Bob Molinaro of The Virginian-Pilot, “his moustache does as well.” . . . Molinaro is correct, but I’ll still take the San Francisco 49ers, by 10. . . . One more from Molinaro: “This time of year, I like to trot out the memorably perceptive comment of enigmatic Cowboys running back Duane Thomas at Super Bowl VI, won by Dallas. ‘If the Super Bowl is the ultimate game,’ he said, ‘how come there is another one next year?’ Words that have aged well.” . . . QB Eli Manning announced his retirement late last month after spending 16 seasons with the New York Giants. Don’t cry for Eli, though. During his career, he made US$252.3 million, more than any other NFLer in history. Manning brought in $17 million in salary and bonuses for his final season, allowing him to pass his brother, Peyton, who retired having earned $248.7 million. . . . Next on the list, according to cbssports.com, are quarterbacks Drew Bree’s ($244.7 million), Tom Brady ($235.2 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($233.6 million). . . . The first non-QB on the list? WR Larry Fitzgerald, at a mere $175 million, in 10th place. . . . If you are going to live tweet from a hockey game, perhaps you should make a point of mentioning both teams, you know, for those of us who aren’t sure who’s playing.

Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while wondering if I will get my shopping finished . . .

I am one of those people who quite enjoys Christmas music, especially the traditional stuff. Having said that, I don’t think it gets any better than this one. It’s Fairytale of New York, from The Pogues, featuring the late Kirsty MacColl.


I don’t know how many, if any, other businesses have done something like this, but check it out . . .


Clam


If you have ever wondered why he’s called The Sports Curmudgeon, here’s something he wrote after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Washington Redskins, 37-27, on Sunday:

“After the Skins lost to the Eagles, one of the post-game talking heads declared that the ‘fight’ and the ‘grit’ shown by the Skins — despite the season being a total loss — meant that this game was a ‘moral victory’ for the Skins.  I have heard about ‘moral victories’ many times in the past; but Sunday’s label made me wonder:

“Is there such a thing as a ‘moral defeat’?

If there is such a thing, are ‘moral defeats’ paired with ‘moral victories’? Or can ‘moral defeats’ exist on their own?

If they are paired entities, should the Eagles chalk up Sunday’s win as a ‘moral defeat’?”


“This is the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese calendar,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “though one could argue that Russian doping and the can-banging Astros make it seem like the Year of the Cheetah.”

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One more from Perry: “Prince Charles’ office released a statement saying 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth has no plans to step down at 95 ‘or any other age.’ In other words, she’s the Tom Brady of royals.”



I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are a few Christmas movies on TV this year. . . . I checked out our PVR the other night. There were 41 items recorded. One Bob Dylan special. Two Hogan’s Heroes episodes. And more than 30 Christmas movies. . . . Christmas Vacation wasn’t among them. . . . Neither was Bad Santa.


Cotton


On Sunday night, F Gage Concalves of the Everett Silvertips won a game with a nifty move that resulted in a shootout goal against G Campbell Arnold of the Spokane Chiefs. Arnold later responded with a tweet for the ages . . .


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Request to the International Olympic Committee: Let Russia compete as an official country at next year’s Olympics. Russia has been banned from the Tokyo Games due to its state-sanctioned program of doping. But IOC, if you let Russia compete, maybe their government will be too busy rigging the Olympics to rig the U.S. presidential election. #Priorities.”



Condolences to the family and friends of Ron Areshenkoff, who died on Sunday. He was 62. A native of Grand Forks, B.C., he played two seasons (1975-77) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, totalling 76 goals and 77 assists in 131 games. He was a second-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 1977 draft, but never played for them. His NHL experience amounted to four games with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80. . . . He had missed all of the 1978-79 season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. . . . The New England Whalers had selected him with the 11th overall pick in the WHA’s 1977 draft. . . . Areshenkoff was a financial advisor in Estevan, Sask., where he was quite involved in the minor hockey scene.


Dog


The price seems to be right in Victoria where there is, yes, hope for the Royals. Hey, I’m here all night and again later in the week. . . . The Victoria Royals, under president and general manager Cam Hope, have signed head coach Dan Price to a “multi-year” extension. No terms, including precise length, were announced. . . . Price is in his third season as the Royals’ head coach; they are 89-67-12 with him in charge. . . . He had spent one season as a Royals’ assistant coach, under then-head coach Dave Lowry, before moving up.

Meanwhile,  former WHLer Ryan Aasman is the new head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. The Storm fired Matt Keillor, the head coach and associate GM, on Tuesday. . . . Aasman’s WHL career included stints with the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos and Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Keillor had been head coach since being promoted during the 2016-17 season and had guided the Storm into the playoffs each of the past three seasons. This season, the Storm was 12-16-3 when Keillor was replaced by Aasman. He is in his first season with the Storm after coaching with bantam and midget teams in Lethbridge.


JUST NOTES: Is there a secret to keeping the top of the toothpaste tube neat and orderly as opposed to being a gooey mess? . . . The best part of watching the Detroit Red Wings playing the host Montreal Canadiens? The uniforms of two of the NHL’s Original Six. . . . Are you ready for the Arizona Coyotes as Stanley Cup contenders? . . . City council in Nanaimo is talking about a five-year financial plan. No, there isn’t any chatter about a new arena. . . . Hey, is John Shorthouse hockey’s best play-by-play voice? . . . As a fan of MLB, it’s great to have Joe Girardi back managing a team, and wouldn’t it be great to see his Philadelphia Phillies and his former club, the New York Yankees, in the World Series? It could happen. . . . Right now, the most-watchable player in the NHL is F Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. . . . With their home arena unavailable due to equipment issues, the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing out of Cranbrook these days. On Tuesday night, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Kimberley Dynamiters before an announced crowd of 1,350 at Western Financial Place, the former home of the WHL team that now is the Winnipeg Ice. Meanwhile, the Ice dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings in front of a crowd announced as 1,621. . . . ICYMI, next season Western Financial Place will be home to the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks.

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering if Babcock’s next stop will be Seattle . . .

Scattershooting


When Roy MacGregor writes, I read. Such was the case with the superb essayist’s piece on the Don Cherry situation. As we have come to expect from MacGregor, it is terrific. . . . At one point, he writes that Cherry was fired “for a last straw no one could fit into the overstuffed barn that holds all the previous last straws.” . . . It doesn’t get any better, and it’s right here.


ICYMI, here’s how the annual junior hugfest between CHL teams and a touring Russian side ended last Thursday in Prince Albert. The Russians won the game, but had to go to a shootout to get it done. That outcome left the series — the Russians play two games against teams from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL — all even. . . . Guess what? . . . Yes, they went to another shootout. The WHL won that one on a goal by F Nolan Foote of the Kelowna Rockets to win the series. . . . Seriously!

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BTW, the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, put that final game on one of its channels, something called 360. When that game began, Sportsnet was showing an NHL game — New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning — on four other channels. ICYMI, the Lightning opened up a 4-0 first-period lead en route to a 9-3 victory.

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Tyler Yaremchuk was part of the TSN1260 broadcast crew in Edmonton on Friday when the Alberta Golden Bears skated to a 4-2 victory over the visiting Regina Cougars. . . . After the game, he tweeted: “50 straight wins for the Bears over Regina.” . . . Think about that for a moment or two . . . 50 in a row! Yikes!!! Now that’s a streak. . . . Dustin Nielson, the play-by-play voice on that broadcast team, tells me that the Golden Bears last lost to the Cougars in 2009. “Also haven’t lost at home to them since 1996,” he added. . . . Connor Hood, writing on the U of A’s website, pointed out that the streak “dates back to March 13, 2009, and includes 43 conference games, two playoff games and five non-conference games.” . . . On Saturday night, the Golden Bears ran that streak to 51 games with a 9-0 victory.



Running back Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants had one yard rushing on 13 carries in a recent loss to the New York Jets. . . . Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times broke that down a bit more: “To put that in perspective, that’s 2.9 per attempt — inches, not yards. Or . . . at that rate, just 117 more carries and he’d have a first down!”



By now, you may have seen video of Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers working the referees in the hopes they would give his father, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, a technical foul on Nov. 13. Officials did just that, and then they ejected him. . . . Later, on Twitter, Austin wrote: “Welp . . . Thanksgiving is going to be weird . . .”


Hey, Kamloops, I got gas in Burnaby on Saturday night for $1.24.9. That’s only five cents more than I paid in our town on Friday night.

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On the way to the Lower Mainland on Saturday morning, I collapsed a hundred times, if not more. Actually, we ran into snow, sleet, ice pellets and rain, lots of rain. . . . So what’s with all the drivers who can’t be bothered to turn on their headlights to that their taillights are on?



Mike Babcock now has been fired by two hockey teams — the Toronto Maple Leafs and the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. The big difference is that the Warriors didn’t owe him about $23 million when they did the deed. . . .

Jack Todd has been writing about Don Cherry for a long time. So you knew that something was coming after Rogers Sportsnet fired Cherry. Todd’s column is right here.


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Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place now is the official home of the Cranbrook Bucks, a BCHL team that will begin play next season. Their sign was installed just the other day. The Bucks put their sign directly into the frame that once held a sign indicating the facility was home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, a franchise that now calls Winnipeg home. (Photo: Darren Cottingham)


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, hits the nail on the head right here: “Really annoying people: The 7-Eleven Guy and Matthew McConaughey. I think a perfect commercial would be the 7-Eleven Guy spilling a strawberry Slurpee on the posh seats of McConaughey’s fancy-schmancy Lincoln.” . . . There’s more right here.



JUST NOTES: Would someone at ESPN please tell Randy Moss that he is speaking into a microphone so he doesn’t need to yell at us. Thank you. . . . Gotta think the World Curling Federation will be making a rule change in the not-too-distant future after a ruling caused Norway’s men to forfeit a game to England during the European championships in Helsingborg, Sweden on Sunday. It seems Norway subbed in a curler who didn’t use the broom of the player he was replacing. Yes, that’s against the rules. There’s more right here. . . .

Going by the part of the WHL website that lists disciplinary actions, Adam Foote, the Kelowna Rockets’ head coach, hasn’t yet been fined for not doing a post-game media interview after a 5-2 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Nov. 11. The WHL has a rule that states a coach must be available to media 15 minutes after a game. Conspiracy theorists, have at it. . . . The NHL announced on Tuesday that the season-ending award it gives to its top GM will be named after the late Jim Gregory. There isn’t an award named for Sam Pollock, Glen Sather or Bill Torrey, each of whom put together dominant teams. Of course, the NHL doesn’t have any individual awards named in honour of Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, either. . . . Hey, TSN, I realize that Toronto is the centre of your universe. I get that. So when the Maple Leafs fire Mike Babcock, your world stops. Yes, I get that, too. But you’ve got five channels so why cut off PTI before the episode is over just to show what’s available elsewhere? Why not show the viewer — me — some respect?

Scattershooting on a Tuesday night as Cranbrook celebrates the birth of the Bucks . . .

Scattershooting

As of Saturday evening, Const. Mike Seel of the Regina Police Service Traffic Unit, who goes by the nickname Hawkeye, had written 1,097 cell-phone related tickets in 2019 and, he told me via Twitter, “over 1,500 total tickets for the year.” Think about those numbers for a moment. . . . What’s with the nickname? According to a story by Michaela Solomon of CTV News Regina, it was “given to him by the former face of RPS traffic, Const. Curtis Warnar, for his ability to catch drivers on their cell phones.” . . . Meanwhile, more than 2,000 speeding tickets were handed out to drivers in Regina school zones in the month of September, with the speed limit having been dropped from 40 km/h to 30. . . . “It is ridiculously high,” Sgt. Rob Collins of the RPS’s Traffic Safety Unit told Lynn Giesbrecht of the Regina Leader-Post. “In all reality, most of the tickets that I’ve seen issued would’ve been a ticket even if it was still 40, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do.” . . . It seems the drivers of Regina have a lot of work to do, too.


If you are a follower of the WHL, there was good news on Friday when Corey Graham revealed via Twitter that “I’m back calling Edmonton Oil Kings home games on TSN 1260.” . . . Graham, who continues his recovery from some major health issues, will handle home games, with Andrew Peard providing analysis. Peard will call the play of all road games. . . . Graham added that he is “really excited to get back in the booth!” . . . Corey, we’re all excited for you. Welcome back!


YogiFork


“Jim (Mattress Mack) McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, placed a $3.5-million bet on the Astros to win the World Series,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “And, doubling down, he rolled out his latest mattress, the George Springer.”

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Perry, again: “Scientists at the National Defense Medical College in Japan say they’ve created artificial blood that works better than the real stuff. Didn’t pro rasslers already do that?”


Is the WHL thumbing its nose at Hockey Canada, while at the same time inviting 15-year-whlolds to come to its teams and play at least 30 games? . . . According to a story by Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press, the WHL has granted an exemption to the Winnipeg Ice so that F Matt Savoie, 15, can play 34 games this season. Ordinarily, 15-year-olds are allowed to play five games before their club team’s season ends, at which time they may join the WHL team on a full-time basis. . . . Prior to this season, Hockey Canada rejected the Savoie family’s application for exceptional status. . . . Savoie played his third WHL game of this season on Friday night; he wasn’t in the lineup on Saturday.



The Winnipeg Ice played two home games, its second and third of this season, last weekend. The announced attendances were 1,373 (7-0 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings) and 1,327 (4-0 loss to the Vancouver Giants). . . . In its home-opener, the Ice announced 1,621 for a 4-2 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . If you were wondering, the Kootenay Ice announced crowds of 2,862, 2,375 and 2,287 for its first three home games last season. . . . You remember the Kootenay team, don’t you? It played out of Cranbrook.


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The brand new Cranbrook Bucks of the BCHL have merchandise ready for fans at Western Financial Place.
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The Kootenay Ice sign on a wall at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook is gone, marking the end of an era.
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Hockey fans in Cranbrook gathered Tuesday morning to welcome the junior A Bucks to their Kootenay community. (Photos: Darren Cottingham/Taking Note)

Speaking of Cranbrook, a group headed by former WHL G Nathan Lieuwen announced Tuesday that it will bring the junior A BCHL to the city next season when the Bucks begin operation. . . . In reading the story by Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman, I was struck by this: “The city was left reeling after a messy break-up with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice last January. After 21 years in Cranbrook, new ownership relocated the team to Winnipeg and still (has) an outsanding lease agreement valid until 2023. (Mayor Lee) Pratt confirmed the city remains in negotiations with the Ice over the agreement.” . . . The WHL and the Ice announced on Jan. 29 that the franchise was relocating to Winnipeg. Of course, observers had realized long before then that the Ice owners were going through the motions and that they were done with Cranbrook. . . . Here we are, almost nine months later, and the lease still hasn’t been settled. You are free to wonder if anyone in the WHL is embarrassed by any of this.


Hey, Edmonton, that 100 km/h speed limit on Anthony Henday Drive . . . that’s not the speed limit; it’s a guideline. Right?


After driving more than 4,000 km through the Prairies and back, I can tell you that the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding contains far more election signage than any other one we passed through. . . . Yes, it’s all a blight on the scenery.


After the Chicago Cubs dumped manager Joe Maddon, Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot pointed out just what a horrid job Maddon had done: “In five seasons under Maddon, Chicago won 58 percent of its games, reached the playoffs four times and celebrated a long-awaited World Series victory. What a failure he was.”



ToryDeer
OH DEER! Bob Tory, the GM of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, posted the evidence on his Facebook site after hitting a couple of deer while on a scouting trip.

A note from Bob Tory, the general manager of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, to accompany a couple of photos that he put on his Facebook page: “That time of year. Two deer down. One car down.” . . . Thankfully, Tory wasn’t injured in the collision. Word is that Trader Bob, as he once was known, did put brothers John and Jim Deer on the trade wire, though. No word yet on whether he found any takers.


Saw this in a column by Steve Simmons of Postmedia: “If Guy Carbonneau is going to the Hockey Hall of Fame, why not Dale Hunter? And if you want to go back a few years, why not 86-year-old Claude Provost, who won more and scored more playing a defensive role with the great Montreal Canadiens teams back when the Canadiens were great.” . . . I was absolutely flabbergasted to realize that Provost isn’t an honoured member of the Hall. Seriously. Had there been a Frank J. Selke Trophy back in the day, Provost would have owned it.


Headline from @SportsPickle: Have to think we could be a game or two away from Odell Beckham demanding a trade to the Giants.


If you aren’t a fan of the analytics that are sweeping through the world of sports, you just might be a fan of Bill Belichick. Asked the other day how much of a role analytics play in his game-planning, the New England Patriots head coach replied: “Less than zero.”