Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while pondering the CFL without Knuckles . . .

Scattershooting2

Blackie Sherrod would have turned 102 years of age on Tuesday. Born on Nov, 9, 1919, he left us on April 28, 2016. He won’t be forgotten.


Bob Irving has been the radio voice of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers on 680 CJOB since 1974.

But the time has come . . .

Irving, 71, revealed on Tuesday that he is retiring and that his final game will be the Blue Bombers’ last home game of this season — the West Division final on Dec. 5.

Irving, a native of Regina, has been inducted into the Blue Bombers Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. He also is a member of the Order of Manitoba. No doubt more honours will follow his retirement.

He joined CJOB in 1973 after a stint at Brandon radio station CKX. His time there included a run as the all-night DJ — remember when real, live people played the tunes all night? — and I would join him on occasion after the Brandon Sun’s sports pages had been put to bed.

Later, I would leave Brandon for the Winnipeg Tribune, and the Irvings and Drinnans were known to drop a bob or two on the nags at Assiniboia Downs.

I would spend some of my time at The Trib covering the Blue Bombers, which meant the odd road trip with the likes of Irving, “Cactus” Jack Wells and Kenny Ploen.

Irving is known far and wide by his nickname — “Knuckles” — which reflects an awful fear of flying that I believe he has overcome.

Anyway, once upon a time, we were on a jet plane for Winnipeg after another of those Labour Day Classics in Regina. And, wouldn’t you know it, we encountered some turbulence.

Well, “Cactus” Jack never travelled without his medication. He brought out the leather case — it was round, with a zippered top on it — and extracted the bottle. I can’t remember if it was Canadian Club or Johnny Walker.

“Knuckles,” he said, as the plane rocked and rolled, “we better have a drink just in case it’s our last one.”

I seem to recall the knuckles turning even whiter.

Ahh, those were the days.

Irving was blessed with great pipes and a knack for calling football games. If you have never listened to him, you should treat yourself and tune in to one of the Blue Bombers’ final games of this season. There are two left — Saturday at Montreal and Nov. 20 at Calgary — before the West final.


IF . . . IF . . . IF: If you have been watching the Vancouver Canucks in the early going of this NHL season you have to think that G Thatcher Demko is in the hunt for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s MVP. . . . Demko didn’t play Tuesday night as the Canucks dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the visiting Anaheim Ducks. . . . If you watch sports on TV you have to have noticed the gambling-related commercials and conversations that seem to be part of every live telecast. What this means is that video review isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I would suggest that video reviews will become more and more prevalent because of the importance — it really is all about the Benjamins — of getting things correct.


Apples


It would seem the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets will be Kamloopswaiting for a while longer before being allowed to play to crowds of 100 per cent capacity in their home arenas.

COVID-19 protocols implemented by health officials mean that both teams have been limited to 50 per cent capacity so far this season.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said that COVID-19 is causing problems at hospitals in the two cities.

Kelowna General Hospital has had to close operating rooms.

“Last week, Kelowna General Hospital had reduced two operating rooms to Rocketscompensate for staff who did not meet vaccination requirements,” Dix said. “This week, only one operating room had to be reduced for this reason. To support critical care, though, Kelowna General Hospital has reduced an additional two operating rooms.”

Meanwhile, in Kamloops, Royal Inland Hospital is battling two COVID-19 outbreaks, one involving four patients testing positive on 7N, which deals with cardiac and renal patients. An outbreak on 5S that started last week has had 27 positives — 21 patients and six members. There also has been one death.

Dr. Carol Fenton, Interior Health’s medical health officer, told CFJC-TV that officials had hoped Kamloops’ high vaccination rates would have prevented such outbreaks.

“But,” she said, “our surrounding areas continue to have the lowest vaccination rates in the Interior and that’s definitely affecting us and we are seeing that.”

Castanet Kamloops reported Tuesday that “some areas within the Interior Health region have some of the lowest vaccination rates within the province, including Enderby, Kettle Valley, Cariboo/Chilcotin, Creston and Kootenay Lake health areas (that) are all below 70 per cent.”

According to B.C. health officials, about 90 per cent of those eligible have had one dose of vaccine, with more than 85 per cent having had two.


MORE COVID NOTES: Public Health Sudbury and Districts issued a new set of restrictions on Monday, so the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves are back to having their arena capacity set at 50 per cent. . . . The NHL’s Ottawa Senators were without Covidfive players when they dropped a 3-2 decision to the host Boston Bruins on Tuesday. D Victor Mete was added to Ottawa’s COVID-19 list earlier in the day, joining F Connor Brown, F Dylan Gambrell, F Austin Watson and D Nick Holden. Assistant coach Jack Capuano also is on the list. . . . The 2021 U.S. college football season has its first pandemic-related postponement. A game between the USC Trojans and host California Golden Bears that was to have been played on Saturday in Berkeley has been moved to Dec. 4. It’s all because of COVID-19 issues with the Golden Bears. . . . The NFL’s Cleveland Browns have had four positive tests this week — RB Nick Chubb, RB Demetric Felton, RB John Kelly and WR Lawrence Cager, who was on the practice squad. It all left the Browns with one active RB — D’Ernest Johnson — as they prepare to face the host New England Patriots on Sunday. . . . Looks like there is an Australian Open story developing. From 7NEWS Melbourne: “Australian Open organizers are pushing for capacity crowds at January’s grand slam. But a standoff with unvaccinated tennis stars is looming as the Premier doubles down on his threat to lock them out.”


Journey


After Aaron Rodgers doubled down on Tuesday, columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted: “Steph Curry tried to get more information on COVID so he conferred with Dr. Fauci. The GB QB tried to get more information so he conferred with Joe Rogan and ‘about a dozen friends of mine.’ ”

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On Monday, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, weighed in on the Aaron Rodgers clown show . . .

“In the case of Aaron Rodgers, I am afraid that his ‘star player status’ could get in the way of him suffering some consequences of his behavior.  And by ‘his behavior’ I do not mean his decision not to take the vaccine — that is HIS business and HIS decision. What I mean by ‘his behavior’ is his mendacity and his deceit.  Here is my position on the matter and I suspect that it will not resonate well with many NFL fans:

  1. Tom Brady was suspended for four games a few years ago. The nominal behavior that got him suspended was deflating footballs; that charge was not well-supported by evidence and science said there were environmental factors that could have caused whatever measurements were made to have been what they were. Brady was also non-cooperative with the investigation and supposedly was not candid with the folks doing the investigating.
  2. Aaron Rodgers’ behavior is potentially far more consequential than was Tom Brady’s. Rodgers has been lying about this status and availing himself of the relaxed restrictions enjoyed by vaccinated players for at least two months — and probably four months.
  3. I think Aaron Rodgers deserves a longer suspension than Tom Brady got. For me, it is a minimum of six games.

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I hope my friend, the curmudgeonly one, wasn’t holding his breath waiting for the NFL to drop the hammer on Rodgers.

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THAT’LL TEACH HIM: The NFL has fined the Packers $300,000 for violating COVID protocols. Aaron Rodgers and WR Allen Lazard were fined $14,650 for violating those same protocols. Reports indicate that the NFL’s investigation is over. . . . The Packers also apparently were told that future violations could result in more discipline, like the loss of draft picks. . . . Rob Demovsky of ESPN reported: “The violations included the unvaccinated Rodgers not wearing a mask during his news conferences and because the team did not report that Rodgers and Lazard attended a Halloween party, even though it was away from the team facility. By attending, Rodgers and Lazard violated the protocol that prevents unvaccinated players from gathering in groups of more than three, which was the reason for their fine. The amount of the players’ fines were part of the jointly agreed upon fine schedule between the league and the players union.” . . . All is well because the shield has been protected. Again.

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SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) did the math. Based on Aaron Rodgers’ salary of $22.4 million, the fine of $14,650 is “the equivalent of fining the average American $33.80.”


ANOTHER SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE: Big Bird, almost everyone’s friend from Sesame Street, encourages youngsters to get vaccinated and ends up involved in a social media tiff with a U.S. senator.


Relationship


GET OFF MY LAWN: I was in a grocery store — one of the big chains — for the first time in about 20 months on Tuesday. One thing I didn’t miss? People blocking aisles while chatting on their phones.


JUST NOTES: Some of the organizers will be in Whistler, B.C., on Nov. 17 to reveal details of a WHA 50th anniversary reunion that is to be held there in November 2022. . . . If you haven’t read the statement issued Tuesday by Carey Price involving his decision to enter a residential treatment facility “for substance use” please find it and give it a look. It’ll make you a bigger fan than you already are. . . . Headline at The Beaverton: Saskatchewan demands to be recognized as a nation whose main export is ICU patients. . . . The Saskatoon Blades staged quite a comeback in scoring a 4-3 OT victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday night. Now, with Canada’s Olympic curling trials taking over their home arena through Nov. 28, the Blades will head out on the road for a nine-pack. Their next home game is scheduled for Dec. 10. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at last night’s game and his report is right here.


Lottery


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.


Pickup

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching the Blue Bombers bring some heat to Regina . . .

Scattershooting2



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Whatever (head coach Bill) Belichick says, Cam Newton at least partially lost his job with the (New England) Patriots because he’s another bonehead in sports who hasn’t been vaccinated. . . . So pro sports continues to be a capital of Stupidville on the subject of COVID and vaccines. . . . Now John Smoltz and Al Leiter represent the Stupidville district as they’re not allowed inside the studio of the MLB Network because they’re anti-vaxx guys. . . . You’d say that on and on we go and where we stop, nobody knows, except we do know: This particular train stops in the place where the slow thinkers reside.”



So . . . Nebraska played host to Fordham in a college football game on Saturday. Darren Rovell, who reports on the business of sports, tells us that (a) Nebraska paid Fordham US$500,000 to play the game; (b) Scott Frost, Nebraska’s head coach, makes $416,667 per game; and (c) Fordham head coach Joe Conlin is making $250,000 this season. . . . Nebraska, a 41.5-point favourite, won the game, 52-7.


Justin Foster, a defensive end with Clemson, tested positive for COVID-19 last summer. So, too, did T.J. Quinn, a staff writer with ESPN. . . . You know what else they have in common? They are COVID long-haulers. If you’re one who thinks that COVID-19 isn’t a big deal and that it comes and then it’s gone, well, think again. Maybe this piece right here, written by Quinn, will change your mind.



Now that’s high-end trash talk — Phil Mickelson was prepping for a practice round with a couple of PGA lesser-knowns — Harry Higgs and Keith Mitchell — the other day, when he told them he would be using a ball with his logo on it. As he explained: “It’s from when I won the Masters. What are you guys using?”


And then there’s the guy who bet US$220,000 on the Thursday night football game between Tennessee and Bowling Green. He had Tennessee winning by at least 36. Uhh, the Vols won, but only by 32 — 38-6. . . . Easy come, easy go!



“I love the Field of Dreams concept,” writes columnist Norman Chad, as he hits the nail on the head. “I love the Field of Dreams buildup, I love the Field of Dreams setting, but then . . . it’s just another MLB game that takes forever to get from a 1-0 count to a 2-2 count.”



Peter King, in his weekly Football Morning in America column: “A football field, from end of end zone to end of end zone, is 360 feet long. Jeff Bezos’ new yacht is 50 feet longer than that. Bezos’ yacht will cost about $500 million to build. Twenty-one NFL teams play in stadiums that cost less to build than the yacht Jeff Bezos has under construction.” . . . The complete column is right here.


Kimi Raikkonen sat out Sunday’s Netherlands Grand Prix after testing positive. The Alfa Romeo team replaced him with Robert Kubica. Raikkonen, 41, has said he will retire from Formula One at season’s end.


The Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels won’t have head coach Lane Kiffin with them tonight when they open their NCAA football season against the Louisville Cardinals in Atlanta. He is fully vaccinated, but has tested positive. . . . Earlier this month, Kiffin revealed that 100 per cent of Ole Miss’s players, coaches and staff members were fully vaccinated.



ODDS AND ENDS — Hey, Toll Free Serv., you may as well give up because we’re not answering when you phone during an election. . . . We answered one unknown number recently and it was from a candidate in West Kelowna. Uhh, we live in Kamloops. . . . If you are looking for a really, really good read, you won’t go wrong with Billy Summers, the latest work from the prolific Stephen King. You can thank me later. . . . And if you’re looking for some good listening, you won’t go wrong with Rita Chiarelli. Start with her Breakfast at Midnight album. . . . DE Willie Jefferson of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers set the table for Sunday’s Labour Day Classic — the game is played the day before Labour Day — when he said Saturday that the host Saskatchewan Roughriders “ain’t played nobody special. Nobody with no heat, the way we’re coming. We know it’s a battle for first place in the West but we could care less. We just want to give them our best game and show them that their offence isn’t as prolific as people are saying.” It’s not bragging when you can do it; the Bombers won, 23-8. . . . D Matthew Gallant, 17, will be in camp with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. From Langley, B.C., he is the oldest of Kevin Gallant’s two boys. Kevin, you may remember, is a former play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats. The Warriors placed Matthew on their protected list last winter.



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 Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Arnie Caplan as general manager and head coach. Caplan, 53, is from Winnipeg. He has been living in Dauphin, Man., where he was the U18 AAA Parkland Rangers’ head coach in 2019-20. A goalie in his playing days, Caplan got into nine games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 1987-88. The Rebels actually signed Carter Duffin to a multi-year extension as general manager and head coach on May 29. Duffin left two months later to join the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as assistant GM and assistant coach. He had been the Rebels’ head coach for the previous three seasons. . . . Long-time NHL scout Marty Stein wasn’t out of work for long. Stein, who is based in Vernon, B.C., now is a Western Canada scout with the Buffalo Sabres. He had been with the Detroit Red Wings since 1996 when he recently was dropped as GM Steve Yzerman made some changes.


Printer

NHL one step closer to return . . . Canada out of junior Summer Showcase . . . Fragle hoping to rock in Trail

There still are a number of hurdles to get over but the NHLPA has given the OK for its executive to keep on talking to the NHL about a return to play. So if things continue to progress, hockey fans may yet get to watch 24 teams take part in some kind of a Stanley Cup tournament with games played in a number of hub cities. . . . Keeping in mind that there still negotiations to be held, Carol Schram, a senior contributor for Forbes, has more right here.

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Here’s one more thing for NHL players to think about as they prepare for a potential return to the ice. . . . Dr. Andrew Morris, who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has told TSN’s Rick Westhead that players need to make sure their long-term health is looked after should they happen to end up becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during a return to play. . . . Dr. Morris said: “Young athletes do not think about this stuff because they think they are invincible, but every so often we see young, healthy people get very bad diseases, and this is no different. It would be unusual for a healthy young athlete to get really sick with COVID and wind up in the ICU, but, hey, somebody wins the lottery, right? . . . They should want their health care and income insured, seeing that they are taking an additional risk, especially if residing in the U.S.” . . . As the medical community learns more and more about the impact of this virus, it is finding survivors who have been left with heart, kidney, liver and lung damage. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.



And what of the NBA and its efforts to get its season back on track? It is look as though it will re-open with all of its teams playing out of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance. . . . As Rohan Nadkarni of si.com points out in this piece right here, it really is all about the Benjamins.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA and a return to play:

“In the wonderful world of asterisks, we’re already talking Extra Large for whichever team wins the title. If you’re trying to play through a pandemic in neutral settings with nobody in the stands, you connect with nothing in Finals history. Don’t ruin this risky venture by welcoming the absurd.

“Those 16 teams worked hard to establish playoff position. Nobody else has the right to qualify after such a maddening layoff. The Warriors have long disappeared from view, but the same goes for Portland, New Orleans or any other team trying to sneak into this science-fiction film. They all had their chance.

“And for heaven’s sake, forget the idea (actually discussed) of a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine the final playoff slots in each conference. Could it be more boring, especially during times of urgency? ‘Hey, come see the teams that don’t deserve this.’ ”



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


BillPosters


USA Hockey is planning to play host to the World Junior Summer Showcase later this USAhockeysummer but Canada won’t be taking part. Teams from the U.S., Finland and Sweden will participate in the event that is to run from July 24 through Aug. 1 at Plymouth, Mich. . . . “We’ve heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we’re checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations who also is the GM of the U.S. national junior team. “Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There’s also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it’s going to be lifted sometime in June, so we’re just staying on top of everything from what’s going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That’s how we’re going to go. We’re not going to change anything.”



Hockey Canada announced on March 13 that it had cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice. . . . Earlier this week, Hockey Canada issued “An Open Letter to Canadians” that was signed by Michael Brind’Amour, the chairman of the board of directors, CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO. . . . Included in that letter was this paragraph:

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the game will determine when we return, not our desire to get back on the ice. When our country is ready, Hockey Canada will be ready. Until then, continue to follow the guidelines set by your provincial and territorial government to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Only by working together will we be able to make a difference and safely return.”

That letter is right here.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956 put perhaps foresaw the future rather clearly: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. . . . All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”


Granted, it’s not going to happen until 2021, but a new hockey league — 3ICE — is on the way. Headed up by CEO E.J. Johnston and Commissioner Craig Patrick, 3ICE will feature eight teams playing 3-on-3 hockey over nine weekends, each one in a different city, during the summer of 2021. . . . Each team’s roster will comprise six skaters and one goalie. . . . The team’s head coaches are Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier. . . . E.J. Johnston is the son of Ed Johnston, one of the head coaches who is a former NHL goaltender, head coach and GM. . . . There’s more right here.


After watching all 10 episodes of The Last Dance, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “These questions will never be answered, but here goes: For Jordan, was there really a higher level of emotional fire that could be reached only by disrespect? Did that disrespect supercharge his physical skills, or was that higher level of fire a self-created myth to enhance his greatness?”


Tinfoil


Brian Wiebe, a veteran observer of the BCHL, has a solid piece right here on that league and how it and its teams are coping with the pandemic and all that has come with it.

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Tim Fragle is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. TrailFrom Edmonton, Fragle has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. . . . While at NAIT, Fragle won three coach-of-the-year awards. . . . Fragile was the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for seven seasons (2009-16). . . . He played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Smoke Eaters, finish the last of those seasons with the Merritt Centennials. . . . While playing in Trail, he was teammates with Craig Clare, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., and is the Smokies’ director of hockey and business operations. . . . In Trail, Fragle takes over from Jeff Tambellini, who left in April to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as a pro scout and NCAA free-agent recruiter.


David Legwand, a co-owner of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, is moving from associate coach to be the team’s president of hockey operations. Legwand and Derian Hatcher, another former NHL player, purchased the Sting in 2015. . . . Legwand has been the associate coach for three seasons, with Hatcher as the head coach. Hatcher remains in the role, with Dylan Seca the general manager.


Darren Rovell of actionnetwork.com reports that a Mike Trout signed rookie card has sold at auction for US$900,000. It was from the Bowman Draft Chrome Prospect set. . . . That “obliterated the record for the highest-priced modern-day baseball card and tied the record for the most expensive modern-day card ever — the LeBron James/Michael Jordan logoman card, sold in February 2020,” Rovell wrote. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of Rovell’s story involved seven unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer NBA cards. These boxes weren’t at all popular when they debuted; in fact, boxes were returned by hobby stores for $6 refunds. At auction, Rovell wrote, they sold for “as much as $109,200 each.” . . . Rovell’s story is right here.


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