Restricted capacity coming to Ontario facilities; B.C. pondering it, too . . . OHL shuts down Erie Otters . . . Zimmer’s six-pack sparks Cougars

Merry Christmas . . .


The provincial government of Ontario announced on Wednesday that indoor arenas and venues with a capacity of more than 1,000 will be limited to 50 per cent capacity effective Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET.

Those same Ontario facilities had moved to 100 per cent capacity on Oct. 8.

After the announcement, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns Covidthe NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, issued a news release that included this:

“MLSE’s venue operations team will implement an enhanced mask protocol within the venue beginning with Saturday’s Raptors game called ‘Operation Mask Up (or out)’ that requires all attendees to strictly adhere to all mask-wearing protocols or risk ejection from the building. MLSE also strongly encourages all fans to get vaccinated and closely follow all public health protocols to protect each other and our community at large.”

Unfortunately for Toronto basketball fans, the first game to feel the pinch of 50 per cent capacity will feature the visiting Golden State Warriors and all-world Steph Curry on Saturday.

——

Meanwhile, in B.C., we are bracing for more public health orders that are likely to be announced early next week.

During a late Wednesday afternoon news conference, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health, admitted that the government is considering reducing capacity for arenas and other venues.

A move back to 50 per cent capacity would impact four of the WHL’s B.C. Division teams — the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals. Their arenas have been at 100 per cent capacity only since Oct. 19.

The Prince George Cougars, located in the Northern Health region, haven’t been permitted more than 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre all season.

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The OHL’s Erie Otters suspended all operations after 13 players tested positive. OHLAccording to the OHL, all players are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. The Otters were to have met visiting the Guelph Storm on Friday and entertained the Kitchener Rangers on Saturday; both games have been postponed. . . . This comes after the Sudbury Wolves had shut things down late last month after 12 positive tests. They were scheduled to return to game action tonight (Thursday) in Barrie against the Colts. However, that game has been postponed as the Wolves continue to deal with virus-related issues. The Wolves now have had six games postponed. . . .

The OHL also postponed a game scheduled for last night (Wednesday) that would have had the Rangers in Owen Sound to meet the Attack. The OHL said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution. . . .

In the OHL, all staff, players and those eligible in billet families are fully vaccinated.

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And then there is the NHL where there were at least 53 players in protocol at the end of the day. That doesn’t include coaches and other staff members. Oh, and more positive tests are expected . . .

As of late Wednesday, the Calgary Flames had six players who WERE NOT in COVID-19 protocol — F Mikael Backlund, F Blake Coleman, F Dillon Dube, D Oliver Kylington, F Matthew Tkachuk and G Dan Vladar. The Flames added 17 people to their protocol list on Wednesday, including head coach Darryl Sutter and assistants Ryan Huska and Kirk Muller. There also are seven support staff members in protocol. . . . At that point, the Flames had 16 players, three coaches and seven staff members on the list. . . .

The Nashville Predators had six players and six other members of their travelling team in protocol. F Mikael Granlund, F Ryan Johansen, F Matt Luff, F Michael McCarron, F Philip Tomasino were on the list, along with head coach John Hynes, assistants Dan Lambert and Todd Richards, and goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok. . . . The Predators are scheduled to visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday; it could be that their AHL coaching staff — head coach Karl Taylor and assistants Scott Ford and Greg Rallo — running the Nashville bench. . . . Taylor spent one season (2013-14) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings moved F Robby Fabbri and F Michael Rasmussen into protocol. The Red Wings are scheduled to meet host Carolina tonight (Thursday), but the Hurricanes have six players and a trainer in protocol. Carolina was to have played the host Minnesota Wild on Tuesday but the game was postponed. . . .

The Vancouver Canucks, who put four players on the list on Tuesday, flew to San Jose on Wednesday evening where they are scheduled to play the Sharks tonight (Thursday). Assistant coach Jason King didn’t make the trip, as he went into protocol before the flight departed. . . .

The NHL and NHLPA will try to slow the virus’s spread by going back to protocols that were used last season. . . . From Bruce Garrioch, who covers the Ottawa Senators for Postmedia: “Essentially, the league is going back to last year’s rules, which means management, staff and players will be tested daily until at least Jan. 7. With the (Ottawa) Senators on a three-game road trip that will continue Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team will essentially go into its own bubble. That means all meals will have to be eaten at the hotel and there will be no dining out or shopping during breaks in the schedule.”


Closed


The NFL said that 88 players had tested positive on Monday and Tuesday, but with players being moved on and off the COVID-19 list, there are reports that it’s likely that at least 100 players have come up positive. . . . The Washington Football Team had 18 players on its protocol list after adding eight more on Wednesday. . . . The Cleveland Browns had 18 players, half of them starters, and two coaches on the COVID-19 list by the end of the day. That included head coach Kevin Stefanski, WR Jarvis Landry and QB Baker Mayfield. . . . Still, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said the league isn’t considering postponing or cancelling Cleveland’s scheduled game against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. . . .

Alvin Gentry, the interim head coach with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, tested positive so wasn’t with his team for Wednesday’s 119-105 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards. He will need two negative tests 24 hours apart before being allowed to return. . . . The NBA had more than two dozen players in health and safety protocols on Wednesday, including 10 players from the Chicago Bulls. They were to play the Raptors in Toronto tonight (Thursday), but the game has been postponed. . . . According to the NBA, about 97 per cent of its players are vaccinated, with about 60 per cent having received a booster shot. . . .

The AHL-Toronto Marlies have one player who tested positive and four others isolating for precautionary reasons. . . . According to the team, “All players are double-vaccinated and are being closely monitored for symptoms while being tested daily.” . . . The Marlies dropped a 4-2 decision to the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night. . . .

The AHL-Belleville Senators were to have played against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday night but it didn’t happen. The game was postponed, the AHL said, because of “protocols affecting Belleville.” . . . The Senators are scheduled to conclude a nine-day road trip against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday. . . .

Soccer’s Premier League postponed a game between visiting Watford and Burnley less than three hours before it was to start. The league postponed a third game in four days due to an outbreak on the Watford roster that left it without enough first-team players for a game.


It isn’t just the sporting world that is feeling the impact of this latest wave. The New York Time reported Wednesday: “Broadway has seen a raft of cancellations as positive Covid tests among cast and crew members have upended productions. The pandemic continues to pose a challenge to an industry struggling to get back on its feet after a lengthy and damaging shutdown.”




The New York Times, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. PT: “Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. surpassed 800,000 on Wednesday, as the pandemic neared the end of a second year and as known virus cases in this country rose above 50 million. The death toll is the highest known of any nation.”

Carolyn Dunn, CBC Calgary, Wednesday, 5:53 p.m. PT: “By tomorrow, 30,000 Canadians (and possibly many more) will have died from COVID-19. So many families/friends robbed of a day, a month, or many years.”



Election


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Koehn Zimmer of the Prince George Cougars put up six points Wednesday night in a 7-3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars, who erased a 2-0 deficit, have won four in a row. . . . Zimmer, who WHLturned 17 on Dec. 8, finished with two goals and four assists. He now has seven goals and 12 assists in 26 games this season. He started it with nine goals and three assists in 24 games. . . .

F Ollie Josephson, the fifth-overall selection in last week’s WHL draft, was in the Red Deer Rebels’ lineup for the first time on Wednesday as they met the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Josephson was pointless and plus-1 in a 6-1 Red Deer victory. . . .

The Victoria Royals went into Kamloops having earned at least a point in 10 straight games (7-0-3), but the Blazers dropped them, 3-0, as G Dylan Ernst recorded his first WHL shutout. At one point late in the second period, Kamloops held a 29-4 edge in shots and a 2-0 lead. The Blazers ended up with a 51-9 advantage. . . . Kamloops D Viktor Persson wasn’t on the bench for the third period after taking a hit from Victoria D Wyatt Wilson at 8:49 of the second period. Wilson was given a charging major and game misconduct. . . .

In Calgary, F Jakub Demek, a Slovakian freshman, had two goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Hitmen, 5-2. . . . Demek, a fourth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2021 draft, has 13 goals and 22 assists in 28 games. . . . Oh, yes, he’s also on a 17-game point streak. . . .

F Jack Finley and D Jonas Woo made their Winnipeg debuts on Wednesday as the Ice dumped the host Saskatoon Blades, 6-0. . . . Finley, who was acquired earlier in the month from the Spokane Chiefs, had been in camp with Canada’s national junior team before being released. He had a goal, his ninth, and an assist in his first game with the Ice. . . . Woo, whose father, Larry, is an assistant coach with the Ice, was the 18th overall selection in last week’s WHL draft. He was pointless and plus-1 in his debut. . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was at the game and his story is right here. . . .

Earlier in the day, the Ice acquired F Alessandro Segafredo, 17, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for Czech D Martin Bohm, 18, and a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. . . . Both players were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Mike Sawatzky (@sawa14) of the Winnipeg Free Press notes that “the Italian-born Segafredo was a teammate of current Ice D Max Streule with GCK Lions U20 in Zurich, Switzerland, last season.” . . . Segafredo is listed on Winnipeg’s injury list as being out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, while Bohm, who last played on Nov. 14, is out month-to-month with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Seattle roster includes three imports, including British D Leon Okonkwo Prada and Slovakian D Samuel Knazko. . . . The Thunderbirds will have to trim one, via release or trade, once Bohm is healthy. . . . The Red Deer Rebels are the only WHL team carrying one import.


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.


GPS

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after a Grey Cup game to remember . . .

Scattershooting2

Merry Christmas . . .


The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the CFL title on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who were playing at home, 33-25 in OT to successfully defend their Grey Cup championship. The Bombers also won in 2019; the CFL didn’t play in 2020 because of the pandemic. . . . This was a terrific football game, with a strong wind making the decision-making process that much more important and the passing and punting games difficult. . . . If you’re not aware, the CFL OT format opens with mini-games as each team scrimmages from the 35-yard line. Score a TD and you have to go for two. The Bombers went ahead 31-25 on a Zach Collaros to Darvin Adams TD pass, with Collaros then hitting Rasheed Bailey for the deuce. . . . Moments later, the Bombers sealed the victory with an interception by LB Kyrie Wilson. . . . This was the 108th playing of the Grey Cup game and only the fourth time OT was needed. . . .

The Bombers were trailing 22-10 in the fourth quarter. They got to within 22-13 with a 20-yard field goal, and 22-20 with a 29-yard pass to Nic Demski and the convert. . . . A rouge on the kickoff got the Bombers to within one, at 22-21. . . . The Bombers took their first lead of the game, 24-22, with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter when K Sergio Castillo booted a 45-yard field goal. . . . Another rouge on the kickoff stretched that lead to 25-22. . . . The Tiger-Cats pulled even when Michael Domagala hit on a 13-yard FG with six seconds left. . . .

Richie Hall, Winnipeg’s defensive co-ordinator, is one of the game’s really good guys. He now has won five Grey Cups — two with the Blue Bombers and three with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. . . . The 2009 and 2010 Montreal Alouettes were the last team to win back-to-back championships. . . . Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea is 6-0 in Grey Cup games — the two with the Bombers, one as an assistant coach with the Toronto Argonauts and three as a smash-mouth linebacker with the Argos. . . .

The Blue Bombers went through an early-season stretch where they struggled in the kicking game. That’s when they signed Castillo, who was with the NFL’s New York Jets last season. On Sunday, he kicked five field goals. . . . Winnipeg beat Hamilton 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup game in Calgary. . . . The Tiger-Cats last won the Grey Cup in 1999. They are 0-4 in finals since then. . . . In the next while, you are going to hear noise about Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer perhaps going to the U of Washington as defensive co-ordinator and the Edmonton Elks wanting O’Shea as GM/head coach. . . . You also are going to hear rumblings about the CFL pooh-bahs studying all aspects of the game, including three-down football versus the four-down variety. Of course, a change to four-down would turn the CFL into a mini-NFL and that wouldn’t fly with Canadian fans, would it? . . . One of those Canadian things is the rouge, something that may seem minor but played a major role in Winnipeg’s victory on Sunday. The CFL doesn’t need to tinker; it needs to develop players — especially Canadians — so that it can provide its fans with more games like the one that ended the 2021 season.


So . . . the owner of the Vancouver Canucks fired six men last week, moves that will have impacted the lives of a number of people. And he takes to Twitter on Saturday evening in search of a few pats on the back! It’s all about priorities, in case you were wondering why this franchise wanders around the NHL wilderness like a dying man in search of water. . . . Yes, the Canucks now have won four straight since the regime change was undertaken. But a grain of salt, please — while all four victories were home games, three of them came against teams that had played the previous night while the Canucks were off. . . . Besides, four victories don’t erase the mess that Aquilini has been paddling through for the past few seasons. . . . The Columbus Blue Jackets are to visit Vancouver on Tuesday night. Vancouver then plays the host San Jose Sharks on Thursday before returning home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.


BlackFriday


Recent headlines, courtesy of Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. . . . At @NOTSportsCenter: “Report Chase Claypool is still at US Bank Stadium celebrating his 4th-down catch, and is wondering where everyone went.” . . . At TheOnion.com: “Hiker trapped for days under fallen boulder survives by cutting off own ponytail.”

——

“A fan in Las Vegas took off her prosthetic leg and beat another fan with it during the Golden Knights’ 3-2 loss to Edmonton the other night,” reports Perry. “Lucky she wasn’t whistled for a gam misconduct.”

——

Perry, again: “Seattle just experienced its wettest fall in history, with 19 inches of rain between September and November. It got so bad, the Seahawks practiced swimming for a first down.”


Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on Chase Claypool’s strutting at a rather inopportune time on Monday Night Football: “It was the stupidest thing done in the NFL, besides saying, ‘Trade me to the Jets.’ ”


“Starting January 15, unvaccinated NBA players will no longer be able to play in Canada,” writes Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe. “Suddenly find myself hoping the Toronto Raptors end up in the playoffs.”


PANDEMIC NOTEBOOK: Ngozi and Kibo, residents of the Denver Zoo, are the first hyenas in the world to have tested positive. . . . The Chicago Zoo has had positive tests in a bearcat, a fishing cat and a coati. There also were two hippos who tested positive in Belgium. From a story by the National Geographic’s Natasha Daly: “They’re now part of a group of 315 animals from 15 species in the United States confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The list also includes cats, dogs, tigers, lions, snow leopards, gorillas, otters, a cougar, a ferret, white-tailed deer. (Infected mink, nearly all on fur farms, are not included in the total).” . . .

The Chicago Bulls are supposed to play the visiting Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. However, the Bulls, who are to play the host Toronto Raptors on Thursday, had nine players in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday evening. They are down to nine healthy players, with eight needed to play a game. . . . The Raptors have their own COVID-19 issues, having put F Precious Achiuwa into protocol on Sunday as a close contact of someone who tested positive. As well, Masai Ujiri, their president and vice-chairman, tested positive late in the week. They are to entertain the Sacramento Kings tonight. . . .

The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, who had 12 players come up positive, will return to action on Thursday when they visit the Barrie Colts. The Wolves, who last played on Nov. 27, had five games postponed while they dealt with the outbreak.


Wisdom


You may have seen video of Fox-TV’s 50-foot artificial Christmas tree in midtown Manhattan going up in flames on Wednesday. It was Stephen Colbert who pointed out: “Of course, it would never have happened if the tree had a gun.” . . . Vanity Fair, in the prelude to a story by Caleb Ecarma, noted: “Even though police haven’t ascribed a motive to the suspected arsonist, (Fox-TV) hosts and guests framed the incident as a ‘hate crime,’ part of a ‘war on religion,’ and emblematic of out-of-control crime. ‘No city is safe,’ said Brian Kilmeade.”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Nothing has changed on the subject of vaccinations: The idea that this has become a polarizing political issue and not a medical one is as dumb a moment as we’ve ever had in America.”

——

Lupica, again: “You can talk about the great Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh, and Bear Bryant from college football. But in the history of coaches, there is Nick Saban and there is Bill Belichick and then there is everybody else.”


Scuba


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Medicine Hat Tigers beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 4-3, in a shootout on Saturday night. That halted the Tigers’ 16-game losing skid. It also was the 393rd regular-season victory of head coach Willie Desjardins’ WHL career. Seven more victories and he becomes the 19th member of the WHL’s 400 Club. . . . There won’t be a 20th member of that club for a while, as the next active head coach on the list is Mark Lamb of the Prince George Cougars, and he’s at 264. After him, it’s Michael Dyck of the Vancouver Giants (237) and Steve Konowalchuk of the Red Deer Rebels (236). . . .


Back in the day, when Kevin Gallant was the vociferous play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats, you know that the Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades were Public Enemies Nos. 1A and 1B. Now Gallant’s oldest son, Matthew, is a freshman defenceman with the Warriors. His other son, Michael, was selected by the Blades in Thursday’s WHL draft. . . . Just in case you didn’t know that the hockey gods have a sense of humour. . . .

F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has made the roster of Canada’s national junior team as a 16-year-old. Mark Masters of TSN has Bedard as the seventh player to make the team at 16, the others being Connor McDavid, Jay Bouwmeester, Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza, Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky. . . . The 25-player roster features 12 players from the WHL, including goaltenders Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers), five from the OHL, four from the QMJHL, and two each from the AHL and the NCAA. . . . A complete roster is right here. . . .

Team Canada’s roster includes three returnees from the team that won silver at the 2021 tournament — Garand, D Kaiden Guhle (Edmonton) and F Cole Perfetti (AHL-Manitoba Moose). . . . Three WHLers — F Jack Finley (Winnipeg Ice), D Vincent Iorio (Brandon Wheat Kings) and D Daemon Hunt (Moose Jaw Warriors — were among the final cuts on Sunday. Hunt was released after he was injured while blocking a shot during a Sunday game against university players. . . . Team Canada will train in Banff through Dec. 18. It will play two exhibition games in Red Deer (Switzerland, Dec. 19; Sweden, Dec. 20). . . . The tournament, which is to be played in Red Deer and Edmonton, runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

Apropos of nothing, I’ll just leave this here. . . . F Ivan Ivan, a 19-year-old Czech, has 30 points, including 18 goals, in 29 games with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. . . . F Marcel Marcel, an 18-year-old Czech, has six goals and 18 assists in 22 games with his country’s under-20 side.


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.


Clowns

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after spending some time with Adele . . .

Scattershooting2


Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades on CJWW, and I have been friends for more years than either one of us cares to remember.

So . . . I can imagine how excited he was prior to calling the play for the Blades’ game in Winnipeg against the Ice on Saturday night. I mean, you have to know that Les gets excited before every game. But this one was extra special.

That’s because his nephew, Nolan Powell, who is from Winnipeg, was one of the game’s two referees, along with veteran Adam Bloski.

You should know that Nolan makes music with more than his whistle.

Besides being an on-ice hockey official, he is an accomplished classical guitarist.

From a story headlined ‘To hear Nolan Powell play is to believe in perfection’ from the U of Manitoba News in June 2020: “The 2020 Master of Music graduate, who also holds a B.Mus and B.Ed from the University of Manitoba, has a long history of impressing people, and received the Dr. Bonnie Buhler Graduate Scholarship in Music for his master’s degree.”

About the only degree his uncle has involves Strat-O-Matic Baseball.


ICING THE OPPOSITION: It should be pointed out that the Winnipeg Ice swept that weekend series from the Saskatoon Blades, 4-1 and 6-0. . . . The Ice, the WinnipegCHL’s top-ranked team, now is 17-1 and has outscored its opposition, 98-31. Winnipeg leads the Eastern Conference by seven points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (12-3-3) and tops the East Division by 11 points over the Blades (11-6-1). . . . Winnipeg forwards Mikey Milne and Matt Savoie lead the WHL points race, each with 29. Milne and teammate Connor McClennon are No. 1 in goals (14), with Savoie tops in assists (21). . . . If you are a plus-minus fan, Ice players hold down the top five spots — Milne (24), F Jakin Smallwod (22), F Conor Geekie (21), and D Carson Lambos and D Nolan Orzeck each 19. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Ice leads the league in GAA (1.45) and save percentage (.941).


Antler
I first spotted this guy over a month ago in the field that is at the top of the photo. At that time, his left antler was dangling loosely on the side of his face. I didn’t see him again until he showed up in our yard late Saturday afternoon — the light was fading fast — and it seems that the broken antler has taken root and is solidly entrenched, giving him something of a bizarre look.

THE CENTURY CLUB: G Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades posted his 100th career regular-season victory on Friday, beating the Wheat Kings, 2-1, in Brandon. According to quanthockey.com, he is the 21st goaltender in WHL history to reach 100 victories. The record is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92), each with 120. Sexsmith did it in 179 games; Hirsch in 181. Maier has played in 170. . . . Next up for Maier is Cam Ward, at 102.


LOVIN’ THE AHL: So . . . you’re wondering how Mitch Love is doing in his first season as a head coach with the AHL’s Stockton Heat? Well . . . you should know that he’s doing just fine after leaving the Saskatoon Blades’ coaching staff for a spot in the Calgary Flames organization. F Justin Kirkland scored the shootout winner on Friday to give the host Heat a 3-2 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights. That was the Heat’s franchise-record ninth straight victory. . . . The Silver Knights bounced back on Saturday and ended that streak with a 4-3 OT victory.


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING: The Calgary Hitmen released D Alexei Garapuchik, 18, earlier this week. He cleared CHL waivers and returned to his home in Belarus. Garapuchik, who was picked in the CHL’s 2020 import draft, was pointless in one game with the Hitmen. . . . The move left the Hitmen with Russian F Maxim Muranov, 17, and F Anton Astashevich, 17, of Belarus as their two import players. Both were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft.


EMAILBAG: After a piece appeared here the other day about the owners of the Winnipeg Ice having abandoned, at least for now, plans for a new arena, there was email. Like this one. . . . Re the Winnipeg Ice. The Ice are still being sued by the City of Cranbrook for breaking the lease in Cranbrook. . . . From a former Ice season-ticket holder in Cranbrook, now a season-ticket holder for the Cranbrook Bucks who watches the Bucks games in our little arena of 4,700.


Bears


KINGS OF THE HILL: The Saskatoon Hilltops have won seven consecutive Prairie Football Conference championships after going into Regina, rushing for 386 yards, and beating the Thunder, 29-9, on Sunday. Yes, they’ve got a junior football dynasty going in Toontown. . . . The Thunder had gone into the final with a 9-0 record, including a pair of three-point victories over the Hilltops, who now are 8-2. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted this report right here. . . . The Hilltops will visit the Langley Rams, the B.C. Football Conference champs, in a CJFL semifinal on Saturday. . . . It’s worth pointing out that the Hilltops’ run of six straight Canadian titles was halted by the pandemic, which refused to allow a 2020 season.


WATER UNDER THE BRIDGEWATER: Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) of YahooSports tweeted late last week that “it’s pretty amazing that the current Carolina Panthers regime now is paying Teddy Bridgewater (who they signed to replace Cam Newton) and Sam Darnold (who they traded for to replace Teddy Bridgewater) only to pay Cam Newton to fix their QB problems.”

Or, as Dion Beary (@hashtagdion) put it: “David Tepper is current paying Cam’s replacement, the replacement for Cam’s replacement, and Cam to replace the replacement for his own replacement.”


Bunker


PERRY’S CORNER: “Green Bay Packers backup QB Jordan Love completed just 6 of 17 passes for 30 yards against the blitz, according to ESPN Stats and Information, in losing 13-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in his starting debut,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Who says you can’t hurry Love?”

——

Perry, again: “The Los Angeles Rams have replaced wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after complaining he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Rams, with Odell Beckham Jr., who complained he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Cleveland Browns. Check back in a month or so for any updates.”


TINFOIL MAN: “What if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith?” writes Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It might have led to greater glory, maybe Super Bowls. And now San Francisco fans would be stuck with an all-time local hero that they are ashamed of. Maybe Mike Nolan knew what he was doing, after all.”

——

Ostler, again: “This just in: Rodgers has lost another appeal to the NFL. Rodgers, citing personal freedom to make his own health decisions, and extensive research, requested permission to ditch his standard football helmet and wear a tinfoil hat.”


Eyes


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING, PART 2: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders have dumped their top two selections from the NFL’s 2020 draft because of off-field indiscretions. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “Apparently NFL teams employ psychologists to help them evaluate draft picks’ readiness. . . . Seems like the Raiders need to re-evaluate their evaluator.”



AN IMPERFECT 10: F Drake Batherson had two goals and two assists as the host Ottawa Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3, on Saturday. He didn’t play in Sunday’s game against the visiting Calgary Flames after testing positive and becoming the 10th Ottawa player to be placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. It also marked the ninth straight day on which the Senators have had someone test positive. . . . Batherson joined F Connor Brown, D Josh Brown, F Alex Formenton, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete, G Matt Murray, F Austin Watson and D Nikita Zaitsev on the list, along with associate coach Jack Capuano. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported Sunday that the Senators have had to make so many recalls from AHL-Belleville that there now are only nine players left with the farm club who are under contract to the NHL team. . . . The NHL hasn’t shown the Senators any mercy, either, as it refuses to postpone games. On Sunday, the Senators lost, 4-0, to the Flames. . . . On Sunday night, the Senators announced they won’t practise on Monday, the fourth straight practice to be cancelled. . . . Ottawa next is scheduled to fly out Monday for a Tuesday night date with the New Jersey Devils.



Storage


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.


TimeTravel

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.’ ”

—— 

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.

——

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

——

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.

——

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

No Ridley, no victories for Tigers . . . Benton back with ‘Tips for two . . . WHL, Raiders backtrack on alternate sweaters


The Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos completed a season-Tigersopening home-and-home series on Saturday night. The Broncos won the opener, 2-0, at home on Friday, then completed the sweep with a 3-2 victory in Medicine Hat on Saturday. . . . However, you can bet that the participants recognized that something was missing. Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Tigers, wasn’t there; he’s in Lethbridge undergoing radiation treatments. . . . Darren Steinke, who keeps track of such things, notes that Ridley has done the play-by-play on 4,021 of the 4,022 games the Tigers have played since entering the WHL for the 1970-71 season. That includes regular-season games, one tiebreaker, playoff games and Memorial Cup games. . . . And let’s not forget that Ridley drove the Tigers’ bus for a lot of those seasons. You don’t even want to think about how much coffee he drank back in those days. . . . In Ridley’s absence, Scott Roblin of CHAT in Medicine Hat is calling the games.


The Everett Silvertips will play their season-opener tonight (Sunday) when Everettthey face the Chiefs in Spokane. The Silvertips won’t play again until Friday when they hold their home-opener, this time against the Portland Winterhawks. . . . With Mike Benton, the Silvertips’ radio voice for the previous six seasons, having left to join Seattle radio station KJR, you are wondering who will be doing the play-by-play for Everett now, aren’t you? . . . Well, a little birdie has told me that Benton will handle the first two games as the Silvertips work to get a new voice into place. . . . With KJR, Benton is handling the pre-game, intermission and post-game shows for Seattle Kraken games.


The WHL issued a statement late Saturday after the Prince Albert Raiders had unveiled a third sweater that included a controversial logo from their past. Yes, this qualifies as one of those ‘Yikes, what were they thinking?’ moments. . . . Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com has more right here.


Meanwhile, on the ice in the WHL on Saturday . . .

If you’re on Twitter, there are some interesting noise-related comments on the thread here . . .

In Regina, the Pats scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-2. F Sloan Stanick scored twice and added an assist for the Pats in a game that was televised nationally by CBC with Victor Findlay calling the play and Sam Cosentino providing the analysis. . . . If you’re on the Connor Bedard watch, he was interviewed during CBC’s pre-game show and again in the second intermission. Oh, he also scored the game’s last goal, his third in two games. . . . Regina had won, 3-1, in Prince Albert on Friday night. While the Pats rode the iron lung home after the game, the Raiders got some shut-eye in their own beds before heading south Saturday at 6:15 a.m. . . . Rob Vanstone has more on Saturday’s game right here. . . .

The Winnipeg Ice completed a home-and-home sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings, winning 7-1 in the Manitoba capital. F Connor McClennon had two goals for the Ice, with D Carson Lambos adding a goal and two assists. . . . The Ice had won, 10-2, in Brandon on Friday. . . .

The visiting Swift Current Broncos opened up a 3-0 first-period lead en route to a 3-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . G Isaac Poulter stopped 29 shots for his second victory in two nights. . . . The Broncos had beaten the Tigers, 2-0, in Swift Current on Friday. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored the game-winner and added an assist on the insurance goal as the host Saskatoon Blades beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-2. . . . The Warriors had dumped the Blades, 7-1, in Moose Jaw on Friday. . . .

The host Red Deer Rebels skated to a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, scoring the game’s last three goals, the final two into an empty net. . . . The Rebels earned a split in their season-opening home-and-home series, having lost 4-1 in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate noted that Saturday’s victory was “just the second time the Rebels have beat Edmonton since December 2018, a span of 20 games.” . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals, the first two early in the second period and both from F Matthew Rempe, as they beat the Winterhawks, 3-1, in Portland. . . .

F Connor Levis broke a 4-4 tie with a PP goal at 15:09 of the third period as the Kamloops Blazers beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. The Cougars had come back from 3-0 and 4-3 deficits but weren’t ever able to grab a lead. . . . D Hudson Thornton had a goal and two assists for Prince George. . . .

G Jesper Vikman, a 19-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden, stopped 16 shots in his WHL debut as the Vancouver Giants defeated the host Victoria Royals, 5-0. . . . The game wasn’t as kind to Victoria G Sebastian Wraneschitz, who is from Vienna, Austria. He gave up three goals on six shots and left 7:24 into the game. . . . Vancouver F Connor Horning scored once and added an assist in his 200th regular-season WHL game. . . . The Giants were without head coach Michael Dyck, as he served a one-game suspension after his team was involved in a “multiple-fight situation” against Prince George on Sept. 24. Associate coach Keith McCambridge took over in Dyck’s absence. . . .

In Spokane, the Tri-City Americans erased a 3-2 deficit with three third-period goals as they scored a 5-3 victory over the Chiefs. . . . F Parker Bell’s goal at 15:13 of the third period broke a 3-3 tie and stood up as the winner.


It doesn’t happen often, but a veteran of the QMJHL wars has made his way to Royalsthe WHL. F Bailey Peach, 20, has been added to the Victoria Royals’ roster and was in the lineup on Saturday night. . . . From Falmouth, N.S., he cleared QMJHL waivers after being released by the Charlottetown Islanders. He played three seasons (2017-20) plus five games last season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix before moving on to the Islanders last season. In 184 regular-season QMJHL games, he put up 40 goals and 67 assists. He added one goal and five assists in 26 playoff games. . . . Peach joins F Tarun Fizer and F Graeme Bryks as the Royals’ 20-year-olds.


G Robin Lehner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights hit the send button on the above tweet on Saturday evening. He has more than 107,000 followers. You can bet that we are going to be hearing a lot about this over the next few days.


Helf


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.


Specials

Raiders to hit road early for TV appearance . . . Bedard opens with a pair . . . Three hat-tricks, one shutout on WHL’s opening night

The CHL is back on TV this (Saturday) afternoon as the Regina Pats play host to CHLthe Prince Albert Raiders in a game that is to be shown on CBC. . . . If you tune in, you’re going to get Victor Findlay doing the play-by-play with analysis by Sam Cosentino, who is hardly a stranger to major junior hockey. . . . Findlay has a whole lot of play-by-play experience, having called a lot of Canadian university games, as well as a couple of Champions Hockey League finals, some Ottawa Senators games and an IIHF U-18 World championship. . . . It’ll be a quick turnaround for the teams after Regina won, 3-1, in Prince Albert on Friday night. The Raiders’ bus is to hit the road at 6:15 a.m. . . . You may recall that CHL climbed into bed with Sportsnet in 1998 and then the two parties signed a 12-year “partnership extension” on Feb. 18, 2014, that was to run through the 2025-26 season. . . . Their relationship ended this summer, with Sportsnet bailing and the CHL signing on with TSN, RDS and CBC on what the hockey people called “multi-platform, multi-year broadcast partnerships.” . . . It all starts today at 1 p.m. Regina time — that’s noon PT — and you can bet the spotlight will be on Regina F Connor Bedard, who, at 16, comes with all the adjectives you might imagine. He scored the game’s first and last goals on Friday in Prince Albert and, yes, he was named first star. . . . Blogger Darren Steinke was in Prince Albert on Friday night and his report is right here.

——

Elsewhere in the WHL on Friday night . . .

G Isaac Poulter stopped 20 shots to record the first shutout of the season as the host Swift Current Broncos got past the Medicine Hat Tigers, 2-0. That was Poulter’s second career shutout. His first came on March 13, 2019, when he stopped 33 shots as the Broncos beat the host Regina Pats, 2-0. . . .

In Moose Jaw, F Brayden Yager, 16, who is from Saskatoon, struck for three goals as the Warriors beat the Blades, 7-1. Alex Clarke of Weyburn, Sask., became the first woman to work as an on-ice official in a WHL regular-season game when she partnered with Ryan Lundquist on the lines. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings got three goals from F Josh Williams and three assists from F Jakub Demek as they defeated the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 4-1. Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate points out that the Oil Kings have won 18 of their last 19 meetings with the Rebels. Yes, that’s domination. . . .

F Noah Boyko scored three times and F Justin Hall had a goal and four assists as the host Lethbridge Hurricanes dropped the Calgary Hitmen, 9-2. . . .

In Brandon, the Winnipeg Ice thrashed the Wheat Kings, 10-2. Winnipeg got two goals from each of F Skyler Bruce and F Mikey Milne. Ice G Daniel Hauser stopped 20 shots, including a pair of penalty shots. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Tri-City Americans scored twice in a five-round shootout to beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-4. Dwayne Jean Jr., a 17-year-old freshman from Edmonton, got the shootout winner.



Hygiene



In case you missed it, this from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a ball completely out of Dodger Stadium on Thursday night, a shot that landed on top of the left-field pavilion and disappeared into the night. According to the Dodgers’ website, only five other players have done that since the park opened in 1962: Willie Stargell (1969 Pirates), Stargell again (1973 Pirates), Mike Piazza (1997 Dodgers), McGwire (1999 Cardinals) and Giancarlo Stanton (2015 Marlins).”



F Zac Rinaldo refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 so it would seem the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets are through with him. Earlier, the team told Rinaldo to stay away from their training camp. On Friday, Rinaldo, 31, cleared NHL waivers and the Blue Jackets told him not to bother reporting to camp with the Cleveland Monsters, their AHL affiliate, when it opens on Tuesday. . . . Rinaldo signed a one-year, two-way contract in August. He won’t be getting his NHL salary (US$750,000), but will draw his AHL salary ($300,000) while he doesn’t play. . . . The Blue Jackets have told Rinaldo that he is free to look for other opportunities.


AuntEdna


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.


Fur

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after a day full of football and glorious weather . . .

Scattershooting2


Research


So . . . some members of Canada’s goof troop say they again will be protesting whatever it is they don’t like in front of various hospitals today (Monday). . . . There aren’t words anywhere in the English language to describe how despicable these protesters are. We have friends who are doing a stint in Vancouver while John recovers from a kidney transplant. His wife is 61 years of age and as kind and gentle a soul as you would ever hope to meet. The last time the loonies protested in front of Vancouver General Hospital, she had to manoeuvre through the clown show in order to visit her husband and that just shouldn’t be allowed to happen. . . . Come on, people, be better than that. Take your protests somewhere else, like to the nearest landfill.


Another sign that the apocalypse is upon us . . .

Yes, Darren Steinke was in attendance. He’s got a blog entry and photos right here.


One more sign that the apocalypse is upon us . . .

If you watched the visiting Oregon Ducks upset the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon, you may have noticed that there didn’t appear to be many masks in the crowd of 100,482 fans. That’s because Ohio State doesn’t require fans to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative test, and masks are only required in indoor spaces — like restrooms, suites and the press box. . . . “We’re leaving it up to our fans to be safe and responsible,” explained athletic director Gene Smith. . . . Yeah, because expecting people to be “safe and responsible” really is working well in this pandemic, isn’t it?


Robber


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, on the NFL’s first Sunday of another season — “Pregame observation: Jimmy Johnson’s hair is in midseason form. And, is that the same Randy Moss who cave-manned the media throughout his career? Some see it as charm, I call it smarm.”

——

Ostler, again: “How many pages are there on that flip chart the 49ers’ quarterbacks wear on their left wrists? It looks like they’re getting ready to order off the TGI Fridays menu.”


The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League informed fans on KrakenThursday that “starting Sept. 13, you must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine” in order to attend games. “By Oct. 24, you must be fully vaccinated.” This is, of course, by order of B.C.’s provincial health officer. . . . As the VIJHL pointed out, “These orders apply to everyone in this league: players, team staff, volunteers, executives, etc., and will apply to all spectators at VIJHL games as well.” . . . At the same time, the league has had to postponed the expansion Lake Cowichan Kraken’s first three games. Kevin Rothbauer of the Lake Cowichan Gazette reported that according to the league the decisions were made out of “an abundance of caution” following a decision by its COVID committee. . . . The Kraken was to have played three games by now — at the Westshore Wolves on Wednesday, versus the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Friday, and at the Kerry Park Islanders on Saturday. All three games were postponed.


Lego


By now you will be aware that Montreal’s Leylah Fernandez won over the world after losing the U.S. Open final in New York on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. At the ripe old age of 19 — she hit that milestone on Sept. 6 — she took the microphone after the match and told the crowd: “I know on this special day it’s especially hard for New York and everyone around the United States. I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been the last 20 years.” . . . Did you know, though, that she also did post-match news conferences in English, French and Spanish?


Once a person learns to relax and take Twitter for what it is, it becomes a tremendous source of humour. . . . Example? . . . On Thursday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post tweeted that the NHL’s Rangers, among other things, were going to need proof of vaccine from fans 12 years of age and over wanting to attend games. . . . “What if my religion prevents me and my children from getting vax?” responded one fan. To which another answered: “Then it prevents you from going to Rangers games, too.” . . . Still another fan tweeted: “Ok and what about those who don’t want the vaccine? We can enjoy going to games?” That drew this response: “Enjoy the couch, get used to it.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “About the idea of banning air travel for the unvaccinated. Strikes me if you don’t believe science could develop a safe vaccine, you wouldn’t believe that science could make 100-plus tons of metal to fly passengers through the air safely either.”


Internet



The WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings have two home exhibition games on their Edmontonschedule, and announced on Thursday that fan’s won’t be allowed in Rogers Place for either contest. . . . The Oilers Entertainment Group will use the games, along with the Edmonton Oilers’ rookie game on Sept. 18, “to deliver staff and building operations training related to the updated venue protocols.” . . . The Oil Kings entertained the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday night and will meet the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Sept. 24.


The OHL postponed a Sunday afternoon exhibition game between the Guelph Storm and the host Mississauga Steelheads, but didn’t provide a reason for the decision. The postponement apparently wasn’t COVID-19 related.



The New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation has withdrawn two of its teams from IIHF world championships due to concerns about the pandemic. The U-18 women’s team was to have competed in the Division II Group B event in Turkey in January, while the U-20 men’s team was in the Division III tournament in Mexico, also in January. . . . As well, Iran has pulled out of the IIHF women’s world championship Division III Group B.



Ear


The Boston Red Sox simply can’t shake COVID-19. Now it’s starter Chris Sale who has tested positive. He missed his start on Sunday against the host Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox did get back SS Xander Bogaerts late in the week; he had been quarantining for 10 days in St. Petersburg, Fla. Over the past two weeks, the Red Sox have put 12 players on MLB’s COVID-19 list with 10 of them having tested positive. . . . RHP Nick Pivetta, a native of Victoria, came off the COVID list to make the start on Sunday for Boston. He allowed one unearned run on three hits in 5.1 innings as the Red Sox dropped a 2-1 decision.


JUST NOTES: Isn’t it about time that the Baltimore Orioles were relegated somewhere, like to High A or the Mexican League? . . . The best team in the CFL? Well, here’s Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson after his club was beaten 33-9 by the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Saturday: “Winnipeg is the class of the league right now. They are better than the rest of us and it’s by quite a bit.” The Bombers had won, 23-8, in Regina on Sept. 5. . . . Did fans of the Cleveland Browns really believe that they were going to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City even with that late lead? How many Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans jumped from the bandwagon when they were trailing the Bills 10-0 in Buffalo? . . . Famed documentarian Ken Burns has been putting together a four-parter on the life of Muhammad Ali for the past seven years. It debuts on PBS on Sept. 19 and continues each night through Sept. 22.. Enjoy!


Mime


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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.

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JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Calgary Hitmen have signed former NHL F Matt Stajan as an assistant coach. He replaces Joel Otto, an assistant for 15 years. According to a news release, Otto “is relinquishing his role on the coaching staff due to a hip injury that will not allow him to continue providing on-ice instruction.” . . . Stajan played in 1,003 career NHL games before concluding his playing career with Munich EHC in Germany’s DEL in 2018-19. He spent more than eight seasons with the Calgary Flames, whose parent company owns the Hitmen. . . . Stajan will work alongside head coach Steve Hamilton, assistant Trent Cassan and goaltending coach Brad Kirkwood. . . .

Steve Young, a former WHL player and coach, will spend this season as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Northern Bears, a female U-18 AAA team. Young, 52, was on the Prince Albert Raiders’ coaching staff for five seasons (2008-13). As a player, he split 200 regular-season games over four seasons (1986-90) between the Calgary Wranglers, Lethbridge Hurricanes, New Westminster Bruins, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert and Portland Winterhawks.


Wedding

Seven WHL teams OK’d to play in Regina hub . . . Ridley two games from milestone . . . MJHL latest to cancel season

Now that was a big day for the WHL.

First, it announced on Friday that its five Saskatchewan-based teams and the WHL2two from Manitoba are going to play in a Regina hub situation beginning next month.

And then it revealed that there were 245 COVID-19 tests administered to four Alberta-based teams from Feb. 6 through Feb. 12, without any of them coming up positive. The Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels are the teams that were tested; the news release doesn’t mention the Calgary Hitmen.

From that news release: “Using private PCR testing provided by DynaLIFE, testing was administered twice to all members of the team delegations of players and staff . . . All members of the team delegations were tested once upon arrival and a second time after a mandatory quarantine period in the club centre. As a result of no positive tests, the teams now are in a position to commence with team on-ice practices.”

While it’s been known for a while that the five Alberta teams will begin play on Feb. 26 and five U.S. Division teams are to start on March 19, the WHL also announced Friday that its Manitoba and Saskatchewan teams will open a 24-game schedule on March 12 with all games to be played in Regina. Fans won’t be allowed at any of these games.

The seven teams — Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos and Winnipeg Ice — will live in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College, with games and practices at the Brandt Centre and the Co-operators Centre, which contains six ice surfaces.

A big reason that all of this is possible is that the Saskatchewan government has given $600,000 to each of the five teams from that province, three of which are community-owned and two of which are privately owned.

All players and personnel will be tested regularly and, according to the WHL, should a team experience any positive tests it will have to shut down for at least 14 days.

The WHL news release is right here.

Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.

Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com has more on all of this, from a Moose Jaw Warriors perspective, right here.

As things sit right now, only the five B.C. Division teams haven’t been given the OK to return to play from health officials. . . . While the Rebels are being housed in the corporate suites in their home arena, the Centrium, the Hitmen will be at the Grey Eagle Resort on the Tsuut’ina Nation, just outside Calgary’s southwest edge, where they will practise and play their games in the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex. . . . The Hurricanes, who were on the practice ice on Friday, have been paired up and are living in apartments near Lethbridge College within easy walking distance of the Enmax Centre. . . . According to Darren Steinke, whose blog is right here, Bob Ridley will call his 4,000th game involving the Tigers on Feb. 27 when they play host to the Rebels. Ridley has called all but one of the Tigers’ games since the franchise arrived, leaving him at 3,998. The one he missed? In the spring of 1973, he was assigned to cover a curling event in Saskatoon in which his boss’s wife was competing.


Ticket


On a day when the WHL announced that its two Manitoba franchises would be mjhlmoving to Regina to begin play next month, the junior A MJHL announced that it has cancelled the remainder of its season. . . . From an MJHL news release: “After multiple discussions with public health, representatives of the provincial government, facility managers and stakeholders, the MJHL board of governors has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2020-21 regular league/playoff season is not feasible due to current conditions. It has become unrealistic to continue operating in a state of hope with so much uncertainty and no timeline provided. It is unfair to our athletes and staff, our community organizations who have been severely impacted financially and the communities/regions our organizations support and garner support from.” . . . The news release, over commissioner Kevin Saurette’s name, also said that teams “will have the option to continue to provide training and development opportunities, exhibition games, etc. . . .” based on updated orders and directives from health officials and Hockey Manitoba. . . . The MJHL hadn’t played since Nov. 12. . . . The complete news release is right here.



The Philadelphia Flyers were to have played on Thursday and Saturday nights, nhl2but both games were postponed. As of Friday, they had seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list, including F Oskar Lindblom, who was added on Friday. Being on the list, doesn’t mean that a player tested positive; it might mean that contact tracing has shown a possibility of exposure. . . . Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, 14 months ago and was declared free of the disease two months ago. . . . Also on the Flyers’ protocol list are D Justin Braun, F Morgan Frost, F Claude Giroux, F Scott Laughton, D Travis Sanheim and F Jakub Voracek. . . . F Steven Stamkos didn’t play for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, with the team saying he had a lower-body injury. On Friday, the Lightning put him on its protocol list. Stamkos later tweeted that he had gotten a false positive. . . . The NHL had 47 players on the protocol list on Friday.


Curve

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Federal government to implement new rules for international travellers February 22. Anyone arriving in the country, including Canadians, must first have a COVID-19 test and quarantine in an approved hotel for 3 days at their own expense.

CBC News — 81 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, marking the 1st time since October the province has gone a full week where the number of new daily cases has been less than 100. 4 additional deaths are also being reported.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reports 195 new coronavirus cases and 2 additional deaths.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 314 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional deaths.

CBC News — On the Friday before the Family Day long weekend, B.C. health officials are pleading with everyone to stay local and stick to their households in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. . . . The warning came as the province announced 445 more cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths from the disease. . . . Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are now 4,347 active cases of the novel coronavirus across the province. That includes 226 patients who are in hospital, including 61 in intensive care.

CBC News — Ontario is reporting 1,076 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional deaths related to the illness. 763 people are in hospital, including 295 in intensive care.

CBC News — 984 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec as the number falls below 1,000 again for the 4th time in a week. The number of hospitalizations is dropping steadily; it’s been below 1,000 for a week. 24 additional deaths are being attributed to the virus.

CBC News — New Brunswick reports 5 new COVID-19 cases as January’s surge in cases appears to be fading; the province’s 7 day-average has fallen to 8.

CBC News — 50 new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. 47 of the cases are in the Eastern Health region; the other 3 are in the Central Health region. 20 of the new cases involve people under 20 years old. There are 260 known active cases in the province. . . . Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, says the latest COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John’s metro area is the variant from the UK. . . . A surge in COVID-19 infections has thrown Newfoundland and Labrador’s election into chaos. The vote, set for Saturday, has just become solely a mail-in election.

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While the CFL didn’t get to play in 2020, it is planning on a 2021 season. However, there already are rumblings that maybe that won’t happen. Gerry Moddejonge of the Edmonton Sun has quoted someone “familiar with the league at an executive level” as saying that “I don’t even know this year if it’s plausible for them to play with the (COVID-19) numbers the way they are. It would honestly be, to me, smarter for them to forego another season and plan for 2022.” . . . Yes, it’s early, but it’s food for thought, and it’s all right here. . . .

Canada’s Larry Walker was to have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., last summer. However, the party was postponed by the pandemic. And now the Hall of Fame has announced that the 2021 induction ceremony will be done entirely on TV on June 25. . . . Walker will be joined by Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller in being inducted. . . .

Brendan Batchelor, the radio play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will miss the club’s next four games. He revealed via Twitter on Friday that he was exposed to someone who had tested positive, so is self-isolating. While he will take part in pre- and post-game shows from home, Joey Kenward will call the play for at least the next four games. . . . Batchelor and Kenward both are former WHL radio voices.


Stocks


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Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

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Vote

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 Thursday evening while wondering if NHL teams are moving back to dump-and-chase game . . .

Scattershooting

Not in the Christmas spirit? Watch this . . .


In his weekly compilation, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times included an obit of the week for football fan John J. Ford, 86, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: ”Passed away surrounded by family on December 2nd after the Vikings allowed 17 unanswered points . . .”

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“A Las Vegas hospital billed the parents $2,659 to pull a tiny doll’s shoe from their child’s nostril,” Perry reported. “Imagine what it would cost to extract Antonio Brown’s foot from his mouth.”


Mozart


Congratulations and best wishes to Innes Mackie, who has been around the WHL since the Christmas Wish Book was used for shin pads, or maybe even earlier. . . .

And congrats, too, to Dan O’Connor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Giants. While Mackie, the Tri-City Americans’ equipment guru, was working Game No. 3,200, O’Connor was calling No. 600.


ICYMI, Part 1: D Nikita Zadorov of the visiting Colorado Avalanche recently took out Montreal Canadiens F Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was left with a brain injury. There wasn’t a penalty; there wasn’t a suspension. “So how could Zadorov get away with it?” Jack Todd writes in the Montreal Gazette. “Blame hockey’s pervasive knucklehead culture, which has survived well into the 21st century. The loudest of the braying donkeys in the barn may have been shuffled off to the Podcast Porch — but the brutal culture Don Cherry helped foster lives on.” . . . The complete column is right here.

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ICYMI, Part 2: Hockey Canada trimmed a bunch of players from the selection camp for its national junior team on Thursday. Yes, it has to be done. But why make these teenagers walk the media gauntlet after they’ve been chopped from the roster? Come on, Hockey Canada, be better than that.


Puppy


If the Kelowna Rockets continue to unload premium bantam draft picks and perhaps a prospect or two in the hunt for a Memorial Cup title in the spring, when they will be the tournament’s host team, you have to wonder if their aftermath will be more like the Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats or Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Raiders are 19-7-4 and atop the East Division after making a deal or three — but not selling out — that helped them win the WHL’s 2018-19 championship. The Pats are 7-18-3 after selling out as the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. The Broncos are 6-20-3 while still trying to recover after emptying the cupboard as they successfully chased the WHL’s 2017-18 title. . . . Over the past one season-plus, the Pats are 26-63-7 and the Broncos are 17-71-9. Neither team made the playoffs last spring and they won’t be there in 2020.


If you are wanting to attend the 2021 World Junior Championship, with games in Edmonton and Red Deer, you may want to see your banker about a loan. . . . Considering the political/labour situation in Alberta at the moment, it will be interesting to see how tickets sales play out. . . .


The New York Yankees signed P Gerrit Cole to a nine-year deal valued at US$324 million. . . . The Los Angeles Angels got 3B Anthony Rendon for US$245 million over seven seasons. . . . F Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has hockey’s richest deal — US$124 million over 13 years. That was signed in January 2008. . . . According to an entry at Wikipedia, Ovechkin’s contract, the richest in NHL history, is tied for the 79th richest in sports history. . . . That’s what having a hard salary cap does for you.


I didn’t finish Michael Connelly’s latest book — The Night Fire — in time to get it into my Bookshelf series that was posted here earlier in the week. But if you’re a fan of Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, you’ll enjoy this one. It features the retired-but-not-retired Bosch and LAPD Det. Renée Ballard doing their thing on the streets of L.A. and area. Good fun, unless you’re the bad guys.


The Kelowna Rockets were in Prince Albert to play the Raiders a week ago. Hear from both coaches — Marc Habscheid of the Raiders and Adam Foote of the Rockets — after the game, and then decide who won . . .

Habscheid: “I don’t blame referees or anything, but there were three soft calls and they talked to (Foote) all night. I don’t know if they wanted to get his autograph, because he was a Stanley Cup champion or what, but it didn’t look good. They talked to him all night, (and Foote) ran line changes. He did whatever he wanted, and he slowed the game down, and they just let him do it. I don’t know if they wanted his autograph or what the deal was.”

Foote: “The refs were pretty good all night . . .”

Thanks to Darren Steinke for the quotes. His complete blog post is right here.

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One night later, the Rockets visited the Blades in Saskatoon. The Rockets tied the game, 3-3, late in the third period and won it in a shootout, much to the chagrin of at least one Blades fan.

That fan was on social media bemoaning — you guessed it! — the officiating. Someone else asked: “Who were the refs?”

I laughed out loud when I saw the response: “Hamilton and Foote.” That, of course, was in reference to Kelowna owner/president/general manager Bruce Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Adam Foote, the Rockets’ head coach.



SocialMedia


JUST NOTES: Judging by video clips from the Wayne Fleming Arena, there certainly seems to be a lot of room available on the benches for Winnipeg Ice home games. I realize that a lot of people choose to stand during the games, but you have to wonder how the empty seat-look sits with the WHL’s board of governors. . . . And, hey, if anyone has any photos of the Ice’s future home under construction feel free to send them along to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. . . . Was anyone watching Monday Night Football and not pulling for Eli Manning? . . . With the Giants on MNF and the Jets on Thursday night, was it enough to make you feel sorry for the football fans of New York City? . . . A tip of the hat to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Saskatoon Blades for a deal involving F Alex Morozoff. A native of Saskatoon, Morozoff was traded for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 bantam draft. “Alex and his family are currently dealing with a family medical issue,” Seattle GM Bil LaForge said in explaining the deal in a news release. “We have made this trade to help get Alex closer to his family in Saskatoon.”

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