Rebels still perfect, tie WHL record . . . Thunderbirds unbeaten, too . . . What happened in the JPHL?

The Red Deer Rebels ran their record to 12-0-0 with a 4-0 victory over the RedDeervisiting Vancouver Giants on Friday. . . . G Rhett Stoesser, a 17-year-old freshman from Carstairs, Alta., stopped 18 shots as he recorded his first WHL shutout in his fourth start. He is 4-0-0, 1.25, .938. . . . The Rebels have tied the WHL record for most victories to open a season. The 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos opened 12-0-0 before dropping a 2-1 decision to the Blades in Saskatoon on Oct. 30, 1988. . . . The Rebels are scheduled to visit the Edmonton Oil Kings (1-11-1) on Sunday. . . .

Meanwhile, in Prince George, the Seattle Thunderbirds stayed perfect (9-0-0) Seattlewith a 5-4 victory over the Cougars. They’ll play there again tonight and resume the triple-dip in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday. . . . Last night, Seattle got two goals from each of Jared Davidson and Jordan Gustafson as they got out to a 5-2 lead. The Cougars scored twice in the game’s last two minutes.


The Brandon Wheat Kings drew their largest crowd (5,141) of the young season Brandonon Friday with the Winnipeg Ice in town. According to the Wheat Kings, it also was equipment manager Scott Hlady’s 500th game with the organization. . . . According to Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun, it was the first crowd of more than 5,000 “since 5,621 fans were in the building for a 5-4 shootout win over Moose Jaw on March 17, 2018.” . . . The Ice skated home with a 4-1 victory, ending its season-opening road schedule with a 12-1 record. The same two teams will meet in Winnipeg tonight as the Ice stages its home-opener.



Starbucks


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion) — Jose Altuve Still Can’t Get Over How Small He Looks Out There.


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Here’s Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered addressing rumblings that the Toronto Maple Leafs may be in line for a coaching change, perhaps with Barry Trotz replacing Sheldon Keefe: “It’s interesting to note though, that (general manager) Kyle Dubas has been a GM for three teams in three leagues — the Soo Greyhounds (OHL), the Toronto Marlies (American Hockey League) and the Leafs. In all that time, he has hired only one person to coach his teams, and that’s Keefe.”
You are able to check out Hockey Unfiltered with Ken Campbell right here.

——

One more from Campbell: “The (OHL’s) Mississauga Steelheads, who are off to a great start this season, are once again struggling to attract fans. Their lease with the city-run Paramount Foods Centre expires after this season. Steelheads president Elliott Kerr would prefer to stay, but it’s a situation that bears watching. When Kerr bought the team, he said he would give it three years and this is his 11th. He’s lost seven figures easily.”



JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings are down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds after releasing F Cole Carrier on Friday. Carrier, who is from Strathcona, Alta., was a fourth-round pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL’s 2017 draft. He had four assists in seven gams with Edmonton after coming over from the Lethbridge Hurricanes early in the season. In 117 regular-season games, 101 of them with the Regina Pats, he totalled 19 goals and 21 assists. . . . That move leaves Edmonton with D Logan Dowhaniuk, F Carson Golder and F Jaxsen Wiebe as its 20-year-olds. Wiebe is serving a four-game suspension under supplemental discipline after going knee-on-knee with F Josh Pillar of the Saskatoon Blades on Oct. 23. The Blades say Pillar is out week-to-week. Wiebe was given a tripping minor on the play in question. . . . Later in the day, the Oil Kings were beaten, 5-0, by the visiting Calgary Hitmen, who got 18 saves from G Brayden Peters. The defending-champion Oil Kings now are 1-11-1. . . .

In Portland, the Kelowna Rockets lost D Noah Dorey to a slew-footing major and game misconduct at 9:41 of the first period. Chances are good that Dorey will miss Game 2 of the weekend double-dip tonight. . . . The Winterhawks weren’t able to score on the five-minute power play, and it came back to haunt them when F Andrew Cristall scored in OT to give the visitors a 4-3 victory. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s last three goals, with Cristall getting them within one at 16:46 of the third period and F Nolan Flamand tying it with 5.6 seconds left. . . .

Prior to meeting the visiting Spokane Chiefs last night, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they had release F Kobe Verbicky, 19. From Victoria, he was a second-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2018 draft. He had one assist in six games this season. In 64 career regular-season games, 38 with Kamloops, he scored three times and added five assists. . . . Later that night, the Blazers, who had lost three straight, scored four first-period goals while outshooting the Chiefs, 24-4, en route to a 5-1 victory. F Logan Stankoven had two goals for the Blazers, who finished with a 62-23 edge in shots. The teams will meet again tonight, this time in Spokane. . . . Stankoven now has 17 points, including eight goals, in seven games since returning from the camp of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . .

The Saskatoon Blades ran their winning streak to seven games as they beat the Tigers, 2-1, in Medicine Hat. . . . F Tyler Parr scored both of Saskatoon’s goals and they came via the PP. . . . Parr, a 17-year-old sophomore from La Salle, Man., has three goals in 12 games this season. Last season, he scored three times in 58 games. . . . The game was scoreless until Parr struck at 9:52 of the third period. . . .

The host Moose Jaw Warriors got 46 stops from G Connor Ungar in beating the Everett Silvertips, 4-1. F Jagger Firkus scored twice. . . . The Silvertips opened an East Division trip with the loss. . . . The Warriors have won four in a row. . . .

The Victoria Royals’ starting lineup featured five Saskatchewan-born skaters as they met the host Swift Current Broncos last night. The lone exception was G Logan Cunningham of Sherwood Park, Alta., who was making his WHL debut. The starting skaters were forwards Carter Briltz of Regina, Cole Reschny of Macklin and Anthony Wilson of Swift Current, along with defencemen Nate Misskey of Melfort and Kalem Parker of Clavet. Reschny, the Royals’ top pick in the WHL’s 2022 draft, third overall, was playing his second WHL game. . . . Things didn’t go well for the Royals, though, as the Broncos struck for two shorthanded goals and one on the PP in a 6-1 victory. . . . F Raphael Pelletier scored twice for the Broncos. . . .

The Ottawa 67’s, the OHL’s last unbeaten team, dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Peterborough Petes on Friday night. The 67’s had opened with nine straight victories. The Petes now are 8-3-1. . . .

In the BCHL, the Penticton Vees now are 13-0-0 after scoring a 4-1 victory over the host West Kelowna Warriors. . . . Next up for the Vees? The Trail Smoke Eaters (6-5-1) are to visit Penticton tonight.


Paper


THINKING OUT LOUD — Now that was a terrific opener for the World Series. It would have been a whole lot better if Fox’s broadcast crew — Joe Davis and John Smoltz — stopped talking on occasion and just let the game breathe. Please, guys, why not allow the viewers to experience the atmosphere a bit. Baseball is a game that sometimes doesn’t need chatter. . . . Late in Game 1, writer Joe Posnanski tweeted: “Nobody in baseball can hit any reliever.” He’s not wrong. . . . What could be more fitting than having Shane Doan and his son, Josh, drop the ceremonial first puck as the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes played their first game at Arizona State U’s Mullett Arena last night? While Shane, who owns a chunk of the Kamloops Blazers, played for the Coyotes, Josh, 20, captains the ASU Sun Devils. . . . The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are 28-2 at home over the last two CFL seasons. The Edmonton Elks have lost 17 straight home games. Hmmm.


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.


Drawer

Oil Kings work OT to win in Red Deer . . . Neighbours gives Edmonton 3-0 edge . . . Ice, Blazers can follow suit tonight

One WHL team went up 3-0 in its best-of-seven conference finally by winning WHLplayoffs2022on the road in Monday’s lone playoff game. Two others have the same opportunity tonight. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings went into Red Deer last night and beat the Rebels, 5-4 in OT, to take a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series. . . . Tonight, the Winnipeg Ice takes a 2-0 lead into Moose Jaw for Game 3 with the Warriors, while the Kamloops Blazers are up 2-0 and in Langley, B.C., to face the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers are likely to be without F Luke Toporowski for a second straight game, while the Giants aren’t likely to have D Mazden Leslie or F Colton Langkow available. Head coach Michael Dyck told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that both players are “doubtful.” All three of those players were injured in Game 1 of this series.

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MONDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Red Deer, F Jake Neighbours scored in OT to give the No. 2 Edmonton Oil EdmontonKings a 5-4 victory over the No. 3 Rebels. . . . The Oil Kings hold a 3-0 lead in the conference semifinal and get their first opportunity to wrap it up on Wednesday night in Red Deer. . . . D Luke Prokop (2) put the visitors out front at 1:55 of the first period. . . . F Liam Keeler (2) scored the Rebels’ first goal of the series — they had been blanked 4-0 and 5-0 in Edmonton — at 9:44, on a PP. . . . The Oil Kings went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from F Dylan Guenther (7), at 6:32, and F Carter Souch (4), on a PP, at 15:56. . . . Guenther has a goal in each of Edmonton’s seven playoff games. . . . Red Deer got back to within a goal at 18:22 when F Kalan Lind (1) scored. . . . F Justin Sourdif (2) scored while shorthanded, at 7:38 of the third period, to give the visitors a 4-2 lead and really put the home side in a hole. . . . But the Rebels climbed out of it with two goals 36 seconds apart — F Arshdeep Bains (4) scored at 12:50 and F Jhett Larson (2) tied the game at 13:26. . . . Neighbours won it with his first goal of the playoffs, at 7:17 of OT. . . . G Connor Ungar blocked 47 shots for the Rebels, 29 more than Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa, who drew an assist on Neighbours’ winner. . . . The Rebels went without D Jackson van de Leest who served a one-game suspension under supplemental discipline from Game 2. Also out: G Chase Coward and D Christoffer Sedoff, both with undisclosed injuries.



Mars


ICYMI, Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the NHL’s New York Islanders, fired head coach Barry Trotz on Monday morning. Trotz, the pride of Dauphin, nhl2Man., has one year left on a five-year deal worth US$20 million, so don’t be weeping too long for him. He also is the NHL’s third-winningest regular-season coach of all-time, with 914 victories. Under his guidance, the Islanders reached the NHL’s Final Four twice — in 2020 and 2021. But the Islanders didn’t make the playoffs this season, so Lamoriello pulled the plug on Trotz. . . . “I’d rather not get into any of the reasons because that’s my job upon the information that I have and I experienced to make these type of decisions,” Lamoriello, 79, said during a conference call. . . . Trotz, who played three seasons (1979-82) with the Regina Pats, was the head coach when the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2018. The Capitals later let him go rather than extend his contract. That’s how he ended up with the Islanders. . . .

The Islanders’ coaching staff includes two former WHL head coaches in Lane Lambert, their associate coach and long-time Trotz lieutenant, and Jim Hiller. . . . Lambert, the head coach of the Prince George Cougars for a season and a half (2003-05), is seen by some observers as the leading candidate to replace Trotz. . . . Hiller, the head coach of the Chilliwack Bruins and Tri-City Americans (2006-14), just completed his third season with the Islanders after spending four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets, along with the Islanders, are NHL teams presently in the market for a head coach.


Congratulations to Shell for the terrific start to 2022. Well done! . . . Oh, and congratulations to the Shell gas station on the Trans-Canada Highway in the Valleyview area of Kamloops. The price of a litre of unleaded hit $2.04 there sometime Monday, to the best of my knowledge the first gas station in Kamloops to smash through the $2.00 barrier. Again, well done! . . . Can hardly wait to see what you have in store for us before Christmas.


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, wasn’t able to work Monday night’s playoff game against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. You guessed it! He tested positive earlier in the day. . . . In his absence, associate head coach Mike Brown served as the acting head coach. Interestingly, Brown already has signed on for next season — as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.


Camo


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The NHL’s Minnesota Wild has signed F Pavel Novak of the Kelowna Rockets to a three-year entry-level contract that is to begin next season. Novak, who turned 20 on April 16, is from Czech Republic. He had 72 points, including 29 goals, in 62 games with the Rockets this season. . . . The Wild selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

Craig Didmon is out as the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. He has held both positions for the past seven-plus seasons. . . . Didmon has been coaching in Victoria since 2002, either with the junior B Cougars, the WHL’s Royals or the Grizzlies. . . . Taking Note was told last week that Rylan Ferster, a former GM/head coach with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors, will be the Grizzlies’ next head coach. . . .

Chris Lynn is the new head coach of the junior B Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Lynn, a veteran of the coaching game, is a member of a real hockey family. He takes over from Brady Coulter, who has chosen to step aside. . . . Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times-Colonist has more right here.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Painting

With pandemic ongoing, the WHL’s attendance not pretty picture . . . Oil Kings win 12th straight game . . . BCHL reinstates one Nanaimo coach


Just about the time the Portland Winterhawks and the Royals were facing off in Victoria on Tuesday night, a photo showing part of the crowd was posted on Twitter.

Shortly after it surfaced, a friend sent me a message: “Is Victoria only allowed 15 per cent capacity?”

After the game, with the Royals having announced attendance as 2,070, the WHLfriend sent another note: “Oh my goodness! Is the league as we know it dying in front of us?”

That likely is a bit of an overstatement, but there has to be more than a little concern in WHL circles, especially when the Winnipeg Ice, which plays in a city of more than 800,000 people, announces a crowd of 1,030 as it did on Tuesday night.

No, there aren’t any attendance restrictions in Manitoba sporting facilities these days. The Ice plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. The arena’s capacity once was said to be 1,400, but the Ice said in a Feb. 2 news release that the U of M “has confirmed the capacity . . . is 2,000 persons.”

The Ice, of course, played out of Cranbrook through the 2018-19 season, after which owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell packed up and moved to the Manitoba capital.

You may recall Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, visiting Cranbrook in January 2019 and telling people: “The WHL appreciates the support we have received from the City of Cranbrook, the corporate community, and, in particular, hockey fans in the East Kootenay region. However, after many years of monitoring the operations of the Kootenay Ice, it is evident this franchise is not viable in the market moving forward. It is a difficult decision, but given low attendance trends and the support required to operate a WHL Club, it is necessary to move the franchise to a market where it can be sustainable on a long-term basis.”

In 2018-19, its last season in Cranbrook, the Ice’s average announced attendance was 2,214. (BTW, the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, in their first season after moving into the Ice’s former home, are drawing 2,199 fans per game, according to hockeydb.)

Announced attendances at Wednesday night’s five WHL games: 2,426 . . . 1,837 . . . 2,035 . . . 2,824 . . . 2,056.

Granted, this has been a tough season thanks to the pandemic and various mandates and restrictions, but according to figures compiled by the WHL the Ice is averaging 1,500 fans through 23 home games. Only the Swift Current Broncos, playing in a city of about 17,000 people, are playing in front of fewer fans — 1,392 through 27 games.

Those same WHL figures show that the 22 teams have an average announced attendance of 3,047 through 586 games. In 2019-20, the season that the pandemic brought to a premature end in March, the average was 4,154 for 694 games. In 2018-19, the last complete season, teams average 4,361 fans for 748 games.

This season, the WHL has three teams averaging more than 4,000 fans per game. There are 13 teams under 3,000.

With attendance numbers where they are and with so many costs on the rise — both for the teams and for the ticket-buying public — one has to think there will be some head-scratching and soul-searching going on in the WHL’s Calgary office and a whole lot of team offices once this season is over . . . if there isn’t already.


Plastic


WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: F Josh Williams, who reached the 100-goal career mark, and F Justin Sourdif each scored twice as the Edmonton Oil Kings ran their winning streak to 12 games by beating the Tigers, 7-3, in Medicine Hat. Williams has 32 goals; Sourdif has 18. F Hayden Wheddon, playing his first WHL game, scored for Edmonton in the second period. Wheddon, from Stonewall, Man., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Williams has scored 79 goals with the Oil Kings, after starting his career with 21 for the Tigers. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Brandon Lisowsky scored twice, including his 30th goal of the season at 4:30 of OT, as the Blades beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. F Trae Wilke, who is from Saskatoon, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Hurricanes. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was there and his report is right here. . . . Saskatoon has points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . The Hurricanes are 2-3-0 while on a seven-game road swing with the Canadian men’s curling championship in their home building. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored at 1:11 of OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. Ritchie, who is from Brandon, has 26 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings are sixth in the Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of Lethbridge and 13 up on Calgary. . . . The Hitmen hold down the last playoff spot, one point ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. . . .

F Blake Swetlikoff scored his ninth goal and added two assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Matthew Hutchison became the fourth 15-year-old goaltender in Giants’ franchise history to start a game — after Ryan Kubic (2013), Payton Lee (2012) and Tyson Sexsmith (2005). Hutchison, from Nanaimo, stopped 28 shots. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . G Jesper Vikman, the Giants’ starter, is on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane moved into a tie with the idle Prince George Cougars for seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Giants. . . .

In Victoria, F Cross Hanas had two goals, giving him 22, and two assists to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Royals. Victoria had beaten the Winterhawks, 5-3, on Tuesday night. Last night, the Royals’ second goal came from Danish F Marcus Almquist, who got his first WHL goal in his 29th game. . . . The Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. . . . The Royals are ninth, three points out of a playoff spot.



The BCHL has reinstated Colin Birkas, the Nanaimo Clippers’ associate  general Nanaimomanager/associate coach, who was suspended early in February while the league had an unidentified independent investigator review what it said were “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . On Wednesday, the league said that while it is reinstating Birkas, “the investigation has been partly completed but is still ongoing.” . . . At the same time, the BCHL said that Darren Naylor, the Clippers’ vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, “will continue on administrative leave until May 31, 2022.” . . . While Naylor and Birkas were sidelined, the Clippers brought in long-time junior coach Bob Beatty to work with assistant coach Ken McPhalen. . . . At the time of the suspensions, Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas filed a civil claim, arguing, according to CHEK News, “that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . . A B.C. Supreme Court judge issued a temporary injunction that would have allowed Naylor and Birkas to continue coaching; however, the team ended up putting the two on administrative leave just prior to what would have been their first game after the league had taken action. . . . With seven games remaining in their regular-season schedule, the Clippers are 29-16-2 and in third place in the nine-team Coastal Conference.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The QMJHL has unveiled its playoff format, with games to begin on May 5 with the final running from June 4 through June 15, depending how many games are needed. The first three rounds will feature best-of-five series with the championship final a best-of-seven series. There is a news release right here.


Today is World Kidney Day. . . . My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is preparing to take part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.


Bedtime


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.


Driving

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how many junior hockey teams still need billets . . .

Scattershooting


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has said the WHL won’t have a 2020-21 season unless its teams are allowed to operate in arenas with at least 50 per cent capacity.

After Robison held a Zoom gathering with reports on June 18, Marty Hastings of whlKamloops This Week reported: “Robison said a minimum of 50 per cent capacity in all arenas will be required for play to begin. No scenario is expected to be considered in which a team begins the campaign with a maximum capacity of less than 50 per cent.”

Early in August, Robison told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post that 50 per cent still was the mark.

“It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity,” Robison said. “We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Now, as we near the middle of September, with the league planning on a Dec. 4 opening, could it be that the wind is starting to change?

Here’s Todd Lumbard, the president of the Regina Pats, in conversation with Harder:

““I don’t think it’s 50 per cent or nothing, at least from our point of view. There are lots of discussions going on with different ways we might set up the season if it had to be less than 50 per cent. I know there are a lot of conversations going on with different levels of government and how we might work together with them to potentially help us out through a difficult time until we can get to a level where there is enough people in the crowd to make the Western Hockey League viable again.

“There is some hope out there that there might be some ways to do it.”

Harder’s complete story is right here.


Friends


By now, you may have heard that the BCHL issued a return-to-play news BCHLrelease on Thursday that explained “a COVID-19 alternative plan to fulfill the 2020-21 season,” as approved by its board of governors. . . . The release included this paragraph: “In the case that the original request for 25 per cent capacity in arenas by the scheduled Dec. 1 start date is not approved by the PHO (Provincial Health Office), the league will move forward with a model of reduced games without fans and will rely on player fees along with sponsorship and government support to fund the season.” . . . When you want to know what’s happening in the BCHL, you turn to Brian Wiebe. He interviewed Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, and got a whole lot of answers, including how the amount of individual player fees will be set. That’s all right here.


Hey, what do you do if you are operating a team in the SJHL, but you’re based FlinFlonout of Manitoba? General manager and head coach Mike Reagan and the Flin Flon Bombers have their hands full as they work to navigate the pandemic while dealing with health officials from two provinces. . . . Eric Westhaver of the Flin Flon Reminder has more right here.



Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “In Orlando, NBA coaches are neatly dressed in sneakers, slacks and polo shirts. Let’s have them lose the suits for good. What’s the point of basketball coaches dressing as if they’re applying for a bank loan?”


Pizza


There was a time when Dorothy and I spent a few weeks every year in Jasper and area. At the time, there was a Recall drug store there, and high up on one of its walls were a number of black-and-white photos of Marilyn Monroe. The photos had been taken in the area while she was there filming a movie — River of No Return — with Robert Mitchum. . . . Yes, I have watched the movie; no, I wouldn’t watch it more than once. But, really, the scenery is nice. . . . Anyway, Ian Wilson of albertadugoutstories.com has more right here on Marilyn Monroe in Jasper, including a visit by the then-retired Joe DiMaggio. Great stuff!


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Who needs the moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars? The sporting world lined up quite an impressive first of its own on Thursday — with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS and WNBA all playing on the same day.” . . . There also was NCAA football, U.S. Open tennis and pro golf. And somewhere there had to be poker and darts, too. Right?

——

Perry, again: “Mike Trout, with his 300th round-tripper, just passed Tim Salmon as the Angels’ all-time home-run leader. So how’d this team ever miss out on drafting Mike Carp and Kevin Bass?”


The first thing I thought of when I flipped to Thursday’s NFL game and saw that facemask being worn by Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was car windows at drive-in movies on steamy summer nights a long, long time ago.


“On the news tonight,” wrote comedy writer Brad Dickson in reference to life in 2020, “all they talked about were boycotts, protests, riots, violence, dissension, disease, lawsuits and court cases. And that was just the sportscast.”


Candy

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

OF Alex Dickerson of the San Francisco Giants was told Friday night that he had tested positive. That resulted in Friday and Saturday games with the host San Diego Padres being postponed. When it turned out to be a false positive, the teams played a Sunday doubleheader. . . . MLB now has postponed 45 games during the pandemic. . . .

The KHL has postponed five games involving the Finnish team Jokerit after all personnel was forced into quarantine. Jokerit played against Neftekhimik on Wednesday after which the latter had seven positive tests turn up. Jokerit was to have played Ak Bars Kazan on Friday, but that one never happened. Jokerit also had games postponed from Sept. 15, 17, 19 and 21. . . .

Scottie Scheffler has had to pull out of golf’s U.S. Open after he tested positive. He is reported to be asymptomatic and at home in Dallas. . . . Braden Grace drew into the tournament as the first alternate. He withdrew from the PGA Championship in August after testing positive. . . . The U.S. Open begins Thursday at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.


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.


Here’s a tweet from Nick Petaros of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that gave me flashbacks: “I wasn’t able to work a Kentucky Derby photo onto our Sunday sports cover. I hope the horse’s parents don’t complain.”


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade:

“Steve Simmons, Postmedia Tranna, on Sept. 6: ‘Two words that never, ever, should be attached to Steve Nash: White privilege.’

“Steve Nash, head coach, Brooklyn Nets, on Sept. 9: ‘I have benefited from white privilege.’

“D’oh!”


JUST NOTES: I tried. I really tried. I was going to watch Game 7 of the Toronto Raptors-Boston Celtics series from start to finish, with the sound up. But I couldn’t do it. Oh, I finished watching the game, but the sound was off early. The play-by-play voice using so many Raptors’ first names — Fred and Norm and OG and all their friends — and the cheerleading analyst were just too much. . . . If you’re wondering how much the WHL will miss former Brandon Wheat Kings owner Kelly McCrimmon, consider that he finished fifth in the voting for the NHL’s GM-of-the-year award. And he is in only his first season as an NHL GM. . . . Aren’t you glad that you aren’t a fan of the Cleveland Browns or Detroit Lions? Oh, you are. Sorry about that. . . . The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters tweeted Sunday evening that “we are in dire need of billet homes for this season. . . . We need 9 beds in order for this season to proceed. . . . Without billet homes the season cannot proceed.” I wonder how many junior teams are in a similar predicament?


Dumb

CHL: ‘Independent review panel’ on way . . . Hammett, ex-WHLer, to join class-action lawsuit . . . BCHL gets even tougher with fighters

The CHL issued a release on Friday in response to the class-action lawsuit that was filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor with allegations of sexual, physical and mental abuse during their time in major junior hockey. . . . According to the news release, the CHL’s board of directors agreed Thursday “to the appointment of an independent review panel to thoroughly review the current policies and practices in our leagues that relate to hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying, and the allegation that players do not feel comfortable reporting behaviours that contravene these policies.” . . . The CHL says it will announced this panel’s chair person “in the coming weeks” and “our goal is to have the review process completed in time for the start of the 2020-21 season.”



On Thursday TSN’s Rick Westhead reported on a former WHL player who detailed the physical and sexual abuse he endured during two seasons in the league.

Westhead, who granted the player anonymity, revealed on Friday that the former player Bighornsis Brad Hammett, who played with the Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders (1981-83).

According to Westhead, Hammett “subsequently decided he wanted to publish his story under his name, hoping that doing so might provide support to other players nervous about coming forward with similar stories.”

Hammett, 56, is joining the lawsuit filed against the CHL by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor, alleging various forms of abuse during their major junior careers. They are hoping to have the lawsuit certified as a class-action.

“I’ve lived with this a long time,” Hammett told Westhead, “and my family has often wondered why I have had moods. Talking about this, I feel there’s a weight off my shoulders. I know that it’s going to get better. I’m not hiding something.”

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told TSN via email that “the league has spoken with Hammett and will investigate his claims.”

Westhead’s story is right here.


Some of Garrett Taylor’s allegations in the lawsuit against the CHL involve the 2008-09 LethbridgeLethbridge Hurricanes. According to the statement of claim:

“He and a number of other rookies on the Hurricanes suffered abuse throughout the 2008-09 season. The abuse was perpetrated by older Lethbridge Hurricanes players and team staff, agents, employees and servants.”

Earlier this week, 26 players who played with the Hurricanes in 2008-09 signed a letter that appeared in the Lethbridge Herald.

That letter, which is right here, reads in part:

“None of us can say that we were aware of absolutely everything that happened to every player on our team during their time with the Hurricanes. However, after thorough reviews and discussions among ourselves over the past few days, we can all unequivocally state that we were all treated with great respect and professionalism throughout that year and throughout all our years with the coaching staff of the Hurricanes.”


In an editorial published earlier this week, The Globe and Mail wrote:

“The underlying problem is that the system enables abuse. It’s time to get rid of a draft that treats children as chattel, and which allows a hockey league to operate under prehistoric notions of labour relations.

“Major junior hockey has to change, because hockey has changed. The NHL now prizes skilled players far more than the grinders and cement-handed role players of the past. . . .

“Many of the most sought after players these days are coming from Europe and the United States — including Canadians skipping major junior altogether, in favour of the U.S. college route. Mr. Carcillo’s lawsuit is just the latest reminder that Canada’s major junior hockey system has run its course.”

The complete editorial is right here.



The Medicine Hat Cubs announced Friday that they won’t play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League’s 2020-21 season. . . . “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and due to diminishing sponsorship revenues the board of directors voted in favour to not play in the upcoming season,” the team said in a news release. . . . The Cubs’ departure leaves the league with 13 teams. . . .

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas has halted voluntary workouts until at least July 5 after four student-athletes tested positive. . . . An undisclosed number of others who came in contacted with them also are in quarantine. . . .

Morehouse College, a historically black school in Atlanta, cancelled all fall sports, including football, on Friday. . . . David A. Thomas, Morehouse’s president, told The New York Times: “Responsible leaders have to see us as being in a crisis, and a characteristic of a crisis is unpredictability. Good management says any uncertainty you can take out of the equation you should take out. One element where we could create certainty is what are we going to do with athletics.” . . . An NCAA Division II program, the football team was to have opened its season on Sept. 5. . . . Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, later told The Times: “I’m afraid and confident in my fear that we’ll see more sports be dropped, whether it’s programs or entire seasons canceled.” . . .

Clemson U reported on Friday that 14 more of its football players have tested positive. That brings the the total of Tigers testing positive to 37 since training facilities open earlier this month. . . . All told, Clemson has had 43 student-athlete and four staff members come up positive. A total of 430 tests have been administered.


CB Melvin Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints isn’t comfortable about starting the NFL season in September. . . . Here’s what he told CNN:

“The NBA is a lot different than the NFL. They can actually quarantine all of their players, or whoever is going to participate, whereas we have over 2,000 players; and even more coaches and staff who can’t do that. So we end up being on this trust system — the honor system — where we just have to hope that guys are social distancing and things like that, and that puts all of us at risk. That’s not only us as players, and whoever’s in the building(s), but when we go home to families.

“I have parents that I don’t want to get sick. I think until we get to the point where we have protocols in place, and until we get to a place as a country where we feel safe doing it — we have to understand that football is a non-essential business. We don’t need to do it. So the risk has to be eliminated before we — before I would feel comfortable with going back.”



Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle with a great idea: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.”


The BCHL appears bound and determined to eliminate fighting from its games and, hey, good for them.

Brian Wiebe, who operates the BCHLNetwork, reports:

“The league has imposed stricter penalties for fighting in 2020-21. Players who engage in a fight are currently assessed a major penalty and an automatic game misconduct. Under the Junior A Supplement, which is the minimum standards adhered to by all 10 leagues in the Canadian Junior Hockey League, a player received supplemental discipline on their fifth fight of the season.

“The new rule sees a player receive supplemental discipline upon their second fighting major. The league has also cracked down on players deemed to be the instigator and/or aggressor in a fight, with both penalties now receiving a suspension upon the first offence. Subsequent instigator and/or aggressor penalties after the first one received will see a significant increase in suspension.”

Wiebe has a whole lot more on the BCHL and rule changes right here. If you’re a junior hockey fan and you aren’t following Wiebe, you really are cheating yourself. You’ll find him on Twitter at @Brian_Wiebe.


Jeff Harvey has signed on as the Saskatoon Blades’ goaltending coach. Harvey is a former SaskatoonWHL goaltender (Kootenay Ice, Swift Current Broncos, Everett Silvertips, 2000-04). . . . Harvey, now 37, and Blades head coach Mitch Love were teammates with the Silvertips in 2003-04 when Everett reached the WHL’s championship final in its first season in the league. . . . They also played together with the Broncos and with the Shreveport Mudbugs of the Central league in 2010-11. . . . It also should be pointed out that Harvey helped the Rosetown Redwings of the Sask Valley Hockey League to a pair of Saskatchewan senior AAA provincial titles and twice played in the Allan Cup. . . . Harvey replaces Tim Cheveldae on the Blades’ coaching staff.


Dell

Washington governor expected to ban large gatherings . . . Would impact two WHL teams . . . Junior B series opener postponed


Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., at which, according to the Everett Herald, he is expected to “announce a ban on events and social gatherings attended by more than 250 people” as the area continues to battle COVID-19.

It is believed that an initial ban would impact Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

Everett, the home of the WHL’s Silvertips, is the county seat and the largest city in EverettSnohomish County. The WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds play out of SeattleKent, Wash., which is located in King County.

It will also affect the MSL’s Seattle Sounders, Major League Rugby’s Seattle Seawolves and XFL’s Seattle Dragons.

The Thunderbirds have three home games remaining — on Saturday (Vancouver), Tuesday (Spokane) and March 21 (Portland).

The Silvertips have one home game remaining, on March 20 against the Victoria Royals.

Later Tuesday, the Silvertips announced the cancellation of the Silvertips Radio Show “until further notice.” It was broadcast live from Sporty’s Beef & Brew, featuring play-by-play voice Mike Benton and appearances by players. Last night’s show was available via the Internet.

On Tuesday, Inslee said the banning of large gatherings, including sporting events, is under consideration.

“I would not be shocked if we have some more news on that in the next few days,” he said. “If we’re going to stop this epidemic, we need to look at what’s coming, not just what’s here today.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the death toll in the state from COVID-19 had reached at least 23, with more than 190 confirmed cases. Inslee said he expects that number to grow rapidly.

On Monday evening, Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, had displayed a chart that features five levels of actions. Washington state already has moved through Level 2 and, Hayes said, “We are at the ready to institute the third level. Level 3 includes “involuntary isolation of those sick” and “involuntary quarantine of those who have interacted with those sick.”

Hayes added: “We haven’t had to do this because our public has been extremely compliant . . . But the health officer does have the authority to involuntarily isolate or quarantine individuals.”

Level 4 involves ordering the “cancellation of major public and large private gatherings,” which would appear to be where at least three counties now find themselves.


With less than two weeks remaining in its regular season and the playoffs scheduled to open on March 27, the WHL has announced a handful of operational changes in response to COVID-19.

It has ordered the “elimination of handshakes between teammates, opponents and whlofficials,” while also impressing upon teams that players not share water bottles or towels.

The WHL also has asked all teams to “avoid direct contact with fans, including high-fives, handshakes, and autographing of items.”

The WHL’s statement didn’t make mention of whether it has looked at other options, such as playing games in empty arenas or even postponing/cancelling games.

While the Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers, for two, have said they will abide by the WHL’s request, Saskatoon radio station CKOM reported that the Blades “aren’t putting limitations on fans.”

The station reported that “Tyler Wawryk, director of business operations with the Blades, told 650 CKOM the team isn’t planning on following the recommendations, and autograph sessions will continue as scheduled.”



In Everett, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced that its men’s and women’s basketball championships are moving from Everett Community College to Clackamas CC in Oregon City, Ore., and Linn-Benton CC in Albany, Ore. . . . The tournaments were to have been played last weekend at Everett CC and, in fact, three women’s games were played on Thursday before the campus was shut down because of coronavirus concerns. A student from Everett CC later tested positive. The campus received a thorough cleaning and reopened on Monday.

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Meanwhile, on Vancouver Island, the start of a junior B playoff series between the Oceanside Generals and Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has been postponed. The North Division final was to have started Tuesday night in Parksville, but BC Hockey said several Campbell River players are self-isolating with flu-like symptoms. . . . Gerry Bickerton, the Generals’ president, told Nanaimo NewsNOW that his team is healthy. “Hockey-wise it’s frustrating but public safety-wise this has to be done,” Bickerton said. “With what’s happening right now, BC Hockey went and did their questioning and they’ve made their decision.” . . . It is hoped that the series now will begin Saturday in Parksville. . . . Alex Rawnsley’s story is right here. . . . As of Tuesday night, there hadn’t yet been a positive test for coronavirus on Vancouver Island.


Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Kings “have banned their scouts from plane travel because of the COVID-19 virus. If they can’t drive to the game, they’re not to go.” . . . Campbell followed that up with: “Buffalo Sabres scouts are still flying, but not to Europe. They’ve also told their scouts that if they feel uncomfortable about flying, they don’t have to fly.”


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Some of Tuesday’s other developments . . .

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors played a home game in front of fans on Tuesday night, despite an aggressive recommendation from the City of San Francisco on Friday that all large, non-essential events be cancelled. . . . This isn’t sitting well with city officials. “I have expressed my desire that they do this voluntarily before, in the days ahead, we do it as an emergency public health order,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin told the online news site Mission Local. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. I hope they come to that conclusion before we make them come to that conclusion.” . . . The Warriors have said that they don’t plan any changes before their next home game, either. That game is scheduled for Thursday. . . .

The NBA will hold a conference call involving team owners on Wednesday afternoon during which they will discuss possible moves. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each franchise was required to have “several contingency plans in place” by Tuesday, including “an arrangement with an infectious disease specialist, the identifying of a specific facility to test for coronavirus and a plan to limit the number of team and arena staff members that would interact with players.” . . . On Wednesday, the owners are expected to discuss the possibility of playing games in empty arenas. . . .

The Austrian EBEL (Erste Bank Ice Hockey League) cancelled the remainder of its season, with the German DEL quick to follow suit. . . . The EBEL features teams from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy. A statement from the league stated that “no championship title will be awarded in the 2019-20 season.” . . . The DEL statement read, in part: “The DEL is forced to end the current season. . . . The reason for this is the banning by federal states of events such as DEL games with more than 1,000 spectators. . . . Due to the premature end of the season, there is no German champion this year. As the main round winner, the EHC Red Bull Munich, together with the Adler Mannheim, the Straubing Tigers and the Eisbären Berlin, represent the DEL in the Champions Hockey League (CHL 2020-21).” . . .

Igor Eronko, a Sport-Express hockey writer and KHL-TV commentator, tweeted that “Moscow plans to cancel all the sports events with more than 5,000 spectators. . . . It will definitely affect the KHL playoffs.” . . .

For an in-depth look at postponements, cancellations and more from the hockey world, check out this right here from Conway’s Russian Hockey Blog. There is a whole lot of information here. . . .

The Ivy League shut down all spring football practices, effective Tuesday morning and running through at least April 5. . . .

The Ivy League also cancelled its Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that were to have been played this weekend in Cambridge, Mass. The Princeton women and Yale men were awarded the league’s NCAA tournament bids. . . . The Ivy League also made the decision to limit attendance at all sporting events through the end of its spring season. . . .

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference cancelled the rest of its state boys and girls basketball, boys ice hockey and boys swimming tournaments. . . . The Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association has also cancelled its playoffs. . . .

Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, has recommended all indoor games be played without spectators. That would include the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, who are at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, whose next home game is scheduled for March 24. . . . DeWine tweeted that “for indoor events, we are asking for no events with spectators other than the athletes, parents and others essential to the game.” . . . The Blue Jackets later issued a statement, saying that they have been in contact with the NHL and “it has been determined that our scheduled games, including Thursday vs. Pittsburgh and Saturday vs. Nashville, will go on as scheduled and be open to ticket fans that wish to attend.” . . . The Mid-American Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland starting on Thursday, but with a restricted attendance policy. Thus, they won’t be open to the public. . . .

The Big West Conference will play its conference tournaments without fans in the buildings. The men are to play this week at the Honda Center in Anaheim; the women will play at the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State. . . .

The Zac Brown Band has postponed a spring tour. . . . BMI, a music rights management company, has postponed its Latin Awards that had been scheduled for Los Angeles on March 31. A new date hasn’t yet been chosen. . . . The Coaches Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was to have run April 10-12 and April 17-19, has been postponed to Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18. It annually draws more than 200,000 people to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. . . . Stagecoach, a country music festival, also has been postponed. It, too, is held at the Empire Polo Club. Originally scheduled for April 24-26, it now is to be held Oct. 23-25.



I have spent the past couple of days cleaning out a filing cabinet. Of course, it never gets done as quickly as it should because, well, there are all of those old stories to read.

Like the one about when the WHL officially stopped referring to 20-year-old players as overage. The decision was made at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on April 2, 1985, when it also was decided to allow teams to dress three such players, up from two.

“I’m pleased about the move to three 20-year-olds,” WHL president Ed Chynoweth said. “We also decided to eliminate the word ‘overage’. From now on, those players will be referred to as 20-year-olds.”

At the same meeting, the WHL made 12-year-olds ineligible to be placed on teams’ protected lists. Prior to that decision, a 12-year-old took up two spots on a team’s list.

The WHL, at the time, continued to allow the listing of 13- and 14-year-old players without any restrictions.


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

Scattershooting


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


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

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

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



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



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


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

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



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

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


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


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



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

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

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if Monday will be a good day to rake . . .

Scattershooting

I haven’t watched Coach’s Corner in a long time. I stopped when the show became more of a noisy rant-and-rave affair than one that provided some insight into the NHL or even hockey in general.

But it is hard to ignore what happened on Saturday night, what with social media losing its mind over it for a lot of Sunday.

The surprising thing to me — although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised considering the times in which we live — is the number of people who maintain there was nothing wrong with what went on with Don Cherry and his acquiescent sidekick, Ron MacLean.

After all, MacLean has apologized, writing in a tweet that what Cherry said was “hurtful and prejudiced . . .”

Also, the brass at Rogers Sportsnet has apologized, using “discriminatory,” “offensive” and “divisive” to describe the commentary.

As well, Hockey Canada condemned what was said: “The hockey community does not stand for the comments made (Saturday) night. Hockey is Canada’s game because it brings our country together, be it around the television or in local arenas. Belonging and inclusivity are an integral part of our game.”

And the NHL also issued a statement of condemnation: “Hockey is at its best when it brings people together. The comments made (Saturday) night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in.”

Let’s agree, then, that what was said was all of those things.

Let’s also agree that this is a case of someone staying — or being allowed to stay — too long at the dance.

If you want more on Cherry, check out this column right here from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.

Or try this one right here by Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette.


Whether it’s the economy, the influence of TV and/or Netflix and the PVR, or whatever, there are a lot of sports teams out there that aren’t attracting as many fans as they once did and nowhere near as many as they would like to have in their home buildings.

One thing that often is cited as a reason for staying home is the prices at the concession stands. That being the case, perhaps it’s time more teams and facility operators took a look at happenings in Atlanta.

Prior to the 2017 NFL season, the concession prices at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), the home of the Atlanta Falcons, were slashed by 50 per cent. The result was a 16 per cent increase in average spending per fan over the 2016 season.

On top of that, according to a news release, the concessions also received “an NFL voice of the fan rating of No. 1 across all food and beverage categories.”

In 2018, the fans “spent on average the same amount as they did in 2017 and fans again rated the Falcons No. 1 in all food and beverage categories for the second consecutive year . . .”

In March, prior to the start of Major League Soccer’s 2019 season for Atlanta United, MBS cut the prices of five “top items” by 50 cents each:

Hot Dog: $1.50 (was $2)

Pretzel Bites: $4.50 (was $5)

ATL Bud Burger: $7.50 (was $8)

Ice Cream Waffle Cone: $4.50 (was $5)

Chips and Salsa: $2.50 (was $3)

Falconsmenu
A menu from one of the concessions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post has more on the Atlanta situation right here.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if just one NHL team, or even one WHL team, cut ticket prices in conjunction with a trimming of concession prices?


The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a casino, “is suing San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, claiming he failed to pay back $500,000 in gambling markers from April,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Possible penalties range from a huge fine and restitution to two minutes for charging.”



Bob Calvert never played for the Moose Jaw Warriors, but there was a time when he was on the WHL team’s board of directors. His son, Jeff, was a goaltender of note with the Warriors (1989-91) and Tacoma Rockets (1991-94). On Friday night, Jeff’s son, Atley, made his WHL debut against the visiting Winnipeg Ice. . . . In other words, Friday was a big night for the Calvert family.


ANOTHER PET PEEVE: The Regina Pats were to have played the visiting Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre on Friday night. However, a problem with the ice resulted in . . . Well, the Pats and Broncos, along with a few others, including some purporting to be members of the media, announced that the game had been cancelled. Actually, it had been postponed and will be rescheduled. . . . Please, people, there is a difference between cancelled and postponed.



Kevin Shaw is an avid follower of the Regina Pats, who has taken to tweeting stories from the team’s past. This included the story in the below tweet that involves the long-gone Spokane Flyers losing 9-4 to the host Pats on Nov. 8, 1981. One night earlier, the Flyers had been beaten 11-3 by the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . Yes, Spokane played one night at home and 24 hours later in Regina. Oh, and the Flyers bus driver took a wrong turn somewhere that extended the trek to Regina by a couple of hours. . . . BTW, one night before losing to Victoria, the Flyers were to have played in Kamloops. However, that game wasn’t played because, as Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post wrote: “Their bus was about to be repossessed and there was no money for gasoline or meals. And, the team’s payroll has not been met for two weeks.” . . . Ahh, those were the days.




JUST NOTES: Watching the Vancouver Canucks and host Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. The visitors lose D Chris Tanev and D Tyler Myers on back-to-back shifts in the second period. What happened? Both players limped off after blocking shots (luckily for the Canucks, both soon were back in action). I have never understood the emphasis on blocking shots that goaltenders are equipped, trained and paid to stop. . . . The Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL’s West Division final. Yeah, I’ll take that for a Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. But will it be cold and snowy? . . . Did the Edmonton Eskimos save head coach Jason Maas’s job with their victory over the Alouettes in Montreal on Sunday. . . . The NFL and video review aren’t a match made in heaven. . . . As a sporting spectacle is there anything better than a big-time NCAA football matchup like Saturday’s game featuring LSU and Alabama?

Scattershooting on a Wednesday while waiting for the rain to stop in New York . . .

Scattershooting

Ahh, yes, the start of the NHL regular season. That means that some viewing choices become a whole lot easier because so many of those TSN and Sportsnet channels are blacked out for many evenings. This all seems to be part of the NHL’s master marketing plan.


Facebook


I don’t know about other Canadians, but I can’t wait until Monday (election day) is over so that our phone will stop ringing. Yes, we have call display. Yes, we have stopped answering it unless we know who is calling. . . . BTW, we both voted on Friday so we don’t want to talk to you anyway.

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BTW, would the scammer from 778-580-4001 who keeps calling Dorothy’s cell phone either stop calling and leaving a voice message, or come on over and arrest her, as you keep threatening to do. Either way, just go away. . . . And, hey, you at 604-243-2944, either leave a message or stop calling us, too. OK? . . . Oh, and 604-210-7993 and 888-811-2323, you can get outta here, too.



Headline at @SportsPickle: PBA bowling should come out as staunchly pro-Chinese government just to try to get in the news for a few days.


Zebras


If you are a regular viewer of Pardon The Interruption (PTI), you might agree that we are watching Michael Wilbon grow into an angry, yelling old man right before our very eyes.


First, there was this:

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Later, there was this one:

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And, Regina, there also was this:


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times is wondering: “Does Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool have a brother named Gene?”


If you are of a certain age, we never forget . . . 


ICYMI, the New York Mets will retire the number (36) of former southpaw Jerry Koosman next season. Asked up a speech, Koosman told the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “I’ll just copy Lou Gehrig’s.”


Wondering what Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden thought after the Washington Redskins fired his brother, Jay? “My dad’s been fired. I’ve been fired. Jay’s been fired and . . . welcome to the club, bro,” Jon told reporters.


Psychic

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night and, hey, it’s George Reed’s birthday . . .

Scattershooting

Hey, we’re scattershooting from the road so we’re doing some catching up . . .


You know that you might be in Regina when you pick up a copy of The Leader-Post and the major headline above the fold reads: RIDER LEGEND HITS 80. . . . And the sports section front and second page are both all George Reed all the time. . . . Hey, not complaining. Just sayin’ . . . Hey, George, happy birthday and here’s to many more!



Brad Flynn is an assistant coach with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. His fiancee, Christine, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April and is undergoing treatment. The other day, all of the Rebels players had their heads shaved in a show of support for her. Well done, Rebels! Well done! You can bet that really means a lot of Christine and Brad.


When old friend Bob Ridley walked into the broadcast booth in the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge a couple of Friday’s ago, he began his 50th season of calling the play-by-play of games involving the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Going into the game, the Tigers had played 3,936 regular-season, playoff and Memorial Cup games, and Ridley had been on the air for 3,935 of them. (Yes, there’s a story behind the game he missed and it involves women’s curling. Ask him about it the next time you see him.) . . . As blogger Darren Steinke points out, “If you called 80 games a season . . . for 49 campaigns, you would still fall short of Ridley’s current total.” . . . And let’s not forget that Ridley was the Tigers’ bus driver for the vast majority of those seasons, too. . . . Steinke has more right here in a blog posting.



Here’s a plug for old friend Dickson Liong’s podcast — Two Peas in a Pod . . . cast. He and Jon Guarin talk about, in Liong’s own words, “topics that society is afraid to talk about, including mental health, relationships and everyday struggles.” . . . Check it out right here.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Tearful Justify holds press conference blaming failed drug test on contaminated salt lick.


IceCream


Thanks to Rod Pedersen, whose new show is available via Facebook, for the kind words: “The WHL and CFL lost two huge media figures when Gregg Drinnan and Drew Edwards walked away from their blogs (Taking Note and 3DownNation). They left for different reasons, but now a huge hole has been created in coverage of both leagues. 3DownNation will be okay because Justin Dunk has assumed control but as far as the Dub goes, there will never be another Gregg Drinnan. He doesn’t just belong in a Hall of Fame for WHL Writers; it should be named after him. Teams and head offices sometimes saw these guys as a pain, but we’re going to see now why the media is so important to what happens on the field, the ice, in the stands and at the turnstiles.”


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “For you big believers in Bad Things Happen in Threes, Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) is out for the Steelers, Drew Brees (thumb) is out for the Saints and Christie Brinkley (broken arm) is out for Dancing With The Stars.”

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One more from Perry: “The Cowboys opened as 20-point favorites over the Dolphins earlier this season— the largest opening spread in 30 years. Stealing a page from the college-football book, Miami asked to be paid a $950,000 appearance fee.”

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Perry, again: “The NCAA banned Georgia Tech’s basketball team from postseason play for one year because boosters provided impermissible benefits to a recruit — including clothing and a strip-club visit. Which certainly puts a whole new spin on ‘shirts and skins’.”



Can anyone explain how ex-Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon became so dumb so quickly? As Jack Finarelli, aka The SportsCurmudgeon, writes: “Joe Maddon’s teams in Chicago accumulated a five-season record of 471-340, which is a winning percentage of .581. To put that in perspective, there are 25 managers in the Baseball Hall of Fame whose career records are below .581.”

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If you haven’t already read it, Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times spells out right here what went wrong at Wrigley Field.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Overwhelmed Dolphins GM asks players to please use automated email form when making trade requests.



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