WJC beaten by ‘opponent that was not on the ice’ . . . The Earl of Kamloops strolls off into sunset . . . Royals life just Peachy in Victoria

DeerDec31
Before deciding if/when to return to writing here, I consulted with a few deer friends on Friday.

Well, it’s all over for another year. As always, we wait and wait and wait for Christmas week to get here and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. I was outside for a bit on New Year’s Eve afternoon and had a chance to visit with 10 close friends who were looking for dinner.


I hope you were disappointed but not surprised when the IIHF pulled the plug on the 2022 World Junior Championship on Dec. 29. Really, organizers didn’t WJC2022have any choice but to listen to their medical advisors and bring it to an end. That, of course, led to the usual choristers gnashing their teeth and whining about letting the boys play. One columnist even complained that “nobody gave the players a vote.” . . . On the day of the cancellation, there had been four positive tests among three teams. Little was made of the five or six on-ice officials who had tested positive. The following day, officials reported seven more positive tests — six players and one on-ice official — only confirming that the proper decision had been made. . . . But in watching all of this unfold, mostly via social media, on the afternoon/evening of Dec. 29, I was left to wonder how so many people came to lose the plot as COVID-19 continues its march? Whatever happened to trying to protect the vulnerable — the young, the elderly, the thousands who live among us with compromised immune systems — and the healthcare workers? Have we forgotten about the thousands of folks who haven’t been able to get health issues properly cared for because of hospitals not having staff available? . . .

I walked into a small grocery store in Kamloops on Sunday afternoon. It had been a long while since encountering anyone not masked-up, but there were three people — looked like mother, father and son about 12 — headed to the checkout without a mask in sight. Just another reminder that not everyone is on the same team; in other words, we’re in this for a while yet.

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Here is part of what Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered wrote about the decision to halt the WJC:

“It’s safe to say there was a fair bit of outcry from certain corners when the tournament was scrubbed. Some people couldn’t understand why a handful of positive tests and a few forfeits had to submarine the entire event. Well, it’s because of what Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney referred to as ‘an opponent that was not on the ice, but was bigger than all of us.’

“The Omicron variant is the most highly contagious COVID-19 variant we’ve seen by a wide margin. There is speculation that it is not as severe as the Delta and other variants, but nobody can say that with 100 percent certainty at the moment. And while the athletes are young, fit and double vaccinated and likely would not have severe outcomes, they don’t live in a vacuum. And the logistics around quarantining would have been disruptive.

“One infectious diseases specialist Hockey Unfiltered spoke with said that once even a couple of players from USA, Russia and Czechia tested positive ‘this thing is so contagious, those three teams are done. If you have a positive test on those teams, you can be sure the infection has spread well beyond the individuals who are there. I’d be shocked if that were the actual size of the outbreak.’ ”


Congratulations to Earl Seitz, the venerable sports director from CFJC-TV in Kamloops who called it a career after his New Year’s Eve sportscast. Yes, after more than 50 years in radio and TV, the Earl of Kamloops has retired. . . . Earl and I spent a lot of nights seated beside each other in the press box during Kamloops Blazers games. Yes, we solved a lot of the world’s problems during those times; in fact, it may not be a coincidence that so much has gone downhill since our press box partnership came to an end. Right, Earl!


Clock


We really don’t have any idea how many positive tests or exposures there have been involving WHL players and staff since the Christmas break. The WHLleague announced on Dec. 27 that “36 players or hockey operations staff have been added to the WHL COVID-19 protocol list as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result for COVID-19 through rapid antigen testing . . .” But, the league noted, “results are pending for Kamloops and Prince George.” The league has yet to update that release. . . .

On Dec. 29, the league announced the postponement of that night’s game that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks visit the Tri-City Americans “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.” The WHL noted at the time that it would “provide further information when it is available.” However, it has yet to update either team’s situation. . . .

On Dec. 30, the league shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure occurred outside the team environment.” . . .

On Jan. 1, the league shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . .”

Add it all up and you’ve got 54 players and/or staff on the protocol list, plus how ever many are involved with Portland and Tri-City.

I am guessing that the Omnicron situation also had something to do with a couple of teams playing without backup goaltenders on the bench. Tri-City did it in Portland on Dec. 28 and fans who were there will tell you that G Nick Avakyan was injured at 7:41 of the second period when he was involved in a goal-mouth collision. . . . As one source told Taking Note: “Avakyan was hurting bad after he was run into.” . . . But he finished the game, one the Winterhawks won, 9-2. With G Tomas Suchanek serving a one-game suspension, the Americans didn’t have any support for Avakyan on their bench. . . . Then, prior to a New Year’s Eve game between the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Portland, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for pnwhockeytalk.com, tweeted: “The Winterhawks have no ‘official’ backup goalie tonight. Either a forward or a defenceman would go back to the locker room and change into the goalie gear should the need arise.” Fortunately, the need didn’t arise.


Odds


F Bailey Peach and the Victoria Royals continue to write one of this hockey season’s best stories. . . . Peach, 20, set a franchise single-game record with Royalsseven points, three of them goals, as the Royals beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 7-3, on Thursday night. That broke the record of six points that had been held by F Ryan Peckford, who had a goal and five assists in a 9-3 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Oct. 18, 2016. . . . Peach added two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on New Year’s Day. That left him with 19 points, including 11 goals, in a six-game point streak. In 30 games with the Royals, he has 44 points, 20 of them goals. . . . Not bad for a guy who was claimed off waivers by the Royals after he was dropped by the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . . The Royals, meanwhile, opened the season by going 1-11-2, a stretch that included five straight losses to the Prince George Cougars. Today, the Royals are 12-14-4 and are tied for seventh in the Western Conference with those same Cougars (13-17-2). . . .  Back to Peach for a moment, though. It seems his nickname is — wait for it! — Peacher. Come on, Royals. Why not something original like Ty? You know, after Ty Cobb, aka The Georgia Peach? Just asking . . .


“Santa Claus didn’t visit the Jacksonville Jaguars this year,” reported Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times on Dec. 26. “For some reason the reindeer couldn’t touch down.”

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Perry, with another scoop: “The EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl was canceled after a virus plague swamped the Rainbow Warriors program. Perplexed bowl officials can’t decide whether to declare it a forfeit, a no-contest or COVID-19, Hawai’i 0.”


Amazon


When Baltimore played Green Bay the other day, Wink Martindale, the Ravens’ defensive co-ordinator, made sure to double- and triple-team Packers receiver Davonte Adams. As Martindale explained: “Adams is one of the top two receivers in the league, and he’s not No. 2.”


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, remembering the late John Madden and his famed bus excursions:

“Just after the 9/11 attacks, Madden left his Manhattan apartment and headed to California. He heard that the airline shutdown had stranded famed figure skater Peggy Fleming in Philadelphia, so he detoured through Philly and picked her up.

“In Nebraska, the Cruiser stopped at a store in a small town so Madden could buy some American flags for his bus. Imagine the looks on faces when John Madden and Peggy Fleming strolled into the store.”

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Ostler also had a few of interesting New Year’s resolutions, among them: “Stay off the list of sports figures who died in 2022.” . . . “Lose 20 pounds in January. Gain ’em all back in February, just to show my body who’s boss.” . . . “Help Aaron Rodgers, Kyrie Irving, Novak Djokovic and other vaccine resisters in sports with their research, by sending them info I have gathered on alternative COVID-fighters, such as blood-letting, leeches and voodoo curses.”


News


JUST NOTES . . .

If you are in B.C., and interested in helping out minor hockey, BC Hockey wants you to know that it is operating a 50/50 draw with all proceeds staying in the province to help grassroots hockey. Jeff Harris, the executive veep of communications, tells Taking Note that “originally, we were doing this in conjunction with Hockey Canada and the WJCs, but with the tournament cancellation we had to call an audible. Luckily, our gaming license enabled us to hold one further draw, which concludes (Monday) night.” . . . So you have until tonight (Monday) at 8 to get your numbers, and you are able to do that right here. . . .

Stacy Pratt, who played three full seasons (1981-84) with the Brandon Wheat BrandonKings, was killed in a car crash on Dec. 31, according to Darryl Wolski (@2112hockey) of Brandon. Pratt was 56. . . . Pratt, from Sioux Valley, Man., played four games with Brandon in 1980-81 before becoming a regular in 1981-82. In his last season, he played alongside Ray Ferraro, who scored a WHL single-season record 104 goals. Pratt finished the season with 34 goals and 64 assists in 55 games. . . . “Stacy was my winger in Brandon,” Ferraro tweeted. “An amazing passer, a great laugh and awesome to play with.” . . .

Curtis Toneff took over as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s MerrittMerritt Centennials following the Dec. 22 firing of Dave Chyzowski, who had been in his first season there. . . . Toneff was in his third season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Centennials were 1-20-1 at the time the move was made. . . . Chyzowski was back coaching for a couple of games as he worked with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips during a Dec. 28-29 sweep of the Cougars in Prince George. The Silvertips were short as head coach Dennis Williams was with Canada’s national junior team. . . .

Long-time hockey coach Bob McCammon, who spent a couple of years with the Tri-City Americans, died on Dec. 23. He was 80. . . . McCammon was the Americans’ general manager and head coach in 1992-93, added the president’s title to his portfolio for 1993-94, then resigned during the season. He also coached in the AHL, IHL and NHL during his lengthy career. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more on McCammon right here. . . .

Bob Calvert, the father of former WHL G Jeff Calvert and a long-time member of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ board of directors, died on Dec. 22. He was 74. . . . Bob worked at the Regina Leader-Post for a while during my almost 17-year stint there, and he often dropped by my desk for a vociferous discussion on the latest goings-on in the world of hockey. . . . Jeff, now 48, played two seasons (1989-91) with the Warriors and three (1991-94) with the Tacoma Rockets before going on to spend five seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. On Dec. 29, 1992, Jeff came on in relief for the Rockets and scored a goal and added an assist as they erased a 4-0 deficit to beat the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-4. . . . Jeff’s two sons, Atley (Warriors) and Rowan (Saskatoon Blades), both play in the WHL; in fact, Rowan scored his first WHL goal in his debut for the Blades on Dec. 27. Somewhere, Grandpa Bob was smiling and chuckling. . . . An obituary can be found right here. . . .

G Curt Ridley, who played five games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1070-71, Ridleydied on Dec. 19. He was 70. Ridley played almost all of his junior hockey with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers before going on to a pro career that included 104 NHL games — 96 with the Vancouver Canucks, six with the Toronto Maple Leafs and two with the New York Rangers. . . . Ridley perhaps is best remember for the iconic mask he wore while with the Canucks. . . . Dave Stubbs of nhl.com has more on Ridley right here.


FinePrint


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

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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.


Doonesbury

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how noisy things will be tomorrow (PM Justin Trudeau is in town) . . .

Scattershooting2

The National League wild-card game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals took four hours 15 minutes to play. The teams combined to use nine relief pitchers as the Dodgers won, 3-1. . . . Meanwhile, regular-season MLB games averaged three hours 10 minutes, the longest in history.

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, offers up the perfect explanation as to why games are taking so long and when something might be done about it:

“Yes, much of the problem is the time between innings when the TV networks insert a profusion of advertisements. Having acknowledged that, let us come to the realization that it is those ads that drive major numbers of dollars into the league coffers and thereby to the owners. Those ads are not going away. So, the only meaningful way for MLB to address this is to stop all the time-wasting activities on the field. We know what they are; they have been chronicled in hundreds of places; the fact that there have not been changes to address them in any meaningful way can only mean that MLB does not see this as a problem worthy of resolving.

“So . . . I have abandoned any idea that the execs in MLB and/or the MLBPA care at all about this issue. This is the vector heading for MLB now and into the foreseeable future. Only when ratings drop enough for the TV networks to refuse to pay more for television rights will there be any real action to effect change.”

Bingo!


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Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, writing about the Kyrie Irving situation: “The Nets should look into getting rid of him sooner or later, seeing if there is possibly a taker for him, with all of his baggage, old and new, perhaps from one of the teams from the dumber states when it comes to COVID, and that means we’re talking about you Florida and Texas.”


The four women in the above tweet worked Sunday afternoon’s BCHL game between the Langley Rivermen and the host Surrey Eagles, who won 4-3 in a shootout. Grace Barlow and Megan Howes were the referees, with Melissa Brunn and Colleen Geddes on the lines. . . . For more, there is a BCHL news release right here.

Meanwhile, Katie Guay, an on-ice official since 2006, became the first woman to referee an AHL game on Saturday night when she was on the ice alongside Brandon Schrader as the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins beat the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 2-1. . . . On Sunday, Kelly Cooke became the second woman to referee an AHL game when she worked with Beau Halkidis as the host Utica Comets beat the Rochester Americans, 6-2.


Pigeons


There were nine games played in the NHL on Thursday night, the second night of the regular season. My satellite TV package includes six TSN channels. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators were playing on four of them, but all were blacked out. I have access to nine Sportsnet channels — the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers were on three of them. . . . Sorry, NHL, but if you can’t do better than that you’re not going to attract new eyeballs. . . . As for me, I watched the NFL game (Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles until the MLB playoff game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants started.


Headline at fark.com: Australian cricket player suffers 10th concussion, says he’s ready to try out for the NHL.


“Cleveland Browns sack-master Myles Garrett has decorated his front yard for Halloween with tombstones featuring the names and jersey numbers of opposing quarterbacks,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “What’s he handing out this year, Nestle Crunch?”

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Perry, again: “The Mississippi state auditor has ordered ex-QB Brett Favre — who was paid $141 million over his 20-year NFL career — to return $828,000 in welfare money he was paid for speeches he never gave. The word for that is . . . speechless.”


Auto


The WHL’s Victoria Royals had 15 skaters dressed, three below the maximum WHLallowed, when they met the Cougars in Prince George on Saturday night. When the teams played again on Sunday afternoon, the Royals, playing their fourth game in six days, were down to 13 skaters, including only eight forwards. . . . You are free to wonder at what point this becomes a safety issue for the players who are in the lineup. . . .

That was one of three WHL games played on Sunday. Some highlights . . .

In Prince George, the Cougars scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Victoria Royals, 4-2. . . . F Craig Armstrong (3) had two goals — the last two — and an assist. He broke a 2-2 tie at 5:45 of the third period. . . . F Riley Gannon (3) had a goal and an assist for the Royals (1-6-0). . . . The Cougars (2-3-0) now will travel to Victoria for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader as these teams face each other in six straight games. The series is to conclude in Prince George on Oct. 26 and 27. . . .

In Edmonton, G Connor Ungar stopped 29 shots to help the Red Deer Rebels to a 2-1 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . The Rebels (4-3-1) erased a 1-0 deficit with second-period goals from F Jace Weir (3) and F Ben King (3), the latter via the PP. . . . The Oil Kings now are 4-2-1. . . .

In Winnipeg, the Ice ran its season-opening winning streak to seven games with a 3-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Ice (7-0-0) held a 46-20 edge in shots. . . . F Connor McClennon (6) snapped a 1-1 tie 17 seconds into the third period. . . . The Broncos (2-5-0) have lost five in a row.

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There were nine WHL games on Saturday. Some highlights . . .

In Everett, G Koen MacInnes stopped 31 shots to help the Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . That was his first shutout this season and the fourth of his career. . . . F Jackson Berezowski (5) scored twice as Everett improved to 4-0-0. . . . Seattle (2-2-1) was without F Lucas Ciona, who drew a two-game sentence after taking a charging major for running into G Braden Holt on Friday night when visiting Everett won 5-4 in OT. . . .

In Portland, the Winterhawks erased a 3-0 deficit and beat the Tri-City Americans, 4-3. . . . F Dawson Pasternak (1) pulled the Winterhawks even at 14:41 of the third period and F Marek Alscher (1) broke the tie at 17:05. . . . Portland improved to 3-2-1; the Americans are 2-3-0. . . .

In Prince George, the Cougars scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Victoria Royals, 3-1. . . . The Cougars (1-3-0) won for the first time this season, while the Royals fell to 1-5-0. . . . F Riley Heidt (2) broke a 1-1 tie at 15:52 of the third period. . . .

In Langley, B.C., G Dylan Garand blocked 23 shots as the Kamloops Blazes skated to a 5-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Garand, a candidate to be Canada’s starting goaltender at the 2022 World Junior Championship, has one shutout this season and nine in his career. . . . Kamloops (5-1-0) was 3-for-4 on the PP. . . . The Blazers went 3-1-0 in playing four road games in five nights. . . . The Giants are 2-1-0. . . .

In Brandon, D Chad Nychuk’s fifth goal of the season, at 3:41 of OT, gave the Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . This was the Broncos’ first game since general manager/head coach Dean Brockman announced his resignation on Thursday. . . . F Ridly Greig (4) pulled Brandon (4-3-0) into a 3-3 tie at 11:03 of the third period. . . . The Broncos, who have lost four in a row, are 2-4-0. . . . With G Ethan Kruger still injured, the Wheat Kings again started Carson Bjarnason, a 16-year-old from Carberry, Man., who now is 3-0-0, 3.84, .895. . . . According to the online scoresheet, Brandon played a third straight game without having a backup goaltender in uniform. . . .

In Moose Jaw, F Tristen Robins had a goal and an assist — his fifth straight multi-point game — as the Saskatoon Blades edged the Warriors, 4-3. . . . F Cade Hayes (3) pulled the Warriors (3-3-0) into a 3-3 tie at 12:59 of the third period. . . . F Egor Sidorov (2) won it for the Blades (4-1-1) at 14:30. . . . Saskatoon was 3-for-4 on the PP. . . . Blades G Ethan Chadwick, a 17-year-old from Saskatoon, stopped 25 shots to earn the victory in his first career start. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Raiders scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 3-2. . . . D Kaiden Guhle and F Reece Vitelli had the shootout goals as the Raiders improved to 2-5-0. . . . The Tigers (2-3-1) forced OT when F Noah Danielson (1) scored while shorthanded at 4:08 of the third period. . . .

In Red Deer, G Brayden Peters stopped 25 shots for his first shutout of the season and second of his career as the Calgary Hitmen beat the Rebels, 2-0. . . . The Rebels (3-3-1) had won 8-1 in Calgary on Friday night. . . . The Hitmen (2-3-0) got a goal and an assist from D Keagan Slaney (1), who had been acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings earlier in the week. . . .

In Winnipeg, F Matt Savoie scored twice and added an assist as the Ice ran its record to 6-0-0 with a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . The Ice has outscored its opponents 40-10 in the six games it has played. . . . Savoie scored his second and third goals on a team-high six shots. . . . The Pats are 2-5-0.


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G Dawson Green came out of a Saturday MJHL assignment with two pucks — one for the shutout and one for the goal. . . . Green, a 20-year-old from Brandon, is in his first season with the Winnipeg Blues after playing two seasons with Neepawa. . . . On Saturday, before 112 fans at the RINK Training Centre in Winnipeg, he stopped 23 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Selkirk Steelers, and he put it away with an empty-net goal at 19:44 of the third period. . . . This season, Green is 9-0-0, 1.46, .944, with one goal.



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.


SocialMedia

WHLer says he was subjected to racial slurs in SJHL game . . . AJHL has positive test in Calgary . . . Sasakamoose in ICU battling COVID-19


F Kishaun Gervais of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, who is on loan to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, has said he was the subject of racial slurs during a SJHLgame against the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., on Monday night. . . . “This definitely hurt,” Gervais, a 19-year-old from Kamsack, Sask., wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve put up with a lot of racism in my life and I’ve tried to be a positive influence to bring change to it so this obviously set me off. I will never be ashamed of my Jamaican and Native descent, l am proud of who l am and l will continue to try be a positive voice for racial equality.” . . . Rob Palmarin, the school’s president, told CTV News Regina that the incident was a “one-off,” adding that “if it happened, there’s definitely no place for this type of unacceptable behaviour, period. If it happened, we’re still investigating the person or persons responsible for the action, they will be held accountable.” . . . Bill Chow, the SJHL’s president, said he spoke with Gervais’ family and “they just want to move on from here and that’s their wishes, so that’s what we’ll do.” . . . The Terriers won the game 5-4 in a shootout with Gervais scoring the only goal of the circus. He was given a misconduct immediately after scoring because, according to assistant coach Scott Musqua, he made a “shushing gesture” to the students who had been riding him. . . . Michaela Solomon and Claire Hanna of CTV Regina News have more on this story right here.


The AJHL announced Friday that it has had a player with a second team test ajhlpositive. . . . This time it was a player with the Calgary Canucks. On Thursday, the league announced that a player with the Canmore Eagles had tested positive. . . . The Canucks were to have visited the Brooks Bandits on Friday night with the Bandits in Calgary on Saturday. Both games, according to the online schedule, have been “cancelled.” . . . The Canucks last played on Monday against the visiting Okotoks Oilers, whose Sunday game at home to the Camrose Kodiaks has been “postponed.” . . . Brooks’ home-and-home series with Canmore scheduled for Nov. 27 and 28 also won’t happen. . . . Also off the schedule: A home-and-home between the Olds Grizzlys and Drumheller Dragons on Friday and Saturday. The Dragons had played visiting Canmore on Nov. 14. . . . Calgary’s home-and-home series with Olds scheduled for Nov. 27 and 28 remains on the schedule.



After receiving further clarifications regarding province-wide restrictions kijhlbeing implemented by the B.C. government and health officials, the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has chosen to suspend play through Dec. 7. . . . Clarification came in the form of a release from viaSport that included this: “Games, competitions, training and practice, such as those outlined in the viaSport Phase 3 Guidelines, can continue without spectators and restricted to your local community. Until the written order and public health guidance are released we recommend that you err on the side of caution and stay close to home for now.” . . . Six games were played on Friday night, while one other — Revelstoke Grizzlies at Golden Rockets — was postponed as Golden town officials awaited further clarification. . . . The league has 17 teams taking part this season. Those teams all will be allowed to practice in their home communities during the pause in the schedule. . . .

Meanwhile, the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials announced via Twitter on Friday night that their Saturday game against the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings has been cancelled “due to the province’s most-recent health order.” . . . According to the BCHL online schedule, the Trail Smoke Eaters’ game at the Cranbrook Bucks also won’t be played. . . . On Nov. 8, the league cancelled games involving the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen, Powell River Kings and Surrey Eagles for two weeks. Those teams are located in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions and all were placed under restrictions from health officials.

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“Whenever an organization is the victim of theft, the impact can be deep and long lasting,” writes Jamie Strashin of CBC News. “When money is stolen by an employee or volunteer, it can take years to rebuild trust with the community.

“That’s certainly the case for youth sports organizations, which every year provide countless programs and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Canadian families.

“An investigation by CBC Sports reveals that in the past decade nearly $8 million has been stolen from dozens of sports leagues and associations across Canada, almost all of it by someone inside the organization, leaving it and the families who participate devastated.”

Strashin has put together quite a story, all of which is right here. It includes interactive maps showing details on various incidents in which money went missing.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Fred Sasakamoose, a beloved former NHL player, is in ICU with COVID-19, Sasakamooseaccording to Jordan Wheeler, a writer from the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan. . . . Sasakamoose, who is to turn 87 on Christmas Day, was the first Canadian indigenous player to reach the NHL. After playing junior for three seasons with the Moose Jaw Canucks, he went on to play 11 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1953-54. . . . According to a Facebook post, Sasakamoose “had symptoms for a couple of days, was admitted (Friday) to a local hospital and confirmed that his test was positive.” . . . The post continued: “We are asking people, the hockey community and fans to think about Fred at this time. Chief Thunderstick needs your prayers at this moment for a full recovery!” . . . Sasakamoose’s biography, which is titled Call Me Indian: From the trauma of Residential School to becoming the NHL’s first Treaty Indigenous Player, is expected to be published on April 6.

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Daily Hive Vancouver: ”A normal Christmas is, quite frankly, right out of the question” — Trudeau.

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With the New Brunswick government having declared the Moncton health region an orange zone because of rising case numbers, the QMJHL’s Wildcats have had to postpone weekend games. They were to have played host to the Cape Breton Eagles on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . Under present restrictions, the Wildcats are allowed to practice but can’t play games. . . . Hockey New Brunswick confirmed that a  coach with a U-13 team in Greater Moncton has tested positive. The team has been shut down for two weeks while coaches and players self-isolate. . . .

Meanwhile, Saint John also had been declared an orange zone, so the QMJHL’s Sea Dogs won’t be able to resume play until there is a change in that status. . . . The Sea Dogs, of course, have paused activities due to a positive test for a staff member who, according to the team, “is sick and in isolation.” The team also reported that this case “is not travel-related. The staff member has not been outside the Atlantic bubble since prior to training camp”. . . .

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 9 more COVID-19 cases, one of the highest daily totals since the pandemic began; there have been eight days when the daily cases totalled 10 or more.

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CJOB Winnipeg: A man in his 20s from Winnipeg has become Manitoba’s youngest victim of COVID. His death is one of nine reported Friday as health officials say 438 new cases have been identified.

CBC News: Manitoba announces 438 new cases of COVID-19, a jump from the previous 7-day average of 368. The province is also reporting 9 more deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 153 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 new death related to the illness. The province has now seen a total of 5,804 cases, including 33 deaths and 3,626 recoveries.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: After dropping for the first time in five days yesterday, active cases reach a new high of 2,145. . . . Hospitalizations are up to 85 in Saskatchewan, which is also a new record. Some good news is ICU patients is down two after two days of new record highs.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases. The province has confirmed 1,155 new cases and 11 additional deaths. There are 10,655 active cases in the province. 310 people are in hospital, including 58 in intensive care.

CTV News: Alberta is the sole province without a mask mandate.

Provincial Health Services Authority of B.C.: 516 new cases for a total of 25,474 cases. There are 227 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 57 of whom are in intensive care. There has been 10 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 331 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,418 new cases of COVID-19. That surpasses the average of the previous 7 days, which was 1,370. 400 of the new cases are in Peel Region, 393 are in Toronto and 168 are in York Region. . . . Ontario reports 8 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,415 cases resolved — 48,173 tests completed. 518 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 142 in ICU.

CBC News: 32 additional deaths in Quebec are being attributed to COVID-19. The province is also reporting 1,259 new cases, up from the previous 7-day average of 1,221.

CBC News: Nunavut reports 10 new cases of COVID-19. All are in small fly-in communities on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay. 6 are in Rankin Inlet, 3 are in Whale Cove, and 1 is in Arviat. Nunavut is now up to 84 cases, just 2 weeks after it confirmed its 1st case.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 5 new cases of COVID-19, all in the Central Zone. 2 are connected to previously reported cases; the other 3 are still being investigated. The province now has a total of 28 active cases.

CBC News: Nova Scotia announces new gathering limits for the greater Halifax area. Starting Monday, social circles will be limited to 5 people and informal events will be limited to 25 people. The measures are set to continue until Dec. 21.

CBC News: 3 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 1 is a close contact of a previously announced case, 1 is travel-related and the remaining case is under investigation. All 3 are self-isolating. N.L. has 13 known active cases.

oregonlive.com, from Thursday: 20 die in record one-day coronavirus death toll for Oregon; news cases come in at highest ever: 1,225.

KATU-TV: Providence to stage temporary morgues, surge tents as Oregon sees COVID-19 spike.

KOMO News: For the third time this week Washington state added over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, continuing an alarming trend before the holiday season.

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The junior B Keystone Junior Hockey League, a five-team circuit in Manitoba, has decided it won’t try to start its season until hopefully Jan. 1. . . . Carter Brooks of gameonhockey.ca has more right here.

The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to play the Broncos in Denver on Sunday. On Friday, the Broncos announced that it will the last home game this season at which fans will be permitted to attend. There will be fewer than 6,000 fans at Sunday’s game. . . .

The Minnesota Golden Gophers had 20 players out with injuries or COVID-19 as they beat the visiting Purdue Boilermakers, 34-31, on Friday night. Brian Callahan, the offensive co-ordinator, and two other staff members also sat this one out after testing positive. . . . Minnesota wouldn’t specify how many of those 20 players had tested positive. . . .

The Washington State Cougars won’t be playing at the Stanford Cardinal today (Saturday). The game was cancelled on Friday after the Cougars said they would be able to have the minimum number of scholarship players available due to positive tests and contact tracing. Four of those positive tests came Friday morning, and one was starting QB Jayden de Laura. . . . The Cougars are scheduled to play the Washington Huskies in the annual Apple Cup game on Nov. 27.


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

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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.



 

BCHL commish sounds warning . . . City to take over Canalta Centre . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup on bubble?


DrKara
Allow me to introduce you to our granddaughter, Kara, who will turn four in July. . . . I don’t know what your grandchildren have been doing during this predicament in which we find ourselves, but Kara was in her lab on Tuesday, working to find a vaccine. . . . She isn’t funded by Bill Gates and doesn’t know 5G from Grade 5; she just has mankind’s best interests at heart. . . . She knows the experts say a vaccine is, at best, a year away, but she is working hard to squeeze that window. Judging by the top she is wearing, she is hoping to have success before Christmas. . . . Kara also says: Stay safe and have a great day!


Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that the junior A league “could lose teams” because of the pandemic. Ewen (@SteveEwen) tweeted that “many of those clubs rely heavily on the cash they bring in from spring camps and those camps have been cancelled.” . . . More from Ewen: “Hebb says the (BCHL) will approach the government looking for some sort of financial assistance. The league has gathered letters from the mayors of 18 cities that have teams . . . that state what the clubs mean to those regions.”


Another indication that the 2020-21 junior hockey season may be looking at a delayed start comes from the City of Medicine Hat. . . . The City announced Monday that “in Tigers Logo Officialresponse to the COVID-19 pandemic and the dynamic economic challenges ahead,” it will be taking over operations of the Canalta Centre from ASM Global, a venue management company, starting in August. . . . The news release announcing the change included this: “Current provincial and federal restrictions have limited the operational capabilities for the Canalta Centre venue, and the current outlook from Alberta Health and Canada Health authorities indicates that public restrictions can be expected for the remainder of 2020 in an effort to mitigate virus transmission.” . . . The 7,000-seat facility is home to the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Since opening in time for the 2015-16 season, the Tigers, according to figures compiled by the WHL, have averaged 4,248, 3,586, 3,295, 3,121 and, in 2019-20, 2,947 fans per game. . . . Brian Mastel, the City’s commissioner of public services, said: “Challenges related to market support and attendance were occurring prior to the COVID-19 crisis. When the current situation is considered in context of these broader challenges, it underscores the need to re-examine the operational and cost structure for future sustainability.” . . . You have to wonder what is in store for the start of the next hockey season if, as this news release indicates, all signs in Alberta point to “public restrictions” through the end of 2020. The WHL has five franchises based in Alberta.



One of the events on the bubble because of the pandemic would appear to be the 2020 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 3-8. . . . Bob Nicholson, the chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks a decision on the U-18 tournament will be made in the next 10 days. Teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland are scheduled to attend. . . . Nicholson also said that the NHL is “really determined to finalize this season,” adding that it could return to play in “July or August,” which would mean the 2020-21 season would begin in November. . . . Of course, having the NHL restart its season in July or August likely would mean the cancellation of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. “Everyone would like to see the Hlinka Gretzky tournament happen,” Nicholson said, “but, in fairness, I’d rather see the Edmonton Oilers be in the playoffs in the month of August.”


Bruce Jenkins, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The New York Times recently staged a panel discussion including Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised the Obama administration on health policy and the Affordable Care Act. His words were stark and foreboding.

“ ‘Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically, we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.’ ”

Jenkins’ column, which carries the headline California Gov. Newsom’s coronavirus plan has grim implications for sports in 2020, is right here.


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According to Golf Digest, the PGA Tour is preparing to return to play with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, June 11-14. An announcement is expected this week and, no, fans won’t be allowed to attend the event. . . . The tournament had been scheduled for May 21-24. . . . The story also indicates that the RBC Canadian Open, scheduled for June 11-14, won’t be played. . . .

The Asian Football Confederation, which features 32 Asian Champions League teams, has shut down through the end of June. . . .

The Senior British Open golf tournament that was to scheduled for July 23-26 at Sunningdale has been postponed. Organizers are hoping to hold the tournament later in the year. . . .

The Tour de France that was to have started on June 27 in Nice has been postponed, although possible future dates weren’t announced. France has cancelled all large public gatherings through at least mid-July. . . . The Tour de France has been held every year since 1946 when it was cancelled due to the Second World War that had recently ended. . . .

The MLS, which was a couple of weeks into its season when it suspended play on March 12, had hoped to resume in mid-May, but now says that is “extremely unlikely.” It is following guidelines established by federal and public health officials. . . .

The Chinese Basketball Association, on hold since Jan. 24, had planned on resuming play on Wednesday (April 15). Now, however, it seems the CBA has been forced to delay a possible return until at least sometime in July. . . .

The Canadian U-15 and U-17 basketball championships, scheduled for Aug. 2-9, have been cancelled. The women were to have played in Charlottetown, the men in Kingston.


Here’s our man Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “And the thing about my jokes is, they don’t hurt anybody. You can take ’em or leave ’em — you can say they’re funny or they’re terrible or they’re good, or whatever, but you can just pass ’em by. But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it’s a law! And every time they make a law, it’s a joke!”


A few things I’ve learned while sitting out this pandemic: Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, apparently is paid somewhere around US$11 million per year. He and other baseball officials are said to be taking a 35 per cent cut in pay. I’m sure he will be able to survive on $7 million. . . . Everything that goes wrong in Canada, from the pothole at the base of your driveway to the divot that your golf ball landed in on the second fairway, is Justin Trudeau’s fault. . . . Nothing is more valuable these days than hand sanitizer. That fact was borne out on Saturday when fistfights broke out at Forbidden Spirits Distilling near Kelowna as folks arrived in vehicles hoping to score some free sanitizer. Rumour has it that Lorne Frey, the Kelowna Rockets’ super scout, was on hand looking for some muscle for next season. . . . Hockey continues to have a nickname problem. Koletrane Wilson, who played out his WHL career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, had one of the league’s best names, and his nickname is Willy. Seriously? . . . The United States of America has fallen a long, long way since this thing started and it is looking more and more like it can’t get up.


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

Turnsignals


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

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



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


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

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

——

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



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



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


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


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



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

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

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


Floss


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


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


Scattershooting late on a Monday night with the shopping all done for another year . . .

Scattershooting


It’s a little-heard Christmas song these days, but there was a time when Honky the Christmas Goose was on the charts. It featured then-Toronto Maple Leafs G Johnny Bower, his son, and a few youngsters. . . . Dave Stubbs of nhl.com has a look back right here. . . . And if you haven’t read Dan Robson’s book on Bower — Bower: A Legendary Life — give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.



“Bed Bath & Beyond announced the departure of six members of its executive team,” notes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe. “Is it safe to assume the company will at least give each of the six a 20 per cent store discount for life?”

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Here’s Hough, again: “So as President Trump has authorized $2 billion for ‘Space Force’, did he consider asking Michael Jordan to head it?”



After a hectic past two weeks, the plan was to spend Sunday at home in the recliner watching some football. But when the time came TSN had the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos on four channels. . . . We went out for coffee.


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Eat your heart out, Wonderboy. The bat Babe Ruth used to club his 500th career home run fetched $1 million on the auction block. Ruth — in his 21 MLB seasons combined — got paid $856,850.”

——

Perry, again: “The Houston Rockets’ James Harden joined an exclusive NBA club by totalling 100 points in back-to-back games. Leaving him just one game shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain, who once scored 100 in one consecutive game.”



The U of Florida has named its basketball floor in honour of former men’s coach Billy Donovan. That got Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel looking for other state coaches who might be similarly saluted. He tweeted:“Best so far: (1) Jimbo Fisher Christmas Tree Recycling Center. (2) Urban Meyer Detention Center.”


The QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques appear to be something of a mess. Alain Sear, a co-owner and the general manager, left the team the other day. The next day, Martin Lacasse stepped down as the chairman of the team’s board of directors. . . . On the ice, the Olympiques are 7-23-3 and only one point out of the 18-team league’s basement. . . . According to Alexandre Pratt of the newspaper La Presse, the Olympiques had fewer than 500 fans at a recent home game at the Robert-Guertin Centre. . . . The good news is that the Olympiques will be moving into a new $80-million, 4,000-seat facility in time for the 2021-22 season.



Former WHLer Carter Rigby has taken over as head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He played one season (2010-11) with the Coyotes. In the WHL, he skated with the Prince George Cougars, Kelowna Rockets and Swift Current Broncos. . . . Rigby, 25, takes over from Grant Williams, who had been the interim head coach since Dean Maynard and the team parted company last month. Maynard had taken over as interim coach in January, and was named GM and head coach in April.


The Jacksonville Jaguars, with Gardner Minshew at quarterback, beat the Raiders, 20-16, in what likely was Oakland’s final home game before it relocates to Las Vegas. “An awesome experience,” Minshew said of the Dec. 15 game. “I saw more middle fingers today than I have my whole life.”



You’re right . . . the NFL’s Detroit Lions haven’t been good in recent years. As Justin Rogers of the Detroit News pointed out on Twitter: “Two presidents have been impeached since the Lions last won the division.”


Once upon a time, Sara Rogers’ great-grandmother, eight years of age at the time, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun. “Please tell me the truth,” she wrote, “is there a Santa Claus?” . . . The response, when it came, was one for the ages and it lives on today. . . . That story is right here. . . . Enjoy, have a Merry Christmas and please stay safe out there.

Scattershooting late on a Sunday . . . Will CFL’s Man in Black return? . . . Check out Henri Richard’s first deal . . . WHLers trickling back from NHL camps

Scattershooting

I was remiss in posting the above tweet here Saturday night without an explanation, especially for those readers who may not be familiar with the CFL.

The gent in the photo is Chris Jones, who is the vice-president of football operations, general manager, head coach and defensive co-ordinator for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Until recently, he also was the CFL’s Man in Black. However, when the CFL unveiled this season’s Diversity Is Strength campaign, Jones donned the green t-shirt pictured in the tweet. The Roughriders promptly won four straight games, with him wearing green in each of them.

That streak came to an unceremonious end on Saturday night when the visiting Ottawa Redblacks beat the Roughriders, 30-25.

Thus the tweet from the Redblacks.


Are you old enough to remember when ABC-TV, sparked by Howard Cosell, turned Monday Night Football into a real event, one that carried with it an overwhelming feeling of excitement? Maybe it’s just me, but these days MNF seems to be just another game.


We all are aware that the Toronto Blue Jays have had something of an abysmal season. Right? No matter. There was Sportsnet on Thursday morning showing Red Sox-Blue Jays from the previous night on four channels. On Thursday evening, the Angels-Mariners, in something of a meaningless game, were on five Sportsnet channels.


Texas A&M now is U.S. college football’s MVP — most valuable program — with an average annual revenue of US$148 million. As Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot noted: “Still, universities can’t possibly afford to pay their athletes. Uncanny how that works.”



WHL players have started to find their way back from NHL camps. On Sunday, the Spokane Chiefs got back F Eli Zummack, 18, and D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20, both from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kral was a fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft. . . . D Brendan De Jong, 20, was returned to the Portland Winterhawks by the Carolina Hurricanes, who picked him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. The Winterhawks now have four 20s on their roster — De Jong, F Conor MacEachern, F Connor Barley and D Jared Freadrich. . . . The Maple Leafs also returned G Ian Scott, 19, to the Prince Albert Raiders and F Riley Stotts, 18, to the Calgary Hitmen. Toronto took Scott in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft, and picked Stotts in the third round in 2018. . . . The Hurricanes also returned F Stelio Mattheos, 19, to the Brandon Wheat Kings. He was a third-round selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft.


ICYMI, Al Maki of The Globe and Mail wrote an intriguing piece about the late Zarley Zalapski and the work his sister, Kyla, did in an attempt to learn as much as she could about his cause of death. That piece is right here.



An anecdote as related by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

Back when NCAA rules allowed it, Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden took movie star Burt Reynolds — an ex-FSU player and  a huge Seminoles booster   — on a recruiting trip to Ohio to better his chances of sealing the deal. I’ll pitch FSU to the player, Bowden told Reynolds, while you sweet-talk the kid’s single mother.

“Well, the kid ended up going to Notre Dame,” Bowden quipped, “and the mother came to Florida State.”


When he was at Florida State, the late Burt Reynolds was roommates with Lee Corso, who now is a popular analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay program. A few years ago, he told Florida State boosters about his relationship with Reynolds: “I was famous for one thing at Florida State: I was Burt Reynolds’ roommate. . . . With his looks and my car, we’d kill ‘em in Tallahassee.”


All is in readiness for the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. It’s set for Sunday, Sept. 23, at McDonald Park. My wife, Dorothy, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part. Oh yes, she also is on the organizing committee. She is the top fund-raiser in Kamloops for a fifth straight year, thanks to more than a handful of you who stop by here on a regular basis. Thank you so much because this cause really means a lot to her. . . . How did she spend part of Saturday? Down the highway in Chase, providing support to a kidney support group that is getting started in that community. . . . Yes, we think she’s rather special. . . . If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do that right here.


And finally . . . I think this won the Internet on Saturday . . .

It’s true! Hay joins Winterhawks . . . Ice extends two coaches, trainer . . . Willms’ season ends before it starts


MacBeth

F Carter Proft (Brandon, Spokane, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2). Last season, he had two assists in 20 games with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL), and nine goals and eight assists in 23 games with Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2).


ThisThat

Some reaction to the piece that appeared here yesterday advocating for the banning of fighting and headshots in the WHL:

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The final word, as it should, goes to a hockey mom . . .


As was reported here on Friday night, Don Hay has joined the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff as an assistant where he will alongside Mike Johnston, the vice-president, Portlandgeneral manager and head coach, and associate coach Kyle Gustafson.

Hay, the winningest regular-season and playoff coach in WHL history, spent the past four seasons as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, a team with which he won three Memorial Cups in the 1990s. However, on May 10, majority owner Tom Gaglardi announced at a news conference that Hay had retired.

“Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history,” Gaglardi said in a news release. “Don leaves a storied legacy within junior hockey circles. His accomplishments are astounding and he will be forever regarded as one of the greatest coaches in junior hockey history. We are extremely grateful to have had Don return to the Blazers and be able to end his coaching career where it all began.”

The Blazers announced at the time that Hay would stay with the organization, as senior advisor, hockey operations.

Hay wasn’t in attendance at that news conference, and when he met with the media the next day he let it be known that he still wanted to coach.

The Winterhawks had a position come open with Danny Flynn, a veteran coach, signed on as an eastern Canadian scout with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Flynn, a longtime friend of Johnston’s, spent one season in Portland.

Johnston and Hay also are longtime friends, going back to the 1995 World Junior Championship. Hay was the head coach and Johnston an assistant with Team Canada, which won the gold medal in Red Deer.

“We are thrilled to add a coach of Don’s calibre to our staff,” Johnston said in a news release. “When I first approached Don about the idea I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, but he was both interested and excited. Kyle and I have always had a good rapport with Don and feel he will definitely be a great addition to our group.”

Former Winterhawks’ head coach Ken Hodge had been the WHL’s winningest regular-season coach, with 742 victories, before Hay broke the record last season. Hay finished the season with 750 victories.

Johnston ran his total to 323 last season, becoming the 23rd coach in WHL history to surpass 300.

The Winterhawks are scheduled to play in Kamloops on Oct. 3 and 5.



The Kootenay Ice announced three contract extensions during a news conference on KootenaynewMonday morning in Cranbrook. Assistant coach Gord Burnett has a two-year extension, while Darcy Ewanchuk, the trainer and equipment manager, was extended for three seasons, and Nathan Lieuwen, the goaltending consultant and video coach, signed a two-year extension. . . . Burnett, from Regina, is heading into his fourth season with the Ice, while Ewanchuk, from Sherwood Park, Alta., is preparing for season No. 14. Lieuwen, from Abbotsford, joined the Ice prior to last season. He was a goaltender with the Ice from 2007-12. . . . The Ice also announced that James Patrick is returning for his second season as head coach, with Jon Klemm back as associate coach, and Roman Vopat as assistant coach. . . . The Ice also revealed that as of Monday morning they had sold 1,598 season tickets, “down 319 from 2017-18 and 902 below the Drive to 25 target announced in May 2017.” . . . The complete news release detailing all announcements from the news conference is right here.


Brody Willms of the Moose Jaw Warriors, one of the WHL’s top goaltenders, isn’t expected to play this season because of a hip injury. Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general MooseJawWarriorsmanager, made the announcement on Monday.

Willms, a 20-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C., was 37-11-4, 3.00, .898 in 54 appearances in leading the Warriors to their first Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy — most points in the regular season — in 2017-18. He set a single-season franchise record with the 37 victories.

An eighth-round selection by Moose Jaw in the 2013 WHL bantam draft, Willms went 62-34-10, 3.20, .900 in 118 appearances over five seasons with the Warriors.

Two WHL goaltenders — Carl Stankowski of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Nick Sanders of the Prince Albert Raiders — missed time last season with hip woes. Sanders, who played in only four games, was dealt to the Calgary Hitmen on Jan. 8, while they acquired Stankowski on Aug. 7. Stankowski sat out the entire season after stepping in and backstopping the Thunderbirds to the WHL championship in 2016-17.

The Warriors used Willms and freshman Adam Evanoff in goal last season. Evanoff, 18, was 15-4-1, 2.65, .906, so likely moves to the top of Moose Jaw’s depth chart. From Penticton, Evanoff was a 10th-round pick in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.

Among the other goaltenders expected in Moose Jaw’s camp are Ethan Fitzgerald, 17, of Calgary, who was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, and Jackson Berry of Chestermere, Alta., who will turn 16 on Dec. 6. He was a sixth-round pick in 2017. Fitzgerald and Berry both have signed with the Warriors.



The Regina Pats have acquired G Carter Woodside, 17, from the Kootenay Ice for a Patsconditional eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Woodside, from Asquith, Sask., was picked by the Ice in the sixth round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . The trade’s condition has to do with the number of games Woodside plays for the Pats in 2018-19. . . . He played last season with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos, going 15-5-0, 2.53, .900 in the regular season. . . . Also on the Pats’ goaltending depth chart are sophomore Max Paddock, 18, and WHL veteran Kyle Dumba, 20.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Kai Uchacz, their first-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft, to a WHL contract. From De Winton, Alta., he had 25 goals and 17 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Okotoks Oilers last season. . . . As the lists below show, WHL teams now have signed 19 of the 22 first-round draft picks.

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The WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

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The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.


When it comes to the Medicine Hat Tigers’ training camp and exhibition schedule, there Tigers Logo Officialis going to be an interesting battle for spots on the depth chart. Barring the unexpected, veteran Jordan Hollett, 19, will be the starter. . . . Mads Sogaard, a Dane who will turn 18 on Dec. 13, will be in the battle to backup Hollett. Sogaard, 6-foot-6 and 180 pounds, played last season with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, so culture shock shouldn’t be much of an issue. In 22 games, he was 2.64, .909. . . . Garin Bjorklund, at 16-year-old from Calgary, also will be in camp. He was a first-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . Also in the picture is Kaeden Lane, who turns 17 on Oct. 10. From Burnaby, he’s a bit smaller than Sogaard, at 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds. . . . Matt Pouncy of chatnewstoday.ca has more right here.



D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the SpokaneChiefsNew Jersey Devils, who selected him with the 17th overall pick in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Smith, from Lloydminster, Alta., was the first WHL player taken in that draft. The Chiefs selected him first overall in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he put up 14 goals and 59 assists in 73 games. . . . For 2017-18, Smith was named the WHL’s scholastic player of the year, earning the Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Trophy, and to the Western Conference’s first all-star team.


Nathan Hollinger has joined the Calgary Hitmen as their athletic therapist. He spent last season working as the athletic therapist/strength and conditioning coach with the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton. He also has worked with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers (athletic therapist/equipment manager, 2015-17) and Regina Pats (student athletic therapist, 2014-15). . . . Hollinger takes over from Kyle Vouriot, who is moving on to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose as assistant athletic therapist and assistant strength and conditioning trainer.



If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.


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