Winterhawks get whole new look; remembering how they came to land in Portland . . . Pair of ex-WHLers retiring? . . . Thunderbirds’ camp closed to fans

With the Portland Winterhawks having unveiled their new look — a new logo came prior to the 2021-22 season and now there is a whole new uniform — it’s worth taking a look back at how the WHL ended up in the Oregon city.

Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the longtime radio voice of the Winterhawks, wrote the story that first appeared here on March 30, 2008. Remember, too, that they originally were Winter Hawks; Winterhawks came later.

Enjoy!

——

It was the summer of 1975 and Brian Shaw, Ken Hodge and Innes Mackie were unemployed. With nothing but time on their hands, they decided to go duck hunting in Stettler, Alta.

Shaw and Hodge had been fired by ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter, who owned the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers and the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Mackie had just returned from Kimberley, B.C., where he had turned down a job offer at a mine. The offer Mackie had received included a chance to play a little hockey on the side.

Shaw was in the process of putting together a group of investors to buy the Oil Kings from Hunter. Shaw would run the show. Hodge would coach. Mackie would be the trainer. They didn’t know it at the time but they were embarking on a 20-year relationship — relationships of hockey, business and friendship.

The Three Amigos became inseparable until Shaw passed away in the summer of 1994.

On this day in Stettler, the three men, who would become the three original members of the Winter Hawks’ front office, were solidifying the mutual respect and trust needed. The ducks weren’t flying that day, at least not in the Stettler area, so the three erstwhile hunters headed for a local bar to shoot a little pool. Everyone was having fun, too, until a cowboy in a black hat came over and started yipping at Hodge for monopolizing the pool table. After an unflattering comment from Hodge regarding the cowboy’s hat, feathers started to fly — and it had nothing to do with ducks.

“He started to take his jean jacket off and when it got about half way down each arm, I smoked him,” Hodge remembers. “It’s Saturday night and the place is full. There were five of us — and two of them bailed out. Brian, who was always quick with the wit, was not ready to handle this type of negotiation. So that left Innes and I — and, needless to say, we had our hands full. There were probably eight of them involved by now. The pool cues are getting broken, I’m getting thumped in the back of the head and Innes got jumped. Finally, we hear sirens and red lights. The three of us were never so happy to see the RCMP.”

That incident was neither the first nor the last for friendships that would last more than 20 years.

When he was 16 years of age, Hodge earned a job as a defenceman with the Jasper Place Mohawks — a high-profile team in Edmonton. Coincidentally, the general manager and head coach was Shaw, who was working in the first of what would be many dual roles. It didn’t take Shaw long to earn his reputation as a slick team manager.

“The team was the talk of the town,” Hodge says. “People in Edmonton were very envious. Brian started out with just one bantam team and ended up with the first true feeder system in the Edmonton area when he expanded to midgets and junior. The Jasper Place Mohawks were first class all the way. They paid all their bills, wore flashy uniforms and won lots of hockey games.”

Hodge was one of four players from Jasper Place chosen by Shaw to play the next season with the Moose Jaw Canucks of the newly formed Western Canada Hockey League. Shaw was the general manager and head coach and Hodge was a key defenceman.

Other than the Canucks, the WCHL featured the Oil Kings, Estevan Bruins, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Weyburn Red Wings and Calgary Buffaloes. Moose Jaw finished fourth in a 56-game regular season, 16 points behind the first-place Oil Kings, but went on to win league’s first championship trophy by beating the Oil Kings — the Canucks won that series 3-2 with four games tied — and then Regina, winning the best-of-seven final, 4-1.

It was the pivotal season of Hodge’s career. In a regular-season game against Regina, Hodge was struck in an eye by a high stick. In the playoffs, he again was hit in the same eye. After a series of operations during the summer, doctors told him that they would know by early 1968 if his eye would ever recover.

On Nov. 15, 1967, Hodge received a call from Gordon Fashaway inviting him to Portland to play for the Buckaroos of the professional Western Hockey League. Hodge was excited about the offer and pushed the doctors for an answer. Unfortunately, the answer he received wasn’t the one he had hoped to hear. Hodge’s playing career was over.

The next season, Shaw moved on to the St. Catharines Black Hawks of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. While Hodge was helping with training camp, he accepted an offer to coach the Sorel Eparviers of the Quebec Junior A Hockey League.

Hodge, at 21 likely the youngest head coach in the history of Canadian junior hockey, had quite a debut season. Sorel put up a 33-16-1 regular-season record and went all the way to the Eastern Canadian best-of-five final where it lost 3-1 to the Montreal Jr. Canadiens, who would go on to win the Memorial Cup. It’s worth noting that the Jr. Canadiens played in the OJHL, where they ousted Shaw’s Black Hawks from the best-of-seven championship final in five games.

Hodge’s impressive season in Sorel opened up an opportunity for him to coach in the International Hockey League, with a team in Flint, Mich. He would spend four seasons in Flint.

Meanwhile, Shaw returned to Edmonton where he coached the Oil Kings, winning the WCHL’s 1971-72 title in his first season. That put the Oil Kings into what was the first Memorial Cup to be decided in a tournament format — this one also featured the Peterborough Petes and Cornwall Royals, but no host team — in Ottawa. The Oil Kings were eliminated with a 5-0 loss to Cornwall during which Edmonton defenceman Keith Mackie, Innes’s brother, was struck in an eye by a deflected puck and suffered a torn iris. For the record, Cornwall edged Peterborough 2-1 in the final.

The next season, Hunter, the Oilers’ general manager who was most impressed with Shaw’s championship season with the Oil Kings, offered him the head-coaching job with the WHA team. When Shaw accepted, Hunter hired Hodge to coach the Oil Kings.

“I jumped at the opportunity because the Oil Kings were a very prestigious team,” Hodge remembers. “I wanted to get on with my career in hockey and I saw too many people stagnating in Flint.”

As it turned out, Hodge made the wrong move at the wrong time. He got caught in a rebuilding program with the Oil Kings. Much of the talent from the previous season graduated and Hunter gave Hodge a little over a year to win. He didn’t, so Hunter fired him.

Meanwhile, Shaw’s Oilers got off to an amazing start — winning 18 straight games. Unfortunately for Shaw, the team was playing over its head and it didn’t take long for reality to set in. Hunter enjoyed the winning streak and wanted it to continue. When the wins stopped coming, Hunter, never know for his patience or for a willingness to avoid headlines, fired Shaw.

Two months later brought Shaw, Hodge and Mackie to a pool room in Stettler.

Eventually, Shaw’s group bought the Oil Kings from Hunter and 16 games into the 1975-76 WCHL season the three amigos became the WCHL club’s new management team. Shaw was the general manager, Hodge the head coach and Mackie the trainer.

However, things weren’t all coming up roses. Shaw’s one year at the helm of the Oil Kings was less than successful. Edmonton hockey fans weren’t in any hurry to go to the old Memorial Gardens to watch the Oil Kings when they could watch the WHA’s Oilers in the brand new Northlands Coliseum.

“Brian and I felt we knew more about the game than anyone else,” Hodge says. “We thought we would be able to turn the Edmonton Oil Kings into the premier franchise in the Western Hockey League and a very profitable venture. We found out very quickly that we weren’t as smart as we thought we were. We thought we could compete with a major league team on a minor league budget, but we lost more money than any of us could afford to lose.”

Mackie had played on Shaw’s and Hodge’s Oil Kings and, contrary to what you might have guessed, the relationship didn’t begin on the best of terms. When Mackie was an 18-year-old defenceman playing for Shaw in Edmonton, he had been asked to go to Crosstown Motors, an Oil Kings sponsor, and pick up a new car for Shaw.

“Innes and Brian probably came to an understanding after Innes smacked up two of Brian’s brand new cars,” Hodge says with a laugh. “One of the accidents was just one of those things, but the other was pretty funny. Innes went to Crosstown Motors, picked up Brian’s big Dodge, and only had to cross one busy two-way street. Smack! He couldn’t have been more than 40 feet out of the parking lot when he’s done and it’s tow truck city.”

As a player, Mackie quit the Oil Kings early in the 1973-74 season after being taken out of a game by Hodge.

“It’s all water under the bridge now,” Mackie says. “When I was 18, I played for Brian as a fifth or sixth defenceman. At that time they only used four defencemen and sometimes three. I wasn’t getting very much ice time and I wasn’t going to go through the same thing when I was 19. So, Hodgie sat me out one game and that was it. Goodbye.“

“Innes and I didn’t see eye to eye as coach and player,” Hodge agrees. “But I always enjoyed Innes as a person. His brother Keith and I were golfing buddies and Innes was the little brother who always tagged along.”

Even through their trials and tribulations, Hodge had enough respect for Mackie to make him the Oil Kings trainer.

Since then, Mackie has always been more than just a trainer. He looks for statistics, quotes and any other information he can find out about every player in the league. One of his attributes is a near photographic memory, and Hodge and Shaw came to depend on that over the years. If there is ever a question about a player, Mackie is the first person asked.

“Innes sometimes confirmed my feelings about hockey players,” Hodge says. “He has always been a very knowledgeable hockey person. Innes helped Brian and I on some of our decisions on who we would keep and who we would release or trade. He also had input on people from other teams that might help our franchise if we traded for them. The early years of the Winter Hawks was basically built through trades. Most of our trades were very positive for us and Innes had a role in many of them.”

Mackie also scours the rule book on the long bus rides. He knows the rules inside and out — and has a knack for memorizing them, no matter how obscure.

Mackie earned the nickname ‘Eagle Eye’ for his ability to spot illegal curves in the blades of opponents’ hockey sticks. Players with illegal sticks were sent to the penalty box with minor penalties and several Portland victories were earned as the result of subsequent power plays. In 18 seasons, he was wrong about one stick — and he still claims that the referee didn’t measure that one properly.

“When the game is on, I watch things differently,” Mackie, who now is with the Tri-City Americans, points out. “I watch what’s happening behind the play, on the other team’s bench, and away from the puck. If I see something the coaches don’t, I can help out once in awhile. Sometimes, I can relay information to the coaches if an opposing player misses a shift, or a guy is hurt.”

All three of the amigos were involved in the move from Edmonton to Portland.

Originally, Shaw went to Vancouver to meet with Nat Bailey, who owned the Mounties of baseball’s Pacific Coast League. Bailey wanted to get involved in hockey and was going to underwrite all the costs of moving the Oil Kings to Vancouver. Bailey also was prepared to give Shaw plenty of working capital to get started. This dream move never happened, however, because the New Westminster Bruins, a nearby WCHL franchise, blocked the move.

At the time, Hodge wanted to move to Spokane. Shaw, though, wanted to check out Portland and arranged a meeting with Dick Reynolds, the general manager of Memorial Coliseum.

“I didn’t have any idea where Portland was,” Mackie says. “I had to get a map. All I knew was that the Edmonton Oil Kings were in the Western Canadian Hockey League — and Portland wasn’t in Canada.”

Shaw’s meeting with Reynolds and the Coliseum staff was very positive and soon the Oil Kings were to become the Portland Winter Hawks.

“It was one of the best decisions that Brian made,” Hodge recalls. “At that time, we both had an equal vote. So, it was one vote for Spokane and one vote for Portland. Brian decided his vote was bigger than mine and he won.


Bear


THE COACHING GAME:

Brock Sheahan is the new head coach of the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Caroline Hurricanes. Sheahan, 38, had been the head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel since being promoted from assistant coach on Dec. 1, 2019. The Steel was the USHL’s regular-season champion in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and won the playoff title in the spring of 2021. . . . With the Wolves, the AHL’s reigning champions, the Lethbridge native replaces Ryan Warsofsky, who left to join the NHL’s San Jose Sharks as an assistant coach. . . . The Steel, meanwhile, promptly named general manager Mike Garman as its new head coach. He will carry both titles for 2022-23.


Your


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

An interesting tweet from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday revealed that “training camp is closed to the public” except for the annual Blue vs. White game on Sept. 4. . . . An explanation wasn’t provided. . . .

Ryan Campbell is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager. He spent 2021-22 as an assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, a franchise that has since relocated to Calgary as the Wranglers. . . . In Seattle, Campbell replaces Justin Sturtz, now the head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks.


The above tweet from the Brandon Wheat Kings appeared here last week. Stacey Preston now has started a GoFundMe for her nieces and nephews, who “have lost their best friend, their Dad. . . . Unfortunately, the kids do not have the financial resources to lay him to rest. If anyone would like to help they would be grateful, and so would I.” . . . Al Gibbs left behind four children, including 18-year-old twins. . . . A friend of his told me: “In 2015 he had a chronic infection in a shoulder and hip that resulted in his kidneys failing, exacerbating his diabetes and setting off a litany of other health challenges. There were a couple of periods of time over the past seven years when Al was told he qualified for a kidney transplant and a niece was found to be a match. The catch was always that Al needed to be healthy enough for the surgery. . . . This never quite happened.”

If you would like to help, the GoFundMe page is 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.


Optimist

Looking back at WHL’s Fab 15 . . . Vikman, Giants one victory shy of playoff shocker . . . Back surgery slows down Trapper

There won’t be any WHL teams roaring back from being down 3-1 to win a series in the first round of these playoffs.

So, at least for now, the number of teams to have erased such a deficit in order WHLto win a series remains at 15 . . .

A few years ago, Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the long-time radio voice of the Portland Winterhawks, filled my inbox with a whole lot of WHL playoff history. It included information on WHL series that went the distance, either seven or nine games. (Yes, there was a time — back in the good old days — when there were best-of-nine series in this league.) . . .

(ASIDE: Not to tell the WHL what to do, but Scooter should be the next person honoured with the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence.)

So I did some fact-checking and have since updated some of the information to include the most-recent playoff years. . . . What follows is a brief look at the 15 series in WHL history in which a team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win Game 7, with two of those being the only ones to erase a 0-3 deficit and win a series. . . .

(ANOTHER NOTE: To anyone so inclined to keep track of this stuff into the future, you should go right ahead and clip-and-save whatever you see here now and in the next little while. Because my days of keeping track of things such as this and, say, coaching victories have come to an end.)

Anyway . . . on to the Fab 15 . . .

1980 — Brandon vs. Calgary (first round) — Brandon trailed 3-1. Brandon (68 points) beat Calgary (88 points) on the road in Game 7. Brandon won Game 7, 10-3, in Calgary.

1981 — Victoria vs. Calgary (league final) — Victoria trailed 3-1. Victoria won Games 5 and 6 in Calgary, then won Game 7 at home. First time team erased 3-1 deficit in league final to win title. They played a 3-3-1 format. . . . Victoria won 7-4 and 4-2 in Calgary to get to 3-3, then won Game 7, 4-2 at home. The last three games were played on consecutive nights.

1996 — Portland vs. Spokane (first round) — Spokane rallied from down 3-0 to win Game 7 at home. . . . Spokane won Game 5, 4-3 in 2OT, in Portland. F Joe Cardarelli tied it on PP at 19:29 of third period. F Randy Favaro won it at 3:50 of 2OT. . . . Spokane won Game 7 at home, 4-3 in OT. F Darren Sinclair scored at 0:58.

1996 — Prince Albert vs. Regina (conference semifinal) — Regina was up 3-1 and Prince Albert rallied to win the next three, including Game 7 at home. . . . Prince Albert won 8-5 at home and 5-0 in Regina to get to 3-3, then won Game 7, 5-1, at home.

1998 — Calgary vs. Swift Current (conference semifinal) — Swift Current was up 3-1 and Calgary won the next three. Calgary (84 points) beat Swift Current (97 points) at home in Game 7. Calgary was division champion, and thus had home-ice advantage. . . . Calgary won 3-2 at home, then 4-1 in Swift Current to get to 3-3, then won Game 7, 1-0, at home. . . . F Brad Mehalko scored at 5:35 of the first period. Alexandre Fomitchev stopped 28 shots for the shutout.

1998 — Prince George vs. Kamloops (first round) — Kamloops was up 3-1 and Prince George won the next three, including Game 7 at home. Prince George won 4-1 at home and 4-3 in OT in Kamloops to get to 3-3, then won Game 7 at home, 2-1.

2002 — Red Deer vs. Brandon (conference final) — Brandon was up 3-1 and Red Deer won the next three, including Game 7 at home. . . . Red Deer won 4-0 at home and 3-2 in 2OT in Brandon, then won Game 7, 5-2, in Red Deer.

2003 — Spokane vs. Portland (first round) — Portland was up 3-1 and Spokane won the next three, including Game 7 at home. . . . Spokane won 8-3 at home and 3-2 in OT in Portland to get to 3-3, then won Game 7, 4-2, at home.

2004 — Everett vs. Kelowna (conference final) — Everett won the opener, then Kelowna won the next three to go up, 3-1. . . . Everett won the next three, including Game 7 on the road, with the last three all decided in overtime. . . . Everett won Game 5, 1-0, in Kelowna (D Bryan Nathe, 5:50); Game 6, 2-1, in Everett (F John Dahl, 2:44); and Game 7, 2-1, in Kelowna (F Jeff Schmidt, 7:56).

2005 — Brandon vs. Calgary (conference semifinal) — Calgary was up 3-1 and Brandon won the next three, winning Game 7 at home. . . . Brandon won 6-4 at home and 3-1 in Calgary, getting to 3-3, then won Game 7, 3-1, at home.

2010 — Calgary vs. Moose Jaw (first round) — Moose Jaw was up 3-1 and Calgary won the next three, winning Game 7 at home. . . . Calgary won 5-2 at home and 7-3 in Moose Jaw to get to 3-3, then won Game 7, 6-2, at home.

2013 — Kelowna vs. Seattle (first round) — Kelowna rallied from down 3-0 to win Game 7 at home. . . . Kelowna won Game 6, 4-3 in OT, in Kent, Wash. Teams were 3-3 after one period. F Myles Bell won it at 10:39 of OT. . . .  Kelowna won Game 7, 3-2 in OT, at home when F Tyson Baillie scored his third goal of the game at 5:10.

2014 — Medicine Hat vs. Kootenay (conference semifinal) — Kootenay was up 3-1 and Medicine Hat won the next three, including Game 7 at home. . . . Medicine Hat won 9-2 at home and 2-1 in Cranbrook, getting to 3-3, then won Game 7, 4-1, at home.

2017 — Lethbridge vs. Red Deer (first round) — Red Deer was up 3-1. Lethbridge won Game 7 at home. . . . Lethbridge got to 3-3 by winning 5-3 at home and 4-1 in Red Deer, then won Game 7, 6-2, at home.

2017 – Regina vs. Swift Current (conference semifinal) — Swift Current led series 3-1 after winning Game 4 in 3OT. Regina won Game 7 at home. . . . Regina won 3-2 at home and 5-3 in Swift Current to get to 3-3, then won Game 7, 5-1, at home.


Van


With six of the WHL’s eight first-round series having been decided in four or five games, there are only two series still active.

In Saturday night’s lone game, Vancouver visited Everett one night after the WHLplayoffs2022Giants lit up the Silvertips to the tune of 11-6 to forge a 2-2 series tie. ICYMI, Vancouver scored the game’s last five goals in that one. . . . Should Everett win the series, it would face the Seattle Thunderbirds in the second round, with the Kamloops Blazers and Portland Winterhawks facing off in the other one. . . . A Vancouver series victory would put Kamloops against the Giants, while Portland clashed with Seattle. . . .

In the Eastern Conference, the Red Deer Rebels hold a 3-2 series lead as they go into Brandon to face the Wheat Kings in Game 6 today (Sunday). Should Red Deer win the series, it would set up a second round featuring the Winnipeg Ice against the Moose Jaw Warriors and the Edmonton Oil Kings against Red Deer. . . . A Brandon victory would put the Ice against the Wheat Kings, while the Oil Kings took on the Warriors. . . .

Stay tuned. . . .

——

SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Everett, G Jesper Vikman stopped 50 shots — yes, 50! — to lead the VancouverVancouver Giants to a 3-0 victory over the Silvertips. . . . The Giants hold a 3-2 series lead and get their first chance to end it on Monday in Langley, B.C. . . . In the regular season, Everett finished atop the Western Conference with 100 points (45-13-10); the Giants (24-39-5, 53) tied for sixth but wound up eighth after going through two tiebreakers. . . . Everett scored 95 more goals than Vancouver in the regular season, while allowing 64 fewer. . . . Vikman, who turned 20 on March 11, is from Stockholm. The Vegas Golden Knights selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . . This season, with the Giants, he was 17-15-2, 3.05, .903 with three shutouts. However, he didn’t play after March 4 before returning for the playoffs. He has appeared in four of the first-round games, going 3-1-0, 3.85, .887. . . . Last night, F Adam Hall, who scored 17 times in 60 regular-season games, opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the series, at 10:42 of the first period. . . . F Fabian Lysell (4) made it 2-0 at 7:48 of the third, and D Connor Horning (1) added a PP score at 18:33. . . . Hall also had an assist on Lysell’s goal. . . . G Braden Holt blocked 28 shots for Everett.


Bunny


I woke up Saturday to a note from an old friend . . .

“Really enjoy your Taking Note. I do still remember I owe you lunch. Just want to bring you and my hockey collection up to speed. Came into (Regina General Hospital) for neck surgery on Wednesday where they were going to insert a rod and 4 screws that would take 3 hours. Instead it came to 2 rods, 10 screws and 7 hours of surgery. Glad to hear your wife is a kidney survivor. Keep up the great work.”

Now you’re up to date on the recent adventures of Barry Trapp, a familiar face in hockey arenas across the west for a long, long time. . . . If you would like to wish him well, drop him a note at btrapp@sasktel.net.


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.


Tiptoe

Scattershooting on Saturday night while chuckling over Pop’s latest thoughts . . .

Scattershooting

The NHL told its teams on Saturday that they could restrict admission to their dressing rooms in an attempt to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. . . . The league chose NHLnot to impose the restrictions, while leaving the decision up to each of its 31 teams. . . . If a team chooses to close its dressing room to the media, coaches and players will be made available in interview areas. . . . Earlier in the day, the New York Islanders, who lost to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, 3-2 in OT, enforced the media restriction. “We will . . . pro-act to what we’re all going through to try and prevent as much potential associations with anybody who somehow contracted something,” Lou Lamoriello, the Islanders’ president and general manager, said.“We cannot control the amount of press that go in the room who have credentials, who come from everywhere. It’d be different if we knew the people.”

At the same time, the Washington Capitals and Penguins had their dressing rooms open after a Saturday afternoon game in Pittsburgh, which the visitors won, 5-2, and the Anaheim Ducks opened their room to the media after a practice session. The San Jose Sharks didn’t open their room after a pratice, and the Dallas Stars kept their room closed after a 1-0 loss to the visiting Nashville Predators. The Los Angeles Kings also kept their room closed after beating the visiting Minnesota Wild, 7-3.

Later Saturday, the New York Rangers announced that their dressing room will be closed, while Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said on Hockey Night in Canada that the NHL is expected to make the closure league-wide at some time over the next couple of days.

——

The WHL and its 22 teams won’t have to act to restrict media from dressing rooms because that’s something that happened prior to the 2002-03 season.

The WHL’s media policy, in place since then, reads in part: “The dressing rooms of each team are considered restricted access — no access is granted without the permission of the team concerned. Access to the dressing room, by the media or other personnel, is strictly at the discretion of each team.”

——

Among cancellations related to the COVID-019 virus announced Saturday were the 2020 world women’s hockey championship and the Arctic Winter Games.

The IIHF pulled the plug on the women’s championship that would have brought 10 Halifaxwomenteams to Halifax and Truro, N.S., from March 31 through April 10. It’s expected that Halifax and Truro will play host to the 2021 tournament. The decision to cancel this year’s tournament was made during a conference call on Saturday. . . . The 2003 women’s championship, which was scheduled for Beijing, was cancelled due to the SARS outbreak.

From The Hockey News:

“The Women’s World Championship is also the seventh event the IIHF has cancelled this week. . . . International hockey’s governing body announced Monday the 2020 U18 World Championship Div. II Group B tournament in Bulgaria was set to be cancelled. Other events cancelled included U18 World Championship Div. II Group A in Tallinn, Estonia; U18 World Championship Div. III Group A in Istanbul, Turkey; U18 World Championship Div. III Group B in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg; Women’s World Championship Div. I Group B in Katowice, Poland; and Women’s World Championship Div. II Group A in Jaca, Spain. Those decisions came on the recommendation of the IIHF’s medical committee.”

The men’s world championship, scheduled for Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, from May 8-24, remains a go, at least for now. Rene Fasel, the IIHF’s president, has said the tournament would be cancelled rather than play in empty arenas.

Also still on tap, at least for now, is the men’s U-18 World championship that is scheduled for Plymouth, Mich., from April 16 through April 26.

Meanwhile, the 2020 Arctic Winter Games that were to have been held in Whitehorse, from March 15 through March 21, also were cancelled. The event would have drawn more than 2,000 participants, some of them from such countries as Finland, Greenland, Norway and Russia. . . . Catherine Elliott, Yukon’s acting chief medical officer of health, had recommended the move.

——

Daryl Wolski, a player agent with 2112 Hockey Agency who specializes in international placements, had four interesting tweets on Saturday:

“NLA and NLB leagues in Switzerland may considering cancelling both seasons on March 15.”

“KHL and VHL to meet to discuss 2020-21 season potential options for teams based in China.”

“Asia Hockey League will stream final playoff games and will have no fans allowed.”

“NLA teams in Switzerland get 1.6 millions Swiss (about Cdn $2.2 million) per team for TV rights therefore will consider playing with no fans.”


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, and Gregg Popovich, who fills the same position with the San Antonio Spurs, are men of strong opinions, opinions they aren’t afraid to share.

And, I say, good for them.

On Friday, Kerr, along with players Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, attended an anti-gun rally in Oakland that shone a spotlight on, what Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, called “the city’s progress in combatting gun violence.”

Kerr told Ostler: “I do some work with the Giffords Center. Gabby Giffords was there, the former congresswoman from Arizona, who has become a friend. We put together the event with the Giffords Center. It was really a chance for us to learn what Oakland is doing to reduce gun violence, and it’s remarkable. They’re doing work that is groundbreaking, they’ve reduced gun violence by 50 percent over the last five years.”

Ostler’s story is right here.

Meanwhile, Popovich was, according to Kristian Winfield and Dennis Young of the New York Post, ripping “into Donald Trump’s response to coronavirus.”

Popovich said: “I think most people understand the situation we’re in. Anything we can do in any facet of our lives, either as groups or individuals that can bring honor to our country, that can make us not be embarrassed about the way our government performs its job, would be wonderful.”

“Today,” Popovich said on Friday, “it was our president blaming Barack Obama for the fact that we don’t have the (testing) kits that we need right now. Seriously.”

Popovich then came up with a quote for all-time. “I think,” Popovich said, “he thinks Barack Obama tripped Mary Decker.”

In the 1984 Olympic Summer Games, Decker fell in the 3,000-metre race.

The Post’s story is right here.



The Kootenay Ice are gone. Again. . . . This time it’s the Ice from the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. The 14-year-old franchise, which played out of Trail, has been suspended by BC Hockey, apparently because of low player numbers. . . . Keegan Goodrich, BC Hockey’s vice-president of communications, told Jim Bailey of the Trail Daily Times: “It’s not cancelled; we just aren’t operating it until numbers change.” . . . Bailey’s story is right here.


The WHL honoured a couple of familiar faces with Distinguished Service Awards this weekend. . . . Bernie Burtney, the supervisor of off-ice officials for the Saskatoon Blades, was saluted on Friday night. Burtney has been a volunteer with the Blades for 30 seasons. . . . On Saturday night, it was Dean (Scooter) Vrooman’s turn to be honoured. Vrooman, who has retired, spent 32 seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, and was the team’s radio voice for 26 of those. He also handled corporate sponsorships and made numerous appearances on behalf of the club in the community. . . . The WHL presents two such awards each season, one to someone from each conference who has made “an extraordinary contribution.” . . . Perhaps next season the WHL will consider honouring the late Pat Rozek, who was the Kamloops Blazers’ scorekeeper for 25 seasons at the time of his death on Dec. 22, 2016, at the age of 64.

Raiders can win WHL title tonight. . . . Giants hope to make some history. . . . Hudak wins Cranbrook by-election


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John Hudak, who was the spokesperson for the Green Bay Committee that attempted to help keep the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, won a seat on Cranbrook’s City Council in a by-election that was completed on Saturday. . . . Final preliminary results, as released by the City of Cranbrook, had Hudak with 1,115 votes (45.9 per cent of the vote), well ahead of Ron Miles, who was second at 518, and three other candidates. . . . The by-election was the result of Danielle Eaton having resigned in January. . . . A retired RCMP officer, Hudak was part of the Green Bay Committee, a group comprising mostly local businessmen who offered to sell sponsorships and season tickets in an attempt to benefit the Ice. However, the committee, which said it quickly sold $50,000 worth of sponsorships and tickets, disbanded when it realized that it wasn’t going to get any co-operation from the WHL team’s owners. . . . The Ice relocated to Winnipeg when its season ended.


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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies won the QMJHL championship with a 4-0 victory over the qmjhlhost Halifax Mooseheads on Saturday. The Huskies won the series, 4-2. . . . Huskies G Samuel Harvey stopped 28 shots to earn the shutout. Harvey, who is in his fifth season with the Huskies, has 20 career shutouts — 15 in the regular season and five in the playoffs. He put up four of those playoff shutouts in these playoffs. . . . Both teams will appear in the Memorial Cup as the Mooseheads are the host team. . . . This is the 11th straight season in which the host team for the Memorial Cup hasn’t been able to win its league championship.


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NOTES: The Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants arrived back in Prince Albert on Saturday afternoon and will resume the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Game 6 tonight (Sunday) at the Art Hauser Centre. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, and can win the second championship in franchise history — the first came in 1985 — with a victory tonight. . . . Should the Giants win tonight — and they won Game 5, 4-3, on Friday in Langley, B.C. — Game 7 would be played on Monday night in Prince Albert. . . .

Following the conclusion of Game 5 in Langley on Friday, fans in Prince Albert began lining up at the Art Hauser Centre at 11 p.m., with tickets for Games 6 and 7 going on sale Saturday morning. . . . Late Friday night, the Raiders advised fans via Twitter: “Tickets for Game 7 are non-refundable. If a Game 7 isn’t necessary, the tickets can be used as a voucher for any regular-season game in the 2019-20 season.” . . . Now I don’t know how much a ticket to Game 7 was selling for, but I have to think one of those tickets would be worth a whole lot more than one regular-season game. Wouldn’t it? . . .

If the Giants are to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, they are going to have to do something that has been accomplished only once before in WHL history. . . . There have been 11 championship finals go to Game 7; the first 10 were won by the home team. The last final to need Game 7 was in 2014 when the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team in WHL history to win Game 7 on the road. They beat the Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. . . .

Here is a look at the previous WHL championship series that have been decided in Game 7 . . .

1975 — The Saskatoon Blades actually won the first two games of what was an eight-point final — in other words, no OT — beating the New Westminster Bruins twice in legendary Queen’s Park Arena. The Bruins then won twice in Saskatoon, before the Blades won Game 5 at home. Back in New Westminster, the Bruins won, 4-1 and 7-2, to take the series, 8-6.

1976 — This also was an eight-point series featuring the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. The teams played to a 3-3 tie in Game 6 in New Westminster and the Bruins won Game 7, 3-1, the next night, winning the series, 9-5.

1981 — The Calgary Wranglers led the Victoria Cougars, 3-1, before the bottom fell out. The Cougars came back with 7-4 and 4-2 victories in Calgary, then won Game 7 at home, 4-2. This is the series that featured goaltenders Grant Fuhr (Victoria) and Mike Vernon (Calgary).

1984 — The Regina Pats won the middle three games at home to go ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, 3-2. The scene shifted to Kamloops where the Blazers won, 4-3 in OT and 4-2. In Game 6, the Pats were 12 seconds from winning the championship when Kamloops F Dean Evason tied the game. F Ryan Stewart later won it at 13;13 of OT.

1987 —The Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks played a 3-3-1 format and were all even going back to Alberta for Game 7 after the Tigers won Game 6, 4-3. Back home, the Tigers won Game 7, 6-2.

1992 — The Kamloops Blazers took a 3-1 lead over the Saskatoon Blades in a final that used a 3-3-1 format. The Blades won Games 5 and 6 (5-1 and 4-3) at home. The Blazers won it all by taking Game 7, 8-0, at home.

1993 — The Portland Winterhawks led the series, 3-2, over the Swift Current Broncos after a 3-1 victory in Game 5 in Oregon. The Broncos won Game 6, 7-5, in Portland, then went home and posted a 6-0 victory in Game 7.

1994 — For the third straight season, the WHL final went seven games, and for the second time in three seasons it featured the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades. Using a 2-3-2 format, Kamloops won twice at home and then took Game 4 in Saskatoon for a 3-1 lead. The Blades tied it by winning 3-2 at home and 2-1 in Kamloops, but the Blazers took Game 7, 8-1, at home.

2007 — For the first time in 13 years, the WHL final went seven games. This time, it featured the Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants took a 3-2 series lead on the strength of three shutouts — 1-0, 4-0 and 3-0 — from G Tyson Sexsmith. But the Tigers went home for the last two games and won them both — 4-3 and 3-2 in double OT, the latter on a goal by F Brennan Bosch.

2012 — The Edmonton Oil Kings won Game 5, 4-3, at home to take a 3-2 lead over the Portland Winterhawks, who went home and won Game 6, 3-2, two nights later. The series shifted to Edmonton for Game 7 and the Oil Kings won, 4-1.

2014 — It was the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks one more time. Portland won twice at home, then Edmonton did the same. The Oil Kings won Game 5, 3-2, in Portland, only to have the Winterhawks go into Edmonton and win Game 6, 6-5 in OT. The Oil Kings won the final with a 4-2 road victory in Game 7. The WHL’s first season was 1966-67. The Oil Kings are the only team in the league’s history to have won Game 7 of a championship series on the road.

(NOTE: Thanks to Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the legendary former play-by-play voice of the Winterhawks, for laying the groundwork for all of this.)


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