Raiders make money in 2021-22 . . . Americans may not see Luypen until 2023 . . . Lazaruk back for 29th season in Saskatoon

The Prince Albert Raiders told shareholders at their annual general meeting on Wednesday night that they had a profit of $152,191 for their 2021-22 fiscal year.

That is a considerable increase from 2020-21, a season that was shortened PrinceAlbertconsiderably by the pandemic. That season, which for East Division clubs featured 24 games and was played entirely in Regina, the Raiders showed a profit of $25,891. However, that included $1,081,179 in government grants, $600,000 of that from the Saskatchewan government.

“From the start of the (2021-22) regular season,” the team said in a news release last night, “the Raiders saw a large number of ticket sales, with the primary reason being it was the first time that the team had played at the Art Hauser Centre since March 6, 2020. The organization also saw a large uptick in promotions, fundraising and advertising, thanks to the ability to host events inside the rink.”

The Raiders’ news release included only three paragraphs on the AGM.

In 2019-20, a season that was halted by the pandemic in March before the regular season was completed, the Raiders lost $331,895. That followed a 2018-19 season in which they won the WHL championship and showed a profit of $633,314.

Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are owned by local shareholders and as such are required to present profit-loss statements at annual general meetings.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have scheduled their AGM for Sept. 19, with the Moose Jaw Warriors going on Sept. 20 and the Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 4.

The WHL’s other 18 teams all are privately owned.



The Tri-City Americans, looking to add some experience and some offence to their lineup, acquired F Jalen Luypen, 20, from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Aug. Tri-City9. The Americans also got two conditional WHL draft picks — a fifth-rounder in 2024 and a second in 2026 — while giving up F Rhett Melnyk, 18, D Bryson Andregg, 19, and a conditional 2023 second-round selection. . . . Luypen had been picked by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2021 draft and he signed a three-year entry-level deal earlier this summer. . . . But now comes the bad news. Luypen apparently suffered an injury to his left shoulder during last spring’s playoffs and tried to play through it as the Oil Kings made their run to the Memorial Cup. In the end, however, he needed more than offseason rehab, and he now has undergone rotator cuff surgery. The Blackhawks have said that he will be out for up to 18 weeks, which means he won’t be available to the Americans until after Christmas. . . . As a 20-year-old, Luypen is eligible to play in the AHL this season, but one would think the Blackhawks would much prefer him to play with the Americans once he has recovered from the surgery. . . .

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if the Americans and Oil Kings end up Edmontonrenegotiating any parts of what was an intricate deal. . . . As reported by Alan Caldwell shortly after the deal, here are the original conditions: Edmonton gets the 2023 second if Luypen comes back from the pros by Nov. 15. If he returns after Nov 15 but before Jan 10, it becomes a 2023 third-round pick instead. If he does not return to the WHL this year, Edmonton doesn’t get a 2023 pick at all, and Tri-City gets the Edmonton 2026 second-round pick. The 2024 pick is tied to the 2023 pick — if Edmonton gets Tri-City’s 2023 second, then Tri-City gets Edmonton’s 2024 fifth-round pick. If Edmonton gets the 2023 third-rounder instead, then Tri-City gets the 2024 sixth-rounder instead. . . .

Last season, Luypen put up 64 points, 29 of them goals, in 66 regular-season games. He added four goals and nine assist in nine playoff games as the Oil Kings won the WHL title. He followed that up with a goal and two assists in three Memorial Cup games.


Potholes


There was good — nay, great — news for fans of the WHL and, in particular, the SaskatoonSaskatoon Blades on Tuesday. That’s when Les Lazaruk revealed that he hasn’t retired, nor has he moved on to another job. Yes, he will be back for a 29th season of calling Blades’ games. . . . Lazaruk tweeted that he “did pursue a job opportunity,” but was told on Monday that he wasn’t going to be offered that position. . . . “I may be 63 years old,” he added, “but doing Blades hockey play-by-play makes me feel more like 36!” . . . You likely wouldn’t be wrong if you guessed that Lazaruk had interviewed for the play-by-play opening that TSN has on the TV crew that covers the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. There has yet to be an announcement on who will replace Dennis Beyak, who has retired from the spot he held since 2011.


The Regina Pats erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Swift Broncos, 4-2, in an exhibition game played in Estevan, Sask., on Tuesday night. The Pats, who got two goals from F Connor Bedard, hung around after the game to sign some autographs and visit with the fans.



Fan


THE COACHING GAME:

The Portland Winterhawks have hired Brendan Burke, one of their former goaltenders, as assistant goaltending coach. Burke, 32, will work with goaltending coach Andy Moog “to assist in the development of Winterhawks goalies and prospects,” according to a news release. . . . Burke, who is from Scottsdale, lives in the Phoenix area and also works as the goaltending director with the Jr. Coyotes program. . . . Burke spent four seasons (2011-15) with the Winterhawks, then played his 20-year-old season with the OHL’s London Knights. And think about this — he won a WHL title with the Winterhawks (2013), an OHL title and a Memorial Cup championship with the Knights (2016), and three Canada West titles and a national championship with the U of Alberta Golden Bears. . . .

The NHL’s Calgary Flames have added Rebecca Johnston, a three-time Olympic gold medal-winner with the Canadian women’s team, as a full-time member of their organization. According to the Flames, Johnston, 32, “will work within the player development team, assisting in prospect evaluations and on-ice instruction and work with (the Flames Foundation) in grassroots, growing (hockey) in our community.” . . . You may have heard of her uncle — Mike Johnston is the vice-president, general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders have signed general manager and head coach Jim Hulton to a three-year contract. Hulton has been the QMJHL’s coach of the year each of the past two seasons; he was the CHL coach of the year last season. He is going into his eighth season as the Islanders’ head coach and his seventh as GM. . . . Guy Girouard, Charlottetown’s assistant GM and associate coach, signed a two-year deal, as did assistant coach Kevin Henderson, equipment manager Andrew (Spider) MacNeill and athletic therapist Devin Atkin. . . .

Former WHL F Dane Byers has joined the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League as an assistant coach. Byers, 36, is from Nipawin, Sask. He played four seasons (2002-06) with the Raiders before going on to a pro career that concluded after the 2018-19 season. He spent the last four seasons in Europe. . . . With the Mintos, he’ll be working alongside Tim Leonard, who is into his second season of his second stint as the Mintos’ head coach. another former WHLer, is the Mintos’ head coach. He was the head coach from 2002-12 before joining the Raiders for two seasons as an assistant coach. . . .

The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Derek Stuart, their general manager and head coach, to a five-year contract extension that will take him through the 2026-27 season. . . . Stuart has been with the Dynamiters since May 9, 2016.


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.


Minivan

Why do some leagues rush through their playoffs? . . . Broncos dump Pats . . . Ice gets past Raiders in OT . . . Royals beat Rockets

I have long wondered why some hockey leagues play a long, grinding regular season only to get to the playoffs and seemingly rush to get them over with as kijhlquickly as possible. I mean, shouldn’t the playoffs be the highlight of your season? Shouldn’t it all be about crowning the league’s best team? If it is, why not slow things down and let the players enjoy it?

Well, it turns out I’m not alone.

“ . . . I think in terms of injuries it’s having an effect on every team,” Derek Stuart, the general manager and head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, told the Kimberley Bulletin’s Paul Rodgers the other day.  said. “We play a ridiculous amount of games in a short time and guys are getting hurt. It’s something that I’ve said before has got to change, but they have injuries as well, it’s not just us.”

At the time, the Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs were tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven semifinal series. The Leafs went into Kimberley and won, 4-3 in OT, on Monday night and — you guessed it! — they played again the very next night, this time in Nelson. This one needed extra time, too, before Nelson won, 2-1, in the second OT period. Game 7, had it been needed, was to have been played tonight in Kimberley. Three games in as many nights at this stage of a season simply is silliness.

Look, I’m not picking on the KIJHL here because other leagues seem to get in a hurry like this, too. But . . . why do leagues get to this time of their seasons and force teams to play three games in three nights or even four in five?

In some instances, I’m sure the primary reason is that everything is based on the championship at the end of the season — be it provincial or national. Leagues have to be finished their playoffs in time for their champion to get to that competition.

That being the case, why can’t the leagues start their seasons earlier, or hack some games from the regular-season schedule?

They owe it to the players.

“It’s crazy,” Stuart said. “It’s absolutely insane what we’re making these young kids do, playing this many games in such a short period of time. It’s insane . . . I can’t believe that it’s actually happening.”

By that point, Rodgers reported that Kimberley had played 17 games in 30 days, with Nelson having played 20 games in 30 days.

The Dynamiters were without F Carter Spring (broken leg), F Ty Smith (broken ankle) and F Conner Furukawa (knee).


Month


Gregg Popovich, the head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, has a degree in Soviet studies from the Air Force Academy. Here he is in conversation with Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

““Here, any sane individual is traumatized at what they’re seeing. And it’s still impossible for us, as I’m sure you agree, we can’t feel what it would be like to drive you wife and your daughter and son to the border, and say goodbye and know you’re going to go back and die, because the Russians are going to pull this bulls—t that a lot of people fall for, including some of the people in our government.

“Those are the people that really make me sick. For political and personal reasons, they’re willing to jump on a (Vladimir) Putin bandwagon. Guys like (Sen. Ted) Cruz … you could just go down the list. They’re just despicable people for even thinking about saying the things they’ve said. You’ve got the people on Fox News I won’t even name, they know what they’re saying, they’re highly intelligent people, but they’re still willing to do it. Just lickspittles of the highest order.”


World


Nine of Canada’s junior A leagues will have representatives in Estevan, Sask., in May to play for the Centennial Cup. Including the host Bruins, there will be 10 teams competing, from May 19-29. . . . “In lieu of today’s announcement,” read a news release, “it was also determined that, since each of the nine member-league champions will advance directly to compete in the Centennial Cup, the four CJHL regional championship events (Fred Page Cup, Dudley-Hewitt Cup, ANAVET Cup, Doyle Cup) won’t be held this season.” . . . Keep in mind that the BCHL pulled out of the CJHL before this season got started, so its champion won’t be in the Centennial Cup competition.


Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that the Silvertips will be without D EverettRonan Seeley on a week-to-week basis. Seeley, a 19-year-old in his fourth WHL season, suffered an apparent shoulder injury on Friday during a 5-3 loss to the host Vancouver Giants. F Adam Hall of the Giants was given a minor for boarding on the play and then was suspended for three games under supplemental discipline. . . . “The good news for Seeley and Everett,” Patterson wrote, “is that (GM/head coach Dennis) Williams said he’s fully confident Seeley will be back in time for the playoffs to start, which being around April 22.” . . . Seeley, with 41 points in 48 games, and Olen Zellweger, with 67 points, including 55 assists, in 48 games, gave the Silvertips two minute-eating veteran defencemen, who are a big reason why Everett sits atop the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers and five up on the Portland Winterhawks.


SmackTV


Some news on the Kootenay Ice, just in case there are WHL fans out there who remember them . . .


TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

F Raphael Pelletier scored twice to help the host Swift Current Broncos to a 5-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Pelletier, who has 17 goals, broke a 3-3 tie at 17:02 of the third period. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 21 games as he scored twice to give him 43. His second goal, coming on the first penalty shot of his WHL career, tied the score 3-3 at 6:44 of the third. He also has goals in seven straight games. . . . Bedard, who also had an assist, now has 83 points in 51 games. . . . Swift Current was without G Reid Dyck, F Josh Filmon and D Owen Pickering, all of whom are in Kitchener for tonight’s Top Prospects Game. . . . With Dyck away, the Broncos had Joey Rocha, who is from Nanaimo, backing up Isaac Poulter. Rocha, who turned 17 on Jan. 22, has yet to play a WHL game. He spent this season with the U18 Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Broncos (24-30-7) hold down the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and two ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders. The Pats (23-29-5) are 10th, four points behind the Broncos. . . .

F Jack Finley scored his 20th goal of the season with 15.3 seconds left in OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 3-2 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . F Vladislav Shilo (6) had pulled the Raiders even at 7:22 of the third period. . . . The Raiders got 39 saves from G Tikhon Chaika. . . . Ice G Daniel Hauser stopped 25 shots in improving his numbers to 25-2-1, 2.06, .914. . . . Winnipeg (44-9-5) is tied with the idle Edmonton Oil Kings (45-12-3) atop the Eastern Conference. The Ice holds two games in hand. . . . The Raiders (24-29-5) are ninth, two points behind Swift Current. . . .

In Victoria, F Bailey Peach’s 34th goal, at 13:43 of the third period, broke a 2-2 tie and the Royals went on to beat the Kelowna Rockets, 4-2. . . . F Riley Gannon helped the winners with his 20th goal and an assist. . . . The Royals also got a goal, his 15th, and an assist from F Tarun Fizer. . . . The Royals (20-34-6) are seventh in the Western Conference, four points behind the Vancouver Giants and three ahead of the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Rockets (34-17-6) are fifth, four points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Royals and Rockets will play again tonight in Victoria.


Safety


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.


Syrup

Some B.C. teams cleared for 100 per cent capacity . . . Not Blazers, Cougars, Rockets . . . Want a drink at Kraken game? Bring money. Lots of money


B.C.’s NDP government and the Provincial Health Office have been guilty of mixed messaging and poor communications on more than one occasion over the last 18 or 19 months or however long we have been in this pandemic-induced mess.

That appears to have been the case again on Tuesday.

Of course, no one should have been surprised when it was announced that (some) facilities, including the home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, would be allowed to go to 100 per cent capacity — up from 50 — on Oct. 25. Uhh, the Canucks’ home-opener is scheduled for Oct. 26. I know. I know. Surely, a coincidence. Right?

But there are a lot of junior hockey teams in B.C., and many of them believed that they were included in the change to 100 per cent capacity. Except it turns out they weren’t.

While the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals are among the 100 Club, the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars aren’t. Neither are the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, Cranbrook Bucks, Merritt Centennials, Penticton Vees, Prince George Spruce Kings, Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Trail Smoke Eaters, Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors. Oh, and the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks aren’t in the 100 Club either. At least, not yet.

It took Richard Zussman of Global BC to unmuddy the waters.


If you missed it over the weekend, the family of the late Jimmy Hayes, a former nhl2NHLer, revealed that he had fentanyl and cocaine in his system when he died in August. That came after he had ended up addicted to painkillers while rehabbing an injury. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN spoke with Len Boogaard, whose son Derek, a former NHL/WHL player, died of an accidental overdose in May 2011. . . . “How many players have to die before the NHL acknowledges that there’s a problem?” Len Boogaard said. “Ten years ago, with Derek, I maintained that it was a learning experience for everybody, so that Derek didn’t die in vain. Well, we continue to just go through the same thing. After me it was Steve Montador’s dad. And now it’s Jimmy’s dad saying he wants to bring this to everyone’s attention, so it doesn’t happen to everyone else. I guess it’s going to take more players dying, maybe three or four back-to-back again, or maybe more, for the NHL to do something. Maybe it has to happen again, God forbid. I know it sounds so callous . . .” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here. . . . And if you haven’t read the book Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard, written by John Branch of The New York Times, it’s well worth your time.


You should know that there aren’t any “overage” players in the WHL.

Merriam-Webster defines “overage” as being “too old to be useful.”

There was a time, prior to April 2, 1985, when the WHL and its teams referred to 20-year-old players as “overagers.” However, that came to an end at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on that sunny April day in 1985.

At that same meeting, governors voted to allow each team to dress three 20-year-olds, up from two, a rule that remains in existence today.

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

——

There were 20-year-olds in action on Tuesday night as the WHL featured two games. Some highlights . . .

In Medicine Hat, F Lukas Svejkovsky, a 20-year-old, scored his league-leading seventh goal of the season at 2:17 of OT to give the Tigers a 5-4 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . F Teague Patton (1) of the Tigers (3-3-1) had tied the game at 8:24 of the third period. . . . Svejkovsky also had three assists, with D Bogdans Hodass also finishing with a goal, his second, and three assists. . . . D Mathew Ward (4) had a goal and two assists for the visitors. . . . The Broncos (2-5-1) had opened the season with a home-and-home sweep of the Tigers. Swift Current now has lost six straight (0-4-2). . . .

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 5-3 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . F Mekai Sanders (2) scored once and added an assist for Seattle (3-2-1) which had lost it previous three games (0-2-1). . . . Seattle lost F Matthew Rempe with a charging major and game misconduct at 7:06 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs (2-4-1) got to within a goal, at 4-3, when F Blake Swetlikoff (1) scored on a PP at 9:18 but they weren’t able to equalize.


Medical


The Foo Fighters were on stage at Climate Pledge in Arena, the home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, on Tuesday night. . . . If you’re thinking of catching an NHL game there once the U.S. opens up its border, well, you may want to visit your banker first. . . .


If you enjoy reading hockey-related notebooks, I’ve got one for you. Ken Campbell, who spent so many years writing for The Hockey News, now is on his own and writes at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . His weekly notebook is right here, and there is an especially interesting piece on a whole lot of scouts testing positive after attending a recent event.


JUST NOTES: F Nathan MacKinnon was back in the Colorado Avalanche’s lineup on Tuesday night, his stint with COVID-19 over after a couple of negative tests. He had been asymptomatic as he missed his team’s first two games of the NHL’s regular season. MacKinnon is fully vaccinated so, under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, he won’t lose any pay. . . . D Jack Johnson also is back with Colorado after missing one game following a positive test. He since has had two negatives. . . . The Winnipeg Jets were without F Blake Wheeler, their captain, on Tuesday night when they visited the Minnesota Wild. He has tested positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms; the remainder of the team also tested negative on Tuesday morning. Wheeler will be in isolation for at least 10 days, so won’t play in the Jets’ home-opener on Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks.



So . . . you’re the general manager of a hockey team and you’re thinking that you had a bad day or a bad weekend. Well, let’s take a look at Derek Stuart, the GM/head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, and what he and his squad went through last weekend. . . . Leading up to a pair of weekend games, the Dynamiters had two of their top four defencemen leave the team, one of them retiring to go into firefighting at the age of 20. . . . Then, before the weekend games arrived, three players were suspended, two of them for “participating in a multiple-fight altercation.” That mean Stuart also was suspended for a game. . . . Then, on the first shift of Saturday’s game, the Dynamiters lost their captain to a broken collarbone. Later, another forward also left with an injury. . . . When he woke up on Monday and after he had his first cuppa, he told Paul Rodgers of the Kimberley Bulletin: “I’m doing better today than I was Saturday night.” . . . There’s got to be a good country song in there somewhere. Right? . . . Rodgers’s story is right here.


The junior B Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and general manager/head coach Nick Deschenes “have mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately,” according to a three-sentence news release from the team. . . . The really interesting part of this is that the Steam is 4-1-0 to start the season. . . . Gus Cave, the associate coach, now is the interim GM/head coach. . . . Deschenes, 42, had been with the Steam since April 2020.


Oil


So . . . Washington State University’s head football coach, Nick Rolovich, who had US$10 million left on his contract, got punted from his job on Monday because he wouldn’t get vaccinated. WSU is a state school and the state mandated that all employees get vaccinated. Oh, and four assistant coaches wouldn’t comply either, and, yes, they’re gone, too. As freelancer Henry Schulman, once of the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted: “Don’t let the door hit your anti-science Palouse cabooses on your way out.”


Here’s Kendra Woodland, the pride of Kamloops, getting things done . . .


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.


Bears

Scattershooting on a Friday night while remembering the Pocket Rocket . . .

Scattershooting

Henri Richard, the Pocket Rocket, died on Friday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 84. . . . When he first earned a spot on the Montreal Canadiens’ roster, many observers felt he was in training camp only because his brother, Maurice (Rocket) Richard, was the Habs’ star. However, Henri earned a spot and before he was done he had won 11 Stanley Cups. . . . The great Roy MacGregor remembers the great Henri Richard right here.


While the Everett Silvertips topped the visiting Tri-City Americans, 6-0, in front of an announced crowd of 4,912 on Friday night, all signs point to the WHL at some point having to postpone, cancel or move games involving at least those teams in the Pacific Northwest.

The numbers in the Puget Sound region continue to rise, with the number of COVID-19 cases having reached 79 on Friday, including at least 15 deaths. The number of positive whltests are going up, up, up as more and more people are tested. The U.S., it seems, is woefully behind when it comes to testing citizens who are requesting tests, so no one has any idea just how many ill people are out there.

Meanwhile, everywhere one looks experts are recommending the shutting down of events that draw hundreds or thousands of fans, while the list of impacted events continues to grow.

On Friday, for example, Austin, Texas, declared a local disaster and that resulted in organizers cancelling the 34th annual South by Southwest — a music, technology and film festival that a year ago drew 417,000 people, many of them from international destinations. It was to have run from March 13 to 22.

In Seattle, organizers of Emerald City Comic Con, which was to begin next Thursday, announced that they were postponing their event.

But back to the WHL . . .

It could be that the WHL ends up playing in empty, or near-empty, arenas, either because fans are barred from games or just stop showing up.

“Each individual has to weigh their own risk tolerance,” Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert and professor at the U of California-Berkeley’s School of Public Health told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday. “If things remain as they are, or get worse, I think the prudent thing to do would be to not go to things that are not essential.

“And I consider sporting events not essential.”

Dr. Swartzberg also told Killion:

“I’m looking at this through the lens of a physician and public health professor. If things continue as they have been, I would encourage people not to go (to large events). It’s very hard for me to condone the idea of doing anything that throws more gasoline on the fire.”

Meanwhile, a public health board in San Jose suggested that the NHL should be postponing games; the league and the San Jose Sharks chose to ignore the suggestion.

“The National Hockey League’s decision to reject a public health board’s recommendation to postpone a game in San Jose on Thursday night is being criticized by several infectious disease experts who say indoor venues such as NHL arenas are ideal breeding grounds for the spread of coronavirus,” reported TSN’s Rick Westhead.

“The Santa Clara County department of public health recommended Thursday that the NHL delay a game in San Jose between the Sharks and the Minnesota Wild. There are at least 24 documented cases of coronavirus in Santa Clara County, Calif., the public health department said, with four new cases on Friday, adding that avoiding large gatherings may help slow the spread of the virus.”

The Sharks played Thursday before a season-low announced attendance of 14,517 in the SAP Center. On Friday, the Sharks said that Saturday night’s game against the visiting Ottawa Senators will be played as scheduled. On Friday night, the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda entertained the San Diego Gulls at the SAP Center.

Dr. Stephanie DeWitte-Orr, an assistant professor in the department of health sciences and biology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., told Westhead that the NHL is being “unwise” in not following the recommendation.

“The virus is now community circulating, meaning you don’t have to go to a country like Iran or China to get it,” Dr. DeWitte-Orr told Westhead. “It can be transmitted by respiratory droplets and at an NHL game you have a lot of people in a close proximity and a lot of people yelling. There are going to be a lot of respiratory droplets in the air. If someone with coronavirus touches seats and railing and then you touch those spots and touch your face, you’re exposed to the virus. It’s not going to help you that after the game those surfaces are cleaned.”

Westhead’s story is right here.


JUST NOTES: Speculation on the Kootenays has Derek Stuart as the first general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks, who will begin play in the BCHL next season. At present, Stuart is in his third season as GM/head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. The Dynamiters are into the second round of the KIJHL playoffs. . . . Hey, Tim Hortons, I’m thinking that you have the worst commercial on TV today. For the record, it isn’t anywhere close to being lit.

Ayres 2
David Ayres, the most famous EBUG in hockey history, was in Saskatoon on Friday night as the Blades beat the Regina Pats, 2-1 in OT. Ayres, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, was signing autographs and promoting organ donation at the WHL game. (Photo: Darren Steinke)

Wednesday in the WHL: A pair of four-goal games … ‘Sudden-Death’ Kemp beats Pats … Wolf howls in Everett

Scattershooting

Thankfully, the madness that was the WHL trading deadline has passed us by. Might I suggest that somewhere along the line some people appear to have forgotten that this is junior hockey. . . . Is it not completely absurd to be moving around 15- and 16-year-olds, some of whom haven’t even had a taste of the WHL?


Just putting this out there, but when the Regina Pats lost 4-3 in OT to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings last night they had four players — D Josh Mahura, F Nick Henry, F Robbie Holmes and D Liam Schioler — in the lineup who played in Game 6 of last spring’s WHL championship final. F Jake Leschyshyn, who played last night, missed last season’s playoffs with a knee injury. F Sam Steel, who didn’t play last night, is resting after playing for Team Canada at the WJC in Buffalo. . . . The Pats made seven trades after the Christmas break. . . . This is what you call a massive makeover.



The biggest winners at the WHL trade deadline? How about the folks who recruit for NCAA hockey teams? Hey, with the whacky WHL schedule and teams combining to move 110 players and 77 bantam draft picks since Nov. 13, you have to think NCAA recruiters are fine-tuning their sales pitches.


It didn’t used to be this way, you know. There was a time when players and draft picks didn’t fly around like snowflakes at the WHL trade deadline. Asked what changed, one GM told Taking Note: “Greed. It’s all about the money now. You can’t build a team anymore.”



One thing to keep in mind after all that has gone on in the last while is this: At the end, only one team can win.


The way I see it, there are four legitimate championship contenders in the WHL right now. My rankings look like this: 1. Portland; 2. Moose Jaw; 3. Everett; 4. Swift Current. . . . For the fans of the other 18 teams, well, the WHL is sorry but there’s always next season.


I would say that Tri-City and Kelowna are close, and I really like Vancouver as a dark horse. But they aren’t quite there. The Americans? They need to get their key guys healthy, something they haven’t been able to do for most of two seasons now.


Thanks to eliteprospects.com, a site that is invaluable during a hockey season, but even moreso with a trade deadline approaching.


Peter Anholt gets it. He really does. On Tuesday morning, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes traded two players — G Stuart Skinner and F Giorgio Estephan — who have been cornerstones of that franchise. Later that night, after the Hurricanes scored a 5-4 OT victory over the Red Deer Rebels, Anholt met with fans to explain the trade and to answer any questions they might have.


All those players who left Regina over the past while? Here’s hoping their parents didn’t purchase Memorial Cup tickets and make travel plans.



MacBeth

F Jared Aulin (Kamloops, 1997-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Rapperswil (Switzerland, NL B). This season, he has 10 goals and 33 assists in 30 games. He leads his team in assists and points; he is fourth in the league’s scoring race and second in assists.


A LITTLE OF THIS …

Scott Burt, an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs, will have his number (12) retired by the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on Feb. 3 when they entertain the Utah Grizzlies. Burt played 403 games with the Steelheads over seven seasons (2000-07). Burt is second in Steelheads history in games played (403), third in goals (111) and third in points (250). He played on two ECHL-championship clubs. . . . Burt, now 40, played four seasons (1994-98) in the WHL, making stops with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels.


The Swift Current Broncos have dropped F Logan Foster, 18, from their roster. He has joined the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. From Kamsack, Sask., Foster had one assist in seven games with the Spokane Chiefs last season. This season, he had two goals and an assist in 22 games with the Broncos. The Chiefs selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 bantam draft.


The Red Deer Rebels have dropped D Sam Pouliot, 17, from their roster. He is expected to join the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. He had one goal in 12 games with the Rebels. A native of Ottawa who now calls North Vancouver, B.C., home, he is an undrafted list player who was in his first WHL season.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have dropped F Jaxon Steele, 17, from their roster and he is expected to join the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He was pointless in 17 games with the Tigers.


THE COACHING GAME …

KABOOM! The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior KimberleyHockey have signed Derek Stuart, their general manager and head coach, to a two-season contract extension that contains an option on a third season. . . . Stuart is a former Dynamiters player. From Calgary, he is in his second season on the bench. This season, the Dynamiters are 27-6-1-1 (one OTL and one tie) and lead the overall standings by a point over the Nelson Leafs.


Scoreboard

WEDNESDAY:

At Moose Jaw, F Tristan Langan scored four goals, including three in a row in the first period, to lead the Warriors to an 8-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Moose Jaw (34-MooseJawWarriors6-3) has points in nine straight games (8-0-1) and leads the overall standings by 10 points over Swift Current. . . . Calgary (13-23-6) had lost two in a row. . . . F Jakob Stukel gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 4:22 of the first period. . . . The Warriors scored the next six goals. . . . Langan, who has 12 goals, scored at 7:42, 14:12 and 19:36 of the first period. His fourth goal, at 8:08 of the second period, gave the home side a 6-1 lead. . . . F Justin Almeida (25), F Brecon Wood (2), F Tyler Smithies, with his first WHL goal, and F Tate Popple (5) also scored for Moose Jaw. . . . Stukel, who has 20 goals, scored twice, the second one coming on a third-period penalty shot. . . . F Carson Focht also scored for Calgary. . . . The Warriors got three assists from each of F Tanner Jeannot and Jayden Halbgewachs, with D Dmitri Zaitsev getting two and Smithies one. . . . The Warriors were 2-4 on the PP; the Hitmen were 1-3. . . . The Warriors got 17 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . Calgary starter Nick Schneider gave up six goals on 22 shots in 28:08. Matthew Armitage came on to stop 10 of 12 shots in 31:52. . . . Announced attendance: 3,048.


At Regina, F Brett Kemp scored at 1:40 of OT to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the Pats. . . . The Oil Kings (12-24-6) have won two in a row. . . . The Pats (21-19-4) EdmontonOilKingshave points in two straight (1-0-1) and hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Saskatoon. . . . One night earlier, Kemp, who has 11 goals, scored at 2:06 of OT to give Edmonton a 3-2 victory in Brandon. . . . Last night, F Robbie Holmes gave Regina a 2-0 lead before the first period was half over. Holmes, who has 12 goals, scored at 4:37 and 9:59. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (18) got Edmonton’s first goal, at 12:12. . . . The Oil Kings took a 3-2 lead on two goals from F Colton Kehler, at 1:07 of the second period and 1:13 of the third. . . . The Pats forced OT when F Matt Bradley (26) scored at 14:25. . . . Fix-Wolansky also had an assist. . . . F Austin Pratt drew two assists for Regina and Bradley had one. . . . The Pats were 0-2 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-3. . . . G Josh Dechaine stopped 33 shots for Edmonton, four more than Regina’s Ryan Kubic, who was acquired earlier in the day from the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Cam Hebig, who went to Regina in the same deal, didn’t play. . . . D Libor Hajek, who came over from Saskatoon on Tuesday, made his Regina debut. F Jesse Gabrielle, who was acquired from Prince George, also was in Regina’s lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 5,372.


At Saskatoon, F Bryan Lockner scored in his Medicine Hat debut as the Tigers beat the Blades, 3-2. . . . Medicine Hat (23-16-3) leads the Central Division by 10 points over Tigers Logo OfficialLethbridge and Kootenay. . . . Saskatoon (22-18-3) has lost two in a row and now holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of Prince Albert.. . . . The Blades actually acquired Lockner from the Regina Pats on Wednesday morning, then flipped him to Medicine Hat in a deal that brought F Max Gerlach to Saskatoon. Gerlach made his Saskatoon debut and had an assist. . . . The Tigers opened up a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Gary Haden (11), at 1:57, and Lockner (8), at 6:00. . . . F Braylon Shmyr (22) pulled the Blades to within a goal at 17:39. . . . D David Quenneville (18) gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead at 12:31 of the third period. . . . The Blades got to within a goal when F Chase Wouters (11) scored at 19:45. . . . Quenneville also had an assist, as did F Elijah Brown, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday. . . . Wouters had an assist for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were 0-2 on the PP; the Tigers were 0-4. . . . G Jordan Hollett earned the victory with 31 saves, 12 fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . Maier was backed up by Tyler Brown, who was acquired from Regina earlier in the day. . . . F Ryan Jevne was back in Medicine Hat’s lineup after serving a three-game suspension. . . . Announced attendance: 2,709.


At Prince George, F Josh Maser scored four goals, the last one coming in OT, as the Cougars beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . Prince George (16-19-7) had lost its previous PrinceGeorgetwo games (0-1-1). The Cougars are tied with Kamloops, six points out of a wild-card spot. . . . Vancouver (24-14-6) is 7-0-1 in its past eight games. It went 4-0-1 on a five-game road trip that ended with this game. The Giants are second in the Western Conference, one point behind Kelowna. . . . One night earlier, the Giants had beaten the host Cougars, 5-1. . . . Last night, seven goals were scored and they all came from two players, as F Ty Ronning had all three Vancouver goals. . . . Ronning, who has 39 goals, scored the game’s first two goals, at 10:16 of the first period and 7:53 of the second. . . . Maser, who now has 20 goals, gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead with goals at 9:17 of the second and 0:08 and 17:35 of the third. . . . The Giants forced OT when Ronning completed his hat trick with 29.9 seconds left in the third. . . . Master won it at 2:49 of OT. . . . The Cougars got two assists from F Josh Curtis. . . . Vancouver was 0-2 on the PP; Prince George was 0-3. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 27 shots for the Cougars. . . . The Giants got 33 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . The Giants had traded G Todd Scott to Edmonton earlier in the day, a move that left them without a backup goaltender. Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen reports that Cougars G Isaiah DiLaura was on the lineup sheet as the Giants’ backup “and would have been called into service” had Tendeck been injured. . . . D Darian Skeoch was among Vancouver’s scratches. He had played in Tuesday’s victory. . . . Announced attendance: 2,495.


At Everett, G Dustin Wolf turned aside 29 shots to lead the Silvertips to a 4-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett (25-16-2) has won two in a row and leads the U.S. EverettDivision by a point over Portland. . . . Tri-City (22-13-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the U.S. Division, two points behind Portland and three ahead of Seattle. . . Wolf, 16, has been starting for Everett in the absence of Carter Hart, who won gold with Team Canada at the WJC in Buffalo. Wolf now is 9-5-0, 2.17, .933, with three shutouts. . . . Hart is expected to return Saturday in Spokane. . . . The Silvertips got two goals from each of F Connor Dewar and D Kevin Davis. . . . Dewar, who has 18 goals, scored the game’s first and fourth goals, at 5:27 of the first period and 8:35 of the third, on a PP. . . . Davis made it 2-0 while shorthanded at 10:41 of the second period, then added his sixth goal at 4:35 of the third. . . . F Matt Fonteyne had two assists, and Davis had one. . . . Everett was 1-4 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-3. . . . G Patrick Dea started for Tri-City and allowed four goals on 51 shots in 50:05. Beck Warm finished up by stopping all six shots he faced in 9:55. . . . Tri-City F Max James was handed a charging major and game  misconduct for a hit on Everett F Matt Fonteyne at 7:24 of the third period. . . . F Garrett Pilon and D Ondrej Vala, both acquired Sunday from Kamloops, made their Everett debuts. Vala had a game-high 11 shots on goal. . . . The Americans were without D Jake Bean, who is expected to make his debut on Friday against Portland, and F Morgan Geekie, F Kyle Olson, D Juuso Valimaki and F Michael Rasmussen, all of whom are hurt. . . . Announced attendance: 2,997.


At Kelowna, F Kyle Topping score two goals and added an assist to help the Rockets to a 7-4 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kelowna (26-12-3) has won two in a row and KelownaRocketsleads the Western Conference by a point over Vancouver. . . . Spokane (21-18-3) has lost three straight. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Topping, who has 17 goals, got the scoring started at 5:14 of the first period. . . . D Kaedan Korczak’s first WHL goal made it 2-0 at 14:57. . . . The Chiefs followed that with three straight goals, from D Jeff Faith (4), at 18:27; D Tyson Helgesen (6), at 0:19 of the second period; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (23), on a PP, at 2:11. . . . The Rockets erased the deficit and took a 5-3 lead as F Nolan Foote (12) scored at 3:37, D Cal Foote (7) counted, on a PP, at 14:20, and D Braydyn Chizen (4) added another at 7:53 of the third period. . . . F Zach Fischer (19), who also had an assist, pulled the Chiefs to within a goal at 15:41. . . . The Rocket put it away as Topping scored at 18:06 and F Kole Lind added his 21st goal at 18:55. . . . The Rockets got three assists from F Carsen Twarynski, with Lind, Topping and Nolan Foote adding one each. . . . Kelowna was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 1-3. . . . G Roman Basran started for Kelowna but was shaken up and left at 5:53 of the first period. He stopped all five shots he faced. James Porter Jr. finished up, stopping 23 of 27 shots in 54:07. . . . The Chiefs got 18 stops from G Donovan Buskey. . . . Spokane again had Campbell Arnold, 15, backing up Buskey with Dawson Weatherill scratched again. . . . Announced attendance: 5,372.


THURSDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Edmonton at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Regina, 7 p.m.

Calgary at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Lethbridge at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Kamloops at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.

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