Scattershooting on a Sunday night after some uninspiring NFL playoff games . . .

Scattershooting2

Shortbread
Do you know what this is? The last two shortbread cookies are on the verge of disappearing, signalling the end of another festive season in our home. Yes, it is one of the saddest pictures every year. And, yes, they tasted mighty good.

Think about taking two minutes out of your busy day to watch this. It will help you understand how a whole lot of people are feeling at this point of this seemingly never-ending pandemic . . .


The way I figure it, there was a WHL record set in Portland on Sunday night as Portlandthe Winterhawks erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . Four of the coaches — two with each team — total 1,875 regular-season victories. . . . Don Hay, Portland’s associate coach, holds the WHL career record, of course, having put up 750 victories. . . . Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, is No. 10, at 472. . . . Kamloops1Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach, has 432, good for 16th spot. . . . Mark Holick, the Blazers’ associate coach, has 221 victories to his credit. . . . Understand that those numbers all are unofficial as we await a new WHL Official Guide and Record Book, but that is a whole lot of victories signifying that those men have been behind WHL benches for a whole lot of games. . . . Oh, the stories they can tell!


It was late Friday night — early Saturday morning further east of here — when there was some interesting discourse on Twitter, featuring Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) and Taylor Rocca (@taylorrocca).

Brandow is a stats guy who posts interesting facts and numbers from every WHLmajor junior hockey game; Rocca is the WHL’s director of communications.

Brandow, in the course of posting tidbits after Friday night’s WHL games, wondered about the fact the WHL hasn’t made available an updated Official Guide and Record Book since the 2019-20 season.

Rocca’s responses provide some insight into the workings of the WHL’s Calgary office during this pandemic:

“Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a staff member solely dedicated to media guide/stats. We’re a small office desperately working to simply keep junior hockey on the ice, players healthy, etc. Because, you know, we’re into Year 2 of a global pandemic. . . .

“I’m not trying to fight. Just trying to provide some context. In the case of our office, specifically, we experience widespread layoffs and had LITERALLY one full-time Communications staff member for over a year who was responsible for . . .

“Web/social content, PR/media relations (people have had some questions), mobile app mgmt, dev consult/admin/launch of new streaming service, internal/external comms/Club support, COVID test results processing, etc. I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other time-consuming tasks. . . .

“Point I’m trying to make is most people don’t understand the incredible challenge it has been for small staffs to keep these leagues running. Speaking for myself, I’ve worked nothing short of 100+ hours a week, almost every single week since March 2020. . . .

“I’m not one to speak out or be overly vocal, especially on social media.

But a lot of people in junior hockey are beyond burnt out. They’re doing the best they can every day to show up & make sure the hockey gets delivered. That is what needs to happen first. For the players. . . .

“People work in jr hockey because they love the game. It’s not for the pay. When we’re frustrated about a stream that errors, or a media guide that’s later than ideal, we need to remember there are hard-working people doing their best to survive & meet beyond high demands. . . .

“Just remember: There are real people w/ real emotions, who have been working tirelessly to keep these leagues alive & navigate a world that no one has a blueprint for. And sometimes, keeping the players/staff healthy & games going is all that’s possible from one day to the next.”

It all ended on a positive note as Brandow wrote: “Fair’s fair.  I greatly appreciate the explanation and once again, I apologize for the outburst.”

Rocca closed with: “It’s all good, Geoffrey. The media guide is on the list. It will get done. All I ask for is your patience & understanding. Appreciate the time & effort you put into tracking stats across the entire CHL. I check in on them every single game night & I’m always impressed.”

While you aren’t able to download a new WHL Guide, the OHL’s new Media and Information Guide (aka record book) is available right here, while the QMJHL’s updated Media Guide, which includes a records section, is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS — While the OHL is playing without fans in most of its buildings, the QMJHL has decided that it won’t resume its schedule until at least Feb. 1. It had hoped to start up again during the week of Jan. 17, but government-imposed restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted before then. . . . The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that was to have been held in Kitchener, Ont., on Feb. 2, has been postponed. Officials hope to reschedule it for some point during this season. . . . Congrats to referee Brett Iverson, who was presented with a WHL Milestone Award prior to Saturday’s game in Langley, B.C. Iverson has been working WHL games since 2008-09 and has been on the ice for more than 650 regular-season games. He also has done four WHL finals and two Memorial Cup tournaments. . . . If you were watching the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver play in Langley, B.C., on Friday night, you may have seen Giants F Ty Thorpe shove a linesman at 19:30 of the second period. Somehow, he escaped with only a misconduct penalty, but he missed Saturday’s rematch after the WHL hit him with a one-game suspension. . . . The Cougars swept the two games from the host Giants, leading some fans to wonder whether Vancouver will be buying or selling as the trade deadline arrives today (Monday).



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “You can start marking time until the guy who runs Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, walks the plank for his role in this fiasco with Novak Djokovic. I still love Djokovic trying to blame the mistakes on his paperwork on his agent. . . . Got it. . . . Dog ate my visa.”

——

Lupica, again: “It’s going to be fun, now that ESPN has hired David Cone, to go back to watching Sunday Night Baseball with the sound on.”


Wrench


In the SJHL, the Humboldt Broncos beat the host Melfort Mustangs, 4-3 in OT, sjhlon Friday night. No, wait a minute. Not so fast. . . . That was thought to be the final score until the Mustangs protested over what they felt was an officiating error at 10:23 of the third period. The Mustangs won the protest, so the teams replayed the last 9:37 of the third period prior to Saturday night’s game in Humboldt. . . . On Friday, the Broncos scored a 5-on-3 goal at 10:23 to get to within 3-2, at which point there was confusion over whether anyone should be allowed out of the penalty box. When no one was allowed out, Humboldt scored again another PP goal, then thought it had won it in OT. . . . When play resumed Saturday night, Melfort stretched that 3-2 lead to a 5-2 victory. . . . Humboldt then won the regularly scheduled game, 6-4. . . . There is a complete explanation right here.


There was a time, before the birth of the Toronto Blue Jays, when a lot of Canadian baseball fans got their fix through Dave Van Horne, the voice of the Montreal Expos. Van Horne, who has been calling Miami Marlins’ games for the past 21 years, has chosen to retire. It seems the Marlins cut his schedule back to 54 games last season and wanted him to do fewer than 20 games in 2022. In speaking with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Van Horne, 82, took the high road, saying: “After they made the last offer to have me come back in some role in 2022 . . . less than 20 games, I could not do it. I said I’m a baseball play-by-play broadcaster. I’m not one who makes guests appearances and works on recorded interviews. . . . I’m not upset about it. I’ve thought about it during last season. I thought this could very well be it for me. I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve made. Life goes on. I have, in effect, retired. I’m living on my pensions. I have no plans to pursue anything else. I will not pursue another baseball broadcast position.” . . . Jackson’s story is right here.


Antlers


The NFL’s regular season ended on Jan. 9 and the next day, as is the norm, featured a number of teams firing their head coaches. “Since the NFL is all about sponsorships,” wondered Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Babe, “how long until we start hearing about ‘Black Monday, brought to you by LinkedIn?’ ”



There was a time when pro and college football teams didn’t each employ a couple of dozen assistant coaches and aides. As Steve Spurrier, a former head coach at Florida, explained to the Orlando Sentinel, the Gators back in the day had only one nutritionist on staff: “We had one, and it was me. I used to go around during meals and tell the players to stop eating just meat and potatoes and go put something green on their plates. That’s how we handled nutrition back then.”


Bacon


THINKING OUT LOUD — Isn’t there something strange about hockey leagues that hand out minor penalties for checking to the head, but allow two players to stand and repeatedly punch each other in the face? . . . The Florida Panthers, one of the NHL’s best and most-entertaining teams, were at home and on my TV set a couple of times in recent days, beating the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars in front of a whole lot of empty seats. Meanwhile, Gary Bettman’s NHL doesn’t include a team in Quebec City, which has an arena and a huge hunger for hockey. . . . The worst thing about live sports on TV in Canada? The same commercials over and over and over and over, again. The first time I saw the spot for Cavendish waffle fries, I thought I might like to try them. By the 10th or 12th time in a couple of hours, well, there’s not a chance. . . . Isn’t it absolutely bizarre the way the NFL allows non-playoff teams with coaching vacancies to interview coaches from playoff teams while their teams are involved in preparing for games? Two of the men on the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff interviewed for head-coaching positions prior to their Saturday night playoff game. . . . Do you think that it will bother the NFL that it let two more teams into the playoffs and the first weekend of play wasn’t especially entertaining? You’re right. They’ll likely add two more to the bracket next season.


Remote


Perhaps you follow Kevin Shaw (@theblueliner) on Twitter or perhaps you have seen reference to a tweet or two of his on this site. When it comes to the history of the Regina Pats, he’s THE MAN. He often posts tweets involving Pats games from the 1960s and early ’70s, and chances are that the stories in those posts were written by Mal Isaac, then of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . Isaac, who went through two hearts, both of which were stronger and tougher than any hockey player, died on Saturday. He was 84. . . . Condolences to Vivian and family, and to Mal’s brother, Dale. Both brothers are in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.


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.


Kitchen

Cents’ Astorino has quite a story to tell . . . Jarvis unlikely to return to Portland now . . . Blazers’ Clouston moving on up

F Blake Astorino of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials was among the residents of that B.C. community who were forced out by horrific flooding on Nov. 15. In MerrittMerritt, Astorino, a 20-year-old from Prince George, was billeting with Jenny and Jesse Pierce, whose home is a snapshot away from the Coldwater River.

Here’s a bit of what Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen wrote in a story about Astorino’s experiences . . .

It was just past 5 a.m. and the flood waters hadn’t reached the end of the driveway but within 15 minutes nature’s fury was lapping at their feet and waves rippled as a torrent of rising water enveloped their yard. As a third-generation Merritt resident, Jenny knew the house her grandparents built was prone to flooding occasionally, because it was only a short walk from the river, and Jesse told Blake they would likely be back later that day when the water level dropped. But it didn’t.

“I didn’t really pack as much stuff as I probably should have, and when I looked outside the water was starting to get a little worse, but it wasn’t serious,” Astorino said. “So I went back to my room for a bit and I heard (Jenny) yelling, ‘OK, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to go,’ and it happened within five minutes. It was like nothing to water almost in the house in 20 minutes. It was coming so fast and the water was strong.”

By the time Astorino got into his car, the rushing water was already lapping at the doors and as soon as he backed out of the driveway and started down the road his car was half-submerged.

“It was pretty scary for me because my car is so low to the ground and the water was coming up to my windshield and going over the roof,” Astorino said. “If I had left any later I would have been stuck. Luckily, it didn’t stall and I got out.”

Clarke’s complete story — and it’s an excellent one — is right here.


Bronx


It now is really doubtful that the Portland Winterhawks will have F Seth Jarvis in their lineup this season. Jarvis, 19, played in his 10th regular-season game with the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, meaning the first-year of his three-year entry-level contract has started. . . . The Hurricanes lost, 2-1 in OT, to the host San Jose Sharks. . . . Carolina selected Jarvis with the 13th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . . He has four goals and one assist in 10 games with the Hurricanes this season. . . . Interestingly, it was an injury to F Nino Niederreiter that opened a spot in the lineup for Jarvis on Oct. 31. Niederreiter also is a product of the Winterhawks. . . . Jarvis put up 73 goals and 93 assists in 154 regular-season WHL games, all with Portland. . . . Yes, Jarvis still could be assigned to the Winterhawks, but that isn’t likely to happen because the first year of his contract would be burned in any case.


QUESTIONS: Did the late Nat King Cole release only one Christmas song, that one being The Christmas Song? You know the one: Chestnuts roasting . . . Considering the battering that TE Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has taken — and continues to take — how is it that he is still able to walk, never mind run? . . . Have you seen enough of that Connor McDavid commercial yet? Or do you agree that Sportsnet could/should squeeze it in a few more times each evening?


Mitch Love suffered the first regulation-time defeat of his AHL head-coaching career on Monday night when the Stockton Heat dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Ontario Reign. . . . Love, a former WHL player and coach, spent the previous three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. That followed seven seasons as an assistant with the Everett Silvertips. . . . In last night’s loss, the Heat goals came from F Matthew Phillips, F Glenn Gawdin and and F Luke Philp, all three former WHLers. . . . The Heat now is 10-1-2.


Humor


Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Kamloops Blazers, reminds us via Twitter (@JonKeenNLSports) that Shaun Clouston, the team’s general manager and WHLhead coach, is moving up the WHL’s all-time victories ladder. “He sits at 464,” Keen tweeted. “One more win ties him with Dean Clark and Kelly McCrimmon for 12th all-time. Peter Anholt and Jack Shupe are next at 466.” . . .

Officially, the top five on that list won’t change, with Don Hay (750) on top, followed by Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692), Lorne Molleken (626) and Mike Williamson (572). Of course, Hay, now the associate coach with the Portland Winterhawks, could add to his total should he have an opportunity to run the bench if head coach Mike Johnston is absent. That happened earlier this season but the Winterhawks dropped a 5-2 decision to the visiting Everett Silvertips with Johnston away on a scouting trip. . . .

Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders is the winningest active coach. He’s in sixth spot, at 560, ahead of Ernie (Punch) McLean (548), Brent Sutter (526) and Pat Ginnell (518). . . .

Shupe and Anholt are tied for 10th, at 466, with McCrimmon and Clark next, at 465. . . . Clouston, whose club next is scheduled to play Wednesday in Kent, Wash., against the Seattle Thunderbirds, is 14th and has a chance to join the 500 Club before this season ends. . . . The Blazers (14-2-0) are on pace to win 60 games, but it isn’t likely they can play to an .875 winning percentage for 68 games. Still, a 50-victory season would have Clouston at an even 500 victories, making him the 10th head coach in WHL history to reach that milestone. . . .

Also in the 400 Club: Bob Lowes (453), Mike Johnston (420), Doug Sauter (417) and Marcel Comeau (411). . . . Johnston moved past Sauter this season. . . . Next into the 400 Club will be Willie Desjardins with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He is at 392, good for 19th on the all-time list.

NOTE: The WHL hasn’t updated its Media Guide and Record Book since before the 2019-20 season, so the totals for active coaches are unofficial.

——

Shaun Clouston and his Blazers are one game into something of a bizarre road Kamloopstrip. They beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-1, in Kent, Wash., on Saturday night and are scheduled to play their again on Wednesday. But rather than stay in Kent or return home, the Blazers moved into Vancouver for a couple of days. . . . “Some guys went and rode bikes on the seawall and a bunch of our players went to the Canucks game (Sunday) night,” Clouston told Radio NL. “It was a nice break.” . . . The Blazers skated with players from St. George’s School at UBC on Monday. Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, has served on the board at St. George’s and has had sons play hockey there. . . . After playing in Kent, the Blazers are scheduled to meet the Winterhawks in Portland on Friday and the Silvertips (15-0-1) in Everett on Saturday.


Fryer


It doesn’t appear that the situation involving the USHL’s Omaha Lancers has reached any sort of resolution just yet. Chris Peters of faceoff.com has been following the goings-on and his latest report is right here.


A tip of the fedora to F Carter Streek of the Spokane Chiefs, who just happens to Spokanebe from Kamloops. Due to injuries and a couple of positive tests, the Chiefs were short of forwards earlier this month, which is one of the reasons they gave up a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft to acquire Streek, 17, from the Saskatoon Blades on Nov. 11. . . . In 21 games with the Blades, six of them this season, Streek had yet to score. So guess what happened in his first game with the Chiefs? Yes, he scored his first WHL goal — it was Spokane’s first goal, tying the score 1-1 at 3:54 of the second period, in what would be a 5-3 loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.


COVID-19 NOTES: Boston College has postponed a pair of weekend men’s hockey games “due to COVID-19 protocols and out of an abundance of caution.” The Eagles were to have met host Notre Dame on Friday and then entertained Harvard on Nov. 30. . . . D Ethan Bear of the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t play Monday night against the Sharks in San Jose after testing positive. . . . You do realize that more people died from COVID-19 in 2021 than in 2020. USA TODAY reported on Monday: “The disease was reported as the underlying cause of death or a contributing cause of death for an estimated 377,883 people in 2020, accounting for 11.3% of deaths, according to the CDC. As of Monday, more than 770,000 people have died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That means over 15,000 more people have died in 2021 than last year from COVID-19 — and there’s still more than a month left.” . . . On Monday, The New York Times reported that “as Americans travel this week to meet far-flung relatives for Thanksgiving dinner, new virus cases are rising once more, especially in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.”


Cow


A group in Quesnel, B.C., that is headed up by Cory Broadhead is preparing to kijhlmake a proposal to the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League in the hopes of landing a franchise that would be known as the Thunder and begin play in 2022-23. . . . Broadhead told George Henderson of mycariboonow.com: “We’ve received letters of support from some of the businesses in the community and a letter of support from the North Cariboo Advisory Committee to rent us the ice at the West Fraser Centre. I haven’t heard anything negative in town. It’s all been really positive and it sounds like this town would really support a team and go to the games.” . . . Broadhead said a proposal would be into the league “by the end of the week.” He added that according to its bylaws the KIJHL has “about 30 days to have a meeting.” A decision apparently would be announced three or four days after that meeting. . . . Henderson’s complete story 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.


Taxes

Scattershooting one night after spending some time with The Bachman-Cummings Band . . .

Scattershooting2

Virus

Hey, is this a great time to be alive, or what? . . . I mean, some of the walking dead who live among us are taking their anti-everything protests to various hospitals on Sept. 1, choosing for some reason to thumb their noses and everything else at healthcare workers who mostly are in crisis after almost two years of this crap. . . . Some restaurant owners, who should be thankful that governments haven’t shut down eat-in dining again, say they won’t be checking for vaccination status when the mandates arrive. . . . And some of the New York Mets have taken to flashing thumbs down to their fans at Citi Field. Why? Javier Báez, the chief rocket scientist on that roster, says: “To let (the fans) know when we don’t get success we’re going to get booed, so they are going to get booed when we have success.” . . . Yeah, that’ll work. Especially in the Big Apple.


Saw this comment on Facebook earlier: “pages that are protesting vaxx passports say, if you don’t follow the rules you can’t join, haha oh the irony.”


Bear2
A black bear takes a stroll at the treeline of a hayfield near Barnhartvale, just southeast of Kamloops, on Saturday afternoon.

The  Bachman-Cummings Band rocked Shaw Park in Winnipeg as part of the Unite 150 show on Saturday night. I was fortunate enough to catch a lot of it on my laptop and, yes, it was a whole lot of fun, and a whole lot of Guess Who memories. . . . And, yes, it’s still hard to comprehend the decision by CBC Radio pooh-bahs to axe Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap after 16 years. . . . BTW, you are aware that Burton Cummings now calls Moose Jaw home, aren’t you? Seriously. You can look it up. . . . That has to stick in Regina’s craw, don’t you think?


While I was away from here for a few days, Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, had his title changed by the Portland Winterhawks. Where he was an assistant coach for the past three seasons in Portland, he now is the club’s associate coach. And here — silly me! — I thought he had retired in May 2018 after spending four seasons as head coach of his hometown Kamloops Blazers.



Ian Henry, who had been the media relations, communications and digital media director with the Seattle Thunderbirds, lost his job last month in one of those mind-numbing COVID-19-related moves. Henry, who had been with the Thunderbirds since July 2002, really was one of the WHL’s good guys, and if there is a team or organization out there in need of a communications/public relations-type with a boatload of experience, well, look no further. . . . Hey, Seattle Kraken, how about it?


Sorry, ESPN, I tried to watch the Sunday night game with the New York Yankees in Oakland against the A’s. I really tried. But there is way too much chatter. The game just doesn’t get a chance to breathe and a baseball telecast needs some of that in order to be watchable.


Family


ICYMI, the state of Oregon has imposed a mask mandate for people who gather outdoors. You’re right. This isn’t going away. . . . If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the numbers, trending and modelling aren’t good in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with Washington state. . . . Throw in Manitoba, where various mandates and restrictions are in place, that covers the six jurisdictions in which the WHL operates. . . . And don’t forget that indoor games being played in B.C. are limited to 50 spectators at least through Sept. 20.

——

Meanwhile, I would suggest that the WHL, which has teams scheduled to open training camps on Wednesday, will be coming up with a revamped 2021-22 regular-season schedule. . . . Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the league’s board of governors, has told Regan Bartel, the team’s long-time play-by-play voice, that “we do have plans in place that if we have to adjust for a month or two, we can.” . . . The original schedule doesn’t include any interlocking play between conferences. But the B.C. Division teams, for example, are supposed to play games against their U.S. Division counterparts. I wouldn’t bet on that happening, at least not before Christmas. . . . Hamilton told Bartel that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” Keep in mind that while the border is open to Americans wanting to visit Canada, the reverse isn’t true, with the next update expected around Sept. 21. . . . “To have our team travel (to the U.S.),” Hamilton explained, “we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.”

——

BTW, just because WHL training camps open in a couple of days doesn’t mean you should expect to see pre-season team-by-team rosters on the league’s website. As of Sunday evening, only the Edmonton Oil Kings and Kamloops Blazers had posted rosters. . . . It is absolutely mind-boggling that the WHL, which one might think needs a strong marketing effort after being mostly out of sight and perhaps also out of mind for far too long, isn’t able to provide its fans with something as basic as rosters.



Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “One of those stories I had to double check to make sure it wasn’t satire: National Rifle Association just announced they’ve canceled Sept 3-5 annual meeting because of worsening Covid-19 situation in Houston. Is this first time Texas has behaved too stupidly for the NRA?”


Randy


It isn’t often that I will pre-order a book, but I jumped all over the opportunity to do just that when I found out about Year of the Rocket: John Candy, Wayne Gretzky, a Crooked Tycoon, and the Craziest Season in Football History. . . . It was written by Paul Woods, a long-time fan of the Toronto Argonauts who was an editor with The Canadian Press. . . . The Rocket, of course, was Raghib Ismail and the Crooked Tycoon was Bruce McNall. . . . The bottom line is that the early-1990s was an amazing time — take that any which way you want — to be around the CFL, and this sounds like it will be a fun book. . . . Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun has more on it right here.



So . . . the Winnipeg Rifles travelled to Regina for a Prairie Football Conference clash with the Thunder on Sunday afternoon. Uhh, the Thunder turned a 64-3 half-time lead into a 64-19 victory. Now that’s calling off the dogs.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Here’s an idea for the NFL: Put all the non-vaccinated players on a new team named the Freedom Fighters. Each Sunday, tell the Freedom Fighters that their game is canceled due to COVID concerns, and they have been awarded a forfeit victory. At the end of the season, announce on some murky internet site that the Freedom Fighters have been declared Super Bowl champs by default. The team’s players will believe it, because they believe anything they read on the internet. The rest of the NFL players can play football. Everyone is happy.”


Organdonation

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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.


Turnsignals

Americans ready to introduce coaching staff . . . NBA’s Raptors have how many assistants? . . . Winterhawks lose Knak to HC Davos

Mud


The WHL’s Tri-City Americans are poised to introduce their coaching staff on AmericansSaturday at 1 p.m. PT at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Americans are in need of a new head coach after not re-signing Kelly Buchberger, who had been in the position for the previous three seasons. He has since signed a three-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens as an assistant coach for their AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket. . . . On Monday, the Americans’ website still listed Buchberger as head coach. It also shows Don Nachbaur as associate coach and Eli Wilson as goaltending coach. . . . Nachbaur joined the Americans on Feb. 18, but contract terms weren’t announced. Earlier, Nachbar spent six seasons (2003-09) as the Americans’ head coach. He also has worked as a WHL head coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs. . . . With 692 regular-season WHL coaching victories, Nachbaur is the winningest active coach in the league. That total also leaves him third on the all-time list, behind Don Hay (750), now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, and the retired Ken Hodge (742). . . . Hay spent two seasons (1998-2000) as the Americans’ head coach.


Here is part of what Bob Tory, the Tri-City Americans’ co-owner, governor and general manager, posted on Facebook:

“Mom enjoyed a long and prestigious career at the University of Alberta in the Registrars Office. She was a second mom to so many of my friends and my parents’ home was always open to all, even when I wasn’t there. An avid supporter of hockey, especially the Edmonton and Kootenay Ice and, of course, the Tri-City Americans. Mom will be laid to rest at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Edmonton, next to dad and my gramma Carrie Rose Tory. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The University of Alberta, Faculty of Education, Teachers of Tomorrow Fund.


I’m thinking that B.C. politicians past — well, of the past 30 years — and present should be embarrassed — really, really embarrassed — that Manitoba celebrates Terry Fox Day on the first Monday of August and ‘Beautiful BC’ doesn’t. I mean, c’mon, what’s that all about? It’s been more than 40 years since he died at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, so there has been more than enough time for something to get done. . . . And well you’re at it, how about naming Vancouver International Airport after him?


Washer


ICYMI, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors named their 2021-22 coaching staff on Monday. It seems that head coach Nick Nurse now has seven assistant coaches and a player development consultant on staff with him. . . . With each NBA team allowed to carry 15 players and to dress 13 per game, sheesh, that’s a whole lot of coaches, isn’t it?


F Simon Knak, who played the past two seasons with the Portland PortlandWinterhawks, has signed a two-year contract with HC Davos of Switzerland’s National League. Knak, 19, is from Zurich. He was selected by the Nashville Predators in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. He is expected to attend Nashville’s development camp Aug. 15-20 and then return to Davos. . . . Knak had three goals and five assists in 25 games with Davos in 2020-21, then rejoined the Winterhawks and put up 16 goals and 13 assists in 24 games in the WHL’s development season. In 2019-20, he had nine goals and 25 assists in 49 games with Portland. . . . Knak also is the captain of Switzerland’s national junior team. . . . When it comes to other import players, the Winterhawks hold the CHL rights to Swedish G Jesper Wallstedt, whom they acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors, and Czech D Marek Alscher, who was selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. Neither Wallstedt nor Alscher has signed a WHL contract. . . . Danish D Jonas Brondberg was on Portland’s roster when the 2021 development season ended — he had six assists in 20 games — but he’s 20 so would be a two-spotter if he was to return.


Here’s the great Charles P. Pierce in Esquire:

“This pandemic turns what has been the historical reaction of the country to epidemic disease squarely on its head. Previously, through the years, the panic has been driven by a fear of getting the disease. In 1873, during a massive yellow fever outbreak in Memphis, roadblocks were set up around the city to keep the residents in. Five years later, during another outbreak, the disease got loose from New Orleans and cut a huge swath through Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. In the town of Grenada, Mississippi, the mayor refused to engage a quarantine and the disease completely decapitated the city’s government, killing the sheriff, all the aldermen, and, yes, the mayor himself.

“Now, though, we have a national panic over the cure, not the disease. And, yes, a lot of it has been energized for political reasons, especially in the U.S. House of Representatives, where the Republican caucus seems to be acting out a summer-stock production of The Masque of the Red Death. But it runs deeper than that. In those previous epidemics, there were quack cures and a distrust of conventional medicine, but it was nothing like this, if only because it’s not 18-goddamn-78 any more. We have more than a century of experience to draw on regarding the efficacy of vaccines. We have been a resolutely vaccinated population for decades. It has been part of our lives almost from birth. But there is in the country some sort of strange concept of individuality that has come to the surface to cripple not only our response to this pandemic, but also our collective common sense.”

Read his complete piece right here.


Parking


Baseball’s Winnipeg Goldeyes are scheduled to entertain the Sioux City SiouxCitybblExplorers for three American Association games this week — today, Wednesday and Thursday. The Goldeyes didn’t play at all in 2020; until now, they have been playing their 2021 ‘home’ games in Jackson, Tenn. . . . Now they have permission from health officials to return home. . . . However, it seems the Explorers have some, uhh, issues. . . . Tim Hynds of the Sioux City Journal reports that “the majority of Explorers players have decided not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. . . . Due to vaccine and testing requirements for entry into Canada, and a low team vaccination rate, the majority of the Sioux City roster will not be making the trip.” . . . That includes manager Steve Montgomery. . . . “We’re not all going,” Montgomery told Hynds. “There are not many of us going, I can tell you that. It’s definitely going to be a home field advantage. I can’t really comment too much further on it, but I can say that myself and my pitching coach won’t be going, and a lot of the players in that locker room are not going to be going as well.” . . . Wait! There’s more!! . . . Hynds also wrote: “Due to fears of a possible positive test, which would require a 10-day quarantine, most of the current Sioux City roster has decided to not go, including many of the players who are vaccinated.” . . . Bruce Fischback, the team’s trainer who is fully vaccinated, told Hynds: “There are so many misconceptions about the vaccine that are floating around, that that scared a lot of people. You try to present them with the evidence, but there is nothing more powerful than Facebook University. It’s hard to fight that public perception.” . . . Hynds’ complete story on this gong show is right here.



Mike Mayock, the general manager of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, has tested positive. On Monday, he was working from home. According to a tweet from Adam Schefter of ESPN, Mayock, 62, “said that, at his age, he is grateful he was vaccinated, knowing this could have been worse, Fortunately, he said he now feels ‘very good.’ ”


Wine


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.


Facebook

Fraser promoted by Silvertips . . . Gustafson leaves Winterhawks for Canucks . . . Hay returning for fourth season in Portland

So . . . Dorothy got her second shot of Pfizer on Wednesday afternoon. We had soup later in the day. Whenever she tried to lift her spoon towards her mouth, it would hit her in the forehead and stick there. . . . Now I know why. . . . Lucky for her that we had some plastic spoons in our kitchen.


The Everett Silvertips promoted Mike Fraser, a longtime WHL scout, to director Everettof player personnel, effective immediately, on Wednesday. The Edmonton-based Fraser, 42, had been the team’s head scout for three seasons. . . . From a news release: “Fraser will support Silvertips hockey operations with roster management, co-ordinate scouting and recruiting efforts across North America and Europe, and prospect evaluation in conjunction with the WHL draft.” . . . Before joining the Silvertips, Fraser spent six seasons as a scout with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Prior to that, he worked with the Swift Current  Broncos for seven years. . . . The Silvertips’ complete news release is right here. . . .

When the Silvertips hired Fraser as head scout on July 3, 2018, they also named Alvin Backus as their director of player personnel. At the time, Backus, who had spent seven seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, was to assist general manager Garry Davidson “and the Silvertips coaching staff with roster improvements and co-ordinate the Silvertips scouting and recruiting efforts of talent across North America and Europe.” . . . Neither Backus, who has retired, nor Davidson remains with the Silvertips. They announced on May 21 that they wouldn’t be renewing Davidson’s contract. He had been their GM through nine quite successful seasons, but was dropped as part of a restructuring that the organization was going through that it said was “necessitated” by the past two seasons. . . . Head coach Dennis Williams was named acting GM on June 1.


Claus


Kyle Gustafson is moving on from the WHL after 18 seasons with the Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks, most recently as assistant general manager and associate coach. Gustafson, a native of Portland, is joining the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as assistant/special assignment coach. . . . Gustafson and Canucks head coach Travis Green were on Portland’s coaching staff together for five seasons (2008-13). . . . Gustafson started with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach in 2003-04. . . . There was a time two years ago when Gustafson came this () close to signing on as the Kamloops Blazers’ head coach. During the summer of 2019, Gustafson turned down a four-year contract offer from the Blazers, who were preparing for Matt Bardsley’s second season as general manager. They had hired Bardsley away from the Winterhawks on June 1, 2018. He had been working with Portland since 1999 so had some history with Gustafson. . . .

The Canucks also announced that assistant coach Newell Brown wouldn’t be back, while signing Brad Shaw as a new assistant coach, and re-signing assistant coaches Nolan Baumgartner and Jason King, goaltending coach Ian Clark and video coach Darryl Seward. . . . Former WHL G Adam Brown, the Kelowna Rockets’ goaltender coach, is Brown’s son.


Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, will be back with the Portland Winterhawks in 2021-22 for a fourth season as an assistant coach. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, confirmed that with Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com earlier this week. You may recall that the Kamloops Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi announced Hay’s retirement following the 2017-18 season. . . .

Johnston also told Critzer that Matt Bardsley, who resigned as the Blazers’ general manager on May 25, “has another exciting opportunity which he will be announcing in the next couple of weeks.” . . . Johnston said that after Bardsley’s Kamloops announcement, he reached out “to Matt originally when it happened in Kamloops and just talked to him about if any openings came in our organization. At the present time, in the area Matt is and was, we already have staff in those positions.”

Critzer’s complete story is right here.



Bone


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.


JUST NOTES: Brad Bakken, who played 53 games over three seasons (2005-08) with the Seattle Thunderbirds, has been named head coach of the junior B Langley Trappers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He was the Trappers’ GM and assistant coach in 2017-18, before moving up to the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen as assistant GM/associate head coach.


Fear

Questions about older managers, coaches . . . MiLB cancels season for 160 teams . . . Pats’ pxp post open as Andrews leaves

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Monday that the Minnesota Twins have told coaches Bob McClure, 68, and Bill Evers, 66, that they won’t be taking part in the 2020 season whenever it gets started.

The Twins said last week that an undisclosed number of players and one staff member had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Numerous reports have indicated that people over the age of 65 have a much greater whlchance of dying from the coronavirus. The Twins are believed to be the first North American professional team to excuse older coaches from working with their team.

The NHL, NBA, NFL and especially MLB have numerous managers and coaches who are 60 years of age and older. Chances are that in the coming days we will hear about more MLB teams doing precisely what the Twins have done with McClure and Evers.

But what about the WHL? Might this be just one more thing its teams are going to have to deal with should they get to open training camps in mid-September and begin the season on Oct. 2?

The WHL has two head coaches past the age of 60 — Willie Desjardins of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Mike Johnston of the Portland Winterhawks, both of whom also are general managers, are 63.

Their are 11 other head coaches over the age of 50.

The WHL also has at least eight general managers 60 or older, beginning with Garry Davidson of the Everett Silvertips, at 69, and John Paddock of the Regina Pats, at 66.

There also are a couple of assistant coaches who have had at least 65 birthdays — Jerome Engele of the Saskatoon Blades is 69 and Portland’s Don Hay is 66.

Just more food for thought in these uncertain times.



The NHL announced on Monday that it knows of 26 players who have tested positive for NHLCOVID-19. Fifteen of those players were in training at team facilities. The other 11 were working out away from those facilities. . . . All 26 players have been self-isolated. . . . The NHL says there were 1,450 tests on more than 250 players administered to players who were working out in training facilities. . . . Still to announce its hub cities, the NHL has said it will release testing figures on a weekly basis. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings have cancelled the 2020 version of the eight-team prospect tournament that was to have been played in Traverse City, Mich., in early September. . . . The Red Wings also have moved the site of their 2020-21 training camp, whenever that might be held, to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.


Hockey


OF Ian Desmond said Monday that he won’t be joining the Colorado Rockies for the 2020 MLB season. He made the announcement in a nine-panel posting on Instagram. . . . There’s more right here. . . .

Infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross said Monday that they won’t be joining the Washington Nationals, the defending World Series champions, for the approaching season. Also opting out is pitcher Mike Leake of the Arizona Diamondbacks. . . . All three cited health and safety concerns related to the pandemic. . . .

The Arizona Diamondbacks revealed on Monday that three players on their 60-man roster have tested positive. Two of them were in Arizona, while wasn’t yet in Arizona. . . .

OF Hunter Bishop, the San Francisco Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2019, has tested positive in Arizona. He will miss at least the start of the Giants’ workouts that are to begin on Friday in San Francisco. . . .

They have been playing Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in the United States since 1901. Prior to Tuesday, a season never had been cancelled. That’s all changed now, as MiLB announced that there won’t be a 2020 season thanks to the pandemic. There are 160 minor league teams, including the Vancouver Canadians, under the MiLB umbrella.


The Denver Nuggets closed their training facility on Tuesday after the NBA team’s travelling party was found to include three positive tests. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that 35 people were preparing to head for Orlando, Fla., and the restart of the season when the trio tested positive. . . . It’s not known if the positives are players or staff. . . . C Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets tested positive in Serbia earlier in June, while head coach Michael Malone has said that he tested positive in March. . . .

The NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans have had three players test positive, but the team hasn’t identified them. All three were tested on June 23, along with all of their teammates. . . .

Two members of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets — G Spencer Dinwiddie and F DeAndre Jordan — have tested positive and won’t be joining the team in Orlando, Fla. . . . Dinwiddie told The Athletic that he has been experiencing symptoms — fever and chest tightness. . . . The Nets also will be without F Wilson Chandler, who has opted out.


Golf Canada has cancelled the CP Women’s Open that was to have been played at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, Sept. 3-6. The 2021 LPGA event will be played at Shaughnessy. . . .

Chad Campbell is the sixth player from the PGA Tour to test positive. He was tested as part of the screening prior to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which is to start Thursday in Detroit. . . . Meanwhile, three players — Jonathan Hodge, Taylor Montgomery and Brandon Wu — tested positive and had to withdraw from the Korn Ferry Tour event that starts today (Wednesday) in Colorado.


MLS announced that four players have tested positive on Monday and Tuesday. All told, 392 people were tested, all of whom are staying in the league’s bubble hotel in Orlando, Fla. . . . On the weekend, MLS announced that 18 players and six staff members had tested positive since early June. . . . The league’s MLS is Back tournament is scheduled to open on July 8. . . .

Officials cancelled the rest of the 2020 World Rugby Seven Series on Tuesday, meaning there won’t be stops in Langford, B.C., London, Paris, Singapore or Hong Kong. . . .

A statement on the University of Georgia website on Monday indicated that at least 143 members of the school’s community, including students and staff, have tested positive. . . .

Williams College, a NCAA Division 3 school in Williamstown, Mass., has cancelled all fall sports, but has yet to decide on winter and spring activities. . . . Two other New England-area schools, Bowdoin College and UMass-Boston, have said their teams won’t play in the fall, either. . . .

The Broadway League said Monday that theatres on Broadway in New York City are likely to remain closed at least through the end of 2020. Performances have been suspended since March 12. . . . Theatres are hoping to re-open early in January.



Phil Andrews, the radio voice of the Regina Pats for the past nine seasons, said on PatsMonday that he was leaving the post. He cited family reasons for his decision. . . . Andrews was the Pats’ director of media and communications, and handled the play-by-play duties. . . . His departure opens up one of the WHL’s plum play-by-play positions and you can bet that a lot of junior hockey radio types have been preparing resumes.


Teacher


And a happy Bobby Bonilla Day to you, too. It’s July 1, which means that the New York Mets paid Bobby Bonilla US$1,193,248.20 as they have been doing since 2001. It’s all part of deferred payments that were part of his last contract. The payments began in 2011 and will run through 2035. Oh, and he hasn’t played since 2001.


——


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that Brad Knight “has stepped down” as general manager and head coach. . . . The Buccaneers had announced Knight’s signing early in May. He was returning to the team after being the head coach for its first two seasons (2012-14). . . . Last season, with then-owner Clayton Robinson as head coach, Nanaimo finished 14-23-11. . . . Robinson, who owned the franchise for about 18 months, sold the team to Carl Ollech, who owns some of Duncan Iron Works, in June. . . . Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo Bulletin has more on the sale right here.


Puzzle

Chasing a story in Pats’ shower. Yes, those really were the days . . . Is international tennis season over? . . . Hay still not ready to retire


It’s like a bad dream that just won’t go away. It pops up every year or two, from out of the mist of time. Still, it makes me laugh every single time it appears. Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself . . .

As for my broadcast partner from back in the day, well, I’m not so sure. LOL!

Those were the days when Peter was working at CK Radio in Regina, alongside Roger Millions. I was at the Regina Leader-Post. Believe it or not, Peter and I were the radio voices of the Regina Pats. Were we any good? I don’t know, but Troy Mick once refused to talk to us, a boycott that ended one night when he scored in OT to win a playoff game.

I don’t have proof that this particular ad resulted in an uptick in listeners, but I don’t have any evidence that it didn’t. So I have always assumed that it did. Although, had it been successful you might have thought there would be another ad done up, perhaps with us on the roof of the team’s bus as it hit the road . . . or perhaps Peter had the whole idea killed.

Anyway . . . whenever this photo rears its handsome head, there always are people wondering about the two young men peeking through the steam. They were two of the Pats fine defencemen — Terry Hollinger, on the left, and Jamie Heward on the right. Yes, that is the same Jamie Heward who now is on the Vancouver Giants’ coaching staff.

BTW, I no longer have any of the autographed pictures left, but I’m not sure if my ex-partner has any remaining. Should you bump into him, though, I would suggest you not ask him.

One other thing about that photo. . . . Back in the day, the media could get into a team’s shower. Now the WHL and its teams won’t allow the media in the dressing rooms.


The City of Toronto has postponed or cancelled all city-led events through June 30. . . . You have to think it would be kind of hard for the Toronto Blue Jays to play home games with something like this in place. Consider that between April 26 and June 30, the original MLB schedule called for the Blue Jays to play 44 home games. . . . You have to think it would be tough, too, for the Toronto Maple Leafs to play home games before June 30 under these circumstances. . . .

The Canadian Open, scheduled for June 8-14 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, is expected to make an announcement later in the week. You have to know that it won’t be held as scheduled. . . .


Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s chief executive, has told the Sydney Morning Herald that the international tennis season may well be over. The ATP and WTA have put things on hold until June 7, but Tiley expects the pause to last a lot longer. “My personal view is I think for tennis to come back this year is going to be tough,” Tiley said. “It relies on global travel, and I think that’s probably the last thing that’s going to come back. I think sports that have a domestic focus are in a strong position and sports that have a global focus are more challenged.” . . . 


I’m watching Game 3 of the 1992 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays. I had forgotten just how good Toronto 2B Roberto Alomar was. He really was smooth and made it look easy. . . .


Webster Garrison, a minor league manager with the Oakland A’s, is in a Louisiana hospital and on a ventilator because of the coronavirus. Garrison, 54, “is fighting hard and making small milestones,” his fiancee, Nikki Trudeaux, posted on Twitter. . . . Garrison was the Vancouver Canadians’ manager in 2001, when they played their second season in the Class-A Northwest League. . . .


Here’s the Thought of the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, this one via H.L. Mencken: “It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favour of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.”


Don Hay is back at his Kamloops home for the offseason and is hoping that his time in PortlandPortland isn’t anywhere near over. On Tuesday, Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he is hoping for a third season as an assistant coach with the Winterhawks. . . . “I’m on a year-to-year contract and that’s OK,” Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, told Hastings. “I’d like to go back for another year and see how our team does. I’ve enjoyed working with (general manager/head coach) Mike Johnston and (associate coach) Kyle Gustafson. I’m looking forward to another year.” . . . It was almost two years ago when Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, announced at a rather bizarre news conference that Hay was retiring. Hay wasn’t at that news conference and, in fact, one day later he addressed the media and made it clear that he wasn’t ready for retirement. . . . If you click right here, you will find the column that Hastings wrote almost two years ago that summed up the situation awfully well. . . .


The Toronto Blue Jays jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, but had to go to extra innings for an 8-7 victory. . . . Bo Bichette got the GWRBI when he hit into a fielder’s choice in the 11th inning. . . . The Blue Jays had opened the season by losing their first five games. . . . Toronto also made a roster move, sending down LHP Thomas Pannone and adding LHP Marc Rzepczynski. . . . It’s all part of a simulated season being played out by the gang at Strat-O-Matic. It’s all right here, including boxscores, leaders and standings.



The Western Lacrosse Association has postponed the start of its 2020 season. The WLA’s 52nd regular season was scheduled to begin on May 21. The seven-team WLA features the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies and Victoria Shamrocks. . . .


Colina tells his mental health story. . . . Teams prepped for import draft. . . . Gustafson, Hay back with Winterhawks


MacBeth

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, in 35 games, he had 32 goals and 37 assists. He tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 57 games, he had 20 goals and 16 assists. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Gyergyói HK Gheorgheni (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, in 35 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he was 18-13-4, 2.75, .909, with two shutouts. . . .

D Eric Roy (Brandon, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in eight games with the Allen Americans (ECHL), two goals and three assists in 30 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and four goals and nine assists in 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Byrnäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and eight assists in 45 games. He was an alternate captain. . . . Scott played three seasons wth Brynäs before playing the past three seasons with CSKA. . . .

F Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon, Everett, 2013-15) has signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal in five games with the Laval Rocket (AHL), one goal in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), and eight goals and five assists in 22 games with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Leeds Chiefs (England, National). Last season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games. . . .

F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Kloten (Switzerland, NL). Last season, in 50 games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), he had 15 goals and 15 assists.


ThisThat

F Ilijah Colina was just days from his 19th birthday when, in his third WHL season, he left the Prince George Cougars and went home. At the time, the Cougars said it was for “personal reasons.” . . . It later came out that Colina was struggling with mental illness. He recently sat down at a keyboard and told his story, something that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved not just in hockey but in any kind youth sport.

Here is part of what Colina wrote:

“During my recovery (from a concussion) my depression was reaching a point to where I felt attacked. I was lonely, as all I could do was lay in bed for the next 2 weeks. I questioned my existence and I wanted to kill myself. I felt my presence was not needed and that I would only hurt people with the negative energy I was creating. I had no control of anything. What came out is what I was truly thinking at the time. I remember crying in my bed, night after night. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared of my own mind and was worried for myself. It was like there was another person in the room trying to harm me. I didn’t know how to deal with it, it was horrifying.”

His complete essay is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos will be picking first overall this morning when the CHL’s 2019 CHLimport draft gets started. The Broncos, who had the WHL’s poorest record last season, cleared room for one pick by releasing Finnish D Roope Pynnonen, 18. . . . A freshman last season, Pynnonen was pointless in 44 games. . . . The Broncos’ other import is Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 25 games.

——

The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders are expected to make one selection in the import draft, even though they have two Belarusians on their roster — F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 18. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Because Sapego would be playing in his 20-year-old season, the Raiders are allowed to make one selection, even with him on their roster.

——

The Everett Silvertips are expecting Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, 19, to return for a third season with them. So they will be making one selection in today’s import draft. . . . Fasko-Rudas had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular-season games. He then added four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a freshman, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 regular-season games. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, the other import on Everett’s roster at the end of last season, has played out his junior eligibility. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Silvertips, the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams to have their early 2019-20 pre-season roster available on the WHL website as of Wednesday night.

——

The Portland Winterhawks are expected to make two selections in the import draft, after having released Czech F Michal Kvasnica, 19. . . . In his lone WHL season, Kvasnica had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld was Portland’s other import player last season. The Dane won the WHL scoring title in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . Having released Kvasnica, the Winterhawks will be eligible to pick twice today.

——

The Spokane Chiefs will be able to make two selections in the import draft after releasing Russian D Egor Arbuzov, 18. He had four goals and nine assists in 58 games as a freshman last season. . . . Czech D Filip Kral, 20, remains on the Chiefs’ roster. Kral was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he is 20, the Chiefs will be allowed to make two selections today.

——

The Tri-City Americans revealed on Wednesday that Russian D Roman Kalinichenko, who will turn 19 on July 6, won’t be returning to the WHL after signing with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). He played two seasons with the Americans, scoring one goal and adding nine assists in 44 games as a freshman, then putting up two goals and seven assists in 67 games last season.

Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the other import on Tri-City’s roster, is heading into his 20-year-old season. As a freshman last season, he had 21 goals and 30 assists in 63 games. Because Hrabik will be 20, the Americans will be permitted to make two selections in today’s import draft.

——

The Brandon Wheat Kings, with one import on their roster, are expected to make two selections in the import draft. Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, is the only import on Brandon’s roster; in fact, he was the only import used by Brandon last season. . . . Because he is 20, the Wheat Kings are free to select an import in case Patera ends up starting his professional career and doesn’t return to Brandon.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to make one selection in the import draft after releasing Belarusian F Yegor Buyalski, 18, who had six goals and eight assists in 66 games in his only WHL season. . . . The Warriors’ roster also includes two other Belarusians — F Daniil Stepanov, 18, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from Calgary on May 2 in a deal that had D Jett Woo join the Hitmen.

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The Red Deer Rebels haven’t yet received a commitment from Russian F Oleg Zaytsev, 18, Red Deerfor a second season, but have chosen to keep him on their roster and make one selection in today’s import draft. . . . In his final 31 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote on Wednesday: “It was (Zaytsev’s) first season in North America, and while he petered out as the (season) continued, you could see the potential. Zaytsev went unselected last weekend, mainly because teams heard he will be signing an entry-level contract with the KHL. (Those contracts are also three years.) But, don’t be surprised if someone tries to get him as a free agent, therefore holding his rights until a return.” . . . Zaytsev’s play may have tailed off but he still put up 13 goals and 30 assists in 66 games as a 17-year-old freshman in a foreign country. . . . D Alex Alexeyev, who will turn 20 on Nov. 15, has played three seasons with the Rebels. A first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2018, has signed an NHL contract and is expected to at least start the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, if he doesn’t make the big club, that is.

——

The two-round import draft is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific).

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs hold the No. 2 selection, followed by the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you are so inclined, you are able to follow the import draft right here.


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It’s looking more and more as though D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets, won’t be returning to the WHL. Thomson was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. This week, he is in Ottawa’s development camp. It seems that Thomson, 18, has two options — return to Kelowna or go home and play for Ilves, the pro team located in his hometown of Tampere. . . . On Wednesday, Thomson told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch: “I think right now it’s back to Finland but you never know. We’ll see what they want. I think at this point it would be best for me to play against men.” . . . Trent Mann, Ottawa’s chief scout, said: “It’s a tough one because we’re told that he can play in the top pairing in the league in Finland. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with men in a pretty good league. Right now, that would probably be my guess of what he’ll end up doing. But a lot of things can change in the meantime.” . . . The Rockets will be permitted to pick twice in today’s import draft and keep Thomson on their roster, at least for now, because he was a first-round NHL draft pick. . . . Garrioch’s complete story is right here.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Kyle Gustafson, their assistant general manager Portlandand associate coach, and assistant coach Don Hay to contract extensions. No contract details were revealed. . . . Gustafson is heading into his 17th season with the Winterhawks. He recently turned down a four-year contract offer to work as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Taking Note has been told that one of the things that figured into Gustafson’s decision to stay in Portland was that the Winterhawks “did a lot” to keep him. . . . Hay, who is the winningest head coach in WHL history, is going into his second season as an assistant coach alongside Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach. Hay spent four seasons as the Blazers’ head coach before being ousted following the 2017-18 season.


TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted on Wednesday that F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers, who is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, went down with an injury to his “left knee/leg.” She added: “Hamblin clearly in a lot of pain, covering his head with his hands.” . . . Hamblin, 20, was taken from the ice on a stretcher with the leg immobilized. . . . Bobby Fox, the Tigers’ director of player personnel, late told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that Hamblin underwent X-rays and that they came back negative. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun later reported that Hamblin suffered a “knee cap injury in an apparent skating mishap.” . . . Hamblin has played four seasons with the Tigers and was the team captain for the last two of them.


JUST NOTES:

Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach, as is Matt Anholt, who is a skills/development coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

The WHL released its complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. For details, visit your favourite team’s website. . . .

Hockey Canada has invited 44 players to a summer camp for the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . The camp is scheduled for Calgary, July 26-30. . . . Michael Dyck, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, is Team Canada’s head coach, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, as one assistant. . . . There’s a news release and a link to the camp roster right here. . . .

A couple of former WHLers, both heading into their 20-year-old seasons, were involved in a junior A trade on Wednesday. The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers dealt D Tylor Ludwar to the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for F Tristyn DeRoose. Ludwar played 73 games with the Kamloops Blazers over three seasons (2016-19). DeRoose split 109 games between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-19). . . .

The Halifax Mooseheads are looking for a head coach with Eric Veilleux having joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as a head coach. Last season, the Mooseheads lost out in the QMJHL final and then were the host team for the Memorial Cup, where they were beaten in the championship game. . . . A coach since 2006-07, Veilleux spent one season in Halifax after having been the head coach of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage for two seasons. . . .

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers have added Nick Schultz to their staff as a player development coach. Schultz, 36, is from Strasbourg, Sask. He played three seasons (1998-2001) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain in his final season there. He went on to play 1,066 regular-season NHL games, retiring after spending three seasons (2014-17) with the Flyers.


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Mallette staying on Rockets’ staff. . . . Raiders, Oil Kings even after Game 4. . . . Holt everything! Giants have 3-1 edge


MacBeth

F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, in 62 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists. The team captain, he averaged 18:29 TOI per game. . . .

F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 52 games.


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The Kelowna Rockets have signed assistant coach Kris Mallette to an extension that runs KelownaRocketsthrough the 2020-21 season. Mallette’s contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

Mallette, 40, has been on the Rockets’ coaching staff since the 2014-15 season.

A defenceman, he played four seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1996-2000), before going on to a nine-year pro career. He has been coaching since 2010-11 when he was an assistant coach with the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

With the Rockets, he works alongside head coach Adam Foote, who is preparing for his first full season with Kelowna.


For what it’s worth, Kris Mallette, who has signed a two-year extension with the Kelowna Rockets, was on my list of the ‘next ones’ — high-end candidates for head-coaching positions in the WHL or elsewhere.

Mallette just finished his fifth season on the Rockets’ coaching staff, and he obviously likes it just fine right where he is. Of course, re-signing with the Rockets means he’ll get whlto coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, what with Kelowna being the host team.

At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have a head coach under contract. They and head coach Serge Lajoie went their separate ways on April11, after just one season together.

Many hockey people are assuming that co-owner Darryl Sydor will be the Blazers’ next head coach, and that the feeling will prevail until/unless the team announces otherwise. Sydor was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Mallette is just one of a number of WHL assistant coaches who would seem ready to step up.

Jeff Truitt, 53, is a former Kelowna head coach who now is an assistant under Marc Habscheid with the Prince Albert Raiders. Before moving to the Raiders, he spent five-plus seasons on the Red Deer Rebels’ coaching staff.

Kyle Gustafson, 38, has been on staff with the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04 and is more than ready to be a head coach. He has been with the Winterhawks in good times (a WHL title in 2013) and bad (11 victories in 2007-08). You can bet that he has learned the business and the game while working with the likes of Ken Hodge, Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Don Hay.

Ryan Marsh, 44, is a former WHL player (Tri-City, 1992-95), who has been in the coaching game since 2003-04 when he signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders. He later spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and four with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He just completed his first season as the Saskatoon Blades’ associate coach.

Scott Burt, 42, is another former WHL player (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98) and now is in his fifth season on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. He spent the last three seasons of a 13-year pro career as the captain of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and then began his coaching career by spending two seasons with them.

Luke Pierce, 35, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but may be ready for a second stint as a WHL head coach. He spent five-plus seasons in his hometown as general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials before spending two seasons as head coach of the faltering Kootenay Ice. When looking at Pierce’s background, you can’t discount that fact he spent five seasons playing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Mark O’Leary, 34, just completed his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors. From Owen Sound, Ont., he played in the OHL with the Mississauga IceDogs and Guelph Storm (2003-06), before playing professionally for five seasons.

Brian Pellerin, 49, has been coaching since 2002-03 when he was a playing assistant coach with the CHL’s Amarillo Gorillas. He went on to spend four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks and now has been the Tri-City Americans’ associate coach for five seasons. As a player, he spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some really experienced head coaches who just may be available, too.

Don Hay, 65, the guy with more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history, isn’t retired. He spent this season as an assistant coach in Portland and you can bet that he wants to keep on coaching.

Don Nachbaur, 60, is the third-winningest regular-season head coach in WHL history. He has worked as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach after the 2016-17 season. His posting in L.A. lasted a season and a bit; he was fired when the Kings dumped head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This spring, Nachbaur provided analysis on broadcasts of Tri-City playoff games.

The Kings also hired Dave Lowry, 54, as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 season after he had been the head coach of the Victoria Royals for five seasons. Lowry was dismissed by the Kings on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

Steve Konowalchuk, 46, was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons, guiding them to a WHL title in 2016-17. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a job that lasted one season.  He now is an amateur scout with the New York Rangers. But, hey, maybe he’s got the coaching bug, again.

There also are other men out there with previous WHL playing and/or coaching experience who might be worth another shot, like Mark Ferner, the director of hockey operations and head coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers; Mike Vandekamp, the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals; Jason Becker, who has completed three seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees; Ryan Papaioannou, the GM and head coach of the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits; Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Paul Dyck, the general manager, director of hockey operations and head coach of the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons. . . .

Of course, in this day and age, there also are former WHL coaches like Mark Holick and Enio Sacilotto who now are coaching at hockey academies.

So . . . if your favourite WHL team ends up changing coaches, there are a lot of capable coaches out there.



The Selkirk College Saints, who play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League out of Castelgar, B.C., are looking for a new head coach. Brent Heaven, the head coach for the past four seasons, “is leaving to pursue other interests,” according to a news release. . . . Under Heaven, the Saints went 62-25-0-10 and won the BCIHL championship in 2016. . . . There’s more on Heaven and the Saints right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The four remaining WHL teams all were in action on Wednesday night, and they’ll be back on the ice Friday night after changing venues. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders beat the Oil Kings, 2-1, in Edmonton to tie the Eastern Conference final, 2-2. They’ll be in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night, then return to Edmonton and play Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. . . .

This was the 68th playoff victory of Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. He had been tied with Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur, but now is seventh on the all-time list. . . . Ahead of Habscheid on the list are Don Hay, 108; Ken Hodge, 101; Ernie (Punch) McLean, 87; Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80; and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . (If you don’t recognize him, that’s Ginnell to the left of Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice Bob Ridley in the tweet at the top of this post.) . . .

In Spokane, the Vancouver Giants erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and beat the Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 3-1, with Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night.

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WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . That tied the Eastern Conference final at 2-2 with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . F Brett Leason (4) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 13:01 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (6), off a nifty pass from F Ozzy Wiesblatt, made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the third period. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (4) got the Oil Kings to within a goal at 13:54 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 10-4, 1.96, .924. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . To refresh, the Raiders won 1-0 at home in Game 1, with the Oil Kings winning Game 2, 4-3 in OT. In Edmonton, the Oil Kings won 5-1 and then dropped a 2-1 decision last night. . . . Had the Raiders lost Game 4 it would have marked their first three-game losing skid of the season.


F Dawson Holt’s OT goal gave the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in VancouverSpokane and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final. . . . The Giants get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley B.C. . . . Last night, the Chiefs skated to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from F Adam Beckman (7, 8), at 18:38 of the first period and 10:06 of the second. . . . The Giants, outshot 26-13 through two periods, began the comeback when F Jadon Joseph (7) scored on a delayed penalty at 4:26 of the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram (6) tied it, on a PP, at 9:11, and F Brayden Watts (4) gave the Giants the lead at 10:04. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods (7) forced OT when he scored at 16:25. . . . Holt won it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:07 of OT. . . . F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had two assists for Vancouver, and Byram added one assist to his goal. Byram and his defence partner, Alex Kannok Leipert, drew the assists on the winner. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck, while Spokane G Bailey Brkin blocked 26 shots. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who hasn’t played since the early moments of Game 1. Last night, he was behind the bench in a coaching role. . . . Spokane also scratched D Filip Kral, who left Game 3 after taking a hit from Giants F Justin Sourdif in the first period. Kral returned in the second period and finished the game, but obviously wasn’t able to play last night. . . . With Kral out, D Egor Arbuzov got into the lineup. . . . Vancouver remains without F Adian Barfoot, who hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.


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Did Chiefs take out WHL’s top team? . . . High Noon arrives for Blades vs. Raiders. . . . P.A. moves into conference final


MacBeth

F Clarke Breitkreuz (Regina. Prince George, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Lausitzer Füchse Weißwasser (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 18 goals and 15 assists in 41 games. . . .

F Chris Francis (Portland, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga). In 26 games, he had 21 goals and 38 assists. He actually started the season with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), recording one goal and one assist in 10 games.


ThisThat

It seems that the Spokane Chiefs are of the opinion that they eliminated the WHL’s best team when they ousted the Everett Silvertips from the playoffs on Saturday night.

The Chiefs beat the visiting Silvertips, 2-1, in Game 5 on Saturday to win the Western SpokaneChiefsConference semifinal, 4-1, and advance to the conference final against the Vancouver Giants. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., with games on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7,” Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin, who just may be the biggest individual story of these playoffs, told Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “I’m just so proud of the boys for pulling it out.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Dudley that Everett is “the top team in the league. The reason for that is the way they compete and outwork (teams). . . .”

Don’t tell the Chiefs, but the regular-season standings — never mind the second round of the playoffs — would seem to indicate that the Silvertips weren’t the best team in the league.

The Prince Albert Raiders finished atop the overall standings, at 54-10-4. Because of the unbalanced schedule — it is terribly unbalanced due to the WHL being spread over four provinces and two states — comparing teams in different conferences really is an apples-and-oranges thing.

But the Giants topped the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. They were 11 points behind the Raiders and two in front of the Silvertips.

The Chiefs? The finished 40-21-7, good for eighth place in the overall standings, 12 points behind the Silvertips and 14 behind the Giants, their next opponent.


We may have solved a couple of mysteries left over from Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal between the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips.

You will recall that Spokane D Filip Kral was suspended for one game for “game misconduct versus Everett on April 12,” according to the WHL. Kral was given a game misconduct at 19:28 of third period of a game that the host Chiefs went on to win, 4-1. There were rumblings that Kral was ejected from the game while seated on the Chiefs’ bench.

Well, a follower of the Chiefs who is a reader of this blog informed Taking Note on Saturday night that “Kral squirted water from the bench and I guess it hit the linesman’s leg.” The source spoke with Kral while he was serving his suspension by missing Game 5 in Spokane on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the WHL also fined the Chiefs $500 “for warm up violations.”

While the WHL didn’t offer any specifics, including which game it was, the same Chiefs follower tells Taking Note that a violation may have occurred prior to Game 4 when Spokane F Luke Toporowski “shot a puck into Everett’s net just before the horn sounded to end” the warmup. “I saw him do it and thought that wasn’t allowed,” the source told Taking Note.

So . . . while all of this is speculation, it just may have solved a couple of mysteries. A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the observant and interested Chiefs follower who took the time to write.


Going into these playoffs, many of the hockey whisperers were of the opinion that the Spokane Chiefs may have had a goaltending problem. Not that they didn’t have any goaltending, but that their play in that department may have been lacking when compared to some other teams.

Well, Bailey Brkin is in the process of shooting that theory to smithereens.

A 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., Brkin was 27-11-3, 2.75, .914 in the regular season, and now is 8-2, 2.26, .931 in the playoffs. He is preparing to lead the Chiefs into the Western Conference final, having beaten the Portland Winterhawks (Shane Farkas, Joel Hofer) and Everett Silvertips (Dustin Wolf) in the first two rounds.

It could be that the whisperers still haven’t forgotten Brkin’s numbers from the 23 appearances he made with the Kootenay Ice last season — 7-12-2, 4.51, .874.

His time with the Ice ended on Jan. 8, 2018, when the Chiefs acquired him for — get this! — an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

The Ice, of course, hasn’t been a good team for a few seasons now, so it’s likely that Brkin found Spokane to be a breath of fresh air.

Considering Brkin’s numbers this season, you would have to say the feeling is mutual.


When the Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver open the Western Conference final on Friday in VancouverLangley, B.C., Giants F Jadon Joseph will be appearing in his third consecutive conference final. . . . In each of the previous two seasons, Joseph was with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Two years ago, they lost to the Regina Pats in six games. Last season, the Hurricanes again were ousted in six games, this time by the Swift Current Broncos. . . . In 2017, Joseph, a 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., had two goals and an assist in 20 playoff games. Last spring, he put up three goals and nine assists in 16 games. . . . The Hurricanes dealt him to Regina this season, and the Giants acquired him from the Pats on Jan. 4, giving up a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2020. . . . In the regular season, Joseph had 10 goals and 18 assists in 32 games with the Giants. In the playoffs, he has six goals and two assists in 10 games. . . . Most importantly, as far as the Giants are concerned, is that he joined them having already appeared in 36 playoff games.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES:  The WHL’s conference semifinals are over, with nary a one of the four series going to seven games. . . . Two of them were sweeps — the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen, and the Vancouver Giants dumped the Victoria Royals — while one went five games and another six. . . . The Spokane Chiefs took out the Everett Silvertips in five; the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Blades, 6-3, in Saskatoon on Sunday to win that series in six games. . . .

The WHL now goes dark until Friday night when the conference finals are scheduled to open, with the Oil Kings in Prince Albert, and the Chiefs meeting the Giants in Langley, B.C. . . .

When Prince Albert beat the host Blades, 6-3, on Sunday, it marked the 66th playoff victory for Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. That moves him into a tie for ninth place with Ken Hitchcock on the WHL’s all-time list, one victory behind Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur. . . . Who’s No. 1? Don Hay, of course. Hay has recorded 108 playoff victories as a head coach, seven more than Ken Hodge. . . .

Habscheid also has moved to ninth place on the WHL’s list of combined coaching victories. He now has 575 regular-season and playoff victories, four behind Brent Sutter. . . . Hay also is No. 1 here, at 858, with Hodge second, at 843.

——

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Dante Hannoun scored three times to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-3 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference semifinal, 4-2, and will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the final. That series is to open with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Raiders are into the conference final for the first time since 2005. . . . F Parker Kelly (4) put the Raiders out front, 1-0, at 10:28 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Ryan Hughes (1) tied it at 16:45. . . . The Raiders took a two-goal lead on second-period goals from Hannoun (7), at 5:08, and F Aliaksei Protas (4), on a PP, at 8:18. . . . Hughes (2) halved the Saskatoon deficit, on a PP, at 15:24. . . . Hannoun (8) restored the two-goal lead, at 3:33. . . . F Sean Montgomery (7) upped the Raiders’ lead to 5-2, on a PP, at 5:27. . . . F Tristen Robins (3) scored for the Blades 29 second later. . . . Hannoun (9) completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:58. . . .

The Raiders acquired Hannoun, along with fourth- and eighth-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, from the Victoria Royals on Jan. 3, for F Carson Miller, F Kody McDonald and a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . In 28 regular-season games with the Raiders, Hannoun, 20, had 10 goals and 21 assists. In 10 playoff games, he has a WHL-leading nine goals. He is tied for the points lead with F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants, each with 14. . . . Prince Albert was 2-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 2-4. . . . F Noah Gregor and F Brett Leason each had two assists for the winners. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, seven fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . The Raiders scratched F Cole Fonstad for a second straight game and had F Cole Nagy, an AP, dressed for this one. . . . The Raiders were without F Justin Nachbaur, who served the first of a two-game suspension. He also will sit out the first game of the Eastern Conference final on Friday.


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