Pachal, Bruins’ captain, WCHL champion and kidney donor, dies at 64 . . . Nachbaur returns to WHL

CPachal
CLAYTON PACHAL

Clayton Pachal, who won two WHL championships with the New Westminster Bruins, has died following a brief illness. Pachal, who died on Feb. 7 in Saskatoon, was 64. . . . Comfortable at centre, left wing or on defence, he was the captain of Bruins teams that won the 1974-75 and 1975-76 WCHL championships and went on to play in the Memorial Cup. . . . Those were the first two of four straight league titles for the big, bad, burly Bruins of head coach Ernie (Punch) McLean. . . . They lost the Memorial Cup final in 1975 and 1976, then won the next two. . . . . . . He split the 1972-73 season between the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers — he was from Yorkton — and the Bruins, then spent the next three seasons with New Westminster. In all, he had 68 goals, 90 assists and 910 penalty minutes in 234 regular-season games. He aded 13 goals, 15 assists and 156 PiM in 48 playoff games. . . . He also played eight Memorial Cup games, scoring four times, adding one assist and serving 18 penalty minutes. . . . Clayton was a cousin to Kent Pachal, whose son Brayden, a defenceman, played four seasons in the WHL and captained the Prince Albert Raiders in 2018-19. He now is with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . .

The Boston Bruins used the 16th overall selection in the NHL’s 1976 draft to take Clayton Pachal. He went on to play 35 NHL games — 11 with the Bruins and 24 with the Colorado Rockies — recording two goals, three assists and 95 penalty minutes. . . . The Winnipeg Jets selected Pachal in the second round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 1976 draft. . . . He retired from pro hockey after splitting the 1979-80 season between the Central League’s Cincinnati Stingers and the International League’s Grand Rapids Owls. . . . When he returned home, he kept playing, this time in the Wild Goose Hockey League with the Unity Miners and Wilkie Outlaws. . . .

Pachal’s greatest contribution wasn’t made in an arena or on a sheet of ice. In 1997, he was a living donor for his brother, Evan, who needed a kidney. . . . The brothers were an excellent match and Evan told Taking Note on Tuesday that “I’ve enjoyed good health ever since . . . I am so thankful for his gift.” . . .

The family asks that donations be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada in lieu of flowers. . . . A complete obituary is right here.


Don Nachbaur is the Tri-City Americans’ new associate coach. Nachbaur will Americanswork alongside head coach Kelly Buchberger, who is into his third season with the club. . . . Nachbaur, the WHL’s third-winningest regular-season head coach, spent six seasons (2003-09) as the Americans’ head coach. He also spent six seasons as head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds and seven with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . With 692 victories, he is behind only Don Hay (750), who now is an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, and the retired Ken Hodge (742). . . . After leaving Spokane, Nachbaur, 62, joined the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. He got caught up in a house-cleaning early in his second season (2018-19) in L.A. . . . Nachbaur spent the 2019-20 season as head coach of HKM Zvolen in the Slovakia Tipsport Liga. He started the 2020-21 season as head coach of SC Bern in the Swiss National League A, but left the team five games into the season with a 4-8-0 record.



Sleep


Starting pitcher Frankie Montas wasn’t there when the Oakland A’s reported to camp in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday. He has tested positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms. Under MLB’s protocols, players reporting to camp go through an intake process that includes a five-day home quarantine. A positive test also results in a player having to isolate for at least 10 days. He is allowed to rejoin the team only after undergoing cardiac evaluation and getting clearance from a team physician and from an MLB/MLBPA committee. . . . Pitchers and catchers were to report Wednesday. The mandatory reporting date for other players is Feb. 26. The first exhibition games are scheduled for Feb. 27. Opening day is set for April 1.


The NBA has scheduled its all-star game for March 7 in Atlanta — it was to have been held in Indianapolis but was moved for pandemic-related reasons. . . . Keisha Lance Bottoms is the major of Atlanta. How does she feel about having the game in her city? Here she is in a statement: “Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year,” she said in a statement. “I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party. There will be no NBA sanctioned events open to the public and we strongly encourage promoters, clubs, bars, etc. not to host events in the city related to this game.”


Line


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,395 have died from coronavirus; 836,594 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,439 have died from coronavirus; 839,155 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — United States: 487,927 people have died. . . . 27,753,824 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — United States: 490,447 have died from coronavirus . . . 27,825,043 have tested positive.

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The Globe and Mail — Global COVID-19 cases have dropped by half, and experts are looking for explanations.

The Globe and Mail — Alberta pastor accused of breaking COVID-19 health rules held in custody.

The Tri-City News — COVID-19 outbreak at Burnaby’s biggest daycare sees 24 cases.

CBC News — B.C. records 427 new COVID-19 cases and 3 more deaths. There are 232 people in hospital with the disease, 63 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 277 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths. Province has a case positivity rate of 3.9%.

CBC News — Manitoba is reporting 76 new COVID-19 cases, below the province’s 7-day average of 84. Health authorities are also reporting 1 additional death.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 124 new COVID-19 cases, well below the province’s 7-day average of 159. Health authorities also say there have been 5 additional deaths.

CBC News — New Brunswick is reporting 3 new COVID-19 cases and 15 recoveries. Province has had 1,407 total cases, 1,264 recoveries and 24 deaths. . . . N.B.’s top doctor urges residents to stay in own zone over March Break.

CBC News — Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region call for 2-week lockdown extension due to COVID-19 variant spread. Toronto’s top doctor says there are 56 confirmed cases while 283 others have screened positive; foresees 3rd wave ‘as worse as anything we’ve seen.’

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The NHL has had to postpone 35 games because of COVID-19, seven teams have had to pause activities and there have been 124 players on the protocol list. It all has left some people wondering if the coronavirus is being transmitted during games. . . . Chris Bumbaca of USA TODAY has a lot more on this story right here.

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From the NBA on Wednesday: “Of the 454 players tested for COVID-19 since Feb. 10, five new players have returned confirmed positive tests. Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test, or has been identified as having been in close contact to an infected person, is isolated or quarantined until they are cleared under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance.”


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: The junior B Langley Trappers have opted out of whatever might be left of the 12-team Pacific Junior Hockey League’s 2020-21 season. The league has been in a holding pattern since Nov. 7.


History

QMJHL looking at two options; WHL may push start into February . . . Nachbaur leaves Swiss team

The QMJHL, which announced Monday that its season is on hold until January, has a couple of options for when it resumes, but Gilles Courteau, the qmjhlnewcommissioner, says quitting isn’t one of them. . . .The QMJHL began its regular season on Oct. 2. By the time December is over, it will have postponed 161 of 253 scheduled games. . . . As Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wrote: “Like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who gradually has his limbs chopped off and insists they’re merely flesh wounds, the QMJHL vows to forge on.” . . . As things now sit, the QMJHL players are going home for Christmas, then will return to their teams on Jan. 3. If travel is allowed in the four provinces in which the QMJHL has franchises, the teams will resume playing on Jan. 6, but in empty arenas. The other option is to play in a bubble — or, as Courteau calls them, “protected environments.” That type of resumption would begin on Jan. 22. . . . So could the WHL or OHL end up in some kind of bubble environment? Well, the WHL, which has said it will open its regular season on Jan. 8, apparently is on the verge of shifting that date into February. The OHL is aiming for Feb. 4. . . . According to John Shannon in the above tweet, the WHL pooh-bahs were to meet on Tuesday. . . . Of course, as Campbell points out, the QMJHL is playing to a certain extent, with taxpayers’ money. “It’s much easier to stem those wounds when you have $20 million in taxpayer money propping up your business,” Campbell wrote in a piece that is right here.


Dr. Anthony Fauci may not be No. 1 on the White House’s hit parade, but he remains the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He also is the go-to person in terms of COVID-19. . . . Henry Bushnell of yahoo!sports went to him on Monday and was told that we are months — yes, months! — away from seeing sports stadiums and arenas filled to capacity. . . . That story is right here and there is lots in it to digest, including this from Dr. Fauci:

“We’re gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people (from) the end of December through January, February, March. By the time you get to the general public, the people who’ll be going to the basketball games, who don’t have any underlying conditions, that’s gonna be starting the end of April, May, June. So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable (with full sports stadiums) — if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don’t think we’re going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer.”


Plague


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Fines totalling more than $180,000 were issued to COVID-19 rule breakers in the last week, the government of Manitoba says.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 181 new cases of COVID-19, 4 more deaths and 237 recoveries. The province now has 8,745 total cases, 51 deaths, 3,819 active cases and 4,875 recoveries.

Marc Smith, CTV News: For the third time in nine days, Saskatchewan has reported four COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours. More people have died in the last 25 days than did in 240 days prior.

CBC News: Alberta reports 10 more COVID-19 deaths, 1,307 new cases. November was by far the worst month of the pandemic, so far.

Janet Brown, CKNW Vancouver: 656 cases, 16 deaths (457), 336 hospital (+20), 76 ICU (+1), 8796 active cases, 10123 self-isolation.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,707 new cases of COVID-19. That sends the 7-day average to 1,666, the highest since the pandemic began. There are 727 new cases in Toronto (also a record high) with 373 in Peel and 168 in York. 7 additional deaths are also reported.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 28 additional deaths and 1,177 new COVID-19 cases. That’s a decrease from the province’s previous 7-day average of 1,309.

CBC News: Quebec’s plan to allow people to gather over the Christmas period may be scrapped, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Premier François Legault said Tuesday.

KOMO News: Washington state reported over 2,100 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. In total, the Washington State Department of Health reported 2,197 new COVID-19 cases and 31 more deaths due to the virus. The latest surge pushes the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 167,216 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 10,920 hospitalizations and 2,774 deaths.

oregonlive.com: 1,233 cases, record 24 reported deaths as state hits ‘grim milestone.’

CBC News: U.S. reported 4.2 million COVID-19 cases in November, as hopes rest on vaccine. Number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 hit record high of nearly 93,000 on Sunday.

Seattle Times: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the ban on nonessential travel with the United States will not be lifted until COVID-19 is significantly more under control around the world.

The New York Times: California has long had one of the nation’s lowest number of hospital beds relative to its population. Now officials say that shortfall may prove catastrophic as the state faces another coronavirus surge, with an average of nearly 15,000 new cases a day.

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Curling Canada announced Tuesday that it plans on playing the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Tim Hortons Brier, world men’s championship and Canadian mixed doubles in a bubble environment at the Mackin MacPhail Centre in Calgary. Dates for the events have yet to be announced. . . . The Brier had been scheduled for Kelowna, a city that also lost out when the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament was cancelled last spring. . . . The Scotties was to have been held in Thunder Bay, which now will play host in 2022, from Jan. 28 through Feb. 6. . . . The world men’s had been scheduled for Ottawa. . . .

It would seem that the coronavirus can’t wait for NBA teams to open their buffets, er, training camps. The Golden State Warriors have had to push back the opening of their camp by a day after two players tested positive. . . . The NBA completed its 2019-20 season in a bubble in Orlando, Fla., proving that teams can do so without positive tests. Now, however, it is planning on opening its 2020-21 season without putting teams in bubbles. And it is going to be interesting to watch developments. . . . The Warriors will hold individual player workouts today, and hope to start practices on Monday. . . . Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards have had one player test positive, while C Mo Bamba of the Orlando Magic, a 22-year-old who tested positive on June 11, isn’t yet ready to return. . . .

The Baltimore Ravens flew into Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening in advance of meeting the Steelers this afternoon. The Ravens got on the plane despite experiencing two more positive tests on Wednesday — one player, reportedly S Geno Stone, and one staff member. . . . This afternoon’s game had been scheduled to be played last Thursday. It was rescheduled for Sunday and then Tuesday after the Ravens experienced more than a dozen positives. It is to be televised by NBC. . . .

Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One driving champion, has tested positive and will miss Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain. Hamilton tested negative three times last week, but woke up Monday with mild symptoms and tested positive. He took a second test and it, too, was positive. Hamilton won the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday before becoming ill.


Milkshakes


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: Don Nachbaur, the third winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, has resigned as the head coach of SC Bern of the Swiss National League due to personal reasons. He was replaced by Mario Kogler, an Austrian who is the club’s U-20 coach. . . . The ECHL has yet to receive a franchise application for Trois-Rivières, Que., but the city and Deacon Sports and Entertainment have agreed on a five-year least for a team to play in a new arena that is being built there.


Poll

B.C.’s top doc: This pandemic is far from over . . . Nachbaur to coach SC Bern . . . . Guest tells OHL horror story


Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said during a Monday briefing on COVID-19 that gatherings in the province will be limited to 50 people with room for physical distancing for months to come.

B.C. announced 36 new cases for the period encompassing Friday through Sunday, with 182 people ill and 13 of those in hospital. There are four people in intensive care.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top health official, pointed out that new cases continue to pop up.

“This pandemic is far from over,” Dr. Henry said. “There continues to be no effective treatment and the virus will continue in our communities for many months to come.”


A hockey fan from Portland emailed me Monday afternoon with some information from Oregon Live and Seattle Times.

First, from Oregon Live:

“Oregon public health officials announced a record 184 new cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, bringing the total number of known cases in the state to 5,820.

Monday’s new high in cases solidifies a disturbing trend statewide, which this month includes elevated numbers in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. Previously, the number of new cases in the state had never exceeded 100. But in the past nine days, seven have surpassed 100 — 146 on June 7, 114 on June 8, 178 on Thursday, 142 on Friday, 158 on Saturday, 101 on Sunday and 184 Monday.”

FYI, Portland is in Multnomah County. The Portlander added that Clackamas and Washington are the surrounding counties where the (Winterhawks) players “would live, practise and and socialize.”

And from the Seattle Times:

“State health officials confirmed 324 new COVID-19 cases in Washington on Monday, as well as four additional deaths.

“The update brings the state’s totals to 26,158 cases and 1,221 deaths, meaning about 4.7% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the state Department of Health’s (DOH) data dashboard. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

“So far, 471,265 tests for the novel coronavirus have been conducted in the state, per DOH. Of those, 5.6% have come back positive. The rate of positive tests in Washington has hovered just under 6% in recent weeks, even as case numbers have been climbing.

“The state has confirmed 8,785 diagnoses and 592 deaths in King County, the state’s most populous, accounting for a little less than half of the state’s death toll.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds are located in King County.


Reports on Monday indicated that “several” players from the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have tested positive for the coronavirus. Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network were first with the story. . . . Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott was among those who tested positive, although he now is said to be healthy. . . . The Cowboys, citing “federal and local privacy laws,” haven’t identified any of the players. . . . On Monday, Pelissero reported that NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, in a call with agents on Monday, “said the current plan in place is to test players for the coronavirus about three times per week, isolating those who test positive.” . . . Mayer also told agents that there is a “90 per cent chance reliable saliva testing is available before players return to facilities.”



It could be that if you are going to bring a team together in close quarters, you had best be prepared for positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

This is from Jesse Spector of Deadspin:

“Friday brought a report from the New York Post that a major league player and pitching coach have contracted coronavirus.

Also, the Boston Bruins announced that one of their players has tested positive.

So did a D.C. United player.

And three Clemson athletes — two football players and one men’s basketball player. And four Mississippi State football players. And six University of Houston football players, leading that school to suspend workouts.

“Even at the high school level, a football player at Cathedral High in El Paso, Texas, tested positive, halting workouts there.

That’s all from a single, 24-hour period. It doesn’t include other coronavirus cases found in June, like the Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the other Alabama football players who tested positive. Or the Florida State football players. Or the two Texas football players. Or the Pittsburgh Penguins player. Or the golfer and three caddies from the PGA’s developmental tour. Or the FC Dallas player. Or the three Central Florida football players. Or the high school football player in East Texas. Or the Oklahoma State football player. Or the three Auburn football players. Or the Utah Jazz players.”

Or the Arizona Coyotes staff member, who tested positive and is in isolation at his home.

Or the student-athlete from North Dakota State, who is being quarantined for 14 days after testing positive.

On Monday, The Associated reported that at least 45 athletes, coaches or staff members at 17 schools have tested positive since June 1.


From Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports: “A Zion Williamson rookie card fetched nearly $100,000 on eBay this weekend. Is that more or less than Zion was paid to attend Duke, you think?”



Golf Canada has cancelled all of its amateur golf competitions for 2020. That includes the Canadian women’s amateur, that had been scheduled for Montreal from July 21-24, and the Canadian men’s amateur that was to have been played in Calgary, Aug. 3-6. . . . There is more info right here. . . .

The PGA Championship will be held in August; however, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Monday that it will be played without fans. . . . The tournament is to be played at Harding Park, Aug. 6-9. . . . It will be the first major of the season on the men’s tour. . . . Originally, the PGA Championship was to have been held in mid-May. . . .

The International Softball Congress has cancelled the 2020 World men’s tournament that had been scheduled for Moline, Ill., Aug. 8-15. The 2021 tournament is scheduled for Kitchener, Ont. . . .

The 12-team WNBA is going to play its 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with each club playing a 22-game regular season with playoffs scheduled for October. Training camps will open there early in July. . . . Its regular season had been scheduled to begin on May 15.


Politics


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.”


Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, has signed a two-year deal as head coach of SC Bern, which plays in Switzerland’s National League. . . . Bern has led all of European hockey in attendance for 19 straight seasons. . . . Nachbaur, 61, spent last season as the head of HKM Zvolen of the Slovak league. In Bern, he takes over from Hans Kossman, who finished last season after the firing of Kari Jalonen.



The junior B Southern Rebels of the Prairie Junior Hockey League won’t play in 2020-21. The Rebels, who are based in Assiniboia, Sask., announced via Twitter on Sunday that they “have requested and been approved for a one-year leave” from the PJHL. . . . In requisting the leave, they cited “the fact that there are more unknowns than knowns” because of the impact COVID-19 has had. . . . With the Rebels sitting out, the PJHL will be down to 11 teams.


match


Headline at SportsPickle: Roger Goodell announces 4-game suspension of Roger Goodell for not realizing racism exists.


The SJHL’s Estevan Bruins have added Phil Fife as an assistant coach. He’ll work alongside Jason Tatarnic, the club’s new general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Aren Miller, who is preparing for his eighth season in Estevan. . . . Fife spent last season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. He played two seasons under Tatarnic with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Woodstock Slammers (2010-12). . . . Fife fills the spot created when associate coach Jeff Smith left to take over as GM/head coach of the U18 AAA Estevan Bruins for their inaugural season.



“Michael Jordan and the crew on his 80-foot fishing boat ‘Catch 23’ hauled in a 442-pounder during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament off the North Carolina coast,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In fact, the fish flopped so much they nicknamed it Laimbeer.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has found a bright spot in a shortened MLB season. As she put it, it’s “good news for those who worried the Orioles would lose 100 games this year.”


vodka

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering from where Hogan and his Heroes got their clothes . . .

Scattershooting

Sorry for all the hockey content in this episode of Scattershooting, but, hey, stuff happens. And, no, don’t be looking for any Don Cherry content here. I don’t know about you, but I am Cherryed out. . . .



ICYMI, Don Nachbaur, a former WHL player and head coach, is back in the coaching game. He had Andrej Podkonicky, also a former WHL player, now are co-head coaches of HKM Zvolen, a Slovakian team in the Extraliga. . . . Podkonicky and Michal Kobezda had been coaching the club; Kobezda remains as an assistant coach. . . . Nachbaur, who spent seven seasons as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs after also working with the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds, was an assistant with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings for 2017-18, but was dismissed 13 games into last season when head coach John Stevens was fired. . . . Podkonicky played two seasons (1996-98) with the Portland Winterhawks.


If you’re a WHL fan, you should know that the 2019-20 WHL Guide is available for download at whl.ca. . . . Just go to the tab slugged The WHL and click on WHL Guide and Record Book.


SpiderMan


When the Vancouver Canucks entertained the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, there was at least one celebrity in the stands. . . . Yes, Bill Murray had his 50/50 numbers; no, he didn’t seem to win. He also appeared to be wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, which wasn’t a surprise as he is from Evanston, Ill.


Yes, Monday night’s NFL game between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — who, by the way, don’t play in San Francisco — was messy and sloppy and all of those things. But, hey, was it exciting, or what? . . . If you weren’t aware, the 49ers visit the Seahawks on Dec. 29. Happy New Year a few days early!


In his story after the host Kamloops Blazers beat the Kelowna Rockets, 5-2, on Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week included this: “Rockets’ head coach Adam Foote refused a post-game interview request from KTW.”

Included in the WHL Guide is this, under Media Access to Players and other Team Personnel: “A member of the coaching staff of each team must be available to the media for interviews within 15 minutes following the game.”

Hmm, gotta wonder if the WHL will stick a hand into Foote’s wallet for this indiscretion?

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That loss on Monday was the Rockets’ fourth straight. The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, have allowed 25 goals in those four losses. That also was Kelowna’s 10th loss in 19 games this season. As well, veteran F Kyle Topping, 20, has had surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered during a 1-0 victory over the Royals in Victoria on Oct. 30, so he won’t play for a long time.

We now are left to wait and see how much of the winery the Rockets will sell in an attempt to bolster their roster for the tournament.

The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats sold their farms in order to make title runs in 2017-18 when both played in the Memorial Cup tournament, the Broncos as WHL champions and the Pats as the host team.

They since have fallen on hard times. Last season, they combined for 24 victories in 136 games and neither team made the playoffs. This season, they have totalled five victories — yes, five — in 33 games and, again, aren’t likely to appear in the playoffs.

The Rockets’ management, it would seem, has some big decisions ahead of it.

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When the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament to Kelowna, it also heard presentations from the Kamloops Blazers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Blazers are 13-6-0 and riding high atop the B.C. Division; the Hurricanes are 13-5-3 and second in the Central Division, one point out of first.

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This was ugly . . . big-time nasty . . . and it drew an eight-game suspension from the WHL early Wednesday evening.

(I would have started at 20 games, but then I was in the building the night that Brad Hornung was injured, so I’m a little sensitive about hits like this.)

That’s F Pavel Novak of the visiting Kelowna Rockets drilling Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk from behind during a Monday afternoon game. Sopotyk (shoulder) is expected to sit for up to two months.

The Blazers will open a six-game East Division trek against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Dec. 6 and Sopotyk, who is from Aberdeen, Sask., won’t make the trip.

That means he has been robbed of the opportunity to play in front of family and friends in his home province — Aberdeen is a few slapshots northeast of Saskatoon. He’s 18 so, due to the way the WHL works its schedule, will have to wait until the 2021-22 season for the next opportunity, in his 20-year-old season.

When the Blazers wrap up their East Division trip on Dec. 14, against the Prince Albert Raiders, Sopotyk will have missed 14 games.



I can’t remember anything like what is about to happen in the CFL’s West Division final in Regina on Sunday. I mean, the Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired quarterback Zach Collaros for the 2018 season, then signed him over the off-season thinking he would be their guy. But he got mugged three plays into this season and, once recovered from the concussion, was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their starter, Matt Nichols, and dealt for Collaros. On Sunday, then, Collaros will lead the Bombers into Regina with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line. . . . Wait, there’s more. . . . Cody Fajardo, who took over the Roughriders when Collaros was hurt, went on to have a fabulous season. But now there’s this problem with an oblique muscle, meaning Fajardo may not be able play on Sunday, which would give Isaac Harker his second career CFL start. . . . A year ago, you may recall, the Roughriders and Bombers played a West Division semifinal in Winnipeg. Collaros was concussed and wasn’t able to start for the Roughriders, who, after days of intrigue, trotted out Brandon Bridge. . . . The Blue Bombers won that one, 23-18.


Superman


In case you missed it, and I did, Team WHL played a touring Russian side in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. It was Game 5 of the annual CIBC-sponsored funfest. While the first four games — two each versus the QMJHL and OHL — got great exposure from the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, last night’s game started on something called OLN and then was joined in progress on some Sportsnet channels. . . . I wanted to watch, but I couldn’t find OLN and, no, I don’t stream. . . . But, hey, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders on five channels on my setup, with the Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils on another. Oh, and two channels had on something called Gotta See It, leading eventually into the Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames. . . . And by the time the WHL/Russian game was joined in progress, I had moved on to a couple of PVR’d episodes of Hogan’s Heroes. (Was a men’s wear store part of Stalag 13? If not, how is it that Hogan and Co. always seem to be wearing such well-fitting clothes?) . . . Anyway, I seem to recall a dearth of CHL playoff games on Sportsnet last spring and there was no sign of the outdoor game last month between the Calgary Hitmen and host Regina Pats. . . . Seriously, CHL, if this is the best your broadcast partner is able to do for you, it might be time to move on.

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BTW, I went to Google hoping to find out something about OLN. This is from Wikipedia: “OLN is a Canadian English-language Category A specialty channel. OLN primarily broadcasts factual-based adventure-related programming and reality television series primarily aimed at male audiences.”


You have to love the big story in Major League Baseball these days about the Houston Astros and cheating. Only in baseball is their ‘honest’ cheating — having a runner on second base stealing an opponent’s signs — and ‘dishonest’ cheating — doing it with a camera from centre field and banging a garbage can in a tunnel to let the hitter know that he’s about to see an off-speed pitch. . . . And we won’t even get into the fact that the Astros are investigating themselves on this one.


Gotta run. Time to dig into Ken Dryden’s latest work . . . Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other. You’re right. I couldn’t wait until Christmas.


DogVoice

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


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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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