Scattershooting on a Sunday night while waiting for the snow to arrive . . .


If as expected the sale of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks closes on Dec. 31, Michael Kramer, a 52-year-old native of Los Angeles who has been described by one of his former professors as “a rock star in the world of finance,” will be one of the new owners.


The Winterhawks are planning a news conference at which it will be announced that Kerry Preete, a native of Melfort, Sask., and Kramer have purchased the franchise out of receivership for US$5,850,000.

Preete, 60, spent more than 30 years with Monsanto, and was its executive vice-president and chief strategy officer when it was sold to Bayer A.G., in 2018.

Kramer, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance from California State U Northridge (CSUN), lives in New Canaan, Conn. He is the CEO and founding partner of Ducera Partners LLC, an investment bank. As such, he has been involved in some monster deals.

Ducera advised Monsanto in the US$70-billion deal in which it was purchased by Bayer. Yahoo!finance reported in 2016, two years before the deal was completed, that “approximately $100 to $110 million in fees are expected to be divvied up between lead adviser Ducera and Morgan Stanley for their sell-side advisory roles, according to estimates by consultant Freeman & Co.”

Ducera also was involved in the restructuring or sales of iHeart Radio ($20 billion) and Nieman Marcus ($5 billion), among others.

Kramer also has been described as having been “the architect” of the sales of such professional franchises as the Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils and Texas Rangers.

If you’re wondering just what it is that Kramer does, he explained during a speaking engagement at CSUN in 2019 how he handled a project involving Hostess Brands in 2012.

As Olivia Herstein of CSUN Today reported, Kramer told his audience:

“It’s the great American icon, the Twinkie. We can’t live without our Twinkies. Seven years ago, I was called by the board of Hostess. They said, ‘We’re having a lot of financial trouble, we’re running out of money — we don’t know how we’re going to continue. Can you come in and help us think through this?’

“When I, or any investment banker, gets involved in these transactions, it is usually a multi-year process. It’s not two or three weeks. In that situation, we had to figure out how to restructure the company. They had approximately 42 different union contracts! Two of the primary unions were the International Teamsters and the Bakers (the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International). So, I got to spend six months of my life, going three or four days a week down to D.C., to the headquarters of the Teamsters, negotiating with their most senior leaders.

“We actually cut a deal. The Teamsters were an incredibly tough counterpart, but we cut a deal. Unfortunately we weren’t as successful with the Baker’s Union. We were forced to totally shut the company down — that was me, I’m the guy who took away Twinkies for a few months. About six months later, we sold the company for approximately $1 billion. In many ways, that’s what we deal with all the time. It was a success in the price we were able to receive for the assets, but a failure in some respects, because a lot of people lost their jobs.”

Meanwhile, thanks to Joshua Critzer’s reporting on Twitter (@jjcritzer), we know that Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach, and Kyle Gustafson, the assistant GM and associate, will remain with the Winterhawks. Critzer also reported that Doug Piper, the franchise’s president and governor, will be staying put.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area. Of late, it seems that he has been trying to find some morning listening on the ol’ wireless. Here he is, trying to explain his adventure as only he can:

“I have tried for a couple of months to warm up to the current morning show on ESPN Radio. I decided about a week ago that was never going to happen. Jay Williams is the only one of the three hosts who ever says anything that is thought-provoking and among the three, he is generally the silent partner. As of now, I will only listen to these three guys in the morning if my alternatives are NPR’s Morning Edition and a televangelist preaching in some unknown language.

“This restricts my morning radio options in the DC area significantly. There are two other options. One is called The Sports Junkies — a show featuring 4 insufferably uninteresting people sharing inside jokes and ‘frat boy banter.’ The other option is the Kevin Sheehan Show which is now going to be my morning aural experience. I arrived at that position by selecting the least worst option available to me.”


“The Gonzaga-Baylor men’s basketball game featuring the 1-2 teams in the country was scuttled by positive tests in the Bulldogs’ camp,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In a related story, COVID-19 was just voted No. 1 in the latest AP poll.”

The Onion: Taylor Swift Fans Furious After Artist Excluded From ESPN’s List Of Best NBA Players Of 2020.

So . . . Michael Jordan has a new golf course — The Grove XXIII — in Hobe Sound, Fla., and it uses drones to deliver beverages. Why drones? Well, as Nick Piastowski of, points out: “He was Michael ‘Air’ Jordan. Not Michael ‘Beer Cart’ Jordan. Not Michael ‘Hot Dog at the Turn’ Jordan.”

The 2021 Kamloops Kidney Walk will be held virtually, as it was in June. Yes, Dorothy will be taking part, as she has since 2014. . . . She already has registered and her granddaughters, Averi and Kara, have joined her team. If you are interested in making a donation — perhaps you are looking for a tax receipt for this year’s filing — you are able to do so right here.


Bartley Kives, CBC Manitoba: Manitoba announced 273 new cases of COVID-19 and 7 more deaths on Sunday. . . . Active cases: 5,728 (overstated due to backlog in calling patients to designate active cases as recovered). . . . Total caseload: 21,023. . . . Recovered: 14,805. . . . Deaths: 490. . . . In hospital: 304, and In ICU: 43 (Understated. Both these counts do not include long-term COVID patients who are no longer contagious but still require hospital care.) . . . Five-day test-positivity rate: 13.5 per cent. . . . Tests completed Saturday: 2,145.

CTV News: There have been 222 new cases of COVID-19 and three related deaths reported in Saskatchewan in the past 24 hours.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,717 new COVID-19 cases as well as a record 22 deaths.

B.C.: More crickets.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,677 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 58,200 tests completed. Locally, there are 456 new cases in Toronto, 356 in Peel and 143 in York Region. There are 1,678 more resolved cases.

CBC News: Quebec reported 1,994 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 more deaths.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 6 new cases of COVID-19. All of the new cases have been traced back to previously reported cases or travel outside Atlantic Canada.

CBC News: N.B. reports 2 new cases of COVID-19, both in Fredericton region.

BNO News: 16,987 COVID deaths were reported in the U.S. this week, making it the deadliest week on record.

Ryan Struyk, CNN: 299,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

Ryan Struyk, CNN: 16.2 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.


Pierre Lacroix, a former general manager of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, died on Sunday in Las Vegas. According to Le Journal de Quebec, he died due to COVID-19 complications. He was 72. . . .

Offensive line coach John Benton of the San Francisco 49ers missed their Sunday game with Washington in Glendale, Ariz., after testing positive. This was the 49ers’ first positive test since they were forced to relocate to Glendale.

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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.

JUST NOTES: F Štěpán Novotný, who played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Swift Current Broncos (2008-11), has retired due to concussions. The MacBeth Report tweeted that he “suffered his fourth concussion in 10 years in a game against Liberec on March 3.” . . . The BCHL’s Penticton Vees appear to have lost F Quinn Hutson to the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. His name now is on the Lumberjacks’ roster on their website. Hutson, who will turn 19 on Jan. 1, is from Chicago and has committed to Boston U. He was in his first BCHL season and led the Vees with 10 goals in 14 games during the extended exhibition season.


Team Canada has roster set for WJC . . . QMJHL looking at more bubbles . . . Canada extends border restrictions

With the 10 teams that are to compete in the 2021 World Junior Championship to move into the Edmonton bubble on Sunday, Team Canada made its final 2021WJCseven cuts on Friday at its selection camp in Red Deer, getting its roster down to 25. . . . The roster includes six players who won gold at the 2020 World Junior Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic: F Quinton Byfield (Sudbury Wolves), D Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants), F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes), D Jamie Drysdale (Erie Otters), F Connor McMichael (London Knights) and F Dawson Mercer (Chicoutimi Sagueneens). . . .

The roster includes nine players from WHL teams: G Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers), G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars), Byram, D Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert Raiders), D Kaedan Korczak (Kelowna Rockets), D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings), Cozens, F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) and F Connor Zary (Kamloops). . . . F Kirby Dach played for the Saskatoon Blades before cracking the roster of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks as an 18-year-old prior to last season. . . . Of Team Canada’s 22 skaters, only two aren’t NHL first-round selections. Korczak was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round in 2019, and D Jordan Spence of the Moncton Wildcats was taken by the Los Angeles Kings in that draft’s fourth round. . . .

Players dropped by Team Canada on Friday: F Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan Cataractes), F Graeme Clarke (Ottawa 67’s), D Lukas Cormier (Charlottetown Islanders), F Greg Goncalves (Everett Silvertips), F Seth Jarvis (Portland Winterhawks), D Ryan O’Rourke (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), F Samuel Poulin (Sherbrooke Phoenix), F Jamieson Rees (Sarnia Sting) and D Donovan Sebrango (Kitchener Rangers). . . .

The tournament is scheduled to open with a Christmas Day triple header —  Slovakia-Switzerland, 11 a.m. Pacific; Finland-Germany, 3 p.m.; U.S.-Russia, 6:30 p.m. Canada is to open its schedule on Dec. 26 against Germany at 3 p.m. Pacific. . . . There is a complete schedule right here. . . .

TSN also will show 10 pre-tournament games, starting with two on Dec. 20 — U.S.-Switzerland, 5 p.m. Pacific, and Finland-Czech Republic, 8:30 p.m. . . . Canada will play Sweden on Dec. 21, at 5 p.m. Pacific. . . . TSN’s pre-tournament schedule is right here.

Jonathan Habashi of the Drummondville Express reports that the city’s Marcel-qmjhlnewDionne Center, home to the Voltigeurs, “could be the scene of a bubble in the QMJHL” after the regular season resumes following the pandemic-forced break that now is in place. . . . According to Habashi, one scenario has five teams playing 12 games over a nine-day stretch. . . . Last month, seven teams spent 11 days playing in a Quebec City bubble. . . . More from Habashi, via Google Translate: “Other organizations, including the Saguenéens de Chicoutimi, have already expressed their interest in hosting a bubble. According to the plan established by the QMJHL, the 18 teams on the circuit will return to action, each playing two games in three days, from January 22 to 24, in six different cities, including four in Quebec. Subsequently, the QMJHL intends to create three bubbles of four Quebec teams who would each play six games in nine days, from January 30 to February 7.” . . . Habashi’s complete story is right here.

The ECHL has created what it is calling the Commissioner’s Exempt List. It is, echlaccording to the league, “for players who have been deemed ineligible to play due to ECHL Covid-19 and Return-to-Play protocols.” . . . The league explains that “being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List does NOT necessarily mean a player has tested positive. It could also mean the player has had close contact with someone who tested positive or is awaiting testing because of virus symptoms.” . . . Some ECHL teams opened the regular season on Friday night. The Kansas City Mavericks had to sign G Sean Bonar to a PTO on an emergency basis earlier in the day, because both of their goaltenders — Taran Kozun and Andrew Shortridge — are on the exempt list. Bonar had been released by the Jacksonville Icemen on Wednesday. The host Indy Fuel beat the Mavericks, 4-3 in a shootout. Kansas City didn’t list a backup goaltender on the game sheet.



CBC News: 6,768 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across Canada today. Nationwide, there have been a total of 448,841 cases and 13,251 deaths. There have been 362,293 recoveries, and 73,297 cases are currently active.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 447 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 new deaths related to the illness. There are 297 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 40 in intensive care. Manitoba’s 5-day test positivity rate is 13.8%. 2,723 tests were completed Thursday.

680 CJOB Winnipeg: Manitoba’s chief public health officer says the province’s COVID-19 death rate has increased by more than nine times since Thanksgiving.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 246 new cases of COVID-19. There are 133 COVID-19 patients in Saskatchewan hospitals, including 27 people in intensive care.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,738 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional deaths related to the illness. The province’s test positivity rate is 8.3%.

CBC News: B.C. is reporting 737 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 9,589 known active cases There have been 11 new COVID-19 related deaths in the province. There are 342 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals, including 87 in intensive care.

CBC News: Ontario reports 45 additional COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily toll since October 2. There are 1,848 new cases; 469 in Toronto, 386 in Peel Region, and 205 in York Region. Ontario processed 63,051 tests (highest so far); test positivity rate is 3.2%. . . . Clarification: A previous tweet said the 45 lives claimed by COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday is the highest daily total since Oct. 2. In fact, that total reflected a data correction including previously unreported fatalities. The last day Ontario had 45 or more deaths was June 4.

Global Montreal: Quebec is reporting 1,713 new COVID-19 cases and 53 additional deaths as hospitalizations jumped Friday.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 8 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 78 known active cases. There has been a new COVID-19 related death in the province, the 8th since the start of the pandemic.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 65 known active cases in the province. 5 cases are in the Central Zone, 3 in the Western Zone and 1 in the Northern Zone. There are currently no COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals.

CBC News: 1 new COVID-19 case has been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. The new case is in the Western health region and is being investigated. The province’s known active caseload remains at 20, as 1 new recovery was also announced Friday.

CBC News: 16 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nunavut. There are 56 known active cases in the territory, all in the community of Arviat.

Tom Tapp, The number of daily new Covid-19 cases in California jumped 20% in the past 24 hours to a new all-time high of 35,468. It’s the third record number of new cases in the past week. The state has also seen records fall in terms of deaths — that was 220 yesterday — and hospitalizations — at 12,940 on Friday — and ICU capacity — with just 9% left statewide.

The New York Times: More than 6,600 college athletes, coaches and staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus, a New York Times analysis found. The actual tally is assuredly far larger, with dozens of schools releasing limited or no data for their athletic programs. . . . The Times was able to gather complete data for just 78 of the 130 universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of college football. Some of those schools released the pandemic statistics only in response to requests filed under public records laws.


The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League is on hold until at least Jan. 10. In a brief statement, the league said it “will be evaluating our ‘go-forward’ plan at that time. . . .

The Regina High Schools Athletic Association has continued its hold on all winter sports until at least February. . . .

Eli Gold, who has called 409 straight Alabama Crimson Tide football games, will have the streak end today (Saturday) because he and his wife have tested positive. Gold, 66, hasn’t missed a game since 1987. . . . Alabama (9-0) is scheduled to visit Arkansas (3-6) today. . . .

The U of Alaska-Fairbanks has opted out of the 2021 NCAA hockey season. From a statement: “The announcement on hockey was made in conjunction with a decision to suspend competition in men’s and women’s basketball at the school as well due to health and safety concerns.” . . . The U of Alaska-Anchorage shut down its program earlier this year. . . . This means that the WCHA will have eight teams when it begins conference play in January. . . . There now have been 10 NCAA Division I hockey teams opt out of this season.

The 2021 Kamloops Kidney Walk will be held virtually, as it was in June. Yes, Dorothy will be taking part, as she has since 2014. . . . She already has registered and her granddaughters, Averi and Kara, have joined her team. If you are interested in making a donation — perhaps you are looking for a tax receipt for this year’s filing — you are able to do so right here.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


Some children want their two front teeth for Christmas; Ferris would like a kidney

No matter the situation, Ferris Backmeyer seems able to find a smile for us. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

Ferris Backmeyer and her family will be together for Christmas at their Kamloops home. And if things go really well Santa Claus will gift Ferris with a new kidney. Please Santa!

Ferris, who will turn four years of age early in the new year, spent about four hours at B.C. Children’s Hospital (BCCH) in Vancouver last week. At some point early in January, she will be on her way back there, but this time she’ll be there for a while; in fact, her mother, Lindsey, expects it to be perhaps March or even longer before they’re back home.

There are times when Ferris fancies herself a bit of an artist. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

In the early days of her life, Ferris was diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino syndrome, a rare disease that, among other things, causes kidney failure. As a result, she has been on dialysis for almost three years now.

For the most part, Ferris has been able to do peritoneal dialysis (PD) at home — hooking up to a machine called a cycler every day.

Of late, however, there have been some issues with Ferris’s PD, especially in the area of draining. When someone does PD, the cycler performs a fluid exchange, removing toxins from the body and inserting clean fluids, doing the work normally done by healthy kidneys. Lately, though, Ferris’s PD hasn’t been working as cleanly as it needs to be.

So . . . early in January the medical team is expected to put her back on hemodialysis. As Lindsey points out, hemo “requires treatment four days a week so commuting from here really isn’t feasible.”

When Ferris and Lindsey go to Vancouver, it requires a team effort, with Lindsey’s mother helping out with the older sisters, Ksenia and Tavia.

As for Ferris, Lindsey says doctors “don’t plan to repair her abdomen right away. They are hoping fluid will get pulled off or will reabsorb.”

In a conversation with a nephrologist earlier this week, Lindsey says she was told that after Ferris underwent an MRI last week “he was surprised to see that there was a good amount of fluid in there. I can’t say that I am . . . it’s quite obvious there’s a good amount of fluid in there!”

The hope is that after some time on hemo, Ferris can have another catheter inserted into her abdomen and then transition back to PD. Unless a kidney comes available, that is.

“So we will go down. With no estimated return date. I feel like March will be a very best-case scenario . . . It’s crazy because they ‘gave us Christmas’ but we are feeling more isolated than ever. Christmas is going to be different and lonely just like living in Vancouver is.”

Lindsey and Ferris, a loving combination. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

After the latest stint in Vancouver, this one short, Lindsey wrote on Facebook that “everyone is hopeful a kidney will fall out of the sky before or during that time” in Vancouver in January.

But, at least for now, Lindsey and Ferris are at home, along with the other three family members — Dad Pat and Ksenia and Tavia.

And the stress is there, too, having moved in like a bad boarder who just won’t leave.

When Lindsey posts on Facebook, the words sag under the weight that she and Pat carry with them on a daily basis.

“So we are at home,” she wrote. “It feels like the conditions for being able to stay here are many. Her dialysis management is more complex than ever. We were sent home without a dialysis prescription. We will be using how she looks/feels and her blood pressures to determine what we do each night from now until then, which means daily communication with all the Information. I’m fine with that if it means getting to be home right now. I get it and could totally just do our thing.

“It’s the gathering of information, the emails, the phone calls that wear me down. So many feelings really. So much shit to figure out.”

My wife, Dorothy, underwent a kidney transplant in September 2013 after almost four years of doing PD. So we dealt with kidney disease in our home for some time. But, and we talk about this on a regular basis, our load was and continues to be so tiny compared to what the Backmeyers have on their shoulders.

While working to steer Ferris through all of this, Ksenia and Tavia can’t be forgotten. There is schooling and friends and Lindsey’s work and Pat’s schooling and everything else that goes into the daily rigours of life. Oh, and let’s not forget that we have spent most of the past year living with this intruder — COVID-19 — having disrupted our lives.

“The wheels feel like they are falling off with all the logistics,” Lindsey wrote, and who can blame her, “but, man, you really wouldn’t know anything big is going on if you saw Ferris.

“She was definitely better a month ago (energy-wise), but she’s still as fiery as ever. Plays hard most of the day. Chatty as ever and forever the tiny dictator. She’s having big success in the potty-training department. She’s just so so sweet and my heart is sad for her.

“All any of us want for Christmas is a kidney for this sweet girl!!!”

Santa, are you listening?


Meanwhile, Julie Dodds of Kamloops, who underwent a kidney transplant on Oct. 28 and returned home less than four weeks later, was back at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver for a follow-up appointment earlier this week.

All went well and the married mother of three boys is well on her way.

The next step comes next week when her file should be transferred to the Kamloops renal clinic at Royal Inland Hospital.

What a Christmas present for Julie and her family!


BTW, the 2021 Kidney Walk of Kamloops will be held virtually, as it was in 2020. Yes, Dorothy will be taking part, as she has since 2014. . . . She already has registered and her granddaughters, Averi and Kara, already have joined her team. If you are interested in making a donation — perhaps you are looking for a tax receipt for this year’s filing — you are able to do so right here.


I have written here before about how hard it is for someone with kidney disease and in need of a transplant to ask a family member, a friend or anyone else to consider being a donor. It’s not like asking for a $20 loan or to borrow a book or a hammer. This goes so much deeper than that and, in a lot of instances, the person needing the kidney has to overcome the feeling of not wanting to put their problem on someone else’s shoulders.

In an attempt to help their son find a kidney, a couple we know have come up with a terrific idea. They have had 75 Christmas cards made up and will send them to family and friends. Included will be information about their son and contact information for the Living Kidney Donor Program, contact information like this . . .

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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


Ferris’s journey continues with transition to hemodialysis forced by infection . . . Mom: “Ferris did pretty great . . .”

FerrisLindsey 2
Ferris and her mother, Lindsey, are back at B.C. Children’s Hospital, along with good friends Elmo and Grover. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

It was June 19 and things were looking clear for Ferris Backmeyer. Really clear.

Ferris, 3, was wearing her new glasses and it was obvious that she was seeing some

Ferris showed off her new glasses just a few short days ago. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

things in great detail for the first time. Oh, the concentration as she looked at a book, turning pages and pointing out various things with either index finger.

But, oh my, life can take some quick turns.

Five days later, Ferris, who has been doing peritoneal dialysis since she was 14 months old, was battling fungal peritonitis.

As her mother, Lindsey, posted on Facebook: “The treatment 100% of the time is catheter removal. She is scheduled for a hemo line insertion Monday . . . Looks like we will be spending our summer at BCCH.”

Someone doing peritoneal dialysis has a catheter inserted in their midsection into the peritoneal cavity. The nightly fluid exchange, via a dialysis machine called a cycler, is conducted via the catheter.

Ferris was back at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver on Saturday and, as Lindsey mentioned, she was to have had a hemodialysis line put in today (Monday).

But those plans changed on Sunday . . .

Ferris was back on the ward, along with two of her friends, on Sunday night. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

“My sweet girl is in the OR right now,” Lindsey wrote on Sunday afternoon. “We had a really rough night. She is definitely getting worse in regards to pain and her breathing wasn’t awesome either. She was having central apneas and needed O2. She essentially slept through 2 lab draws this morning and endless assessments. They decided to pull the catheter and insert the hemo line today.”

And the little girl came through with flying colours. Yes, she is a real trouper in every sense of the word.

On Sunday night, Lindsey wrote that “Ferris did pretty great I think!”

There were a couple of hiccups, but the medical staff was able to get Ferris through all of that and she had her first “little test run on hemodialysis.”

That was “pretty uneventful . . . so uneventful that we got to come back up to the ward!”

Ferris woke up at 9 p.m., and was asking for food.

“Cheese and ranch dip are happening,” Lindsey wrote. “I’m trying to gently get food into her without making her vomit because her tummy still really hurts.”

And that pretty much took care of Sunday for the Backmeyers.

On Saturday, Lindsey wrote that she expects this stay at BCCH to last at least six weeks. They got settled in where, as Lindsey wrote, “It’s familiar so settling in was pretty easy.”

Ferris, if you’re new here, needs a kidney transplant, and the family was given the OK to look for a live donor a few months ago. A transplant won’t happen now, at least not while Ferris works to overcome this setback.

According to Lindsey, “Ferris handled things like a champ” on Saturday. “No tears aside from the IV . . . and it took a few attempts. She was over it before they were done drawing the blood. She’s not responding to any of the treatment we’ve provided at home really. Still spiking fevers, her drain fluid is awful and she just doesn’t feel good. They started her on IV antifungals . . .”

When you find a moment of quiet time in your schedule, have a thought for Ferris and her family. They really will appreciate it.

“I’m continually amazed and sometimes wonder why people seem to love us so much and just come together and help us,” Lindsey wrote. “We are soooo greatful for everybody!”

Had all of this not happened, the Backmeyers would have been starting a two-week camping trip. So much for that. But such is life when you live with someone who has kidney disease.

Late Sunday night, Lindsey wrote: “Huge thanks for all the support, prayers and good vibes . . . they are getting us through!”


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


If you were one of those who donated to Dorothy for the 2020 Kidney Walk, you will be interested in the tweet that follows. By donating, you became a member of Dorothy’s Team and you will find her name on the list. Check it out . . . and thank you for your support. . . . She has raised $3,190 for the 2020 Kidney Walk and her page remains open for donations right here.

Dave McKeague, 72, and his daughter Caileen, both of Saskatoon, have taken part in the Kidney Walk for the past four years. . . . Dave is in kidney failure and on dialysis. . . . Caileen found out more than a year ago that she is a match, and now all that’s needed is a date for transplant surgery at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon. . . . They had hoped to have it done in April or May, but the pandemic got in the way. That means they still are waiting for a date. . . . Brady Ratzlaff of Global News has their story right here.

U Sports, conferences deal with unknown by cancelling events, sports . . . Chiefs sign familiar faces

Burnaby-060720 2
Dorothy and I were joined by a special guest, our granddaughter Kara, for a walk on Sunday.

That’s it for the Kidney Walk for another year. The 2020 version was of a virtual variety and it was held on Sunday.

Thanks to all of you who joined Dorothy’s team by supporting her with a donation. At this point, she has raised $3,080.

This was her seventh year of taking part in the Kidney Walk, and people like you have donated $19,686 through her to the BC/Yukon branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The money raised goes to help people dealing with kidney disease handle the financial costs that come with the fight.

Again, thank you so much for putting so many smiles on Dorothy’s face. Hopefully, we’ll see you in 2021.

In the meantime, please stay safe.

As expected, U Sports and three of its conferences — Canada West, Atlantic University Sport and Ontario University Athletics — cancelled almost all Canadian university athletic activity until at least January.

It is expected that Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec will follow suit.

U Sports, the governing body of university sport in Canada, cancelled national Usportschampionships in men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s rugby, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s field hockey. It also cancelled the Mitchell and Uteck Bowls and the Vanier Cup, the semifinals and championship game for men’s football that has been decided every year since 1965.

It then remained for the conferences to deal with sports at their level, including regular-season play and playoffs. Canada West, along with the Atlantic and Ontario conferences, announced that they are shutting down most sporting activity until at least January.

Canada West will decide on its fall sports of cross-country, golf and swimming by July 15.

Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s CWbasketball are done until at least January.

Canada West has said that it will decide by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will start up in January. Also to be decided by Oct. 8 is whether men’s and women’s wrestling, men’s and women’s track and field, men’s and women’s curling, and women’s rugby 7s will begin in January.

“While cancellation isn’t the outcome anyone associated with university sport wanted, I’m confident in the fact that this difficult decision is in the best interests of our student-athletes,” U of Victoria athletic director Clint Hamilton, who is Canada West’s president, said in a news release. “Health and safety is at the forefront of everything we do and simply put there was no way to adequately ensure the safety of everyone involved in university sport during competition this fall.”

Canada West’s 17 member schools voted unanimously on this strategy on Friday. The U Sports, Atlantic and Ontario conference’s decisions were made by their boards of directors.

Canada West had struck a COVID-19 Task Force to steer it through these pandemic-riddled times. That task force recommended the cancellation of competition through year’s end. That recommendation preceded the unanimous vote.

“The Task Force undertook significant discussion and research to inform our recommendations with public health considerations, specifically minimizing risk for both individual participants and the general public, at the core of our work,” said Dr. Steve Martin, who is UVic’s varsity sports medicine physician and Canada West’s rep on the U Sports medical committee. “By and large, sport competition provides a high-risk environment for the transmission of COVID-19. While other areas of society continue to mitigate risk through new guidelines, sport provides a challenge in this regard as any risk mitigation would render many sports unrecognizable.”

The Canada West news release also pointed out that “while professional sports leagues continue to explore options for a return to competition, the resources they will have at their disposal to minimize the risk of infection will not be the reality for Canada West members when the transition from training to competition eventually occurs.”

Also from Canada West’s news release: “Student-athletes in sports without U Sports national championships this season will not be charged eligibility and will remain eligible for athletic financial aid (scholarships).”

Meanwhile, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association has shut down its intercollegiate sports schedule for the fall semester, a move that involves cross-country, golf, rugby, rugby sevens, baseball, soccer and softball. It has 27 member schools.

During a daily briefing on Monday, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, noted that while things appear headed in the right direction here, the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been increasing in the American states of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona and Nevada, something he finds concerning.

“I don’t see that as practical,” he said of opening the U.S. border to non-essential travel. “I don’t see as practical either to have Canadians either visiting and then coming back.

“I don’t see it as practical for people visiting from the United States.”

These statements have to be disconcerting to say the least to junior hockey leagues with any cross-border connections.

The WHL, of course, has five teams in the U.S. — four in Washington and one in Oregon — and has a number of American players on team rosters. The BCHL has one U.S. franchise, the Wenatchee Wild, and its rosters are populated with American players.

On Monday, Canada’s federal government announced a loosening on border travelling that will allow families who have been separated to re-unite, with anyone entering Canada having to self-isolate for 14 days.

The most-recent ban on non-essential travel across the border is to reviewed before June 21.


During the last week of May, The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists “when they expect to resume 20 activities of daily life, assuming that the pandemic and the public health response to if unfold as they expect.”

Respondents took into consideration their own situation, such as where they live and what the coronavirus impact is in their area.

When asked when they might “see a doctor for non-urgent appointment,” 60 percent said this summer, with 29 percent option for three to 12 months, and 11 percent saying a year or more.

Asked about getting a haircut at a salon or barbershop, 41 percent said this summer, 39 per cent said three to 12 months, and 19 percent said a year or more.

The question about eating at a dine-in restaurant resulted in 16 percent saying this summer, 56 percent saying three to 12 months, and 28 percent saying a year or more.

The biggest number in the survey showed up when they were asked when they might “attend a sporting event, concert or play.” A full 64 percent said it would be one year or more, with three percent saying this summer, and 32 percent saying three to 12 months.

“They mostly agreed that outdoor activities and small groups were safer than being indoors or in a crowd,” the story reads, “and that masks would be necessary for a long time.”

Steve Mooney of the U of Washington told The Times: “This is as much about feelings of social responsibility as about personal infection risk. Large-scale gatherings are a contact tracing nightmare and seem like they should be shut down until we have a really good sense of what’s safe/how to screen people.”

Tammie Nelson of the Marion County Public Health Department said she would considering attending events in the fall. “I would do this IF social distancing was enforced and everyone attending was required to wear a mask,” she said.

The story, with graphics, is right here.

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, returned to the world of the Internet on Monday after a few days of battling modem-related issues.

He came back with an update on a defamation lawsuit that had been filed by former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra against one-time teammate Ron Darling over something the latter had written in a book.

The case was heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, the Hon. Robert D. Kalish presiding.

The curmudgeonly one reports that this was part of the judge’s ruling:

“Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug-abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation — largely due to his autobiography — of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires . . . Considering this information, which was presumably known to the average reader of the book, this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference in the book has not exposed Dykstra to any further ‘public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace,’ or ‘evil opinion of him in the minds of right-thinking persons,’ or ‘deprivation of friendly intercourse in society.’ ”

For more on this and some good stuff on happenings involving Drew Brees, click right here.


And here is the curmudgeonly one with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.”


With no active COVID-19 infections remaining in the country, New Zealand Rugby has given the all-clear for fans to return to its rugby stadiums. Matches are to resume this weekend and there won’t be any size restrictions placed on crowds for games in Dunedin on Saturday and Auckland on Sunday.

The Spokane Chiefs have signed five members of their front office to contract extensions, SpokaneChiefsthe length of which weren’t revealed. . . . Jim Hammett, the assistant general manager, and goaltending consultants Lucas Gore and Jesse Plewis were re-signed, as were equipment manager Tim Lindblade and education advisor Joe Everson. . . . Hammett, who runs the club’s scouting department, is entering his second year with the Chiefs, as are Gore and Plewis. . . . Lindblade is preparing for his eighth season in Spokane, while Everson has been with the Chiefs, in one capacity or another, for 30 years. He has been the education advisor for the past 12 seasons.


We’re Walking the Block on Sunday . . . Last chance to join Dorothy’s team . . . Grand Chief needs help

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. and Yukon Branch, is gearing up for its 2020 Kidney Walk — Walk the Block virtual celebration on Sunday.

The branch, along with those in Alberta and Saskatchewan, was forced by the pandemic to cancel all of its annual walks and now has put together a virtual walk.

In B.C., Sunday’s event starts at 10 a.m., with hosts Robin Gill, Stephen Gillis and Michael Teigen. Gill is an anchor for Global National, while Gillis is a recent kidney transplant recipient. Teigen was Gillis’s donor.

Stewart Phillip, the Okanagan National Alliance’s Grand Chief, has gone public with his need for a kidney. He outlined his situation in a news release, explaining: ”My kidneys no longer work well enough to keep me alive and continue my lifelong work and passion to advocate for Indigenous Title and Rights and the environment, and to do the things I enjoy most, like spending time with my wonderful wife Joan, our five children and 15 grandchildren, and being out on our territory. My treatment options are limited to dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant, which is why I am reaching out publicly now.” . . . There is more 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


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of Sunday’s ‘virtual’ walk. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . If you aren’t aware, she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and this is her seventh straight year of supporting the Walk. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.

Julie: ‘Getting down to crunch time . . . Honestly, it’s pretty scary’ . . . She needs a kidney. Are you able to help?

When you are living with kidney disease and are waiting and hoping for a transplant, it oftentimes can feel like time is running out.

While trying to get through your daily life, you have the spectre of dialysis hanging over your head. You know that the best-case scenario for you is a transplant before you need dialysis, and all the time you know that if that doesn’t happen you will end up on dialysis.

That is what’s going through your mind in what used to be ‘normal’ times. These days, the pandemic adds even more stress to your life.

That’s the situation in which Julie Dodds of Kamloops finds herself. She has a genetic kidney disease — Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1. In August, she turned to Facebook as she began a search for a living donor. She and her family — she is married with three young sons — have yet to find that donor. And she is moving ever closer to dialysis.

Here are some of her thoughts from a Facebook posting on Saturday:

“Getting down to crunch time. My kidney function as of (Friday) has my GFR at 16. That means I’m going to get the ‘what type of dialysis do you want’ talk very soon.

“This pandemic obviously shut down all the donor testing for a couple months but happily it’s been starting back up and I have a virtual appointment with the Vancouver doctors in a couple weeks.

“I don’t know the state of donors or matching. I don’t know if I’m going to last long enough to get a kidney match before having to do dialysis. I don’t know if COVID-19 is going to flare up again enough to shut it all down again. Honestly, it’s pretty scary to think about doing dialysis and where things are gonna go in the next few months.

“Thank you to everyone who is frequently checking in on me. I feel tired, achy and occasionally stressed, but most of the time life is just going on as normal.

“Trying to imagine what life is going to look like in the next year is a bit much so taking it one little step at a time.”

Julie’s GFR (glomerular filtration rate) of 16 means that she has Stage 4 kidney disease. If your GFR falls to between 30 and 15, it’s Stage 4 and a transplant or dialysis is looming. When the GFR slides below 15, the person has kidney failure and it’s time for a transplant or dialysis — either hemodialysis or peritoneal. In adults, a normal GFR would be 90 or higher, although between 89 and 60 can be seen as normal in some people, especially those over 60 years of age.

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


There is some good news for people in B.C. who are awaiting kidney transplants.

Michael Coyle of Coquitlam underwent a transplant on Friday in Vancouver.

Coyle, who has polycystic kidney disease, had a date set prior to the pandemic coming along, and kept waiting for it to be postponed because of the pandemic. In the end, it was postponed — but only for one day.

Coyle has been with Coquitlam Search and Rescue for 20 years. His donor, Jody, is the wife of another SAR member. 

Monika Gul and Lisa Steacy of News 1130 in Vancouver have more on Coyle right here.

Three months ago, Coyle told his story to the Tri-City News and, if you haven’t seen it, it’s really worth a read. It’s all right here.

Elsa and Robert Garza share the same birthday in the same year. They were born in the same hospital. Now he has given her a kidney in a transplant that was done before Elsa had to go on dialysis. . . . There’s more in a story right here from ABC-7 in Austin, Texas.

On Friday, Zack Hedrick posted this on Facebook:

“Got an update that Robert and Elsa Garza’s kidney transplant surgery went well!! Both are stable and recovering!

“Robert donated one of his kidneys to Elsa, who was close to going on dialysis because of an autoimmune disease which attacked her kidneys. Elsa was in stage 5 renal failure.

Their surgery was delayed a couple months due to COVID-19, but went off without a hitch earlier this morning!”

With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team while putting a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.

Cities face many financial-related questions without answers . . . The ethics of restarting a season . . . Golf tour cancels season

It would seem that paNOW made some waves in Prince Albert with a Thursday story written by Alison Sandstrom that carried the headline: City facilities expected to remain shut until next year.

The Art Hauser Centre, the home of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, is a city facility.

On Friday, paNOW allowed city officials to use its website to “clarify that they have not made any determination on the opening date for facilities. They made assumptions for the purpose of financial forecasting, but no decisions have been made.”

Of course decisions haven’t been made. These pandemic-riddled days are full of uncertainty and there really isn’t any end in sight; at least, not that anyone can predict with any sense of accuracy. I mean, if the NHL doesn’t know whether it will be able to play in July or August or September, how can the WHL know that it will start its season on time?

Interestingly, there wasn’t one sentence in Sandstrom’s story that indicated any city facilities in Prince Albert would definitely be shut down until some time in 2021.

It’s far too early to make that kind of decision, but officials in all cities will be looking ahead, putting together various scenarios and trying to figure out where they are going to be at in terms of finances at year’s end. That is exactly what Greg Dionne, Prince Albert’s mayor, told Sandstrom: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities. So lots of the decisions will be made when (the province) sets dates and rules for Phase 4, then we’ll look at them and say (for example), well, that doesn’t make any sense, ‘sorry the pool has to be closed.’ ”

As Dionne pointed out, if the province limits outdoor gatherings to 30 people, “you won’t be opening the pool for 30 people.”

At this point, the Saskatchewan government has limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer. There could be changes coming on June 8 that would bump that up to 15 for indoor groups and 30 for outdoor gatherings.

But when the time comes, if indoor gatherings remain limited to 50 or 100 or even 200, Prince Albert isn’t likely to be opening the Art Hauser Centre.

As Sandstrom pointed out in her story, even with all the cost-saving things the city has enacted in the last while, it still expects to lose $750,000 by year’s end. That may be a drop in, say, Vancouver’s bucket, but it’s big coin to a city the size of Prince Albert.

And you can bet this same scenario is being played out in various other WHL cities.

Cities also have to be wondering about how much they are going to have to spend on changes to facilities in order to meet new health standards whenever they are back in business. Take an arena, for example. Does a dressing room get completely sanitized after every use? How many sanitizer stations are needed? How often are the washrooms to be sanitized? Will more staff have to be hired in order to get all of this done?

Meanwhile, Michael Scissons, the Raiders’ business manager, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW on Friday that it’s business as usual.

“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for a regular hockey season just like we would any other year,” Scissons said. “There’s been nothing to point at this point that it’s going to be anything different. . . . We have a big 50th year coming up right now and there’s a lot of work to go into it. We’re excited for the season to get going.”

On May 22, Ed Willes, the Postmedia sports columnist in Vancouver, wrote this:

“Giants owner Ron Toigo doesn’t think the WHL will resume play until January and, to date, season-ticket holders have been understanding.

“But, ‘You can make that commitment today, but what happens in six or seven months if you don’t have a job? That’s the biggest concern. What will the economy look like? And that’s universal. It’s not just sports.’ ”

Sandstrom’s original story is right here, while D’Andrea’s piece is right here.  

“This year’s John Deere Classic, scheduled for July 9-12, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In lieu of a news release, the PGA Tour announced the breakup in a John Deere letter.”

Some sports and leagues have returned to play. albeit without fans, and, if all goes according to plan, soon there will be more, including the NBA and NHL. “Beyond logistics, though, a deeper dilemma shadows the whole exercise,” writes Nick Faris of “Is it ethical for team sports to resume during a pandemic?

“The implications of this question are myriad and serious. To return in the COVID-19 era, leagues need an abundance of tests and the willingness to keep playing through positive cases. Players and many other, older people will bear these health risks so that the show can go on. Viewers watching at home must square this knowledge with their desire to consume and enjoy the spectacle.”

These are things junior hockey leagues have to be wondering about, too. What are things going to be like in August when they will be hoping to open training camps? Is there a junior league alive capable of absorbing the cost of regular testing? There are all kinds of questions, few, if any, with answers at this point in time.

Faris spoke with four expert ethicists and the results, which are rather thought-provoking, are right here.

Jack Bowen, co-author of Sport, Ethics and Leadership, offered this food for thought:

“I am a little curious about what the messaging will be (when sports resume). These guys are guarding each other in basketball. The women’s soccer league is opening in three weeks. ‘Oh, everything must be fine — let’s go out and party and live our normal lives.’ I’m trying my best to follow what expert scientists are saying, not what sports leagues are doing, but humans aren’t following the science. They’re following the social trends.

“In this case, the optics and the messaging could affect things like not mitigating harm and sending mixed messages, which people will then act on. The leagues need to be really aware of that. I feel like the leagues need to take that on as part of their social responsibility — to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re doing. Stay at home and watch these games with your family. Be safe.’ That sort of messaging could go a long way.”

Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The ESPN documentaries on Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong were interesting. Now how about a documentary or two on people who become superstars without being bullies and jerks? Just to show the kiddies that it can be done that way.”


Ostler, again: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.

Golf’s Mackenzie Tour cancelled its season on Friday. The Mackenzie Tour, which was heading into its eighth season, is the Canadian men’s pro circuit. . . . This season was to have featured 13 stops. . . . 

La Liga, Spain’s top men’s soccer league, is to resume training on Monday, with a return to play set for June 11. La Liga shut down on March 12. . . . It plans on finishing its schedule on July 19. . . .

Two Formula 1 races have gotten the OK from the Austrian government. They are scheduled for July 5 and 12, without spectators, in Spielberg, 200 km southwest of Vienna. . . . 

ESPN followed up The Last Dance with a two-part documentary on Lance Armstrong. Remember him? No, I didn’t watch it. Christine Brennan of USA Today did, and then wrote, among other things: “After soldiering through 2½ months of a pandemic, what did we do to deserve this, another TV network giving Armstrong airtime to share childhood pictures and his innermost feelings as he retells his enduringly reprehensible story?”

With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.

Headline at Viewers who successfully complete 64-hour Derek Jeter marathon on MLB Network will receive free gift basket.

The Los Angeles Kings announced Saturday morning that they won’t be renewing the contract of Mike Stothers, who had been the head coach of their AHL franchise for six seasons. He was the head coach of the Manchester Monarchs for one season when the franchise moved to California and became the Ontario Reign. . . . The Reign won the Calder Cup as AHL championship in 2015. . . . Stothers, 58, was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors for three seasons (2011-14) before taking over the Monarchs.

Raiders’ home possibly shuttered until 2021. It’s all about managing debt . . . Former Wheat Kings GM/head coach done in Dallas

Officials from the city of Prince Albert have said that the Art Hauser Centre, the home of PrinceAlbertthe WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, may remain closed for the remainder of 2020 because of the financial situation brought on by the pandemic. . . . Alison Sandstrom of reported that all “city facilities, including pools, arenas and rinks are expected to remain closed for the rest of the calendar year, even as they are allowed to reopen under the phased provincial plan.” . . . The facilities need mass usage in order to be able to keep the doors open, and with a ban on large gatherings that isn’t going to happen. “City officials emphasized the situation could change,” Sandstrom wrote, “but said unless the province allows mass gatherings, facilities will likely have stay shut until the end of December.” . . . Mayor Greg Dionne summed it up with: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities.” . . . Sandstrom’s complete story is right here.

With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Hockey Canada announced Thursday that it has “cancelled all programs and national team camps through Sept. 1,” with plans to hold some of them on a virtual basis over the summer. . . . The national U-17 development camp, scheduled for July 19-25, and the national junior team summer development camp, July 27-31, are among those going virtual. . . . The complete news release is right here.

The Western Canadian Baseball League has cancelled its 2020 season. The 12-team collegiate league, which was to have opened its season on May 29, has franchises in the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks, and the Saskatchewan communities of Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton. . . .

If all health and safety requirements are met, soccer’s Premier League will resume play on June 17 with a doubleheader — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa against Sheffield United. . . .

The National Women’s Soccer League plans on taking all nine of its teams to Utah for a 25-game tournament that is to begin, without fans, in two Salt Lake City stadiums on June 27. The teams will live in two area hotels. Players will be tested before heading for Utah, then will be screened regularly during training and the tournament. . . .

The KHL, the top hockey league in Russia, has set a preliminary date of Sept. 2 for the opening of its 2020-21 season. . . .

The 2020 Boston Marathon has been cancelled for the first time in its 124-year history. It had been moved from April 20 to Sept. 14, but the plug was pulled on Thursday. . . .

The Dutch Grand Prix that had been scheduled for Zandvoort on May 3 has been cancelled. It is the fourth Formula 1 race to be cancelled, following the Australian, Monaco and French races.


From Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts that was posted on Thursday: “For almost 35 years, Les Jackson’s been a (Dallas) Star. Hired as an assistant coach when the franchise was still in Minnesota in 1985, he stayed with the organization every season but one since. His contract will not be renewed. End of an era, for sure. He’s been a huge part of that organization’s success.” . . . Jackson, 67, is a former WHL head coach, having worked with the Great Falls Americans (1979-80) and Brandon Wheat Kings, where he was the head coach for two seasons (1980-82) and general manager for three (1982-85). With the Stars organization he was, at various times, assistant coach, scout, director of amateur scouting, director of player personnel, director of hockey operations, assistant general manager, general manager, director of player development and senior advisor.

Long Island University, which on April 30 announced its intention to ice a men’s hockey team, has named Brett Riley, 29, as the Sharks’ first head coach. LIU is located in Brookville, N.Y. . . . Riley spent last season as an assistant coach with the Colgate U Raiders. . . . He spent two seasons (2017-19) as the head coach of the Wilkes U Colonels in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Penn. The first of those seasons was spent preparing the Colonels for their first season of play in 2018-19. . . . Riley’s father, Bob, was the head coach at Army West Point for 19 years and now scouts for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Riley’s grandfather, Jack, also coached at Army for more than 35 years and was the head coach of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif.

Derick Brassard of the NHL’s New York Islanders is among a group of three men who have purchased 10 per cent of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. Brassard played two seasons (2002-04) with the midget AAA Intrepid Gatineau. . . . Yan Hébert and Michel Quesnel, who partnered with Brassard, are businessmen in the Outaouais region. . . . The Olympiques now have an 11-member ownership group.


NHL revamps playoff format for Covid Cup playoffs . . . But will there be games? . . . Royals hope Price is right

The unfortunate thing about Gary Bettman, the commissioner of all things NHL, telling us a whole lot of non-specific things on Tuesday afternoon is that we now are faced with another couple of months of this stuff.


Because nobody knows a whole lot about anything right now.

This pandemic-causing virus is brand new, which is why it’s the novel coronavirus. NHLScientists and the medical community are learning about it as we move along.

So, on Tuesday, Bettman told us that the NHL’s 2019-20 regular season is over and that there is to be some kind of convoluted Stanley Cup playoff featuring 24 teams, up from the 16 that would have made it in a ‘normal’ season, with all games played without fans in the stands. (I’m wondering if the players from the seven teams that didn’t make it are breathing sighs of relief.)

Bettman talked about the draft lottery and the draft, and that these playoffs may not get started until sometime in August, which would mean a Stanley Cup presentation two months after that, which would mean the 2020-21 regular season wouldn’t start until January.

(Whoever comes out of this as the Stanley Cup champion gets a gigantic asterisk. Right? And if that happens to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn’t officially bring an end to that championship drought that has been ongoing since their last title in 1967. Right?)

Bettman also said that this push to decide a Stanley Cup winner isn’t about the money, and if you believe that you just haven’t been paying attention. Because that’s all that it’s about; it always is.

Bettman also said that the playoffs will go ahead in two hub cities, with half the teams in one and the other half in the other. As Bettman spoke, there apparently were 10 cities under consideration.

But it became evident later that the NHL will have to drop Vancouver from that list because the province of B.C. doesn’t seem likely to drop its demand that incoming international travellers self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer, said later Tuesday afternoon that, although she hasn’t seen an NHL plan yet, “We’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk.”

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, offered: “If in fact we are not able to really find an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in, and not be able to do a strict quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city.”

If it comes down to Dr. Henry vs. the NHL, my money is on B.C.’s top doc. If you aren’t aware, she’s a star out here. A shoe company put out a line of shoes in her honour and they sold out in minutes, at a suggested retail of $339 a pair, crashing the website in the process. T-shirts with her likeness on them have raised more than 10 grand for charity.

Oh, and did I mention that, despite all of the positive spin we heard yesterday, all of this might not happen at all.

So for the next few weeks we are going to see a barrage of stories and reports on all of this, including playoff previews, speculation on what team rosters will look like and on and on.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday evening, the virus-related death toll in the United States was at 94,702, according to statistics kept by John Hopkins University. The number of deaths in Canada was at 6,639. That figure worldwide is somewhere around 350,000.

No one was talking about any of that on Tuesday in all the chatter about the NHL’s possible return to play.


The most sensible comments I have seen to date on the NHL’s plan to return to play have come from Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk. He is the Wild’s representative on the NHLPA’s executive board.

The executive board voted 29-2 last week to accept the 24-team format as presented by the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean the NHL is anywhere close to returning to the ice.

In speaking with Michael Russo of The Athletic on Monday, Dubnyk said: “We voted strictly on the format. In other words, ‘If we are to come back, this is how it’s going to be played.’ But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet. Nothing else has been voted on … yet.”

Dubnyk also said:

“I think it’s really important to start having these conversations with as many players as we can about, ‘Guys, what scenarios are we OK with?’ From what it sounds like, it’s going to be some sort of hub city scenario, so we’ve got to talk about that. How long are guys OK with being away for? When we are in this city, are we locked in our hotel room? Going from the hotel room to the rink and back only, are guys OK with just doing that? Can our families come with us, or if there’s a family emergency and we leave the bubble (to go back into society), can we return to the bubble or are we done? What’s the food situation? Like, can we only eat in our hotel rooms? How often are we tested? Who pays for that? What’s the damage economically to the sport?

“All of these things, and there’s so many variables, need to be talked about and we’ve got to start getting a grasp on it now so that it doesn’t just hit us in the face all of a sudden. This stuff hasn’t been discussed with the players. Everything’s just been so hypothetical.”

Dubnyk also admitted to Russo that he wonders “if this is going to truly happen unless things relax enough where that bubble doesn’t necessarily need to exist as tightly as we think it does right now. Even with the players, it’s like, if your wife’s having a baby or something and you have to leave, do I have to miss an entire series now or suddenly quarantine for two weeks?

“That’s why I just feel like it doesn’t seem feasible to make this happen unless those rules relax by the time we’re going to play later this summer. There’s just so much stuff that hasn’t been figured out yet that we’ve got to start figuring out what are we OK with or not OK with, and then once that’s discussed, have another vote.”

Russo’s complete story is right here.

Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”

With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.

Rory McIlroy has told the BBC that he doesn’t believe the 2020 Ryder Cup will be played. It is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan, Wisc. . . . McIlroy would like to see the event moved to 2021. . . .

Japan’s Nippon Professonal Baseball season is set to start on June 19, but without fans in attendance. The league, which was to have started play on March 20, has yet to release its schedule, but is hoping to have each of its 12 teams play about 120 games, down from 143. . . .

The Alpine skiing world championships are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, from Feb. 7-21. However, the Italian Winter Sports Federation already is talking about postponing them until March 2022, which would be one month following the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games that are scheduled for Feb. 4-20. . . .

The EuroLeague, Europe’s top men’s basketball league, has cancelled its season, which had been on pause since March 12. The league comprises 18 teams from 10 countries. . . .

The 2021 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Vail, Colo., from March 1-6. . . .

The AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons have had adjustments made to their rent by the town council. According to a news release from the town, Dragons owner Blair Christianson had made a presentation to council on May 11 that explained the team is likely to lose about $330,000 because of the pandemic and that without some aid the team wouldn’t be viable. On Monday, Mayor Heather Colberg said the “adjustments to the fee structure will have a financial impact of $66,291.50 over four years.” . . .

The 11-team Western States Hockey League announced Tuesday that it won’t play in 2020-21 because of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic. The WSHL includes four teams in Alberta — the Barrhead Bombers, Cold Lake Hornets, Edson Aeros and Hinton Timberwolves — and two in Washington state — the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems. . . . The WSHL, a pay-to-play league, bills itself as junior A but to say it has had trouble gaining traction would be something of an understatement. . . .

Dan Price, who joined the Victoria Royals as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 VictoriaRoyalsseason, now is the WHL team’s general manager and head coach. He has completed three seasons as the team’s head coach. He takes over as GM from Cam Hope, who was fired on April 29 after eight seasons in the office. The Royals made the playoffs in each of those eight seasons, but never were able to get out of the second round. . . . The Royals are 105-81-18 in Price’s three seasons as head coach. . . . Price, 45, holds a law degree from the U of Saskatchewan. . . . His only experience as a general manager is from three seasons (2009-12) as the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . There now are six WHL teams with one man holding the titles of general manager and head coach. The others are Dean Brockman, Swift Current Broncos; Willie Desjardins, Medicine Hat Tigers; Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks; Mark Lamb, Prince George Cougars; and Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels.


It seems that John Pateman is more convinced than ever that his Prince George Cougars PrinceGeorgeare on the right track. He just doesn’t know when the WHL team is going to get started on that track. . . . “To me, the million-dollar question is when are we going to be playing games,” Pateman, a co-owner and the franchise’s president, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “Certainly in our league, our main sources of revenue are certainly the fans and corporate sponsorships for rink boards and all that, but you have to have fans. What everybody is attempting to do is prepare for every option that’s out there so when we know what’s going to happen we’re fully prepared.” . . . Pateman and the ownership group there purchased the Cougars after the 2013-14 season, so they are waiting for their seventh season as owners to begin. The Cougars wouldn’t have been in the playoffs last season, had the pandemic not wiped out everything, and Pateman has said they were 1,500 fans per game from breaking even. Still, he told Clarke, “In the last two seasons, I feel we’ve really started to head in the right direction.” . . . The complete story is right here.

The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have signed associate coach Gaelan Patterson to a one-year extension. Patterson, who is from La Ronge, is preparing for this third season with the Ice Wolves. . . . Patterson, 29, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon seasons (2015-18) in Europe.