NHL executive: COVID defines everything we do . . . Doctors want Flames, Oilers to change direction . . . 2022 Memorial Cup has a home

Cats


If you haven’t seen it, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada posted his first 32 Thoughts of a new NHL season this week. He had been on a bit of an NHL media tour, so had gotten to speak to a number of people, including Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner.

And it was Daly who said something that really jumped off my computer screen. Here’s how Friedman wrote it:

“On the 32 Thoughts podcast, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said he was recently asked, “Putting COVID aside, what is your biggest challenge?”

“You can’t put COVID aside,” he responded. “COVID defines everything we do and everything we’re going to do, unfortunately.”

Words that all sporting leagues are having to live by. Unfortunately.

The first 32 Thoughts of the season is right here.


Some COVID-related NHL notes . . .

While about 78 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, the NHL is saying that it expects at least 98 per cent of its players will be there come nhl2opening night, which is scheduled for Oct. 12. . . . If you do the math, that would leave about 15 players on the 32 rosters who won’t be fully vaccinated when the regular season begins. . . . Of course, you know that we are going to be hearing about those 15. . . .

On Tuesday, the Columbus Blue Jackets revealed that F Zac Rinaldo, who isn’t vaccinated, won’t be in their training camp; instead, he will go to camp with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. . . .

At this point, F Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings is the only player on their roster not to have been vaccinated. That could result in him not playing in any of their nine games in Canada, something that would cost him about US$450,000. . . . “It’s his decision,” Detroit GM Steve Yzerman said, “and it’s the world we live in today. I’m not in a position to force anyone.” . . . You’re wondering if Yzerman is disappointed in Bertuzzi? “I personally am vaccinated,” he said. “My family is vaccinated. I will leave it at that.” . . .

G Tyler Parsons won’t be taking part in the Calgary Flames’ training camp. Brad Treliving, the Flames’ GM, said Parsons was “unable to satisfy quarantine rules” so he’s out. The Flames say that every player on the camp roster is fully vaccinated. . . .

General manager Tom Fitzgerald of the New Jersey Devils has said his club has one unvaccinated player whom “we are trying to help (get) through this.” . . .

The Edmonton Oilers aren’t expecting to have G Alex Stalock in uniform at any point this season. He ended up with COVID-19 last season and was found to have myocarditis, a swelling of the heart muscle that is associated with the virus. . . .

Edmonton general manager Ken Holland also said Wednesday that the Oilers have one player who isn’t vaccinated. Holland said that he and head coach Dave Tippett have met with the unidentified player and are trying to persuade him to get vaccinated. . . . Reports later Wednesday indicated that the player in question is F Josh Archibald.



Rocky


The Stettler Lightning of Alberta’s Heritage Junior B Hockey League announced Wednesday that they won’t play in 2021-22. “The new COVID restrictions put us in a very depleted player situation,” the team said via Twitter, “so the decision was made so players could join other teams for the remainder of this season.” The Lightning has been in the league since 1994.



Mike Benton, the Everett Silvertips’ director of broadcasting/public relations, is leaving the team. Benton was preparing for his seventh season as the Silvertips’ radio voice. . . . He is joining Seattle radio station 950 KJR where he will be the host of pregame, intermission and postgame shows on broadcasts involving the NHL’s Seattle Kraken.


Lifeboats


WR Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, Tampa Bay placed LB Kevin Minter, a special teams captain, on the list. Both players are fully vaccinated, so would need two negative tests at least 24 hours apart prior to Sunday in order to play against the host Los Angeles Rams. . . . LB Keanu Neal of the Dallas Cowboys is on the COVID list and his status for Monday’s game against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles is up in the air. . . . The Minnesota Vikings have placed CB Harrison Hand on the COVID list. They are at home to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.


The 2022 Memorial Cup has been awarded to Saint John, N.B., so the QMJHL’s CHLSea Dogs will be the host team. The CHL made the announcement on Wednesday, with the tournament to run from June 3-12. One other team — the Quebec Remparts — had been in the running. . . . The Sea Dogs are in their 16th season in the QMJHL; this is the first time they will play host to the tournament. . . . Because of the pandemic, the four-team tournament hasn’t been held since 2019. It was to have been held in Kelowna in 2020 and in an OHL city — either Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie — in 2021. Because of the uncertainty, the OHL never got around to selecting a host city for 2021.


MaskSign


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.


Takeout

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after returning to the restaurant scene after a lengthy absence . . .

Scattershooting2


One of the really unfortunate thing about the past 18 months — or however long this damned pandemic has dominated our lives — is how so much of the fight against it has been politicized, seemingly right from the start, and how no two jurisdictions seem capable of working together on any part of this.

Well, other than the Maritime provinces and their travel bans, that is.

But take the parties that are planned for Regina and Winnipeg later in the week.

In Regina, the Roughriders are scheduled to play their CFL regular-season opener on Friday against the B.C. Lions. The game is to be played in front of a sold-out Mosaic Stadium, which means more than 33,000 fans. All are welcomed, including those who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated.

As Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post put it: “You can’t bring peanuts, blow horns, selfie sticks or sunflower seeds into Mosaic Stadium, but you can bring in COVID-19. Proof of vaccination is not required for entry.”

Then, on Saturday, the defending Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers — they won it in 2019, the last time the CFL played a game — are to entertain the Hamilton Tigers-Cats at IG Field, likely in front of around 33,000 fans. You must be fully vaccinated if you want to attend that game.


Vaccine


Adam H. Beasley of profootballnetwork.com reported on Sunday that “the NFL currently has more than 50 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including nine Arizona Cardinals, the most of any team in the league.” . . . He also reported that “nearly 10 per cent of Washington Football Team’s roster” is on the list. . . . Ron Rivera, the WFT’s head coach, is a cancer survivor and, as a result, has a compromised immune system. He spoke out last week about being disappointed and frustrated with the reluctance of some players on the team to get vaccinated . . .

George Godsey, the Miami Dolphins’ co-offensive co-ordinator, also has tested positive. One of the Dolphins on the list is tight end Adam Shaheen, who is an anti-vaxxer. . . . Keep in mind that being on the COVID-19 list doesn’t mean a player tested positive. It might be a case of someone having been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive. . . .

On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings had one QB test positive with two others identified as close contacts. As a result, starter Kirk Cousins, backup Nate Stanley and freshman Kellen Mood all missed practice, leaving Jake Browning as the only QB available for practice. Head coach Mike Zimmer said that Browning is fully vaccinated to didn’t have to isolate like the other three. . . . “I am disappointed that this happened,” Zimmer said. “I’m frustrated with, not just my football players that won’t get vaccinated, I’m frustrated with everybody . . . It’s disappointing.” . . . As for Browning, Zimmer added: “Jake’s really smart. He’s vaccinated.”


Voodoo


So . . . I ate in a restaurant for the first time in 16 months on Sunday evening. In the interim, I have seen lots of stories on social media relating to restaurant staff being mistreated by impatient customers. So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when one of the young women working in this particular restaurant stopped by our table to catch her breath. She obviously just needed a shoulder for a few minutes. . . . Between dealing with those of us eating inside and lots of takeout orders, the staff was running, running, running. It seems that one customer spotted her order sitting under the warming lights, so just had to get up on her hind legs and bark, wondering if she was supposed to “come back there and get my order.” . . . In telling us what had happened, this employee was almost in tears. . . . Have people always been this miserable, or have they lost their humanity in this pandemic? Or maybe the smoke in these parts made this customer lose her marbles.

BTW, if you’re wondering about not eating in a restaurant for 16 months, let me just say that you really, really take this pandemic seriously when your significant other has a compromised immune system. Yes, we will be wearing our masks for a long, long time.



So . . . what does Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmugeon, think of the new Guardiansnickname for Cleveland’s MLB franchise? Well, after noting that team officials said they had considered 1,200 possibilities before narrowing it down to one, he wrote:

“How did you wind up with a team name as lame as the Cleveland Guardians?

“Seriously, if I woke you up from a dead sleep at 2 a.m., and asked you to give me all your free association thoughts that go with ‘Cleveland,’ would you have gotten to ‘Guardians’ any time before 6 a.m.? The explanation offered is that the team is named in alignment with four large statues on a bridge in Cleveland and the statues are known collectively as the ‘Guardians of Traffic.’  It took almost two years and 1,199 other possible names to come up with that. Well, OK then . . .”


The curmudgeonly one had a great week at the keyboard. On Thursday, while ranting about the “proposed movement of Texas and Oklahoma” football from the Big-12 to the SEC, he wrote: “Texas A&M officials have been less-than-happy about the Texas move since the Aggies have been the sole focus of SEC football in the state of Texas for the last decade. Of course, the reason that has been the case is that Texas A&M switched conferences from the Big 12 to the SEC back in 2012 — but let us not bring that up now.”

Then he added: “The Big-12 Commissioner’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN saying that ESPN had lured the two schools away from the Big-12 thereby doing harm to the conference and the other schools in the Conference. I assume the ESPN lawyers are drafting a response that is the legal and more genteel version of “WTF are you smoking?”



Don Mattingly, the manager of the Miami Marlins, tested positive on Saturday, so wasn’t around has his club lost to the visiting New York Yankees. He also missed Sunday’s loss to the Yankees, the club with which he played 14 seasons (1982-95). Mattingly, 60, who has mild symptoms, is fully vaccinated. . . . Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers are without pitchers Jake Cousins, Jandel Gustave and Hunter Strickland. Cousins and Strickland have tested positive; Gustave was identified as a close contact. The Brewers also are without OF Christian Yelich, who tested positive earlier in the week, and INF Jace Peterson, who was a close contact.


Idiots


Seattle Times — At least 60 Seattle bars and restaurants now require proof of vaccination to eat on their premises.



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Great stuff from the Olympic baseball and softball tournaments: A pitch clock (20 seconds with nobody on base) and a rule demanding that batters keep at least one foot in the box between pitches. Pay attention, MLB. There’s your key to shortening the games.”


PatenaudeEd (Rusty) Patenaude, who played in each of the WHL’s first four seasons, has died. He was 71 when he passed away from complications due to Guillain Barre Syndrome in Williams Lake, B.C. . . . Patenaude played two seasons (1966-68) with the Moose Jaw Canucks in what was then the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League. He spent the next two seasons with the Calgary Centennials in the Western Canada Hockey League, the CMJHL having changed its name. . . . In 218 regular-season games, he scored 115 goals and added 121 assists. . . . He went on to play six seasons in the WHA — one with the Alberta Oilers, four with the Edmonton Oilers and one with the Indianapolis Racers.


F Jayden Perron of Winnipeg has made a commitment to play for the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, starting in 2023-24. . . . Perron, 16, is expected to play for the USHL’s Chicago Steel in 2021-22. . . . He was the Portland Winterhawks’ first selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, going to them in the second round, 23rd overall. In 2019-20, Perron had 104 points, including 46 goals, in 36 games for the U15 AAA Winnipeg Warriors A team.


David


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.


Grandma

WHL: Unanswered questions; maybe no playoffs . . . Moon to shine bright in Edmonton as veteran radio voice moves from Rebels to Oilers

A number of WHL management types made themselves available to media on Monday to expound upon the brief news release issued by the league on Friday afternoon.

The league, at that time, said it was “committed” to playing a 24-game WHL2schedule, but that it didn’t have a starting date, something that won’t be established until health officials in various jurisdiction give the OK.

“It is anticipated the approvals will be received soon,” the WHL news release read, hinting that perhaps it had received some inside information.

Three things are readily apparent: 1. There won’t be any fans in attendance at games; 2. Teams will play geographical/divisional rivals in weekend double- or tripleheaders in one venue; 3. The league hasn’t completely moved away from using some kind of bubble format.

Oh, and there likely won’t be anything resembling a championship playoff.

“There could be a divisional playoff,” Collin Priestner, the Saskatoon Blades’ president and general manager, told Pat McKay of CTV Saskatoon, “but I don’t think we have the ability to have a league championship at this point, given that we’ve got teams in different countries and the travel is going to be severely restricted.”

If the WHL is able to get a season started, then, it all will be about giving its players a chance to strut their stuff for the scouts.

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Radio NL in Kamloops: “We are going to bring our players in at the appropriate time. They will be part of a program to develop, which really is our mandate. We’ll figure it out based on what health authorities allow us to do.

“We are a development hockey league. We are the elite hockey development program in the world. That’s what our responsibility is.”

But, as Priestner pointed out to McKay, there remain many unanswered questions.

“From protocols, safety, insurance, logistics,” Priestner said. “How big rosters can be, or how do we bring in players if there’s injuries? How do we get a season in? What do we do if things get shut down in the provinces?”

Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars, the most remotely located of the WHL’s 22 teams, doesn’t even know where it will be playing.

“I think it’s wide open to see if we will be playing games here or on the road or in a bubble format,” Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager and head coach, told local reporters in a Zoom call. “We don’t have an exact date yet as to when we are going to start playing so that is still up in the air, but we do have a commitment from the league that we do have a 24-game schedule.”

And if you’re wondering who will be footing the bill for a return to play, Andy Beesley, the Cougars’ vice-president of business, had the answer.

“(The owners) are shouldering the entire cost,” he said. “For sure, when the players come to Prince George they will be put up with billet families, which we pay for, there is a tremendous amount of PPE and testing that we are on the hook for and, assuming that we are going into a bubble-type concept, wherever that may be, there will likely be hotel rooms, meal costs, player equipment, and staffing.”

Multiply that by 22 teams and, well, red ink is going to flowing like the South Thompson River in spring time.

So . . . what’s next?

Willie Desjardins, the general manager and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, told Scott Roblin of CHAT-TV that there will be an update coming from the WHL on Jan. 22.

McKay’s complete story is right here.

Brendan Pawliw of myprincegeorgenow.com took part in a Zoom call in that city and his story is right here.


CamMoon

Who says you can’t go home again?

Cam Moon, a native of Edmonton, is leaving Red Deer after 22 years as the radio voice of the WHL’s Rebels, to handle play-by-play duties on Edmonton Oilers’ regional broadcasts.

Moon had been with the Rebels since 1998, through 1,753 consecutive games — regular-season, playoff and Memorial Cup. He joined the Rebels after spending three seasons with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers.

“Central Alberta hockey fans have had the pleasure of listening to his energetic spirit for 22 seasons,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and head coach, said in a news release, “and we’re honoured we’ll continue to hear him on Alberta’s airwaves. This truly is a dream come true for Mooner.”

Moon, an immensely popular figure on the WHL media circuit, told Troy Gillard of rdnewsNOW: “It’s overwhelming, for sure. It’s a team I grew up watching in my hometown so I very much look forward to the opportunity, the challenge. I never thought this day would come, I really didn’t, nor was I really looking for it, but here it is . . .

“It’s exciting and I look forward to the next chapter, but it’s also a little sad in that one chapter’s closing. It’s definitely a dream job. If I had the ability to pick a radio play-by-play job with any of the National Hockey League teams, this would be my No. 1 choice.” 

With the Oilers, Moon moves into the seat vacated by Jack Michaels, who now will call the play of Edmonton regional TV games for Sportsnet, replacing Kevin Quinn. Michaels will return to radio for Oilers games that are national and for Edmonton playoff games.

Louie DeBrusk is the analyst on TV games, with Bob Stauffer doing the same on radio.

Quinn and Drew Remenda no longer are part of Oilers’ telecasts or broadcasts.

You are able to tune into 630 CHED in Edmonton to hear Moon call his first Oilers game on Wednesday night as they play host to the Vancouver Canucks.



Twins


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba announces 133 new cases of COVID-19. That’s the lowest total in 6 days but still pushes the province’s 7-day average up slightly to 172. Health authorities are also reporting 3 more deaths.

CBC News: A big jump in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan with 412. The previous day’s total, which hadn’t been reported, was 307. The average for the 7 previous days was 290. The province is also reporting 8 additional deaths and hospitalizations are at an all-time high.

CTV Regina: Saskatchewan’s 7-day average for daily COVID-19 has doubled over the past 13 days. The weekly average dropped to 152 on Dec. 30, but it has increased each day since, hitting an all-time high of 307 Monday.

CBC News: Alberta reports 639 new COVID-19 cases and 23 more deaths. Across the province there were 13,917 active cases, with 811 people are being treated in hospitals for the illness, including 130 in ICU beds.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: There are 1,475 new cases of COVID-19, from Fri to Sat 538 new cases, Sat to Sun 507 new cases, Sun to Mon 430 new cases. There are now a total of 58,107 positive cases in BC. . . . There are 5,220 active cases of COVID in BC. There are 358 people in hospital with COVID, of whom 72 are in ICU. There are 7,313 people in active monitoring. . . . There have been 22 new COVID deaths over the weekend. There have been 1,010 COVID deaths in BC in total.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 3,338 new cases of COVID-19, the 8th straight day above 3,000. The hot spots are Toronto (931), Peel Region (531) and York Region (241). The province is expected to announce new restrictions tomorrow to help curtail the spread.

CBC News: 21 new COVID-19 cases today in New Brunswick. The province has experienced a significant surge over the past week with 164 new cases, for a daily average of 23. For the previous 7 days, the total number of cases was 26, with a daily average of 3.7.

CNN, Monday, 2 p.m. PT: 375,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 7 p.m. PT: 376,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 22.5 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 7 p.m. PT: 22.6 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

Anna Cabrera, CNN: At least two gorillas at San Diego Zoo test positive for COVID-19, first known cases among great apes. The zoo says three animals are currently showing symptoms and it is suspected that the primates were infected by an asymptomatic staff member.

——

The Vancouver Canucks, who cancelled all Sunday team activities because of COVID-19 protocols, were back on the ice on Monday morning. It seems that Sunday’s episode was the result of a false positive. . . . The Canucks are scheduled to open their regular season with games against the host Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . The Dallas Stars, who shut things down last week after eight positive tests — six players and two staffers — are to return to the practice ice Tuesday. They also announced that practices will be closed to the media until further notice. . . . The Stars’ first three scheduled regular-season games have postponed, leaving them to open at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 19. . . .

The NBA’s coronavirus nightmare continues. Having postponed one game on Sunday, it had to do the same to a Monday night game and another scheduled for Tuesday. . . . There now have been a total of four games postponed. . . . The Miami Heat-Boston Celtics game scheduled for Sunday didn’t come off; neither did Monday’s game between the New Orleans Pelicans and host Dallas Mavericks. The visiting Celtics and Chicago Bulls won’t play tonight (Tuesday). . . . Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The NBA started its season in the worst part of the pandemic, as post-Thanksgiving numbers surged, deaths spiked, and hospitals and frontline health care workers were absolutely overwhelmed. What we have seen in recent weeks makes last summer seem calm.” . . . We now wait to see if the same fate awaits the NHL. . . .

The Air Force Falcons have shut down their hockey program for at least two weeks after five players tested positive following a road trip during which the team played five games in seven days on the East Coast. Their home games for the next two weekends are off the schedule. . . .

Skate Canada has cancelled the 2021 National Skating Championships because of the “evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada.” . . . The Canadians were scheduled for Vancouver, Feb. 8-14. . . .


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.


Answers

QMJHL looking at December restart? . . . Winterhawks asked to change logo . . . Ice’s Lambos goes to Finland


With the numbers showing no signs of slowing down, François Legault, qmjhlnewQuebec’s premier, has extended the red zone restrictions until Nov. 23. They had been schedule to be lifted on Thursday. . . . The QMJHL has six teams located in these zones — the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Drummondville Voltigeurs, Gatineau Olympiques, Quebec Remparts, Shawinigan Cataractes and Victoriaville Tigres. . . . The Armada and Voltigeurs have had players test positive, as have the Sherbrooke Phoenix. . . . Earlier, the QMJHL suspended play for its Quebec-based teams until Oct. 28. There is speculation that those teams won’t return to play until early December. . . .

Meanwhile, the Olympiques won’t be returning to their home arena, the Robert-Guertin Centre, anytime soon, and maybe not at all this season. The arena will continue to be used as an emergency accommodation centre for the homeless during the pandemic. The Olympiques had hoped to have their arena back on Dec. 1. . . . If/when the Olympiques return to action, they will continue at the Baribeau Arena. They are scheduled to move into a new arena next season.


The WHL’s Portland Winterhawks have been asked to dump their primary logo. Shannon Gormley of the Willamette Week reported Monday that “a local nonprofit is petitioning the Winterhawks to change their logo.” Earlier this year, the team unveiled a third jersey with a different logo but, as Gormley wrote, “the team still wears its original jersey, featuring a caricature of an Indigenous person, at most games, and continues to manufacture and sell merchandise with the figure.” . . . Gormley continued: “The Native American Youth and Family Center started the petition two weeks ago, urging the team to permanently switch to a hawk. It’s now nearly reached its goal of 1,500 signatures.” . . . There wasn’t an immediate response from the Winterhawks. . . . Gormley’s story is right here. . . . The Winterhawks are in receivership at the moment and the WHL is searching for a buyer.


Mask


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, writing in his Sunday column about the NHL’s plans for next season: “There is talk of hub cities. There is talk of an All-Canadian division being played, which is all but a certainty. But just as each market and both Canada and the United States are dealing with increased COVID-19 numbers, consider this: On the day the NHL shut down in March, following the NBA, there were 42 positive tests in Ontario. On Saturday, the number was 978.” . . .

——

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a suggestion to the NFL “mavens” in his Monday posting: “You have put in place COVID-19 protocols that are purposefully and intelligently designed to reduce the probability of viral transmission. One element of those protocols is that coaches and team staff must wear masks on the sidelines during games.  Obviously, there will be moments when a coach needs to lower his mask to enable others to hear or understand what he is saying; those sorts of brief ‘exposures’ are imperfect but understandable.

“Here is what should not be tolerated:

(1) Coaches, assistant coaches and staff members on the sidelines with masks that cover only their mouth and not their nose.

(2) In the past, the NFL has levied fines for not wearing a mask; coaches with ‘noses out’ should be fined half that amount and the league office only need to watch the television feeds for the games to identify which coaches to collect from.” . . .

——

Quarterback Graham Mertz of the Wisconsin Badgers tested positive after the freshman led his team to a 45-7 season-opening win over Illinois on Friday night. . . . The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Monday that backup QB Chase Wolf, a sophomore, also has tested positive. . . . Paul Chryst, the Badgers’ head coach, won’t comment on the status of either player. . . .

RB Ryquell Armstead of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars is expected to miss the rest of this season as he works to recover from COVID-19. ESPN has reported that he has twice been hospitalized and has had numerous complications, including “significant respiratory distress.” Armstead is 23. . . .

At least 39 members of the Delta, B.C., fire department were exposed to COVID-19, and a recreational hockey game is getting at least some of the blame. . . . “The game took place early last week,” Vancouver radio station NEWS 1130 reported. “A member of Delta Fire and Emergency Services attended, not knowing they and a family member had the virus. Those who played in the game and others who were later on shift with this person at the department were all exposed to COVID-19. At least 39 members of the department were in isolation at one point.” . . . Firefighters who tested negative have started returning to work, while others await results.


Ghosts


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: Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that D Carson Lambos of the Winnipeg Ice has left the Manitoba capital for Jyväskylä, Finland, where he is skating with JYP of the country’s U-20 league. If his transfer gets done, he could play in games on the weekend. Lambos, 17, is expected to be an early selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. Sawatzky’s story is right here. . . . The BCHL’s Langley Rivermen have decided they won’t have any American players in their roster this season because of COVID-19. “We just thought it was the right thing to do,” Bobby Henderson, the team’s GM/head coach, told Dan Ferguson of the Langley Advance Times. “Normally, we would be allowed to have six” Americans on the roster. Ferguson’s story is right here.


Jupiter

Ritchie moves into GM’s office. . . . Wright, Henderson go to Edmonton. . . . MacGregor no longer with Dallas


MacBeth

F Colton Kroeker (Regina, Lethbridge, Kootenay, 2014-18) has signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 28 games with Mount Royal U (USports, Canada West), he had six goals and 16 assists. . . .

F Ben Maxwell (Kootenay, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract with Langnau (Switzerland, National League). Last season, with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had 11 goals and 12 assists in 59 games.


ThisThat

Darren Ritchie is the new general manager of the Brandon Wheat Kings, a team for BrandonWKregularwhich he has played, coached and scouted. Ritchie, from Winnipeg, played four full seasons (1991-95) for the Wheat Kings, putting up 152 goals and 126 assists in 232 regular-season games. . . . He spent 10 seasons (2006-16) as an assistant coach, and has been the team’s director of scouting for the past three seasons. . . . Ritchie, 45, takes over from Grant Armstrong, whose contract wasn’t renewed after he spent three seasons as GM. Armstrong now is on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . Ritchie now will be working to sign a new head coach — David Anning’s contract wasn’t renewed after last season — and a director of scouting. . . . The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.


Chad Harden’s 2019 Calgary Stampede is over and he could be looking at a lifetime ban. That was the verdict Friday after Harden was involved in an incident during Heat 7 of Thursday’s Rangeland Derby chuckwagon races in which one horse was killed and three others suffered minor injuries. . . . Harden was disqualified from the final three days of the 2019 Stampede and fined $10,000 for his role in what happened. He also must pay $10,000 to Evan Salmond, the driver whose horse was killed. . . . Harden, who scouts for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, won’t be invited to compete in future Stampedes, but he is able to appeal by Sept. 1. . . . Harden went into Thursday night in third place in the aggregate standings and with a real chance to be competing for the big money on Sunday. But he was hit with 30 seconds in penalties after the heat and fell to 33rd. Later, of course, he was disqualified. . . . Sammy Hudes and Alanna Smith of the Calgary Herald have more right here.

At the same time, other chuckwagon drivers are of the opinion that, considering Harden’s record, there was some over-reaction here and that the punishment was too harsh. Hudes has that story right here.


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JUST NOTES:

The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers have hired Tyler Wright as their director of amateur scouting and Archie Henderson as director of pro scouting. Both had been working for the Detroit Red Wings. Ken Holland, the Oilers’ new general manager, joined Edmonton from the Red Wings. . . . Wright played four seasons (1989-93) with the Swift Current Broncos. He had been Detroit’s director of amateur scouting for six seasons. . . . Henderson played three seasons in the WHL (Lethbridge Broncos, Victoria Cougars, 1974-77). . . .

According to a Facebook post by former NL radio sports director Rick (The Bear) Wile in Kamloops, former Blazers’ general manager Stu MacGregor “has parted ways” with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . MacGregor signed on as the Blazers’ GM on Oct. 13, 2015. He lasted until May 20, 2018, when he was reassigned to the Stars’ scouting staff. Dallas owner Tom Gaglardi is the Blazers’ majority owner. . . . MacGregor and ex-Blazers head coach Don Hay are spending this weekend at the Kamloops Coaches Conference.


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Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


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D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


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A hearty welcome to all the new readers who have found us here over the past day or two. . . . Hope you enjoy what you find here and that you will spread the word. . . . Enjoy!


It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.


As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.


Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.


The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.

——

The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.

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With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

——

SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


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Is Lamb ticketed for NHL’s Oilers? . . . Is Gustafson Blazers’ next head coach? . . . They want how much for Memorial Cup tickets?


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All signs are pointing to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers introducing Dave Tippett as their next head coach, perhaps as early as today (Friday).

In fact, it could be that Ken Holland, the Oilers’ new general manager, and Tippett finalized things in Vancouver on Thursday prior to Holland’s induction into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

Tippett, 57, has been working as senior advisor to the group that owns the NHL expansion franchise in Seattle. He has ample NHL coaching experience, although he hasn’t been behind an NHL bench since 2016-17 when he was with the Arizona Coyotes.

What impact might Tippett’s return to coaching have in the WHL? There is speculation, PrinceGeorgeas you can see from Robin Brownlee’s tweet, that Tippett might bring Mark Lamb on board as an assistant coach in Edmonton.

Lamb is preparing for his second season as the general manager of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.

Tippett spent six seasons (2002-09) as the head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, and Lamb was an assistant coach for each of those seasons. Also, Lamb was the head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, in 2016-17 when Tippett was the Coyotes’ head coach.

The Cougars also are one of two WHL teams — the Kamloops Blazers are the other — without a head coach at the present time.

Prince George fired head coach Richard Matvichuk late this season, with Lamb taking over. However, Lamb has said that he isn’t interested in continuing as head coach.

While speculation about a new head coach has been quiet out of Prince George, it is believed that Lamb has been planning to do a lot of work on filling the vacancy during the NHL draft, which is scheduled for Vancouver, June 21 and 22. By then the Cougars might be looking for a general manager, too.

After all, would you rather be the general manager of a WHL team or an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers?

Meanwhile, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has reported that the Blazers have Kamloops1“about five candidates” on their short list as they look to replace Serge Lajoie, whose stint as head coach lasted one season. Lajoie now is the head coach of the midget prep team at OHA Edmonton.

At the moment, I would suggest that Kyle Gustafson, who has been on the coaching staff of the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04, is the favourite to be the Blazers’ next head coach. Gustafson was in Kamloops last week and, no, he wasn’t here on a shopping trip.

Matt Bardsley, who just completed his first season and his first bantam draft as Kamloops’ general manager, joined the Blazers after a long run with the Winterhawks, so he is quite familiar with Gustafson.

Furthermore, Gustafson came awfully close to getting a contract as the Blazers’ head coach last summer. He lost out when ownership chose to go in a different direction, deciding to go with Lajoie, who hadn’t coached previously in the WHL, over Gustafson, who had all that WHL experience and is especially familiar with the Western Conference.

Obviously, that didn’t work out, but now Gustafson finally may be about to get his first shot at being a WHL head coach. He certainly has paid his dues.

At one time, Darryl Sydor, one of the Blazers’ co-owners and an assistant coach with the team, was believed to be a favourite to be the next head coach. Taking Note has been told that Sydor will remain part of the team’s coaching staff, but that he won’t be the head guy.

If the Blazers haven’t signed Gustafson by mid-June, you have to think that he will visit Vancouver during the NHL draft and look up Lamb, or whomever is conducting the Cougars’ coaching search at that point.


It may be major junior hockey, but that hasn’t kept tickets for Sunday’s Memorial Cup final in Halifax from going into the pricing stratosphere. . . . The host Mooseheads will be in the final, playing either the OHL-champion Guelph Storm or QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who will meet in tonight’s semifinal game. . . . Tickets for the final carried an original price of $50 to $75. On Thursday, in places like StubHub and kijiji, sellers were looking for as much as $1,000 per ticket. Surely, no one is paying those prices, or are they? . . . There is more right here from Jon Tattrie of CBC News.


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The Calgary Hitmen have signed D Grayden Siepmann and F Brandon Whynott to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Siepmann is the fourth first-round selection from the May 2 bantam draft to sign a WHL contract. Calgary selected him with the 13th overall pick. . . . From Abbotsford, B.C., Siepmann played this season with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team, scoring eight goals and adding 21 assists in 29 regular-season games. He had two goals and two assists in five playoff games. . . . Whynott, from Langley, B.C., also played for the bantam prep team at Yale Academy, which is in Abbotsford. Whynott had 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 games, and had one goal and one assist in the playoffs. Whynott was taken in the second round of the 2019 bantam draft.


Stephen Whyno, a hockey writer with The Associated Press, has written a piece that carries this headline — Faces of concussions: NHL’s head-on battle with an epidemic. . . . This is devastating stuff, especially when former NHLer Daniel Carcillo says: “I’m going to choose when I’m going to go. I’ll make that decision of how much pain I’m going to put my loved ones through that are around me.” . . . Carcillo is 34 years of age and wonders what the future holds as he tries to live with the after-effects of at least seven concussions. . . . There is more to this story than Carcillo, though, and as you read it you come to the realization, again, that hockey at all levels needs to do everything it can to get rid of headshots. Yes, the WHL absolutely must ban fighting. . . . Whyno’s piece is right here. Give it 10 minutes of your time.


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Will McCrimmon stay, or will he go? . . . Another hall beckons Ridley. . . . Broncos explain broadcast plans

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It seems most likely that Bob Nicholson, the Edmonton Oilers’ CEO who is searching for a general manager, will chat with Kelly McCrimmon one of these days.

McCrimmon, who owns the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, is in his third season as the Oilersassistant general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Here’s Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com: “The bottom line in job interviews has the prospective employer asking candidates — either directly or by nibbling around the edges — ‘Tell me why we should hire you?’ If I was in McCrimmon’s shoes and staring across the table at Nicholson, I’d be asking, ‘So, tell me why I should work for you?’ If it goes like that, and I suspect that it will, Nicholson had better have his fastball ready.” (Brownlee’s latest is right here.)

So, if this scenario plays out, will McCrimmon end up in Edmonton? Or will he move on to the expansion franchise in Seattle? Or will he stay put?

Time, of course, will tell, but history tells me that McCrimmon may just stay in Vegas and continue to work alongside general manager George McPhee.

Why do I lean that way?

Because McCrimmon, now 58, has a history of wanting to see things through. And after the way the Golden Knights’ season ended on Tuesday night, he may just want to stay there and play it out, something he has done a time or two.

As the 1980s turned into the ’90s, McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager and head coach, having taken over as the latter when Doug Sauter took ill during the 1989-90 season.

He later gave up — temporarily, as it turned out — coaching duties to focus on reshaping the organization’s way of doing business. Back then, the Wheat Kings often scrambled just to get into the playoffs, only to be bounced early. By 1992-93, McCrimmon, the GM, owned one-third of the franchise and the reshaping was in high gear. A team that had won only 11 games in 1991-92 put up 43 victories in 1993-94. That was the start of seven straight seasons with at least 39 victories and included three trips to the WHL final and one championship. McCrimmon had surrounded himself with good people and they had turned a once-faltering franchise into one of the best in all of the CHL.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. The Wheat Kings, with McCrimmon now owner, GM and head coach, were coming off a season in which they went 53-11-8, only to lose out in the WHL final. Then, in May, the Toronto Maple Leafs came calling as they searched for an assistant GM.

By early June there were reports that the Leafs had made an offer to McCrimmon, who had become the Wheat Kings’ sole owner in 2000. As tempted as McCrimmon was to join the Leafs, he chose to stay in Brandon. Why? Because he had overseen the building of the Wheat Kings into a championship contender and he felt he owed it to the players he had drafted and recruited to see it through.

In 2015-16, the Wheat Kings were 48-18-6, and then went on a 16-5 run as they won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champs.

On Aug. 2, 2016, the Golden Knights announced that they had hired McCrimmon as assistant GM. His fingerprints are all over the organization, including the hirings of Vaughn Karpan as director of player personnel, Bob Lowes as assistant director of player personnel and scouts like Kelly Kisio, Bruno Campese and Erin Ginnell.

You can bet that McCrimmon had a lot to do with the February acquisition and subsequent signing of forward Mark Stone, too. He had played four seasons in Brandon after being a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft.

For all of those reasons, then, McCrimmon just may choose to stay with the Golden Knights, who were in the Stanley Cup final as an expansion team just one year ago.

He has had a hand in all of it and just may want to be an active part of wherever it goes.

Or . . . maybe not!


The semifinals are set at the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is being played in CanadaOrnskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden. . . . Team Canada got past Latvia, 3-1, in Umea on Thursday, and now will travel to Ornskoldsvik to play the host Swedes on Saturday. . . . D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) gave Canada a 1-0 first-period lead, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) being credited with the 2-0 goal after a Latvian defender scored an own goal on an attempted clearance. . . . Krebs later added an empty-netter. . . . Schneider added an assist to his goal, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and F Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors) each earning one assist. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) recorded the victory. . . . Sweden advanced with a 4-2 victory over Czech Republic. . . .

On the other side of the draw, Russia blanked Belarus, 6-0, and Team USA, behind three goals from F Jack Hughes and one from F Cole Caufield, dumped Finland, 6-0. Hughes now has eight goals and eight assists, while Caufield has scored 12 times. . . . Team USA and Russia will meet in a semifinal game on Saturday, also in Ornskoldsvik.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation round, Switzerland dumped Slovakia, 4-1.

The tournament is scheduled to end on Sunday.


Just call him Bob (Hall of Fame) Ridley. . . . Ridley, the only play-by-play voice the Medicine Hat Tigers have had, will be inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Banff on June 6. The WAB made that announcement on Thursday. . . . Earlier, it was announced that Ridley will be going into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony in Canmore on July 21. . . . He already is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. . . . Ridley has been with CHAT in Medicine Hat since 1968 and has been the voice of the Tigers since they entered the WHL for the 1970-71 season. . . . In all that time, he has missed only one game; legend has it that he was assigned to cover a women’s curling event in which the boss’s wife was playing. . . . Including regular-season and playoffs, he has called the play of 3,931 games involving the Tigers. . . . Ridley also drove the team’s bus until a couple of seasons ago. For some reason, he hasn’t yet been inducted into a bus drivers’ hall of fame. . . . There is more right here on the WAB honour, including ticket information.


If you have ever wanted to own a hockey team, well, this just might be your lucky day. . . . A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a regular reader for sending this along and, yes, it’s legit. . . . And, no, this isn’t a paid advertisement. . . .

 

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Games involving the Tri-City Americans will be heard on NewsTalk 870 KFLD for two more seasons after the WHL team and Townsquare Media announced a new two-year deal on Thursday. . . . Tri-City’s home-and-away games have been on the station since the 2000-01 season. . . . Craig West, the American’s vice-president of sponsorship sales/broadcasting, is the team’s radio voice.


The Swift Current Broncos revealed earlier this month that they are abandoning the SCBroncostraditional role of having their games on conventional radio, and moving to a model that includes streaming broadcasts. . . . On Thursday, they issued a lengthy news release explaining their new approach. . . . When the news broke earlier in the month, someone familiar with the situation told Taking Note that a “major hang up is broadcast rights/revenue sharing.” In other words, the Broncos were wanting Golden West Radio, the rights holder, to cough up some money, something that apparently wasn’t going to happen. . . . The Broncos’ news release that was issued on Thursday includes this: “The previous model of broadcasting did not provide the Broncos organization with the positive economic impact that sports broadcast rights at our level is expected to provide. By managing our own broadcasting and establishing a business model that leverages our full-time employees’ skill sets and abilities, we will be able to generate a positive financial benefit that will contribute to the long-term financial strength of our organization.” . . . That pretty much explains it all. . . . The complete news release is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades have made some moves on the business side of their organization. Saskatoon. . . Colin Priestner, who just completed his third season as the team’s general manager, now is the president and GM. He will, according to a news release, “oversee all operations . . . in both the hockey and business departments.” . . . Steve Hogle, who had been the president, now is senior advisor. He remains as the Blades’ alternate governor. (Mike Priestner, the team’s owner, is the governor.) . . . Hogle, according to the news release, also “is taking on additional duties with the Blades’ parent company, Go Auto.” . . . Tyler Wawryk, the team’s communications manager for three seasons, has been promoted to director of business operations. . . . Cliff Mapes, who had been vice-president of business, no longer is with the Blades. . . . The complete news release is right here.


George Cochrane has been named the combines manager for the Okanagan Hockey Group, where he will work with Jason Wild, the manager of combines operations. . . . Cochrane had been the head coach of the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association from 2006-17. He left that position to join BC Hockey as manager of programs at their Okanagan Regional Centre. This season, he also was the general manager for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Vancouver Giants get their first chance at advancing to the WHL championship final tonight when they entertain the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. The Giants hold a 3-1 edge in the Western Conference final, after F Dawson Holt scored at 7:07 of OT to give them a 4-3 victory in Spokane on Wednesday night. . . . Holt has three goals and two assists in the four games with the Chiefs. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 playoff games after totalling six goals and 13 assists in 53 regular-season games. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on Holt and this series right here. . . . The Giants haven’t been in the WHL final since the spring of 2007 when they lost a seven-game series to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants were the host team for the Memorial Cup that year and went on to win it all. . . .

The Eastern Conference final also resumes tonight as the Edmonton Oil Kings meet the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, after the Raiders skated to a 2-1 victory in Edmonton on Wednesday night. These teams will return to Edmonton for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.


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Oilers waiting for McCrimmon? . . . Terriers win another MJHL crown. . . . WHL conference finals resume tonight

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The way Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com sees it, “Edmonton Oilers’ CEO Bob OilersNicholson will certainly have a rooting interest in the San Jose Sharks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of their opening-round series Tuesday.” . . . Nicholson is heading up the Oilers’ search for a general manager to replaced the fired Peter Chiarelli. With this in mind, Brownlee and a host of other observers feel that Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager, is at or near the top of Nicholson’s list of potential general managers. Should the Golden Knights lost Game 7, one could assume that GM George McPhee would give permission to other organizations, like Edmonton and the expansion Seattle club (Totems?), to chat with McCrimmon. . . . Brownlee’s piece is right here.

From a WHL perspective, one wonders what would happen if McCrimmon were to end up signing on with the Oilers as their general manager. That would, in theory, make him responsible for two WHL teams. He owns the Brandon Wheat Kings; the Oilers own the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Remember the hue and cry a couple of seasons ago when the Prince Albert Raiders traded F Leon Draisaitl, whose NHL rights belonged to the Oilers, to the Kelowna Rockets, whose majority owner, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and widely seen as the most powerful person in the league? Can you imagine the hullabaloo were McCrimmon to be in Edmonton and a prominent player moved from there to Brandon or vice versa?

That, of course, is a long way from happening, but . . .


Latvia beat Slovakia 2-0 on Monday in a Group B game at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. That improved Latvia’s record to 1-2 and lifted it into the quarter-final round. Prior to this year, Latvia had never placed higher than ninth at this tournament. . . . Slovakia, meanwhile, slipped to 0-4 and will face the loser of today’s game between Finland and Switzerland in the best-of-three relegation round. . . . . In Group A on Monday in Umea, Switzerland gave up a 3-0 lead then came from behind to beat Belarus, 5-4 in OT. Switzerland (1-2) will finish the round-robin today against Finland, while Belarus (2-1-1) is on to the quarter-final round. . . . In other games today, Canada (3-0) will meet Czech Republic (2-1), Russia (2-1) is to play Sweden (2-1), and Team USA (3-0) is to meet Latvia. . . . The tournament concludes on Sunday.


F Reece Henry scored at 5:26 of OT to give the Portage Terriers a 3-2 victory over the Terriersvisiting Swan Valley Stampeders in Game 7 of the MJHL’s championship series. . . . The Terriers, under GM/head coach Blake Spiller, won the title, and the Turnbull Cup, for the fourth time in five seasons. They have won MJHL championships in 15 seasons. . . . This was the first MJHL final to go seven games since 1996 when the St. James Canadians beat out the Neepawa Natives. . . . Last night, the Stampeders forced extra time when F Matthew Osadick scored his second goal of the game with 7.3 seconds left in the third period. . . . D Sam Huston and F Chase Brakel also scored for the Terriers. . . . They will meet the SJHL-champion Battlefords North Stars for the ANAVET Cup with Games 1 and 2 in Portage la Prairie on Friday and Saturday nights.


Kelvin Cech is the new head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. Cech, 36, spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of British Columbia Thunderbirds. . . . Cech replaces Steve Mullin, whose contract wasn’t renewed when the Flyers’ season ended. . . . In Winkler, Cech, who is from Edmonton, will work alongside general manager Jeff Jeanson.


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NOTES: The WHL’s conference finals both resume tonight. . . . In the Eastern Conference final, the Oil Kings will entertain the Prince Albert Raiders. The teams split in Prince Albert, the Raiders opening with a 1-0 victory on Friday, and the Oil Kings coming back with a 4-3 OT victory on Saturday. . . . In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead over the Chiefs as they gather for two games in Spokane. The Giants won 4-1 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday in Langley, B.C. There has been one key injury in the series as Spokane F Luc Smith, 20, left Game 1 in the opening minutes of the first period with an apparent ankle injury. He didn’t return to that game and wasn’t dressed for Game 2. Will he play tonight?


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McNabb, Pats stun Raiders in P.A. . . . McNaughton, Hitmen pull blank job . . . Garand leads Blazers to victory


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If you missed it Sunday night, Switzerland was awarded two penalty shots on one play 2019wjcduring a game against Russia at the World Junior Championship. F Marco Lehmann of Switzerland was hacked down on a breakaway, got up to continue the play, and was brought down again. While Lehmann took the first penalty shot, the Swiss had F Philipp Kurashev take the second one. Neither one was successful. . . . Kurashev, who is in his third season with the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, is the son of Konstantin Kurashev, who played for Russia in the 1981 and 1982 WJC. Konstantin has been coaching in Switzerland since 1998.


D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks has drawn a TBD suspension after whltaking a kneeing major and game misconduct during at 3:30 of the second period of an 8-6 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Saturday night. Seattle F Dillon Hamaliuk was injured on the play and didn’t return to the game. . . . Quigley won’t be in Portland’s lineup when they play host to Seattle tonight.

F Riley Sawchuk of the Tri-City Americans was given a one-game suspension after he took a game misconduct at 17:08 of the third period of a 2-1 loss to the Chiefs in Spokane. No reason for the game misconduct was provided by the WHL. . . . He won’t play in tonight’s rematch in Kennewick, Wash. . . .

Kevin Acheson, the WHL’s new sheriff, has handed out seven suspensions from the 28 games that teams have played since the Christmas break ended on Dec. 27.


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Sunday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 15.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 24.

Conditional draft picks: 9.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


WHL players at the World Junior Championship:

Brandon — G Jiri Patera (Czech Republic).

Medicine Hat — G Mads Sogaard (Denmark).

Moose Jaw — D Josh Brook (Canada).

Portland — F Cody Glass (Canada).

Prince Albert — G Ian Scott, F Brett Leason (Canada).

Red Deer — D Alex Alexeyev (Russia).

Seattle — F Andrej Kukuca (Slovakia).

Spokane — F Jared Anderson-Dolan, D Ty Smith (Canada); D Filip Kral (Czech Republic).

Tri-City — F Krystof Hrabik (Czech Republic).

Vancouver — F Milos Roman (Slovakia).

Victoria — F Phillip Schultz (Denmark).

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Moose Jaw Warriors snapped a 1-1 tie with five straight goals and went on to a 6-2 MooseJawWarriorsvictory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . The Warriors (19-8-6) have points in four straight (3-0-1). They are third in the East Division, eight points ahead of Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings (15-13-6) have lost three in a row, all since played resumed after Christmas, and six of seven. They now are tied with the Calgary Hitmen for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. . . . The Warriors are scheduled to entertain the Wheat Kings tonight. This will be the fourth game in five nights for both teams. . . . F Justin Almeida scored twice for Moose Jaw, giving him 11 goals. He made it 1-0 just 23 seconds into the game. . . . Brandon F Nolan Ritchie tied it at 3:32 with his first WHL goal. . . . The visitors scored twice before the period ended — D Jett Woo (7) and F Tristin Langan (27) found the range — and then got later goals from F Kaeden Taphorn (4), Almeida, and F Tate Popple (8), who is from Brandon. . . . D Braden Schneider (4) had Brandon’s other goal, at 10:06 of the third period. . . . The Warriors held a 40-29 edge in shots, including 19-8 in the first period. In its three-game losing skid, Brandon had been outshot 46-16 and outscored 6-1 in first periods. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos sat out the second of a three-game suspension.


G Dean McNabb turned aside 43 shots to lead the Regina Pats to a 2-1 victory over the PatsRaiders in Prince Albert. . . . Regina (12-24-1) has won three in a row, but still is 11 points away from a playoff spot. . . . Prince Albert (33-3-1) had won its previous five games; it also had been 17-0-0 at home. . . . The Raiders lead the overall standings by seven points over the idle Everett Silvertips (29-7-2). . . . F Logan Nijhoff (3) gave Regina a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds after the opening faceoff. . . . D Liam Schioler (2) upped the lead to 2-0 at 8:01. . . . F Noah Gregor (24) scored for the Raiders at 12:37. . . . Gregor has 10 goals and four assists over his past six games. . . . This one was McNabb’s show, though, as the Raiders outshot the Pats 14-7, 13-4 and 17-2 by period. . . . The Raiders won 47 of the game’s 63 faceoffs. . . . The Pats had D Brady Pouteau and F Robbie Holmes back in the lineup after both served one-game WHL suspensions.


F Kirby Dach and F Chase Wouters each had a goal and two assists as the Saskatoon SaskatoonBlades dumped the Broncos 9-3 in Swift Current. . . . Saskatoon (22-11-5) had lost its previous three games (0-1-2). It is second in the East Division, five points ahead of Moose Jaw, which has five games in hand. . . . The Broncos had points in each of their previous two games (1-0-1). . . . These two teams hadn’t met since the season’s opening weekend, when the Blades won 2-1 in Swift Current and 8-0 in Saskatoon. They’ll meet again Tuesday afternoon, this time in Saskatoon. . . . The Blades had a 47-15 edge in shots — 16-4, 19-8 and 12-3 by period. . . . F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen (10) gave the Blades a 1-0 lead 11 seconds in, and F Max Gerlach (21) made it 2-0 at 5:43. . . . The Blades weren’t headed after that. . . . D Majid Kaddoura, a freshman from Chestermere, Alta., scored his first WHL goal for the Blades in his 17th game. . . . Dach, who has 15 goals, ran his career point total to 101, including 28 goals, in 109 games. . . . Wouters has six goals. . . . D Billy Sowa, a freshman from Calgary, scored his first career goal for Swift Current. It came in his 26th game. . . . Broncos F Matt Culling ran his goal streak to five games. He has seven goals on the season, with one in each of those five games. . . . Saskatoon D Brandon Schuldaus served a one-game suspension after he took a kneeing major a game misconduct on Friday in Prince Albert. . . . The game was played on the 32nd anniversary of a bus accident in which four Broncos were killed while on the way to Regina for a game with the Pats.


G Jack McNaughton stopped 25 shots to lead the host Calgary Hitmen to a 4-0 victory over Calgarythe Vancouver Giants. . . . Calgary (16-16-4) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1), but now is tied with the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Vancouver (23-9-2) has won its previous two games. It now is 1-1-0 on a six-game swing through the Central Division. The Giants lead the B.C. Division by 11 points over the Kelowna Rockets, and Vancouver holds three games in hand. . . . F Riley Stotts opened the scoring at 3:30 of the first period, and F Jake Kryski made it 2-0, on a PP, at 6:44. . . . F Mark Kastelic (26) added more insurance at 5:29 of the second period. . . . Stotts, who has 12 goals, closed out the scoring at 4:48 of the third. . . . F James Malm, who was acquired by Calgary from Vancouver on Oct. 31, drew four assists. He has 23 points, including 17 assists, in 21 games with Calgary. He had put up nine goals and six assists in 13 games with Vancouver at the time of the trade. . . . With G Carl Stankowski sidelined, the Hitmen had brought in Matt Armitage from the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks to back up McNaughton, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary. Armitage has since been returned to Salmon Arm, so the Hitmen had Brayden Peters of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes on the bench. Earlier in the day, he had stopped 14 shots to record the shutout as the Hurricanes scored a 7-0 victory over the Brampton, Ont., 45’s at the Mac’s tournament in Calgary.


The Edmonton Oil Kings scored four times in the third period and beat the visiting Red EdmontonOilKingsDeer Rebels, 5-4. . . . Edmonton (20-12-7) has points in six straight (4-0-2) and now leads the Central Division by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer (21-12-2) had beaten the Oil Kings, 2-1 in a shootout, on Saturday night at home. The Rebels are third in the division, one point behind Lethbridge. . . . Last night, it was the third game in fewer than 48 hours for both teams. Red Deer went (1-2-0); Edmonton was (2-0-1). . . . F Jake Neighbours (8) gave the Oil Kings a 1-0 lead at 2:21 of the first period. . . . Red Deer scored the only three goals of the second period, with F Oleg Zaytsev (6), D Dawson Barteaux (3) and F Reese Johnson, on a PP, finding the range. . . . F Andrei Pavlenko (7) got Edmonton to within a goal at 2:25 of the third period, but Johnson restored the two-goal lead with his 16th goal, at 3:20. . . . Edmonton pulled even on two goals from F Trey Fix-Wolansky, at 4:52 and 8:52. He’s got 23 goals. . . . He drew an assist on the winner, too which went to F Vince Loschiavo (17), on a PP, at 13:30. . . . Johnson also had an assist for Red Deer, giving him a three-point game. . . . Red Deer had a 17-4 edge in second-period shots, but Edmonton was ahead 17-8 in the third.


F Ryan Jevne scored in the fourth round of a shootout to give the Medicine Hat Tigers a 5-Tigers Logo Official4 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Medicine Hat (20-15-3) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the Central Division, one point behind Red Deer, which has three games in hand. . . . Lethbridge (19-11-6) is second in the division, two points behind Edmonton and with three games in hand. . . . Medicine Hat and Lethbridge were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. The Tigers went (3-0-0); the Hurricanes were (1-1-1). . . . The Hurricanes led 4-2 after third-period goals from F Dylan Cozens (21) at 2:07, and F Jake Leschyshyn (25), on a PP, at 2:54. . . . D Joel Craven (3) cut the Tigers’ deficit to one at 11:40, and F Elijah Brown (5) tied it, on a PP, at 17:58. . . . F Jordy Bellerive scored for Lethbridge in the first round of the shootout, but Medicine Hat tied it when F Josh Williams scored in the second round, and then won it on Jevne’s goal. . . . Craven scored twice for the Tigers. He has four goals in 53 career games, 20 of them this season.


G Dylan Garand stopped 35 shots to lead the Kamloops Blazers to a 2-1 victory over the Kamloops1visiting Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers (14-17-3) were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours, after splitting a home-and-home series with the Kelowna Rockets, winning 3-2 in a shootout and then dropping a 2-1 decision on the road. Kamloops is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Victoria Royals, who have two games in hand. The Blazers also hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, four points ahead of Prince George. . . . The Cougars (12-21-3) have lost two in a row; they are 1-7-0 on an 11-game road trip. . . . The Cougars were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours after beating the host Seattle Thunderbirds 2-1 on Friday, then dropping a 6-1 decision to the Silvertips in Everett on Saturday. . . . The Cougars headed home after last night’s game, then will drive to Kelowna on Thursday for a Friday night engagement with the Rockets. They will hang out in the Okanagan for a couple of days after that, before heading to Kennewick, Wash., to play the Tri-City Americans on Jan. 8 and then it’s on to Spokane for a date with the Chiefs on Jan. 9. . . . The Cougars then will hustle home because they are to play host to the Rockets on Jan. 11 and 12, their first games in the CN Centre since Dec. 2. . . . D Montana Onyebuchi (3) gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 16:12 of the first period, and F Brodi Stuart (11) made it 2-0 at 8:53 of the second. . . . F Josh Maser (12) had the Cougars’ goal, on a PP, at 17:51 of the third. . . . Garand was especially strong in the third period when his guys were outshot 19-4. . . . The Blazers had D Joonas Sillanpaa back after a one-game injury-related absence. . . . The Cougars were able to dress only 19 players, including five defencemen. Then they lost F Ilijah Colina to an undisclosed injury during the game and G Taylor Gauthier left after becoming ill. He had stopped 20 of 22 shots through two periods. Isaiah DiLaura came on to play the third period and stopped four shots.


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