COVID-19 finds the Chiefs; three games postponed . . . Howdy, Neighbours . . . Ice’s new rink on hold indefinitely

Flanders


It took until this week but the COVID-19 virus has found the WHL.

The league now has postponed three games involving the Spokane Chiefs, who had two players test positive this week.

SpokaneThe Chiefs were to have played the host Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night and then travel to Victoria for Friday and Saturday dates with the Royals. Those games are expected to be rescheduled.

The two Chiefs players who tested positive, according to the WHL, “are fully vaccinated in accordance with the WHL mandatory vaccination policy.”

The Chiefs have halted all team activities, including practices and off-ice training “pending further test results.”

Under the WHL’s protocols, it requires that “all roster players, hockey operations staff, and other team and league office personnel be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine.” At the same time, the WHL “strongly recommended to each of its teams that players reside in billet households in which all eligible individuals are fully vaccinated.”

Spokane last played Friday and Saturday, losing twice to the visiting Silvertips — 5-4 and then 2-1 in OT — but according to the WHL “there are no other WHL clubs considered high-risk close contacts.”

With the two weekend games postponed, the Chiefs next are scheduled to play on Nov. 19 when they are to play host to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Nov. 20 when they are scheduled to be in Everett.

On Thursday, the Chiefs, with five forwards on the WHL injury list, acquired F Carter Streek, 17, from the Saskatoon Blades for a seventh-round selection in the 2022 draft. Streek, from Kamloops, was a fourth-round pick by the Portland Winterhawks in the 2019 draft. He is pointless in 21 career games, six of them this season, all with the Blades.

The Chiefs are listing F Reed Jacobson as being out month-to-month, with F Erik Atchison, F Grady Lane and F Michael Cicek all week-to-week. F Bear Hughes and D Graham Sward are shown as day-to-day.


THE RICH GET RICHER: The NHL’s St. Louis Blues returned F Jake Neighbours, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday. He had one goal and one assist in Edmontonnine regular-season games with the Blues. Yes, a 10th game would have kicked his three-year contract into gear. . . . He is expected to be in Edmonton’s lineup tonight against the host Regina Pats. . . . Neighbours, who was selected by the Blues with the 26th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft, had 70 points, including 23 goals, in 64 games in 2019-20. In the 2021 development season, he put up nine goals and 24 assists in 19 games. . . . The Oil Kings were No. 5 in the CHL’s latest weekly rankings, behind the Winnipeg Ice (1), London Knights (2), Kamloops Blazers (3) and Everett Silvertips (4). Yes, WHL teams occupied four of the top five slots and the Seattle Thunderbirds showed up at No. 9.


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POSTPONE A GAME? NOT YET: While the WHL was dealing with two positive tests on the Spokane Chiefs’ roster, the NHL’s Ottawa Senators found nhl2themselves with nine players and a coach on the COVID-19 protocol list. . . . D Josh Brown was added to the list on Wednesday, joining F Connor Brown, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete and F Austin Watson. As well, associate coach Jack Capuano tested positive and went into isolation. . . . Then, on Thursday morning, Ottawa had to add G Matt Murray and F Alex Formenton to the list. And on Friday afternoon they put D Nikita Zaitsev on the list. . . . If you were wondering how many players would have to be on a team’s protocol list for the NHL to postpone a game, it would seem that nine isn’t the answer. The Senators met the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. . . . After Zaitsev was added to the list, the Senators recalled Finnish D Lassi Thomson from AHL-Belleville and he made his NHL debut in what was a 2-0 loss to the Kings. Thomson, the 19th selection in the NHL’s 2019 draft, had 17 goals and 24 assists with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets in 2018-19. . . . The Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues all have dealt with outbreaks this season. The Sharks played on the weekend with seven players out of the lineup.


NEW HOME FOR ICE? NOT SO FAST: Because you asked, the Cranbrook Bucks are averaging 2,236 fans through five home games. That’s second in the BCHL, Winnipegbehind the Penticton Vees (2,342). . . . Because you’re wondering, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, which has played nine home games in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena, is averaging 1,603. The Ice announced attendance of 1,621 for each of its first eight games, then 1,456 for the ninth one. . . . Does anyone know the status of that new arena the folks who moved the WHL team from Cranbrook to Winnipeg said they would be building? Well, it turns out a new arena isn’t about to happen. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the Ice “won’t have a new home anytime soon and will extend their stay at the University of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena for the 2022-23 season and likely beyond.” Sawatzky added that “to date, no plan for the construction of a new arena has been established.” . . . More from Sawatzky: “Ice owners Greg Fettes, who serves as chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the club’s president and general manager, have been silent on the subject. WHL commissioner Ron Robison did not respond to a request for comment.”


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SORRY, PORTLAND: F Seth Jarvis is eligible to play another season with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. However, he’s with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and it doesn’t sound as though a return to the WHL is imminent. On Thursday, Kacy Hintz of WRAL in Raleigh, N.C., asked Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour: “Do you see any benefit at all in sending Seth Jarvis back to junior?” . . . The coach’s reply: “For the junior team, maybe.” . . . Jarvis has a goal and an assist in four games with Carolina this season. He put up 166 points, 73 of them goals, in 154 regular-season games over four seasons with the Winterhawks.


THE MOOSOMIN BLADES: Les Lazaruk, who has been calling Saskatoon Blades’ games since Noah set sail, tweeted from Moosomin, Sask., on Thursday night. Blades“Storm-stayed Thursday night in Moosomin.” . . . The Blades are scheduled to meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon tonight — “Assuming the Trans-Canada Skating Rink is more like a highway in the morning,” Lazaruk tweeted — and then travel to face the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday and Sunday. . . . At cjwwradio.com, Lazaruk wrote that the Blades encountered freezing rain, snow and gusty north winds east of Regina. “The first sign of a problem,” he added, “came around 3:30 Thursday afternoon when the Blue and Gold’s bus, piloted by Cal Loeppky, was forced to stop just east of Broadview while tow trucks rescued jack-knifed semi-trailer units out of the ditch. After a 45-minute stop, traffic moved again, but at an average speed of 30 kilometres-per-hour.” Upon hearing that there were more vehicles ditched and waiting for recovery east of Moosomin, the decision was made to stop for the night. Yes, they had supper at the Red Barn. . . . Lazaruk tells me that the Blades last were storm-stayed “in February of either 2018 or 2019” while on their way to Cranbrook to meet the Ice. (Remember when Cranbrook was in the WHL?) . . . The Blades spent a night in Pincher Creek, Alta., then headed to Cranbrook the next morning. The Blades won 3-2 in 2018 and 8-3 in 2019.


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COVID GOES TO COLLEGE: You may be aware that California-Berkeley’s home game against the USC Trojans has been moved from Saturday to Dec. 4 because of positive tests among Golden Bears players. But did you know that there were at least 44 positives? . . . Matthai Chakko, a spokesperson for Berkeley Public Health, told the San Francisco Chronicle via email that “cases emerged in an environment of ongoing failure to abide by public health measures.” Chakko told the newspaper that there were players who didn’t get tested when sick or stay home when ill, and they didn’t wear masks while indoors. . . . There are 117 players and staff in the Golden Bears program and all but two are fully vaccinated. Those two both have tested positive. . . . Cal had scratched 24 players the previous weekend so the roster was short for what was a 10-3 loss to Arizona in Tucson.


TRAVELIN’ MAN: F Trentyn Crane, 18, is from Morden, Man. He began this hockey season with the WHL’s Victoria Royals, going pointless in four games. . . . His junior A rights were owned by the OCN Blizzard, who play out of The Pas, Man. . . . Crane had played 37 games with the Blizzard in 2019-20 and six last season. . . . Well, the Blizzard dealt Crane to the Summerside Capitals this week, getting future considerations in return. The Capitals are located in Prince Edward Island. . . . Summerside is 5,676 km from Victoria. . . . Might be time for junior A hockey to start a new recruiting campaign — “Come Play With Us and See Canada!”


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GREAT START: G Zach Fucale played in his first NHL game on Thursday night when he started for the visiting Washington Capitals and blanked the Detroit Red Wings, 2-0, with 21 saves. Fucale, 26, is the 26th goaltender in NHL history to post a shutout in his first start. . . . Interestingly, he is the final player from the Canadian team that won gold at the 2015 World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal to play in the NHL. Fucale and Eric Comrie were the goaltenders as Canada went 7-0 and beat Russia, 5-4, in the final. Head coach Benoit Groulx rotated the pair through the round-robin, then went with Fucale in all three playoff games. . . . If you’re wondering who else was on that team — you can start with Connor McDavid — the complete roster is right here.


COACHING CHANGE: The OHL’s Erie Otters fired head coach Chris Hartsburg on Thursday, with associate coach B.J. Adams replacing him. . . . The Otters are 3-7-1 as they prepare to meet the Storm in Guelph tonight and then entertain the London Knights on Saturday. . . . Hartsburg, a former head coach for two seasons (2009-11) with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, signed with the Otters in June 2017, replacing Kris Knoblauch, another former WHL coach, who had guided the team to the 2016 OHL title. . . . Hartsburg’s contract was to have expired after this season. . . . Adams is in his seventh season on Erie’s coaching staff.


Paramedics


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Minigolf

All the excitement, joy disappear in a Sunday morning crash . . . Snowbirds’ Operation Inspiration ends, at least for now, in Kamloops

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A six-pack of Snowbirds flies over the Drinnan residence in Campbell Creek, about 20 kilometres east of Kamloops, on Saturday afternoon.

There was so much excitement from the Shuswap through Kamloops on Saturday as the Snowbirds on their Operation Inspiration tour headed this way from Rocky Mountain House, Alta.

The first thing I said when I climbed out of bed was: “Don’t forget. Snowbirds. 1:30.”

Yes, Dorothy and I were on our deck. We live on the north side of the South Thompson snowbirdsRiver, which flows alongside the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway. Flights heading west from the lower half of Alberta often follow the river/highway and end up going right over our place.

Such was the case on Saturday at about 1:45 p.m.

It began with two of the Snowbirds zipping by . . . followed shortly after by six in formation . . . and finally by a single plane.

It was over in about nine blinks of an eye, but, yes, it was exciting, especially when you stopped and thought about why the Snowbirds were on this tour.

Then came Sunday morning. Lousy weather in the Okanagan meant the plans for a flight over that area, including Kelowna and Penticton, were cancelled. Instead, they would leave Kamloops and head for Comox on Vancouver Island. They would set up shop there and make plans for flyovers on the island, weather permitting, of course.

Those plans came to a halt when one of the CT-114 Tutors went down in a neighbourhood near the Kamloops airport at about 11:45 a.m. Capt. Jenn Casey, the Snowbirds’ public affairs officer who was from Halifax, was killed. Capt. Richard MacDougall of Dieppe, N.B., is in hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The Snowbirds are grounded in Kamloops while an investigation takes place.

And just like that all of the excitement from the previous day was all but forgotten.

So much anticipation and joy and excitement one day, and so much sorrow the next.

Hey, 2020, when does it all end? You can take your foot off our throat any day now.


Dexter Manley, who was a top-notch defensive end during a run with the NFL’s Washington Redskins back in the day, is in a Washington-area hospital being treated for coronavirus-related issues. Manley, 61, was on a pair of Super Bowl champions with the Redskins. . . . He later played in the CFL with the Ottawa Rough Riders and Shreveport Pirates. . . .

Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Best wishes to Art Howe, a good guy who was turned into a bad guy in ‘Moneyball.’ Howe was hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19. In the movie version of this chapter of his life, Howe, played by Danny DeVito, will invent the coronavirus in a tiny lab in his clubhouse office. . . . (Note: Howe, a former MLB player and manager, was released from a Houston hospital on Sunday). . . .

The LPGA has scrapped its Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Mich., that had been scheduled for July 15-18. The next event on the LPGA schedule is the Marathon Classic in Sylvania Ohio, July 23-26. . . .

The Spa-Francorchamps race track in Belgium will open for practice today (Monday), but when the Belgian Grand Prix is held there Aug. 28-30 there won’t be any fans in attendance. . . . The government has banned large gatherings through Aug. 31.


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 by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Here’s a note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “May 13 marked the 35-year anniversary of O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby serving as the groomsmen in ex-football star Ahmad Rashad’s wedding. Just for the record, O.J. was the best man.”

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One more from Perry: From the Life Ain’t Fair File comes word that a 110-year-old Shoeless Joe Jackson baseball card just sold at auction for $492,000. In other words, nearly 100 times the $5,000 Joe was bribed to throw the 1919 World Series.”


Well, I tried to watch a couple of Bundesliga games on the weekend. Sorry, but I couldn’t do it, not without fans in attendance. With all the quiet, it might have been a high school scrimmage. Well, a high-level high school scrimmage. . . . Having invested some time in that, I can’t imagine watching NHL games in a world of quiet. . . . No, I didn’t give NASCAR a look later Sunday.


The Banff Hockey Academy has announced that it is on the move — to Dunmore, Alta., where its operation will be overseen by Willie Desjardins, the general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. Desjardins already owns and operates the South Alberta Hockey Academy and runs it in partnership with the Prairie Rose School Division. . . . The Banff academy has been operating for 26 years.



There is a $20 bill in my money clip that has been there since March 4. Yes, it has grown lonely. However, there is little chance that it will get company or move on to someone’s cash register in the near future.


The OHL’s Erie Otters have extended the contracts of head coach Chris Hartsburg, associate coach BJ Adams and assistant coach Wes Wolfe through the 2021-22 season. . . . The Otters are 75-99-25 in Hartsburg’s three seasons as head coach. The Otters won the OHL title for 2016-17 and have been in a rebuilding process. . . . Hartsburg spent four seasons (2009-13) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. . . . Adams is going into his sixth season with Erie, with Wolfe to start his fifth season there.


Needle


If/when Major League Baseball is able to open an 82-game regular season, it apparently plans on banning spitting and sunflower seeds. Is it really baseball without spitting and seeds? . . . Along that same vein, is it really an NHL game if they ban fighting, scrums and spitting?


Checking in with the gang at Strat-O-Matic and their simulated MLB season, we find that the Toronto Blue Jays dropped a 5-0 decision to the host Chicago White Sox on Sunday. . . . The Blue Jays (21-26) are seven games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (29-20), who are two games up on the New York Yankees (26-21). . . . The White Sox (20-27) are 11 games behind the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians (32-17). . . . Other division leaders: Houston Astros (31-16), Washington Nationals (30-16), St. Louis Cardinals (25-22) and Los Angeles Dodgers (30-15). . . . If you’re a baseball fan, you will love this site right here. It’s got all the stats and then some.


OHL player draws suspension after positive test . . . Get your Hitmen record book here . . . OHL champs have new coach


MacBeth

F Justin Kelly (Prince Albert, Spokane, Saskatoon, 1997-2002) signed a one-year contract with Deggendorf (Germany, DEL2). Last season, he had four goals and 11 assists in 23 games with the Bietigheim Steelers (Germany, DEL2). Then, in the playoffs, he added eight goals and 15 assists in 16 games for the DEL2 champions, leading the league in assists and points.


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F Danial Singer, who was involved in a trade on Tuesday, has been suspended by the OHL for eight games after failing a drug test during the OHL playoffs last spring. Singer, ohl19, tested positive for an undisclosed prohibited substance and, as called for by the CHL Drug Education Anti-Doping Program, will sit for eight games. He will miss the first eight games of the upcoming regular season. . . . On Tuesday, the Erie Otters acquired Singer and a fifth-round selection in the OHL draft, from the Niagara IceDogs for F Ivan Lodnia, who had requested a trade. . . . Last season, Singer, who is from St. Catharines, Ont., had 26 goals and 22 assists in 67 games with the IceDogs. . . . Lodnia, 18, was Erie’s first-round pick in the 2015 OHL draft. Last season, he had 22 goals and 37 assists in 62 games. . . . Dave Brown, the Otters’ general manager, told Victor Fernandes of goerie.com that he was aware of the positive drug test before making the trade for Singer. If’s unfortunate, Brown said, that the positive test became public knowledge. “Whoever let it out had a complete disregard for not only the player but his family and the policy that’s in place in the CHL,” Brown said. “The purpose of our policy is to avoid situations like this. What’s happened here is an error in judgment has become blown out of proportion.” . . . That complete story is right here.


This is a thing of beauty, and I have to think that Jeff Chynoweth, the general manager of the Calgary Hitmen, had something to do with it. It is the Official Calgary Hitmen Record Book/Media Guide and it is all-inclusive, even including a section showing who has worn which numbers in the team’s 23-year history. . . . Chynoweth always has had a love affair with numbers and has long understood the value of statistics and their place in hockey’s history. . . . Well done!


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


Dave Matsos has been promoted from associate coach to head coach of the OHL-champion Hamilton Bulldogs. Matsos, 44, has worked in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves and Windsor Spitfires. He was in Sudbury for four seasons, and spent the last two-plus of those as head coach. He was an assistant coach in Windsor for three seasons. . . . Matsos also has coached in England, where he led the Sheffield Steelers to three straight titles (2006-09). . . . In Hamilton, Matsos takes over from John Gruden, who now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders. . . . The Bulldogs also have promoted Vince Laise, 35, from assistant coach to associate coach. He is going into his third season in Hamilton, after working as an assistant coach with the Erie Otters for three seasons.


Mike Bavis has signed on as head coach of the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Bavis, who spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach at Boston U, replaces Mark Dennehy, who left without coaching in even one game. He signed in May but left earlier this month to take over as head coach of the Binghamton Devils, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. . . . Bavis left BU after 2012-13, following the retirement of head coach Jack Parker. Bavis, 48, went on to coach with the AHL’s Springfield Indians and at Babson College, an NCAA Division 3 school.


What if your favourite hockey team had its home arena shut down and had to relocate to another arena about 2,700 km away? Well, that’s what has happened to Avangard Omsk Oblast of the KHL. Rather serious structural problems have been found in the team’s home arena, so it will be starting the approaching season in a 6,000-seat arena near Moscow. . . . Patrick Conway has more on this story right here.


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