Gustafson free to return to WHL . . . Memorial Cup host replaces head coach . . . Remembering Bill Hunter, the coach


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.

The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s SpokaneSpokane Chiefs as head coach.

Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).

However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.

While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.

The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.


The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s SJSeaDogsMemorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.

Yes, they did. Seriously.

Why?

Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”

And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.

The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.

Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.

The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.


This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.

Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.

The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.


Fishing


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to Edmontonstep behind the bench late in a season.

Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.

In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.

Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.

“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”

With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.

“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”

Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”

The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.

(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)

In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.

The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.

That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.

Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.

In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).

Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.


“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.



Fridge


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after COVIDtesting positive for COVID-19.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”

Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”

The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.

“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”



Headline at fark.com — Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it . . . with another shoe company.


Zoom


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.


Sleeping

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if Twins’ Buxton could be future MVP . . .

scattershooting

OpeningDay


A truism from Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “There are relationships that don’t last as long as the last two minutes of a close college basketball game.”


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Study: Every child who cheated at NHL 94 now a hardened criminal.

One more Beaverton headline — BREAKING: Will Smith sentenced to 10 years of watching terrible Oscars telecast from home.


Health


When The Masters started on Thursday, Tiger Woods was at 40-1 to win the whole thing. Eben Novy-Williams (@novy_williams) noted that Woods was “the most bet golfer this week.” He added that one oddsmaker had said Woods “actual” odds, if not for his popularity, would likely be 200-1. As Novy-Williams put it, Woods is “the gift that keeps giving for sports books.”



Headline from @NOTSportsCenter — Breaking: Due to LeBron James being eliminated from playoff contention, ESPN has officially canceled the 2022 NBA playoffs.


Speaking of LeBron, here’s Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “There’s only one person to blame for the Lakers’ abysmal performance this year, and that’s the general manager who put this team together — LeBron James.”


THINKING OUT LOUD: Have you tired of the gambling commercials on the telly yet? . . . Are you tired of the talking heads going and on about odds and parlays and prop bets yet? . . . How long before we start hearing about the socio-economic cost of being bombarded with all of this? . . . And where does pro sports turn for the next revenue stream? . . . OF Byron Buxton homered in the first and second innings of the Minnesota Twins’ 10-4 victory over the visiting Seattle Mariners on Sunday. When he came to the plate in the third inning, the fans were chanting “MVP! MVP!” If he stays healthy, he just might be in the running. . . . The XM Radio app is installed and running on my tablet and I can tell you that there isn’t anything better than spending a weekend listening to baseball on the radio. . . . No, I didn’t see even one putt. One of the rare few who isn’t a fan of Jim Nantz, Tiger Woods or the tweeting birds, live or on tape, at Augusta.



Tiger Woods won four consecutive majors in 2000 and 2001 and he did it using the same set of irons. In 2010, a rich guy named Todd Brock bought those irons for US$57,242. Earlier this year, Brock sold those irons at auction for US$5,156,162. . . . Now that’s not a bad return on investment for a guy who is a Houston private equity investor. . . . BTW, those are Titleist 681-T irons. You can buy a brand new set for about Cdn$1,400. But you still won’t break 90, will you?


Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation right here.


English


SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference:

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds wrapped up fourth place with a 4-1 Seattlevictory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . That means Seattle will have home-ice advantage in a first-round playoff series with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . F Austin Roest (13) pulled Everett to within a goal at 15:52 of the third period, but Seattle put it away with empty-netters by F Nico Myatovic (4) and F Reid Schaefer (32). . . . The Silvertips will be more concerned about the condition of D Olen Zelwegger than the loss. He left the game on a stretcher at 12:26 of the first period, but flashed a thumbs up on the way out. He leads all WHL in assists (64) and points (78), all accomplished in 55 games. . . . Seattle and Kelowna will play Games 1 and 2 in Kent on April 22 and 23, then head for Kelowna and games on April 26 and 27. The Thunderbirds were 3-1-0 in the season series; the Rockets were 1-2-1. . . . Everett (45-11-10) remains atop the conference, three points ahead of the idle Kamloops Blazers, who have two games remaining. . . .

G Matthew Hutchison stopped 27 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 3-2 Vancouvervictory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Hutchison, who won’t turn 16 until Oct. 7, is from Nanaimo. This was his first WHL victory and came in his second start. He was a third-round selection by the Giants in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Adam Hall (17) and F Zack Ostapchuk (24) scored at 1:12 and 2:02 of the second period to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. The Rockets were never able to catch up. . . . The Giants (24-27-4) snapped an eight-game losing skid and moved into sixth place, one point ahead of the Spokane Chiefs and Prince George Cougars, and two up on the Victoria Royals. . . . Kelowna (40-20-6) will finish fifth in the conference and meet Seattle in the opening round of the playoffs.

——

Eastern Conference:

In Winnipeg, D Nolan Orzeck drew five assists as the Ice dumped the Medicine WinnipegIceHat Tigers, 8-2. . . . F Mikey Milne had one goal, his 36th, and four assists. . . . The Tigers, trailing 3-0 in the second period, cut the deficit to one goal, but the Ice closed it out with the next five scores. . . . The Ice clinched the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s regular-season champions with the victory. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 24 shots to run his numbers this season to 32-3-1, 1.97, .915. . . . The Ice (51-10-5) will meet either the Swift Current Broncos (59 points), Calgary Hitmen (58), Regina Pats (57) or Prince Albert Raiders (57) in the first round. Only one of those teams will get into the playoffs. . . . The Tigers (11-52-4) have lost 11 straight games. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s last four goals and beat the host EdmontonCalgary Hitmen, 4-1. . . . F Jake Neighbours (16) and F Dylan Guenther (45) each had a goal and an assist for the winners. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 28 shots. This season, he now is 32-9-3, 2.33 .911. . . . The Oil Kings (48-14-4) will be the conference’s No. 2 seed and will meet the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes in the opening round. . . . The Hitmen (25-33-8) are ninth, one point behind the Swift Current Broncos.


Call


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.


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