A thank you from Brad Hornung . . . WHL’s five B.C. teams to hub up in Kamloops, Kelowna . . . BCHL’s 17 teams still waiting as self-imposed deadline approaches

There is a book out there that includes a chapter on Brad Hornung and it’s well worth a read — the entire book, I mean, not just the chapter on Hornung.

Written by Roy MacGregor, one of Canada’s best writers, it is titled The Home Team: Fathers, Sons & Hockey, and was published in 1995. It was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award.

The book, which definitely rates as one of the best ‘hockey’ books out there, is available in hard cover, paperback and ebook. If you haven’t read it and choose to, you won’t be disappointed.


Players and staff members from the WHL’s five B.C. Division teams will begin WHL2quarantining on Saturday, then report to their teams on March 13 as they begin preparations for a return to play on March 26 with games in two cities.

The Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and the Blazers will be in Kamloops, with the Victoria Royals and the Rockets in Kelowna.

In Kamloops, the Cougars and Giants are expected to stay in a hotel owned by Tom Gaglardi, the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars who is the Blazers’ majority owner. The hotel is kitty-corner from the Sandman Centre in Kamloops. The Blazers players will stay with their billets.

In Kelowna, Victoria is expected to stay in a hotel owned by the GSL Group that was founded by Graham Lee, who owns the Royals. The Rockets will be with billets.

A schedule that has yet to be released will have each of the five teams play 24 games without fans, likely in about seven weeks. Games will be played only in Kamloops and Kelowna, although teams will travel between cities for games. There won’t be any over-night stays and there won’t be any stops while in transit.

Players and staff will undergo testing when they report to their teams in Kamloops and Kelowna, and then will go into quarantine again. Each participant will have to pass another test before being allowed to begin team activities.

Players and staff will be tested on a weekly basis, with a positive test resulting in a team having to shut down for at least 14 days.

From a WHL news release:

“Enhanced screening for all WHL players, team staff and officials will also take place on a daily basis, including regular temperature screenings as well as symptom monitoring through the WHL Athlete RMS Mobile Application. Masks must be worn by all WHL players at all times with the exception of when participating on ice for games and practices. WHL coaches will be required to wear masks at all times, including while conducting practices and while behind the benches during games.”

The B.C. teams will be the last of the WHL’s 22 clubs to begin play in what is strictly a developmental season. The five Alberta teams began play on Feb. 26. Seven teams — five from Saskatchewan and two from Manitoba — have gathered in Regina and are to open play on March 12. The five U.S. Division teams will open on March 19.

The WHL news release is right here.


While the WHL’s five B.C.-based teams have gotten the OK for games, the BCHLBCHL’s 17 teams keep on playing the waiting game.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said Tuesday that her staff continues to work with the BCHL on its proposed return-to-play protocol.

Keep in mind that the WHL’s B.C. Division teams are going to play in two cities — Kamloops and Kelowna — in the same health authority, while the BCHL’s proposal apparently calls for cohorts set up in five separate communities involving multiple health authorities.

“Right now, they are continuing to work with the BCHL and with our regional teams because the (BCHL’s) plan is dispersed around the province in a way that is slightly different than the Western Hockey League, for example,” Dr. Henry said. “(It) is still in the consultation process and there have been a number of concerns identified — I’ll be blunt about that — that need to be addressed before that can happen safely.”

In a letter to government and health officials on Friday, Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, wrote that if a decision allowing a return to play wasn’t received by Wednesday, which would be today, the league’s owners would be voting Thursday on a motion to cancel the season.

Tick . . . tick . . . tick!

Brian Wiebe of BCHLNetwork has more right here.

——

What Garry Valk is doing in trying to influence a decision by government and health officials regarding a return to play for the BCHL’s 17 teams is admirable. It really is. He started a petition that has accrued something around 3,000 signatures, and he has kept the fires burning on social media.

But tweets like the one above don’t do anything to help the cause. “All the other Junior A teams in Canada” aren’t playing games, he writes.

Well, the 12-team Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled its season on Feb. 12. The 12-team Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has been paused since Nov. 21. The seven-team Superior International Junior Hockey League cancelled its season on Monday. The Ontario Junior Hockey League, with 21 teams in Ontario and one in Buffalo that opted out of this season, isn’t playing, in part because it has to deal with 10 regional health units. I could go on, but you get the point.

If you are going to be the face of a cause like this, you have to protect your credibility with the people you are trying to influence, which means you also have to do the research.



CBC News: Texas to drop requirement for people to wear masks. The state is averaging about 7,700 new COVID-19 cases a day; 6 weeks ago it was over 20,000. Texas has a population of 29M, about twice the size of Ontario, which is averaging roughly 1,100 cases a day.


The New York Times — Mississippi joined Texas on Tuesday in lifting state mask mandates, despite federal health officials warning governors not to ease restrictions yet, because national progress in reducing coronavirus cases appears to have stalled in the last week.


Mob


The Toronto Raptors and visiting Detroit Pistons are scheduled to play an NBA game in Tampa, Fla., tonight. The game was postponed from Tuesday because the Raptors have run into virus-related issues. If tonight’s game goes ahead, Toronto will be without three starters — OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet — along with Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn, who come off the bench. Head coach Nick Nurse and a number of his staff also are expected to be missing tonight. . . . Donta Hall and Jalen Harris have joined the Raptors from their G League affiliate. . . . The NBA now has postponed 31 games this season because at least one of the teams didn’t have at least eight healthy players.



If you’re a country music fan, you should know that the CMA Fest has been cancelled for a second straight year. It’s now scheduled to run in 2022, from June 9-12, in Nashville.


New York Post — New Yorkers would have to flash COVID-19 passport to enter venues under new program. . . .  Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday the rolling out of a new pilot program where New Yorkers would have to flash a sort of COVID-19 passport in order to enter sports arenas, theaters and other businesses as the state continues reopening efforts. . . . The pass was tested at Tuesday night’s New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.


Worst



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.


Boss

Don Dietrich says thanks and farewell . . . Psst! Wanna buy a BCHL team? . . . Ahh, yes, baseball’s back!

Don Dietrich, a defenceman who played three seasons (1978-81) with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on Feb. 16. He was 59. If you are on Facebook and haven’t checked out the tribute page that his family set up, you should take the time to do just that. This was a special, special man whose memory will long remain with the people he touched, and he touched a lot of us.

Earlier this week, Nick, one of Nadine and Don’s three sons, posted this on the tribute page . . .

Before dad passed, he asked me to send this message out to everyone after he was gone. Transcribed directly from his words.

“I truly am a lucky man. Having two chronic illnesses has taught me patience and compassion, and I really believe that they have made me a better person. A better father, son, and husband.

If I came home with a flat tire, kicked the furniture and swore at the dog, I’d look out the window and the tire would still be flat.

I wouldn’t have gotten to do so many things in my life if it wasn’t for Parkinson’s and cancer. I am grateful that these illnesses have given me another opportunity to teach and inspire.

I would like to thank everyone for the stories they’ve shared and all of the nice things that they’ve said about me. It appears that I’ve fooled you all

I’ve just tried to be a good human being and treat people with dignity, and respect.

It’s been an honour to have known and met you all. Smell ya later!

— Don Dietrich, Dieter, Dins, Beaker, Heathcliff, Double D, Redbird”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “NFL owners are pushing to implement a 17-game schedule for this coming season. “A$ you might $u$pect, we have our rea$ons for playing $eventeen,” said one.


Penguin


It seems that Wes Mussio, the owner of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, is fed up with Dr. Bonnie Henry, who is B.C.’s provincial health officer, and the NDP government so now wants to sell the franchise that he purchased in November 2017.

NanaimoMussio, a lawyer from Vancouver, wrote: “With games suspended for 1 year now and Dr. Bonnie Henry giving the league no indication of any starting up this year, I see no path forward to any full return to normal in hockey, even in 2021-2022.”

Mussio continued: “The NDP has offered zero financial support to the suffering teams of the BCHL or for that matter, any hope of a full return to hockey for year(s). So, it is time for me to stop my huge personal and financial contribution to BC Hockey and I will be selling the team effective immediately. Serious enquires (sic) only at mussio@mussiogoodman.com. Nanaimo needs an ownership group who can wait out the PHOs.”

Mussio told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News-Bulletin on Sunday that he already had “close to a dozen” tire-kickers contact him.

When Mussio purchased the Clippers, he said he was going to buy a home in Nanaimo. Sakaki reported that Mussio has sold his Nanaimo condo and “has been living in Florida of late.”

Sakaki’s story is right here.

——

It’s interesting to watch the approaches taken by the BCHL and WHL as they work to hopefully get government approval for their teams to return to play.

While the BCHL and its 17 teams and the WHL’s five B.C. Division teams BCHLsupposedly are working in concert in terms of presenting return-to-play protocols to government and health officials, the opposite would appear to be happening in the public eye.

While silence seems to be golden for the WHL teams, the BCHL, or at least people associated with the league, seem to think that lots of noise is the best approach.

Former NHLer Garry Valk has taken an active role by starting a petition requesting that the NDP government loosen the reins. To be fair, he also wants to see WHL teams back on the ice, but he got involved because his son Garrett, 18, plays for the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Andy Prest of vancouverisawesome.com has more on Valk and his petition right here.

And then, on Sunday, Valk posted this on Facebook:

“So help me understand John Horgan. You approved the NHL teams to play in 24 hours? Why have we not heard anything from you or Dr. Bonnie Henry or Adrian Dix regarding our junior teams in BC? I know BCHL has sent you multiple proposals months ago, still nothing has been said at all about it. I guess our youth are not as important as multimillionaires.”

Horgan is the premier of B.C., with Dix the health minister and Dr. Henry the provincial health officer.

The BCHL hasn’t commented on Valk’s petition. News 1130, a Vancouver radio station, reported that it asked the league for a response, “but a representative said the league isn’t commenting until after the province responds about whether or not play will resume.”

You also can read into Wes Mussio’s announcement that he wants out of Nanaimo — is it at least in part a pressure tactic aimed at government officials, especially after he appears to have left himself an out?

Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin wrote: “(Mussio) said if things change and he gets ‘surprised pleasantly’ and can see a pathway forward, he won’t sell the Clippers, but he has been living in Florida and has started thinking about buying a hockey team in the U.S.”

And then there was a tweet from Tali Campbell, the Clippers’ general manager until early September when he left the organization. He now is the vice-president of team operations for the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.

On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted: “First time in my six years in the BCHL I have had to talk to two players about the thoughts of suicide. So sad.”

It’s not often a junior hockey official broaches such a subject in a public forum, and, if you’re at all like me, you are wondering about the timing of this tweet.

If you’re at all like me, you’re also wondering how government and health officials might respond to these kinds of messages. Hopefully, they treat them as white noise, but human nature being what it is, you also might wonder if the noise results in the BCHL’s cause being bumped just a bit further down the priority list.


BowlingShoe


CBC News — Prince Edward Island closes schools, shuts down personal gatherings for 72 hours as it tries to a quash clusters of COVID-19 cases in Summerside and Charlottetown. The province is reporting 5 new cases for a total of 18 active cases.


Old friend Kevin Dickie, now the executive director of athletics and community events at Acadia U in Wolfville, N.S., tells me that university hockey in Nova Scotia has been shut down due to new restrictions. They had started up on Feb. 12, and now are hoping to get the OK again for a March 27 restart. . . . A lot of ice has been made and melted since Dickie was coaching in Saskatchewan with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs and later the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He coached the Acadia Axemen for three seasons after leaving Melfort and before coaching with the Blades. He moved into the administration side of things in 2005 and really hasn’t looked back, having spent six years at the U of New Brunswick before moving over to Acadia. . . . And it’s always great to hear from a native of Shaunavon, Sask.



Headline at Fark.com: Patrick Mahomes welcomes first child, Sterling Skye Mahomes, expected to play against Tom Brady in about 20 years.


The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees opened their MLB exhibition seasons on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. Yes, it was an exhibition game. I watched every pitch and it was glorious.


John Harbaugh, the head coach of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, paid the entire restaurant bill of more than $2,000 at a recent charity event. Or, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com put it: “Harbaugh covered the spread.”


Crane


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: Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, will be a bit late in joining his team in the Regina hub where seven teams are to play some games starting on March 12. Teams arrived in Regina over the weekend, but Habscheid is with family after the death of his brother Robert. . . . Irv Cross died on Sunday near his Minnesota home. He was 81. Back in the day, the former All-Pro cornerback was part of CBS Sports’ Sunday NFL preview show The NFL Today, along with Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder. If you were an NFL fan, you started your Sunday with Brent, Phyllis, Irv and the Greek.