B.C.’s wildfire season gets even more tragic . . . Oil Kings adjust scouting staff . . . Thunderbirds fill out coaching crew

Fire1
Thursday, 2:30 p.m. Looking east down the South Thompson River Valley, with smoke from the White Rock Lake moving to the northeast.
Fire2
Thursday, 4:30 p.m. This was the same view as the above photo, just taken two hours later.

A wild fire that is not too far north of us exploded on Thursday and devoured the community of Monte Lake, which is located about 50 km southeast of Kamloops.

I took the second of the above photos on Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. It apparently was about 30 minutes later when the fire — known as the White Rock Lake fire — burned the townsite of Monte Lake. That was confirmed at about 8 p.m., by Sheldon Jordan, the director-general of wildlife enforcement for Environment Canada.

If you have never driven through a lot of the rural areas in the southern Interior of B.C., there are many homes — belonging to ranchers, farmers and others — scattered throughout a lot of the forested areas. So chances are that there will have been more structures devoured by this fire than the ones at Monte Lake.

And the end of our fire season isn’t anywhere in sight.


Rain


The Edmonton Oil Kings made a handful of moves with their scouting Edmontondepartment on Thursday. They promoted three veteran scouts — Jamie Novakoski, Nels Eckland and Del Reid — from area scouts to travelling scouts. . . . Novakoski, from Saskatoon, has been with the Oil Kings since they joined the league. He has done two stints as an area scout (2007-13, 2017-21) and also worked as director of scouting (2013-17). He also has scouted for the Kamloops Blazers (1995-2007). . . . From Calgary, Eckland also is an Oil Kings original. He was a long-time coach, including a stint (1994-98) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice, before getting involved in the scouting side of the game. . . . Novakoski and Eckland have been contributors to a pair of WHL championships (2012, 2014) and a Memorial Cup title (2014) in Edmonton. . . . Reid, who is from Edmonton, has been a WHL scout for 31 years. He joined the Oil Kings prior to 2014-15 after working with the Regina Pats for seven years. He also spent 18 years with Kamloops, winning four WHL titles and three Memorial Cups with the Blazers. . . .

Kirt Hill, the Oil Kings’ president of hockey operations and general manager, explained that these moves, and the hiring of Michael Chan as director of scouting, were made necessary by the fact that the WHL will have two drafts during the upcoming season. . . . Chan, 29, spent the previous season as the video coach for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Prior to that, he was the Oil Kings’ video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator for three seasons. . . .

These guys don’t get near enough credit for what they do, so here, from the Oil Kings’ news release, is their entire scouting staff:

Director of scouting — Michael Chan

Travelling scouts — Nels Eckland, Jamie Novakoski, Del Reid.

Alberta area scouts — Jason Stewart, Jory Stuparyk, Keith Wilson.

B.C. area scouts — Mike Grant, George Musselwhite, Bruce Taylor, Danny Todosychuk.

Saskatchewan area scouts — Shawn Stieb, Scott Thomas.

Saskatchewan and U.S. area scout — Murray Brookbank.

Manitoba area scout — Scott Coates.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have added Matt Marquardt to their staff as an Seattleassistant coach, and Brad Guzda has signed on as the new goaltender coach. As well, Jared Crooks has been promoted to assistant general manager. . . . Marquardt, 34, is from North Bay, Ont. He was a player-assistant coach with the EIHL’s Dundee Stars for two seasons (2018-20). Marquardt fills the vacancy created when Castan Sommer left the organization in June after four seasons there. He since has joined Holy Cross U as an assistant coach. . . . Guzda, 48, is from Banff. From the Thunderbirds’ news release: “Guzda played eight seasons of professional hockey and now works with young goalies in Nashville. He has worked with goaltenders at the Hockey Lab for over nine years and is currently the headmaster at Triple V Prep.” . . . Guzda takes over from Ian Gordon, who had been the goaltending coach for eight seasons. Gordon now is with the Red Deer Rebels as director of goaltending/goalie coach. . . . For the past three seasons, Crooks as been Seattle’s skills development and video coach, “as well as host family co-ordinator, player education adviser and travel and logistics director.” . . . The Thunderbirds’ coaching staff also includes head coach Matt O’Dette and assistant Kyle Hagel.



Cody Mapes is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. He had been an assistant coach with the Red Wings since 2019-20. Mapes replaces Rich Pilon. The Red Wings announced Tuesday that Pilon wouldn’t be back, but didn’t provide any further information. In fact, team president Brent Stephenson suggested that the situation may end up in court.


Putty


So . . . pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau tested positive, missed the Tokyo Olympics, lost 10 pounds while ill, and now is dealing with allergies that weren’t there before all of this started. . . . And, still, he refuses to get vaccinated, saying that he would “rather give (the vaccine) to people who need it.” . . . He added: “I tried to take all the necessary precautions to not get contracted. I don’t know where I got it, how I got it, I was just home in Dallas and it was in the air.”

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CBC News — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is considering mandatory vaccines for federal public service employees, as well as for federally regulated industries.

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Gavin Newsom, California’s governor — California will now require workers in healthcare settings to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30th.

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The New York Times — Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey had a blunt rebuke for anti-vaccination demonstrators. “You’ve lost your minds,” Murphy said. “You are the ultimate knuckleheads. And because of what you are saying and standing for, people are losing their life.”

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The New York Times — CNN fired three employees who violated its Covid safety protocols by going to the office unvaccinated, the company said Thursday. It’s one of the first known examples of a major U.S. corporation terminating workers for ignoring a workplace vaccine mandate.

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BNO Newsroom — Hawaii reports 655 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase on record.

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Katie Rogers, The New York Times: “The Biden administration is developing plans to require all foreign travelers to the United States to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with limited exceptions, according to an administration official with knowledge of the developing policy. . . . The plan, first reported by Reuters, will be part of a new system to be put in place after the current restrictions on travel into the country are lifted, but officials have yet to determine when that might be done. . . . President Biden has been under pressure for months to ease restrictions on people wishing to travel to the United States, particularly as other countries, including England, Scotland and Canada, relax their own measures. . . . But White House officials have said in recent days that there is no plan to lift current restrictions anytime soon, in light of the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.”

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Kyle Griffin, MSNBC — “Microsoft, which employs roughly 100,000 people in the United States, says it will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors, and guests to gain access to its offices.”

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Rob DeMello, KHONnews — “Department of Education announces that fall prep sports in Hawaii will be delayed until late Sept. and all athletes, athletic staff, volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated to participate.”

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KATU News — Starting at the end of September, healthcare workers in Oregon will need to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing or show proof of vaccination.


Mattress


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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.


JUST NOTES: The Red Deer Rebels have named Shaun Sutter as associate general manager. Sutter, 41, has been with the Rebels since 2011 when he signed on as senior scout. He was promoted to assistant GM and director of player personnel in 2013. Sutter’s father, Brian, is a former WHL/NHL player and coach. . . . Gordie Dwyer is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. He replaces Greg Gilbert, who is out after one season but will be staying in the organization in an as-yet undefined role. Dwyer, 43, coached the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes in 2019-20. In 2020-21, he was an assistant coach with the Canadian team that won gold at the IIHF U-18 World championship.


Drunk

Reports have major junior leagues now aiming for Dec. 1 . . . Former Blades captain dies . . . Morden team changing nickname, logo

If you own a junior hockey franchise, you have to be watching the goings-on in MLB and wondering.

While the NBA and NHL have their teams all bubbled up and, at least to date, avoiding the coronavirus, you know that you don’t have the resources to attempt anything like that.

But then you look at MLB, which is attempting to do what you are hoping to do at some point this year — bring your team together and then travel in order to play games in various venues.

It isn’t going all that well for MLB, which is forging ahead despite having had two teams — the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals — decimated by the virus and another (Philadelphia Phillies) also been hit.

Through Tuesday, 23 MLB games involving nine teams had been postponed. The season is 13 days old.

At this point, then, you likely are holding your breath and hoping.

Earlier, the QMJHL and WHL had announced proposed starting dates of Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, respectively, for their 2020-21 regular seasons. The OHL hadn’t gone public with any such date.

Now there are reports that the three major junior leagues will announce perhaps as soon as today (Wednesday) that they hope to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on Dec. 1.

Postponing the start by two more months buys them some more time. The leagues will be able to sit back and watch developments, including the possible opening of schools.

The OHL and WHL also have teams located in the U.S., where, you may have noticed, things aren’t going so well. Two more months gives the leagues time to watch for improvements in that area, although under present leadership that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

And, of course, there’s the little matter of the U.S.-Canada border being closed. Do you think it’ll be open again in 2020?

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COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

On Sunday, the Cincinnati Reds placed 1B Joey Votto, a native of Toronto, on the injury list after he self-reported symptoms of the virus. On Monday, he hit a two-run, go-ahead homer to help the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians, 3-2. . . . It turns out that he tested negative and was reinstated. . . .

The much-ballyhooed Field of Dreams game, which was to have featured the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox on Aug. 13, has been postponed to August 2021. A date has yet to be announced. . . .

The Cardinals’ season is on hold after seven players and six staff members tested positive. . . . Six of the players are SS Paul DeJong, RHP Junior Fernández, C Yadier Molina, 1B Rangel Ravelo, SS Edmundo Sosa and RHP Kodi Whitley, each of whom gave the team the OK to release their names. The identity of a seventh player wasn’t released. . . . DeJong and Molina are all-star calibre players. . . . In a statement, Molina said he was “saddened to have tested positive for COVID-19, even after adhering to safety guidelines that were put in place.” . . .

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had some thoughts on the mess in which MLB finds itself. He concluded with this: “Baseball in 2020 reminds me of a guy at a poker table who is losing his shirt but keeps dipping into his bank account for another stake because he is ‘due for some good cards.’ It seems to me that MLB thinks it is due for some good news and just keeps on keeping on. . . . Albert Einstein reminded us that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes.” . . . You should read the entirety of the curmudgeonly one’s latest post right here.

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The NFL’s Detroit Lions moved QB Matthew Stafford from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and placed him on the regular roster, saying that what was reported as a positive test actually was a false-positive. . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars did the same with QB Gardner Minshew after it was determined that he had tested negative. Minshew joked that the virus “took one look at me and ran the other way.” . . .

At least 48 players have opted out of playing in the NFL’s 2020 season. The league has a deadline of Thursday afternoon for players to make that decision. . . . Barry Wilner of The Associated Press has more right here.

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Rafael Nadal, the No. 2-ranked men’s tennis player, won’t play in this month’s U.S. Open, which is to start on Aug. 31. He said that he doesn’t want to travel during the pandemic. . . . The last time a tennis major didn’t feature either Roger Federer, who is out after having knee surgery, and Nadal? That was the 1999 U.S. Open. . . .

Meanwhile, Bianca Andreescu, who won the women’s U.S. Open title last year, said that she will be in New York to defend her title. . . . Andreescu, 20, from Mississauga, Ont., is the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title. . . .

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The 104th running of the Indy 500 will take place without fans. Roger Penske, who owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said earlier in the year that the race, which was postponed from Memorial Day weekend to Aug. 23, would allow some fans to attend. . . . But with numbers rising in Marion County, Indiana, home of the Speedway, Penske has decided not to allow fans. . . .

The AHL has cancelled its 2020-21 All-Star Classic that was to have been played host to by the Laval Rocket on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Instead, Laval will be the site of the 2021-22 Classic on a date yet to be determined. . . . The AHL is hoping to being its 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 4. . . .

Tennis lost the Madrid Open as the 2020 event, which features men’s and women’s draws, was cancelled. Originally scheduled in May, it had been postponed to September. But an increase in COVID-19 cases resulted in the event being cancelled.

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You will recall that the Houston Astros have been branded as cheaters after getting caught up in a sign-stealing scandal that has some baseball folks claiming the team actually stole a World Series title. . . . The other day, with the host Astros playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are particularly bitter, Houston’s Jose Altuve, who is really struggling at the plate, happened to strike out. Joe Davis, doing the play-by-play for the Dodgers, said Altuve was “perhaps guessing something else.” . . . Former Dodgers P Orel Hershiser, the analyst on the broadcast crew, disagreed. Said Hershiser: “Guessing’s harder than knowing.”



The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes announced Tuesday that head coach Gordie Dwyer has left the organization in the hopes of landing a spot with a pro team. . . . Dwyer took over as head coach on Feb. 9, then went 6-6-0 before the league shut down because of the pandemic. . . . At the time, Dwyer took over from the fired Daniel Renaud, who had been the head coach since 2017. He was 23-28-0 last season. . . . The Cataractes will unveil their new coaching staff on Friday.


The Morden Redskins, a men’s team that plays in the South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League, has said that it will be changing its nickname and logo, which was fashioned after that belonging to the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Last month, Brandon Burley, the mayor of Morden, asked the team to make a change.


JUST NOTES: I haven’t watched a whole lot of the NHL since it resumed playing, but I’ve seen enough to realize that, despite what you might read in the rules book, cross-checking continues to be legal. . . . I need to find someone in Alberta to cut me in on the Edmonton Oilers’ 50-50 draw. If you aren’t aware, the winner of Monday’s draw put $1,629,722.50 into his/her bank account. On Saturday night, Danielle McGale won $381,275. Yes, she has a whole lot of new friends. . . . I was watching the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday afternoon and there was a drone delay. Seriously.