Scattershooting on a Sunday night after some uninspiring NFL playoff games . . .

Scattershooting2

Shortbread
Do you know what this is? The last two shortbread cookies are on the verge of disappearing, signalling the end of another festive season in our home. Yes, it is one of the saddest pictures every year. And, yes, they tasted mighty good.

Think about taking two minutes out of your busy day to watch this. It will help you understand how a whole lot of people are feeling at this point of this seemingly never-ending pandemic . . .


The way I figure it, there was a WHL record set in Portland on Sunday night as Portlandthe Winterhawks erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . Four of the coaches — two with each team — total 1,875 regular-season victories. . . . Don Hay, Portland’s associate coach, holds the WHL career record, of course, having put up 750 victories. . . . Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, is No. 10, at 472. . . . Kamloops1Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach, has 432, good for 16th spot. . . . Mark Holick, the Blazers’ associate coach, has 221 victories to his credit. . . . Understand that those numbers all are unofficial as we await a new WHL Official Guide and Record Book, but that is a whole lot of victories signifying that those men have been behind WHL benches for a whole lot of games. . . . Oh, the stories they can tell!


It was late Friday night — early Saturday morning further east of here — when there was some interesting discourse on Twitter, featuring Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) and Taylor Rocca (@taylorrocca).

Brandow is a stats guy who posts interesting facts and numbers from every WHLmajor junior hockey game; Rocca is the WHL’s director of communications.

Brandow, in the course of posting tidbits after Friday night’s WHL games, wondered about the fact the WHL hasn’t made available an updated Official Guide and Record Book since the 2019-20 season.

Rocca’s responses provide some insight into the workings of the WHL’s Calgary office during this pandemic:

“Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a staff member solely dedicated to media guide/stats. We’re a small office desperately working to simply keep junior hockey on the ice, players healthy, etc. Because, you know, we’re into Year 2 of a global pandemic. . . .

“I’m not trying to fight. Just trying to provide some context. In the case of our office, specifically, we experience widespread layoffs and had LITERALLY one full-time Communications staff member for over a year who was responsible for . . .

“Web/social content, PR/media relations (people have had some questions), mobile app mgmt, dev consult/admin/launch of new streaming service, internal/external comms/Club support, COVID test results processing, etc. I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other time-consuming tasks. . . .

“Point I’m trying to make is most people don’t understand the incredible challenge it has been for small staffs to keep these leagues running. Speaking for myself, I’ve worked nothing short of 100+ hours a week, almost every single week since March 2020. . . .

“I’m not one to speak out or be overly vocal, especially on social media.

But a lot of people in junior hockey are beyond burnt out. They’re doing the best they can every day to show up & make sure the hockey gets delivered. That is what needs to happen first. For the players. . . .

“People work in jr hockey because they love the game. It’s not for the pay. When we’re frustrated about a stream that errors, or a media guide that’s later than ideal, we need to remember there are hard-working people doing their best to survive & meet beyond high demands. . . .

“Just remember: There are real people w/ real emotions, who have been working tirelessly to keep these leagues alive & navigate a world that no one has a blueprint for. And sometimes, keeping the players/staff healthy & games going is all that’s possible from one day to the next.”

It all ended on a positive note as Brandow wrote: “Fair’s fair.  I greatly appreciate the explanation and once again, I apologize for the outburst.”

Rocca closed with: “It’s all good, Geoffrey. The media guide is on the list. It will get done. All I ask for is your patience & understanding. Appreciate the time & effort you put into tracking stats across the entire CHL. I check in on them every single game night & I’m always impressed.”

While you aren’t able to download a new WHL Guide, the OHL’s new Media and Information Guide (aka record book) is available right here, while the QMJHL’s updated Media Guide, which includes a records section, is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS — While the OHL is playing without fans in most of its buildings, the QMJHL has decided that it won’t resume its schedule until at least Feb. 1. It had hoped to start up again during the week of Jan. 17, but government-imposed restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted before then. . . . The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that was to have been held in Kitchener, Ont., on Feb. 2, has been postponed. Officials hope to reschedule it for some point during this season. . . . Congrats to referee Brett Iverson, who was presented with a WHL Milestone Award prior to Saturday’s game in Langley, B.C. Iverson has been working WHL games since 2008-09 and has been on the ice for more than 650 regular-season games. He also has done four WHL finals and two Memorial Cup tournaments. . . . If you were watching the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver play in Langley, B.C., on Friday night, you may have seen Giants F Ty Thorpe shove a linesman at 19:30 of the second period. Somehow, he escaped with only a misconduct penalty, but he missed Saturday’s rematch after the WHL hit him with a one-game suspension. . . . The Cougars swept the two games from the host Giants, leading some fans to wonder whether Vancouver will be buying or selling as the trade deadline arrives today (Monday).



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “You can start marking time until the guy who runs Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, walks the plank for his role in this fiasco with Novak Djokovic. I still love Djokovic trying to blame the mistakes on his paperwork on his agent. . . . Got it. . . . Dog ate my visa.”

——

Lupica, again: “It’s going to be fun, now that ESPN has hired David Cone, to go back to watching Sunday Night Baseball with the sound on.”


Wrench


In the SJHL, the Humboldt Broncos beat the host Melfort Mustangs, 4-3 in OT, sjhlon Friday night. No, wait a minute. Not so fast. . . . That was thought to be the final score until the Mustangs protested over what they felt was an officiating error at 10:23 of the third period. The Mustangs won the protest, so the teams replayed the last 9:37 of the third period prior to Saturday night’s game in Humboldt. . . . On Friday, the Broncos scored a 5-on-3 goal at 10:23 to get to within 3-2, at which point there was confusion over whether anyone should be allowed out of the penalty box. When no one was allowed out, Humboldt scored again another PP goal, then thought it had won it in OT. . . . When play resumed Saturday night, Melfort stretched that 3-2 lead to a 5-2 victory. . . . Humboldt then won the regularly scheduled game, 6-4. . . . There is a complete explanation right here.


There was a time, before the birth of the Toronto Blue Jays, when a lot of Canadian baseball fans got their fix through Dave Van Horne, the voice of the Montreal Expos. Van Horne, who has been calling Miami Marlins’ games for the past 21 years, has chosen to retire. It seems the Marlins cut his schedule back to 54 games last season and wanted him to do fewer than 20 games in 2022. In speaking with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Van Horne, 82, took the high road, saying: “After they made the last offer to have me come back in some role in 2022 . . . less than 20 games, I could not do it. I said I’m a baseball play-by-play broadcaster. I’m not one who makes guests appearances and works on recorded interviews. . . . I’m not upset about it. I’ve thought about it during last season. I thought this could very well be it for me. I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve made. Life goes on. I have, in effect, retired. I’m living on my pensions. I have no plans to pursue anything else. I will not pursue another baseball broadcast position.” . . . Jackson’s story is right here.


Antlers


The NFL’s regular season ended on Jan. 9 and the next day, as is the norm, featured a number of teams firing their head coaches. “Since the NFL is all about sponsorships,” wondered Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Babe, “how long until we start hearing about ‘Black Monday, brought to you by LinkedIn?’ ”



There was a time when pro and college football teams didn’t each employ a couple of dozen assistant coaches and aides. As Steve Spurrier, a former head coach at Florida, explained to the Orlando Sentinel, the Gators back in the day had only one nutritionist on staff: “We had one, and it was me. I used to go around during meals and tell the players to stop eating just meat and potatoes and go put something green on their plates. That’s how we handled nutrition back then.”


Bacon


THINKING OUT LOUD — Isn’t there something strange about hockey leagues that hand out minor penalties for checking to the head, but allow two players to stand and repeatedly punch each other in the face? . . . The Florida Panthers, one of the NHL’s best and most-entertaining teams, were at home and on my TV set a couple of times in recent days, beating the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars in front of a whole lot of empty seats. Meanwhile, Gary Bettman’s NHL doesn’t include a team in Quebec City, which has an arena and a huge hunger for hockey. . . . The worst thing about live sports on TV in Canada? The same commercials over and over and over and over, again. The first time I saw the spot for Cavendish waffle fries, I thought I might like to try them. By the 10th or 12th time in a couple of hours, well, there’s not a chance. . . . Isn’t it absolutely bizarre the way the NFL allows non-playoff teams with coaching vacancies to interview coaches from playoff teams while their teams are involved in preparing for games? Two of the men on the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff interviewed for head-coaching positions prior to their Saturday night playoff game. . . . Do you think that it will bother the NFL that it let two more teams into the playoffs and the first weekend of play wasn’t especially entertaining? You’re right. They’ll likely add two more to the bracket next season.


Remote


Perhaps you follow Kevin Shaw (@theblueliner) on Twitter or perhaps you have seen reference to a tweet or two of his on this site. When it comes to the history of the Regina Pats, he’s THE MAN. He often posts tweets involving Pats games from the 1960s and early ’70s, and chances are that the stories in those posts were written by Mal Isaac, then of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . Isaac, who went through two hearts, both of which were stronger and tougher than any hockey player, died on Saturday. He was 84. . . . Condolences to Vivian and family, and to Mal’s brother, Dale. Both brothers are in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.


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.


Kitchen

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the NFL playoffs can top that game . . .

Scattershooting2

The good news is that the Portland Winterhawks played a hockey game on Saturday night. The bad news is that it was the only game played on what was to have been a three-game road swing into B.C., with stops in Kamloops, Kelowna and Langley.

When the Winterhawks left home via bus on Thursday, they were headed for PortlandKamloops and a Friday night date with the Blazers. Halfway to Kamloops, Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, found out that the game had been postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Blazers. The Winterhawks continued on to Kamloops, practised there Friday morning, then left for Kelowna and Saturday’s assignment against the Rockets.

The Winterhawks beat the Rockets, 3-1. “That would have been a long trip without two points,” Johnston told Taking Note.

Before the game, Johnston was informed that Sunday’s game in Langley had been scrubbed because of COVID-19 protocols involving the Vancouver Giants, who were forced to halt all team activities.

So the Winterhawks put the two points in their pocket and headed for home.

That latest postponement meant that 22 of the 23 games originally scheduled for the weekend didn’t happen.

Also on Saturday, the WHL announced that the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans all were cleared to resume team activities. They went into the weekend as three of 15 teams who were on hold because of having players and/or staff in protocols.

With the addition of the Giants, that list was at 13 as of Sunday night.

The Giants had been scheduled to play three games over the weekend; all three were postponed. They next are scheduled to play Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars in a game that is on TSN’s telecast schedule.

Will COVID-19 allow the game to be played?

Stay tuned.

——

BTW, the Portland Winterhawks had F Josh Zakreski, who turned 16 on Dec. 17, in their lineup in Kelowna on Saturday. Zakreski is from Saskatoon and plays for the U-18 Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Upon seeing his name, I was curious as to whether he was related to Peter Zakreski, who died on Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 80. Peter, a quiet gentleman, was a giant in a lot of areas of life in Saskatoon and was a big push behind the move to bring the 1991 World Junior Championship to Saskatchewan. . . . Anyway, it turns out that Josh and Peter weren’t related, although Josh apparently gets asked that question on a regular basis.


With some Canadian teams in the NHL and WHL facing attendance restrictions in their facilities, a number of games have been postponed in the hopes that they can be rescheduled for when the various governments involved loosen the rules.

However, Dr. Brian Conway, the head of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, told Ben Kuzma of Postmedia: “That’s unrealistic.”

As Dr. Conway explained: “Right now as a society, we’re being asked to plan for a situation where on any given day, and in any workplace, one-third will be out with COVID or COVID restrictions.

“Even if you wanted to fill (Vancouver’s) Rogers Arena, you wouldn’t have the staff. And it’s probably going to be the situation at the minimum until the end of February and probably longer — and that’s pretty optimistic. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to stand up and say I’m wrong. But I’m just so not seeing this.

“Modelling is still projecting a worst-case scenario that could dwarf what we have now. It’s based on if things continue the way they are. If they change the modelling can flatten out. But, it brings the issue if we ignore this, it could actually get worse.”

Kuzma’s complete story is right here.

BTW, Dr. Conway is a Canucks’ season-ticket holder and would love nothing more than to be able to sit in a full house and watch his favourite team. He also is a realist.


Jim Riley used to cover the Seattle Thunderbirds for the Seattle Times while also keeping an eye on the other teams in the U.S. Division. That was before the newspaper industry got out the paring knife and went to work. These days, he is in the wine business.

I mention Jim here because he is one of the thousands of people who has a health issue but hasn’t been able to have it dealt with because of a dearth of hospital beds — in Seattle, in his case.

The other day, he posted this on Facebook . . . 

“I don’t post often, but this is raising my blood pressure and perhaps venting will help. I recently underwent a nuclear stress test, designed to check the blood flow in my heart. My cardiologist said results were ‘abnormal’ and immediately scheduled me for an angiogram. That angiogram now has twice been postponed. Why? There are no hospital beds in Seattle because they are almost all filled, mostly with unvaccinated covid patients. I believe in free choice, but people who came to the irresponsible decision to avoid a simple, free and easy vaccination now are imposing their choices on all of us.

“I have yet to hear a rational explanation why people refuse to use the best tool we have (vaccinations) to fight a virus that has already killed 5.47 million people around the world.”

Me, too, Jim. Me, too.


Oh boy, do I ever agree with Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette, who writes: “If you grew up during the 1970s, like me, and you’re not already following Super 70s Sports on Twitter, you really should.” I actually grew up in the 1960s — although my wife might debate whether I ever grew up — and I love the tweets that come from Super 70s Sports.


BevHills


If you don’t believe that the NFL is the behemoth of North American sports leagues, you should know that 75 of the most-watched telecasts in 2021 were NFL games. Yes, Super Bowl LV was No. 1. . . . Nine of the top 10 were NFL games. Only the inauguration of Joe Biden as the U.S. president kept the NFL from a Top 10 sweep. . . . No, there weren’t any hockey games in the Top 100. Nor were there any NBA or MLB games. . . . There were 75 NFL games, 11 Olympics telecasts, seven NCAA football games and two NCAA college basketball games, both from March Madness, in the Top 100. . . . Oh, one other thing. You may not like Tom Brady, but he and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were involved in 11 of those 75 telecasts.


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Point: Let’s expand the College Football Playoff field.

“Counterpoint: So we can have even more riveting games like Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6 and Georgia 34, Michigan 11.”

——

Perry also scrounged up a couple of quotes from the vault . . .

The late Mickey Mantle, at a roast for the late Billy Martin, on his former Yankee teammate’s proclivity for getting into bar fights: “This is the only man I know in the world who can hear somebody giving him the finger.”

Arkansas coach Lou Holtz, when his team was pelted with oranges after winning a trip to the 1978 Orange Bowl: “I’m glad we’re not going to the Gator Bowl.”



THINKING OUT LOUD: If you watched Sunday night’s NFL game, you saw again why live sporting events are the best of reality TV. . . . Just wondering, but have Jack and Rebecca convinced you to buy whatever it is they are flogging in that TV commercial, or are you going to have to see it another 1,000 times this week before making a decision? . . . Would have been nice if Hockey Night in Canada had picked up the Saturday game that had the Chicago Blackhawks visiting the Vegas Golden Knights. Who wouldn’t have enjoyed watching Marc-Andre Fleury return to the city that he owned not all that long ago and beat the home team, 2-1?


2022


With Novaxx, err, Novak Djokovic having problems getting into Australia because he isn’t vaccinated, comedy writer Brad Dickson reports that “the news isn’t all bad for Novak. He just signed to be the new backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.”

——

BTW, Rafael Nadal, vaccinated and ready to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne, had this to say: “From my point of view, that’s the only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view. I went through the COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here.”


Yes, they have COVID-19 issues in the KHL, too. On Sunday, the league revealed that 14 players, one coach and two staffers from Dinamo Riga have tested positive. The league has scrubbed three games through Jan. 17.


After the Kingston Frontenacs were able to dress only 14 skaters for a Friday OHLnight game — they lost, 6-5, to the visiting Peterborough Petes — the OHL announced Saturday that COVID-19 protocols meant their next three games would be postponed. That included a game that had been scheduled for Saturday. . . . Meanwhile, the Chase Heat became the latest team in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League to have games postponed, while the BCHL announced Saturday that it has paused the Nanaimo Clippers for five days.


Snowman


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I love the idea that ESPN now believes that Alex Rodriguez can be part of the kind of ManningCast that we got this season from Peyton and Eli. . . . Right. . . . Got it. . . . One big difference: People like Peyton and Eli.”


It seems that Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has about had enough of MLB using humans to call balls and strikes. As he put it: “Human umps were fine in the old days. So were phone booths and stage coaches.”


Teddy Balkind, a 16-year-old junior varsity hockey player with St. Luke’s School in New Caanan, Conn., died on Thursday night after he suffered a skate cut to his neck in a collision with a player from Brunswick School. . . . There is more on this story right here.


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.


Printer

Scattershooting on a Sunday night before taking a Christmas break . . .

Scattershooting2

Merry Christmas . . .


OK, this is it from here for a while folks. I’m taking some time away — Less time here, less time on social media . . . you know, just away . . . more time between some book covers . . . more time doing crosswords . . . 

I have watched for almost two years as we have spun our wheels, like a gerbil on a running wheel, and gotten absolutely nowhere. This pandemic is almost two years old and where are we compared to March or April of 2020?

Restaurants open. Restaurants closed. Restaurants . . . uhh, not sure. . . . Capacity at the local arena is 50 per cent. Capacity is 100 per cent. Capacity is 50 per cent. . . . It just goes on and on and on . . .

Rinse . . . repeat . . . rinse . . . repeat . . . rinse . . . repeat. Over and over and over, again. And here we are, with 2021’s clock ticking down, starting to think about whether this will ever end. And all the while people are dying and healthcare workers are burning out and still we spin our wheels.

Rinse and repeat . . . rinse and repeat . . .

Hey, has there been anything more bizarre than watching the NBA and NHL trying to keep from pausing their seasons?

The answer to that is: Yes, the decision by the NFL to cut back on the testing of asymptomatic players and staff members. That move is right out of the orange guy’s playbook from May 2020. You might remember that proclamation: “If we don’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”

While you think about that, take a minute to think about this from a thread tweeted by Dr. Katharine Smart (@KatharineSmart), a pediatrician from Whitehorse who is president of the Canadian Medical Association: “We need to get serious about vaccination, the consequences of choosing to be unvaccinated, third doses, proper masks, rapid tests and limiting contacts. I can’t state this strongly enough — our system is breaking and so are the people in it.”

The good doctor is absolutely correct. We are almost two years into this mess and we have people among us who still aren’t taking this serious.

Is it any wonder we’re still treading water?


I also will spend the next while searching for an NHL team for which to cheer. My lifelong love affair with the Detroit Red Wings — it started with Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Roger Crozier, Bill Gadsby et al — is over, broken beyond repair because their roster is home to the only unvaccinated player in the entire NHL. . . . For now, while I may no longer have a favourite team, I do have a favourite player. That would be Mason Geertsen, a product of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings.


Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette:

“We are nearly two years into this miserable plague, caught in an ellipse of hope and despair that has left everyone drained and weary and cranky. Just when you thought you were free, it comes back again, like a drunken party guest who missed his cab and decided to spend the night snoring on your couch.

“Once respected people in the world of sports are making public fools of themselves, in such a way you wonder if the pandemic hasn’t affected their judgment.

“Our old friend Richard Pound, once a maverick who didn’t kowtow to anyone, now falls in with the IOC party line despite China’s abysmal record on human rights, calling China’s critics ‘silly.’

“Steve Yzerman, one of the brighter fellows in the NHL, betrays an understanding of this plague on par with an evangelical pastor in the Florida panhandle.”


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, making a point about the NBA schedule, a point that could easily be transferred to the WHL:

“The NBA often promises a more relaxed schedule but never really delivers. Back-to-back games remain far too prevalent in the league, and playing three road games in four nights — the workload the Warriors are facing right now — is simply inexcusable.

“Old-school players scoff at the complaints, recalling the days when the schedule and travel demands were far more taxing than today’s, but the scientists have made themselves known. Fatigue is a serious problem for overworked players, presenting health concerns and a less-than-energetic performances on the court. Owners’ greed will prevail, preventing something sensible — like a 58-game schedule, teams facing each opponent twice. So instead, we sometimes get lacklustre play and some grave disappointments, leaving fans a bit short of what they were expecting.”


Laddie


Old friend Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, is a huge football fan, CFLand he watched last Sunday’s Grey Cup game while comfortably ensconced in his home in the Washington, D.C., area. He actually spent Sunday watching NFL games, of course, while recording the Grey Cup game for Monday viewing. . . . He then took to the keyboard and provided some thoughts on what he had seen. All of that is right here. . . . There is a message for the CFL in his writing, too. He likes a whole lot of what he sees in the Canadian game, so leave it alone. . . . And if you aren’t already checking out his stuff, you should. He normally provides food for thought five days a week.


Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, on Urban Meyer, one day before he was fired by the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars: “He’s as close to a legitimate head coach as a grackle is to an attack helicopter.”


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “In a dive bar somewhere, Jon Gruden and Urban Meyer are having a beer and drawing up plays on cocktail napkins, plotting their next gigs.”



Here’s the lede on Kurt Streeter’s Friday Sports of The Times column in The New York Times:

“In the midst of a new wave of coronavirus infections sweeping the globe, sports officials are scrambling to figure out how to keep their seasons going with schedules intact, to maintain the normal churn of competition and revenue.

“They shouldn’t dither with such foolishness.

“It’s time to press pause on games, matches and meets. If we’re genuinely interested in public health, genuinely invested in slowing the virus and saving lives, we need to look at the storm that has gathered and take shelter from it.

Come back in February, or later. By then, if we play this right and we’ve collectively worked to slow the spread and proliferation of variants, we can get back to the games. Only this time with a renewed sense of diligence and tighter restrictions.”

He’s not wrong, but, you know as well as I do that it’s the money. It always is.



Flatearth


Hockey Canada is expected to announce today (Monday) that it has pulled its entry from the Spengler Cup because of the pandemic situation. The Spengler Cup, which is held in Davos, Switzerland, runs from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31. Canada has won the tournament four of the last five times it has been held. . . . Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) tweeted Sunday afternoon that Canadian head coach Claude Julien had already returned home. Julien’s staff was to have included Nolan Baumgartner, Jeremy Colliton and Ben Cooper, all of them former WHL players and/or coaches. . . .

If you’re wondering about the World Junior Championship that is to open in Red Deer and Edmonton on Boxing Day, the teams all are in Alberta and there have been only negative tests to date.

The plan is to play all games with capacity crowds in both cities . . . although, as we have seen in so many instances, COVID-19 may have something to say about that.


The junior A Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League revealed Friday that five organizations have had to forfeit 30 games because of “utilizing ineligible players/staff who did not meet the requirements of the GOJHL Vaccination Policy. . . . From a news release: “The sanctions are issued in accordance with the GOJHL’s regulations for ineligible players along with Ontario Hockey Federation regulations.  All games will revert to a 5-0 loss.  In the cases where both teams had ineligible participants, no points will be awarded.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Meanwhile, minor hockey associations in Brandon and Portage la Prairie say they will be cracking down on unvaccinated parents who manage to sneak into arenas to watch their children play. The associations have said that if an unvaccinated parent is found to be inside an arena, the child will be dropped from that team’s roster and there won’t be a refund issued. . . . I know. I know. You’re shocked to hear that minor hockey parents would act in such a fashion.


Dave Lowry, a former WHL player and coach, will be the head coach of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets at least through the end of this season. He took over on Friday after Paul Maurice stepped down, saying the Jets needed to hear from a new voice. Maurice was in his ninth season as the club’s head coach. Lowry, 56, has been a WHL head coach with the Calgary Hitmen (2008-09), Victoria Royals (2012-17) and Brandon Wheat Kings (2019-20). He is in his third season on the Jets’ staff. . . . The Jets dropped a 5-2 decision to the Washington Capitals in Lowry’s debut as head coach later Friday, but he got his first victory on Sunday, 4-2 over the visiting St. Louis Blues.


The Saskatoon Entertainment Group, owners of the Saskatoon Blades and lacrosse’s Saskatchewan Rush, is taking on managing rights for events in the SaskTel Centre via a five-year deal that is effective Jan. 1. SEG, under owners Mike Priestner and his son, Colin, will pay the Saskatchewan Place Association “the greater of either $1.35 million, or a combination of 15 per cent of gross food and beverage profits, $2 from every ticket sold and half of all revenues from sponsorship, naming rights, parking and eligible gaming,” according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. According to the newspaper, “SEG will also put a maximum of $1 million into upgrades at the stadium, with SPA to match whatever money they invest.”


CatWins


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.

www.transplant.bc.ca/health-info/organ-donation/living-donation


Merry Christmas . . .

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after a Grey Cup game to remember . . .

Scattershooting2

Merry Christmas . . .


The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the CFL title on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who were playing at home, 33-25 in OT to successfully defend their Grey Cup championship. The Bombers also won in 2019; the CFL didn’t play in 2020 because of the pandemic. . . . This was a terrific football game, with a strong wind making the decision-making process that much more important and the passing and punting games difficult. . . . If you’re not aware, the CFL OT format opens with mini-games as each team scrimmages from the 35-yard line. Score a TD and you have to go for two. The Bombers went ahead 31-25 on a Zach Collaros to Darvin Adams TD pass, with Collaros then hitting Rasheed Bailey for the deuce. . . . Moments later, the Bombers sealed the victory with an interception by LB Kyrie Wilson. . . . This was the 108th playing of the Grey Cup game and only the fourth time OT was needed. . . .

The Bombers were trailing 22-10 in the fourth quarter. They got to within 22-13 with a 20-yard field goal, and 22-20 with a 29-yard pass to Nic Demski and the convert. . . . A rouge on the kickoff got the Bombers to within one, at 22-21. . . . The Bombers took their first lead of the game, 24-22, with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter when K Sergio Castillo booted a 45-yard field goal. . . . Another rouge on the kickoff stretched that lead to 25-22. . . . The Tiger-Cats pulled even when Michael Domagala hit on a 13-yard FG with six seconds left. . . .

Richie Hall, Winnipeg’s defensive co-ordinator, is one of the game’s really good guys. He now has won five Grey Cups — two with the Blue Bombers and three with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. . . . The 2009 and 2010 Montreal Alouettes were the last team to win back-to-back championships. . . . Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea is 6-0 in Grey Cup games — the two with the Bombers, one as an assistant coach with the Toronto Argonauts and three as a smash-mouth linebacker with the Argos. . . .

The Blue Bombers went through an early-season stretch where they struggled in the kicking game. That’s when they signed Castillo, who was with the NFL’s New York Jets last season. On Sunday, he kicked five field goals. . . . Winnipeg beat Hamilton 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup game in Calgary. . . . The Tiger-Cats last won the Grey Cup in 1999. They are 0-4 in finals since then. . . . In the next while, you are going to hear noise about Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer perhaps going to the U of Washington as defensive co-ordinator and the Edmonton Elks wanting O’Shea as GM/head coach. . . . You also are going to hear rumblings about the CFL pooh-bahs studying all aspects of the game, including three-down football versus the four-down variety. Of course, a change to four-down would turn the CFL into a mini-NFL and that wouldn’t fly with Canadian fans, would it? . . . One of those Canadian things is the rouge, something that may seem minor but played a major role in Winnipeg’s victory on Sunday. The CFL doesn’t need to tinker; it needs to develop players — especially Canadians — so that it can provide its fans with more games like the one that ended the 2021 season.


So . . . the owner of the Vancouver Canucks fired six men last week, moves that will have impacted the lives of a number of people. And he takes to Twitter on Saturday evening in search of a few pats on the back! It’s all about priorities, in case you were wondering why this franchise wanders around the NHL wilderness like a dying man in search of water. . . . Yes, the Canucks now have won four straight since the regime change was undertaken. But a grain of salt, please — while all four victories were home games, three of them came against teams that had played the previous night while the Canucks were off. . . . Besides, four victories don’t erase the mess that Aquilini has been paddling through for the past few seasons. . . . The Columbus Blue Jackets are to visit Vancouver on Tuesday night. Vancouver then plays the host San Jose Sharks on Thursday before returning home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.


BlackFriday


Recent headlines, courtesy of Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. . . . At @NOTSportsCenter: “Report Chase Claypool is still at US Bank Stadium celebrating his 4th-down catch, and is wondering where everyone went.” . . . At TheOnion.com: “Hiker trapped for days under fallen boulder survives by cutting off own ponytail.”

——

“A fan in Las Vegas took off her prosthetic leg and beat another fan with it during the Golden Knights’ 3-2 loss to Edmonton the other night,” reports Perry. “Lucky she wasn’t whistled for a gam misconduct.”

——

Perry, again: “Seattle just experienced its wettest fall in history, with 19 inches of rain between September and November. It got so bad, the Seahawks practiced swimming for a first down.”


Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on Chase Claypool’s strutting at a rather inopportune time on Monday Night Football: “It was the stupidest thing done in the NFL, besides saying, ‘Trade me to the Jets.’ ”


“Starting January 15, unvaccinated NBA players will no longer be able to play in Canada,” writes Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe. “Suddenly find myself hoping the Toronto Raptors end up in the playoffs.”


PANDEMIC NOTEBOOK: Ngozi and Kibo, residents of the Denver Zoo, are the first hyenas in the world to have tested positive. . . . The Chicago Zoo has had positive tests in a bearcat, a fishing cat and a coati. There also were two hippos who tested positive in Belgium. From a story by the National Geographic’s Natasha Daly: “They’re now part of a group of 315 animals from 15 species in the United States confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The list also includes cats, dogs, tigers, lions, snow leopards, gorillas, otters, a cougar, a ferret, white-tailed deer. (Infected mink, nearly all on fur farms, are not included in the total).” . . .

The Chicago Bulls are supposed to play the visiting Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. However, the Bulls, who are to play the host Toronto Raptors on Thursday, had nine players in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday evening. They are down to nine healthy players, with eight needed to play a game. . . . The Raptors have their own COVID-19 issues, having put F Precious Achiuwa into protocol on Sunday as a close contact of someone who tested positive. As well, Masai Ujiri, their president and vice-chairman, tested positive late in the week. They are to entertain the Sacramento Kings tonight. . . .

The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, who had 12 players come up positive, will return to action on Thursday when they visit the Barrie Colts. The Wolves, who last played on Nov. 27, had five games postponed while they dealt with the outbreak.


Wisdom


You may have seen video of Fox-TV’s 50-foot artificial Christmas tree in midtown Manhattan going up in flames on Wednesday. It was Stephen Colbert who pointed out: “Of course, it would never have happened if the tree had a gun.” . . . Vanity Fair, in the prelude to a story by Caleb Ecarma, noted: “Even though police haven’t ascribed a motive to the suspected arsonist, (Fox-TV) hosts and guests framed the incident as a ‘hate crime,’ part of a ‘war on religion,’ and emblematic of out-of-control crime. ‘No city is safe,’ said Brian Kilmeade.”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Nothing has changed on the subject of vaccinations: The idea that this has become a polarizing political issue and not a medical one is as dumb a moment as we’ve ever had in America.”

——

Lupica, again: “You can talk about the great Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh, and Bear Bryant from college football. But in the history of coaches, there is Nick Saban and there is Bill Belichick and then there is everybody else.”


Scuba


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Medicine Hat Tigers beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 4-3, in a shootout on Saturday night. That halted the Tigers’ 16-game losing skid. It also was the 393rd regular-season victory of head coach Willie Desjardins’ WHL career. Seven more victories and he becomes the 19th member of the WHL’s 400 Club. . . . There won’t be a 20th member of that club for a while, as the next active head coach on the list is Mark Lamb of the Prince George Cougars, and he’s at 264. After him, it’s Michael Dyck of the Vancouver Giants (237) and Steve Konowalchuk of the Red Deer Rebels (236). . . .


Back in the day, when Kevin Gallant was the vociferous play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats, you know that the Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades were Public Enemies Nos. 1A and 1B. Now Gallant’s oldest son, Matthew, is a freshman defenceman with the Warriors. His other son, Michael, was selected by the Blades in Thursday’s WHL draft. . . . Just in case you didn’t know that the hockey gods have a sense of humour. . . .

F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has made the roster of Canada’s national junior team as a 16-year-old. Mark Masters of TSN has Bedard as the seventh player to make the team at 16, the others being Connor McDavid, Jay Bouwmeester, Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza, Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky. . . . The 25-player roster features 12 players from the WHL, including goaltenders Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers), five from the OHL, four from the QMJHL, and two each from the AHL and the NCAA. . . . A complete roster is right here. . . .

Team Canada’s roster includes three returnees from the team that won silver at the 2021 tournament — Garand, D Kaiden Guhle (Edmonton) and F Cole Perfetti (AHL-Manitoba Moose). . . . Three WHLers — F Jack Finley (Winnipeg Ice), D Vincent Iorio (Brandon Wheat Kings) and D Daemon Hunt (Moose Jaw Warriors — were among the final cuts on Sunday. Hunt was released after he was injured while blocking a shot during a Sunday game against university players. . . . Team Canada will train in Banff through Dec. 18. It will play two exhibition games in Red Deer (Switzerland, Dec. 19; Sweden, Dec. 20). . . . The tournament, which is to be played in Red Deer and Edmonton, runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

Apropos of nothing, I’ll just leave this here. . . . F Ivan Ivan, a 19-year-old Czech, has 30 points, including 18 goals, in 29 games with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. . . . F Marcel Marcel, an 18-year-old Czech, has six goals and 18 assists in 22 games with his country’s under-20 side.


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.


Clowns

Scattershooting on a Friday night while awaiting the arrival of snow squalls . . .

Scattershooting2
Merry Christmas . . .


Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) of TSN reports that the WHL has contacted former players to inform them that they will be receiving a survey that is related to a potential class-action lawsuit that the WHL, as a member of the CHL, is facing. . . . According to Westhead, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has confirmed that the survey will ask the former players “if they attended rookie parties, were hazed, etc.”

The letter, the legitimacy of which Westhead reports Robison has confirmed . . .

Letter


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has dropped the kijhlhammer on the Sicamous Eagles “for violations under (its) COVID-19 vaccination policy.” The league explained in a news release: “The sanctions stem from the participation of an Eagles player in team activities, including KIJHL regular-season games, at a time when they did not meet the KIJHL’s requirement of being fully vaccinated.” . . . The team has been fined an undisclosed amount, while general manager Ron Sleeman was suspended for 45 days and head coach Gerald Bouchard drew an eight-game sentence. . . . Sleeman is out until Jan. 23; Bouchard can return to the bench on Jan. 14. . . . The Eagles went into Friday’s action with a 5-13-1 record, good for sixth place in the six-team Doug Birks Division. . . . Here’s Sheila Devost, the Eagle’s president: “The KIJHL has policies and rules for teams to follow . . . when they are not adhered to, there are consequences. We broke the rules and now must respect we have to face the consequences.” . . .

This was the second time the KIJHL has had to take this kind of action. The Beaver Valley Nitehawks were fined $2,500 and GM/head coach Terry Jones got an eight-game suspension after two players got into regular-season games despite not being fully vaccinated. Jones, who hasn’t coached since Nov. 15, is eligible to return tonight (Saturday).


As if hockey leagues in B.C. haven’t had enough scheduling issues because of weather-related road closures, the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League had to postpone a Friday night game because of a power outage. It seems that there was an issue with a substation in the area late on Thursday afternoon. . . . The problem hadn’t been fixed by late Friday afternoon and a lot of people were preparing to spend a second night without power. . . . The game against the visiting Kimberley Dynamiters will be rescheduled.


Check


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with some NFL-related thoughts:

“Antonio Brown — along with teammate Mike Edwards — has been suspended for three games by the NFL for acquiring and presenting a false vaccination record to the team and the league. The players are not going to appeal the suspensions and the NFLPA was part of the investigation/adjudication processes. I read one report that said that a forgery of a record that included the seal of the CDC was a Federal crime; I have no idea if that is correct, but it does seem reasonable.  On the assumption that is correct:

“Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards get three games off (without pay) for endangering the health of others, lying to league officials and possibly violating Federal law; and

“Tom Brady got four games off (without pay) for allegedly underinflating a football.

Got that?”


With head coach Michael Dyck having left to join Canada’s national junior team Vancouver— he’s an assistant coach — associate coach Keith McCambridge ran the Vancouver bench on Wednesday night as the Giants dropped a 7-1 decision to the Blazers in Kamloops. It was a homecoming of sorts for McCambridge, who was acquired by the Blazers from the Swift Current Broncos during 1994-95. He played 21 regular-season and 21 playoff games for the Blazers as they won the WHL title and the Memorial Cup. . . . McCambridge was joined behind the bench by former WHL/NHL D Brent Seabrook, who is helping out as a volunteer assistant in Dyck’s absence. . . . BTW, McCambridge is from Thompson, Man., the hometown of former WHL coach-of-the-year Jack Sangster and also F Glen Goodall, who holds the WHL record for most regular-season career games played.


Wings


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced on Wednesday that they and FortMcMurraygeneral manager/head coach Gord Thibodeau had “mutually agreed to part ways.” According to a two-paragraph news release, Thibodeau, 58, the winningest regular-season coach in AJHL history, resigned for “personal reasons.” . . . At the time of Thibodeau’s departure, the Oil Barons were 26-6-0 and atop the Viterra North Division. . . . “The team is doing well this year and we positioned ourselves at the top of the North Division here,” David Fitzgerald, the team president, told Laura Beamish of Fort McMurray Today, “and he’s a big part of that. So from that perspective we were moving in the right direction. We had to look at things outside of the ice and he’s had to make a decision from a personal perspective and we respect that.” . . . Beamish’s story is right here. . . .

On Friday, the Oil Barons hired Adam Manah as their new GM/head coach. Manah, 34, had been dismissed by the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders on Nov. 26. He had spent the previous six seasons with the Crusaders. He was the head coach for four of those seasons and the assistant GM/head coach last season. Then he added the GM’s duties in March. Manah is familiar with Fort McMurray, having spent three seasons (2005-08) playing with the Oil Barons.


When Saskatchewan Roughriders QB Cody Fajardo met with the Regina media for one of those season-ending gabfests on Monday, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post asked what it meant for him to be the CFL team’s quarterback. . . . Vanstone later wrote: “Fajardo broke down in front of the cameras and a room full of reporters. The words and images were summarily disseminated far and wide. Fajardo spoke of the ills of social media, and about ‘disgusting’ comments that were often made about himself, and even his family. He paused once or twice to compose himself, while ultimately delivering an impassioned two-minute response — more than a hint of what it is like to reside in the football fishbowl that is Saskatchewan.” . . . That was part of a column that Vanstone wrote in which he took dead aim at the keyboard idiots who ride a horse named Anonymous through social media. “In a supposedly enlightened age, when so much is said and written about the importance of mental health, there are nonetheless people who will simplistically suggest that Fajardo needs to ‘toughen up’ or ‘get a thicker skin’,” Vanstone wrote. “The detractors’ heads, it seems, are considerably thicker.” . . . The complete column is right here.


Whiskey


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered notes that “Tij Iginla, whose father, Jarome, was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, was drafted ninth overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds in its Prospects Draft. So the son already has one over on his dad because Jarome was never drafted by a WHL team.” . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes used the 10th overall pick in Thursday’s draft to take F Miguel Marques, a 15-year-old from Prince George who plays at the Delta Hockey Academy. In 16 games, he has 64 points, including 27 goals. Marques signed a WHL contract on Friday and made his debut that night as the Hurricanes dropped a 3-2 OT decision against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . .

The Victoria Royals went into Friday’s WHL action having played in five straight OT games. They went 4-0-1 in those games. . . . Wait! There’s more. Six of the Royals’ last seven games went to extra time (4-0-2), and to go deeper, it’s seven of nine (4-0-3). . . . Last night, they went into Langley, B.C., and beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. This time, they didn’t need OT. . .  .

F Cole Shepard, 19, played his first game with the Giants since March 7, 2020, on Friday night. Shepard had been out since undergoing hip surgery. Shepard had an assist and was plus-2 in a 4-3 loss to visiting Victoria. . . . BTW, Michael Bublé, who owns a piece of the Giants, and his family took part in the ceremonial faceoff. . . .

Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades set a franchise record for goaltenders on Friday when he made his 178th career regular-season appearance in a 4-2 loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen. Maier, who is in his fifth season with the Blades, had been tied with Braden Holtby, who made one appearance in 2005-06, then played in 51, 64 and 61 games in the next three seasons. . . .

In Regina on Friday night, F Tanner Howe, who is from Prince Albert, scored the Teddy Bear goal for the Pats, who went on to dump his hometown Raiders, 5-2. . . . Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, has 17 points, including nine goals, in 21 games this season. . . .

In Portland on Friday night, the Winterhawks beat the Spokane Chiefs, 4-1. . . . The Chiefs’ next three games also will be against the Winterhawks — tonight in Portland and Dec. 17 and 18 in Spokane. The Winterhawks will interrupt the four-game series for a Tuesday night engagement with the visiting Everett Silvertips.


Shatner


If you were in attendance at the Toronto Raptors’ game on Sunday against the visiting Washington Wizards, Toronto Public Health wants you to self-monitor for 10 days because you may have been exposed to COVID-19. TPH has added the event to the list of exposures on its website. . . . TPH also is telling people to get tested if they demonstrate any symptoms. . . . That warning came Friday, after Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ vice-chairman and president, revealed on Thursday that he had tested positive. That test followed his attendance at a Giants of Africa in-person event before Sunday’s game. Some other guests have since come up positive, as well. . . . Nav Bhatia was at the Giants of Africa event, so the Raptors’ superfan wasn’t able to attend Friday’s game. He had been at every home game since the franchise entered the NBA in 1995.


JUST NOTES: As of Friday evening, the Vancouver Canucks’ change in direction had cost six men their jobs. So if you’re part of the organization at this moment how are you feeling about job security? . . . The Canucks are 3-0, all at home, under new head coach Bruce Boudreau with two of the victories coming in shootouts. They also have had some co-operation from the schedule-maker. Vancouver beat the Los Angeles Kings, 4-0, on Monday. The Kings had played in Edmonton the previous night, while the Canucks were off. On Friday, Vancouver got past Winnipeg, 4-3 in a shootout. The Canucks had enjoyed Thursday off, while the Jets were beating the Kraken in Seattle. . . . The Canucks next are scheduled to play on Sunday against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, who are in Edmonton tonight (Saturday). . . . The best part of the World Junior Championship that is quickly approaching? It means that we’ll get to spend some time listening to hockey’s best play-by-play man — Dennis Beyak, who is TSN’s man on Winnipeg Jets’ telecasts. Hey, Sportsnet, throw a gob of money his way, toss in the personal use of a company jet, and make him your national voice. . . . Sunday’s Grey Cup game? Winnipeg Blue Bombers 26, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18. Winnipeg LB Adam Bighill will be the best player on the field.


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.


Jogging

The Bookshelf: Part 2 of 3

Books

Here is Part 2 of my annual three-part Bookshelf, highlighting some of the books I read in 2021. Perhaps you will find an idea or two that will help you in our Christmas shopping.

The Cellist — Author Daniel Silva is back with his latest work of fiction involving Gabriel Allon, who splits his time between restoring works of art and being a secret agent man with Israeli intelligence. Silva wrote this one during the pandemic and while U.S. politics were redefining bizarre. In fact, he rewrote the last bit just to accommodate the goofiness that was going on in the U.S. It’s interesting how Silva refers to No. 45 without ever mentioning his name.

Crossroads: My Story of Tragedy and Resilience as a Humboldt Bronco — Kaleb Dahlgren is one of the survivors of the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos that claimed 16 lives. As the title indicates, this is Dahlgren’s story from childhood when he was diagnosed with diabetes through the bus tragedy and onto his attempt to return to hockey with U Sports’ York Lions. It really is incredible to read in Dahlgren’s words what he went through as he fought back from a serious brain injury after the accident. The book was written with help from veteran author Dan Robson.

The Dawn Patrol — Boone Daniels is a surfer — OK, a surf bum — and, on those occasions when he actually works, a private investigator. Don Winslow is an author who has a terrific way with words. (He also wrote Broken, which is included in Part 1.) Put them together and you get a thoroughly entertaining book. The characters are interesting, Winslow’s takes on the southern California lifestyle are piercing, and the dialogue is a treat. (See also The Gentlemen’s Hour later on in this list.)

Deacon King Kong — It’s New York City — actually, it’s a housing project in Brooklyn — in late 1969 and there is a shooting as the book’s central character, Sportcoat, takes an ear off a drug dealer. Author James McBride goes on to detail with tremendously entertaining dialogue and all kinds of social messaging the loves and lives of everyone who is impacted. Deacon King Kong? Sportcoat is a church deacon and a drinker who loves the neighbourhood’s home-brew (aka King Kong). This was one of The New York Times’ top 10 books for 2020, and with good reason.

The Defence — You would expect a lot of twists, turns and excitement from a story involving a recovering alcoholic who is a conman/scam artist-turned-lawyer and is defending the Russian Mafia’s top guy on a murder rap. Author Steve Cavanagh doesn’t disappoint in the book that introduced Eddie Flynn to readers.

Dragonfire — Suspend your belief for a few hours and dig into this chapter in the life of Alex Hawke, a likeable character created by author Ted Bell. This book involves a lot, including some of Hawke’s grandfather’s Second World War assignments, the potential assassination of FDR and the disappearance of Hawke’s grandson, Prince Henry.

The Dying Hour — This is the first in a trilogy of thrillers involving Jason Wade. He’s an intern in the newsroom at the Seattle Mirror, one newspaper in a three-paper town — hey, things used to be like that — and he’s eager because he wants a full-time gig. Author Rick Mofina knows his way around thrillers, and if you don’t mind a bit of blood, well, this one’s for you.

The Dynasty — Love them or hate them, you have to respect Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for their terrific run. A dynasty? Without a doubt. With this book, author Jeff Benedict really does take you inside that dynasty — from the days leading up to Kraft’s purchase of the NFL franchise and how it almost ended up in Connecticut through Brady’s last season with the Patriots. Belichick’s single-mindedness will amaze you, as will the fact that, by the end, he and Brady hardly were communicating. Yes, this is quite a book!

Finding Murph: How Joe Murphy Went From Winning a Championship to Living Homeless in the Bush — Author Rick Westhead, a senior correspondent with TSN, has written a searing indictment of the NHL for its treatment, or lack of same, of ex-players who may have concussion-related ailments in their lives after hockey. He wraps all of that around the story of Joe Murphy, a former No. 1 draft pick and a Stanley Cup winner who was sleeping on the streets of Kenora, Ont., and in the bush around the community when Westhead and former NHL goaltender Trevor Kidd found him. This is a tough but necessary read if you have anything at all to do with hockey.

The Gentlemen’s Hour — This is the second book in which author Don Winslow features Boone Daniels, a surfer and private investigator who knows his way around the beaches and highways of the San Diego area. This entertaining read features murder, broken friendships, a fishy couple and a whole lot more. And, yes, because it’s Winslow doing the writing, there’s a Mexican cartel involved here, too.

Klondikers: Dawson City’s Stanley Cup Challenge and How a Nation Fell in Love with Hockey — There was a time when the Stanley Cup was a challenge trophy, meaning anyone could issue a challenge to whichever team held the trophy. This, then, is the story of how a team from Dawson City, Yukon, challenged the Ottawa Hockey Club. But it’s more than that because it also tells the story of the Klondike gold rush and, at the same time, the birth and growth of hockey in Canada. Author Tim Falconer has written a wonderful book that should be in every sports fan’s library. Well done!

The Law of Innocence — This is the sixth of author Michael Connelly’s books to feature Mickey Haller, aka The Lincoln Lawyer. Yes, Harry Bosch, the star of so many other Connelly books, makes a cameo appearance. In this one, Haller is working as his own lawyer as he fights to beat a murder rap after the body of a former client is found in the trunk of one of his three Lincolns. Yes, we know how it will end, but it’s fun getting there.

Long Range — This is the 20th book in author C.J. Box’s series that follows Joe Pickett, a game warden based in Wyoming, and all that he has to deal with, including, in this instance, a new sheriff who is more than a little out of his element. The story is wrapped around a long-range shooting that may have been intended to kill a judge, but didn’t. The series may be 20 books old but it hasn’t lost a thing.

Murder By Milkshake — He worked at Vancouver radio station CKNW and was having an affair with the radio station’s receptionist . . . so he murdered his wife by milkshake. Seriously. Author Eve Lazarus’s chronicling of this story has to be read to be believed.

Newspapering: 50 Years of Reporting from Canada and Around the World — The older I get the more interested I seem to get in history. Norman Webster, who died on Nov. 19, was a giant among Canadian journalists; he was an international correspondent and a national columnist and later editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail and Montreal Gazette. He was there for a lot of history and writes about it with clarity, humour and passion in this collection of his work. Oh, and he also fired Conrad Black.

Part 2 of 3

The Bookshelf: Part 1 of 3

Books

This week I will post the annual three-part Bookshelf, in case you are looking for some help as you do your Christmas shopping — for yourself, a family member or a friend. . . . As I journey through retirement, I have found myself mixing in a few books from days gone by and also note that I have been reading more and more books that don’t have much, if anything, to do with sports. In 2021, perhaps because of the lack of normalcy, there also has been more reading of ‘lite’ fiction. . . . Anyway, here they are — most of the books that I read in 2021. . . .

An Accidental Sportswriter: A Memoir — Robert Lipsyte was there from Muhammad Ali’s career through baseball’s steroid era and a whole lot more. For a lot of that time, he was The New York Times’ lead sports columnist. He revisits all of that here, and also writes about his own hits and misses as a writer in a real gem of a book.

A Man Called Intrepid — Intrepid was the code name for William Stephenson — later Sir William Stephenson — and this is the story of his involvement in the Second World War. It’s a fascinating story about spies and counter spies and codes and code breakers and deception and a whole lot more. The detail provided by author William Stevenson is out of this world. (NOTE: William Stevenson, the author, wasn’t related to William Stephenson.)

A Promised Land — I finished this 700-pager early in February and knew then that I wouldn’t read a better book in 2021. Written by Barack Obama, the two-term U.S. president, it isn’t at all ponderous or heavy slogging. He is a terrific writer with the knack for explaining complicated goings-on in easy-to-understand terms, whether it’s a financial crisis, his country’s relationship with Russia, events leading up to the Arab Spring, or the killing of Osama bin Laden. This is Volume 1 of a two-book set. I eagerly await the next part. Spoiler alert: Mitch McConnell is exactly what you think he is.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup — Elizabeth Holmes had a dream. But is that what it was, or was it really happening? John Carreyrou, a writer with the Wall Street Journal, got a tip about Theranos, a startup that was going to revolutionize the field of blood-testing. His writings for the paper led to this book, one that is an unbelievable read, and one that proves the adage about a fool and his money, or, in this case, fools and their money. (Note: Holmes, who is on trial in San Jose, Calif., has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy.)

The Bastard — Written by John Jakes and published in 1974, this is Book 1 in The Kent Family Chronicles, historical fiction that charts the growth of the U.S. Book 1 follows Philippe Charbonneau, whose mother never married his father, the 6th Duke of Kent, from France to England and then to Boston. By now, he has changed his name to Philip Kent and finds himself wrapped up in the beginnings of the American Revolution. . . . All told, The Kent Family Chronicles features eight historical novels.

Bearcat Murray: From Ol’ Potlicker to Calgary Flames Legend — If you want to read a hockey book that is loaded with anecdotes, this one is for you. Murray, whose little-used first name is Jim, does the talking and George Johnson, a terrific writer who somehow got squeezed out in one of those Postmedia massacres, does the writing. Hey, the ol’ Bearcat had a fan club with chapters in Boston and Montreal. Who knew?

Big Lies in a Small Town: A Novel — In alternating chapters, author Diane Chamberlain tells the story of two artists who lived 78 years apart and how they became intertwined in so many ways. Their stories take place in Edenton, N.C., so the book is full of southern politics and prejudice. This is a well-written book by an oft-published author that just drags the reader into the story as it progresses.

Billy Summers — Brilliant. This one, from author Stephen King, is absolutely brilliant. Billy Summers is a hitman who has decided that he will do one more job and then hang up his rifle. Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but King does a masterful job of weaving together all the threads. A wonderful read.

Blacktop Wasteland — The main character in this brilliant work of fiction is Beauregard Montage, known as Bug to friends and acquaintances. He’s married with two young sons, and there also is a daughter from another relationship. His is a day-to-day existence, which leads to him living two lives. In one, he’s the proprietor of a small two-bay garage that is fighting to stay open. In the other, he’s a driver — yes, a getaway driver — and he’s really, really good at it. He’s also in a perpetual state of conflict because of all this. Author S.A. Cosby has put this all together into a terrific story that won an L.A. Times book prize for mystery/thriller of the year.

The Breaker — This is the sixth book in author Nick Petrie’s series involving Peter Ash, an ex-Marine who just can’t stay away from bad situations. They find him — indeed, they seem to hunt him out — and then he takes it from there. If you like Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne and Harry Bosch and their ilk, you’ll enjoy Peter Ash and his world.

Broken — Don Winslow has done it again, only this time he hits a home run with six short stories, all of them centred in the world that he seems to know so well — bad guys, bad cops, drugs, thugs and all the rest. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to read his trilogy — The Power of the Dog, the Cartel and The Force. It’s all great stuff, and Broken fits right in there.

The Broken Shore — Having stumbled on Jack Irish, an Australian TV series, I discovered that it was based on novels written by Peter Temple. The Broken Shore isn’t a Jack Irish book, but it is quite good. Temple has a quick wit and a way with words. Keep in mind that it all is Australia-based, but if you stick with it you won’t be disappointed. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s gritty, bloody and obscene. Oh, and it’s good. Really, really good. . . . The sequel, Truth, is awfully good too.

The Bushman’s Lair: On the Trail of the Fugitive of the Shuswap — More than 20 years have passed since John Bjornstrom, aka the Bushman of the Shuswap, was hiding out in the wilds surrounding Shuswap Lake in the Interior of B.C. With this book, author Paul McKendrick details Bjornstrom’s story and everything is included, from his involvement with Bre-X to his escape from a prison facility near Kamloops to his capture and a run for mayor in Williams Lake, B.C. And when you turn the final page, you are left to wonder whether Bjornstrom was an eccentric running from society or if he really did have a plan.

Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treaty Indigenous Player — This isn’t a work of fiction. It’s Fred Sasakamoose’s story, one that goes from a residential school in Saskatchewan to four years with the Moose Jaw Canucks to the NHL and back to the area around Sandy Lake, Sask. Sasakamoose doesn’t pull any punches about his time in the residential school or anything else, including his battles with alcohol and his regrets about not being a better father. In short, this is a book that you should read, but know that you won’t soon forget it. Unfortunately, COVID-19 took him from us on Nov. 20, 2020, before his book was published.

Camino Winds — This is a followup to Camino Island, the book that introduced us to Bruce Cable, who owns Bay Books. The prolific John Grisham has another winner here, too, as he writes about a hurricane, a dead writer and a whole lot more. So much of what Grisham writes is relevant to the times and this one isn’t any different. Pay attention to the many chunks of dialogue, some small and some no so small, that are commentary on today’s U.S. political situation as much as anything else.

Part 1 of 3

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching Canucks ring the pipes in loss to Blackhawks . . .

Scattershooting2

You know what I wish? I wish people would quit talking about wanting things to get back to “normal.”

I mean, what is “normal?” If you are remembering how things were two years ago, forget about it. Well, maybe don’t forget about it, but file those days in your memory bank, preferably in a chamber way in the back.

You may remember the good old days when someone would dial 911 if you walked into a store wearing a mask. When you didn’t use hand sanitizer at least a dozen times a day. When you didn’t have to wear a mask to a hockey game and there weren’t capacity limits on any of the arenas. When vaccination status didn’t matter when you invited friends over for dinner. When some areas of our hospitals weren’t bursting at the seams and when our healthcare workers weren’t burning out quicker than cheap candles.

You may remember them, but those days are gone. They’re not coming back, either, no matter how much you want to see them again.

In a year or two, when enough people have been fully vaccinated, including booster shots, and COVID-19 has been beaten down, perhaps society will be able to develop a new “normal.”

But we are a long way from there these days.

For now, the only Normal in our world is a town in Illinois.

Here in B.C., we have no idea what our normal will look like. We’re almost two years into the pandemic. We’ve had wildfires and all the smoke that came with them. We’ve had the landslides and the flooding.

About all that’s left is the locusts and I hear they’re gathering over the Pacific with a spring invasion in mind.


HELPIN’ OUT THE PACK: I have a dear friend who is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers. A news release arrived in my inbox on Friday, and I could hardly wait GreenBayto forward it to him. . . . “Green Bay Packers fans in Canada now have the opportunity to purchase shares in the iconic franchise, the organization announced today,” the release reads. “Approximately 174,000 shares remain available for purchase. The team has clarified Canadian regulatory requirements and now is able to proceed with sales in Canada. The offering will continue until Feb. 25, 2022, subject to extension, or until fully subscribed. . . . The cost of a share in Canada is US$300, with a handling fee for each transaction.” . . . You are limited to purchasing a maximum of 200 shares and remember that they don’t appreciate in value. . . . So, for a mere Cdn$379.25 — that was the exchange rate on Friday — you are able to help the Packers pay Aaron Rodgers’ salary. . . . My friend? I would expect him to give himself a Merry Christmas with a share or five.


Liquor


TWO NEW IMPORTS: A pair of WHL franchises added import players late in the week. . . . The Regina Pats claimed Slovakian F Alex Geci, 18, off waivers from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, which had selected him in the 2020 CHL import draft. He had one goal and two assists in nine games with the Sting this season. . . . Meanwhile, Russian F Alexei Shanaurin, 17, has arrived in Swift Current and is skating with the Broncos. They selected him in the 2021 import draft. . . . Neither Geci nor Shanaurin played on Saturday night. . . . Alan Caldwell, who tracks these things, informs that 21 of the WHL’s 22 teams now have their limit of two imports. The exception? The Red Deer Rebels.



CHANGES, CHANGES: The CFL’s West Division semifinal will feature the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Sunday. CFLThe West final is to be played in Winnipeg on Dec. 5. . . . Between those dates, pandemic-related rules regarding flying will change in Canada, with travellers needing to be fully vaccinated after Nov. 30; negative test results no longer will be enough. . . . Dave Dickenson, the Stampeders’ head coach, admitted on Saturday that should the Stampeders advance they will have a different look in Winnipeg than they will in Regina. In other words, there are a few unvaccinated players in the Calgary locker room. . . . Meanwhile, the Roughriders moved third-string QB Paxton Lynch to the practice squad late last week because he is unvaccinated so is unable to fly. According to Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post, Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson said that Lynch is the lone unvaccinated player on the team’s roster. . . . “We’ve encouraged guys to get vaccinated and given them motives and incentives, which are mainly about the ability to play and travel,” Craig Dickenson said. “If they chose not to, that is their choice. We do the best we can. If someone doesn’t want to get vaccinated, we aren’t going to force them.” . . . With Lynch out of the picture, QB Mason Fine came off the Saskatchewan practice roster and is behind starter Cody Fajardo and Isaac Harker on the depth chart.


Early


PERRY’S CORNER: “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke for 8½ hours into the early hours Friday morning in futile opposition to President Biden’s social spending bill,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Veteran observers say it was like watching a Yankees-Red Sox doubleheader.”

——

More from Perry: “Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Aminata Diallo has been arrested for allegedly setting up an attack on a soccer teammate. Jacques Gillooly immediately proclaimed his innocence.”

——

Perry also had this one: “According to NFL memes, NFL teams with cat names and those with bird names are tied at 209-209-10 all time. The Jaguars and Falcons will break the tie Nov. 28 — we hope.”


STORM WARNING: The junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League were back on home ice Sunday night, beating the North Okanagan Knights, 4-1. The Storm had one game postponed — it was to have entertained the Chase Heat on Nov. 17 — because its home arena is being used as an evacuation centre for Merritt residents who have had to flee a massive flood.


BIG GAME COUNTRY: It you’re a hockey fan, you might be eagerly awaiting WHLSaturday night. That’s when the Kamloops Blazers, now 14-2-0, are scheduled to visit the Everett Silvertips (14-0-1). . . . The Blazers beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-1, in Kent, Wash., on Saturday and will be back there on Wednesday. Kamloops then will meet the host Portland Winterhawks on Friday before moving on to Everett. . . . The Silvertips, who dropped the visiting Thunderbirds, 5-2, on Sunday, are at home to the Tri-City Americans on Wednesday and then will visit the Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Kamloops holds an 11-point lead over the second-place Kelowna Rockets (8-4-1) in the B.C. Division. . . . The Silvertips are atop the U.S. Division, eight points ahead of Seattle (11-5-1). . . .

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference-leading Winnipeg Ice (19-1-0) will play their next seven games at home, starting Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos (6-9-3). Of note are a doubleheader with the Saskatoon Blades (11-7-1) on Dec. 3 and 4, with the Edmonton Oil Kings (14-3-3) there for two on Dec. 8 and 11. . . . When the Ice finishes the homestand it’ll be wrapping up a stretch in which it played 12 of 14 games on home ice.


Map


CHEF’S KISS: Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a cooking-related anecdote: “Antonio Brown’s former live-in chef outing Brown for allegedly obtaining a fake vax card is the best sports-chef story since 2004. That’s when Gary Sheffield accused Barry Bonds of luring away his live-in chef with a car, a home and repayment of student loans. It was history’s most celebrated case of chefjacking.”


JUST NOTES: After a day of NFL watching, I am left to wonder if the magic has left Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. You don’t hear Seahawks fans saying the team needs to “Let Russ Cook” these days. . . . Remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers ran the ball, ran the ball and ran the ball some more? . . . Some games you just aren’t destined to win. That’s what the Vancouver Canucks will be telling themselves today after hitting five posts in a 1-0 loss to G Marc-Andre Fleury and the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night. Of course, another loss won’t do anything to keep the vultures from circling Rogers Arena. . . . It won’t happen, but it wouldn’t hurt if MLB added player-of-the-year awards to its trophy case, because that’s what the MVP honours have become. Why not have MVP and POY awards? . . . We can only hope that Sunday’s CFL division semifinals are more entertaining than what we’ve seen down the stretch.


Mental


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.


Igram

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after spending some time with Adele . . .

Scattershooting2


Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades on CJWW, and I have been friends for more years than either one of us cares to remember.

So . . . I can imagine how excited he was prior to calling the play for the Blades’ game in Winnipeg against the Ice on Saturday night. I mean, you have to know that Les gets excited before every game. But this one was extra special.

That’s because his nephew, Nolan Powell, who is from Winnipeg, was one of the game’s two referees, along with veteran Adam Bloski.

You should know that Nolan makes music with more than his whistle.

Besides being an on-ice hockey official, he is an accomplished classical guitarist.

From a story headlined ‘To hear Nolan Powell play is to believe in perfection’ from the U of Manitoba News in June 2020: “The 2020 Master of Music graduate, who also holds a B.Mus and B.Ed from the University of Manitoba, has a long history of impressing people, and received the Dr. Bonnie Buhler Graduate Scholarship in Music for his master’s degree.”

About the only degree his uncle has involves Strat-O-Matic Baseball.


ICING THE OPPOSITION: It should be pointed out that the Winnipeg Ice swept that weekend series from the Saskatoon Blades, 4-1 and 6-0. . . . The Ice, the WinnipegCHL’s top-ranked team, now is 17-1 and has outscored its opposition, 98-31. Winnipeg leads the Eastern Conference by seven points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (12-3-3) and tops the East Division by 11 points over the Blades (11-6-1). . . . Winnipeg forwards Mikey Milne and Matt Savoie lead the WHL points race, each with 29. Milne and teammate Connor McClennon are No. 1 in goals (14), with Savoie tops in assists (21). . . . If you are a plus-minus fan, Ice players hold down the top five spots — Milne (24), F Jakin Smallwod (22), F Conor Geekie (21), and D Carson Lambos and D Nolan Orzeck each 19. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Ice leads the league in GAA (1.45) and save percentage (.941).


Antler
I first spotted this guy over a month ago in the field that is at the top of the photo. At that time, his left antler was dangling loosely on the side of his face. I didn’t see him again until he showed up in our yard late Saturday afternoon — the light was fading fast — and it seems that the broken antler has taken root and is solidly entrenched, giving him something of a bizarre look.

THE CENTURY CLUB: G Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades posted his 100th career regular-season victory on Friday, beating the Wheat Kings, 2-1, in Brandon. According to quanthockey.com, he is the 21st goaltender in WHL history to reach 100 victories. The record is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92), each with 120. Sexsmith did it in 179 games; Hirsch in 181. Maier has played in 170. . . . Next up for Maier is Cam Ward, at 102.


LOVIN’ THE AHL: So . . . you’re wondering how Mitch Love is doing in his first season as a head coach with the AHL’s Stockton Heat? Well . . . you should know that he’s doing just fine after leaving the Saskatoon Blades’ coaching staff for a spot in the Calgary Flames organization. F Justin Kirkland scored the shootout winner on Friday to give the host Heat a 3-2 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights. That was the Heat’s franchise-record ninth straight victory. . . . The Silver Knights bounced back on Saturday and ended that streak with a 4-3 OT victory.


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING: The Calgary Hitmen released D Alexei Garapuchik, 18, earlier this week. He cleared CHL waivers and returned to his home in Belarus. Garapuchik, who was picked in the CHL’s 2020 import draft, was pointless in one game with the Hitmen. . . . The move left the Hitmen with Russian F Maxim Muranov, 17, and F Anton Astashevich, 17, of Belarus as their two import players. Both were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft.


EMAILBAG: After a piece appeared here the other day about the owners of the Winnipeg Ice having abandoned, at least for now, plans for a new arena, there was email. Like this one. . . . Re the Winnipeg Ice. The Ice are still being sued by the City of Cranbrook for breaking the lease in Cranbrook. . . . From a former Ice season-ticket holder in Cranbrook, now a season-ticket holder for the Cranbrook Bucks who watches the Bucks games in our little arena of 4,700.


Bears


KINGS OF THE HILL: The Saskatoon Hilltops have won seven consecutive Prairie Football Conference championships after going into Regina, rushing for 386 yards, and beating the Thunder, 29-9, on Sunday. Yes, they’ve got a junior football dynasty going in Toontown. . . . The Thunder had gone into the final with a 9-0 record, including a pair of three-point victories over the Hilltops, who now are 8-2. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted this report right here. . . . The Hilltops will visit the Langley Rams, the B.C. Football Conference champs, in a CJFL semifinal on Saturday. . . . It’s worth pointing out that the Hilltops’ run of six straight Canadian titles was halted by the pandemic, which refused to allow a 2020 season.


WATER UNDER THE BRIDGEWATER: Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) of YahooSports tweeted late last week that “it’s pretty amazing that the current Carolina Panthers regime now is paying Teddy Bridgewater (who they signed to replace Cam Newton) and Sam Darnold (who they traded for to replace Teddy Bridgewater) only to pay Cam Newton to fix their QB problems.”

Or, as Dion Beary (@hashtagdion) put it: “David Tepper is current paying Cam’s replacement, the replacement for Cam’s replacement, and Cam to replace the replacement for his own replacement.”


Bunker


PERRY’S CORNER: “Green Bay Packers backup QB Jordan Love completed just 6 of 17 passes for 30 yards against the blitz, according to ESPN Stats and Information, in losing 13-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in his starting debut,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Who says you can’t hurry Love?”

——

Perry, again: “The Los Angeles Rams have replaced wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after complaining he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Rams, with Odell Beckham Jr., who complained he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Cleveland Browns. Check back in a month or so for any updates.”


TINFOIL MAN: “What if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith?” writes Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It might have led to greater glory, maybe Super Bowls. And now San Francisco fans would be stuck with an all-time local hero that they are ashamed of. Maybe Mike Nolan knew what he was doing, after all.”

——

Ostler, again: “This just in: Rodgers has lost another appeal to the NFL. Rodgers, citing personal freedom to make his own health decisions, and extensive research, requested permission to ditch his standard football helmet and wear a tinfoil hat.”


Eyes


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING, PART 2: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders have dumped their top two selections from the NFL’s 2020 draft because of off-field indiscretions. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “Apparently NFL teams employ psychologists to help them evaluate draft picks’ readiness. . . . Seems like the Raiders need to re-evaluate their evaluator.”



AN IMPERFECT 10: F Drake Batherson had two goals and two assists as the host Ottawa Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3, on Saturday. He didn’t play in Sunday’s game against the visiting Calgary Flames after testing positive and becoming the 10th Ottawa player to be placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. It also marked the ninth straight day on which the Senators have had someone test positive. . . . Batherson joined F Connor Brown, D Josh Brown, F Alex Formenton, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete, G Matt Murray, F Austin Watson and D Nikita Zaitsev on the list, along with associate coach Jack Capuano. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported Sunday that the Senators have had to make so many recalls from AHL-Belleville that there now are only nine players left with the farm club who are under contract to the NHL team. . . . The NHL hasn’t shown the Senators any mercy, either, as it refuses to postpone games. On Sunday, the Senators lost, 4-0, to the Flames. . . . On Sunday night, the Senators announced they won’t practise on Monday, the fourth straight practice to be cancelled. . . . Ottawa next is scheduled to fly out Monday for a Tuesday night date with the New Jersey Devils.



Storage


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.


TimeTravel

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after it got dark early out here . . .

Scattershooting2


I took some time away from the keyboard to sit back and watch the sporting world go by.

What I witnessed wasn’t at all pretty.

Of course, the situation involving Kyle Beach and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks gets messier every time an NHL or NHLPA official opens his mouth.

But let’s be honest. As far as the NHL is concerned, it’s all about protecting the shield. If it wasn’t, Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, would have put Sheldon Kennedy on the payroll as a consultant or advisor a long time ago.

But there’s more going on than that . . .

If you Google “Pittsburgh Penguins,” you will find the NHL team is embroiled in a scandal that involves a couple of coaches and one of their wives.

If you Google “Vancouver Whitecaps,” you will find that Major League Soccer has hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into the team’s handling of alleged misconduct by a couple of coaches. Those accusations were levelled more than 10 years ago; the Whitecaps led an investigation into them in 2019.

And then there was the high school boys hockey game in the Pittsburgh area the other day that was marred by the vulgar chants of students from one school towards the other team’s female goaltender. No, adults in the stands didn’t see fit to intervene.

Meanwhile, there were reports that F Nicholas Daigle of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres, who has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor, may — or may not — be going to play in the controversial Ukrainian Hockey League. Daigle is one of two players who was charged following the Tigres’ championship victory last season; the QMJHL subsequently suspended both players. Reports indicated that he would be going overseas to play for HC Rulav Oddr of the Ukrainian Hockey League. The team announced his acquisition with this: “To be found guilty and to be charged is a big difference. Nicholas will be the most famous young player in UHL history . . . and the fact that the guy is sexy, the residents of Kharkiv will like him. ” The UHL is the league that found itself embroiled in a nasty racist incident earlier this season. . . . The QMJHL, however, has said that it won’t be releasing Daigle to play in the UHL or, one can assume, in any other league.

PHEW! Take a breath because there’s more . . .

The NFL launched an investigation into allegations of workplace harassment and more with the Washington Football Team, but won’t release the results, although some emails leaked that resulted in the departure of the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach.

The NBA is investigating allegations of misogyny and racism involving the owner of the Phoenix Suns, while the Portland Trailblazers are investigating allegations of workplace misconduct against their general manager.

The National Women’s Soccer League had its commissioner resign amid a scandal involving misconduct and sexual misconduct. The league and the players association are launching a wholesale investigation.

As well, Rana Reider, who coaches Canadian sprinting star Andre De Grasse has been accused of sexual misconduct and SafeSport is investigating.

Meanwhile, former WHL/NHL D Bryce Salvador tweeted this on Oct. 31:

“I just spent 10 mins on the ice holding the hand of a 12yr player I coach. He lay there motionless, crying that his back hurt, unable to move at all.

“I ultimately called off the game as we waited until the ambulance came.  (we were winning 4-1 with a 1min left in the semi-final game). . . . With the traumatic toll weighing on my 12-year players about the health of their teammate, I then decided we would forfeit the final game.

“What happened next is unbelievable. The coach of the team that we were scheduled to play in the final couldn’t believe that we were not going to play the final game because I felt it was unethical to put 12yrs back on the ice again that day.

“He insisted that we still had enough players to play . . . ‘. . . what, you are just going leave?’

“YES! I need to see how the player is doing!  Where is empathy anymore?”

Where indeed?

——

BTW, if you think the NHL will be in the market for a new commissioner because of recent happenings, well, it’s not going to happen. Bettman works for the owners and his No. 1 priority is to make money for them. During his reign, the NHL somehow got its players to accept a salary cap, and the last two expansion franchises brought in a total of $1,150,000,000. Yes, that’s more than a billion dollars in US funds.



Brock McGillis came out in 2016. A goaltender, he still was playing pro hockey so it was kind of a big deal. These days, he does a lot of speaking in the world of hockey, work that he hopes will help improve the inclusivity in that particular part of our world. . . . But there are roadblocks. I know, you’re shocked! . . . As he told Matt Larkin of The Hockey News:

“I really do appreciate the teams that bring me in – it matters. But I’ve been begging, pleading with the OHL for four years to do this and make it a mandatory program like they’ve done with so many others. Unfortunately, they haven’t. I’ve stopped pleading. I felt like I was a bother and it wasn’t accomplishing anything. I hope they circle back, because it’s needed but, until they engage that conversation, I can’t plead with them, but I will work with individual teams that see the value and other groups. . . . Frankly, I hope the CHL reaches out, especially considering they do have an out player (Luke Prokop). I’m hoping it’ll be the catalyst to a conversation with the CHL. I’m becoming exhausted with leagues and teams dipping a toe in with Pride nights. I’ve told them all, ‘This is performative.’ Sorry, but it is. Studies have shown that it doesn’t move the needle or impact the locker room or anything.”

Larkin’s complete story is right here.


Milk


Just wondering, but whatever happened to the coaches’ union in junior hockey? There was a time when junior hockey coaches had frequent conversations, oftentimes before or after games. . . . Could it be those in-season communications have gone the way of the mask-free goaltender? . . . In an email conversation with the head coach who took over a junior team prior to this season, I asked if any of the league’s other coaches had “called or emailed or contacted you in any fashion just to welcome you to the league?” . . . His response: “The answer to your question is ‘no.’ If they did reach out and give me some form of welcome, it was only because they had another agenda and/or were trying to screw me somehow!” . . . I guess the days of two coaches sharing a post-game beverage before one boards the bus for the trip home are over.


Seatbelts

DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Who fell further faster — the Chicago Blackhawks or Aaron Rodgers? . . . Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “After Aaron Rodgers reported that he turned in a 500-page research paper to the NFL detailing supposed problems with the COVID vaccines, the world wondered, ‘What kind of college student was Rodgers?’ Well, he didn’t graduate from Cal (‘Thank God,’ sigh a million Cal alums). Rodgers did major in American Studies at Cal, and one of his classes was Food Appreciation. Food Appreciation.” . . . Here’s Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: “Even if the Packers win the Super Bowl, the people in charge at Lambeau Field will be willing to drive (Rodgers) to the airport next February.”


THE WORLD OF COVID: The Ottawa Senators, fresh off a six-day trip into the U.S., had two players (D Nick Holden and F Austin Watson) and assistant coach Jack Capuano in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday night. Yes, chances are there will be more in the days ahead. . . . S Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings didn’t play Sunday against the host Baltimore Ravens because he is on the NFL’s COVID-19 list. Smith, who isn’t vaccinated, is a Pro Bowler. The Vikings lost, 34-31 in OT. They also were without C Garrett Bradbury, who is vaccinated and tested positive. G Dakota Dozier, who is on their practice squad, also is on the COVID list. Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis StarTribune blamed the loss on “Smith’s unwillingness to get vaccinated and the offense’s inability to function without a script or a sense of panic.” . . . The San Jose Sharks have games in Calgary and Winnipeg this week, and because of COVID protocols they’re without head coach Bob Boughner, F Matt Nieto, D Erik Karlsson, D Jake Middleton, D Radim Simek, D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, F Kevin Labanc, F Tino Meier, trainer Ray Tufts and equipment manager Mike Aldrich.


Ex


WORK NEWS: It was good to see old friend Travis Crickard’s name in a news release the other day as he joined the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs as an assistant coach. Crickard spent four-plus seasons on staff with the Kelowna Rockets before Bruce Hamilton announced on Dec. 8, 2018, that they had “mutually parted  ways.” (Wink! Wink!!) . . . Crickard had been head coach of the U-18 AAA Waterloo, Ont., Wolves. . . . Once upon a time he was a goaltender for two seasons with the Flin Flon Bombers. He also was the video coach with the Canadian team that won the IIHF U-18 tournament in Texas last spring. . . . Bobby Jo Love, one of the WHL’s regular referees, made his AHL debut in Abbotsford, B.C., last weekend. The 25-year-old from Smithers, B.C., worked the Ontario Reign’s sweep — 5-2 on Oct. 29 and 3-2 in OT on Oct. 30 — of the Canucks. . . . Congrats to Jayson Hajdu, another old friend, on his new position as director of communications for College Hockey Inc. The Regina native worked in the U of North Dakota’s athletic media relations office (1995-2018) and was the primary contact for men’s hockey there from 2008 through 2018. For the past two years, he’s been the marketing and communications strategist for The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City.


A GOOD READ: It seems the reports of the demise of Marc Habscheid’s Prince Albert Raiders were a bit premature. The Raiders are laughing at the critics after sweeping the Saskatoon Blades on the weekend, winning 5-1 at home and 5-2 in Toontown. Once 2-7-0, the Raiders now are 5-7-1. . . . The same holds true for Dave Struch’s Regina Pats. They also were 2-7-0, but now have won four in a row. . . . If you’re looking for an entertaining hockey-related read, you can’t go wrong with Bearcat Murray: From Ol’ Potlicker to Calgary Flames Legend. Murray, the legendary Calgary-based trainer, told his story and George Johnson, whose fingers play on a computer keyboard the way Oscar Peterson’s tickled the ivories, wrote it. Good stuff! . . . While watching the Nashville Predators and host Vancouver Canucks on Friday night I found myself wondering if the NHL’s crackdown on cross-checking had been relaxed.


Teens


JUST WHAT WE NEED: Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Clear evidence that we’re running out of things to investigate: On Nov. 19, FX/Hulu is offering up a probe into Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.” . . . Perry, again: “BASS announced its 2022 high-school bass-fishing schedule, four tournaments scheduled on weekend days called the Bassmaster High School Series. Back in the good old days, fishing took place on a weekday and we just called it hooky.” . . . You know what is really wonderful these days? You turn on the TV and tune into an NFL game. A woman is part of the on-field officiating crew and from the game’s start to its end no one mentions it.


OUR WORLD IS EMPTIER TODAY: Condolences to Verita van Diemen and sons Ryan and Chad and their families following the death of Case, who was a guiding hand for the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society when the WHL franchise, which then was owned by community shareholders, was going through some difficult times. Case, 74, died on Oct. 30. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 65. He did a two-year stint as the Blazers’ president and I always enjoyed conversing with him. He always gave an honest answer and/or opinion, which might be why I wasn’t surprised to read in his obituary that “Case was thankful to be able to have the choice to go out on his terms.” . . . I also won’t ever forget Case and Verita’s generosity when I was running the Christmas Cheer Fund for the Kamloops Daily News. They were on board with us from the beginning and I always, always heard from them early in the campaign.


The NHL may not want to speak with Sheldon Kennedy, but the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame certainly did. Kennedy was inducted into the Winnipeg-based Hall of Fame on Thursday night. . . .


Beer


NO TAG DAYS FOR BUSTER: Don’t be concerned about Buster Posey’s financial future now that the San Francisco Giants veteran catcher has announced his retirement. Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Financially, Posey should be OK. He invested heavily in BodyArmor sports drink around 2013. Coca-Cola just bought BodyArmor for $5.6 billion. That sale turned the late Kobe Bryant’s $6-million investment into a net gain for his estate of $400 million.” . . . I don’t know about you but I absolutely despise those computer-generated ads that TSN floats onto the field during CFL games and the ones that Sportsnet plasters on the glass during NHL games. . . . Here’s a for-real headline from FoxNews.com: Monkey belonging to Texas special-teams coach’s stripper girlfriend bites child on Halloween.


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.


Divorce

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