Ex-WHLer advocating for improved semi driver training. Again . . . NHL teams jump on NBA train . . . Two teams opt out of junior B league

Once again, Scott Thomas is calling for change in the training of big rig drivers in Canada. Thomas, a former WHL player, has been down this road before, shortly after his son, Evan, died in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, a tragedy that resulted in charges against a semi driver. Afterwards, Scott advocated for more stringent driver trainer. . . . These days, Scott is calling for change after a friend, Jeff Helperl, was involved in an accident in a construction zone near Wakaw, Sask., on Tuesday. . . . In that one, a semi rear-ended one vehicle and that resulted in a five-vehicle mess, the death of a 69-year-old man and other injuries. . . . The semi driver has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. . . . “Our truck drivers should be a skilled trade,” Thomas told Laura Woodward of CTV News. “They should be like plumbers, electricians, chefs. You go through a co-op program, apprenticeship and you work your way through a graduated licencing program before you’re in charge of an 18-wheeler.” . . . That story is right here.



The NHL’s players, at least those on the eight teams still involved in playoffs, jumped on board the NBA train on Thursday, meaning four games were postponed.

By postponing four games — two were to have been played Thursday and two more today — it allowed all eight of the surviving teams to participate in the protest.

With the NHL, NBA and WNBA postponing all of their games, and with NFL teams scrubbing practices and MLB moving some games, you now have to wonder: What’s next?

Do the leagues simply return to play and everybody moves on, or is it different this time? Have we witness the tipping point?

You will recall that there was a hue and cry following after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of policeman in Minneapolis on May 25.

The athletes’ protests this week stem from the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.

As I wonder what comes next, I read an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle in which Harry Edwards, a prominent sociologist who is highly respect and happens to be Black, suggested to Ron Kroichick that perhaps leagues/teams could refuse to play in Wisconsin.

“If the stars of the Bucks,” Edwards told Kroichick, “or LeBron James and Steph Curry — if athletes of this magnitude show up at the attorney general’s office in Wisconsin and say, ‘We made it here this time, but we may not make it back to the airport, because we could be stopped and shot. So what we’re asking, what we’re demanding, is change. We’re saying, Stop killing us.’

“If you have that kind of star power, with (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver and the owners and the rest of the players behind them . . . Even if it comes down to saying, ‘We’re not playing any more games in Wisconsin.’ If they went in there right after breakfast, they’d have action by lunchtime.”

Of course, were that to happen in Wisconsin, there would then have to be a move to another state and another and on and on.

In reality, who knows what the next move will be. It’s just that this time things feel different. When something like this happens and it results in hockey players — Black and White — standing elbow to elbow and singing the same song it signals that something is different.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

A sign of the times? Jayden Castle has organized a GoFundMe page in the hopes of helping him meet the cost of playing hockey for his junior B team in 2020-21. The intro the site reads: “Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic my hockey team has increased its fee to play to $10,000 and with a minimum wage it’s just not gonna cut it!” . . . A 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., Castle plays for the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . .

Sources have told Taking Note that the 20-team junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t start on Oct. 2 as it had hoped, and now is aiming for Nov. 13. It also won’t have the same 20 teams which it had last season; in fact, it now is down to 18 with the possibility of more franchises opting to sit out. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed for the foreseeable future, the Spokane Braves will take the season off and, in fact, informed their players of the decision on Thursday. The Braves are the KIJHL’s lone American entry. . . . The 100 Mile House Wranglers also are expected to take their leave, at least for one season. . . . There are believed to be other franchises pondering their immediate futures, too. They will have to decide before the KIJHL makes a number of announcements next week. . . .

Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reported that multiple sources have told them the Chicago Cubs are “slashing their scouting and player development staff . . . (including) scouts on the amateur and professional sides as well as double-digit staffers in player development, according to early estimates.” . . . One week earlier, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler reported that the New York Yankees began “a wave of layoffs and furloughs” that impacted minor-league coaches and support staff. . . . The Cubs and Yankees aren’t the first MLB teams to do go this route. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals also have furloughed employees. . . .

The NHL reported earlier in the week that its teams had spent another week in their bubbles without any positive tests. . . . Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted Wednesday that “it’s taken nearly 25,000 tests and cost nearly $8 million, but the NHL hasn’t had a positive COVID-19 test in almost five weeks. In 2020, that feels like a miracle.” . . .

The 62-team North American Hockey Classic, a minor hockey tournament that was to have been held in Winnipeg this weekend, has been cancelled. Kelly Moore of Global News reported that 61 of the 62 teams were from Manitoba, with the other from Kenora, Ont. The tournament was to be for girls and boys ages seven to 13. . . . Rhys Van Kemenade, the NAHC’s general manager, said in a news release that the decision to cancel was made because of a recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Manitoba that coincide with the impending return to school. . . . The NAHC is owned by 50 Below Sports+Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Manitoba Blues. . . .

The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles have said there won’t be any fans allowed to attend games at Lincoln Financial Field until further notice. . . . The Eagles are scheduled to open at Washington on Sept. 13, where there won’t be fans at any home games in 2020. . . . Philadelphia is to play at home on Sept. 20 and 27.


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