It’s Green Shirt Day as we promote organ donation and remember the Humboldt Broncos . . .


The boys played a hockey game last night. Yes, they shook off the rust and away they went.

They did pretty well, too, getting 37 saves from goaltender Parker Tobin in posting an 8-0 victory before a world-wide audience.

Tobin was making his first appearance with his new team, having been acquired from the junior A Humboldt Broncos in exchange for defenceman Xavier Labelle earlier in the day.

“We were fortunate we got a great performance from Tobin and our top scorers scored,” said general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan.

The boys were led by the line of Jaxon Joseph, Logan Schatz and Evan Thomas, who combined for 12 points, including six goals.

There was a scary moment early in the second period when Schatz appeared to catch an edge as he cut behind Tobin’s net. Schatz crumpled to the ice and for a moment it looked as though he had suffered a knee injury. Athletic therapist Dayna Brons, the only girl on the boys team, was quick to the scene. She helped Schatz to the dressing room and was able to get him back to the bench before too much time had elapsed.

“She’s got magic fingers and she’s great with tape,” said Schatz, who also is the team captain. “If there’s an MVP on this team, she’s it. I don’t know where we’d be without her.”

Haugan was thrilled when Schatz returned to the bench and Brons signalled that the captain was OK to go.

“That allowed us to keep our lines intact and to execute our game plan to a T,” Haugan said. “We wanted our power play to obviously be big. We didn’t expect it to be that big so we’re very fortunate. You need your top guys to be your best guys and they were.”

The boys counted five times on eight power-play opportunities and that really was huge.

Joseph finished with three goals and an assist, with Schatz chipping in two of each, and Thomas putting up a goal and three helpers.

Defenceman Adam Herold, the youngest player on the team, and forward Conner Lukan also scored. Lukan was skating alongside Jacob Leicht and Logan Hunter, and that threesome easily could have had four or five more goals. Hunter recorded two assists, with Leicht getting one. Defenceman Stephen Wack also had one assist.

As for the opposition, Haugan said, they “stepped up all night, they were relentless. Obviously our guys did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and didn’t allow them to penetrate to the middle of the ice. We did get a couple of breaks so we did get lucky but all-in-all to escape with a 1-0 lead after one, we’ll gladly take it.”

Defenceman Logan Boulet showed a lot of heart and leadership in earning six assists for the boys.

“I felt great out there,” Boulet said. “I was using a Brad McCrimmon model stick and, man, I really was able to throw some great saucer passes out there. And I don’t know that the stick had anything to do with it, but I never wanted to leave the ice.”

Haugan added: “(Boulet) was a beast out there.”

Ahh, yes, the sticks.

Haugan said one of the toughest tasks he and assistant coach Mark Cross faced was getting the players to pick out the sticks they wanted to use.

“I have never seen or heard of a team having such a wide selection to choose from,” Haugan said. “There were sticks everywhere. We may have to build some kind of stick warehouse to house them all.”

After the game, the boys admitted to being quite excited about having been able to replace one of their travelling staples.

“One of the boys picked up a copy of Slap Shot,” Haugan said. “He got it from somewhere in Portland, I think. You can’t be on the road without Reggie Dunlop and Slap Shot, but our original DVD got broken somehow and, let me tell you, there were some broken hearts when that happened.

“But all’s well that ends well.”

It’s worth pointing out that the boys led 1-0 after the first period, which was played in Chicago Stadium. They were up 4-0 after the second, which was played in Maple Leaf Gardens. The teams played the final period in the Montreal Forum. The travel arrangements were all under the control of Glen Doerksen, the team’s travelling secretary.

So . . . what’s next for the boys?

Well, Haugan said, the coaches are well aware that focusing on one sport isn’t the way to go.

“The guys are talking about wanting to play some baseball,” Haugan said. “Apparently, some guy in Iowa built a ball diamond in a cornfield. So I think we’re wanting to give that a try.

“But we’ll have to scrounge some bats, balls and gloves first.”

JUST NOTES: There was a third man behind the bench with Haugan and Cross, and Haugan later revealed that he has added Brock Hirsche to his coaching staff. Hirsche played in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars, then returned to his hometown to play with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . .

Also joining the boys is Jonathan Pitre, who is incredibly popular with the media and will handle public and media relations. . . .

Tyler Bieber, an up-and-coming play-by-play voice, called last night’s game on 107.5 FM (aka The Prayer), with sports fanatic Brody Hinz handling the analysis and statistics, including zone entries and Corsi. . . .

(Christopher Lee of the Humboldt Journal may recognize some of the quotes here. Thanks for loaning them to me.)


The OHL dropped the hammer on the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday, a month after some members of the organization were alleged to have used improper OHLlanguage in a group chat on WhatsApp, a transcript of which was given to the league. Joey Burke, one of the team’s minority owner and the governor, and Billy Burke, the head coach and a minority owner, have been suspended indefinitely. The IceDogs also have been fined $150,000. . . . From an OHL news release: “Based on the results of the league investigation, it is the position of the league that their conduct is prejudicial to the welfare of the OHL as it violates the league’s Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy and also runs counter to the OHL’s Onside program, which emphasizes the importance of demonstrating respect for women through actions and words.” . . . According to terms of the disciplinary action, both are able to apply for reinstatement on June 1, 2024. “At that time,” reads the news release, “the Commissioner will assess whether they have successfully completed counselling and education to ensure that there will be no additional violations of League rules, policies, or expected conduct.” . . . Rick Westhead of TSN later tweeted: “IceDogs co-owner Bill Burke, Joey and Billy’s father, told The Welland Tribune that ‘today a very sad day for the Burke family. We will have more to say in the coming days. We would . . . like to thank everyone that has reached out today with their overwhelming love and support.”


Meanwhile, the AHL has suspended F Ben Holmstrom of the Rochester Americans for eight games for using “homophobic language” during a game against the visiting Utica Comets on March 30. He was ejected at the end of the first period. . . . “As part of the suspension,” the AHL said in a statement, “Holmstrom will be participating in diversity and inclusion education.”


Now let’s hop on over to Quebec for this from Guy Quenneville of CBC News . . .

“More Black minor hockey players in western Quebec are coming forward with allegations of racial slurs less than a week after another Black player spoke out.

“On Monday, Hockey Outaouais and the team L’Intrépide de Gatineau confirmed in a statement they have launched an investigation after two of the team’s players said they were subjected to racist remarks. 

“One of those players, Anthony Allain-Samaké, told Radio-Canada the bullying led him to quit the team.”

His mother, Julie Allain, speaking French, told Quenneville: “Being called the N-word was still quite common for several players. I told him it is totally unacceptable.”

Quenneville’s story is right here.


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference:

In Spokane, F Nick McCarry struck 10 seconds into OT was the Chiefs beat the SpokaneEverett Silvertips, 3-2. . . . McCarry, who has 22 goals, has seven points, five of them goals, over his past four games. . . . Olen Zellweger, the  WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, scored his 14th goal and added an assist. He has 76 points in 53 games. . . . G Mason Beaupit stopped 32 shots, 18 of them in the second period, for Spokane. . . . Announced attendance was 7,252, an awfully impressive number for a midweek game. . . . The Chiefs’ victory eliminated the idle Tri-City Americans from the chase for a playoff spot. . . . Spokane (23-37-5), with three games remaining, is sixth, one point ahead of the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals, and two up on the Prince George Cougars. . . . Everett (44-10-10) leads the conference by four points over the Kamloops Blazers. Each team has four games remaining. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets scored the game’s last three goals as they beat the KelownaCougars, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . The Rockets, who won 1-0 in OT there on Tuesday, have won six straight in Prince George. . . . F Colton Dach scored once, his 26th, and added two assists. . . . F Pavel Novak (28) broke a 1-1 tie at 18:52 of the first period and the visitors put it away with two third-period goals. . . . Kelowna (39-19-6) now is two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds with each team having four games to play. . . . The Cougars are ninth, one point from a playoff spot.

Eastern Conference:

The host Lethbridge Hurricanes struck for six goals in the third period as they Lethbridgedropped the Saskatoon Blades, 6-1. . . . The game’s seven goals all came in the third period. . . . D Joe Arntsen scored twice, giving him seven, and added an assist, with F Justin Hall and F Alex Thacker each adding three assists. . . . F Jordan Keller scored his first WHL goal in his eighth game for the Blades. Keller, who turned 17 on March 8, is the son of Aaron Keller, who played four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers before going on to play 17 seasons in Japan. Aaron now helps out the Blazers as a development coach. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 31 shots in his first opportunity to break the WHL career record for victories. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-4) is seventh, seven points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings and five ahead of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (36-26-4) remains fifth, one point behind the Moose Jaw Warriors and five ahead of Brandon.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs and Rick Swan, their general manager and head coach, “have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately,” the team announced Wednesday. Swan had been with the organization for 10 years, the last nine as GM and head coach. This season, the Pontiacs went 36-16-8, good for third in the North Division, then lost a six-game first-round series to the Whitecourt Wolverines.



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.


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

Ingram a winner in NHL debut . . . Hockey Canada reveals its vax policy for 2022 WJC . . . COVID-19 strikes at Canada West hockey

Connor Ingram, who spent three seasons (2014-17) tending goal for the WHL’s PredatorsKamloops Blazers, made his NHL debut on Sunday with the Nashville Predators. And he did it in style, turning aside 33 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild. . . . The Wild went into the game as one of the NHL’s unbeaten teams, at 4-0. . . . Dean Evason, one of the Blazers’ all-time great players, is the Wild’s head coach. . . . The Predators are 2-4-0. They recalled Ingram from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals on Oct. 16 because G David Rittich was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . .“I still don’t think it’s hit me a little bit,” Ingram, 24, told reporters. “Ignorance is bliss at this point where you don’t really realize what’s going on yet, but it felt good.’’ . . . Ingram was beaten for the first time when F Nick Bjugstad beat him at 11:30 of the second period. . . . “My first shot in the Western League, my first shot in the American League both went in, so I was kind of half-expecting it to go in today, but it didn’t so that’s a nice way to start.’’ . . . The Predators next are scheduled to play on Tuesday night against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . .

Ingram was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. He played one-plus season with the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and 13 games with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears before Tampa Bay dealt him to Nashville on June 14, 2019, for a seventh-round pick in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He spent 2019-20 with Milwaukee.

Last season, with the hockey world experiencing pandemic turmoil, he got into nine games with IF Björklöven of Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan and five with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

Ingram’s season ended in January when the NHL and NHLPA announced that Ingram was “voluntarily taking part in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.” . . . At the time, he was on the Predators’ taxi squad as a mandatory third goaltender, something that was necessary under the NHL’s pandemic protocol. . . . The confidential program provides assistance to players and their families for mental health and substance abuse issues.


Hockey Canada announced its vaccination policy on Friday, something that will Canadaimpact the 2022 World Junior Championship that is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5

From a news release:

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey Canada and its board of directors have voted to implement a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all participants who are active in any international or national event hosted in Canada, including all on- or off-ice activities or programs hosted or controlled directly by Hockey Canada. This means that all participating players, coaches, team staff, on-ice officials, event volunteers, spectators and any other individual associated with an event who is in contact with the aforementioned group must have received the necessary doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the event. Hockey Canada will consider exemptions based on guidance from government and public health authorities, as well as experts retained by the organization.”

The complete news release is right here.


If you thought COVID-19 was on its way out, you are sadly mistaken . . .

A Saturday night Canada West men’s hockey game between the visiting CovidSaskatchewan Huskies and Regina Cougars was postponed. According to a Canada West news release, “Positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed within the Cougars.” The two teams had played in Saskatoon on Friday night. . . . Earlier in the week, Canada West postponed a series between the Calgary Dinos and MacEwan after positive tests were found in the Griffins’ program. . . .

The Brandon Sun reported Saturday that “at least one confirmed COVID-19 case has been detected in association with an Oct. 17 hockey game between Elton/Forrest/Rivers/Strathclair/Hamiota and Vincent Massey high school hockey teams, according to a news release from the province on Oct. 20.” . . .

The Chicago Blackhawks played Sunday afternoon without F Jujhar Khaira and D Riley Stillman, both of whom are in COVID-19 protocol. Chicago also was without assistant coach Marc Crawford for the same reason. . . . The Blackhawks lost, 6-3, to the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Chicago now is 0-5-1. . . .

Kevin Ross, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive backs coach, was unavailable for Sunday’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears, so injured veteran DB Richard Sherman was on the sidelines wearing a headset. Tampa Bay won, 38-3.


Oranges


While Connor Ingram was making his NHL debut on Sunday, there were two games taking place in WHL arenas . . .

In Saskatoon, the Blades scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Regina Pats, 4-1. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky (5) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:43 of the second period. . . . F Tristen Robins (4) scored for the Blades but had his run of multi-point games halted at six. . . . The Blades (6-1-1), who were 1-for-9 on the PP, have points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Pats (2-7-0) have lost seven in a row. . . .

In Calgary, the Hitmen erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with three second-period goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (2) scored the eventual winner on a PP at 16:48. . . . The Hitmen (4-3-0) have won three in a row. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-6-0) went 0-3-0 on a weekend swing into the Central Division that also included stops in Edmonton and Red Deer.

——

There were eight WHL games on Saturday . . .

In Portland, G Braden Holt blocked 22 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 1-0 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Holt’s second shutout of the season — he blanked visiting Portland 4-0 on Oct. 8 — allowed the Silvertips to run their record to 6-0-0. . . . Portland is 3-4-1. . . . D Jonny Lambos’s first goal of the season won it at 17:27 of the first period. . . . Holt has three shutouts in his career. . . . Mike Johnston, Portland’s GM/head coach, was back behind the bench after a one-game absence while he travelled to Red Deer to watch some of the WHL Cup. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Spokane Chiefs erased a 2-1 first-period deficit with six straight goals, five of them in the second period, as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . F Luke Toporowski (6) scored twice and added an assist, with F Eric Atchison drawing three assists. . . . The Chiefs improved to 3-4-1; the Americans’ fifth straight loss dropped them to 2-5-0. . . . 

In Vancouver, G Jesper Vikman turned aside 23 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . A freshman from Stockholm whose NHL rights belong to the Vegas Golden Knights, Vikman has two shutouts in four starts. . . . F Justin Lies (2) scored the game’s first goal, at 8:26 of the second period. . . . The Giants now are 3-2-0; the Rockets are 2-2-0. . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last three goals to defeat the Royals, 4-1. . . . The Cougars (4-3-0) have won four in a row, all of them against the Royals as the teams play a six-game set. . . . The Royals (1-8-0) have lost seven in a row. They will conclude this series with games in Prince George on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer (2) had a goal and an assist. . . . G Campbell Arnold, 19, acquired earlier in the week from the Spokane Chiefs, stopped 30 shots for Victoria. . . . F Caleb Willms, 19, acquired earlier in the day from the Medicine Hat Tigers, was in the Royals’ lineup. He cost them a conditional sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. He had five goals and 10 assists in 52 games with the Tigers. . . . The Royals also acquired D Anson McMaster, 19, from the Winnipeg Ice for a conditional seventh-rounder in the 2023 draft. McMaster, who had a goal and five assists in 66 games with the Ice, also made his Victoria debut in this one. . . . On Sunday, the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints announced that they have signed F Graeme Bryks, 20, who split four-plus seasons between the Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. As well, the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos said they have signed F Cage Newans, 18, who played 25 games over three seasons with the Royals.

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings skated to a 5-2 lead and then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored twice for Edmonton, with F Jalen Luypen and F Carter Souch each earning three assists. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky scored his eighth goal of the season for the Tigers (4-4-1). . . . The Oil Kings are 6-2-1. . . .

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes snapped a two-game losing skid with a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Lethbridge (4-3-0) trailed 3-2 after two periods and then scored the only three goals of the third period. . . . F Alex Thacker (3) had two goals and an assist for the Hurricanes, who got three assists from F Ty Nash. . . . Thacker’s second goal, at 18:49 of the third, was the winner. . . . F Evan Herman scored his first two goals of the season for the Raiders (2-7-0). . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Winnipeg Ice erased a 4-1 deficit with four goals in the last half of third period and beat the Warriors, 5-4. . . . D Nolan Orzeck (2) tied the game at 14:03 of the third period and F Connor McClennon (8) won it at 19:15. . . . F Matt Savoie (6) scored twice for the Ice and F Mikey Milne had three assists. . . . Moose Jaw got two goals from F Brayden Yager (5). . . . The Ice (9-0-0) was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Warriors (3-5-0) didn’t receive even one opportunity. . . . The Warriors were without D Daemon Hunt, who drew a four-game suspension for a charging major and game misconduct in a game on Wednesday in Winnipeg. His hit took Winnipeg F Zach Benson out of the game; he didn’t play on Saturday. . . .

In Red Deer, F Blake Stevenson scored twice and added an assist as the Rebels dumped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-1. . . . Stevenson has four goals this season. . . . The Rebels (6-3-1) have won three straight. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-5-0) had lost 9-2 in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Red Deer lost D Jace Weir to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 12:37 of the first period.


Egg


There were nine WHL games on Friday night . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers erased a 2-1 second-period deficit with five goals as they skated to a 6-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Oren Shtrom (2) had a goal and two assists. . . . The game featured two Wiesblatt brothers — Oasiz with the Tigers (4-3-1) and Ozzy with the Raiders (2-6-0). . . .

In Swift Current, the Calgary Hitmen opened a 5-0 lead and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Broncos. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (4) had two goals and an assist, with Riley Fiddler-Schultz (1) scoring once and drawing two assists. . . . The Hitmen evened their record at 3-3-0, while the Broncos slipped to 2-5-2. . . .

In Regina, G Nolan Maier stopped 37 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Pats. . . . That gave the visitors at least a point in six straight (5-0-1). . . . F Tristen Robins had two assists for the Blades (5-1-1), his sixth straight multi-point game this season. That left him with 15 points, 12 of them assists, in six games. . . . The game featured only two minor penalties, both to the Pats (2-6-0), who surrendered one PP goal in their sixth straight loss. . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels doubled the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the shot clock (42-21) and on the scoreboard, 6-3. . . . The Hurricanes (3-3-0) scored the game’s first goal at 1:00 of the opening period. The Rebels (5-3-1) led 4-1 after the period. . . . F Ben King scored his fourth goal of the season for the winners. . . . D Alex Cotton (4) scored twice for Lethbridge in his 150th game. . . .

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings scored five times in the game’s first 14:57 as they dropped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 9-2. . . . F Jared Luypen (3) had two goals and two assists, with F Carter Souch (2) scoring twice and setting up another in his 200th career game. F Dylan Guenther (2), F Jaxsen Wiebe (1) and F Logan Dowhaniuk (2) each added a goal and two assists. . . . Edmonton improved to 5-2-1, with Brandon slipping to 4-4-0. . . . The victory was the 109th for Brad Lauer as the Oil Kings’ head coach. That is second in the franchise’s history, behind only Derek Laxdal, who won 180 games during his four seasons (2010-14). . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last five goals in a 5-1 victory over the Royals. . . . The Cougars (3-3-0) have won three in a row, all of them against the Royals (1-7-0). This was the third of six straight games between these teams. . . . The Royals listed seven scratches as being injured. They dressed 16 skaters, two under the maximum. . . . The Cougars got at least one point from 13 different skaters. . . . F Jonny Hooker’s fifth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored three times in 48 seconds to take a 3-0 first-period lead as they beat the Vancouver Giants, 7-4. . . . The Blazers led 6-1 at one point before the Giants got to within two at 6-4. . . . F Logan Stankoven (5) and D Quinn Schmiemann (2) each scored twice for Kamloops (6-1-0), with F Josh Pillar (4) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . The Giants (2-2-0) got a goal, his first, and two assists from F Fabian Lysell. . . .

In Portland, F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-2 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Swetlikoff, who has five goals, broke a 1-1 tie with goals at 15:40 and 19:58 of the second period and completed his first career hat trick at 15:36 of the third. He has played in 116 regular-season games, five of them with Everett. . . . Swetlikoff, 20, was acquired from the Kelowna Rockets in the off-season. . . . Everett stayed unbeaten (5-0-0); Portland was left at 3-3-1. . . . With Mike Johnston on a scouting trip to Red Deer, site of the WHL Cup, associate coach Don Hay ran the Portland bench. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Thomas Milic stopped 19 shots to help the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans, 5-0. . . . Milic’s first shutout of this season and second of his career came in his 17th appearance over three seasons. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (3) scored twice and D Kevin Korchinski had three assists. . . .


A bus carrying the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Miramichi Timberwolves was involved in a fatal accident on Sunday afternoon in Astle, N.B. . . . The Timberwolves were on their way to a game in Fredericton against the Red Wings when their bus and a car collided. The driver of the car died at the scene. The game was postponed. . . . According to the MJHL: “Those on the bus sustained limited injuries and grief counsellors have been brought in. Further counselling and support will be offered, as requested.”


JUST NOTES: F Jaydon Dureau signed an ATO with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch on Saturday. Dureau, 20, who played the previous three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, then scored the game’s first goal as the Crunch dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Rochester Americans. . . . Former WHL referee Steve Kozari worked his 1,000th NHL game on Friday night as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the host Vegas Golden Knights, 5-3. Each team presented Kozari with an autographed team sweater. . . . Ryan Gibbons, who played five seasons (2001-06) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, was one of the linesmen on Saturday night when the Seattle Kraken played its first home game in franchise history. The Vancouver Canucks beat the Kraken, 4-2.


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.


Novel

Team Canada writes thrilling final golden chapter . . . Vegas fans get to cheer three times for one goal . . . Fire strikes Meadow Lake’s arena



You really have to feel good for the Canadian team that won the gold medal on CanadaSunday at the IIHF World men’s championship in Riga, Latvia. A gritty bunch if ever there was one, these guys lost their first three games and were outscored 10-2 in the process, only to bounce back and win four in a row, including a 3-2 OT victory over Finland in the championship game. . . . F Nick Paul of the Ottawa Senators got the winner at 6:26 of overtime. . . . It is the first time in any IIHF World championship that a team opened 0-3 and went on to win the whole thing. . . . Finland had beaten Canada, 3-2 in a shootout, in a preliminary game on Tuesday. . . . This was the 27th time Canada has won the championship, but the first since 2016. . . . After starting 0-3, Canada went on to beat three of the opening rounds top teams — Russia, the U.S., and Finland. . . . Interestingly, Canada’s overall record was 3-3-1, the 1 being an OTL, while the U.S., which beat German, 6-1, to win bronze on Sunday, wound up 6-1-0. The only loss suffered by the U.S. was to Canada — 4-2 in a semifinal. . . .

Michael Dyck, the head coach of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, was an assistant coach with Team Canada, which also included D Braden Schneider, the Brandon Wheat Kings’ captain. Schneider had one assist in nine games. . . . Also on the Canadian team were G Darcy Kuemper, who played with the Red Deer Rebels, G Aden Hill (Portland Winterhawks), F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Spokane Chiefs) and F Brandon Hagel (Red Deer). . . . Former NHL G Roberto Luongo was Canada’s general manager and now has another gold medal to hang alongside the two he won as a player (2003, 2004). . . . Canadian F Connor Brown (Ottawa Senators) drew three assists in the final to set a Canadian tournament record with 14. Brown led the tournament with 16 points. . . . Old friend Neate Sager (@n8sager) points out where Canada’s top three forwards were at age 16: “Nick Paul was undrafted, made the OHL a year later; Connor Brown was an 11th-rounder; IIHF Worlds MVP Andrew Mangiapane was never drafted.”



If you were watching the host Vegas Golden Knights’ 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night, you saw the NHL replay system at its best. . . . And you can bet that most of the fans in the building absolutely loved it because they got to cheer three times for one goal. . . . First, they roared when F Patrick Brown appeared to score at 13:13 of the third period for a 5-1 Vegas lead. However, the officials went to replay to see whether Brown had shoved G Philipp Grubauer into the net with the puck underneath him. After the review, the officials signalled that it was a good goal. The crowd roared again. . . . At that point, Colorado head coach Jared Bednar challenged the play for goaltender interference. So the officials went back to video before ruling, again, that it was a good goal. And the crowd got to roar one more time. . . . Yes, it was a good night for Vegas fans.


Anon


The MJHL has announced that “the puck will drop for opening weekend” on Friday, Sept. 17, COVID-19 and its variants willing, of course. If you haven’t noticed, Manitoba hasn’t been in a good place for the last while. . . . Opening weekend will have the 12 teams playing home-and-home rivalry series. . . . Each team will play 54 games in the regular season. . . . There is a complete news release right here. . . . BTW, the MJHL’s Neepawa franchise is scheduled to announce its rebranding today (Monday).



Arena
Meadow Lake’s arena is in ruins after a Sunday morning fire. (Photo: Meadow Lake Memories/Facebook)

The 45-year-old arena in Meadow Lake, Sask., burned to the ground early Sunday morning. . . . “The Meadow Lake fire department was on hand quickly and trying their hardest to get the flames down,” Clay DeBray, a city councillor, told Saskatoon radio station CKOM. “It was pretty devastating to see.” . . . The Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported that Saskatchewan RCMP said the fire “appeared to have been set” in a nearby storage shed. According to the newspaper, the RCMP “said the concession stand that shares the parking lot with the arena was also broke into, also on June 6.”


Grinch


If you’re looking for a good read on what the PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm went through at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Saturday, Rob Oller of The Columbus Dispatch has a column right here. . . . “Golf and business have always gone hand-in-hand, with hammered drives sharing workspace with handshake deals,” Oller writes. “So let’s speak the language of corporate attorneys and CEO consultants: Jon Rahm made a bad business decision.” . . . The complete column is right here.


Although we’re open for donations until Aug. 31, the 2021 Kamloops Kidney Walk was completed, albeit virtually, on Sunday. Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, took part for an eighth straight year. . . . Thanks to so many of you, she had her top fund-raising Walk, too, as her friends gave her $3,875 through Sunday night. Her previous high had been $3,340 in 2020. . . . Thank you so much! . . . And if you still would like to donate, you are able to do so 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.


JUST NOTES: G Rayce Ramsay will be back with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos for his 20-year-old season. Ramsay, from Saskatoon, played two games with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers in 2018-19 and 25 in 2019-20 (13-8-1, 3.07, .880). He started 2020-21 with the Broncos, going 5-1-0 before the season was done in by the pandemic.


Online

Let’s all strive to ‘Be Like Scott’ . . . Ice coming out of Pats’ home arena . . . Ex-Hurricanes defenceman dies at 37

It was in 1992 when Gatorade launched its “Be Like Mike” advertising campaign, one that was wrapped around then-NBA star Michael Jordan.

Here we are, almost 30 years later, and all I want is to Be Like Scott.

That would be Scott Thomas.

As hard as it may be to believe, almost three years have slid by since the bus crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Thomas and his wife, Laurie, lost their son Evan in the crash. He was one of the 16 people who died as a result of the bus colliding with a big rig while en route to Nipawin for a playoff game.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck’s driver, is serving an eight-year sentence, and will be eligible to apply for parole in September. He also is waiting for a decision on whether he will be deported.

Not only does Scott Thomas think that shouldn’t happen, he has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s staying in Canada to the Canadian Border Services Agency. Thomas also has been in communication via email with Sidhu and his family.

“I don’t have the energy for hatred, our family just doesn’t,” Thomas told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News. “For me to go on and function and to be the best father I can be to the one daughter I have left and to leave this place with a positive impact and do something for our son’s legacy . . . for us to move forward, the best thing for us to do is forgive. There are days when I want to scream and there are days I do scream at the world, but for us to move forward, the easiest path to that is forgiveness and compassion.”

Pat McKay of CTV has a story right here, and Campbell’s piece is right here.

Take a few minutes out of your day and read them both. You’ll be a better person for having done it.

Let’s not forget, too, that Scott Thomas continues to advocate for standardized training across Canada for semi-truck drivers. You can bet that we’ll be hearing from him on that subject again and again and again, all the while wondering why politicians don’t sit up and take notice.


Bighorns
This was the scene just a few kilometres east of downtown Kamloops on Friday afternoon as five male bighorn sheep were on the prowl above the South Thompson River.


The Regina Exhibition Association announced Friday that the ice is being taken out of the Brandt Centre, the home of the WHL’s Regina Pats. . . . Under the present public health restrictions in Saskatchewan, the Brandt Centre is closed through Jan. 29. . . . . In making Friday’s announcement, the association suggested to renters that “if the ice is installed for any reason over the next three months, ice may become available to rent.” . . . Should the WHL get to play the 24-game schedule that it has said it is “committed” to, games almost certainly will be played in empty facilities. Without ice in the Brandt Centre, the Pats could play next door in the Co-operators Centre. . . .

Earlier in the week, the Edmonton Oil Kings told season-ticket holders that if they get to play games this spring they’ll be in the Downtown Community Arena rather than Rogers Place, which also is home to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . The Spokane Arena, home of the WHL’s Chiefs, is to be used as a mass vaccination site starting on Wednesday.


In the midst of a global pandemic that is not showing any signs of abating, we take a look at messaging from a pair of under-18 hockey leagues.

In Saskatchewan, the under-18 female and male leagues have postponed their seasons, and it sure sounds as though the boys might be finished for this season.

“Due to the ongoing pandemic and health restrictions, the SU18AAAHL schedule will be postponed effective Jan. 19, 2021,” reads a release on the league’s website. “If public health measures allow for a return to game play at any time, the executive will meet and review game play options for any teams that wish to continue. “

Among the reasons for the decision: “Provide parents the freedom to move their son(s) home for personal reasons. For some parents this will take some pressure off their decision. . . . Provide billets the option to continue hosting players during the COVID-19 19 crisis. This will give them a freedom to evaluate their involvement.”

Meanwhile, next door in Manitoba, the male U18 AAA league has sent what it calls an “open letter” to Premier Brian Pallister, Heather Stefanson, the minister of health and senior services, and Dr. Roussin, the province’s chief health officer. In the letter, signed by Levi A. Taylor, the commissioner, the league makes a case for why it should be allowed to return to play.

At one point, the letter claims that “the continued prohibition of social interaction and limitation of permitted physical activities has caused immeasurable harm to the children of this province.”

Later, there is this: “The Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League calls on you to reopen recreation facilities, gyms, and fitness centres for use by children and youth. It can be done (safely), and it must be done now to curtail the harms inflicted.”

The complete letter is right here.

As of Friday morning, there had been 28,260 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Manitoba, with 795 deaths. . . . Saskatchewan’s totals were 21,643 and 247.



Energy


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — 173 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, above the province’s 7-day average of 160. 2 additional deaths are also being reported. On the vaccine front, 23,884 doses have been administered so far.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reported 312 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday along with eight additional deaths.

CBC News — Alberta reports 643 new COVID-19 cases, 12 additional deaths.

CBC News — Nine additional deaths, 508 new COVID-19 cases reported in British Columbia on Friday.

CBC News — Ontario is reporting 2,662 new cases of COVID-19 and 87 new deaths. 779 of the new cases are in Toronto, 542 are in Peel and 228 are in York Region.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 and has added 88 deaths to its tally, 18 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

CBC News — 30 new COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick. This is the 4th time in a week the number has exceeded 30; the 7-day average for new cases in 29.

CBC News — Full lockdown announced in New Brunswick’s Zone 4 Health Zone. All schools to move to virtual learning, non-essential businesses to close, indoor formal gatherings not allowed. 19 of the 30 new cases on Friday are in Zone 4, which is the province’s northwest and includes Edmundston.

CBC News — Nunavut has its 1st new case of COVID-19 since Dec. 28. The new case is in Arviat. The person is asymptomatic and self-isolating.

KTVZ-TV — Oregon reports 22 more COVID-19 deaths, death toll at 1,865; 877 new cases, total at 136,839. . . . Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 270,453 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

The Olympian — The Washington State Department of Health on Friday reported 2,162 news confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 49 new deaths. Statewide totals . . . are at 298,249 cases and 4,114 deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Friday, 4 p.m. PT — Total cases: 737,407. . . . Active cases: 65,750. . . . Deaths: 18,828.

CNN, Friday, 4:31 p.m. PT — 413,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Friday, 7:21 p.m. PT — 24.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

The New York Times — Since March of last year, at least 424,000 more Americans have died than would have in a normal year, showing that the true toll of the pandemic may be higher than previously known.

——

Former MLB player and manager Davey Johnson is back in his Florida home after spending time in hospital with COVID-19. Johnson, now 77, was the New York Mets’ manager when they last won the World Series, in 1986. He played for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs (1965-78). He managed the Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals (1985-2013. . . .

Matt Norlander, CBS Sports: “Multiple conference commissioners and athletic directors told CBS Sports in the past week-plus that there is a growing sense of nervousness over the stability of the college basketball season. . . . With Joe Biden now holding office, high-ranking NCAA officials are in wait-and-see mode about monitoring case counts across the country and bracing for the possibility of federal shutdowns that could impact dozens if not hundreds of schools — prompting a midseason pause in the process.” . . .

After having their first four NHL regular-season games postponed after at least 17 players tested positive, the Dallas Stars were in action on Friday night. They were without F Blake Comeau, who was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the day, as they beat the visiting Nashville Predators, 7-0. . . . The Detroit Red Wings added F Filip Zadina to the list on Friday, too. He joined teammates F Robby Fabbri, F Adam Erne and F Sam Gagner, and D Jon Merrill on the list. . . . The Washington Capitals were without F Alex Ovechkin, F Evgeny Kuznetsov, D Dmitry Orlov and G Ilya Samsonov as they beat the visiting Buffalo Sabres, 4-3 in OT, on Friday night. All four, one of whom reportedly tested positive, will miss three more games as they all are on the COVID-19 list. . . .

The Memphis Grizzlies have had four straight games postponed, bringing the NBA’s total of such games to 20. The Grizzlies were to have met the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday and last night (Friday) and were to have played the Kings in Sacramento on Sunday and Monday. . . .


Glasses


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.


Clay Plume, who spent three seasons in the WHL, died on Tuesday. He was 37. Plume was from Standoff, Alta. . . . Plume, a defenceman, spent two-plus seasons (2001-04) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before finishing the 2003-04 season with the Prince George Cougars. In 181 regular-season games, he has 22 goals and 43 assists. . . . He went on to play one season in the ECHL and six in the CHL. . . . Plume played 24 games over the past two seasons with the senior AA Fort Macleod Mustangs of the Alberta-based Ranchland Hockey League. . . . Dale Woodard of the Lethbridge Herald has more on Plume right here.


JUST NOTES: F Nigel Dawes, who doesn’t get nearly enough plaudits when the conversation turns to great WHLers, picked up the 500th regular-season point of his KHL career in a 4-3 OT loss to host Lokomotiv on Friday. Dawes, 35, is in his 10th KHL season, but his first with Ak Bars Kazan. This season, he has 22 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. He had a goal and an assist on Friday, leaving him with 501 points, including 266 goals, in 536 games. In his WHL career, he put up 272 points, 159 of them goals, in 245 games. He played four seasons (2001-04) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . The QMJHL returned to action with four games on Friday night, its first action since Nov. 29. Playing what it calls a “controlled environment” rather than a bubble, there were games in Shawinigan, Drummondville, Rimouski and Chicoutimi. There will be games in the same venues Saturday and Sunday.


Alarm

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if J.B. Books was John Wayne’s best role . . .

Scattershooting

Darcy Haugan was the head coach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos when he was killed in the accident involving their bus. Before coaching the Broncos, he was with the junior B North Peace Navigators. . . . On Oct. 10, the people of Peace River will gather at the Baytex Centre for the unveiling of the Darcy Haugan Memorial Statue. . . . It all starts at 2 p.m. . . . Albert Cooper, the Navigators’ president, told Gordon Anderson of Peace River Record Gazette that Darcy “was a man who was motivated be three things: his faith, his family and his friends. Included in those friends were all the kids that he coached. He wasn’t an extraordinary man, he was an ordinary man who did exceptional things and that’s what we want to honour. He touched the lives of so many kids in a very positive way, and not just in terms of hockey, but in life and how to live life. We think that’s worth honouring.” . . . Anderson complete story is right here.


Zeuss


You should know that there’s another Manning in football’s pipeline. Arch Manning threw five TD passes and ran for another in his sophomore season debut with Isidore Newman, a New Orleans high school, on Thursday. He would have had six TD passes but for a couple of end zone drops. Arch is Cooper Manning’s son, so is a nephew to Peyton and Eli, and Archie’s grandson. In his playing days, Cooper was an outstanding wide receiver at Newman but had his career ended by a spinal condition. . . . There’s more on this story right here.



By now, you likely have seen footage of whatever that was the Tampa Bay Lightning were doing to celebrate upon their return to Florida the other day. Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun saw it, too, and, as he points out right here, that party was “a perfect example of how not to mark the moment during a pandemic.”


Headline at TheOnion.com: Coronavirus Assumed White House Would Be Bigger in Person


Would you pay $25 to watch a junior A exhibition hockey game? The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys will be at home on Oct. 10. Attendance will be limited to 100 spectators, each of whom will be charged $25. Parents and billets get first crack at tickets, then sponsors, and then the general public. . . . Doors will open 15 minutes before game time. No concession stands will be open. Facemasks must be worn at all times and social distancing will be enforced. . . . Welcome to the new normal.



The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders, who are scheduled to play their first home game on Oct, 23, averaged 2,700 fans per game last season. They have the OK to allow fans in games this season, but don’t yet know how many the social-distancing configuration will allow. Team president Craig Foster told CBC that “the number’s going to less than half of” last season’s average. Foster also said that the financial cost is going to be large. . . . Kevin Yarr of CBC has more right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .


Positive tests on both teams meant the NFL had to postpone Sunday’s game that was to have featured the host Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. QB Cam Newton of the Patriots is reported to have tested positive, as did QB Jordan Ta’amu of the Chiefs. Ta’amu spent the week’s practices playing Newton against the Chiefs’ defence. . . . The game has been rescheduled for tonight (Monday). . . .

The Tennessee Titans had two more positives tests on Saturday and two more on Sunday, meaning they have had 10 players and 10 staff members come up positive. Their scheduled Sunday game with the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed and now there are reports that their Week 5 game against the visiting Buffalo Bills may need to be moved, too. . . .

The Greater Toronto Hockey League announced Saturday “that all sanctioned activities within its jurisdiction are postponed until at least Jan. 2, 2021, pending further advice from health authorities.” . . . The GTHL is the largest minor hockey league in the world, with more than 40,000 players in Makham, Mississauga, Toronto and Vaughan. . . .

The German DEL announced on Friday that it has postponed the start of its 2020-21 season. It had hoped to open the regular season on Nov. 13, but now is aiming for the second week in December. . . . At the moment, teams would be allowed to operate with attendance at 20 per cent of capacity, and the league says that’s not financially viable. . . .

Jay Johnstone, a former major league outfielder who won two World Series titles, died on Sept. 26 in Los Angeles. He was 74. Johnstone, who won titles with the New York Yankees (1978) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1981), died of complications from COVID-19. . . . Having lived with dementia for the past few years, he had been in a nursing home. . . . For more on one of MLB’s great pranksters, click right here.


Bank


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.


Let us take a moment and wish Steve Nash well as he prepares for his first NBA head-coaching gig with the Brooklyn Nets. If you missed it, here is Kyrie Irving of the Nets during an appearance on teammate Kevin Durant’s podcast: “I don’t really see us having a head coach. KD could be a head coach, I could be a head coach. . . . Steve is great, and I have a relationship with him that’s going to build over time, (but) Steve don’t know me from anything he heard. . . . We don’t need someone to come in with their coaching philosophy and change everything we’re doing.”


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “One word of advice for Steve Nash: Rent. Three-word evaluation of the situation: Tick. Tick. Tick.”


JUST NOTES: If you aren’t aware, Kelly Olynyk, the pride of Kamloops, has become a factor in the NBA final. In Games 2 and 3, he totalled 41 points and 16 rebounds in 68 minutes 20 seconds of playing time. His Miami Heat trail the Los Angeles Lakers, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 on Tuesday. . . . ESPN has two baseball analysts — Jessica Mendosa and Rick Sutcliffe — who talk and talk and talk and talk as they repeatedly tell the viewer what he/she just saw and constantly restate the obvious. So, yes, why not put both of them on the same playoff crew covering the first-round series between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres? . . . What does it say about where the U.S. is as a nation when the President tweets that he and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19 and people don’t know whether to believe him or any of his spokespeople?


FireDept

Hockey world is mourning loss of Hawerchuk . . . Here’s hoping CFL is able to find itself


As you no doubt are aware, the CFL won’t happen in 2020. For the first time since 1919, the Grey Cup won’t be awarded.

(There wasn’t a Grey Cup game for four years — 1916-19 — because of the First World War. The CFL didn’t pause for the Second World War.)

I would suggest that this day of reckoning has been in the CFL’s windshield for a few years now. I don’t know exactly when it was that the CFL came to the fork in the road and took the wrong one, but somewhere along the way it lost track of who it is.

Hopefully it can find itself over the next few months. Hopefully it can figure out where the fans went in Edmonton and Toronto and B.C. Hopefully it can get things back on track in Montreal. Hopefully it can get back to being the CANADIAN Football League.

I spent a fair amount of time around the CFL and its teams while with the Winnipeg Tribune and Regina Leader-Post through 1999. It hurts to see this happen to the CFL, but here’s hoping it comes back with a redesign that makes it bigger and better whenever COVID-19 allows another season to be held. . . .

In the meantime, two columnists I worked with while in Regina took a look at the CFL and the situation in which it now finds itself. . . . Ed Willes of Postmedia has his take right here, while Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post has a column right here. . . . Ed Tait of the Blue Bombers has a terrific piece right here with thoughts from LB Adam Bighill and QB Zach Collaros. . . . Here’s part of what Collaros had to say: “The optics of going to the federal government without consulting with us at all was definitely tough. Guys were definitely not happy about that. It’s kind of a microcosm of how this pandemic has been handled from leadership in North America. The transparency is not there, the communication hasn’t been great. That needs to improve moving forward if 2021 is going to be successful.”


Fans of the Vancouver Canucks have had to put their plans for a Stanley Cup parade on hold since their favourites now find themselves at 2-2 with the defending-champion St. Louis Blues in the opening round of the NHL’s bubble tournament. . . . The Canucks, you may recall, won the first two games, only to have the Blues wake up in time for a 3-2 OT victory in Game 3 on Sunday, and then pound their way to a 3-1 triumph on Monday. . . . The Blues have gotten more and more physical with the Canucks young guns, especially Elias Pettersson, as the series has worn on. How the Canucks and Pettersson respond in Game 5 tonight will tell the story.

Meanwhile, the NHL revealed on Monday that it completed the third week of its return to play without any positive tests. There had been 5,640 tests administered through Aug. 15. . . . Yes, if everyone is on the same page with the same goal in mind, the bubble approach does work.


Nuts


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The U of Notre Dame reported 147 positive tests — 146 students and one staff member — on Tuesday, so suspended in-person classes for two weeks just eight days into the fall semester. Some of the positives apparently were traced to an off-campus party where there were neither masks nor social distancing. . . . The U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill cancelled in-person undergraduate classes on Monday with at least 135 positive tests on campus. A spokesperson said that as of Monday morning, there were 177 students in isolation and 349 in quarantine. . . . Also on Tuesday, Michigan State ordered undergrads to stay home for the remainder of the fall. MSU hadn’t yet started its fall semester when it told students to say home “effective immediately.” . . . In a letter to students, Samuel Stanley Jr., MSU’s president, said the move was due to the “current status of the virus in our country — particularly what we are seeing at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities.” . . .

The Atlanta Braves have placed OF Nick Markakis on the 10-day IL because he may have been exposed to the virus. Interestingly, Markakis, 36, originally opted out of playing this season. However, he changed his mind and returned to the Braves shortly after the season began. . . .

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with a pertinent observation: “Something’s wrong with the business model at many American universities when the cancellation of a football season threatens to wreck a school’s budget.”



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.


Stars


The 16-team USHL announced Tuesday that it hopes to open a 54-game regular season on Nov. 6 and wrap it up on April 24. Teams will open training camps on Sept. 14 with exhibition games to start in mid-October. . . . From a news release: “All activities are designed to take place in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines as well as the League’s Return to Play Protocols which are currently being finalized. The regular season schedule allows for flexibility for games to be moved to the back of the schedule due to postponements, capacity restrictions, or other factors.” . . . The news release didn’t make any mention of the situation in Des Moines, Iowa, where Buccaneer Arena, the home of the USHL’s Buccaneers, was damaged by an intense storm on Aug. 10. The ImOn Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids, the home of the RoughRiders, also suffered some damage.


These leagues are hoping to start their 2020-21 regular seasons on these proposed dates:

AHL: Dec. 4

AJHL: Sept. 18

BCHL: Dec. 1

ECHL: Dec. 4

Heritage Junior B Hockey League: Oct. 28

KHL: Sept. 2

KIJHL: Oct. 2

MJHL: Sept. 25

NAHL: Oct. 9

NHL: Dec. 1

OHL: Dec. 1

Pacific Junior Hockey League: Sept. 29

QMJHL: Oct. 1

SJHL: Oct. 9

USHL: Nov. 6

Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League: Sept. 7 (48 games), Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40), Dec. 14 (32)

WHL: Dec. 4



Paul McFarland now is the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. An assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019-20, McFarland signed as Kingston’s head coach on May 8. He was named general manager on Tuesday. . . . The Frontenacs had been looking for a GM since July 23 when they announced that they wouldn’t be renewing Darren Kelly’s contract. . . . Prior to his one season with the Maple Leafs, McFarland was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers for two seasons.


The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have reinstated assistant coach Curtis Toneff. The team made the announcement on Monday after a stay of proceedings had been agreed to regarding charges faced by Toneff. . . . He had been charged with assault on June 2 after a May 24 incident. The Broncos suspended Toneff after the charge was laid. . . . Last season was Toneff’s first with the Broncos after two seasons as head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


Plaid

Scattershooting on a Sunday evening while wondering if the virus will leave when cold weather arrives . . .

Scattershooting


With MLB having started exhibition games and with a 60-game regular season soon to begin, Ann Killion, an excellent sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, sums up the situation:

“Who is going to get the coronavirus next? Where is the roulette wheel going to stop? What will the repercussions be for that player’s or coach’s family? Will the games have to abruptly end?

“A welcome distraction?

“Not likely. Not when we know that the baseball players we’re watching are each receiving multiple tests a week so they can play some games that will carry asterisks forever.”

Nail, meet hammer. Killion’s complete column is right here.



With rookies for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs reporting to training camp today (Monday), a number of NFL stars took to Twitter on Sunday to question what is going on concerning safety procedures. . . . Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback, tweeted: “My wife is pregnant. Training camp is about to start. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety.” . . . Nicholas Reimann of Forbes has more right here.


Cats


So . . . Sidney Crosby, one of the NHL’s few true superstars, leaves a Saturday scrimmage early and doesn’t return. Mike Sullivan, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach, says: “We’re to permitted to comment.” . . . There isn’t a league anywhere in the world that does a better job of suppressing information than the GBHL — Gary Bettman Hockey League. . . . And the women and men who cover the GBHL better get used to this because I’m thinking it will be the new norm whenever the virus chooses to leave us.


It’s my understanding that the virus will go away once the weather turns cold.


The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported: “Lindsay Whalen, the Minnesota women’s basketball coach, says she’ll buy hot dogs for the first 500 fans at the Gophers’ home opener this season.” . . . To which Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times responded: “In a related story, Joey Chestnut just bought 75 tickets.”

——

Danica Patrick’s mouthpiece says that the former race-car driver and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers have visited Splitsville. Here are the aforementioned Perry’s thoughts: “Rodgers apologists claim he called an audible; her spinmeisters say they hit the skids.”


The QMJHL announced on Saturday that its plan right now is for each of its 18 teams to qmjhlnewplay 60 games in a regular season that will open on Oct. 1. Training camps will open on Aug. 26 with teams bringing in a maximum of 34 players, down from around 60 in previous times. . . . The league also will be split into three divisions and teams will play only within their own divisions, meaning 12 games against each opponent. . . . The QMJHL hasn’t yet announced a playoff format, nor does it know whether fans will be allowed to attend games. . . . The QMJHL features six teams in the Maritimes, who would play in one division, with the other two divisions comprising the 12 Quebec teams. . . . If you were wondering, the Quebec Midget AAA League says it will start its regular season on Sept. 11.


Curtis Toneff, an assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos, has been suspended by the SJHL team, which said he “will have no further association” with the team until further notice. Toneff is facing an undisclosed criminal charge by the RCMP and is looking at a court date somewhere down the road. . . . Toneff, 27, is from Nanaimo, B.C. He joined the Broncos’ staff prior to last season after spending two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


Knife


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “The taxpayers are sending Congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it, but they keep coming back.”


Headline at fark.com: Astros owner wants fans in the stands wo he can sell overpriced, watered down cold beer.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) has trimmed its Baltimore Orioles broadcast crew because of the pandemic, meaning play-by-play man Gary Thorne and analyst Jim Palmer won’t be on the air when things get restarted. Rick Dempsey, Brian Roberts and Gregg Olsen also won’t be taking part. . . .

Former MLB P Bob Walk, now a broadcaster with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is recovering after testing positive.

1B/DH Jose Martinez was on the field with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. He had been out while quarantining following a positive test. . . .

P Collin McHugh of the Boston Red Sox, who has had elbow issues of late, has opted out of the season. He likely was headed to the injury list, but will spend time with his family. . . .

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus said Sunday that he and his wife Barbara, both of whom are 80, tested positive in March. Jack had some symptoms into late April, while Barbara was asymptomatic. . . .

Brandon Banks, the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2019, said via Twitter on Sunday that he won’t play in 2020 if there is a season. A wide receiver and kick returner, Banks tweeted that “Idk what they gonna do but I won’t put on a helmet til 2021.”



Gregor Chisholm, a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star, after the Canadian government refused the Blue Jays’ request to play home games in Toronto: “This was never about the sport itself. The Jays got caught up in something much bigger than a game. This is about Canada wanting to continue to distance itself from a dysfunctional neighbour who seems to have lost touch with reality.”

——

So . . . why didn’t Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, invite the Blue Jays to play their home games out of Edmonton’s RE/MAX Field? It seats 9,200, but who cares because fans wouldn’t be allowed. Imagine the smile on Kenney’s face if he had the NHL and MLB in Alberta’s capital at the same time.

——

With the Blue Jays on the move, apparently to Buffalo or Dunedin, Fla., let’s check out the standings in the Strat-O-Matic simulation league. . . . The Blue Jays were shelled 12-1 by the visiting Cleveland Indians on Sunday, falling to 46-54 and leaving them 13 games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (59-41). The New York Yankees (52-46) are six games back in second place. . . . The other MLB division leaders — Cleveland (61-39), Houston Astros (65-33), Washington Nationals (58-42), Milwaukee Brewers (53-45) and Los Angeles Dodgers (64-36).


After organizers cancelled the 2021 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wondered: “If the Rose Parade is a public-health risk not worth taking, would a Rose Bowl game played in the same venue make sense?”



Hook

Trudeau: Today, we remember . . .


Michael McCann is the legal analyst for Sports Illustrated and writes regularly for SI’s website.

In his latest piece, he writes about the legal implications involved in a return to play by professional sports leagues.

It really isn’t as simple as bringing players back to a central location, holding some sort of training camp, and then playing games. Oh no! There’s a whole lot more to it than that in these bizarre times.

You can give him a read right here.

——

And what if Major League Baseball ends up opening its season by having teams play in facilities without any fans.

Well, there is precedent from 2015 . . .

As Bruce Jenkins wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Kurkjian, the longtime baseball writer/analyst with ESPN, was in Baltimore when baseball got a taste of the no-fans experience. It was the spring of 2015 and the city was in chaos over the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered severe spinal-cord damage while in police custody. Violent protests raged over the issues of race, justice and police brutality, and it was determined that if the April 29 game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox were to be played at Camden Yards, the public could not be allowed inside.

“Strangest day I’ve ever known in sports,” Kurkjian said in a telephone interview this week. “Chris Davis hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and you could hear the sound of it landing. He rounded the bases in total silence in his home ballpark. (Manager) Buck Showalter told me he could hear every word the TV guys (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer) were saying. And Buck didn’t need the bullpen phone. He just yelled down there, ‘Get (Zack) Britton up!’”

Kurkjian admitted it was “pretty cool, for that day. But if it happens several times in a week, it’s no longer a novelty. After that, I think we should all be pretty careful.”


Survival


While we don’t have any idea when professional golf will return, the British Open officially was cancelled on Monday. It had been scheduled for Royal St. George’s from July 16-19, and now is set for July 15-18, 2021. The 2022 Open Championship, the 150th, is to be played at St. Andrews. . . .

The Masters, which was to have been played this week, has been rescheduled for Nov. 12-15 at Augusta. . . . The U.S. Open is to be played at Harding Park in San Francisco, Aug. 6-9, with the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Sept. 17-20. . . .

If you’re wondering about the Canadian Open, it remains on the PGA schedule at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto, June 11-14.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “I agree with my esteemed (and sometimes steamed) fellow columnist, Bruce Jenkins, that it will be weird if the NBA plays games without fans, because of the lack of crowd noise. But there would be two benefits. We’d get to hear the game — the squeaks, the growls, the talking, the swearing. And we would be spared the incessant PA sound effects during play, which add nothing to the experience for fans in the arena or watching on TV.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, brings us his Thought of the Day, this one from Mark Twain: “Truth is might and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain’t so.”

——

BTW, The Sports Curmudgeon was at his best in Monday’s rant, where he speculates about what we will see when we emerge from this tunnel.

He points out that even with all that we are missing — from March Madness to the NHL to the NBA and on and on — “the world goes on; and as time passes without the presence of these pleasant activities, people may very well come to a point where sports reside on a lower tier of their life-importance construct. If — I said IF — that comes to pass in a significant number of people, that may mean a much smaller demand for high priced tix and a much diminished willingness to approve spending large blocks of taxpayer money to build sporting venues. If interest diminishes, TV ratings would likely drop too and that will make ever-increasing TV rights deals a bad revenue projection for leagues and owners.”

He’s got more to say on the subject and it’s all right here.


Shower


Veteran junior coach Mike Vandekamp has left the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals to join the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm, signing a three-year deal as general manager and head coach. . . . Vandekamp spent two seasons as the Capitals’ GM and head coach. . . . Whenever the next season begins, it will be Vandekamp’s 26th as a junior hockey coach. . . . Vandekamp is returning to Grande Storm, where he coached the Storm for four seasons (2007-11), going 154-72-19 and winning the AJHL title in 2009. He has spent the past nine seasons in the BCHL. . . . In Grande Prairie, he takes over from Ryan Aasman, who stepped in as interim head coach on Dec. 17 after the firing of Matt Keillor.


Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins

MacBeth

F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


ThisThat

The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.


The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.

——

The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

——

SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


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