Canucks’ Miller says team needs more recovery time . . . Rockets out of quarantine and back on ice . . . Maier, Garand pitch shutouts

F J.T. Miller of the Vancouver Canucks always has worn his emotions on his sleeve and spoken his mind.

So you have to think the team’s management wasn’t at all surprised when he Canuckstook the NHL to task on Wednesday.

“This is nothing to do with hockey,” Miller said during a virtual media availability. “To be brutally honest, we’re going to need more time than this to come back and play hockey. Even the guys that didn’t get it aren’t ready.”

The Canucks are scheduled to play host to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night. Thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak that impacted players, coaches, staff members and family members that would be the Canucks’ first game since March 24. All told, there were 22 players, three coaches and one staffer who tested positive.

When the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list was released on Wednesday is still contained seven Vancouver players — D Jalen Chatfield, D Alex Edler, F Jayce Hawryluk, F Nils Höglander, F Zack MacEwen, D Nate Schmidt and F Jake Virtanen.

“I don’t feel ready if I’m being honest . . . It’s kind of crazy,” Miller said. “I know everyone has a job to do but to expect our entire team to be ready to play in one practice and a pre-game skate is a bit hard to comprehend.”

Now the NHL wants the Canucks (16-18-3) to play their last 19 games over a 30-day span. They are sixth in the North Division and not likely to qualify for the playoffs.

“I hope people don’t take this the wrong way,” Miller continued, “I’m a super competitive guy . . . but this isn’t about hockey for our team. This is about the health and safety of our players, their family and their children. This isn’t about making the playoffs.

“What we’re being asked to do is not going to be too safe, if you’re asking me.”

The Canucks are scheduled to practice this morning at 11:15, and it’s to be open to the media.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Blackhawks head coach said that F Adam Gaudette, who was acquired Monday from the Canucks, will be given some time before he dresses for a game. Gaudette was the first of the Canucks to test positive. He was removed from the ice during a practice on March 30.


The Colorado Avalanche cancelled their Wednesday morning skate in St. Louis “due to one positive test from (Tuesday’s) COVID-19 testing.” That person went into isolation; all others tested negative. . . . G Philipp Grubauer was added to Colorado’s COVID-19 protocol list on Wednesday. . . . G Devan Dubnyk, acquired Monday from the San Jose Sharks, made his first start for the Avalanche last night, stopping 31 shots in a 4-3 victory in St. Louis. . . . After last night’s victory, Colorado head coach Jared Bender said that Grubauer will be out for “more than 14 days.” . . .

The AHL’s Toronto Marlies are on hold through Wednesday because of the league’s COVID-19 protocol. They have had three games postponed. . . . The Toronto Maple Leafs added F Nick Robertson to the COVID-19 protocol list on Wednesday. He had been with the Marlies so this move quite likely was precautionary. . . . The AHL also has the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who are affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers, shut down through Sunday. The league postponed the Phantoms game last night against the host Hershey Bears, and also scrubbed Friday and Sunday games.

The Houston Astros put five players, four of them starters, on the injured list on Wednesday. Catcher Martin Maldonado, infielders Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, DH Yordan Alvarez and utility player Robel Garcia all went on the list. James Click, the Astros’ general manager, later said all five were placed on the list “as a result of health and safety protocols.” . . . The Astros dropped a 6-4 decision to the visiting Detroit Tigers last night.


Xrays


This is interesting because Sportsnet announced on Feb. 18, 2014, a 12-year “partnership extension” with the CHL that was to run through the end of the 2025-26 season. That made Sportsnet the exclusive broadcaster of the CHL and the Memorial Cup. . . . Makes one wonder if Sportsnet will pay TSN to take the contract off its hands?


The four Canadian teams that were to have been part of the West Coast League, a wood-bat summer baseball league, have chosen not to play in 2021. The Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws, Nanaimo NightOwls and Victoria HarbourCats had announced that they would play a schedule of games among themselves. The Edmonton, Kamloops and Nanaimo franchises are expansion teams. . . . The Kelowna Falcons announced in March that they wouldn’t take part this season. . . . The WCL’s 10 Oregon- and Washington-based teams are going ahead with a 2021 season.


If you have ever been close to a hockey team you will know that it is people like the equipment manager and athletic therapist/trainer who really keep things going. . . . But what’s it like for the people in those positions with a WHL team in these pandemic times? What’s it like behind the scenes in the Regina hub? . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun checked in with the three men who fill these roles with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He came out of it with a terrific long read that is right here.


The Kelowna Rockets were back on the ice at Prospera Place on Wednesday Rocketsmorning, the first time they have skated since they went into a 14-day quarantine after seven positive tests within the organization. An eighth positive was discovered during the quarantine period, but because it happened to someone already in isolation it didn’t impact the 14 days off.

Head coach Kris Mallette was one who tested positive.

“What’s crazy,” he told Global News, “is how it affects everybody differently, that’s the scariest aspect. I was fortunate that for me it was headaches, aches and a cough but it wasn’t anything that wasn’t manageable without taking some sort of medication.”

The Rockets, who had eight games postponed, have only played twice in what is supposed to be a 24-game season. They are scheduled to return to game action on Saturday against the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops.

Meanwhile, there were four WHL games on Wednesday . . .

G Nolan Maier recorded his ninth career shutout as the Saskatoon Blades beat Bladesthe Swift Current Broncos, 3-0, in Regina. . . . The Blades (13-2-2) have points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . The Broncos (3-13-1) have lost six in a row. . . . Maier now shares the Saskatoon franchise record for career shutouts with Andrei Makarov (115 games, 2011-13). . . . Maier, who has made 151 appearances in three-plus seasons, stopped 27 shots in posting his second shutout of this season. . . . F Blake Stevenson scored twice, at 10:35 and 12:21 of the first period for a 2-0 lead. He’s got seven goals. . . . F Chase Wouters also scored his seventh goal of the season. . . .

F Ben McCartney scored Brandon’s last three goals as the Wheat Kings beat the BrandonWinnipeg Ice, 5-3, in Regina. . . . McCartney, who has 11 goals, completed his evening with the empty-netter. . . . The Wheat Kings (13-3-2) opened an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Riley Ginnell (4) and F Brett Hyland (2). . . . The Ice halved the deficit at 4:55 of the second period on F Connor McClennon’s 11th goal, but McCartney got that one back at 9:07. . . . F Conor Geekie (7) got Winnipeg back to within at goal at 13:36, but McCartney counted again at 7:18 of the third. . . . F Owen Pederson (8) again pulled the Ice to within a goal, this time at 14:47, but McCartney put it away at 19:51. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs had an assist to run his point streak to 16 games, while McClennon has points in 10 straight. . . . The Wheat Kings were handed all six of the game’s minor penalties and gave up two PP goals. . . . The Ice (12-5-0) had won its previous six games. . . . Brandon G Connor Ungar stopped 38 shots. He is 5-1-1, 2.57, .915 in the Regina hub. . . . Brandon is 3-0-0 against Winnipeg this season — 3-2, 4-3 and 5-3 — with one meeting left. . . .

F Eli Zummack scored the game’s last two goals to give the Spokane Chiefs a 4-Spokane3 OT victory over the host Portland Winterhawks. . . . Zummack, who has five goals, tied the game on a PP at 19:29 of the third period, then won it at 3:27 of OT. . . . Zummack is on a real roll at the moment. He scored a shorthanded goal and added an assist in Portland’s 7-6 victory on Saturday, then had a goal and three assists in a 4-3 victory over the host Everett Silvertips on Tuesday. . . . F Simon Knak (8) and F Kyle Chyzowski (3) gave the Winterhawks a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . The Chiefs tied it on goals from F Blake Swetlikoff (3), at 6:17 of the second, and F Adam Beckman (9), at 5:35 of the third. Beckman has goals in six straight games. . . . F Tyson Kozak’s first goal gave Portland a 3-2 lead at 9:10. . . . D Bobby Russell assisted on each of Zummack’s goals. . . . G Mason Beaupit was outstanding for the Chiefs, making 48 saves, 25 more than Portland’s Dante Giannuzzi. . . . The Chiefs now are 4-5-3; the Winterhawks are 5-4-3. . . . These teams played each other three times since Friday with Spokane winning twice. . . . D Sage Weinstein, a 15-year-old from Edmonton who was the 18th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, made his WHL debut with the Chiefs. . . .

In Kamloops, G Dylan Garand posted a 16-save shutout as the Blazers beat the KamloopsPrince George Cougars, 5-0. . . . That was Garand’s first shutout this season and the sixth of his career. . . . F Josh Pillar scored the game’s first goal, at 8:06 of the first period. He finished with two goals, giving him five, and an assist. . . . F Caedan Bankier had a goal, his fourth, and an assist, with F Connor Zary and F Orrin Centazzo each recording two assists. . . . The Blazers (7-1-0) have won three in a row. . . . The Cougars (3-3-2) had picked up at least a point in each of their previous four games (2-0-2). . . . Kamloops held a 40-16 edge in shots, including 20-2 in the third period.


Lady


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . And a huge thank you to those who have already responded to this. Love seeing her smile every time she gets a notification of a new donor.

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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: The AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats are looking for an assistant coach following the departure of Brady Bakke. He joined the Bobcats prior to the 2019-20 season. From a news release: “A search for a new assistant coach has begun and any candidates looking to put their name forward are asked to send a cover letter and resume to nigel@lloydminsterbobcats.com.” . . . The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves also are in the market for an assistant coach. From a news release: “To apply, please submit a cover letter, resume and references electronically to head coach/general manager Kevin Kaminski at coach.icewolves@sasktel.net.”


Sign

WHL board chairman suggests late February or early March for start . . . Five WHL players off to USHL . . . City of Cranbrook suing WHL, Ice owners

How does the Prince George Cougars of Kamloops sound? Or how about the Victoria Royals of Kelowna?

The WHL announced on Friday that it has a “commitment” to play a 24-game WHL22021 schedule. The league didn’t announce any other particulars, other than pointing out that “he start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction, and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and the owner/general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told Travis Lowe of CHBC-TV in Kelowna that the people running the show “thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,”

Taking Note was told Tuesday afternoon that one plan the WHL has looked at would have players reporting to teams on Jan. 22 in the hopes of starting a season on Feb. 8. However, that seems awfully far-fetched if only because, for example, the restrictions that presently are in place in B.C. are there until at least Feb. 5.

Hamilton told Lowe that a new season “probably” wouldn’t get started “until the end of February, early March.”

Lowe also reported: “According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete. Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.”

Hamilton also told Lowe that “we may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into (Kelowna) and then limit the travel.”

A source told Taking Note that one option that has been discussed would have the Cougars spend the season playing out of Kamloops, with the Royals doing the same out of Kelowna.


Last week, the USHL’s Lincoln Stars added four players to their protected list, PortlandAlternateall of them American-born skaters off the roster of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. On Tuesday, the Winterhawks released those four to play for the Stars. F Cross Hanas, 19, who is from Highland Village, Tex.; F Clay Hanus, 19, from Excelsior, Minn.; F Jack O’Brien, 17, from Denver; and F James Stefan, 17, from Laguna Beach, Calif., will stay with Lincoln until the Stars’ season ends. . . . “With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. . . .

Meanwhile, F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs has been given his release to play for the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho. . . .

On Jan. 5, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. However, Savoie’s name has yet to appear on that roster. He is from St. Alberta, Alta. Savoie played six games this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, putting up three goals and three assists.


If you have been holding out hope that fans will be allowed into arenas to watch games when/if the WHL gets a season started, it really doesn’t seem likely to happen.

For proof, here’s part of message from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to their fans: “The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has been working with the Ticket Centre and our ticket provider to begin the process of issuing full refunds to everyone who purchased 2020-21 season tickets.”


The WHL and the Winnipeg Ice are being sued by the City of Cranbrook. . . . Karin Larsen of CBC News reports that “a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says both the Winnipeg Ice (formerly Kootenay Ice) and WHL are responsible for breaking an arena deal that was supposed to run through June 2023. The claim says the city is out approximately $178,000 per year as a result.” . . . The Kootenay Ice franchise was purchased by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is based in Winnipeg, from the Chynoweth family. The Ice played two seasons in Cranbrook under new ownership before moving to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 season. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Carlin


With its 2021 regular season to start Wednesday night, the NHL revealed NHLTuesday that 27 players, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, tested positive during the training camp period from Dec. 30 to Monday. . . . According to the NHL, about 12,000 tests were conducted on more than 1,200 players. . . . The other 10 positives tests involve players from eight other teams. . . . The NHL has said it will provide “regular updates on the results of tests administered to players, including the identities of the players” with the start of the new season. . . . The Stars have returned to the practice ice, although more than a dozen players were unavailable on Tuesday, but their first three games have been postponed. They also have had an undisclosed number of staffers test positive. . . .

D Jordie Benn and F J.T. Miller won’t play for the Vancouver Canucks when they open their NHL season Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks aren’t saying why, but Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver tweeted that the two are out “due to COVID-19 concerns” and that they will be out “for a couple of weeks.” Sekeres added: “Both players are quarantining. Miller had been staying at Benn’s Vancouver residence.” . . . Richard Zussman of Global BC reported via Twitter that he has been told either Benn or Miller “tested positive for COVID, then negative, then positive again and when tested a fourth time tested negative. The other is a close contact.”


Spidey


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister — Update on the Canada-US border: We’ve extended the current border measures by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until at least February 21st. We’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

680 CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and said eight more Manitobans with the virus have died. It’s the first time the province’s list of new daily infections has dropped below 100 since Oct. 19.

CBC News — 248 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan. It’s the 1st time in a week the province has recorded fewer than 300 new daily cases. Health authorities also report 5 additional deaths from the virus. . . . The provincial government has extended current COVID-19-related public health orders until at least Jan. 29, due to current transmission rates.

CBC News — Alberta again breaks COVID-19 record with 38 deaths reported in single day. The province reported 652 new cases, 819 hospitalizations and 132 patients in ICUs. . . . Deaths from the illness are reported as Alberta Health compiles data, meaning not all 38 happened on the same day. The latest report includes deaths reported to the province from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12. But provincial numbers released over the last two days show that at least 21 people died from COVID-19 on Sunday alone. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now stands at 1,345.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 446 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 58,553 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 368 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 72 of whom are in intensive care. . . . There are 7,238 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 51,144 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,019 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News — Ontario reports 41 more deaths and 2,903 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the 1st time the number has fallen below 3,000 since January 3.

CBC News — Quebec reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 47 additional deaths. It’s the 2nd day in a row where the number of new cases is below 2,000; it was above 2,000 for the previous 8 days.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC — No surprise the Canada/US border will remain closed. Here are the latest weekly (Jan. 4-11) COVID-19 stats for Washington state: 217 deaths. 20,251 cases. 818 hospitalizations.

CNN, Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT — So far today, Johns Hopkins University has reported 212,766 new cases and 4,212 new deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 22.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 380,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

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The number of postponements in this young NBA season has reached six, with the latest casualty a Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Due to protocols, the Wizards don’t have the necessary eight players able to play. . . . Three of the postponed games have involved the Boston Celtics, including one that had been scheduled for Chicago on Tuesday night. . . . Five of the NBA’s six postponements have occurred since Sunday. . . .

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also have come up with some new rules aimed at keeping numbers down. From The Associated Press: “For ‘at least the next two weeks,’ the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games. . . . Players also no longer will be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road. . . . Also from The AP: “Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a ‘cool down chair’ without a mask — but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.” . . .

As if the NBA doesn’t have enough on its plate, Brian Windthorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Tuesday that sources have told them “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time. That story is right here. . . .

Pro golfer Jhonattan Vegas has tested positive so has withdrawn from the Sony Open that is to open in Honolulu on Thursday. . . .

The Czech Republic pulled out of the world handball championship after 13 of its 21 players and a number of coaches tested positive. The event was scheduled for Egypt, Jan. 13-31.


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: The ECHL has sold two expansion franchises to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by Dean MacDonald. The new teams will begin play in 2021-21 in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Que.  Deacon Sports and Entertainment also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. From an ECHL news release: “Coralville will play out of Xtreme Arena, a 5,100-seat venue which was completed in September 2020, while Trois-Rivières will play out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a new construction that will host 4,390 fans.”


John