Sheldon Kennedy spent the weekend in Swift Current, which was the host location for Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday. While he was there, the City honoured him by naming an arena after him. To see the love affair between Kennedy and Swift Current makes my heart sing, because there once was a time when an observer never would have thought this was possible. . . . Well done!
ICYMI, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed F Auston Matthews to a new contract on Tuesday. . . . What! You didn’t know that! . . . Well, you’re welcome.
Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, on one of the Super Bowl commercials: “After the Washington Post ad in the fourth quarter, I mentioned to my Super Bowl party host that Jeff Bezos’ impending divorce action may influence the Post to the degree that their new slogan ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ may need to be altered to ‘Democracy dies in divorce.’ ”
And here is The Sports Curmudgeon on the Super Bowl’s halftime show: “Granted that I had no idea who any of the performers for the half-time show were. After glimpsing pieces of their acts, I can say with certainty that I need not expend an erg of energy to find out the next time any of them will be in concert near to where I live. The ad slogan for Camel cigarettes used to be, ‘I’d walk a mile for a Camel.’ Well, I would not walk across the room to hear any of those folks perform.”
Perhaps you heard about the runner in Colorado who, when attacked by an 80-pound cougar, killed the big cat with his bare hands. As Dixon Tam put it on Twitter: “I hope Chuck Norris recovers from his injuries quickly.”
Ahh, yes, the Kootenay Ice Hall of Fame, announced eight days after the franchise’s post-season move to Winnipeg was confirmed. In an email, one fan told Taking Note that “it’s like sending flowers to your wife a week after you dumped her for another woman.”
If you’re wondering what Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades does on his nights off, he’s the star of the Saskatchewan karaoke circuit. . . . Actually, he was taking part in a Kinsmen-sponsored karaoke battle, so it was all in good fun and for a good cause.
Here for your reading pleasure is a piece written by Mark Fainaru-Wada, a staff writer at ESPN, about how the iconic Bob Costas came to the end of his run with NBC-TV. Yes, it had something to do with the NFL and, yes, it has something to do with concussions. . . . It’s all right here, and it’s another reminder about the power of the NFL.
Headline at TheOnion.com: Super Bowl halftime show marred by functioning sound system.
Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the WHL’s record for career victories as a head coach. He has 750 of those to his credit from stints with the Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants.
It was just last season when Hay broke the record of 742 that had been held for so long by Ken Hodge, who worked with the original Edmonton Oil Kings before making the move to Portland with the franchise.
On Saturday night, Marc Habscheid, now the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, became the eighth man in WHL history to get to 500 victories.
So . . . you are wondering if Hay’s career victories record is safe, or whether Habscheid might break it?
Hay will turn 65 on Wednesday. Habscheid will hit 56 on March 1.
For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that Hay won’t be a WHL head coach again, although it’s apparent that he isn’t as done with coaching as we once were led to believe. (Hey, the Prince George Cougars might be in the market for a head coach once this season ends. Might Hay be a good fit there?)
Habscheid, meanwhile, is a career coach; he has been for more than 20 years. There is little doubt that he will coach for at least another 10 years. The question one has to ask is this: Will he spend the remainder of his coaching days in the WHL?
To date, Habscheid has had only one brief taste (2006-07) of the NHL, that as an associate coach, alongside head coach Dave Lewis, with the Boston Bruins. Peter Chiarelli, then the Bruins’ general manager, fired them after one season.
Perhaps Habscheid will end up as part of the management team with the NHL’s expansion Seattle franchise that is to begin play in 2021-22. When that organization starts hiring, it may take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights, see the number of former WHL head coaches involved there and decide to follow suit. Kelly McCrimmon, Mike Kelly, Ryan McGill, Bob Lowes, Kelly Kisio and Bruno Campese, each a former WHL head coach, all are on the Vegas payroll.
If Habscheid’s phone doesn’t ring and if he ends up staying in the WHL, and if Hay doesn’t get another head-coaching gig, you can bet Habscheid will end up with more regular-season victories than anyone else.
When would that happen? Perhaps sometime in 2025-26.
By that time, Habscheid might be the head coach of the WHL’s Abbotsford Aardvarks, or the Boise Bulls, or the Wenatchee Wings. Or he may still be in Prince Albert. Or perhaps he will settling comfortably in a new role as a pitchman for Dairy Queen.
No matter. It’ll be fun watching it all unfold.
There’s more on Habscheid right here in an interesting piece filed earlier this month by Mike Commito of Sportsnet.
THE WHL’S 300 CLUB
1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750
2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742
3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692
4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626
5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572
6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548
7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518
8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 500
9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 495
10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466
Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466
12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465
Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465
14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453
15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417
16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411
17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397
18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 386
19. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349
20. Mike Johnston (Portland) 348
21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340
22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333
23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326
F Logan Stankoven set a franchise single-game points record on Sunday, counting eight of them as the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers beat the visiting Kootenay Ice, 10-0, in a B.C. Major Midget Hockey League game. . . . Stankoven scored three times and added five assists. . . . He leads the league in goals (43), assists (41) and points (84). His lead in the scoring race now is 34 points over F Tyler Crystal of the Vancouver North West Hawks. . . . According to a tweet from the team, Stankoven is one goal shy of the BCMMHL single-season goal record that is held by F Tyson Jost, who scored 44 times for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. . . . This was Stankoven’s third game of the weekend, after he played Friday and Saturday nights with the WHL’s Blazers, who selected him fifth overall in the WHLs 2018 bantam draft. This season, he has one assist in seven games with the Blazers. In Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets, head coach Serge Lajoie gave him third-period time with veterans Jermaine Loewen and Zane Franklin in an attempt to inject some life into a stagnant offence. The goals didn’t come, but the chances were there as Stankoven showed again that he is more than capable to making the jump to the WHL.
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F Riley McKay and F Chase Wouters had two goals each to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Saskatoon (34-13-8) has points in 10 straight games (8-0-2). It is second in the East Division, eight points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who have three games in hand. . . . Brandon (23-22-7) is seven points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Blades took a 3-0 lead on first-period goals from McKay, at 9:23; F Kyle Crnkovic (7), on a PP, at 14:36; and Wouters, at 15:07. . . . The Wheat Kings got to within a goal in the second period as F Linden McCorrister (12) scored while shorthanded, at 0:32, and F Stelio Mattheos (33) scored on a PP, at 10:39. . . . Wouters countered with his 12th goal, at 11:22. . . . F Ridley Greig (11) pulled the Wheat Kings back to within a goal, again, at 13:29, on another PP. . . . Saskatoon put it away on third-period goals from D Dawson Davidson (11), on a PP, at 5:02, and McKay (11), into an empty net at 18:27. . . . Each team was 2-7 on the PP. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Max Gerlach. . . . G Jiri Patera returned from a leg injury to start for Brandon and stop 31 shots. He hadn’t played since being injured on Jan. 25. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 25 shots for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were without F Kirby Dach, who left Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos after being struck by a puck in the throat area. Taking Note was told after Saturday’s game that Dach was taken from the game was only precautionary. Saskatoon next is to play Wednesday when it visits the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Blogger Darren Steinke was on hand for this one and his piece is right here.
G Carl Stankowski earned his first victory since Nov. 23 as the host Calgary Hitmen dumped the Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-2. . . . Calgary (28-20-5) is fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and one in front of the Red Deer Rebels. Calgary does hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Moose Jaw (30-14-8) had won its previous two games. It is a comfortable third in the East Division. . . . The Warriors were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours; they went (2-1-0). . . . Stankowski was making his second appearance since suffering an ankle injury on Nov. 23 in a 5-2 victory over his former club, the Seattle Thunderbirds, in Kent. Wash. . . . On Sunday, Calgary took an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Mark Kastelic (38), at 1:16, and F Tye Carriere (6), at 5:59. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (13) scored for Moose Jaw at 14:55. . . . Second-period goals by F James Malm (23), at 3:39, and F Kaden Elder (23), at 15:47, left Calgary with a 4-1 lead. . . . D Josh Brook (13) got the Warriors to within two, on a PP, at 1:40 of the third. . . . Calgary iced it as F Riley Stotts (17), at 4:33, and F Cael Zimmerman (7), at 14:46, scored. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Carson Focht. . . . G Brodan Salmond turned aside 33 shots for Moose Jaw.
F Andrew Fyten scored once and added two assists to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Edmonton (30-16-8) is atop the Central Division, one point up on the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Regina (15-37-3) is 27 points out of a playoff spot with 13 games remaining. The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament won’t be in the playoffs this time around. . . . The Pats went ahead 1-0 when F Austin Pratt (20) scored at 17:32 of the first period. . . . F Carter Souch (9) tied it 50 seconds into the second period and F Scott Atkinson (8) made it 2-1 at 1:52. . . . D David Kope (10) made it 3-1 at 6:25, giving Edmonton three goals in 5:35. . . . Fyten (13) upped the lead to 4-1 at 4:23 of the third period. He’s got five goals and nine assists in 20 games with Edmonton since being acquired from the Swift Current Broncos. . . . F Logan Nijhoff (5) scored for Regina, on a PP, at 9:13 of the third. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (29) of the Oil Kings closed out the scoring at 19:05. . . . The Oil Kings are 3-0-0 in the season series and have outscored the Pats, 16-4. Fix-Wolansky, who added an assist to his goal in this one, has two goals and eight assists in the series. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 34 saves, six fewer than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . Regina F Cole Dubinsky was back after serving a four-game suspension. . . . The Oil Kings welcomed back F David Kope and D Matthew Robertson from injury-related absences, while F Jake Neighbours served the second of a four-game suspension.
F Ryan Chyzowski scored the only goal of a five-round shootout to give the Medicine Hat Tigers a 2-1 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . Medicine Hat (31-18-5) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and three in front of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Tigers went 3-0-1 in a four-game swing that included stops in Cranbrook, Everett and Kent, Wash. The only blemish was a 4-3 OT loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent. . . . Portland (33-16-6) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Both teams were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. The Tigers went (2-0-1), while the Winterhawks were (1-1-1). . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 10:23 of the first period. He leads the WHL in goals (45) and points (93). . . . The Tigers tied it at 4:36 of the third when F Ryan Jevne (25) scored while shorthanded. . . . Medicine Hat G Mads Søgaard made 28 saves through regulation time, then stopped four shots in OT and foiled five skaters in the shootout. . . . Portland got 38 saves from G Shane Farkas. . . . The Winterhawks are without F Cody Glass (knee), who last played on Jan. 26, and D Brendan De Jong, who left Saturday’s 5-0 loss in Everett with an apparent injury to his left knee.
The Vancouver Giants scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Prince George Cougars, 4-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (37-13-3) has won five in a row. It will finish first in the B.C. Division, and now is one point behind the Everett Silvertips (38-13-2), who lead the Western Conference. . . . The Giants became the third WHL team — behind the Prince Albert Raiders and Everett — to clinch a playoff spot. Vancouver will be in the playoffs for a second straight season after missing three in a row. . . . Prince George (16-32-6) now has lost 13 in a row (0-10-3), the longest losing skid in the league this season. The Cougars are 10 points from a playoff spot. . . . F Ethan Browne (8) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:00 of the first period. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (12) tied it 42 seconds into the second period. . . . Vancouver put it away with three third-period goals, from F Davis Koch (22), on a PP, at 7:06; F Justin Sourdif (15), at 11:35; and F Tristen Nielsen (10), at 15:24. . . . Vancouver D Bowen Byram, who had two assists, took a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Cougars F Mitch Kohner at 13:48 of the third period. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 32 shots for the Giants, while G Taylor Gauthier, back after being shaken up and leaving a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday, made 25 saves for Prince George. . . . The Giants dressed only 11 forwards and then lost Brayden Watts in the first period. “Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looks,” head coach Michael Dyck told Postmedia’s Steve Ewen.