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.

——

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

When is .500 not a winning record? . . . Winterhawks ink two forwards . . . Fix-Wolansky leads charging Oil Kings


ThisThat

The WHL standings include categories for points and winning percentage.

According to the latter, there are 15 teams in the 22-team league that have a record of whl.500 or better. That, of course, would seem to indicate that there are 15 teams that have won more games than they have lost.

That is because we are stuck in the quagmire brought on by the doling out of loser points. To date, WHL teams have banked 42 of those, with the Brandon Wheat Kings having six of them. Yes, they have lost three times in OT and three times in shootouts. The Wheat Kings’ record is 9-4-6, which, put another way, means they have lost one more game than they have won.

If you’re wondering how many of the 22 teams have won more games than they have lost, well, the answer would be nine. Yes, nine!

In the 10-team Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants, Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Tri-City Americans and Victoria Royals have more victories than losses. In the 12-team Eastern Conference, only the Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Edmonton Oil Kings and Saskatoon Blades fall in that category.

Such is life in the era of the loser point.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Jack O’Brien and F James Stefan, both of whom Portlandare playing in the U-15 Little Caesars midget program. Their Tier I team is ranked second in the U.S. . . . O’Brien, a 15-year-old from Denver, has six goals and 14 assists in 20 games. . . . In 25 games, Stefan, who is from Laguna, Calif., has 15 goals and 13 assists. Stefan, 15 is the son of Patrik Stefan, whose playing career included 455 NHL games — 414 with the Atlanta Thrashers and 41 with the Dallas Stars. Patrik now is the head coach of the Little Caesars midget team. . . . The then-Edmonton Ice selected Patrik in the 1997 CHL import draft but he never played in the WHL.


The Kootenay Ice has returned D Anson McMaster to the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. KootenaynewMcMaster, 16, is pointless in three games with the Ice this season. He was a second-round pick by the Ice in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . D Ben Zloty, 16, has gone back to the midget AAA Calgary Royals, while F Owen Pederson, 16, was returned to the prep team at OHA Edmonton. Pederson, a fifth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft, is pointless in six games; Zloty, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, is pointless in three. . . . The Ice already has had 32 players dress for at least one game. . . . At 6-12-3, the Ice is three points out of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, but has played five more games than the Moose Jaw Warriors (7-5-4), who are in possession of that berth, at least for now.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


The AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats have hired Nigel Dube, 30, as their general manager and head coach. He replaces Travis Clayton, who was fired on Friday while in his third season with the team. . . . Dube, who is from Lampman, Sask., was in his second season as the associate coach with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. Earlier, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the NAHL’s Minot, N.D., Minotauros. . . . The Bobcats are 5-15-1 and in last place in the eight-team Viterra North Division.


There was a neat story out of an OHL game between the Guelph Storm and ohlhost Windsor Spitfires on Saturday night. . . . Windsor won the game, 2-1, in a shootout and when it was over three goaltenders — two from the Storm — were introduced as the three stars. . . . Windsor’s Michael DiPietro was the first star, after stopping 31 shots. . . . Guelph starter Anthony Popovich blocked 28 shots and was selected as second star. . . . Nico Daws, Guelph’s backup on this night, was named the third star, despite not being credited with any playing time. . . . Daws came off the bench at 2:58 of OT and stopped Windsor F Cody Morgan on a penalty shot. On the play that led to the penalty shot, Morgan was hauled down from behind and fell into Popovich, who ended up with a broken skate blade. When the skate couldn’t be repaired quickly, referee Joe Celestin called for Daws to enter the game. . . . Daws stopped Morgan, and Popovich, a new blade in place, re-entered the game. . . . While Daws was announced as third star after the game, it appears to have been changed later because the OHL website now shows the third star as Windsor F Daniel D’Amico. He scored the winner in the eighth round of the shootout. . . . Tony Saxon of guelphtoday.com has the story right here.


MONDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

F Trey Fix-Wolansky had a goal and two assists in leading the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 6-4 EdmontonOilKingsvictory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Edmonton (13-7-2) has points in nine straight games (8-0-1). The Oil Kings lead the Central Division by one point over the Red Deer Rebels (13-5-1), who hold three games in hand. . . . Lethbridge (8-6-4) was 1-0-1 in its previous two outings. . . . The same teams will be back at it Friday, again in Lethbridge. . . . Fix-Wolansky now leads the WHL in assists (32) and points (45). He has points in 10 straight games, with seven goals and 20 assists in that run. . . . Fix-Wolansky (13) broke a 2-2 tie at 7:19 of the second period, while shorthanded, and D Conner McDonald (6) made it 4-2, on a PP, at 19:42. . . . The Hurricanes got to within a goal just 53 seconds into the third period when F Zachary Cox scored, but F Vince Loschiavo (10) got that one back for Edmonton at 9:39. . . . Cox (6) made it a one-goal game again, at 11:16, but the Oil Kings got insurance from F Jalen Luypen (2) at 18:30. . . . F Brett Kemp scored his 15th goal and added two assists for the winners, with F Quinn Benjafield earning three assists. . . . Lethbridge F Jadon Joseph had his point streak snapped at 11 games. He had nine goals and six assists in that time.


Tweetoftheday