NHL one step closer to return . . . Canada out of junior Summer Showcase . . . Fragle hoping to rock in Trail

There still are a number of hurdles to get over but the NHLPA has given the OK for its executive to keep on talking to the NHL about a return to play. So if things continue to progress, hockey fans may yet get to watch 24 teams take part in some kind of a Stanley Cup tournament with games played in a number of hub cities. . . . Keeping in mind that there still negotiations to be held, Carol Schram, a senior contributor for Forbes, has more right here.

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Here’s one more thing for NHL players to think about as they prepare for a potential return to the ice. . . . Dr. Andrew Morris, who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has told TSN’s Rick Westhead that players need to make sure their long-term health is looked after should they happen to end up becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during a return to play. . . . Dr. Morris said: “Young athletes do not think about this stuff because they think they are invincible, but every so often we see young, healthy people get very bad diseases, and this is no different. It would be unusual for a healthy young athlete to get really sick with COVID and wind up in the ICU, but, hey, somebody wins the lottery, right? . . . They should want their health care and income insured, seeing that they are taking an additional risk, especially if residing in the U.S.” . . . As the medical community learns more and more about the impact of this virus, it is finding survivors who have been left with heart, kidney, liver and lung damage. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.



And what of the NBA and its efforts to get its season back on track? It is look as though it will re-open with all of its teams playing out of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance. . . . As Rohan Nadkarni of si.com points out in this piece right here, it really is all about the Benjamins.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA and a return to play:

“In the wonderful world of asterisks, we’re already talking Extra Large for whichever team wins the title. If you’re trying to play through a pandemic in neutral settings with nobody in the stands, you connect with nothing in Finals history. Don’t ruin this risky venture by welcoming the absurd.

“Those 16 teams worked hard to establish playoff position. Nobody else has the right to qualify after such a maddening layoff. The Warriors have long disappeared from view, but the same goes for Portland, New Orleans or any other team trying to sneak into this science-fiction film. They all had their chance.

“And for heaven’s sake, forget the idea (actually discussed) of a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine the final playoff slots in each conference. Could it be more boring, especially during times of urgency? ‘Hey, come see the teams that don’t deserve this.’ ”



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


BillPosters


USA Hockey is planning to play host to the World Junior Summer Showcase later this USAhockeysummer but Canada won’t be taking part. Teams from the U.S., Finland and Sweden will participate in the event that is to run from July 24 through Aug. 1 at Plymouth, Mich. . . . “We’ve heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we’re checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations who also is the GM of the U.S. national junior team. “Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There’s also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it’s going to be lifted sometime in June, so we’re just staying on top of everything from what’s going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That’s how we’re going to go. We’re not going to change anything.”



Hockey Canada announced on March 13 that it had cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice. . . . Earlier this week, Hockey Canada issued “An Open Letter to Canadians” that was signed by Michael Brind’Amour, the chairman of the board of directors, CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO. . . . Included in that letter was this paragraph:

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the game will determine when we return, not our desire to get back on the ice. When our country is ready, Hockey Canada will be ready. Until then, continue to follow the guidelines set by your provincial and territorial government to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Only by working together will we be able to make a difference and safely return.”

That letter is right here.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956 put perhaps foresaw the future rather clearly: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. . . . All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”


Granted, it’s not going to happen until 2021, but a new hockey league — 3ICE — is on the way. Headed up by CEO E.J. Johnston and Commissioner Craig Patrick, 3ICE will feature eight teams playing 3-on-3 hockey over nine weekends, each one in a different city, during the summer of 2021. . . . Each team’s roster will comprise six skaters and one goalie. . . . The team’s head coaches are Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier. . . . E.J. Johnston is the son of Ed Johnston, one of the head coaches who is a former NHL goaltender, head coach and GM. . . . There’s more right here.


After watching all 10 episodes of The Last Dance, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “These questions will never be answered, but here goes: For Jordan, was there really a higher level of emotional fire that could be reached only by disrespect? Did that disrespect supercharge his physical skills, or was that higher level of fire a self-created myth to enhance his greatness?”


Tinfoil


Brian Wiebe, a veteran observer of the BCHL, has a solid piece right here on that league and how it and its teams are coping with the pandemic and all that has come with it.

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Tim Fragle is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. TrailFrom Edmonton, Fragle has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. . . . While at NAIT, Fragle won three coach-of-the-year awards. . . . Fragile was the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for seven seasons (2009-16). . . . He played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Smoke Eaters, finish the last of those seasons with the Merritt Centennials. . . . While playing in Trail, he was teammates with Craig Clare, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., and is the Smokies’ director of hockey and business operations. . . . In Trail, Fragle takes over from Jeff Tambellini, who left in April to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as a pro scout and NCAA free-agent recruiter.


David Legwand, a co-owner of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, is moving from associate coach to be the team’s president of hockey operations. Legwand and Derian Hatcher, another former NHL player, purchased the Sting in 2015. . . . Legwand has been the associate coach for three seasons, with Hatcher as the head coach. Hatcher remains in the role, with Dylan Seca the general manager.


Darren Rovell of actionnetwork.com reports that a Mike Trout signed rookie card has sold at auction for US$900,000. It was from the Bowman Draft Chrome Prospect set. . . . That “obliterated the record for the highest-priced modern-day baseball card and tied the record for the most expensive modern-day card ever — the LeBron James/Michael Jordan logoman card, sold in February 2020,” Rovell wrote. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of Rovell’s story involved seven unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer NBA cards. These boxes weren’t at all popular when they debuted; in fact, boxes were returned by hobby stores for $6 refunds. At auction, Rovell wrote, they sold for “as much as $109,200 each.” . . . Rovell’s story is right here.


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Scattershooting on a Monday night while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, following news that New York Giants QB Eli Manning was about to announce his retirement: “So, I’ll ask you . . do you think he’s a Hall of Famer? You can let me know by tweeting me your thoughts, but just know that I don’t care what you think because I’m a Patriots fan and Eli Manning has been dead to me for years.”


Larry Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., later this year. But how close was he to becoming a goaltender? . . . Legend has it that he was in camp with the WHL’s Regina Pats and ended up being cut — twice! — by general manager Bob Strumm, who is one of the most popular figures in WHL history. . . . Anyway, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Strumm for a column that is right here.


Passwords


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Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Baseball Hall of Fame: “The truth is, (Barry) Bonds deserves to be in the Hall. Not for his hitting — the PED business makes it hard to fairly evaluate Bonds’ hitting — but because baseball is the rudest sport, and Bonds should be in the Hall representing that aspect of our national pastime.”

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Ostler, again: “If I had a HOF vote, I’d write in Mike Fiers.”


The Bosa family doesn’t talk about it a whole lot, but it’s a story you are going to hear about as Super Bowl LIV (54) approaches. . . . It seems the great-grandfather of San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa was a Chicago mobster who worked with Al Capone. Seriously! . . . Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has more right here.


Congrats to Kelly Kisio, who is to be honoured by the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on March 1. CalgaryKisio will become the third person to be saluted as Forever A Hitmen, after players Ryan Getzlaf, who was honoured in 2015 and Andrew Ladd (2017). . . . In 18 seasons with Calgary, Kisio filled various roles, including stints as general manager, head coach and president of hockey operations. He twice was named the WHL’s executive of the year. . . . My favourite Kisio story doesn’t involve the Hitmen. In 1982-83, he was playing with HC Davos in Switzerland. He had eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. That was Kisio’s second-last game with Davos; three days later he was with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . . . He finished that season with Davos with 87 points, 49 of them goals, in 38 games. . . . Now a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Kisio will be honoured prior to an afternoon game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.


CallImportant


The NFL’s 2020 draft is to be held in Las Vegas, which now has its own franchise — the Raiders. . . . As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out, “The NFL has come a long way in just a few years.  About five years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of ‘close ties to gambling’. This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for three days.”

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Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, tweeted the other day: “Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

That was enough for The Sports Curmudgeon to come up with this response: “There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the U.S. That tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades have taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi. I have been to Lubbock TX and to Pullman WA and to Starkville MS. Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth. If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a ‘bustling burb’ — but it won’t be easy. That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

“Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens. There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

“As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events. I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list.”


Sleep


You may have been watching when RB Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers’ defence in the NFC final. As Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it: “There hasn’t been anything carved up like that since Emeril Lagasse was introduced to his first turkey.”


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Prior to a recent NBA game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, StubHub was listing tickets for as low as $4. The Left Coast Sports Babe wondered: “Are they asking or paying?”


Sportsbetting.ag, an offshore site, has listed a whole lot of prop bets for the Super Bowl. . . . Here’s one: “Which will be higher? (Tweets and retweets count). Donald Trump total tweets on 2/3/20 or the 49ers point total?” . . . Yes, Trump’s total will come from the day after the Super Bowl. . . . BTW, the over/under for Demi Lovato’s version of the U.S. anthem is two minutes one second. Take the over.


ipadexpert


You know how an NHL team now might fire its head coach and then hire a head coach who recently had been fired as the head coach of a different team? Well, it seems that trend has reached the junior A ranks. . . . The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have hired Scott Atkinson as general manager and head coach, replacing Joe Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 15. The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks had ousted Atkinson on Dec. 30.


The Kamloops Blazers beat the host Prince George Cougars, 3-0, on Friday night, the first time in franchise history that its goaltenders have put up three consecutive shutouts. The Kamloops1Blazers had beaten the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-0, on Jan. 18 and the host Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Jan. 19. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots on Friday night. He blocked 21 against Vancouver, with G Rayce Ramsay turning aside 24 against the Americans. . . . The Cougars got a split on Saturday night, beating the Blazers, 3-1, and ending Kamloops’ shutout streak at a franchise-record 233 minutes 30 seconds. . . . The Blazers also put together back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 15 and 18, beating the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-0, and Vancouver, 6-0. Ramsay had 23 saves against the Broncos, with Garand stopping 23 in the victory over the Giants. . . .

Kamloops first posted back-to-back shutouts in 1991-92 when Corey Hirsch made 20 and 21 saves respectively in home-ice victories — 13-0 over the Tacoma Rockets and 9-0 over the Seattle Thunderbirds — on Feb. 7 and 9. . . . Kamloops scored 11 times in the second period against Tacoma. . . . Those two shutouts came in a seven-game stretch during which Hirsch put up four shutouts. . . .

Back-to-back shutouts didn’t occur again until 2006-07 when Dustin Butler did it on Jan. 10 and 13. He stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane, then turned aside 18 in beating the visiting Prince George Cougars, 6-0. . . .

In 2011-12, Cole Cheveldave did it on Jan. 1 and 6, blocking 22 shots in blanking the visiting Cougars, 5-0, then turning aside 32 shots in a 2-0 triumph in Prince George. . . . Cheveldave did it again in 2012-13, on March 3 and 5. He kicked out 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets, then stopped 14 in a 6-0 beating of Victoria. Both games were in Kamloops. . . .

It was Connor Ingram’s turn in 2016-17, when he made 28 stops in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Cougars on Feb. 19, then blocked 23 shots in a 7-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Kamloops on Feb. 21. . . .

One other shutout-related note involving Kamloops: In 2004-05, 19 of the Blazers’ 72 games ended in a shutout. Unfortunately for Kamloops, it was on the wrong end in 13 of those.


“Just wondering,” ponders the always deep-thinking Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions, what is the Breakfast of Upsets, Coco Gauffs?”



JUST NOTES: If you watched Serena Williams lose a third-setter to China’s Qiang Wang in the third round of the Aussie Open the other night/morning, you have to wonder if we are watching the end of an era. Serena, who was the No. 8 seed, certainly seemed to be suffering from fatigue near the end of her loss to the No. 27 seed. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Williams just once would give some credit to her opponent? . . . The NHL all-star stuff on Friday and Saturday evenings? Not in my home. The Aussie Open was on my TV. . . . One of the best things about the Aussie Open, and other tennis tournaments, is the lack of commentary while the ball is in play. . . . I did find time to watch The Irishman during the week. If you like gangster movies and know at least a bit about Jimmy Hoffa, you should like this one. If you aren’t aware, though, it’s three hours and 20 minutes long. . . . The book with the movie tie-in — The Irishman: Frank Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa — is rather good, too. . . . Sheesh! If only some people would learn the difference between cancelled and postponed!

Scattershooting on a Thursday evening while wondering if NHL teams are moving back to dump-and-chase game . . .

Scattershooting

Not in the Christmas spirit? Watch this . . .


In his weekly compilation, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times included an obit of the week for football fan John J. Ford, 86, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: ”Passed away surrounded by family on December 2nd after the Vikings allowed 17 unanswered points . . .”

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“A Las Vegas hospital billed the parents $2,659 to pull a tiny doll’s shoe from their child’s nostril,” Perry reported. “Imagine what it would cost to extract Antonio Brown’s foot from his mouth.”


Mozart


Congratulations and best wishes to Innes Mackie, who has been around the WHL since the Christmas Wish Book was used for shin pads, or maybe even earlier. . . .

And congrats, too, to Dan O’Connor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Giants. While Mackie, the Tri-City Americans’ equipment guru, was working Game No. 3,200, O’Connor was calling No. 600.


ICYMI, Part 1: D Nikita Zadorov of the visiting Colorado Avalanche recently took out Montreal Canadiens F Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was left with a brain injury. There wasn’t a penalty; there wasn’t a suspension. “So how could Zadorov get away with it?” Jack Todd writes in the Montreal Gazette. “Blame hockey’s pervasive knucklehead culture, which has survived well into the 21st century. The loudest of the braying donkeys in the barn may have been shuffled off to the Podcast Porch — but the brutal culture Don Cherry helped foster lives on.” . . . The complete column is right here.

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ICYMI, Part 2: Hockey Canada trimmed a bunch of players from the selection camp for its national junior team on Thursday. Yes, it has to be done. But why make these teenagers walk the media gauntlet after they’ve been chopped from the roster? Come on, Hockey Canada, be better than that.


Puppy


If the Kelowna Rockets continue to unload premium bantam draft picks and perhaps a prospect or two in the hunt for a Memorial Cup title in the spring, when they will be the tournament’s host team, you have to wonder if their aftermath will be more like the Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats or Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Raiders are 19-7-4 and atop the East Division after making a deal or three — but not selling out — that helped them win the WHL’s 2018-19 championship. The Pats are 7-18-3 after selling out as the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. The Broncos are 6-20-3 while still trying to recover after emptying the cupboard as they successfully chased the WHL’s 2017-18 title. . . . Over the past one season-plus, the Pats are 26-63-7 and the Broncos are 17-71-9. Neither team made the playoffs last spring and they won’t be there in 2020.


If you are wanting to attend the 2021 World Junior Championship, with games in Edmonton and Red Deer, you may want to see your banker about a loan. . . . Considering the political/labour situation in Alberta at the moment, it will be interesting to see how tickets sales play out. . . .


The New York Yankees signed P Gerrit Cole to a nine-year deal valued at US$324 million. . . . The Los Angeles Angels got 3B Anthony Rendon for US$245 million over seven seasons. . . . F Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has hockey’s richest deal — US$124 million over 13 years. That was signed in January 2008. . . . According to an entry at Wikipedia, Ovechkin’s contract, the richest in NHL history, is tied for the 79th richest in sports history. . . . That’s what having a hard salary cap does for you.


I didn’t finish Michael Connelly’s latest book — The Night Fire — in time to get it into my Bookshelf series that was posted here earlier in the week. But if you’re a fan of Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, you’ll enjoy this one. It features the retired-but-not-retired Bosch and LAPD Det. Renée Ballard doing their thing on the streets of L.A. and area. Good fun, unless you’re the bad guys.


The Kelowna Rockets were in Prince Albert to play the Raiders a week ago. Hear from both coaches — Marc Habscheid of the Raiders and Adam Foote of the Rockets — after the game, and then decide who won . . .

Habscheid: “I don’t blame referees or anything, but there were three soft calls and they talked to (Foote) all night. I don’t know if they wanted to get his autograph, because he was a Stanley Cup champion or what, but it didn’t look good. They talked to him all night, (and Foote) ran line changes. He did whatever he wanted, and he slowed the game down, and they just let him do it. I don’t know if they wanted his autograph or what the deal was.”

Foote: “The refs were pretty good all night . . .”

Thanks to Darren Steinke for the quotes. His complete blog post is right here.

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One night later, the Rockets visited the Blades in Saskatoon. The Rockets tied the game, 3-3, late in the third period and won it in a shootout, much to the chagrin of at least one Blades fan.

That fan was on social media bemoaning — you guessed it! — the officiating. Someone else asked: “Who were the refs?”

I laughed out loud when I saw the response: “Hamilton and Foote.” That, of course, was in reference to Kelowna owner/president/general manager Bruce Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Adam Foote, the Rockets’ head coach.



SocialMedia


JUST NOTES: Judging by video clips from the Wayne Fleming Arena, there certainly seems to be a lot of room available on the benches for Winnipeg Ice home games. I realize that a lot of people choose to stand during the games, but you have to wonder how the empty seat-look sits with the WHL’s board of governors. . . . And, hey, if anyone has any photos of the Ice’s future home under construction feel free to send them along to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. . . . Was anyone watching Monday Night Football and not pulling for Eli Manning? . . . With the Giants on MNF and the Jets on Thursday night, was it enough to make you feel sorry for the football fans of New York City? . . . A tip of the hat to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Saskatoon Blades for a deal involving F Alex Morozoff. A native of Saskatoon, Morozoff was traded for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 bantam draft. “Alex and his family are currently dealing with a family medical issue,” Seattle GM Bil LaForge said in explaining the deal in a news release. “We have made this trade to help get Alex closer to his family in Saskatoon.”

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering if Babcock’s next stop will be Seattle . . .

Scattershooting


When Roy MacGregor writes, I read. Such was the case with the superb essayist’s piece on the Don Cherry situation. As we have come to expect from MacGregor, it is terrific. . . . At one point, he writes that Cherry was fired “for a last straw no one could fit into the overstuffed barn that holds all the previous last straws.” . . . It doesn’t get any better, and it’s right here.


ICYMI, here’s how the annual junior hugfest between CHL teams and a touring Russian side ended last Thursday in Prince Albert. The Russians won the game, but had to go to a shootout to get it done. That outcome left the series — the Russians play two games against teams from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL — all even. . . . Guess what? . . . Yes, they went to another shootout. The WHL won that one on a goal by F Nolan Foote of the Kelowna Rockets to win the series. . . . Seriously!

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BTW, the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, put that final game on one of its channels, something called 360. When that game began, Sportsnet was showing an NHL game — New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning — on four other channels. ICYMI, the Lightning opened up a 4-0 first-period lead en route to a 9-3 victory.

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Tyler Yaremchuk was part of the TSN1260 broadcast crew in Edmonton on Friday when the Alberta Golden Bears skated to a 4-2 victory over the visiting Regina Cougars. . . . After the game, he tweeted: “50 straight wins for the Bears over Regina.” . . . Think about that for a moment or two . . . 50 in a row! Yikes!!! Now that’s a streak. . . . Dustin Nielson, the play-by-play voice on that broadcast team, tells me that the Golden Bears last lost to the Cougars in 2009. “Also haven’t lost at home to them since 1996,” he added. . . . Connor Hood, writing on the U of A’s website, pointed out that the streak “dates back to March 13, 2009, and includes 43 conference games, two playoff games and five non-conference games.” . . . On Saturday night, the Golden Bears ran that streak to 51 games with a 9-0 victory.



Running back Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants had one yard rushing on 13 carries in a recent loss to the New York Jets. . . . Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times broke that down a bit more: “To put that in perspective, that’s 2.9 per attempt — inches, not yards. Or . . . at that rate, just 117 more carries and he’d have a first down!”



By now, you may have seen video of Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers working the referees in the hopes they would give his father, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, a technical foul on Nov. 13. Officials did just that, and then they ejected him. . . . Later, on Twitter, Austin wrote: “Welp . . . Thanksgiving is going to be weird . . .”


Hey, Kamloops, I got gas in Burnaby on Saturday night for $1.24.9. That’s only five cents more than I paid in our town on Friday night.

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On the way to the Lower Mainland on Saturday morning, I collapsed a hundred times, if not more. Actually, we ran into snow, sleet, ice pellets and rain, lots of rain. . . . So what’s with all the drivers who can’t be bothered to turn on their headlights to that their taillights are on?



Mike Babcock now has been fired by two hockey teams — the Toronto Maple Leafs and the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. The big difference is that the Warriors didn’t owe him about $23 million when they did the deed. . . .

Jack Todd has been writing about Don Cherry for a long time. So you knew that something was coming after Rogers Sportsnet fired Cherry. Todd’s column is right here.


Bucks
Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place now is the official home of the Cranbrook Bucks, a BCHL team that will begin play next season. Their sign was installed just the other day. The Bucks put their sign directly into the frame that once held a sign indicating the facility was home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, a franchise that now calls Winnipeg home. (Photo: Darren Cottingham)


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, hits the nail on the head right here: “Really annoying people: The 7-Eleven Guy and Matthew McConaughey. I think a perfect commercial would be the 7-Eleven Guy spilling a strawberry Slurpee on the posh seats of McConaughey’s fancy-schmancy Lincoln.” . . . There’s more right here.



JUST NOTES: Would someone at ESPN please tell Randy Moss that he is speaking into a microphone so he doesn’t need to yell at us. Thank you. . . . Gotta think the World Curling Federation will be making a rule change in the not-too-distant future after a ruling caused Norway’s men to forfeit a game to England during the European championships in Helsingborg, Sweden on Sunday. It seems Norway subbed in a curler who didn’t use the broom of the player he was replacing. Yes, that’s against the rules. There’s more right here. . . .

Going by the part of the WHL website that lists disciplinary actions, Adam Foote, the Kelowna Rockets’ head coach, hasn’t yet been fined for not doing a post-game media interview after a 5-2 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Nov. 11. The WHL has a rule that states a coach must be available to media 15 minutes after a game. Conspiracy theorists, have at it. . . . The NHL announced on Tuesday that the season-ending award it gives to its top GM will be named after the late Jim Gregory. There isn’t an award named for Sam Pollock, Glen Sather or Bill Torrey, each of whom put together dominant teams. Of course, the NHL doesn’t have any individual awards named in honour of Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, either. . . . Hey, TSN, I realize that Toronto is the centre of your universe. I get that. So when the Maple Leafs fire Mike Babcock, your world stops. Yes, I get that, too. But you’ve got five channels so why cut off PTI before the episode is over just to show what’s available elsewhere? Why not show the viewer — me — some respect?

Hanlon leaving Giants . . . Blazers’ top pick gives them the word . . . Thunderbirds’ import will stay home

MacBeth

F Adam Kambeitz (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Seattle, 2008-13) a signed one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the U of Calgary (Canada West), he had two goals and eight assists in 28 games. . . .

F Dominik Uher (Spokane, 2009-12) signed a two-year contract with the Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (Germany, DEL). This season, with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and three assists in 48 games. . . .

F Dustin Johner (Seattle, 1999-2004) signed a one-year contract extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). He had three goals and seven assists in 19 games. . . .

D Tomáš Kundrátek (Medicine Hat, 2008-10) signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL), he had two goals and 11 assists in 53 games. . . .

D Zack Yuen (Tri-City, 2008-13) signed a one-year two-way contract extension with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). He had two goals and one assist in 21 games this season. He also was pointless in eight games with KRS Heilongjiang Harbin (China, Russia Vysshaya Liga).


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants became the third B.C. Division team searching for a general manager when they revealed on Monday that Glen Hanlon is leaving after two seasons in that role. . . . The Prince George Cougars, who didn’t bring back Todd Harkins, and Kamloops Blazers, who dumped Stu MacGregor, also are looking to hire general managers. . . . According to a Giants news release, Hanlon “has decided to pursue other opportunities.” . . . Hanlon, 61, spent two seasons (2011-13) with the Giants as an assistant coach under Don Hay before spending a couple of seasons coaching in Belarus and Switzerland. . . . Dean Chynoweth, the Giants’ associate coach, may be the leading candidate to replace Hanlon. Chynoweth, 49, spent five seasons (2004-09) as the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos. He just completed his first season with the Giants, working alongside head coach Jason McKee.


The Hamilton Bulldogs won the OHL championship on Sunday night. Here are a few paragraphs written earlier in the week by Scott Radley of the Hamilton Spectator:

When the Canadian Hockey League awarded the Memorial Cup to Regina, it cited the failings of FirstOntario Centre as the main reason why.

“At the end of the day, it was the facility that would not allow Hamilton to stay in the race,” CHL president David Branch said back then.

That may be true. Then again, the yellow-T-shirt-wearing, noise-making, atmosphere-creating, lower-bowl-filling crowd — which was 2,100 people bigger than will be at any of the Memorial Cup games at the Brandt Centre (capacity 6,500) — sure looked good and suggested the tournament really should’ve been here.

Not to mention the fact that Hamilton has a championship-calibre team that’s playing the country’s best outfit to a standstill right now. The host Regina Pats? They were eliminated from their playoffs 40 days ago.”


Here’s more from Radley:

Sure, most teams’ TV and radio announcers are homers to one degree or another. Many are employees of the team, so it’s hardly a surprise. Most keep it reasonably in check, however.

That said, is there any call in sports more finger-nails-on-a-chalkboard grating than Buck Martinez yelling “Get up, ball!” every time a Blue Jay hits a home run? It’s just one step short of running onto the field and hugging the guy as he rounds third base.


It seems that Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, didn’t give us all of the organization’s bad news when he announced the departure of four people from Kamloops1the front office on Thursday.

Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Blazers, reported Tuesday that the Blazers were told before the May 3 bantam draft that F Massimo Rizzo is “pursuing an NCAA scholarship and will not be coming to training camp in the fall.”

The Blazers selected Rizzo with the 15th overall selection of the 2016 bantam draft. This season, Rizzo had 13 goals and 25 assists in 50 games with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. He will be back with the Vees in 2018-19.

On Thursday, Gaglardi announced the departures of general manager Stu MacGregor, head coach Don Hay, assistant coach Mike Needham and director of player personnel Matt Recchi.


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers signed G Stuart Skinner of the Swift Current Broncos to a three-year entry-level contract on Monday. Skinner, who is from Edmonton, was a third-round selection by the Oilers in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . He posted a record-tying six shutouts in helping the Broncos to the WHL championship.


So . . . if you’re Eli Manning, the New York Giants’ starting quarterback, what’s it like playing in Philadelphia?

“Philly, you just gotta get used to,” Manning tells Steiner Sports. “. . . because you’re not used to seeing a nine-year-old cursing at you and talking about my mom and stuff. Once you get used to it, it’s fine. It just takes a year or two. Now (15 years later) he’s 24 and training his four-year-old to curse at me.”


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed D Nolan Allan, the third overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Allan, from Davidson, Sask., had 12 goals and 32 assists in 26 games with the bantam AA Humboldt Broncos.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times notes that Kiyaunta Goodwin of Louisville, Ky., “is six-feet-seven, weighs 370 pounds, wears size-18 shoes, leg presses 1,000 pounds, bench presses 315, displays uncanny agility, likes art music and robotics, and has a football offer from Georgia in his pocket, according to Bleacher Report.” . . . Perry then adds: “Oh and did we mention that he’s only 14 years old and an eighth-grader?”


It appears that F Sami Moilanen won’t be back with the Seattle Thunderbirds for what Seattlewould have been his 19-year-old season. From Sipoo, Finland, Moilanen played two seasons with Seattle. He had 43 points, including 21 goals, in 70 games as a freshman, adding 16 points, seven of them goals, in 20 playoff games as the Thunderbirds won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. This season, he had 22 goals and 23 assists in 50 games as he was hampered by injuries. . . . Seattle’s second import, Russian F Nikita Malukhin, had five goals and four assists in 52 games as a freshman this season.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, is a hockey fan, and as he writes: “A difference between Canadian and U.S. hockey fans — at least Canadian fans can find Winnipeg on a map?”


“Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning should both do well with playoff ticket sales,” Hough notes. “As we get into mid- May, I’m guessing people in both cities will pay well for a chance to spend three hours inside out of 30-plus degree weather.”


“So the Leafs are bounced in the first round,” pens Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette, “the Raptors pull an epic choke after Drake makes an ass of himself, and the Jays get no-hit the night Stroman pitches. This Toronto 24/7 thing is entertaining.”


A note from RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Reuters reports a Paris museum is offering special viewing hours to ‘naturists.’ Nudes taking in nudes? Busts before busts? Art-wise I’m not sure how to frame it.”


Currie, again: “The Toronto Raptors fired coach Dwane Casey two days after he was named NBA coach of the year.  It’s the fastest fall from grace for a Casey since the Mudville nine.”