Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while thinking about how much I don’t miss Prairie blizzards . . .

Scattershooting2


As you likely are aware, the City of Cranbrook has filed a lawsuit against the wpgiceWHL and the owners of the Winnipeg Ice, claiming that a lease was broken when the franchise, then the Kootenay Ice, picked up and moved to the Manitoba capital after the 2018-19 season. . . . A Winnipeg-based company, 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is headed up by chairman Greg Fettes, had purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family in 2017. . . . It turns out that the lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Dec. 24. Merry Christmas! . . . “The lawsuit,” writes Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, “. . . seeks a few different types of financial relief stemming from lost income due to the relocation of the Kootenay Ice from Cranbrook to Winnipeg, a move (that) broke a license of occupation agreement with Western Financial Place that had four additional years left in the terms of the contract.” . . . Crawley’s complete story is right here. . . .

Bradley Jones of myeastkootenaynow.com writes: “As per their claim, the City of Cranbrook is seeking general damages, damages for lost income for the remainder of the License Agreement to 2023, special damages of the $15,167 one-time expense, pre-judgment interest on damages, costs, and any other relief the court deems justifiable.” . . . His complete story is right here.


Sleep


Apologies to members of the Cam Moon Fan Club. I mentioned here the other day that he would be making his NHL play-calling debut on Wednesday when the Edmonton Oilers played host to the Vancouver Canucks. That actually was a national telecast for Sportsnet — Harnaryan Singh made his Hockey Night in Canada national debut — which meant that Jack Michaels was back doing the Oilers’ play-by-play on radio. . . . The Oilers’ game on Thursday will be a regional telecast, so Moon will be at the radio microphone as he calls an NHL game for the first time. Game time against those same Canucks on 630 CHED will be 7 p.m. MT.



The Medicine Hat Tigers have released F Cole Sillinger to play for the USHL’s ushlSioux Falls Stampede. Sillinger, the 17-year-old son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, is a potential first-round selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Sillinger, who has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, will be joined in Sioux Falls by F Luke Toporowski, 19, who was released by the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday and will be playing with the Stampede. Toporowski is a native of Bettendorf, Iowa. . . . On Tuesday, the Chiefs freed up F Bear Hughes to join the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho, . . . “Our league and USA Hockey reached a unique agreement regarding American players from (WHL) U.S. Division clubs,” Scott Carter, the Chiefs’ general manager, said in a news release. “Despite the WHL’s commitment to play this season, there are still uncertainties, and this opportunity will provide Luke and Bear the chance to play right away.” . . . WHL players who are moving to the USHL will stay with those teams until their seasons end, after which their playing rights will revert back to their WHL teams.


The NHL began is 2021 regular season with five games on Wednesday night. If all goes well, it was the first of 116 straight days when at least one NHL game will be played. . . . The tweet below is the first of a series in what is sure to garner nightly interest . . .


Eating


In the period from Jan. 6-12, the NBA ran 497 COVID-19 tests and had 16 players come up positive. . . . It postponed three games that had been scheduled for Wednesday — Utah Jazz at Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks at Phoenix Suns. . . . With the Suns and Washington Wizards having contact tracing issues, the NBA also has postponed a pair of games scheduled for Friday — Washington at the Detroit Pistons and the Golden State Warriors at Phoenix. . . . The NBA now has had to postpone nine games, eight of them since Jan. 10.

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Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“At a time when a complete shutdown seemed appropriate, even for a month or less, the NBA has chosen the fast lane, the one labeled Take the Money, once again. Whether it’s stay-at-home orders, eliminating visitors to hotel rooms or the clampdown on simple things, like dropping into a bar, Tuesday’s mandate suggests a player nightmare over the next two weeks — and probably beyond.

“No, this cruel new world hardly resembles a military boot camp, but some serious change is at hand. The NBA now expects a complete halt on lengthy pregame meetings, postgame hugs with opposing players and the comically reckless usage of masks, among other highly detailed restrictions. (Somehow, coaches worldwide have come to believe that when you really need to shout at somebody — thus putting yourself at the highest pandemic risk — that’s when you take off the mask.)



Taxes


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.


Free Press columnist calls for stiff discipline . . . MJHL all done for 2020 . . . Heward leaving Giants after two seasons

The owner of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and two MJHL franchises — 50 Below Sports and Entertainment — is in the eye of the storm after the two junior A franchises were caught violating COVID-19 protocols as set down by the provincial government.

And now at least one Winnipeg writer — columnist Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press — is calling for stiff discipline.

In a column headlined ‘Throw the book at league’s code-red violators,’ McIntyre calls what happened “a cold, calculated disregard for public health protocols in the middle of a global pandemic that is as brazen as you’ll see.

“The pathetic attempt to cover it up, using teenage hockey players as pawns, was even worse.”

In case you missed it, the Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze practised in Warren, a community about half an hour northwest of Winnipeg, despite the city having been placed in a critical zone by health officials. The MJHL also had told its teams they weren’t to “travel outside the region to participate in sanctioned hockey activities.”

Winnipeg media received an anonymous email that included video showing the teams skating at the arena in Warren. The president of that arena, Rhys van Kemenade, is 50 Below’s director of teams and tournaments.

A parent of one of the players involved told McIntyre that the player went along because he “didn’t want to get benched.”

“Kids didn’t have a lot of choice,” the parent said. “Coach tells you to show up, well, you show up. Or you’re in the doghouse. You know your hockey. Coaches at this age have all the power. And if a parent said ‘You can’t go!’, they become a problem parent. Most of those kids are adults, but I am a little dumbfounded by the whole thing.”

That same parent also explained to McIntyre that “Blues and Freeze players pay lots of cash to play, and there is an item in the contract that says fees are based on ‘training,’ not number of games played. So if teams still had skill sessions or ‘training,’ they continue to collect fees.”

McIntyre’s column is right here.

Meanwhile, Don McIntosh, the president of the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League, told Jason Bell of the Free Press that he isn’t at all pleased with what went on.

“All of us will be painted with the same brush,” said McIntosh, a longtime hockey executive in his fifth season with the AAA league. “That’s the real frustration. Our league has busted our butts on mitigating risk. This is important stuff.”

McIntosh added that he “used to sit on the board of Hockey Manitoba and dealt with numerous issues. If you use an ineligible player or forge a game sheet, you can get substantive fines for that. To me, this is beyond that.

“They caught them live. There it is for all to see. This thing is way, way out of line.”

Bell’s piece is right here.

If you’re wondering, Hockey Manitoba and the MJHL are investigating.

To the best of my knowledge, nary a word has been heard from anyone involved with 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which would include Greg Fettes, the chairman, and Matt Cockell, who is president and general manager of the Ice and president and governor of both the Blues and the Freeze.

You may recall that Fettes and Cockell were front and centre in the Kootenay Ice’s operation in Cranbrook, prior to the franchise’s relocation to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season.

BTW, does anyone know if the Ice has settled its lease with Cranbrook city council yet?

——

The MJHL announced on Thursday that it is shutting things down for the remainder of 2020. The province of Manitoba is at critical level and all kinds of public health orders are in place at least until Dec. 11. The MJHL hopes to be able to resume activities on Jan. 1. . . .

Meanwhile, in the SJHL, the Flin Flon Bombers and Kindersley Klippers won’t be playing this weekend, after all. The teams had been scheduled to play a weekend doubleheader in Flin Flon. But with Manitoba locking things down on Thursday, a decision was made to play the games in Kindersley on Friday and Saturday. . . . On Thursday, however, it was decided to postpone the games.


The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce a new associate coach today Vancouver(Friday). The WHL team announced Thursday that Jamie Heward, their associate coach for the past two seasons, is leaving the organization “to pursue a different hockey opportunity.” He is expected to join the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights as an assistant coach under Manny Viveiros. . . . The two of them spent two seasons together with the Swift Current Broncos, winning a WHL title in the spring of 2018. . . . The Silver Knights, who are preparing for their first season, are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. The Silver Knights are to play out of Paradise, Nev. . . . The Giants’ new associate coach will be working with head coach Michael Dyck, who will be spending about seven weeks bubbling up with Canada’s national junior team at its selection camp in Red Deer and then at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton. The selection camp gets started on Monday. . . . The WJC is to end on Jan. 5; the WHL says it will start its regular season on Jan. 8.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

There is good news as former WHL/NHL D Blake Wesley, who spent more than a month fighting COVID-19 in Austria, says he is “back in action.”

On Wednesday, Wesley took to his Facebook page to let us know that he had his ninth COVID screening earlier in the day.

“I’m back in action!!!!” he wrote. “My COVID screening was negative.

It was his first negative since Oct. 5.

“It’s a blessing,” he wrote, “and reduces some anxiety and fear.”

Wesley, 61, played three seasons (1976-79) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 298 regular-season NHL games. These days, he is coaching at a hockey academy in Sankt Pölten, Austria.

If you aren’t aware of what Wesley went through battling the virus, click right here and see what I wrote last week.

——

I tried. I really did. With the entire province of Manitoba having been declared a critical zone as of Thursday, I tried to figure out what that meant in terms of travel. Here’s part of what I found about the Manitoba restrictions in the section under Travel and Self-Isolation:

“In general, anyone arriving in Manitoba is required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, there are exceptions to this requirement specified in the order.

“In particular, Manitoba residents who have travelled to “western Canada* or “northwestern Ontario** are exempt from the self-isolation requirements when they return to Manitoba if they have not travelled outside of western Canada or northwestern Ontario and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. Residents of western Canada or northwestern Ontario are also exempt, if they have not travelled to another country or any part of Canada outside of western Canada or northwestern Ontario in the 14-day period immediately before entering or arriving in Manitoba and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.

“*Western Canada means British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. (as defined in the order).

“**northwestern Ontario means that portion of Ontario that is located west of Terrace Bay (as defined in the order).”

What followed that was a list of exceptions to the requirements, including “professional athletes and team members (players, coaches, managers, training and technical staff and medical personnel) employed by or affiliated with a professional sports team from Manitoba are also exempt from the self-isolation requirements as well as film production crew members (cast and crew) if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.”

There was more, a lot more, but by now my eyes were starting to roll back in my head.

Those Manitoba restrictions are right here.

And then the Alberta government brought down some restrictions of its own. So minor hockey has been shut down for a couple of weeks in some cities, but the AJHL is scheduled to open its season tonight (Friday). Meanwhile, the 10-team Okotoks Ladies Classic, a curling event that drew some high-end rinks skipped by the likes of Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan, Casey Scheidegger and Corryn Brown, was halted Thursday afternoon shortly after it got started.

Judging by reactions on social media there surely is a lot of confusion in provinces, including B.C., over restrictions and recommendations. You are left to wonder if the politicians and health officials are muddying the water on purpose are whether they simply no longer know how to communicate on the same level as the little people.

——

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The Ivy League has cancelled its winter sports season, and postponed spring sports through February 2021. That means that Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale won’t be playing hockey this season. . . . They join Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as NCAA Div. 1 teams to have had their hockey seasons cancelled. . . . College Hockey News has more right here. . . .

Governors in seven northeastern states have shut down interstate youth hockey competitions through the end of 2020. “All interstate hockey competitions for public schools, private schools and youth leagues in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey have been suspended beginning Saturday and until Dec. 31 at the earliest,” KC Downey of WCVB-ABC reported. . . . Downey also reported: “The coronavirus-related safety measure does not cover collegiate hockey teams, professional hockey teams or the U.S. national hockey teams, officials said, but those teams will be subject to existing COVID-19 safety protocols.” . . .

CB Iman Marshall of the Baltimore Ravens tested positive on Thursday, so is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He hasn’t played after suffering a knee injury early in training camp. . . . CB Marlon Humphrey came off the list on Wednesday after 10 days in quarantine. He is expected to play against the host New England Patriots on Sunday night. . . .

I don’t have any numbers today. Oh, I saw them. But they’re just too depressing — also frustrating — and there are far too many signs that not everyone is prepared to pull the rope in the same direction. Saskatchewan is expected to introduce measures of some sort today, meaning all four western provinces will be living with pandemic-related restrictions of one degree or another. The way things are going, I would suggest there will be more restrictions coming as B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan move closer to Manitoba’s lockdown.


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.

MLB just isn’t what it used to be . . . Sea Dogs lay out season-ticket, seating plans . . . No fans for Derby

In his Friday posting, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, dropped the curmudgeonly gavel on MLB, and I can’t disagree with him. Here is part of what he wrote:

“I have not been overly impressed with MLB games on TV this season. To be clear, I am not talking about the absence of fans in the seats or the cardboard cutouts of fans; the games are not compelling. Most teams have played about 25 games so far; for 2020, that is 40 per cent of the season.  Here are some stats:

“Five teams – 20 per cent of the teams in MLB – are hitting below .220 as a team. . . . Four teams have an OBP below .300. . . . Twenty teams — 67 per cent of the teams in MLB — have more strikeouts than hits. . . . Twenty-nine of the thirty MLB teams have struck out at least  100 times more than they have walked. . . . Two teams are averaging 10 strikeouts per game.”

His entire post is right here.



And while we’re on the subject of MLB, hey, it’s about that extra-inning rule that puts a runner on second base to start each half inning.

Baseball once was a slave to statistics — there always had been a certain symmetry to it — and that is one of the things that so many fans loved about it. It isn’t anymore, unless it eventually will just erase all the numbers from this bastardization of a season. . . . I mean, we now get lead-off two-run home runs. . . . In a game between the Dodgers and Angels, the ghost runner stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by the leadoff hitter. Yes, a leadoff SF. . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic pointed out that there has even been a two-up, three-down inning that included the ghost runner getting doubled up. . . . 

And here’s one that hasn’t happened yet, but is likely to at some point. As former MLP pitcher Ryan Dempster explained to Stark: “What about: You come in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and you get the guy out. So you’re the hero. Then you go back out and pitch the 10th, and you get a punchout and a groundout, and then they take you out. And now the other guy comes in and gives up a single, and you get the loss. If that doesn’t sum up 2020, I don’t know what would.”

If you’re a baseball fan, you don’t want to miss Stark’s columns from The Useless Info Dept.


What do you know about your kidneys:


Earlier this week, the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs released season-ticket information for the approaching season. . . . Their home arena, the TD Station, seats 6,307. Last season, the Sea Dogs’ average attendance was 3,345. This season, the Sea Dogs are expecting to be allowed to use about 25 per cent of the seats, so that means attendance will be capped at about 1,500 per game. . . . One of the results of that is an increase in season-ticket prices, from $499 to $575, even though there will be four fewer games (60) this season. . . . There are other changes, too. From a Sea Dogs news release: “Some of the bigger changes include very limited capacity (around 25% of seats), social bubbles, and masks once you get inside TD Station. Also, because of all the changes to the seating plan, you shouldn’t expect to sit in your same seat, and possibly not in your same section as last season.” . . . Jamie Tozer of Station Nation has more right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes laid off and furloughed an unspecified number of employees on Friday, citing financial issues caused by the pandemic. . . . The Coyotes, who furloughed half their business staff in April, were eliminated from the NHL playoffs on Wednesday when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in Edmonton. . . . Earlier in the week, the Washington Post reported that Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and Washington Wizards, was about to furlough 232 employees. . . .

In recent times, I have on occasion mentioned the apparent link between COVID-19 and myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart. . . . Amanda Christovich of frontofficesports.com has a whole lot more on this issue right here. . . .

The MLS’s Chicago Fire has had a player test positive. The unidentified player didn’t travel with the team for a Thursday game against host FC Cincinnati on Thursday. The Fire lost, 3-0. . . . The Fire said the team is asymptomatic and self-isolating. . . . 

The U of Iowa has decided to drop men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis when the 2020-21 academic year ends. . . . In a statement, the school said it “projects lost revenue of approximately $100 million and an overall deficit between $60-$75 million this fiscal year. . . .

Australia has withdrawn its teams from the IIHF’s 2021 U20 World Championship Division III and U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group A, citing travel restrictions in place due to the pandemic. . . . The U20 event is scheduled for Mexico City from Jan. 10-17, 2021. . . . The U18 women’s tournament is to be played in Dumfries, Great Britain, Jan. 19-22, 2021. . . . 

Athletics Canada has cancelled the 2020 Canadian cross-country championships that were to have been held in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov 28. The event would have drawn about 800 competitors. . . . 

The Kentucky Derby, originally scheduled for May 2, will run before empty grandstands on Sept. 5. The pooh-bahs at Churchill Downs had said they would limit attendance to 23,000. That changed because of the way the virus is spreading in Kentucky, which had 2,300 new cases this week. . . . 



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.


Taras McEwen has taken over as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He already was the general manager. . . . McEwen has coaching experience with Fort Knox of the junior B Prairie Junior Hockey League and with the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds. . . . The Blues also have named Zach Heisinger as an assistant coach. Last season, he was an assistant coach with the Vincent Massey team in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League. He also spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s Fort Garry Twins. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. . . . McEwen was the Ice’s manager of scouting. His father, Brad, is Hockey Canada’s head scout. . . . Heisinger’s father, Craig, is the assistant GM and director of hockey operations with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, while a brother, Jake, is the Ice’s assistant GM and vice-president of hockey operations.