Hockey venues almost ready in Beijing . . . Chow to leave SJHL after season . . . Milestone night ahead for Lazaruk

BeijingNIS
The NIS (National Indoor Stadium) is sparkling in preparation for the start of the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey competitions. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Dan Courneyea, Taking Note’s man in Beijing, reports that folks are hard at work as they put the final touches on venues with the Olympic Winter Games about to get rolling. While organizers refer to Feb. 4 as the opening date, some competitions actually start today (Wednesday).

“Lots of final preparation still being done before the first puck drop,” Courneyea told Taking Note late Monday night Pacific Time. “Everything is coming together.” That missive, with the National Indoor Stadium photo, arrived Monday at 11:15 p.m. PT, which was 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday in Beijing.

The women’s hockey begins with Pool A games today. It’s Switzerland and Canada in the NIS and China against Czechia in the Wukesong. Both games start at 8:10 p.m. PT.

BeijingWukesong
Only some final touches are left before Wukesong Arena is ready for the Olympic hockey competitions in Beijing. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Bill Chow announced on Monday that he will be leaving his post as commissioner of the SJHL on May 31. Chow, who has been commissioner for sjhl10-plus years, said that he won’t complete his contract that is set to expire on May 31, 2023. . . . Chow didn’t give a specific reason for his decision, saying in a news release that “there have been many factors that have gone into my final decision.” . . . Chow was named commissioner in the spring of 2011 after having retired at the age of 52 after almost 30 years with the Prince Albert Police Service and leaving as a staff sergeant. . . . In his last few years with the SJHL, he dealt with, among other things, the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos that took 16 lives and then the first two years of the pandemic. . . . He also spent 25 years as a WHL scout, 10 of them with the Spokane Chiefs.


Chad Leslie was named general manager of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos on ScurrentMonday, more than two months after he stepped in as the interim GM. Leslie, from Elkhorn, Man., had been the club’s assistant GM since the start of the 2020-21 season. He was named interim GM on Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman, who had been GM and head coach, resigned. . . . Before becoming the assistant GM, Leslie spent two seasons as the Broncos’ director of scouting. . . . The complete news release is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades, will call his 2,000th WHL game tonight (Wednesday) from Regina.“To put 2,000 games under your belt is just an astonishing achievement at any level, in any capacity, in any industry,” Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, told Pat McKay of CTV News. “When you think of Blades hockey, especially when you think of the sound of Blades hockey, it’s Les Lazaruk.” . . . Of course, 2,000 games means a whole lot of bus miles. Here’s Wawryk, again: “He has a knack for sleeping on the bus. It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like and how loud it is and what position he’s in, he can always find a way to grab a couple of Zs on the bus. I have a few videos of him sleeping upright, and he snores like a chainsaw.” . . . The Blades will salute Lazaruk on Friday as they play host to the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . McKay’s complete story is right here. . . .

The Thief River Falls, Minn., Norskies of the Superior International Junior Hockey League have shut down for the remainder of this season. A news release from the league stated that “an issue that the Norskies struggled with since the outset of the campaign — a shortage of players — is ultimately what led to the decision.” . . . The departure of the Norskies, who are expected back next season, leaves the SIJHL with six teams as it prepares to resume play on Feb. 4. The league has been shut down since Jan. 5 because of Ontario government restrictions due to COVID-19. . . . A complete news release is right here.


It would seem that you don’t have to be a hockey fighter in order to end up with CTE. Ralph Backstrom, who died on Feb. 7 at the age of 83, played 15 seasons in the NHL and four more in the WHA, totalling 490 penalty minutes in 1,336 games. He was hardly a fighter, but he still was found to have CTE.




The Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team was to have met Switzerland in an exhibition game on Tuesday. However, that game, which was to have been played in Zug, was postponed after Swiss D Christian Marti tested positive. Canada is to open preliminary play in Beijing against Germany on Feb. 10 at 5:10 a.m. PT.


One of the more bizarre happenings of this pandemic occurred in San Francisco on Saturday night as the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets visited the Golden State Warriors. . . . Kyrie Irving of the Nets is unvaccinated and not allowed to play home games because of a New York City regulation that allows only those who are vaccinated in city facilites. The San Francisco Department of Public Health also has such a mandate, however it made an exception for visiting NBAers. That meant that on Saturday night every person in the Chase Center was vaccinated . . . except for one.

Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “If anyone can find a plausible explanation for this exemption, please come forward. It’s reckless and irresponsible, although not terribly surprising in light of so many people, companies, counties and government agencies mistakenly letting their guard down as the pandemic rages on. The local health order states that visiting players ‘are, by definition, present in the venue only occasionally,’ but how does that make sense? You might ‘only occasionally’ stray from your personal safe zone in these difficult times, but that’s when you put yourself most at risk.”



Facebook


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.


Dads

Scattershooting on a Sunday as a rare smoke-free Kamloops sky begins its fade to dark . . .

Scattershooting2


The Tri-City Americans introduced co-owner Stu Barnes as their new head coach on Saturday. Barnes, 50, had been on staff with the Seattle Kraken, the AmericansNHL expansion franchise, as a pro scout. . . . Barnes began his three-season WHL playing career with the New Westminster Bruins in 1987-88 and made the journey south when the franchise relocated to Kennewick, Wash. His pro career included 1,136 regular-season NHL games over 16 seasons, the last four with the Dallas Stars. . . . He later spent six seasons (2008-12, 2017-19) as an assistant coach with the Stars. He joined the Kraken’s scouting staff in 2019. . . . Barnes has owned a piece of the Americans since April 2005, along with Bob Tory, the governor and general manager, Olaf Kolzig and Dennis Loman. . . . Barnes replaces Kelly Buchberger, whose contract wasn’t renewed after three seasons. He now is an assistant coach with the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . The Americans’ announcement on Saturday didn’t include any other pieces of their coaching staff. Don Nachbaur’s name remains on the team’s website as associate coach. Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, joined the Americans in February. . . .

It was late in September 1986 when Barnes was involved in what turned into Patsone of the most lop-sided trades in WHL history. . . . The New Westminster Bruins had loaned G Mike Gibson to the Regina Pats and he was in training camp with them when general manager/head coach Doug Sauter acquired his rights for, as the Regina Leader-Post reported, “16-year-old forward Steve Barnes of Edmonton.” . . . Yes, it was Stu Barnes, who was playing with the AJHL’s St. Albert Saints at the time. He put up 41 goals and 34 assists in 75 games in 1986-87, and was named the league’s rookie of the year. . . . In 1987-88, he had 101 points, including 37 goals, in 71 games with the Bruins, and was the WHL’s rookie of the year. He then totalled 285 points, 111 of them goals, in 133 regular-season games over two seasons with the Americans. In 1988-89, Barnes was saluted as the winner of the Four Broncos Trophy as the WHL’s player of the year. . . . Add it all up and you get 386 points, including 148 goals, in 204 games with the Bruins/Americans. . . . He also won gold with Canada at the 1990 IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Gibson, in his 18-year-old season at the time of the trade, went 5-5-0, 4.91, .839 with the Pats. The following season, he made 24 appearances with the Portland Winterhawks, going 9-12-0, 5.97, .868.



It was good to have football back with us, thanks to the CFL and TSN, but if you were watching it was also a reminder that on these pandemic days no one knows how not to wear facemasks like football coaches.


J.R. Richard, a 6-foot-8 fireballing right-hander in his time with the Houston Astros, died this week at 71 of complications related to COVID-19. . . . Dusty Baker, now the Astros’ manager, had to get in the batter’s box and face Richard during their playing days. Baker remembers some teammates who discovered aches and pains — something like the Flin Flon Flu in junior hockey back in the day — rather than face Richard. As Baker put it: “There was something called J.R.-itis, which was an incurable disease when you’re scared of J.R. Richard. He was the toughest guy I ever faced. It was like J.R. was only throwing from about 50 feet.”


Is this photo of Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner the sports photo of year, or what? The photo credit goes to Javier Soriano / AFP via Getty Images.


Sturgis


Kirk Cousins, the starting quarterback for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, is from Holland, Mich. He has served as a spokesperson for Holland Hospital and has helped its sports medicine program since 2017. However, that relationship has come to an end with Cousins having refused to get vaccinated. . . . “While we acknowledge that each person is entitled to their own viewpoints,” the hospital said in a statement, “those who speak on our behalf must support messages that align with the hospital’s position on matters of vital importance to individual and community health. For this reason, Holland Hospital will discontinue using Kirk Cousins as our spokesperson for now.” . . . Mike Zimmer of the Vikings is one of the NFL head coaches who has spoken out vehemently against players who haven’t gotten vaccinated. This relationship will be worth watching as the NFL season moves along. . . . Cousins was on the NFL’s COVID-19 list for a few days after being identified as a close contact of a teammate who tested positive. No matter. He still won’t get vaccinated.


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun — “I keep looking this up but I can’t find where Kirk Cousins or Carson Wentz got their medical degrees.”

——

Here’s Simmons, again — “At 37, the Canadian treasure named Joey Votto has an OPS of .915 in Cincinnati — his best in years — with 22 home runs, the most he’s hit in four years. Fifteen years in the big leagues and Votto’s career OPS is .936 with a career on-base percentage of .417, which is a few points better than what Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is doing this season.”


Titanic


The Beaverton — Dr. Hinshaw says Alberta is going to have to live with COVID-19 by dying of COVID-19.


Kyle Griffin, MSNBC, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. — The U.S. is now averaging more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day for the first time since February.


CBC News — COVID-19 outbreak continues in Tokyo as Olympics draw to a close.



The New York Yankees put 1B Anthony Rizzo on the MLB COVID-19 list on Sunday morning, the 12th of their players to end up on that list this season. Pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, along with C Gary Sanchez, were placed on the list last week. . . . Rizzo had been acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline. His vaccination status isn’t known, although while with the Cubs in June he said he wasn’t vaccinated and that he was “taking some more time to see the data.” . . . Here’s Sam Fels of Deadspin: “Rizzo’s appearance on the COVID list certainly raises eyebrows, if not cause a couple of nodding heads. Rizzo was one of the more outspoken non-gassed players when he was with the Cubs. His positive test certainly puts all of his arguments about not getting vaxxed then — putting his health first, protecting his family, research — in an even dumber light than it looked at the time.”



Rolling Stone — “Lynyrd Skynyrd cancel tour dates after Rickey Medlocke tests positive for Covid-19. . . . Lynyrd Skynyrd were scheduled to headline Monday’s Concert for Legends at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, sharing a bill with Brad Paisley and Jimmie Allen at the high-profile gig. However, that date — and three more shows on their itinerary — was canceled due to Medlocke’s positive test.”

——

Rolling Stone — “Following their triumphant performance at Lollapalooza, Limp Bizkit have canceled the remainder of their August concerts due to safety concerns related to Covid-19. . . . The cancellation impacts the remaining eight shows on the band’s Limited Last Minute Post Pandemic Popup Party, which was scheduled to conclude August 24th in Los Angeles.”

——

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — “As a result of the current exponential growth of new COVID cases in New Orleans and the region and the ongoing public health emergency, we must sadly announce that the 2021 edition of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival scheduled to take place Oct. 8-17 won’t occur as planned. . . . Next year’s dates are April 29-May 8.”


Tan


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: Nathan Deck has joined the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings as an assistant coach. Deck, 31, played 277 WHL regular-season games over six seasons (2005-11) with the Vancouver Giants (six) and Prince Albert Raiders (271).


Credit

Boulet Effect changed her life . . . Will QMJHL ban fighting for $20 million? . . . Will WHL be impacted by B.C. election?


As you may have read, the QMJHL has asked the Quebec government for a $20-qmjhlnewmillion subsidy to help the 12 teams that are based in the province through the pandemic. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wonders whether the government may be able to convince the league to further reduce fighting in exchange for the dough. . . .  Campbell writes: “Like all its other provincial counterparts, the Government of Quebec is more than willing to help junior hockey operators line their pockets. Early in 2020, it was persuaded by the QMJHL to change its own employment standards laws to classify players as ‘student athletes’ rather than employees. That alone represents savings in the millions of dollars. You’d think in the middle of a global pandemic, a government would have better things to do with $20 million than help prop up for-profit enterprises — granted, some teams are community owned — that exploit teenagers, but hey, it ain’t my money.” . . . Campbell’s complete column is right here.


Yahtzee


The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, a nine-team junior B circuit, is planning to open its regular season on Oct. 1. According to a release from the league it will happen “subject to gaining final approvals.” . . . Earlier in the summer, the league had said it planned to begin on Sept. 21 or 28. . . . The teams, all of them based in Vancouver Island communities, will be split into three cohorts. They will play in those cohorts “to reduce the need for travel and to mitigate the extra risk of infection.” . . . According to the league, “Players leaving or entering a cohort are mandate to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days as per Public Health guidelines.” . . . As for fans, the league said there will be “a limited number, and possibly NO spectators, allowed in some of the VIJHL’s arenas . . .” . . . A complete news release is right here.


F Connor Bedard, who is expected to play for the WHL’s Regina Pats in 2020-21 as a 15-year-old, will spend the next while practising in Sweden with HV71’s U-18 side. . . . But what if Bedard didn’t belong to the Pats? What if he was part of the HV71 program? Szymon Szemberg of eurohockeyclubs.com takes a look right here at the development process in that country.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the world’s most recognizable soccer players, has tested positive. Ibrahimovic, who plays for AC Milan, said via Twitter that he had tested negative one day and positive the next. . . . Ibrahimovic, 38, is in quarantine at home, so he didn’t play in host Milan’s 3-2 Europa League qualifier victory over Norway’s Bodo/Glimt on Thursday. . . .

The issues continue in the KHL where championat.com, a Russian sports site, reported that more than half the players and the entire coaching staff of SKA St. Petersburg tested positive. . . . In Wednesday’s game against visiting Sibir Novosibirsk, the bench was run by Roman Rotenberg, the team’s part-owner, vice-president and general manager, along with Daniel Bochner of Canada, the player development coach who last worked a bench in 2016 with the U-16 Don Mills, Ont., Flyers. . . . BTW, SKA dropped that game, 4-1. Of the 22 players it dressed, six were from its farm club and 10 from its junior team. . . .

Football’s Pac-12 Conference has reversed an earlier decision and its football teams will play this fall. Last month, the conference had announced that there wouldn’t be football in 2021. On Thursday, it said that it hopes to start up on Nov. 6, with teams playing seven-game schedules culminating with a championship game on Dec. 18. . . . This means that all five Power 5 conferences will be playing football this fall. . . As Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes right here: “The Power 5 conferences like to use the phrase ‘student-athlete.’ Maybe ‘lab rat’ is more appropriate.” . . .

The Mountain West Conference also has decided that it will have a football season this fall. Its board of directors voted to start an eight-game schedule on Oct. 24, “subject to approval from state, county and local officials,” according to the Fresno Bee. . . .

The Welland Jr. Canadians of the junior A Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League have taken a leave of absence for 2020-21. “Public health officials continue to advise that social distancing is the most effective strategy to prevent the spread of the virus,” the team said in a news release. “Ensuring the health and safety of our community, players, employees and volunteers is always our first priority. As a result, to do our part and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Jr. Canadians have made the difficult decision” not to play in 2020-21. . . .

There won’t be any high school football games between opposing schools in Regina this fall. There also won’t be any cross-country, soccer or volleyball. . . . In making the announcement, the Regina High Schools Athletic Association said that “schools will have the option within their school only to co-ordinate and organize extra-curricular athletics, practices or intramurals.” . . .

The Twin City Thunder of the U.S. Premier Hockey League’s National Collegiate Development Conference have had to put their season on hold after some players tested positive. The Thunder, which plays out of Auburn, Maine, was to have played Thursday and Friday nights. . . . Mark Divver, a New England-based hockey writer, tweeted on Wednesday that he had heard “of players on a couple of NCDC teams testing positive.” . . . Nathan Fournier of the Lewiston Sun Journal has more right here.


——

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.


Wifi


The province of B.C. is embroiled in an election campaign that will end with voting on Oct. 24. Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, wonders if it will have an impact on his league. He told Travis Lowe of Global News that “we’ve got a return-to-play protocol that has been worked on all summer. That’s in the hands of all the governments in the west now.” But he wonders how much attention it will get in B.C. because of the election campaign. “This election . . . we are certainly not an item that would be on one of the burners right now.” . . . That story is right here.


Chris Clark has been named head coach of the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. He stepped in as interim head coach in December, taking over from Bliss Littler, who stepped aside citing health concerns. Littler remains the team’s general manager. . . . Clark, also the assistant GM, has been on the Wild’s coaching staff since the franchise’s inceptions in 2008. . . . The full news release is right here.


Friends

%d bloggers like this: