The Bookshelf: Part 3 of 3


Here is the third and final part of my annual Bookshelf piece, a thumbnail look at some of the books I have read in the past year. Perhaps you will find something you want to read or to purchase as a gift. . . .


Razor Girl — Author Carl Hiaasen has produced another hilarious novel. If you are familiar with his work, you won’t be disappointed with this one. If you haven’t yet read anything by Hiaasen, you should know that Razor Girl is centred in the Florida Keys and, yes, it’s outrageous, loaded with, yes, razor wit, entertaining characters — think more than one Florida Man — and loaded dialogue.

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original — Author Howard Bryant was handed a tough task when he set out to write an authorized biography of Rickey Henderson. And he certainly was up to the task. If you are familiar with Bryant and his work, this definitely is up to his standards as he tells the life story of a man with many sides. But more than a book strictly about Henderson, Bryant tells the story of the Black migration to Oakland and what resulted from that, especially in sports. It also is an in-depth look at racism in baseball. And, yes, it also is the story of Henderson, one of baseball’s all-time greats.


Rising From the Deep: The Seattle Kraken, a Tenacious Push for Expansion, and the Emerald City’s Sports Revival — If you’re looking for a book about why the Kraken hired Dave Hakstol as head coach or why it selected this player or that in the NHL expansion draft, this book isn’t for you. If you want to know all that went on behind the scenes financially and politically to get the team on the ice in time for the 2020-21 season, it’s all right here. Remember that before the Kraken came to life, there was a big push being made to land an NBA expansion franchise for Seattle, something that still hasn’t happened. Geoff Baker, who covers the Kraken for the Seattle Times, gets in deep and it makes for a fascinating read.

Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks — The author, Patrick Radden Keefe, has put together a collection of his essays that have appeared in The New Yorker. The interesting thing is that the people portrayed in these essays all are different, but they provide an interesting look into the kind of folks who walk this earth with us. As Rachel Newcomb wrote in the Washington Post: “Taken together, the essays reflect the collective preoccupations of the unsettling era in which we now live: mass shootings and terrorism, unaddressed mental health issues, and the many flavors of financial corruption.”

The Ruin — The opening chapter of this work by Dervla McTiernan is enough to keep you reading. Cormac Reilly, a fresh-faced Irish policeman, is sent to a house that is collapsing into itself and discovers a woman dead in her bed, with two children — Maude, 15, and Jack, 5 — appearing ready for whatever may come. The rest of the book doesn’t quite live up to the opening chapter, but that would be awfully tough to do. Still, Reilly is a likeable character, something that is important to any book, and there are enough twists to keep things interesting. . . . Oh, and make sure you read the author’s note where she admits to doing a bit of, uhh, cheating. LOL!

The Scholar — This is the second of author Dervla McTiernan’s books that follow Cormac Reilly, a veteran Irish policeman. And like The Ruin, which is mentioned above, The Scholar is good stuff. It has an interesting plot and even though the twists are fairly easy to figure out, McTiernan’s way with words is more than enough to keep the reader involved.

The Series — This is a wonderful, albeit short, book about the 1972 hockey series between Canada and the Soviet Union. Written by Ken Dryden, who was one of three goaltenders on Team Canada and played the deciding eighth game, this is a 200-page gem. It isn’t full of anecdotes or play-by-play; rather, it’s just Dryden writing about some of his recollections — and sometimes he admits that he doesn’t remember much about a particular game or games — of the eight-game series, as well as what came before and after. A gem . . . a real gem!

Shōgun — I have no idea why it took me this long to dig into author James Clavell’s masterpiece about Japan in 1600. And that really is what this is — a masterpiece. For the most part, the story is told through the eyes of John Blackthorne, the first Englishman to reach the shores of Japan. It is awfully easy to get lost in all that there is to this book. BTW, it’s rather lengthy, coming in at about 428,000 words.

Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty — It turns out that the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as the stars, really did win three championships in spite of themselves. Jeff Pearlman, who has written a number of terrific sports-related book, spells out the winning mess these teams were in all the gory details. It turns out that the young Kobe was a belligerent and rude human being, and he and Shaq couldn’t stand each other. Oh boy, there’s a lot of dirt in this one, including details on the rape charge Kobe faced in Colorado.

Throwback: A Big-League Catcher Tells How the Game is Really Played — Jason Kendall was a catcher who had a 15-year career in the major leagues. You can bet he saw a lot during that time. But this isn’t that kind of book. Instead, Kendall provides a whole lot of insight into what goes into the game, providing all kinds of tips involving catching, hitting, pitching, signs, managing and a whole lot more. If you’re even slightly interested in the big leagues, you’ll enjoy this one.

24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid — Willie Mays is considered by many to be the greatest MLB player of them all. It’s hard to argue with that after reading this gem from author John Shea. With lots of commentary from the Say Hey Kid, this is a terrific look at Mays’ life and career . . . a wonderful book about a wonderful human being.

Visionary: The Ernie Gare Story — Author John Korobanik, a former sports editor of the Nelson Daily News who went on to spend 20 years writing for The Canadian Press, tells the story of the late Ernie Gare, and it’s quite a story. Gare was heavily involved in the founding of the Canadian national ski teams in Nelson. He was the athletic director at Notre Dame University in Nelson — it was shuttered in 1977 — and was a big push behind the school being the first in Canada to offer athletic scholarships. He also was ahead of his time when it came to training, both in- and off-season. And, yes, he was the father of former Buffalo Sabres captain Danny Gare. Unfortunately, Ernie died a young man, taken by ALS in 1981 at the age of 52.

We Begin at the End — This thriller/mystery novel will stay with you for a while if only because author Chris Whitaker has created a memorable character in the outlaw Duchess Day Radley, who is all of 13 years of age and struggling with the unfair hand she has been dealt by life. In fact, more than anything, this is about folks who live in Cape Haven, a small coastal California community, and how each of them is fighting to get through life. But it’s Duchess, the outlaw, who will live in your memory bank.

Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty — There was a time in the not-too-distant past when Calumet Farms was THE name in thoroughbred horse racing. In this book, author Ann Hagedorn Auerbach details its rise — it was founded in 1924 — and all that led it into bankruptcy, including the death of Alydar, perhaps the most-productive sire in thoroughbred history, but a horse that may have been worth more dead than alive. This is an impeccably researched book and the numbers, many of which had to do with bank loans, will make your head spin.


As for the 10 most-enjoyable books that I read this year, here they are, in alphabetical order (OK, I included 12, so sue me) . . .

The Baseball 100, by Joe Posnanski

Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom, by Carl Bernstein

The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly

Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series, by Gary J. Smith

The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson, by Jeff Pearlman

The Late Show: Letterman, Leno, & the Network Battle for the Night, by Bill Carter

Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk, by Dan Russell

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original, by Howard Bryant

Rising From the Deep: The Seattle Kraken, a Tenacious Push for Expansion, and the Emerald City’s Sports Revival, by Geoff Baker

The Series, by Ken Dryden

24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid, by Willie Mays and John Shea

Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty, by Ann Hagedorn Auerbach

Part 3 of 3


The Bookshelf: Part 2 of 3


For each of the past few years, I have compiled a list of books I have read over the previous 12 months, and posted thumbnails here. With any luck, you may find an idea or two to help you get through your Christmas shopping. . . . Part 1 appeared here yesterday, and here is Part 2 of 3 . . .

Kill Me, Darling — Every once in a while it doesn’t hurt to check out some really legitimate pulp fiction. That’s what we have here in this book by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane. The former has been completing unfinished works left by Spillane, who died in 2006. This one is based mostly in Miami, circa 1954, and it’s good Mike Hammer stuff with all the dialogue, the grit, the colour and the bodies.

The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson — It is entirely up to the reader to decide what kind of a hero Bo Jackson was, because there certainly are some scarecrows in his closet. And, yes, author Jeff Pearlman touches on a whole lot of them here. This is a truly in-depth look at Jackson’s rise from ill-tempered high schooler to two-sport star, Nike poster boy and beyond. And every turn of a page seems to provide the reader with even more interesting information. Bo, by the way, was not especially popular in his own locker rooms, and Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis really didn’t have much use for him. Seriously!

The Late Show: Letterman, Leno, & the Network Battle for the Night — This book, written by Bill Carter, then a media reporter for The New York Times, was published in 1995. I have no idea why it took me so long to get to it. What a book! It tells in detail the story of perhaps the biggest gaffe in TV talk-show history — how NBC-TV lost David Letterman to CBS. I never will get the image out of my head of Jay Leno in what was basically a closet at NBC headquarters listening via phone to a meeting of the braintrust at which his future was being decided. Just a great, great read, even all these years later.

Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir — Jann Wenner, co-founder of the magazine Rolling Stone, lets it all hang out in a memoir that has to have set a record for name-dropping. After all, Wenner, often with family members, hung out with Mick and the Stones, Bono, John and Yoko, Paul McCartney, Michael Douglas, Bob Dylan and on and on, and he isn’t shy about it. While all of the hanging out and, yes, the drugs were happening, Rolling Stone grew from a rock-and-roll magazine into one that wasn’t afraid to tackle all kinds of issues, from AIDS to climate change to politics. Wenner writes in a rat-a-tat style, jumping from topic to topic in a matter of 300 or 400 words. That makes this an easy read, but there are times when that topic cries out for more words. Still, the man has led an interesting life, especially when you consider that he left Jane, his wife of almost 30 years, because he is gay.

The Marching Season — The assassin known as October almost got Michael Osbourne the first time around and now he’s back for more. But who hired October and turned him loose? Daniel Silva, the author of the more than 20 books featuring Gabriel Allon, has another readable spy novel right here.

1972: The Series That Changed Hockey Forever — Call it what you want, but the hockey series between Canada and Russia that occurred in September 1972 won’t ever be replicated. Veteran hockey writer Scott Morrison take us through the whole thing, from training camp to the homecoming following Game 8 in Moscow and an exhibition game in Prague. With full co-operation from many of the participants, there is lots here to digest. The one thing that stands out, though, is how much everyone involved with the Canadian team thought this series was going to be a walk in the park.

Not Dark Yet — Another in author Peter Robinson’s books that follow the career of Inspector Alan Banks, this one involves murders and a woman — suspect or not? — who was kidnapped by sex-trafficers as she, then 17, was leaving an orphanage to start her new life. Lots of twists and turns in this one. Not Dark Yet was published in 2021 and was the latest entry in the 28-book series.

Off The Record — Peter Mansbridge was in your living room for years as the anchor on CBC-TV’s The National. This is his story and it’s produced like a newscast in that it’s one story after another, some of them 10 or 12 paragraphs in length, others three or four pages. It all is quite entertaining, at least in part because Mansbridge was witness to so much recent history and the people who made it.

The Order — The Pope is dead. Was it a heart attack? Was it murder? Daniel Silva does it again with another enthralling novel featuring Israeli super agent Gabriel Allon. This is No. 20 in the series that follows Allon’s adventures. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.

Over My Dead Body — This is the fourth book by author Jeffrey Archer that follows the life and career of Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick, who continues to try and bring down Miles Faulkner, a millionaire art collector who may or may not still be alive. Archer spun off these books from his seven-book series The Clifton Chronicles. They’re all quick reads and good fun.

Pack Saddles to Tete Jaune Cache — Published in 1962, James G. MacGregor’s book is a real gem. It was written after numerous conversations with James Shand-Harvey, who arrived in Edmonton from Scotland in August 1905 and went on to explore all parts of Alberta from there to Grande Prairie and Jasper. He was there when the surveyors were doing the ground work for the railroads. An absolutely amazing man who was known throughout the area as Shand, he was hunting and trapping and leading tourists onto Mount Robson and a whole lot more. If you have driven or been in the area from Edmonton to Jasper and can find a copy of this book, don’t miss it.

Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk — For the better part of 30 years, Dan Russell ruled the late night airwaves in B.C. While doing so, he kept a diary, program logs and audio tapes. He puts all of that and more to great use in this book, which chronicles his life and career on and off the airwaves. Yes, there is plenty in here on Brian Burke and the Vancouver Canucks, too. No, Russell doesn’t pull any punches. (Disclaimer: I was involved in the editing process with this book.)

Portrait of an Unknown Woman — This is No. 22 in author Daniel Silva’s series documenting the life and times of Gabriel Allon. Once a master Israeli spy, Allon now is retired and trying to focus on his other love — restoring classic paintings. All of that leads him into the world of art forgeries and the result is another masterful work by Silva. This is just an awesome read. Loved it.

The Queen’s Gambit — This book by Walter Tevis was published in 1983. It got new life in 2020 when Netflix used it as the basis for a seven-part miniseries of the same name that was most watchable. The book follows the life of Beth Harmon, who grew up in an orphanage. It is there in the basement that she discovered a janitor playing chess and a prodigy was born. Her road to the top wasn’t at all smooth, though, thanks to tranquilizers, booze and Russian chess players.

Part 2 of 3

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while remembering a dear, dear friend . . .


Norm, this one’s for you . . .

Norm Weseen, a dear, dear friend who was a huge fan of the Vancouver Giants, died Saturday night on the Lower Mainland.

Norm, who was in his 80s, lived a lot and saw a lot. He was a sportscaster on the Prairies in an earlier life, then moved to B.C., where he worked in various communities and covered enough curling that the B.C. Interior Curling Association honoured him as a life member in 1989. He also was a big, big hockey guy and, before his health began to catch up to him, he was a Giants’ season-ticket holder; in fact, I believe he held two of them. He loved nothing more than to attend a Giants’ practice and bump into the late Pat Quinn.

I came to know Norm about 20 years ago when he phoned out of the clear blue just wanting to talk hockey. It wasn’t long before we were having regular conversations during which we would solve a whole lot of problems. He knew his way around arenas in Estevan and Weyburn. He had worked in Smithers, B.C., and loved the Watson brothers.

With the Giants, he especially liked the lunch-bucket guys like Milan Lucic and Garet Hunt. And, of course, there was no one better in Norm’s mind than Brendan Gallagher.

Norm also introduced me to Dickson Liong, a courageous young man with cerebral palsy who has written for the Giants, as well as the Vancouver Canucks and their AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Canucks. (There’s more on Dickson right here.)

One other thing . . . my wife, Dorothy, fell in love with Norm. She underwent a kidney transplant more than nine years ago, and whenever we talked he always started the conversation with: “How is Wonder Woman doing?” Of course, whenever he called and she answered the phone, I would have to wait 10 or 15 minutes for my turn. And it never was too early in a new year for him to start asking when he would be able to make a donation in support of Dorothy and her annual Kidney Walk fund-raiser.

Yes, Norm was a dear, dear friend. It is true, however, that time waits for no one and it caught up with Norm on Saturday.

RIP, old friend. Dorothy and I’ll be missing you.

After the excruciating way in which the Victoria Royals lost at home on Saturday night, one has to think they will be excited about hitting the road for their next six games.

The Royals dropped a 6-5 OT decision to the visiting Vancouver Giants on VictoriaRoyalsSaturday in a game that, if you’re a Victoria fan, ended in bizarre fashion. If you are a Giants’ supporter, well, you must have loved it.

Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist called it a “near-epic collapse.”

The Royals, who got three goals from F Jake Poole, held a 5-3 lead with 107 seconds left to play in the third period.

F Ty Thorpe got Vancouver to within a goal at 18:12.

Vancouver F Samuel Honzek tied it with 1.4 seconds remaining in the period.

F Zack Ostapchuk, the Giants’ captain, won it at 1:09 of extra time. (The Royals, in their recap, gave the game-winner to F Ty Halaburda, which, if a change is made, would really rub in some salt because he is from Victoria.)

Meanwhile, I am left to wonder what would constitute an epic collapse.

It all allowed the Giants to improve to 2-5-3 with the Royals falling to 2-8-2.

The Royals, who open a swing through the six-team Central Division on Wednesday against the Red Deer Rebels, will be hoping a change of scenery proves to be the cure for what ails them.

“It was a really tough loss and (the road swing) will be a good way to turn the page,” Dan Price, the Royals’ general manager and head coach, told Dheensaw. “Our players are disappointed but are very mature, confident and resilient.”

Of course, it should be mentioned that the Rebels have opened the season with a franchise-record 10-game winning streak.

The Vancouver Giants returned home — they play out of the Langley Events VancouverCentre — on Sunday and won their second game in a row for the first time this season, beating the Kamloops Blazers, 6-3. . . . Each team was playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours; the Giants were playing their fourth game in fewer than 96 hours. . . . Vancouver (3-5-3) also is taking its show on the road. The Giants will play six games in the Central Division, starting Thursday night against the Edmonton Oil Kings — and two against the Prince George Cougars before next playing at home against Kamloops on Nov. 18.


My upcoming reading list includes three new releases, including the book referred to in the above tweet — Rising from the Deep: The Seattle Kraken, a Tenacious Push for Expansion, and the Emerald City’s Sports Revival. It is the work of Geoff Baker, a former Toronto Star and Montreal Gazette sports writer who now is on the Kraken beat at the Seattle Times. . . . Also on my list are The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson, written by the prolific Jeff Pearlman. His books always are great reads, but he asks that you not buy the one about Brett Favre. Seriously! . . . And, finally, I am looking forward to getting my hands on The Book of Joe: Trying Not to Suck at Baseball and Life, by former MLB manager Joe Maddon and Tom Verducci, a sports writer of note.


The Prince Albert Raiders, playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours, weren’t any kind of match for F Riley Fiddler-Schultz and the host Calgary CalgaryHitmen on Sunday. Fiddler-Schultz, the team captain, struck for five goals, four of them in the first period, in leading the Hitmen to a 6-1 victory. . . . Fiddler-Schultz tied F Pavel Brendl’s franchise record for most goals in one game. Brendl scored five in an 8-2 victory over the visiting Raiders on Nov. 11, 2000. . . . Fiddler-Schultz’s four first-period goals tied Brendl and F Owen Fussey for most goals in a period. Brendl scored four third-period goals in a 5-2 victory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw on Oct. 18, 2000; Fussey had four in the third period of a 7-3 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Feb. 6, 2002. . . . Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) also tweeted that Fiddler-Schultz, who had gone six games without a goal, now has had one three-goal game, a four-game and this five-goal effort during his career. Brandow also noted that Fiddler-Schultz set a franchise record for fastest three goals (2:43) — F Michael Bubnick held the previous record (6:48) from a 5-3 less to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Jan. 13, 2002. . . .

According to the WHL, “The last five goal performance in the WHL was recorded by former Lethbridge F Justin Hall on Feb. 26, 2022. The last six goal performance was recorded on Feb. 27, 2009 by Tyler Ennis of the Medicine Hat Tigers.”

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Don’t sleep on the Saskatoon Blades. They are 9-2-0 after winning their sixth straight game, 5-1 over the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Sunday. The Blades got two goals and an assist from F Trevor Wong in that one. . . . Freshman F Samuel Honzek put up six points — three goals, three assists — in the Vancouver Giants’ back-to-back victories. Honzek, who is to turn 18 on Nov. 12, is from Trencin, Slovakia. He has six goals and seven assists in his first 11 games. . . . It was a rather nice late autumn Sunday in Kamloops; it was anything but on the flatlands. In fact, things were so nasty that the WHL had to postpone a game that was to have had the Moose Jaw Warriors facing the Pats in Regina. That game now will be played on Wednesday night.


THINKING OUT LOUD — To the boss at the Vancouver Province: If you notice that your Sunday newsstand sales have shrunk by one, it’ll be because I bailed. You’ve gone from five crossword puzzles to one on Sundays? Thanks for the entertainment value over the past few years, but I’m out. . . . NFL observer Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) points out that the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos all are 5-2. The Saints’ first-round draft pick, he adds, belongs to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns’ first pick belongs to the Houston Texans. The Broncos’ first pick belongs to the Seattle Seahawks. . . . How would the Seahawks’ brass respond if the Broncos were to offer QB Russell Wilson to them for QB Geno Smith? Yeah, that’s what I thought? . . . There are 15 teams in baseball’s National League. The Philadelphia Phillies went 87-75 (.537) in the regular season. That was the NL’s sixth-best record, something that wouldn’t have got them into the playoffs in any other season but this one. Now they’re going to the World Series. Make of that what you will.

The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks played their home-opener on Saturday night and lost their sixth straight game, this one 5-1 to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Canucks’ fans aren’t taking it well.

After Saturday’s debacle, Thomas Drance of The Athletic wrote that the Canucks “finVancouverCanucksally . . . returned to the supposedly friendly confines of Rogers Arena. And this one had it all. It had the road team opening the scoring with a fluky power-play goal. A gentleman wearing a retro Canucks jersey and a paper bag on his head, posing for photos with other fans in his section. The fans booed during play as the game twisted away from Vancouver. They booed as the Sabres top line cycled the puck endlessly in the Vancouver end. They booed the Canucks on the power play. They even booed ‘Sweet Caroline.’ ”

If you subscribe to The Athletic, Drance’s piece is right here. If you don’t subscribe, you should give it some thought.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scattershooting on Wednesday night while waiting for spring and Year 3 of pandemic . . .


Sheesh, a guy steps away from the keyboard for a day or two and, well, let’s review . . .

Theo Fleury surfaced on Fox-TV on Tuesday night, telling an audience of a gazillion Trumpsters that the convoy of Canadian truck drivers — with time on their hands and apparently having somehow lost their freedoms — that started last weekend will bring 1.4 million people to Ottawa in about 50,000 trucks. . . . Uhh, that’s 28 people per truck. . . . He also told the Trumpsters that those same truckers are “going to stay there until (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau resigns or they give us back all of our freedoms and rights.” . . . . Prior to hearing about this, I wasn’t aware that Fleury, with C.W. McCall apparently unavailable, had become Fox’s Trucking Convoy Insider, kind of like Darren Dreger is a TSN Hockey Insider. . . . BTW, a respected citizen of our land who has followed Fleury’s behaviour for a lot of years, recently told Taking Note: “It started a few years ago and it’s all been downhill since then.” . . .

Also this week came news that there were a lot of grocery stores out there with empty shelves. Except that search parties sent out in search of same weren’t able to find them. Not in big box stores. Not in the chain grocery stores. Not in the neighbourhood grocery marts. . . . That didn’t stop members of the official opposition at the federal level, the CPC, from hitting up social media to tell us about these food shortages. One of them tweeted a photo showing a woman looking at empty shelves as though it was a regular occurrence in Canada. Except that Internet sleuths found out the photo actually was from London, England, and was a ‘stock’ photo, meaning you and I are able to purchase and use it. If you looked closely, the price tags that were visible were in Euros. . . . Geez, they don’t even try to fib a little bit now; it’s just blatantly lie to us without even thinking twice about it. . . .

Here in Kamloops, my wife and I were in a grocery store on Monday and the only thing we couldn’t find was canned mushrooms. Of course, we live in B.C., so it could be that people are smoking them, or whatever they do with those things out here, so there has been a run on them. . . .

And then there’s Creston, B.C., where the goofballs were out in force on Saturday night. As Kelsey Yates of the Creston Valley Advance reported: “Five people have been charged with mischief after barging into a Creston Valley Thunder Cats game without masks and encouraging others to come inside. . . . the five men ignored security at the Creston and District Community Complex (CDCC) without showing vaccine passports or tickets to the hockey game. Once inside the Johnny Bucyk Arena, the men started opening locked doors of the building to let in other trespassers from outside.” Yates’s complete story is right here.

The past couple of days have shown that (a) social media, and Twitter in particular, just gets loonier and loonier, and (b) this pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon. . . . So get triple-vaxxed, mask up, wash your hands and try to stay safe.

Let’s drop in to Saskatoon and see how Colin Priestner, the general manager of the WHL’s Blades is doing.

Here he is on Monday . . .

There was something of a reprieve on Tuesday, when he tweeted: “This Just In: the PCR lab I got the COVID test at called and said due to a lab error . . . the result was misidentified as positive! I just have a regular boring chest cold! The tech (who felt terrible) said he basically screwed up and entered the result wrong. All is forgiven!”

But then came Wednesday morning . . .

On Monday, the WHL shut down the Blades and postponed two of their games because of their inability to ice a team due to having nine players in COVID-19 protocols. The Blades were to have gone into Alberta and played the Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday and the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday. . . . On Wednesday, the WHL postponed Friday’s game that was to have had the Blades playing host to the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . As of Wednesday night, Brandon’s game in Saskatoon on Sunday was still on the schedule. . . .

Also on Monday, the Wheat Kings and Kelowna Rockets were cleared to return to team activities. . . . And the WHL also has announced new dates for some reschedule games. So, again, check your favourite team’s schedule for updates.


While the WHL hasn’t given any indication that it is looking at extending its schedule past what now is the final day (April 3), the OHL may end up doing just that. Josh Brown of the Kitchener Record reported on Wednesday that David Branch, the OHL commissioner, said “all options are on the table,” including running its 68-game regular season past what now is an April 3 closing date and lobbying to have the Memorial Cup schedule changed. The Memorial Cup is to held in Saint John, N.B., opening on June 4 and closing on June 13. . . . Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner, told Global News last week that his league also is prepared to extend its season and “we’re even prepared to modify our playoff format. We’re even looking at the possibility of pushing back the start of the Memorial Cup a week or two later.”


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: There was a real WHL touch to an NHL game in Seattle on Tuesday night as the Kraken entertained the Nashville Predators. The linesmen were Ryan Gibbons and Travis Toomey, both of whom are former WHL players. Gibbons, 37, played five season (2001-06) with the Seattle Thunderbirds; Toomey, 31, was with the Saskatoon Blades for three seasons (2007-10) and the Thunderbirds for 2010-11. . . . Patrick McNeil, the play-by-play voice and communication co-ordinator for the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles, points out via Twitter: “When Quebec moves to next phase on Feb. 7, maximum attendance would be 500 people. Previous indication was that league wouldn’t resume with less than 50 per cent capacity.” In the meantime, the three QMJHL teams from New Brunswick are planning to set up mini-training camps in Quebec centres to prepare for a return to play. The Acadie-Bathurst Titan will be in Carleton-su-mer, the Saint John Sea Dogs are going to set up shop in Rivière-du-Loup, and the Moncton Wildcats will go to Quebec City. The QMJHL has been paused since Dec. 18 and hopes to resume play on Feb. 1. . . . The junior A BCHL has chosen to extend its regular season by one week, allowing it to get in games that were postponed from earlier in the season. So rather than wrapping up on March 20, the regular season now will finish on March 27, with playoffs to begin on April 1. Barring further change, of course.

Pat Siedlecki, a former play-by-play voice of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has left radio station CJOC. His last day there was on Wednesday. In a Jan. 21 tweet, Siedlecki wrote: “After 15 years at CJOC and now 25 years in radio, I’m leaving for a new career in the funeral industry.” Most recently, he was the station’s news director.

One of my weekly reads comes from Jeff Pearlman (, the author of a number of books, including the terrific The Bad Guys Won, which was subtitled A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo-chasing and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, The Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform — and Maybe the Best. . . . Anyway, here’s Pearlman’s take on the Baseball Hall of Fame voting that was announced on Tuesday and, yes, I happen to agree with him:

“For the first time, I’m supporting Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame candidacies (although they’re all DOA). This comes after my fellow writers voted to elect David Ortiz, a clear-cut juicer whose smile and warmth won over the crowd. There’s simply no longer a justification to keep other cheaters out. I know Bonds was a jerk, but if we’ve decided to overlook PED usage, he has to be in well before Ortiz. So, for that matter, do Clemens, Sosa and McGwire. Oy. What a mess — and what a disgraceful showing.”

BTW, Pearlman also wrote Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty. . . . I haven’t yet read it, but it is on the list. . . . And if you haven’t read Pearlman’s Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL, well, you’re cheating yourself. Yeah, a guy named Trump took down that version of the USFL.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while not watching the World Series game . . .


Hello, Interior Health . . . anyone home? Call for you on Line 1 . . . and Line 2 . . . and Line 3 . . . and . . .

Hey, Interior Health, when you say there’ll be news on Friday and then you stiff the commoners without so much as a whisper, well, we’re into Wednesday and we’re still waiting. Oh, and the people whose livelihoods are being messed with also are waiting.

Maybe it’s time for you to lift the veil of secrecy or come out from under the cone of silence and explain why you do the things you do. Tell them the gypsy fortune teller didn’t show up for work, or that it’s the health ministry that operates the puppet strings that control the messages you send out. Tell them something. Anything.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, announced on Oct. 19 that restrictions on attendance at some sporting events — including Vancouver Canucks’ home games — were to be lifted. (Yeah, I know. I was shocked at the timing of that one, too.)

When the announcement was made, the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets were among those to express relief. But, wait, not so fast . . .

It turned out that while the lifting of restrictions also included the Vancouver Giants, who play their home games in Langley, and the Victoria Royals, it didn’t apply to the Prince George Cougars, who are in the Northern Health Region, or the Blazers and Rockets, who are within the Interior Health Authority. So those three teams are left to operate under a restriction that allows them to sell only 50 per cent of available seats in their arenas.

Why? If it really is because of the hospitalization (high) and immunization rates (low) out here in the boonies, why not say so? Why not tell that to the teams on Friday?

“We kind of felt when Dr. Henry made her announcement that would be all Rocketsencompassing,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner and general manager, told Madison Erhardt of for a story that is right here. “I understand they have decided now to have some regional rules put in where we didn’t have that most of the year. In the Northern region things are tougher up there right now than they are down here. But for you to allow Vancouver and Victoria to get going it has such a huge impact on our business and not just us.

“We just don’t understand it and we can’t get any answers and I guess that is the biggest frustration.”

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week reported Tuesday morning that the WHL “has formally requested exemption from Interior Health’s indoor spectator limit of 50 per cent of a facility’s capacity.”

The newspaper got its hands on an email sent by Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, to Dr. Sue Pollock, the IHA’s interim chief medical health officer, on Monday.

“Given the preventative measures we have taken, combined with the public health guidelines currently in place in the province of B.C., we believe that WHL games in Kamloops and Kelowna represent no significant risk to the Interior public health system,” the email reads.

“With this in mind and given our proven track record with the WHL hub centres in Interior B.C., we would formally request that the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets be granted an exemption from the indoor events capacity order and be permitted to operate at 100 per cent spectator capacity.”

In his story, Hastings pointed out that “there has been some confusion as to whether the 50 per cent capacity limits in Interior Health were eliminated by last week’s decision to lift capacity limits. Interior Health stated it would have clarification by Oct. 23, but the health authority did not address the matter by that date and has yet to respond to myriad media requests for answers on the issue.”

At a media briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Henry claimed that the situation is fluid.

“We’re looking at this on a day-to-day basis,” she said, “and I do believe it will be settling in the next few days and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to lift restrictions and get back to those important hockey games and arts and other events safely and very soon.”

At the same time, Dr. Henry explained: “Where we are still seeing high rates of transmission and low rates of immunization, those are all things that are important and we take into account.”

She also stated that “we’re not at the point where we feel we can take that risk of allowing that type of activity to occur with the stresses that are on the healthcare system right now.”

It would seem then that the Blazers, Cougars and Rockets are out of lock for the immediate future.

As for Robison’s request, perhaps he should have emailed Dr. Henry because she’s the one who pulls the strings.

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, in a column on former football coaches Jon Gruden and Nick Rolovich, one of whom emailed his way out of the Las Vegas Raiders’ organization and the other of whom was fired as Washington State’s head football coach because he refused to be vaccinated:

“Too often coaches, operating in their own little fiefdoms, are insulated from the real world. They are awarded absurd amounts of power, compensation and fealty for coaching a sport. A study of the highest-paid state employees in 2021 reveals that in 41 states, the highest paid state employee is either a basketball or football coach (including California, where the dubious honor goes to UCLA football coach Chip Kelly).”

Yes, Rolovich was the highest paid state employee in Washington.

BTW, if you aren’t familiar with the Rolovich situation, well, Google is your friend. He has since filed a lawsuit against Washington State claiming that he was fired because of his — wait for it — Catholicism.


Headline at “The NFL has investigated all the emails, and found it was only Jon Gruden being racist and homophobic. Trust us. Pinky swear. Honest.”


As you will be aware, Jon Gruden’s emails surfaced in an NFL investigation into the operation of the Washington Football Club. Despite going through 650,000 emails, the NFL claimed only some from Gruden were found to be sketchy. As Nick Canepa of The San Diego Union-Tribune put it: “Football’s Warren Report. Gruden acted alone.”


Three notes from Jack Todd in the Montreal Gazette: “With their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers are a lock for the 2012 NBA championship. . . . The only way a World Series between the can-banging Astros and the tomahawk-chopping Braves could be worse is if the Blue Jays had made it. . . . . Has it occurred to Tyler Bertuzzi that he’s a really rotten teammate?”

It’s believed that Tyler Bertuzzi, a forward with the Detroit Red Wings, is the only unvaccinated player left in the NHL. That’s because G Mackenzie Blackwood of the New Jersey Devils got his first vaccination last week. He has begun the process but will have to follow the NHL protocols for unvaccinated players until two weeks after he gets a second dose. . . . You wonder if the fact that he has a chance to be part of Canada’s Olympic team factored into his decision to finally get vaccinated?

We have news from Calgary . . .

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks had five players in COVID-19 Covidprotocol — F Jonathan Toews, F Henrik Borgstrom, F Patrick Kane, D Riley Stillman and F Jujhar Khaira — along with assistant coaches Marc Crawford, Tomas Mitell and Jimmy Waite. . . . The Blackhawks, who have yet to win this season (0-5-1), face the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. . . .

The St. Louis Blues placed F Ryan O’Reilly and F Brandon Saad on the non-roster COVID list on Tuesday. . . . O’Reilly has tested positive and is experiencing symptoms. He will miss at least four games. . . . Saad sat out the past two games and is expected to miss at least two more, including Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. . . . The Blues are 5-0-0 in the early going of this season. . . .

The Minnesota Wild is on a road trip without assistant coach Darby Hendrickson, goaltender coach Freddy Chabot and video assistant T.J. Jindra, all of whom are in COVID protocol. . . . Wild general manager Bill Guerin was in protocol and will rejoin the team in Seattle on Thursday. . . .

Matt Nagy, the head coach of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, announced on Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. They had placed RT Elijah Wilkinson and LB Caleb Johnston on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday morning. . . . The Bears are scheduled to entertain the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. . . .

The Green Bay Packers (6-1) have placed WR Davante Adams and WR Allen Lazard on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning they’re not likely to play Thursday night against the host Arizona Cardinals (7-0). As well, Green Bay defensive co-ordinator Joe Barry tested positive on Monday. . . . Meanwhile, the Cardinals, who had bye last weekend, have activated DL Zach Allen and LB Chandler Jones from the list.


You may be aware that there was some nasty weather off the West Coast coming WHLout of the weekend and that it resulted in the cancellation of a number of ferry sailings to and from Vancouver Island. As a result, the WHL had to reschedule a Tuesday night game that had been scheduled for Prince George. The Victoria Royals were to have been in Prince George for the fifth straight game between these teams — the Cougars won the first four. . . . But the Royals weren’t able to get off the island, so that game has been moved to Jan. 18. . . . The Royals are still scheduled to be in Prince George for a game tonight. . . . Victoria, with nine roster players injured, is scheduled to meet the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday and the Rockets in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . BTW, the Royals have dropped Austrian G Sebastian Wraneschitz, 19, from their roster. He was selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . .

Meanwhile, there was one WHL game on Tuesday night . . .

In Red Deer, the Winnipeg Ice ran its record to 10-0-0 with a 3-1 victory over the Rebels. . . . The last WHL team to open a season with 10 straight victories? The 2014-15 Kelowna Rockets. . . . F Skyler Bruce (6) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:48 of the third period and F Connor McClennon (9) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . F Arshdeep Bains played in his 200th regular-season game with the Rebels (6-4-1). . . . The Ice has outscored its opponents, 61-18. . . . The Ice is scheduled to visit the Calgary Hitmen (4-3-0) tonight and the Edmonton Oil Kings (6-2-1) on Friday.

Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “St. Louis pitching prospect Dalton Roach was bitten by a black bear while bow hunting in Wisconsin. Cubs-Cardinals vitriol, it appears, knows no offseason.”


Perry also spotted this tweet from Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register: “Congratulations to the first person who said Kyrie Irving finally found a shot he couldn’t take.”

Headline at @TheOnion: Astros Hope Victory Will Inspire Kids To Break Rules Without Punishment.


Headline at The Beaverton: No one on Raptors has the heart to tell Drake he’s not on the team.


I’ve got a couple of early Christmas presents for you, both from Jeff Pearlman, who knows his way around a keyboard. Both of these pieces are lengthy, so don’t think you’ll read them both in one sitting. Set one aside for a different pot of coffee or tea.

First, right here is a list of what Pearlman calls his “64 favourite sports writers of 2021.”

And then there’s this right here. . . . Pearlman’s list of what he considers to be the top 50 all-time sports books.

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings have signed general manager and head coach Cody Mapes to a three-year contract that will run through the 2023-24 season. Mapes had been an assistant coach with the Red Wings for two years. He was promoted on Aug. 4 after the Red Wings dropped GM/head coach Rich Pilon on Aug. 4, with team president Brent Stephanson saying at the time that “there are no further details at this time due to legal reasons.” . . . The Red Wings are 3-6-2 and tied for third place in the four-team Viterra Division. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders have added F Carter Massier, 20, to their roster and dropped F Michael Horon, 20. After being dropped by the Regina Pats, Massier had been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . .

Former Kamloops Blazers D Nolan Baumgartner, now an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Game on Feb. 7 in Laval, Que. Baumgartner played in 878 AHL games, splitting them between the Portland Pirates, Norfolk Admirals, Manitoba Moose, Philadelphia Phantoms, Iowa Stars and Chicago Wolves. He also was an assistant coach for five AHL seasons with Vancouver affiliates in Utica, N.Y., and Chicago.

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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


The Bookshelf: Part 2 of 3 . . .


What follows is Part 2 of a three-part look at some of the books I have read over the past 12 months. Before we get to those, here are a handful of suggestions from the thumbnails that appeared here a year ago. If you haven’t read these, you can’t go wrong with any of them:

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, by Mark Leibovich

Bower: A Legendary Life, by Dan Robson

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL, by Jeff Pearlman

Hockey Fight in Canada: The Big Media Face-off Over the NHL, by David Shoults

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, by Tyler Kepner

The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West, by John Branch

Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other, by Ken Dryden

Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman (but only if you already have read Backman’s Beartown)

Now here is Part 2 of this year’s bookshelf . . .

Gloves Off: 40 Years of Unfiltered Sports Writing: Lowell Cohn, now retired, had a lengthy career as a sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa Press Democrat. This is his look back at some of the people he dealt with and things that he witnessed. He doesn’t pull any punches as he writes about his career; no, it’s not a compilation of columns. I’m a sucker for books of this type, but this one really is an entertaining read.


The Good Earth: My mother was a reader and I can remember seeing Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth in a bookcase at home. But I can’t explain why I hadn’t read it before the summer of 2020. Published in 1931, it follows the life of a Chinese farmer and his family through more than 50 years of change, and it always returns to the importance of owning land. It won a Pulitzer Prize so I don’t need to tell you how good it is — but it’s great. It also is the first book in Buck’s House of Earth trilogy, the other two being Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935).


The Gray Man — This is the book that started the legend of The Gray Man, aka Courtland Gentry. He’s an assassin who at one time worked for the CIA but most times freelances. In his debut, there is a bounty on his head, and he faces down a dozen kill squads, but not without paying a price. Author Mark Greaney has created a likeable leading man, and the excitement is palpable between the front and back covers.


The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior — With help from writer Kevin Allen, then of USA TODAY, former hockey enforcer Stu Grimson told his story in a book that came out in the autumn of 2019. The book’s title is a touch misleading because Grimson, who had about 400 fights combined in major junior and the NHL, doesn’t seem to regret any of it. That may seem a bit strange seeing as he was forced into retirement by post-concussion syndrome. Anyway, he provides some valuable insight into the thought-process of NHL heavyweights — their anxieties and fears, both for the present and the future. Grimson, who was adopted, also opens up about his personal life, including a surprising introduction to his birth father.


The Guardians — Cullen Post is a lawyer/minister who spends more time lawyering than preaching. His lawyering is aimed at correcting wrongful convictions and the group he works with, Guardian Ministeries, has had some successes. This book, by the prolific John Grisham, is about one of those cases, and a whole lot more. It’s good Grisham and the genesis, unfortunately, was a true story, as the author informs us at book’s end.


The Huntress — I absolutely loved The Alice Network, and The Huntress is every bit as good, if not better. Both books were written by Kate Quinn. The Huntress is the story of two young men who pursue war criminals and are brought together with a Night Witch, a woman who was part of a female crew that flew night bombing missions for the Russians during the Second World War. The hunters’ latest target is a woman in Boston, who isn’t what she is trying hard to be. There are great characters and much intrigue here. You won’t be disappointed.


The Jordan Rules — I don’t have any idea why I hadn’t read Sam Smith’s book prior to May. I finally read it while taking breaks from watching The Last Dance, the 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan, co-starring the Chicago Bulls, on Netflix. Smith, a writer with the Chicago Tribune, details the Bulls’ 1990-91 season. As the Bulls run to their first NBA title, the reader is left to decide whether The Jordan Rules was the name for the way the Detroit Pistons played defence on Jordan or how his teammates came to feel about what dictated life with the Bulls. If you haven’t read this, it’s great. Interestingly, Smith now writes for the Bulls’ website.


Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey — Author Jeremy Allingham, a reporter with CBC in Vancouver, takes an in-depth look at the post-hockey lives of three former enforcers — James McEwan, Stephen Peat and Dale Purinton — and what he uncovers isn’t at all pretty. Interestingly, all three got their starts as enforcers in the WHL, a major junior league that has yet to ban fighting. This is a horrifying look at life after hockey fights and should be read by anyone involved in junior hockey — from fans to parents to executives.


The Mighty Oak — Tim O’Connor is the fighter — goon — for the West Texas Hockey League’s El Paso Storm. But his best days are behind him and he’s feeling it all over. O’Connor, whose nickname is Oak, hasn’t yet come to grips with the fact that a hip and a shoulder and a whole let else have him headed for hockey’s junk heap. He’s hoping the Oxy and Toradol and Adderall and whatever else is available will get him through it. Then he punches a cop. Author Jeff W. Bens has written an engrossing character study of a hockey enforcer trying to find a way back into a previous life.


Mission Critical — I had heard of author Mark Greaney and his Gray Man books, but I hadn’t ready any of them until this one, which is No. 8 in the series. Court Gentry is The Gray Man; he also is an assassin, code name Violator. In Mission Critical, Violator is working for the CIA and there is a lot of nastiness happening in a paperback that runs 706 pages. But it is readable and it is fun.


Mohawk — I don’t know if there is an author who captures small-town life in all of its idiosyncrasies like Richard Russo. Such is the case, again, in Mohawk as he follows a handful of citizens through the routine of their daily lives and stays with them as they deal with life’s ups and downs. Mohawk was published in 1986 and it is as great today as it was then.


Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World! — A member of the U.S. freestyle ski team suffers a career-ending injury and ends up running high stakes poker games in Los Angeles and, later, in New York City. This is the story of how Molly Bloom did all of that and more. She spills some of the beans in anecdotes that involve players like actors Tobey Maguire, who comes out rather poorly, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck, and some Russian gangsters. The obscene amounts of money thrown around in these games prove only that some people have no idea how the rest of us live. In the end, though, it all comes crashing down. Unfortunately, the book ends before the end, which is the part where Bloom pleads guilty to federal charges. You’ll have to turn to Google to find out what happened in court.


Next: Part 3 of 3.

Scattershooting on a Sunday evening while wondering if the virus will leave when cold weather arrives . . .


With MLB having started exhibition games and with a 60-game regular season soon to begin, Ann Killion, an excellent sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, sums up the situation:

“Who is going to get the coronavirus next? Where is the roulette wheel going to stop? What will the repercussions be for that player’s or coach’s family? Will the games have to abruptly end?

“A welcome distraction?

“Not likely. Not when we know that the baseball players we’re watching are each receiving multiple tests a week so they can play some games that will carry asterisks forever.”

Nail, meet hammer. Killion’s complete column is right here.

With rookies for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs reporting to training camp today (Monday), a number of NFL stars took to Twitter on Sunday to question what is going on concerning safety procedures. . . . Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback, tweeted: “My wife is pregnant. Training camp is about to start. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety.” . . . Nicholas Reimann of Forbes has more right here.


So . . . Sidney Crosby, one of the NHL’s few true superstars, leaves a Saturday scrimmage early and doesn’t return. Mike Sullivan, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach, says: “We’re to permitted to comment.” . . . There isn’t a league anywhere in the world that does a better job of suppressing information than the GBHL — Gary Bettman Hockey League. . . . And the women and men who cover the GBHL better get used to this because I’m thinking it will be the new norm whenever the virus chooses to leave us.

It’s my understanding that the virus will go away once the weather turns cold.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported: “Lindsay Whalen, the Minnesota women’s basketball coach, says she’ll buy hot dogs for the first 500 fans at the Gophers’ home opener this season.” . . . To which Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times responded: “In a related story, Joey Chestnut just bought 75 tickets.”


Danica Patrick’s mouthpiece says that the former race-car driver and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers have visited Splitsville. Here are the aforementioned Perry’s thoughts: “Rodgers apologists claim he called an audible; her spinmeisters say they hit the skids.”

The QMJHL announced on Saturday that its plan right now is for each of its 18 teams to qmjhlnewplay 60 games in a regular season that will open on Oct. 1. Training camps will open on Aug. 26 with teams bringing in a maximum of 34 players, down from around 60 in previous times. . . . The league also will be split into three divisions and teams will play only within their own divisions, meaning 12 games against each opponent. . . . The QMJHL hasn’t yet announced a playoff format, nor does it know whether fans will be allowed to attend games. . . . The QMJHL features six teams in the Maritimes, who would play in one division, with the other two divisions comprising the 12 Quebec teams. . . . If you were wondering, the Quebec Midget AAA League says it will start its regular season on Sept. 11.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “The taxpayers are sending Congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it, but they keep coming back.”

Headline at Astros owner wants fans in the stands wo he can sell overpriced, watered down cold beer.


The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) has trimmed its Baltimore Orioles broadcast crew because of the pandemic, meaning play-by-play man Gary Thorne and analyst Jim Palmer won’t be on the air when things get restarted. Rick Dempsey, Brian Roberts and Gregg Olsen also won’t be taking part. . . .

Former MLB P Bob Walk, now a broadcaster with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is recovering after testing positive.

1B/DH Jose Martinez was on the field with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. He had been out while quarantining following a positive test. . . .

P Collin McHugh of the Boston Red Sox, who has had elbow issues of late, has opted out of the season. He likely was headed to the injury list, but will spend time with his family. . . .

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus said Sunday that he and his wife Barbara, both of whom are 80, tested positive in March. Jack had some symptoms into late April, while Barbara was asymptomatic. . . .

Brandon Banks, the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2019, said via Twitter on Sunday that he won’t play in 2020 if there is a season. A wide receiver and kick returner, Banks tweeted that “Idk what they gonna do but I won’t put on a helmet til 2021.”

Gregor Chisholm, a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star, after the Canadian government refused the Blue Jays’ request to play home games in Toronto: “This was never about the sport itself. The Jays got caught up in something much bigger than a game. This is about Canada wanting to continue to distance itself from a dysfunctional neighbour who seems to have lost touch with reality.”


So . . . why didn’t Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, invite the Blue Jays to play their home games out of Edmonton’s RE/MAX Field? It seats 9,200, but who cares because fans wouldn’t be allowed. Imagine the smile on Kenney’s face if he had the NHL and MLB in Alberta’s capital at the same time.


With the Blue Jays on the move, apparently to Buffalo or Dunedin, Fla., let’s check out the standings in the Strat-O-Matic simulation league. . . . The Blue Jays were shelled 12-1 by the visiting Cleveland Indians on Sunday, falling to 46-54 and leaving them 13 games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (59-41). The New York Yankees (52-46) are six games back in second place. . . . The other MLB division leaders — Cleveland (61-39), Houston Astros (65-33), Washington Nationals (58-42), Milwaukee Brewers (53-45) and Los Angeles Dodgers (64-36).

After organizers cancelled the 2021 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wondered: “If the Rose Parade is a public-health risk not worth taking, would a Rose Bowl game played in the same venue make sense?”


Will we see baseball, football in 2020? . . . Jays fall to 0-2 as Devers homers again . . . BCHL team has new head coach

Had this pandemic not reared its ugly head, the MLB season would be heading into its third day. As it stands, though, there isn’t any baseball and now there are rumblings that perhaps the 2020 season may not get off the ground at all.

On Friday morning, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweeted that “the players and league agreed the 2020 MLB season won’t begin until:

“There are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans;

“There are no travel restrictions;

“Medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans.”

At the same time, he noted, there is a caveat to the first of those, that being that “they will consider playing games at neutral sites . . . and will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums and just how proper a solution it may be for both sides and especially fans.”

If you have been paying attention, I think you will agree that New York City, for one, is a long, long way from being ready to play host to baseball games. And, on the West Coast, Los Angeles County closed its beaches on Friday.

I’m thinking it could be a year before anyone yells “Play Ball” again.

Our Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, quotes H.L. Mencken: “The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”

The Toronto Blue Jays are 0-2 after dropping an 8-6 decision to the visiting Boston Red Sox on Friday. . . . Boston got another home from 3B Rafael Devers, who has three in two games. . . . LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had two hits and three RBI for the Blue Jays. . . . This game was part of the simulated season being played out by the gang at Strat-O-Matic. . . . There’s more on all of that, including standings and boxscores, right here.

Kirk Herbstreit, one of TV’s top college football analysts, is wondering if there will be college or pro football this year. In fact, he appeared on ESPN’s Freddie and Fitzsimmons show on Thursday night and offered up this:

“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens.

“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”

The NCAA football season is scheduled to begin on Aug. 29. Players would have to be in training camps in late July to make that starting date.


If you are a follower of the WHL you will be aware that the league held its inaugural U.S. Challenge Cup — a bantam AAA tournament — in Kent, Wash., in late February.

The WHL followed that up by holding a two-round draft of U.S. prospects on Wednesday.

If you’re wondering “Why now?”, consider that the NCAA changed some of its recruiting rules in April. For starters, the NCAA no longer allows “recruiting conversations” between a coach and prospect prior to Jan. 1 of a prospect’s Grade 10 year. As well, coaches have to wait until Aug. 1 prior to a prospect’s Grade 11 year to make a verbal offer.

On Thursday, Darryl Wolski of 2112 Hockey Agency tweeted a couple of times in explaining this:

“High school students may not have recruiting conversations with college coaches prior to Jan. 1 of their sophomore (Grade 10) year. Students may hear from college coaches or reach out to them on their own. Schools may make verbal offers to prospects beginning (Grade 11).”

What this means, Wolski tweeted, is that “WHL teams should have roughly 8 months to attempt to sign players to WHL/CHL education agreements before NCAA teams can speak to any of those drafted or undrafted players.”

I was heading for bed on Thursday night when — Hot Damn! — I discovered that Bob Dylan had released a new song. . . . Murder Most Foul is almost 17 minutes in length, so is that still a song?

Anyway . . . if you haven’t heard it, you are able to give it a listen right here, where you also will find a neat story touching on 20 references Dylan makes in the song.


Three prominent sports broadcasters have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at one stage or another of dealing with it. . . .

Gord Wilson, a colour analyst on Ottawa Senators broadcasts on TSN 1200, learned Friday that he has the novel coronavirus. Wilson, 59, was in California with the Senators, from March 6-12, and started feeling ill upon his return home. He now is self-isolating at home. . . . Wilson is the third of 52 people who were on the Senator’s charter flight from L.A. to Ottawa on March 12 to have tested positive. The other two were Senators players. . . .

John Kelly, the TV play-by-play voice of the St. Louis Blues, has been in self-isolation since March 13. He tested positive but now is symptom-free and feeling well. . . .

Doris Burke, an ESPN analyst on NBA telecasts, is symptom-free after having been ill for several days. She learned on Wednesday that she had tested positive. She first felt ill on March 11 while in Dallas and was sick in bed three days later. . . .

In B.C., the City of Burnaby has cancelled its Canada Day plans. As Dustin Godfrey of Burnaby Now writes: “The move comes as part of an ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak and reinforces the notion that social distancing measures will be in place for months rather than weeks.” . . .

The 47th annual Kamloops International Baseball Tournament (KIBT) has been cancelled for 2020. The eight-team affair had been scheduled for July 9-12. . . .

After two seasons as general manager and head coach, Tyler Kuntz has left the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. . . . Brock Sawyer, who has been on staff for the past six seasons, has been named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . For the past two seasons, Sawyer has been associate GM and associate head coach. . . . “I have decided I need to do what is best for my family,” Kuntz said in a news release. “These past couple of years have taken a toll and, as much as I love the organization, the players and the city of Powell River, it just isn’t feasible to continue to commute to see my young family.” . . .

The junior A Nepean, Ont., Raiders are looking for a head coach. If you’re interested, the details are right here.

Ready to go Kidney Walking in Kamloops. . . . Pearlman, Valdez talk about transplant. . . . Mother wants to make late son proud, donates kidney

Almost all is in readiness for Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk.

We will gather on Sunday at McDonald Park on the North Shore, with registration at 10 a.m., and the walk to begin at 11.

Edna Humphreys is the executive director of the Kamloops branch of the Kidney KWlogo2Foundation. I can tell you from experience that without her leadership and organizational skills, the Kidney Walk would experience some difficult times.

(It’s also worth noting that if it’s a renal-related activity in Kamloops, you can bet that Humphreys is in the forefront. Among other things, she is a co-founder of the Kamloops Kidney Support Group, and also is the lead organizer of a Christmas luncheon for dialysis patients and transplant recipients. With music by old friend Jesse Jones. Yessss!)

Anyway . . . Humphreys recently took time out from her busy schedule to talk with Todd Sullivan of Kamloops This Week about the 2019 Kidney Walk.

That story is right here.

One of my favourite renal-related stories involves a woman named Catherine Pearlman, who walked into a Los Angeles-area Starbucks on Dec. 30, saw a poster on a bulletin board, and decided that very moment to become a kidney donor. . . . The result was that Eli Valdez, a complete stranger, received one of her kidneys. . . . They told their story to, and it’s all right here.

If you missed it earlier, Pearlman wrote about her experience for the Los Angeles Times, and that piece is right here.

Catherine’s husband, Jeff Pearlman, is a writer and published author. He wrote on his blog about what all of this meant to him. Here’s how he started it:

“It’s 10:15 am, and as I write this my wife Catherine is in surgery here at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center — donating one of her kidneys to a complete stranger.

“You read that correctly, but I recommend reading it again. My wife Catherine is in surgery donating one of her kidneys to a complete stranger.”

The complete piece is right here.

BTW, if you are a sporting fan and haven’t read Jeff’s book, Football for a Buck, you’re cheating yourself. It’s all about the USFL — remember that league? — and is loaded with especially juicy anecdotes, including some involving, yes, Donald Trump.

Laura Gillum’s son, Dean, was 23 months old when he drowned in the family’s backyard pool in the Pittsburgh area in 2015. His heart, lover and kidneys were donated.

“My son was amazing,” she told Lisa Washington of KDKA-TV. “At 23 months old, he saved three people’s lives. Not many people can say that, and even though he’s gone, I try every day to do something to make him proud of me.”

On March 7, Lisa donated a kidney to Brian Cox, a complete stranger. They met early in April.

“I just can’t comprehend why someone wouldn’t want to donate their kidney, so hopefully getting the message out, more people will want to do it and that they’ll want to educate themselves to find out just what everything entails,” Gillum said.

Washington’s complete story is right here.

Redlick on road to recovery. . . . Maglio replaces Burt on Chiefs’ staff. . . . Giants’ Byram gets NHL contract


F Mitch Callahan (Kelowna, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). Last season, in 61 games with the Bakersfield Condors (AHL), he had 15 goals and 19 assists. He was an alternate captain.


Jack Redlick, the AMHL’s coach of the year, is recovering in hospital from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. (Kristina Lindsay photo, Facebook)

Jack Redlick, a former WHL player, won’t be coaching in 2019-20 after being injured in a motorcycle accident. Redlick, the head coach of the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders, is the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s reigning coach of the year. . . . He played 75 WHL games over three seasons, split among the Kamloops Blazers, Vancouver Giants and Regina Pats. . . . Redlick was injured on June 29 while riding near Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has since been transferred to the U of Alberta Hospital. . . .

Kristina Lindsay posted this on Redlick’s Facebook page earlier in the week:

“Surgeries 3 and 4 to repair the torn pectoral on the right shoulder and do the skin graft on his left forearm are complete. “Can I please have 2 M&Ms and 1 Crisper?” The comedy show is appreciated. It will be a long week with extremely limited mobility on both arms. They will check his foot again in 2 weeks.”

On July 13, she had posted this:

“Two weeks ago today I got the knock at the door that everyone dreads. Today I got to roll Jack outside for the first time since the accident, it’s a good day. Many of the staples and stitches came out today, the bruising and swelling is gone, he looks great. Monday will be shoulder surgery to repair the detached pectoral on the right side, a skin graft on the left forearm is up next later in the week. The bruised heart, collapsed lung and broken femur are healing as they should. The tib/fib is coming along but will be a long haul. The big question is what will happen with his foot, it’s a waiting game for now until the foot declares what will survive. Another surgery down the line on the foot once decisions have been made, no word yet on how long he’ll be in here but a while yet still. Jack loves visitors to combat the boredom so if you’re in the U of A area between 12-6 come say hi.”


The latest from the Raiders on Friday:

“The Redlick family would like to extend a huge thank you to their Raiders family and all those who have supported them through this tough process. On June 29 an oncoming motorcycle crossed the centre line and hit Jack head on while he was on a motorcycle trip with friends in Idaho. Jack sustained various serious injuries but was very lucky and has no head, neck or spinal injuries. The longest part of the recovery will be a partial amputation of his (left) foot, which will keep him from coaching this year. We believe that with Jack’s strength and determination he will make a successful recovery and we will see him back on the bench. We wish the 2019/2020 Raiders luck In the upcoming season and Jack will be in stands as soon as he’s able.”

Geoff Giacobbo will be the Raiders’ head coach in 2019-20, with Rob Hayne, Jeff Leyer and Dave Ridd the assistant coaches.

Scott Burt no longer is on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff, while Adam Maglio has SpokaneChiefsbeen hired as associate coach under new head coach Manny Viveiros. . . . Burt, who had been with the Chiefs for six seasons, was passed over twice in the past two years as the team hired new head coaches. Two years ago, they signed Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons to join the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. The Chiefs announced Viveiros’s signing on July 9. . . . Maglio, a 33-year-old from Nelson, B.C., spent four seasons with the Spruce Kings, two as an assistant coach and two as head coach. He led them to back-to-back BCHL championship series. They won the Fred Page Cup last season, and then won the Doyle Cup, before losing the junior A national championship in the final game. . . . The Spruce Kings immediately promoted Alex Evin, their associate coach, to head coach. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here. . . .

The Chiefs also announced the signing of Russian D Matvei Startsev, who will turn 17 on Sept. 4, to a WHL contract. The Chiefs selected him in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Last season, he had four goals and eight assists in 25 games with the Moskva U-17 team, and added three goals and six assists in 13 games with the U-18 side. . . . His signing leaves the Chiefs with three imports on their roster, the others being Czech G Lukas Parik, who also was selected in the 2019 import draft, and veteran D Filip Kral, who will turn 20 on Oct. 20. Kral, also a Czech, was a fifth-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL draft and has signed a contract with their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. . . . Parik, 18, was picked by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft.

The Prince George Cougars have signed F Kyren Gronick, 15, and F Filip Koffer, 18, to PrinceGeorgeWHL contracts. . . . Gronick, from Regina, was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. Last season, he had 27 goals and 26 assists in 24 games with the bantam AA Regina Aces. . . . Koffer was the 10th-overall pick in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. From Czech Republic, he had 10 goals and 28 assists in 38 games with HC Dynamo Pardubice in the Czech U-19 league. He also had one assist in 12 games with Dynamo Pardubice in the Extraliga. Koffer played for the Czechs at the World Hockey Championship in April and led the team with six points, four of them goals, in five games. . . . Koffer joins sophomore Czech F Matej Toman, who is from, as the Cougars’ import players. Toman had nine goals and 11 assists in 66 games last season. . . . Belarusian F Vladislav Mikhalchuk is eligible to return to the Cougars as a 20-year-old for a third season, but he has signed a one-year, two-way contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). If he doesn’t stick with that club, he likely would play with Torpedo Nizhny Nogorod-2 (Russia, VHL). . . .

The Cougars also announced the signing of Mike Matthies as athletic therapist. A Prince George native, he spent the past two seasons with the Victoria Royals, working as a student athletic therapist. . . . He takes over the Cougars’ position from Chico Dhanjal, who has been the team’s athletic trainer and equipment manager for 11 seasons. He remains as the Cougars’ equipment manager. . . . In fact, he will work in that role for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9. This week, he is in Calgary working at Hockey Canada’s U-17 development camp. . . . Dhanjal, one of the WHL’s really good guys, has been with the Cougars since 2008. How do I now he’s one of the good guys? Because every time he sees me, he asks about my wife, and that means a lot. (Hey, Chico, she is excellent. Thanks for asking.)

There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? All that’s involved is clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right and following the instructions. Thank you very much.

The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders will pay $100,000 towards the purchase of a PrinceAlbertnew scoreclock for the Art Hauser Centre. The club will play that money over a five-year period. . . . City council has voted to pay about $95,000 of the remaining cost, which will total more than $275,000. . . . The new clock will bring the arena “into full compliance with new WHL facility standards set to come into affect for the 2019-20 season,” reports Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Also included in those standards are a new LED lighting system and acrylic boards and new glass. . . . By the way, Kerr also reported that the Raiders’ deep playoff run put $153,402.98 into the city’s offers. . . . Kerr’s complete story is right here.


D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants has a signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He was the fourth-overall selection in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . A native of Cranbrook, Byram, 18, had 26 goals and 45 assists in 67 regular-season games with the Giants in 2018-19. He led all playoff scorers by putting up 26 points in 22 games as the Giants reached Game 7 of the championship final. . . . His father, Shawn, played three WHL seasons (Regina Pats, Prince Albert Raiders, 1985-88) and was a fourth-round pick by the New York Islanders in the NHL’s 1986 draft. . . . As an 18-year-old, Byram’s options for the 2019-20 season are the Avalanche or the Giants. . . .

Veteran scout Jeff Finley has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets after spending seven seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, the last three as their chief amateur scout. Finley, 52, fills the vacancy on Winnipeg’s staff created by the retirement of Marcel Comeau. . . . Finley played three seasons (1984-87) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 708 regular-season and 52 playoff NHL games. . . . Finley spent two seasons (2007-09) as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . He is the father to Jack, who plays for the Spokane Chiefs, and Mason, who was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


%d bloggers like this: