Seattle NHL team has nickname; Washington NFL team doesn’t . . . Neepawa MJHL team does but it’s changing it

So . . . on a day when Seattle’s expansion NHL franchise dug into the depths for its nickname — Kraken — the NFL’s Washington franchise announced that it will spend the approaching season as the Washington Football Team. . . . The New York Yankees and host Washington Nationals opened the delayed MLB season with a game that was played in front of empty seats and was shortened by inclement weather, while the visiting San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers played before cardboard cutouts. . . . What a time to be alive, eh?


The MJHL’s Neepawa Natives have begun the process of changing their nickname. . . . Ken Pearson, the club’s general manager and head coach, told CBC News: “We’re just trying to get ahead of the curve here and . . . be ahead of the game.” . . . Neepawa has had a team with that nickname, either in intermediate or junior hockey, since the early 1960s. . . . A decision on a new nickname for the MJHL team is expected before the 2021-22 season.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

OF Juan Soto wasn’t in the Washington Nationals’ opening night lineup Thursday after testing positive. He was placed on the injured list about five hours before game time. . . . Soto, 21, is reportedly asymptomatic and will need two negative tests before he is allowed to return. . . .

OF Hunter Dozier of the Kansas City Royals has tested positive. He said he has a “couple of symptoms” so won’t be available when the team opens the season in Cleveland on Friday. . . . He is the ninth Kansas City player to have tested positive. . . .

Veteran MLB scout Johan Maya died of COVID-19 on Thursday. Maya, 40, had been working for the Arizona Diamondbacks and was in the Dominican Republic at the time of his death. . . .

Former MLBer Mike Napoli, now a quality assurance coach with the Chicago Cubs, has tested positive so has been away from the team. . . .

Two more NHL players have revealed that they tested positive and have recovered. . . . D Anthony Bitetto, who was back on the ice for the first time with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, said he tested positive about a month ago and self-quarantined for 29 days. . . . D Xavier Ouellet of the Montreal Canadiens actually tested negative before coming up positive and never did have any symptoms. He returned to the ice on Wednesday. . . .

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) has announced a tentative plan under which some fall sports, including football, soccer and volleyball, will start on March 1. . . . Under the plan, basketball would get going on Jan. 4, with track and field starting on April 26. . . . Other sports like cross-country, slo-pitch, golf and tennis are to begin on Sept. 7. . . . Mick Hoffman, the WIAA executive director, said everything remains fluid. “When you look at dates,” he said, “those are definitely written in pencil.” . . .

Earlier in the week, the Florida High School Athletic Association went against the recommendation of its medical people and said football season would begin with practices starting on Monday. After a whole lot of backlash, the FHSAA reversed its field on Thursday and pushed things back until at least Aug. 24. But like so many other things these days all of that seems to be fluid. . . .

The KHL has made it official. With the Russia-China border closed to people — it’s open to the transportation of goods — a decision was made that Kunlun Red Star Beijing will play its home games for 2020-21 in Mytishchi, which is on the northern outskirts of Moscow. . . . The KHL, unsure of how many teams will play this season, has yet to release a schedule but has said that should happen by month’s end.


Social


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from former MLB owner Bill Veeck: “Baseball is almost the only orderly thing left in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off.”


The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs are looking for a general manager, having revealed on Thursday that they won’t be renewing Darren Kelly’s contract when it expires on Aug. 12. . . . The Frontenacs added a new head coach this summer, with Paul McFarland returning after three seasons as an NHL assistant coach. . . . Kelly had been with the Frontenacs since 2008, including the past three seasons as general manager.


Alexander Gusev, a defenceman on the Soviet Union team that played Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, died on Wednesday, according to his former club, CSKA Moscow. Gusev was 73. . . . He was a contributing factor on the Soviet national teams of the 1970s. . . . Andy Potts of iihf.com has more right here.


Pam

‘Just why are we doing this?’ . . . ‘If we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.’



The MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., continues to stagger along, having lost two teams because of players testing positive, and having to postpone a Sunday morning game for the same reason.

Major League Baseball teams are trying to hold something resembling training camps between positive tests and teams having to cancel workouts for reasons that include delays in receiving results.

The NBA has its teams in bubbles in Orlando, practising and preparing to restart their season. There have been positive tests — CBS Sports has reported “dozens” of them — since late June when players returned to practice facilities.

The NHL has teams opening training camps today (Monday) and later will head for the two bubble cities — Edmonton and Toronto — in hopes of resuming their season. In its last weekly report, the NHL said 35 players have tested positive in the past month, with 23 of those coming since workouts began at team facilities on June 8.

The NHL has placed a gag order on its teams, with the league office taking over the reporting of player absences. The NHL won’t provide illness or injury specifics.

On Sunday, Arpon Basu of The Athletic reported that at least three players with the Montreal Canadiens have tested positive “in recent days.” Neither the NHL nor the Canadiens would comment.

As of Sunday evening, seven players had opted out of returning to play — D Karl Alzner, Montreal; F Sven Baertschi, Vancouver; D Mike Green, Edmonton; D Travis Hamonic, Calgary; D Steven Kampfer, Boston; D Roman Polak, Dallas; and D Zach Trotman, Pittsburgh. I believe all of them made the decision to put their health and that of their families ahead of playing in what is truly a bogus season.

(I admit to having stole ‘bogus season’ from Ann Killion, a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle.

(After C Buster Posey of the Giants opted not to play in this MLB season, Killion wrote: “Every single one of the roughly 2,500 or so individuals being asked to participate in a bogus, truncated baseball season have their own personal decisions to make.”)

The deadline for NHL players to opt out without penalty is today (Monday) at 5 p.m. ET.

The Canadiens have given F Max Domi an extra seven to 10 days to make a decision on reporting to camp. Domi has Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

Keeping the previous paragraphs in mind, I have to ask: Am I the only person wondering what is going here?

Have we as a society gotten to the point where we sit idly by, in some instances applauding and cheering, as billionaire owners march their athletes like so much chattel into what they all seem to be calling a return to play but in which there are so many unknowns?

How is it that we are in a place where a young man like Domi has to make this kind of decision?

With the U.S. government calling for a return to school next month, Canyons School District in Utah is making plans to re-open. Part of its return-to-school protocol includes this, after it touches on things like exposure letter and distance learning plan information:

“Template letter for the death of a student, teacher.”

It’s enough to make one wonder if various leagues and teams have such a thing in their return-to-play protocols.


Bee


In a brilliant piece in The New York Times, John Branch writes:

“On Wednesday, the day that the Ivy League canceled fall sports, nearly 60,000 new cases were reported in the United States, a new high.

“Some of those were college athletes. Through Wednesday, at least 426  had tested positive for the coronavirus among roughly 50 Division I programs, but the number of cases is likely much higher. About half of American universities either did not respond to requests for testing results from The New York Times, or declined to provide numbers, under the auspices of protecting the privacy of student-athletes.

“Ohio State, in suspending its off-season workout programs this week, did not reveal how many students tested positive. It only said that the shutdown impacted seven sports, including football.

“Such news accelerates as the fall sports calendar approaches. And if reasonable people at some of the world’s great universities had not seriously pondered this question before, they are now:

“Just why are we doing this?”

Branch’s piece is right here.


Look, I’m sorry, but COVID-19 is here and it isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the foreseeable future. I want to see live sporting events on my TV set with fans hooting and hollering in the background. I want to see a  return to some kind of normalcy just as badly as anyone, but I have come to realize that in the months ahead we are going to have to get used to a new normal, whatever that might be.

As Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Public Health in Seattle and King County, told a news conference on Friday:

“It’s just critical that, as a community, we understand the long-term nature of COVID-19. None of us asked for this, none of us wanted this. But it’s with us and we have to deal with it. And if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.”


Kevan Smith, a catcher in camp with the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., spent the early part of summer working out at home in Pittsburgh.

It seems that he has found Florida to be a bit different.

“Felt like you couldn’t even walk outside without a mask on (at home),” Smith told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “I feel like here you go out with a mask, we have guys getting called names and all the above. Just a totally different feel.

“I heard a story, one of the (guys), I don’t know if I can use this word, he was in a store shopping for food and I guess it was a resident called the player a pansy for wearing his mask.

“I went out briefly to just pick up some takeout food, and I swear I got like a dozen eyeballs on me, looking at me like I’m like the weirdo walking in with a mask. Little do they know what is at stake for my life and for my livelihood. It’s just very immature and just whatever you want to call it. It’s comical. It’s going on all over the world, but we’re seeing it firsthand here.”


Early last week, 2B Scott Kingery of the Philadelphia Phillies, who is back on the field after being out with COVID-19, told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia: The virus “can creep up on you and get you pretty bad like it did with me.

Kingery now is symptom-free, but he continues to deal with shortness of breath, a month after being diagnosed. . . .

On Saturday, the New York Yankees revealed that Aroldis Chapman, one of MLB’s best relievers, had tested positive. He has some symptoms and is out indefinitely. . . .

Kenley Jansen, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer, was late reporting to their camp because he had tested positive. He said he is “doing great and better now.” He told reporters that he had family members who also tested positive, but they have recovered. . . .

C Cam Gallagher of the Kansas City Royals played in an intrasquad game on Friday and tested positive on Saturday. The Royals now have had at least four players test positive. . . .

P Luis Perdomo and SS Luis Urias of the Milwaukee Brewers have tested positive, but are asymptomatic. The Brewers also are without P Eric Lauer, who didn’t get to camp until Friday. He hasn’t tested positive, but was in contact with someone who did.


TV


Jockey Flavien Prat tested positive after riding in Kentucky on Saturday. He was tested in La Jolla, Calif., on Sunday. He had eight rides at Del Mar on Sunday, but had to give them up. . . . Victor Espinoza, a jockey who is in horse racing’s hall of fame, tested positive in La Jolla on Friday. . . . Two other prominent jockeys — Martin Garcia and Luis Saez — also have tested positive.



From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

What a difference four months makes:

March 9: Jazz center Rudy Gobert mockingly touches every microphone at a news conference, contracts COVID-19 and shuts down the NBA season.

July 9: 76ers center Joel Embiid, headed to the Disney World bubble for the season restart, shows up in a hazmat suit.


In my world, Tony Kubek is perhaps the most under-rated analyst in MLB broadcast history. How I used to look forward to Saturday afternoons with Kubek and Curt Gowdy . . .


Headline at fark.com: MLB releases 60-day COVID-19 spreading schedule.


Hartley Miller attacks Redundant Rhetoric in his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack blog entry that is right here. Oh my, there are a lot of pet peeves in here, starting with this point about game times: “How about this traditional one-liner — And tonight’s game will start at 7 ‘PM.’ Thanks for the notice; I would have waited until seven the next morning to watch ‘tonight’s’ game.”


An NFL prediction from Tim Hunter of KRKO Radio: “Patrick Mahomes has signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs that will definitely last longer than the team’s name.”

On that subject, the Washington NFL team reportedly will announce today that it is changing its nickname. But it won’t yet announce that nickname as it proceeds through the legalities of a change.



Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana lacerated a thumb while washing dishes. Jose, you make big-league money. Look into this really neat invention. It’s called a dishwasher!”


Chimes

The Bookshelf: Part 2 of 3

Bookshelf

With Christmas Day only a few shopping days away, here is the second of my three-part Bookshelf piece, an annual look at some of the books I have read over the previous 12 months. . . .

——

The Down Goes Brown History of the NHL — This is an irreverent, cheeky and humorous look at the history of professional hockey’s premier league. Written by Sean McIndoe, who is known as Down Goes Brown on social media channels, it also includes all kinds of interesting tidbits. I mean, who remembers that Teemu Selanne’s first signed NHL contract was with the Calgary Flames?

——

George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter — George Garrett, who retired 20 years ago, spent 43 years as a reporter with radio station CKNW in Vancouver. Through diligence and hard work, the native of Mortlach, Sask., became a legend of the big city airwaves. This is his story, as written by Garrett, but, more than that, it’s the story of a completely different media era. Garrett was at CKNW from the 1950s through the 1990s, when B.C. was a cauldron of major stories, and was on the scene covering many of them. This was in the days when there was competition among TV, radio and newspaper reporters, when major news created a real buzz. That was then; this is now.

——

Jail Blazers: How the Portland Trail Blazers Became the Bad Boys of Basketball — There was a time when the Portland Trail Blazers were one of the NBA’s dominant teams. But it all started to unravel as general manager Bob Whitsitt, armed with billionaire Paul Allen’s money, chose to build a team that featured as much talent as he could acquire and let the coaching staff sort it out. Character? Chemistry? What’s that? The result of this chemistry experiment is between the covers of this book that was written by Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. As you read this book, you will continually find yourself shaking your head and asking how anyone with experience in sports management would think something like this would work. The book does get dragged down in game-by-game details, but not in the off-court antics and dramatics.

——

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches — I am a huge baseball fan, and this is a terrific addition to any library. Author Tyler Kepner is The New York Times’ baseball columnist, and he tells the stories of 10 pitches — curveball, cutter, fastball, knuckleball, sinker, slider, spitter, splitter et al — through archives and interviews with baseball people. This is baseball — and baseball’s history — at its very best. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this one.

——

The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West — This is a stunningly good book. John Branch, a New York Times writer who also wrote Boy On Ice: The Derek Boogaard Story, documents the lives of the Wrights, the Utah-based family whose men have come to dominate the world of rodeo, especially in saddle bronc. But this book is about so much more than cowboys competing in rodeos. It is about a family whose patriarch remembers the past while he lives in the present and wonders about the future. This book is just so, so good. I can’t recommend it enough.

——

Light It Up — Peter Ash, a former Marine, finds himself in the Denver area for the third of author Nick Petrie’s books in the series. Yes, that means money and marijuana and a whole lot more. This is good escapism.

——

The Long and Faraway Gone — After reading the terrific November Road, which appears later on this list, I went looking for more of Lou Berney’s writing and came upon this one. Oh, what joy! In this one, Berney writes of two people who are searching to find the past while wondering what is in the future. This is a book that really does wrap itself around you.

——

A Man Called Ove — Written by Fredrik Backman, who also wrote Beartown and Us Against You, both of which are terrific, this is the story of Ove, a lonely man whois moving toward life’s end following the death of his wife. It is a disheartening and delightful read, all at the same time. Like the other two books, this one provides a number of snapshots of real life, as it deals with the issues of day-to-day living.

——

Mightier Than the Sword — This is the fifth book in author Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton Chronicles, a sprawling saga that follows the lives of the Clifton and Barrington families. Yes, it is a terrific soap opera, but there are more than enough twists and turns, along with good people and bad guys (and gals), to keep a reader intrigued and involved. . . . Cometh The Hour — This is Book 6 of the seven-book series. It’s all good fun from a master storyteller. . . . The series concludes with This Was A Man. This is the stuff of which hit TV series like Dallas and Dynasty once were made.

——

The New Iberia Blues — This is book No. 22 in author James Lee Burke’s series about Dave Robicheaux, who now is a sheriff’s deputy in New Iberia, the parish seat of Iberia Parish, in Louisiana. The characters are as fresh in this 22nd book as in any that preceded it, and Burke can write. Oh, can he! But be forewarned . . . this one isn’t for the faint of heart.

——

November Road — This one made a number of “best of 2018” lists and with good reason. Using the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as something of a backdrop, author Lou Berney puts the reader in Frank Guidry’s hip pocket as he tries to stay alive. A fixer for the New Orleans mob, Guidry realizes his time is up, but he has no desire to go quietly.

——

The Other Woman — This is a spy novel and it is a good one. A really good one. Author Daniel Silva weaves quite a story around Gabriel Allon, who is the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service, and his search for a mole. Before Allon is done, the U.S., British and Israeli intelligence services appear headed to splitsville. No spoilers here, but this book contains a wonderful plot element. Great stuff! Highly recommended. . . . Also recommended: House of Spies, The Kill Artist, and The Rembrandt Affair, three more books by Silva that I read in the last while, each of them featuring Gabriel Allon.

——

Tomorrow: Part 3 of 3.

No offer, Loewen now free agent. . . . 11 other ex-WHLers don’t get signed. . . . NYT with more on Boogaard, concussions

 

MacBeth

F Dustin Boyd (Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). This season, he had six goals and nine assists in 51 games. He started the season with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), going pointless in five games. He was released by Dynamo on Sept. 26 and signed with Barys on Sept. 27. . . .

F Ryan Harrison (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had six goals and 23 assists in 57 games. . . .

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) has signed a one-year contract with Adendorf (Germany, Regionalliga Nord). This season,  with Harzer Falken Braunlage (Germany, Oberliga), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

G Garret Hughson (Spokane, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Acélbikák Dunaújváros (Hungary, rest Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he got into 25 games, going 8-13-1-0, 3.73, .909, with one shutout and one assist. . . .

F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) has signed a one-year contract with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga). This season, in 17 games with Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had two goals and eight assists.


ThisThat

The Dallas Stars selected F Jermaine Loewen from the Kamloops Blazers in the seventh Kamloops1round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and he then attended their development camp.

However, Loewen now is an unrestricted free agent.

Ray Petkau, Loewen’s agent, confirmed to Taking Note on Sunday that the Stars chose not to make an offer to Loewen prior to Saturday’s deadline, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.

“We do have AHL offers,” Petkau told Taking Note. “(There is) interest at the NHL level, but not sure yet where it’ll go.”

Loewen, now 21, has been one of the WHL’s best stories in recent years, having come all the way from a Jamaican orphanage to captain the Blazers.

He played five seasons with the Blazers, scoring 36 goals in 2017-18 and adding 28 more this season.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Loewen grew up in Arborg, Man., after being adopted by Tara and Stan Loewen. He didn’t play organized hockey until he was 10.

A true power forward who loves to drive to the opposition’s net off the left wing, Loewen finished his WHL career with 78 goals in 295 regular-season games, which isn’t bad when you consider that he didn’t get No. 1 until Game No. 85.

After not being selected in the NHL’s 2016 draft, he attended the San Jose Shark’s development camp. He also wasn’t picked in the 2017 draft.

——

At least 11 others players with WHL ties weren’t signed prior to June 1 by the NHL teams NHLwho held their rights. . . . Nine of those players were selected in the NHL’s 2017 draft . . .

D Daniel Bukac, a seventh-round pick by the Boston Bruins, played this season with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Bukac, 20, spent two seasons (2016-18) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

F Brett Davis of the Red Deer Rebels was a sixth-round pick by the Dallas Stars. Davis also has played with the Lethridge Hurricanes and Kootenay Ice. He turned 20 on Saturday, so is eligible to return to the Rebels.

D Brendan De Jong of the Portland Winterhawks was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round. De Jong, who played five seasons with Portland, completed his junior eligibility this season.

F Zach Fischer, who played with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Spokane Chiefs (2014-18), was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round. Fischer, 21, split this season between the AHL’s Stockton Heat and the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks and Rapid City Rush.

G Jordan Hollett of the Medicine Hat Tigers was a fourth-round pick by the Ottawa Senators. Hollett, 20, is eligible to return for a fourth WHL season. The Tigers acquired him from the Regina Pats prior to the 2017-18 season.

F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans was taken by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round. Olson, 20, is eligible to return to the Americans after finishing with 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games this season.

D Jarret Tyszka of the Seattle Thunderbirds was picked by the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round. At 20, he is eligible to return for a fifth season with the Thunderbirds.

D Scott Walford of the Victoria Royals was a third-round selection by Montreal. Walford, 20, has played four seasons with the Royals and is eligible for one more.

F Lane Zablocki was a third-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings. He doesn’t turn 21 until Dec. 27, but that means he has used up his junior eligibility. In the WHL, he played with the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets. He finished this season, and his junior career, with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.

Fischer and Zablocki now are unrestricted free agents; the others will be eligible for the 2019 NHL draft, which is to be held in Vancouver on June 21 and 22.

Two other players, both of whom were drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, also have gone unsigned. F Radovan Bondra (Vancouver Giants, Prince George Cougars, 2015-18) had been selected in the fifth round, while F John Dahlstrom (Medicine Hat Tigers, 2016-17) was taken in the seventh round.

Bondra and Dahlstrom, both 22, were drafted from clubs outside North American, so Chicago owned their rights for four years. Both players now are unrestricted free agents.


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The Winnipeg Ice has signed G Daniel Hauser to a WHL contract. Hauser, from Chestermere, Alta., was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he got into 23 regular-season games with the bantam prep team at the Calgary-based Edge School. He was 3.00, .911.


The New York Times story, written by John Branch, carries this headline: The N.F.L. Has Been Consumed by the Concussion Issue. Why Hasn’t the N.H.L.? . . . “With the Stanley Cup finals underway,” Branch writes, “Joanne Boogaard and a growing group of former players worry that people have moved on to a stage of acceptance — that the N.H.L. has emerged from its concussion crisis by steadfastly denying that hockey has any responsibility for the brain damage quietly tormenting players and their families.” . . . Boogaard is the mother of the late Derek Boogaard, whose brain was found to contain chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the disease that is caused by head trauma. . . . Branch is the author of the book Boy On Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard. . . . If you haven’t read the book, you should. . . . Branch’s latest piece on the Boogards, the NHL, concussions and all the rest is right here. You should read that, too.


Tweetoftheday

Lawsuit info for players on WHL site. . . . Oil Kings get forward from Americans. . . . Raiders set to open Memorial Cup tonight


MacBeth

D Mathew Berry-Lamontagna (Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with HK Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Simon Fraser University (BC Intercollegiate), he had four goals and 16 assists in 24 games. He was named the BCIHL’s MVP and top defenceman, and was a first team all-star. . . .

D Shaun Heshka (Everett, 2003-06) had his contract option year exercised by Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga). This season, he had eight goals and 20 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Mikhail Fisenko (Vancouver, Calgary, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL), he had four goals and four assists in 53 games. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-season contract with the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). This season, with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games, and six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . .

F Troy Bourke (Prince George, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL), he had one goal and five assists. In 30 games with the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL), he had 11 goals and 34 assists. He led Orlando in assists and was second in points. . . .


ThisThat

The WHL’s website has a new section. If you visit the website and click on the tab titled whlTHE WHL, you will note that the top item is WHL Class Action Lawsuit.

Included therein is a Notice of Certification and an Opt-Out Form.

Of course, this all has to do with the class-action lawsuit that has been filed against the CHL, including the WHL, as the notice on the website reads, “alleging that the class members are employees of their clubs and/or of the WHL and CHL, and are therefore entitled to employment benefits including minimum wage and overtime pay.”

The information on the website is aimed at players who were or are with teams located in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan during time periods that are specified in the posted information.

The notice reads: “If you fall within one or more of these definitions, you will be included in the class action unless you choose to opt out of the class action by following the steps listed below.”

Players have until July 14 to make a decision.

In other words, if you are or were a WHL player, you need to visit the WHL website and take a look right here.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired F Riley Sawchuk, 20, from the Tri-City Americans EdmontonOilKingsfor a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . This season, Sawchuk, who is from Prince Albert, had 20 goals and 33 assists in 67 games. In 195 regular-season games, all with the Americans, he had 37 goals and 47 assists. . . . The Americans selected Sawchuk in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Sawchuk’s departure leaves the Americans with five 1999-born players on their roster — F Krystof Hrabik, who is from Czech Republic, F Kyle Olson, D Riley Bruce, D Dom Schmiemann, and G Beck Warm. . . . The Oil Kings may lose their top three scorers from this season — F Quinn Benjafield and F Vince Loschiavo have completed their junior eligibility, while F Trey Fix-Wolansky, 20, has signed with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Sawchuk joins F Zach Russell, D Will Warm, D Parker Gavlas, D Conner McDonald and G Dylan Myskiw as potential 20-year-olds on Edmonton’s roster.


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The Memorial Cup opens in Halifax today (Friday) with the WHL-champion Prince Albert PrinceAlbertRaiders meeting the host Mooseheads. . . . The Raiders will be trying to snap a 10-game losing streak by WHL champions that goes back to 2015 when the Kelowna Rockets beat the host Quebec Remparts, 9-3, in the semifinal on May 29. The Oshawa Generals beat the Rockets, 2-1 in OT, in the final two days later to start the WHL’s lengthy skid. . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings went 0-3 in 2016, followed by the Seattle Thunderbirds (0-3, 2017) and Swift Current Broncos (0-3, 2018). . . . Raiders assistant coach Jeff Truitt is behind the bench for a sixth time at the Memorial Cup. He was there with the 1997 Lethbridge Hurricanes, the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Kelowna Rockets, and the 2016 Red Deer Rebels. He was the head coach of the 2005 Rockets; in the other instances, he was an assistant coach. . . . There is speculation that the Kamloops Blazers, looking for a coach to replace Serge Lajoie, want to chat with Truitt once the tournament is over. . . .
If you haven’t seen this piece right here by Jason Gregor, do yourself a favour and give it a read. He was in the stands for Game 7 on Monday in Prince Albert. A radio guy in Edmonton, Jason doesn’t often get to be a fan. But he was on this night because he had a nephew in the game. Oh, and Noah Gregor scored twice and set up the OT winner.


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Niall Crocker, who was a first-round pick, 22nd overall, in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Crocker, from Delta., B.C., will turn 15 on July 31. He had 18 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team.


The Everett Silvertips have signed G Keegan Karki, 19, who is a native of Sartell, Minn. According to eliteprospects.com, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Karki played only five games this season — three with the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays and two with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. . . . Karki had committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks more than three years ago, but later was decommitted. He also had a stint with the U.S. National Development Team Program.


Gary Samis, who had been the corporate sales manager with the Prince George Cougars, has died. Samis was 67 when he died in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. . . . Hartley Miller has more right here.


Curtis Brolund has been named the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Manitoba AAA U-18 Hockey League. The league previously was known as the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Brolund, who played two seasons with the team, has been an assistant coach with the Wheat Kings for eight seasons. . . . Brolund takes over from Ken Schneider, who stepped in on an interim basis after head coach Chris Johnston was fired early in January.


Dennis Kubat is the new head coach of the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . Kubat was an assistant coach with the Trojans this season. . . . Kubat, 31, is from Outlook, Sask. . . . The Trojans also have named Cole Simpson as general manager. Simpson, 33, is from Tisdale. A defenceman in his playing days, he played four seasons (2004-07) in the WHL, splitting time with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Trojans chose not to renew the contract of Darrell Mann, who had been their GM and head coach, after their season ended.


The Kamloops Minor Hockey Association has hired Aaron Keller has its technical director and coach co-ordinator. . . . According to a news release, Keller’s “focus will be the development of KMHA’s players through the development of its coaches.” . . . Keller played in the KMHA before spending four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers and helping them win two Memorial Cup titles. He later spent 17 seasons playing professionally in Japan. Since returning from Japan, he has helped the Blazers’ coaching staff. . . . As well, the KMHA has added Lucas Gore as its goaltending coach. Gore, from Kamloops, played three seasons (2008-11) with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins.


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Tory, Stasiuk together, again . . . Blazers add assistant coach . . . Rebels sign Russian forward


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F Layne Ulmer (Swift Current, 1997-2001) signed a one-year extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). Last season, he had 18 goals and 35 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Joel Broda (Tri-City, Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2004-10) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 27 assists in 54 games. . . . Rick Nasheim (Spokane Flyers 1980-81, Regina, 1982-83) is the assistant coach for Dornbirn. . . . For the curious ones out there, the Spokane Flyers began WHL life as the original Flin Flon Bombers, a charter member of the league in 1966. The franchise transferred to Edmonton for the 1978-79 season as the second version of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The franchise lasted one season in Edmonton, then was sold and moved to Great Falls MT, as the Great Falls Americans. The Americans ceased operations in December 1979 after 28 games. The franchise was re-activated as the Spokane Flyers for the 1980-81 season. The Flyers lasted one season plus a bit, folding 26 games into their second season in December 1981. . . .

F Brodie Dupont (Calgary, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL), he had 21 goals and 47 assists in 68 games. The team captain, he led the Admirals in assists and points. He was pointless in one game while on loan to the Stockton Heat (AHL).


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The Tri-City Americans have hired Roy Stasiuk as their head scout, filling the spot in tri-citytheir front office that was created when Barclay Parneta, who had been the assistant GM, left to join the Vancouver Giants as general manager. . . . Stasiuk, 55, is quite familiar with the WHL, having worked with the Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton/Kootenay Ice. . . . He spent 10 seasons (1995-2005) as the Ice’s head scout. While with the Ice, Stasiuk worked with Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager. . . . Stasiuk also worked as the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ general manager for four seasons (2005-09) and scouted for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-15).


Dan Kordic, an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past two seasons, has signed on with the Kamloops Blazers as an assistant coach. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Golden Bears’ head coach for the past three seasons, joined the Blazers as their new head coach on June 25. . . . Kordic, 47, played four seasons (1987-91) with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers and won a Memorial Cup with them in 1988. He went on to a pro career that included 197 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans remain the only WHL teams without head coaches. Steve Hamilton, who was fired as head coach by the Edmonton Oil Kings on May 28, is believed to be in the mix in Calgary.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Russian F Oleg Zaitsev, 17, who was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . “He’s an elite level player, a stud,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ Red Deerowner, GM and head coach, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “Right now he’s the best Russian centre iceman in his age group. We’re very excited about adding him to our team. He’s signed a contract. He’s all in.” . . . Meachem reports that the Rebels likely will go with Russian D Alex Alexeyev, the Washington Capitals first-round pick in the NHL’s 2018 draft, and Zaitsev as their two imports. However, F Ivan Drozdov of Belarus, the Rebels’ other 2018 import draft pick, isn’t yet out of the picture.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Royals dropped F Jeff de Wit, 20, from their protected list and the Rebels have added him to their list. De Wit, who is from Red Deer, was a first-round selection by the Rebels in the 2013 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice and Victoria.

Meachem’s complete story is right here.


Chris Beaudry, an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos last season, now is on the coaching staff of the Melville Millionaires. Beaudry wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus when it crashed on April 6. He was driving to that night’s playoff game in Nipawin and was about 20 minutes away when the accident occurred. . . . In Melville, Beaudry fills a vacancy created when Mark Chase left to join the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as general manager and head coach.


Raelene and Russell Herold, and the estate of their son, Adam, who was killed in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus, have filed a statement of claim in Regina Court of Queen’s Bench. The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount in damages, expenses, costs and interest, and names the driver of the big rig that was involved, along with the trucking company and the bus manufacturer. . . . Heather Polischuk of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.


“At first,” writes Mike Aiken of drydennow.com, “it seems like he’s living the life of Riley. Joe Murphy works as a labourer, when he needs money, and he sleeps in a tent in a farmer’s field, when he needs shelter.

“During a short chat, he’ll talk about settling down a bit in an apartment. He says he now calls Kenora his home by the water, but finding affordable housing is next to impossible, not just because of the market.”

This would be the same Joe Murphy who was an NHL first-round draft pick and who played in the league for 15 seasons. Yes, his story now is about concussions.

Aiken’s complete story is right here.


John Branch of The New York Times has written a terrific essay that is headlined: Why the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. Are So Far Apart on Social Justice Stances. . . . This is a great look at the NFL and how it has reacted to its players social protests, and the NBA and how it backs its players and promotes its stars. . . . Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy this piece right here.


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Estephan the OT hero as Broncos tie WHL final . . . Boschman recalls first-year Senators . . . NYT’s Branch on the late Jeff Parker

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The host Swift Current Broncos erased a 3-0 deficit and beat the Everett Silvertips, 4-3 in OT, on Saturday night, tying the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, for the Ed SCBroncosChynoweth Cup, at 1-1. . . . The series now heads for Everett and the next three games — on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. . . . Last night, F Giorgio Estephan (12) won it for the Broncos at 9:25 of extra time when he scored off a rebound. . . . The Silvertips had taken a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from F Matt Fonteyne (7), at 3:14; F Martin Fasko-Rudas (5), at 10:11; and F Riley Sutter (7), at 14:26. . . . F Matteo Gennaro (9), who also had two assists, got the Broncos on the scoreboard at 8:17 of the second period. . . . D Colby Sissons (4) pulled the home side to within a goal at 6:22 of the third period. . . . F Tyler Steenbergen (12) tied it at 18:23, with G Stuart Skinner on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Skinner finished with 40 saves, six more than Everett’s Carter Hart. . . . Referees Stephen Campbell and Reagan Vetter gave the Broncos four of the game’s seven minors. . . . Everett had been 8-0 on the road in these playoffs. . . . According to Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow), this was the first time since Nov. 30, 2014, that Everett had blown a 3-0 lead. On that date, Brandow tweeted, Everett dropped “a 4-3 (OT) decision to the Kootenay Ice after going up 3-0. A span of 310 games between the regular season and postseason.” . . . Attendance was 2,890.


What does it say about the NHL that it didn’t put the clamps on Boston Bruins F Brad Marchand after the first time he licked an opponent’s face? And what is the difference between licking and spitting in someone’s face? Spitting surely would bring a suspension, wouldn’t it?


Kevin Mitchell, the superb writer from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, stopped by the intersection of Saskatchewan highways 35 and 335 on Friday, exactly four weeks after the tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus. . . . “It’s a restless corner,” he writes. “Cars drive past, passenger necks craned. Kids peek out the window as a school bus makes its daily pass. People stop, exit, wander through paths carved out beside piled hockey sticks, flowers, brightly-spinning pinwheels.” . . . The complete piece is right here and it’s well worth you time.


According to Bleacher Report, the UFC heavyweight championship is “the hardest title to keep.” . . . RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com begs to differ, noting “For my money, it’s world’s oldest man.”


Laurie Boschman, who played on the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings, has memories from playing on the Ottawa Senators when they were an NHL expansion franchise. While the Wheat Kings lost only five games in that WHL regular season, that Senators team is remembered as one of the worst in NHL history. Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail chatted with Boschman and the result is right here.


Just the other day I posted something here about the OHL having suspended F Givani Smith of the Kitchener Rangers for two games after he flipped the bird to the Son Greyhounds’ bench after a playoff game. Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record did some digging into what Smith, who is black, has dealt with during his career. I’ll give you a hint: This isn’t pretty. . . . Brown’s piece is right here.


John Branch of The New York Times wrote the book on former WHL and NHL player Derek Boogaard — Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard — and has continued to write on the concussion issue and hockey. In his latest piece, Branch writes about Jeff Parker, “who played in the NHL from 1986 to 1991 and died last year at age 53, and will be seen as another link between hockey head hits and CTE; the league has denied such a link exists.” . . . That story is right here.


If you are paying attention to Major League Baseball, you will be aware that there are an insane number of strikeouts in the game these days. How much of it can be blamed on hitters searching for the perfect launch angle? Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle had a conversation about just that with Tim Flannery, a former player and long-time coach, and it’s all right here. . . . It’s all part of a three-dot column, and those almost always are fun and full of interesting info. Enjoy!


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