Cougars’ co-owner opens up on Cat Scan . . . Royals end lengthy skid . . . Veteran coach joins BCHL’s Clippers

Hartley Miller hit another home run with his Cat Scan podcast this week. In his previous two episodes, Miller, the sports director at Vista Radio in Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge, chatted with Rick Brodsky, a former owner of the Cougars and once the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors. This week, Miller visited with John Pateman, one of the men who purchased the Cougars from Brodsky and the organization’s president.

Pateman is one of the Cougars’ six owners, and he was quick to admit that these aren’t the best of times. He also talked about the Cougars having received government subsidies to help them through these pandemic times.

“We get an update on attendance around the league every Monday,” Pateman told Miller. “On average, it’s down about 30 per cent. There are people who aren’t vaccinated, there’s people who wearing a mask for two or three hours straight is an issue. There’s people who don’t feel comfortable coming out too much in public . . . that’s been across the league. The attendance being down that much . . . that’s the negative.

“Certainly, a lot of businesses, ourselves included . . . the federal wage subsidy . . . we received significant subsidies through that time period to help us out. The province . . . in August or so, we received significant funds there. We’re probably not losing any more money than we have the last few years. It’s obviously not good but, again, we believe we’re heading into a three- or four-year run. We’ve kind of hurt for six or seven so . . . it’s going to get better.”

According to Pateman, the Cougars have the youngest team in the WHL, but they are on pace to make the playoffs. And, as he said, a good run would certainly help the bottom line.

“We have been able to do some things on the expense side,” he explained. “If we can get into the playoffs and end up having a bit of run that makes a huge difference.”

If the playoffs were to start today, the Cougars would meet the Portland Winterhawks in the first round. Pateman also talked about what that would mean, especially with Taylor Gauthier now Portland’s starting goaltender. The Winterhawks acquired him from the Cougars earlier this season, giving up D Jonas Brøndberg, a 2023 third-round draft pick and a pair of conditional fifth-rounders. Those latter two picks just might be tied into how deep the Winterhawks get in the playoffs, so a first-round meeting with the Cougars could prove interesting.

Pateman also reaffirmed that the Cougars’ owners remain committed to making it work in Prince George.

“Certainly, that is the case,” he told Miller. “Over the next three, four years, all being well, we have a pretty good hockey team and I still think wins make a big difference. If we can get a bit of run in the playoffs at some point over the next year or two or three, I think we’ll have that fan support to at least not lose money to any great degree.

“If we can just pay the bills in the end, we’d be quite happy.”

It runs about 36 minutes, it’s well worth listening to, and it’s all right here.


The WHL announced adjustments to its regular-season schedule on Thursday, WHLindicating that the 68-game season now is to conclude on April 17. If there is a need for tiebreakers, they will be played on April 19. The first round of playoffs is to begin on April 22. . . . The playoffs will include four rounds of best-of-seven series, with the first three rounds all in-conference. The championship final is to start on June 3 and, if seven games are needed, would end on June 14. . . . The WHL’s playoff format is explained right here. . . . The Memorial Cup, which is to be held in Saint John, N.B., is to run from June 20 through June 29. . . . The WHL also announced a number of rescheduled games all of which can be found on the schedule at whl.ca. . . . And, again, make sure you check your favourite team’s schedule for any changes that may have been made.


Agree


The International Ice Hockey Federation had news about a couple of tournaments on Thursday. . . . The 2022 World Junior Championship that got started in Red Deer and Edmonton before being cancelled due to multiple positive tests among players and on-ice officials will be held in Alberta in August. No dates were provided, but Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that organizers are aiming for Aug. 8-19. . . . If all goes according to plan — in other words, if COVID-19 allows it — the WJC will proceed at some point after the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It is scheduled for Red Deer early in August. The exact dates haven’t yet been announced. . . . The WJC will feature the same teams that gathered in December with all players who are on those teams still eligible. Results of the few games that were played in December have been scrubbed, so teams will start fresh.

Meanwhile, the U18 Women’s World Championship that was to have been held in Linköping and Mjölby, Sweden, in January now will be played “in June in the north of the USA,” Luc Tardif, the IIHF president, told reporters on Thursday. The 2023 event likely will be held in Sweden. . . . There is a whole lot more on these stories right here.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

EverettMarty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted on Thursday that Shaun Clouston, the Kamloops Blazers’ GM/head coach, said G Dylan Garand isn’t “likely to play this weekend, but injury not expected to keep him out long term.” Garand appeared to suffer an injury to his left leg during the second period of a 6-4 victory over the visiting Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. . . . That means that G Dylan Ernst started on Friday night against the visiting Everett Silvertips, with Jesse Sanche, 15, on the bench. Sanche plays at OHA in Kelowna. . . . The Silvertips were without G Braden Holt (non-COVID illness) and had Evan May up from the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals to back up Koen MacInnes, who stopped 28 shots to beat the Blazers, 4-1. . . . Everett scored three times in 10:31 in the first period. The Silvertips got two goals from each of F Niko Huuhtanen (28) and F Jackson Berezowski (34). . . . Kamloops F Logan Stankoven had an assist to run his point streak to 18 games. . . . The Western Conference-leading Silvertips now lead the Blazers by five points. . . .

The WHL hasn’t posted a roster/injury report since Feb. 8, so there is no way of knowing how many players tested positive for COVID-19 from then through Feb. 14. The Vancouver Giants experienced some positives and had a couple of games postponed during that time period. . . .

F Adam Kydd’s 10th goal of the season gave Kelowna a 3-1 lead and stood up as the winner as the Rockets beat the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. He’s got 14 points, including six goals, in 14 games since coming over from the Calgary Hitmen. On the season, Kydd, 19, has 33 points in 44 games. . . . In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-1. F Matthew Rempe’s 12th goal, at 2:38 of the second period, broke a 1-1 tie. . . .

F Mathew Ward scored three times — it was his first WHL hat trick — and added an assist to lead the host Swift Current Broncos to a 7-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. He’s got 46 points, including 18 goals, in 44 games. Ward, 18, now has 68 career points in 68 regular-season games. . . . F Connor Bedard drew the lone assist on F Cole Carrier’s game-tying goal at 15:29 of the third period and then won it with this 30th goal of the season 24 seconds into OT as the Regina Pats beat the Raiders, 5-4, in Prince Albert. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and filed this piece right here. . . .

F Nate Danielson scored three times, giving him 18 this season, and F Ridly Greig put up three assists in his hometown as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2. The Wheat Kings wrapped it up with two empty-net goals. . . . In Red Deer, F Arshdeep Bains scored two goals — he’s got 25 — and added to assists as the Rebels beat the Saskatoon Blades, 5-3. Bains broke a 3-3 tie with his second goal at 9:12 of the third period. . . .

F Zach Benson scored the game’s last two goals as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Hitmen, 3-1, in Calgary. Benson, who has 16 goals, scored at 2:00 and 17:52 of the third period. . . . F Robbie Fromm-Delorme had three third-period goals to spark the Portland Winterhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. Fromm-Delorme, who has eight goals and 11 assists in 18 games, completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 18:06 of the third period. His first career multi-goal game came in his 157th game. Fromm-Delorme has missed 30 games this season; he was playing just his second game since returning from an injury. . . . In Langley, B.C., the Victoria Royals got a goal and two assists from F Tarun Fizer, their captain, as they snapped a 17-game losing skid with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. The Royals broke a 1-1 tie with three goals in 2:57, scoring at 19:27 of the first period and 2:09 and 2:24 of the second. The Royals are 13-29-5, with seven of the victories coming over the Giants.


With two coaches suspended pending an independent investigation, the BCHL’s NanaimoNanaimo Clippers have added veteran coach Bob Beatty to their staff. Beatty was behind the bench Friday night, along with assistant Ken McPhalen, as the Clippers dropped a 5-0 decision to the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs. . . . Darren Naylor, Nanaimo’s vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach, were suspended by the BCHL for what the league has said are alleged “Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . Beatty spent 17 seasons coaching (1996-2013) in the SJHL and then was in the BCHL for four seasons with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. He was at Shawnigan Lake School for two seasons (2017-19) before joining the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons prior to the 2019-20 season. He left the Oil Barons on Jan. 14, 2020. Most recently, he has been scouting for the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires.



THINKING OUT LOUD:

If you missed it — if you blinked you likely did — MLB and the MLBPA met again on Thursday. This negotiating session lasted all of 15 minutes. . . . Before the owners locked out the players, pitchers and catchers were to have begun reporting three days ago. . . . There isn’t much doubt now but that Opening Day is in jeopardy and there are those who suggest — wait for it! — that the entire season is in danger of not happening. . . . Oh wait! Owners and players say they are prepared to meet every day next week. Don’t hold your breath for a deal. . . . On Friday, it was announced that they already have flushed away the first week of spring training games. . . .

I saw a graphic on Thursday that showed the entire coaching staff of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Doug Pederson has a staff of 23 assistant coaches. Yes, 23! . . . When I first had anything to do with covering the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the late, great Tribune in the mid-1970s, I believe head coach Bud Riley had four assistants one season and three the next. . . . And then, on Friday, I happened upon a list showing the Miami Dolphins’ coaching staff. Head coach Mike McDaniel has 26 assistants. Yes, 26! . . .

Derek Taylor, the radio voice of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, revealed on Thursday that he won’t be back for a third season at CKRM. Speculation has him ending up in Winnipeg, where the Blue Bombers will have a new play-by-play voice on CJOB following the retirement of Bob Irving, or back at TSN, where he was before moving to Regina. Hmmm! I’m thinking TSN. . . .

It would seem more obvious than ever that the rest of the curling world has caught up with Canada, at least it has if we can go by the results from the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. I don’t know what it means but it sure is interesting to see just how many Canadians are coaching Olympic curling teams from other countries. . . .

Here’s how Jesse Campigotto of CBC Sports’ The Buzzer summed it up: “So, has the rest of the world ‘caught up’ to Canada in curling? In terms of depth, no. This country still produces roughly half of the top 10 men’s and women’s teams. But you can only send one to the big international tournaments. And it’s becoming clear that, here, the players wearing the maple leaf are no longer exceptional. At best, they’re first among equals. Often, they’re simply among equals.”


Quiz


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


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NHL revamps playoff format for Covid Cup playoffs . . . But will there be games? . . . Royals hope Price is right

The unfortunate thing about Gary Bettman, the commissioner of all things NHL, telling us a whole lot of non-specific things on Tuesday afternoon is that we now are faced with another couple of months of this stuff.

Why?

Because nobody knows a whole lot about anything right now.

This pandemic-causing virus is brand new, which is why it’s the novel coronavirus. NHLScientists and the medical community are learning about it as we move along.

So, on Tuesday, Bettman told us that the NHL’s 2019-20 regular season is over and that there is to be some kind of convoluted Stanley Cup playoff featuring 24 teams, up from the 16 that would have made it in a ‘normal’ season, with all games played without fans in the stands. (I’m wondering if the players from the seven teams that didn’t make it are breathing sighs of relief.)

Bettman talked about the draft lottery and the draft, and that these playoffs may not get started until sometime in August, which would mean a Stanley Cup presentation two months after that, which would mean the 2020-21 regular season wouldn’t start until January.

(Whoever comes out of this as the Stanley Cup champion gets a gigantic asterisk. Right? And if that happens to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn’t officially bring an end to that championship drought that has been ongoing since their last title in 1967. Right?)

Bettman also said that this push to decide a Stanley Cup winner isn’t about the money, and if you believe that you just haven’t been paying attention. Because that’s all that it’s about; it always is.

Bettman also said that the playoffs will go ahead in two hub cities, with half the teams in one and the other half in the other. As Bettman spoke, there apparently were 10 cities under consideration.

But it became evident later that the NHL will have to drop Vancouver from that list because the province of B.C. doesn’t seem likely to drop its demand that incoming international travellers self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer, said later Tuesday afternoon that, although she hasn’t seen an NHL plan yet, “We’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk.”

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, offered: “If in fact we are not able to really find an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in, and not be able to do a strict quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city.”

If it comes down to Dr. Henry vs. the NHL, my money is on B.C.’s top doc. If you aren’t aware, she’s a star out here. A shoe company put out a line of shoes in her honour and they sold out in minutes, at a suggested retail of $339 a pair, crashing the website in the process. T-shirts with her likeness on them have raised more than 10 grand for charity.

Oh, and did I mention that, despite all of the positive spin we heard yesterday, all of this might not happen at all.

So for the next few weeks we are going to see a barrage of stories and reports on all of this, including playoff previews, speculation on what team rosters will look like and on and on.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday evening, the virus-related death toll in the United States was at 94,702, according to statistics kept by John Hopkins University. The number of deaths in Canada was at 6,639. That figure worldwide is somewhere around 350,000.

No one was talking about any of that on Tuesday in all the chatter about the NHL’s possible return to play.

——

The most sensible comments I have seen to date on the NHL’s plan to return to play have come from Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk. He is the Wild’s representative on the NHLPA’s executive board.

The executive board voted 29-2 last week to accept the 24-team format as presented by the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean the NHL is anywhere close to returning to the ice.

In speaking with Michael Russo of The Athletic on Monday, Dubnyk said: “We voted strictly on the format. In other words, ‘If we are to come back, this is how it’s going to be played.’ But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet. Nothing else has been voted on … yet.”

Dubnyk also said:

“I think it’s really important to start having these conversations with as many players as we can about, ‘Guys, what scenarios are we OK with?’ From what it sounds like, it’s going to be some sort of hub city scenario, so we’ve got to talk about that. How long are guys OK with being away for? When we are in this city, are we locked in our hotel room? Going from the hotel room to the rink and back only, are guys OK with just doing that? Can our families come with us, or if there’s a family emergency and we leave the bubble (to go back into society), can we return to the bubble or are we done? What’s the food situation? Like, can we only eat in our hotel rooms? How often are we tested? Who pays for that? What’s the damage economically to the sport?

“All of these things, and there’s so many variables, need to be talked about and we’ve got to start getting a grasp on it now so that it doesn’t just hit us in the face all of a sudden. This stuff hasn’t been discussed with the players. Everything’s just been so hypothetical.”

Dubnyk also admitted to Russo that he wonders “if this is going to truly happen unless things relax enough where that bubble doesn’t necessarily need to exist as tightly as we think it does right now. Even with the players, it’s like, if your wife’s having a baby or something and you have to leave, do I have to miss an entire series now or suddenly quarantine for two weeks?

“That’s why I just feel like it doesn’t seem feasible to make this happen unless those rules relax by the time we’re going to play later this summer. There’s just so much stuff that hasn’t been figured out yet that we’ve got to start figuring out what are we OK with or not OK with, and then once that’s discussed, have another vote.”

Russo’s complete story is right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”


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



Rory McIlroy has told the BBC that he doesn’t believe the 2020 Ryder Cup will be played. It is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan, Wisc. . . . McIlroy would like to see the event moved to 2021. . . .

Japan’s Nippon Professonal Baseball season is set to start on June 19, but without fans in attendance. The league, which was to have started play on March 20, has yet to release its schedule, but is hoping to have each of its 12 teams play about 120 games, down from 143. . . .

The Alpine skiing world championships are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, from Feb. 7-21. However, the Italian Winter Sports Federation already is talking about postponing them until March 2022, which would be one month following the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games that are scheduled for Feb. 4-20. . . .

The EuroLeague, Europe’s top men’s basketball league, has cancelled its season, which had been on pause since March 12. The league comprises 18 teams from 10 countries. . . .

The 2021 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Vail, Colo., from March 1-6. . . .

The AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons have had adjustments made to their rent by the town council. According to a news release from the town, Dragons owner Blair Christianson had made a presentation to council on May 11 that explained the team is likely to lose about $330,000 because of the pandemic and that without some aid the team wouldn’t be viable. On Monday, Mayor Heather Colberg said the “adjustments to the fee structure will have a financial impact of $66,291.50 over four years.” . . .

The 11-team Western States Hockey League announced Tuesday that it won’t play in 2020-21 because of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic. The WSHL includes four teams in Alberta — the Barrhead Bombers, Cold Lake Hornets, Edson Aeros and Hinton Timberwolves — and two in Washington state — the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems. . . . The WSHL, a pay-to-play league, bills itself as junior A but to say it has had trouble gaining traction would be something of an understatement. . . .



Dan Price, who joined the Victoria Royals as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 VictoriaRoyalsseason, now is the WHL team’s general manager and head coach. He has completed three seasons as the team’s head coach. He takes over as GM from Cam Hope, who was fired on April 29 after eight seasons in the office. The Royals made the playoffs in each of those eight seasons, but never were able to get out of the second round. . . . The Royals are 105-81-18 in Price’s three seasons as head coach. . . . Price, 45, holds a law degree from the U of Saskatchewan. . . . His only experience as a general manager is from three seasons (2009-12) as the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . There now are six WHL teams with one man holding the titles of general manager and head coach. The others are Dean Brockman, Swift Current Broncos; Willie Desjardins, Medicine Hat Tigers; Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks; Mark Lamb, Prince George Cougars; and Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels.


Casinos


It seems that John Pateman is more convinced than ever that his Prince George Cougars PrinceGeorgeare on the right track. He just doesn’t know when the WHL team is going to get started on that track. . . . “To me, the million-dollar question is when are we going to be playing games,” Pateman, a co-owner and the franchise’s president, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “Certainly in our league, our main sources of revenue are certainly the fans and corporate sponsorships for rink boards and all that, but you have to have fans. What everybody is attempting to do is prepare for every option that’s out there so when we know what’s going to happen we’re fully prepared.” . . . Pateman and the ownership group there purchased the Cougars after the 2013-14 season, so they are waiting for their seventh season as owners to begin. The Cougars wouldn’t have been in the playoffs last season, had the pandemic not wiped out everything, and Pateman has said they were 1,500 fans per game from breaking even. Still, he told Clarke, “In the last two seasons, I feel we’ve really started to head in the right direction.” . . . The complete story is right here.



The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have signed associate coach Gaelan Patterson to a one-year extension. Patterson, who is from La Ronge, is preparing for this third season with the Ice Wolves. . . . Patterson, 29, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon seasons (2015-18) in Europe.


Pandemic responsible for rash of WHL signings? . . . Co-owner: Cougars 1,500 fans a game from breaking even . . . Hanlon’s latest gig in German DEL

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


After the Red Deer Rebels announced the signing of Arjun Bawa, a second-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft, on Thursday, Alan Caldwell, who keeps track of these things, tweeted:

“Bawa makes 15 of 22 second-rounds picks signed now. Add to 19 of the 22 first-rounders and that’s 34 of the first 44 picks from 2020.

“Five 3rd-rounders, one 4th and one 5th make 41 players signed from the 2020 draft already.”

And, as Caldwell also noted, the numbers “may actually be higher as some teams don’t announce signings.” (Note: There were more signings on Friday, too, with 21 of 22 first-round picks from 2020 now having signed.)

Whatever the numbers, I can’t ever recall a time when the WHL’s 22 teams signed so many players in such a short period of time. After all, the draft was held on April 22.

So . . . why the rush?

I had wondered if perhaps the WHL’s 22 teams were feeling more pressure than usual from leagues like the BCHL and USHL. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two people with an understanding of the situation have told me that you likely can chalk it up to the pandemic. Unable to take vacations and with not a whole lot of other things on their plate at the moment, team executives simply have sped up the signing process.

And, no, neither Bill Gates nor 5G have had anything to do with it.



Wondering how much money the Prince George Cougars lost last season? Hartley Miller PrinceGeorgeof 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97 takes a look in his weekly Hart Attack column and it’s all right here. . . . On Tuesday, John Pateman, one of the team’s owners and the franchise’s president, took part in a virtual town hall with fans. At one point, he offered: “It’s been a struggle financially for the ownership group over the last several years. We’ve obviously lost a lot of money. I would suggest, last season, we were probably 1,500 fans short of paying all our bills per game, that’s without making the playoffs.” . . . Do the math, as Miller does in his column, and this looks a lot like about a $1-million loss. Yikes!


Married


Glen Hanlon is the new head coach of the Krefeld Pinguine of the German DEL. He finished last season as the head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia. . . . Hanlon, 63, spent two seasons (2016-18) as the general manager of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants before going back to Europe where he gained considerable experience after spending the better part of four seasons on staff with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Paul McFarland has left his position as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs to take over as head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . McFarland spent three previous seasons (2014-17) as the Frontenacs’ head coach before joining the Florida Panthers for two seasons as an assistant coach. He then spent one season with the Maple Leafs. . . . In Kingston, he replaces Kurtis Foster, who was fired on April 29 after two seasons in the position.


Mike Rooney is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. Rooney, from Yellow Grass, Sask., spent last season working as a skating/skills coach with the Notre Dames Hound program in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Rooney replaces Kyle Adams, who was dismissed on Feb. 26. . . . Rooney is a familiar face in Saskatchewan hockey circles, but hasn’t done a whole lot of coaching. He was the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for two seasons (1995-97) and the GM/director of player personnel for the SJHL’s Hounds (1997-2000). . . . He also has considerable experience as an NHL and WHL scout.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x × y is less than y.”


Banjo


Oliver David of the Dubuque Fighting Saints has been named the USHL’s coach of the year for 2019-20. The Fighting Saints had the USHL’s best defensive record en route to finishing second in the overall standings. . . . Oliver spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, where he worked alongside general manager and head coach Mike Johnston. . . . You have to admit that Johnston’s managerial coaching tree is looking rather impressive. It includes Garry Davidson, the general manager of the Everett Silvertips; Matt Bardsley, the GM of the Kamloops Blazers and the Western Conference’s executive of the year; Grant Armstrong and Josh Dye, who both have gone on to scout with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning; Karl Taylor, the head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals; and Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . It is somewhat interesting that Johnston, despite Portland being one of the WHL’s premier franchises, has never been saluted as executive or coach of the year. The Winterhawks are the reigning Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy holders as regular-season champions.



The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner that was to have been held in Penticton on July 24. It is expected that the 2020 inductees will be installed in the Hall of Fame at a celebration in the summer of 2021. The class features players Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund, official Jay Sharrers, builder Ray Stonehouse, and two teams — the 2002 Kootenay Ice and 2012 Penticton Vees.


The West Coast League says it still hopes to play baseball this season, despite the fact that five of its 12 teams have said they aren’t able to play because of restrictions having been placed on facilities by health officials and the fact that the U.S.-Canada border remains closed. That includes the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, the league’s two Canadian franchises. Also out are the Bellingham Bells, Bend Elks and Corvallis Knights. . . . The WCL’s regular season was to have started on June 5. In a news release, the league said it now is “targeting early July for the return of baseball to our member cities.” . . . The WCL’s other franchises are located in Portland the Washington communities of Longview (Cowlitz Black Bears), Port Angeles, Ridgefield, Walla Walla and Yakima. . . .

Baseball Alberta announced on Friday that it has cancelled all sanctioned events and activities through Aug. 31. . . . The senior Red Deer Riggers immediately tweeted that their season was over, but they are looking forward to 2021 when they are to be the host team for nationals.


Grandma

It’s expensive on WHL highways . . . Cougars in middle of $90,000 road trip . . . Broncos sign Aubin; Raiders return three

On the sixth day of our annual Christmas countdown, here is the great Harry Belafonte, who was my late father’s favourite, with Mary’s Boy Child. It’s right here.


MacBeth

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has been released by the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen) by mutual agreement. He had four goals and three assists in 19 games.


ThisThat

The Prince George Cougars posted a 5-3 victory over the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 2.

Three days later, the Cougars left on a road trip. They won’t play at home again until Jan. PrinceGeorge11 when the Kelowna Rockets will pay a visit.

In between, the Cougars will play 11 games, seven in the U.S. where the exchange rate will take a big bite out of any team’s budget.

Here’s a day-by-day look at the Cougars travels (or is it travails?) . . .

Dec. 5 — Load bus and leave for Portland.

Dec. 6 — Off day in Portland.

Dec. 7 — Game in Portland.

Dec. 8 — Game in Portland.

Dec. 9 — Off day.

Dec. 10 — Off day.

Dec. 11 — Game in Kent, Wash.

Dec. 12 — Off day.

Dec. 13 — Off day.

Dec. 14 — Game in Victoria.

Dec. 15 — Off day.

Dec. 16 — Game in Vancouver.

Christmas break.

Dec. 27 — Off day.

Dec. 28 — Game in Kent, Wash.

Dec. 29 — Game in Everett.

Dec. 30 — Game in Kamloops; head home after game.

Dec. 31 — Off day.

Jan. 1 — Off day.

Jan. 2 — Off day.

Jan. 3 — Load bus and drive to Kelowna.

Jan. 4 — Game in Kelowna.

Jan. 5 — Off day in Kelowna.

Jan. 6 — Off day in Kelowna.

Jan. 7 — Load bus and head for Kennewick, Wash.

Jan. 8 — Game in Kennewick.

Jan. 9 — Game in Spokane; head home after game.

By my count, by the time the Cougars arrive home on Jan. 10, they will have spent about 25 days on the road, with at least nine of those days having been spent in the U.S.

I asked the general manager of one WHL team what it costs to keep a team on the road, and his response was between $3,000 and $4,000 per day, depending on how many are in the travelling party and where you are. He also added that it’s even more expensive in the U.S. “at a $1.35 exchange rate.”

Another GM told me that the cost per day is $3,000 to $3,500 for rooms and meals, with the bus expenses on top of that.

Understanding that all of these are ballpark figures . . .

Let’s say that it costs the Cougars $3,500 per day when they’re on the road, and that includes the return ferry trip to Victoria.

If they total 15 days in Canada, that’s $52,500.

Nine days in the U.S., with a $1.35 exchange rate, would cost $41,425.

Add it all up and playing 11 games on the road will have cost the Cougars more than $90,000.

This is a franchise that has played 17 of a scheduled 34 home games and has an announced average attendance of 2,668 fans, which is 19th in the 22-team league.

You can bet that Mark Lamb, who is in his first season as the Cougars’ general manager, is having some sleepless nights these days, and it isn’t because he can’t wait for Christmas to get here.

——

Late in October, John Pateman, one of the Cougars’ six co-owners, took time to chat with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat for the latter’s Cat Scan podcast. Pateman, who is the team president, talked about the money factor:

“When we got into this, we would hope to not lose money. We managed to lose quite a bit and we’ll lose quite a bit this (season). Until we can have a bit of a playoff run, I think we will continue to lose money. . . . we would obviously like to break even but I think we have to hit the second round of the playoffs to do that.”

The Cougars lost the first five games of the afore-mentioned road trip. They are 11-19-3 and in fifth place in the five-team B.C. Division. While a playoff run does seem unlikely this season, they are only two points out of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.

Asked by Miller if the owners are in it for the long run, Pateman chuckled and replied: “I don’t think we have a choice . . . we’re in. It is what it is.”


D Bobby Russell of the Spokane Chiefs will miss his club’s first two games after the Christmas break as he sits out a two-game suspension that was handed down on Monday. . . . Russell took a cross-checking major and game misconduct during Sunday’s 6-5 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . He will miss two home games — Dec. 28 against the Everett Silvertips and Dec. 29 against the Tri-City Americans.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed D Devin Aubin, 15, to a WHL contract. Aubin, from Falher, Alta., has two goals and one assist in 23 games with the midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm. . . . The Spokane Chiefs selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . The Broncos acquired Aubin, F Carter Chorney and F Kye Buchanan from the Chiefs on Dec. 4, giving up D Noah King, G Matthew Davis and a conditional fifth-round 2021 bantam pick in the exchange.


The Prince Albert Raiders have returned D Braydon Clark, 16, D Nolan Allan, 15, and F Tyson Laventure, 15, to their club teams. . . . Clark, from the the Valley West Giants of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, is pointless in six games with the Raiders this season. He was a third-round selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft. . . . Allan, from the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, has one assist in seven games. He was the third overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Laventure, from the Edmonton-OHL prep team, is pointless in three games. He was a third-rounder in 2018. . . . They helped the Raiders get through a stretch where they had four players away with international duties, and also had a couple of injuries.


If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.


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Scattershooting while wondering what happened to the Astros . . . Sports Curmudgeon is unique . . . President Pateman answers questions

Scattershooting

After the New York Giants were drubbed by the visiting Philadelphia Eagles last weekend to fall to 1-5, the New York Post headline: From Bad To Hearse.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a most valid point:

“Pardon me, but I need to vent here.  We are only about a third of the way through the football season and I have reached my limit on something that TV announcers say far too often.  There is no such thing as a ‘very unique’ offense or defense; in fact, nothing in the universe is ‘very unique.’ Everything and anything are either ‘unique,’ or they are ‘not unique.’ There are no gradations there.”

He finishes up with this:

“Memo to TV announcers —  Please replace ‘very unique’ in your vocabulary with something that makes sense such as ‘highly unusual’ or ‘very different.’ ”

——

Also . . . please look up the definition of “howitzer” before using it to describe a slapshot from the blue line or a high fastball. . . . Oh, and hockey players don’t play “years.” They play seasons. There is a difference.



So . . . what happens to the WHL’s divisional alignment should the Kootenay Ice be the Winnipeg Ice before another season arrives? Obviously, the Ice would have to play in the East Division. That being the case, one would think that the Swift Current Broncos would then shift into the Central Division. That would keep six teams in each of the divisions.


Col1


Headline at TheOnion.com: Manny Machado Denies Playing Dirty After Late Slide into Pitcher’s Mound

——

Headline at Fark.com: Manny Machado called up to the bush leagues.


Yes, MLB has a pace-of-play problem. If you don’t believe it, consider this note that Taking Note received from a Victoria-based reader late Wednesday:

“If anyone wonders why baseball’s TV ratings have declined, here’s what I was able to do tonight:

Watch the first hour of the Red Sox—Astros.

Drive downtown, watch a hockey game, drive home.

Watch the last half hour of the baseball game.

Four hours 40 minutes for nine innings is inexcusable.”

He’s right!

——

Col2


Lee Merkel, a fan of the Buffalo Bills, died recently at the age of 83. His obit in the Utica, N.C., Observer Dispatch included: “Lee has requested six Bufffalo Bills players as pallbearers so they can let him down one last time.”


Gerry James, a former head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, played for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. He was a tremendous athlete, whose nickname was Kid Dynamite. His son is having some health issues and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help the James family with travel-related costs. . . . You will find that page right here.


Just wondering: Is the United States of America the first country in the world to be governed via Twitter?


MacBeth

F T.J. Foster (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he was pointless in one game with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga). He was released from a tryout contract by Sport on Sept. 26.


ThisThat

John Pateman, one of the Prince George Cougars’ six co-owners, is the franchise’s president and has been for almost a year now. He recently sat down with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat, the analyst on home game broadcasts, and talked all things Cougars for last week’s Cat Scan podcast. . . . If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to own a WHL team, give this a listen. . . . At one point, Pateman offered: “When we got into this, we would hope to not lose money. We managed to lose quite a bit and we’ll lose quite a bit this year. Until we can have a bit of a playoff run, I think we will continue to lose money. . . . we would obviously like to break even but I think we have to hit the second round of the playoffs to do that.” . . . Asked by Miller if the six owners are in it for the long run, Pateman chuckled and replied: “I don’t think we have a choice . . . we’re in. It is what it is.” . . . The podcast runs almost 36 minutes and it’s all right here.


You may recall the schmozzle that arose in January after the final game of the World Junior Championship when three Swedish coaches — Tomas Monten, Nizze Landen and Henrik Stridh — removed their silver medals immediately after receiving them and chose not to wear them for the rest of the post-game ceremony. Shortly thereafter, Monten was hit with a three-game suspension, with Landen and Stridh drawing two-game bans. Those suspensions were to have been served at the beginning of the 2019 event. However, they appealed and won as the Court of Arbitration for Sport tossed out the suspensions. . . . At the same time, the suspensions to the five players who removed their medals are still in place. . . . There is more on this story right here.


SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Jackson Leppard snapped a 1-1 tie at 2:40 of the third period and the Prince George PrinceGeorgeCougars went on to beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 3-1. . . . The Cougars (5-5-1) have won three in a row. . . . The Broncos (1-11-0) have lost four in a row, with all losses coming on a B.C. Division tour that wraps up Tuesday in Kelowna. . . . Leppard also had two assists as he figured in all three Prince George goals. It was the third three-point night of his 116-game career. This season, he has two goals and four assists in 11 games. . . . Broncos G Joel Hofer stopped 37 shots. He has started four of the Broncos’ past five games, stopping 192 of 205 shots (.937). . . . The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes as the on-ice officials were late getting to the arena.


The Everett Silvertips scored the game’s last five goals and beat the host Regina Pats, 5-1. Everett. . . Everett (7-4-0) is 1-1-0 on its East Division trek. . . . Regina (3-9-0) has lost three in a row. . . . Everett got F Sean Richards back after he served a five-game suspension, and he scored his club’s first goal, his first of the season. . . . F Reece Vitelli (1) broke the tie at 1:06 of the second period. . . . The Silvertips were without their captain, F Connor Dewar, after he drew a four-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in a 5-2 loss in Brandon on Friday night. He also will miss games in Prince Albert (Tuesday), Saskatoon (Wednesday) and Moose Jaw (Friday). He will be eligible to return on Saturday in Swift Current, the last game of the Everett’s East Division swing.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored twice and added an assist, leading the Edmonton Oil Kings to EdmontonOilKingsa 6-3 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice. . . . The Oil Kings (6-7-1) had lost their previous eight games (0-7-1) after opening the season with five straight victories. . . . Kootenay (3-5-3) has lost six in a row (0-3-3). . . . Fix-Wolansky, who has nine goals, broke a 1-1 tie at 17:56 of the first period, on a PP, and the Ice was left to chase the game for its remainder. He now has 23 points in 14 games. . . . F Peyton Krebs (4) got Kootenay to within a goal, at 4-3, at 13:09 of the second period, on a PP. However, Edmonton F Jake Neighbours (3) upped his club’s lead to 5-3, on a PP, at 19:46. . . . Fix-Wolansky iced it at 18:06 of the third period. . . . The Oil Kings also got two goals from F Andrei Pavlenko (4). A sophomore from Belarus, he has four goals and two assists in 14 games; last season, he finished with three goals and one assist in 20 games.


F Owen Hardy scored twice to help the Vancouver Giants to a 3-1 victory over the VancouverKelowna Rockets in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (10-2-2) was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours, having gone 0-1-1 in a home-and-home with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (4-10-0) also was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. It had swept two games in Victoria before travelling to Langley. . . . Hardy gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 15:26 of the first period and provided them with a 3-1 edge at 11:48 of the third period. He’s got four goals this season. . . . D Bowen Byram had two assists for the Giants. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 games. . . . Kelowna gave G Roman Basran his third start of the weekend. He stopped 21 shots. . . . At the other end, Trent Miner blocked 28 shots. His 1.24 GAA and .958 save percentage are the best in the WHL. . . . The Giants were without F James Malm, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Saturday night. . . . The Rockets scratched F Lane Zablocki for a second straight game after he had made his season debut on Friday.


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Silvertips keep title hopes alive . . . WHL final headed back to Swift Current . . . Humboldt Broncos will be back on ice in 2018-19

MacBeth

D Lukáš Bohunický (Kootenay, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). He had three assists in 56 games. . . .

D Jesse Craige (Lethbridge, Chilliwack, 2004-10) signed a two-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). The team captain, he had 11 goals and 52 assists in 56 games. He was named to the UK Elite League’s first all-star team. He led defencemen in assists and points, and was second overall in assists in the entire league. . . .

G Kevin Nastiuk (Medicine Hat, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract extension with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). In 56 games, he was 3.12 and .900. He was named Coventry’s player of the year by his teammates. Nastiuk is studying at Coventry Business School while playing for the Blaze.


ThisThat

The WHL’s championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup will be decided in Swift Current. The host Everett Silvertips beat the Broncos, 6-3, on Friday night, leaving Swift EdChynowethCupCurrent with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. . . . They’ll play Game 6 on Sunday night, with Game 7, if needed, scheduled for Monday. . . . The Memorial Cup begins Friday (May 18) in Regina. . . . Last night, Everett took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Wyatte Wylie (2), on a PP, at 6:19, and F Matt Fonteyne (9), at 16:07. . . . F Glenn Gawdin, who scored three times in the Broncos’ 3-2 OT victory in Game 4, pulled his guys even by scoring, on a PP, at 17:50 of the first and at 6:37 of the second period. He’s got 14 goals. . . . F Sean Richards (4) gave the Silvertips a 3-2 lead at 4:48 of the third period, with F Riley Sutter (9) upping it to 4-2 at 6:09. Sutter also had two assists. . . . D Noah King pulled the Broncos to within one  when he scored his first WHL goal at 12:51. . . . Everett hung on, though, and put it away with a pair of empty-netters from F Connor Dewar, who now has 12 goals. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 21 shots to earn the victory over Stuart Skinner, who made 34 saves. . . . Both teams were 1-3 on the PP. . . . The referees were Jeff Ingram and Reagan Vetter. . . . Announced attendance: 6,628.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed F Zack Stringer, who was the eighth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Stringer, from Lethbridge, had 30 points, including 17 goals, with the midget AAA Hurricanes despite playing with them as an underage. He added 16 points, 11 of them goals, in 10 playoff games, then had seven goals and three assists at the Telus Cup national championship tournament.



The Humboldt Broncos made it official on Friday — they will ice a team for the SJHL’s 2018-19 season. Darcy Haugan, their general manager and head coach, was one of the 16 people who died when the team’s bus was involved in a crash on April 6. The Broncos posted the GM/head coach position yesterday. . . . The team will hold a player camp in Saskatoon, May 25-27, that will be by invitation only and will be closed to the public and media. . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.


Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix spent some time with Kaleb Dahlgren, a survivor of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash, the other day. Dahlgren has been at home since April 27, and these days he’s looking back but mostly ahead. . . . Mitchell’s piece is right here.

On Friday, it was revealed that Dahlgren plans to attend York U in Toronto and play for the Lions. Mark Cross, the Humboldt assistant coach who was one of 16 people who died because of the bus crash, also attended York. “My goal,” Dahlgren, 20, tweeted, “is to attend York in the fall of this year. However, the school has assured me I can begin whenever my body is ready.”


Dave Hunchak, who has coached in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Kamloops Blazers, also worked with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers and has been inducted into the SJHL Hall of Fame. He also has had issues with mental wellness and depression and all that goes with it. So when he was asked to go to Humboldt and help out following the Broncos’ bus crash on April 6, he didn’t hesitate. . . . Allan Maki of The Globe and Mail has more right here.


The Humboldt Broncos and the SJHL may be on the verge of lawyering up as they scrap for control of the #HumboldtStrong hashtag that has shown up on t-shirts and other merchandise following the April 6 bus crash. Geoff Lee of CBC News reports that the SJHL has applied for the trademark, but the Broncos want it. . . . That piece is right here.


The Prince George Cougars are in the midst of a shakeup, there having been a change at the top of the ownership group and, of course, general manager Todd Harkins lost his job. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen examines all of that right here, and also talks with John Pateman, the organization’s new president, about the past, present and future.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Dylan Guenther and D Keagan Slaney, their two EdmontonOilKingsfirst-round selections in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Guenther, from Edmonton, was the first overall selection; Slaney, from Airdrie, Alta., was taken with the 20th pick. . . . Guenther had 56 goals and 47 assists in 30 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team. . . . Slaney had 13 goals and 23 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Airdrie Xtreme.


F Morgan Geekie of the Tri-City Americans has signed a three-year entry-level contract TriCity30with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. . . . Geekie had 30 goals and 54 assists in 68 regular-season games in 2017-18. He added 17 goals and 10 assists in 14 playoff games. . . . He was a third-round selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . .  The team revealed that “the deal will pay Geekie US$650,000 in 2018-19 and $700,000 in 2019-20 and 2020-21. He will be paid $70,000 per season on the AHL level and receives a signing bonus of $240,000.” . . . Geekie is eligible to return to junior hockey in 2018-19 as a 20-year-old, but as a signed player he is almost certain to start his pro career.


Simon Ferguson is the new head coach of the major midget Okanagan Rockets, who play in the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He takes over from Eric Blais, who will coach the Okanagan-Central Zone bantam AAA team next season. . . . Ferguson also was the Rockets’ head coach in 2014-15. He spent this season coaching at the Banff Hockey Academy. . . . Ferguson played five seasons in the WHL (1999-2004) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Kelowna Rockets. He was acquired by Kelowna during 2002-03 and helped the Rockets win the 2004 Memorial Cup.

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