Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if this is the week when summer arrives . . .

Scattershooting2

The Vancouver Canucks had hoped to re-open team facilities on Sunday, but the Canucksvirus apparently wasn’t consulted before those plans were made.

Now, if all goes well, those facilities may re-open today.

On Sunday, the Canucks removed F Adam Gaudette from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but F Jay Beagle was added to it. Beagle had been on injured reserve. Adding Beagle to the list left 19 Vancouver players on it.

The NHL announced Sunday afternoon that “although the Player has not been around the team during the relevant time period (since March 31), the League’s, NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups determined that the prudent decision was to keep the facilities closed for an additional day.”

Gaudette was the first of the Canucks to test positive. He was removed from a practice session on March 30 after the Canucks received his test result. D Travis Hamonic went on the list on March 31. The Canucks also have had three coaches, one member of the support staff and three players from the taxi squad test positive. There also are an undisclosed number of family members who have tested positive.

The Canucks, who last played a game on March 24, still are scheduled to return to game action on Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers with the Toronto Maple Leafs to visit on Saturday.

The NHL is expecting the Canucks to begin with six games in nine nights. Their first nine games are to be played in 14 nights. Yikes!


Vaccine


There aren’t words in any language to describe how much I despise the MLB extra-inning rule under which a team starts with a runner on second base. It’s a gimmick, nothing more and nothing less, and MLB should be embarrassed by stooping so low as to use it.


Old friend Neate Sager, who doesn’t mind the MLB gimmickry, is writing at neatefreatsports these days, and it’s worth it for you to pay a visit, especially if you like your current events mixed with humour and just a dash of snark.

Here he is leading into a bit on the Vancouver Canucks’ recent travails:

“You might end up on injured reserve with strained credulity if you believe the Vancouver Canucks, who have only four players who are ‘not on the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol list,’ are going to complete their schedule.

“Deadspin, which can say it since it has no client relationship with the NHL like those of the telcos in Canada, pointed out the timeline makes it impossible. The league’s best-case scenario is for Vancouver to return to play around April 16, but that seems too optimistic by half, and half again.”

I highly recommend that you check him out right here.


Hey, ESPN, I tried to watch your telecast — the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the Braves in Atlanta on Sunday night. I really did. In the end, I did watch it, but with no sound. You’re drowning a game that needs to breathe in order to be enjoyed. And the numbers . . . so many numbers as to give a baseball fan vertigo.


So . . . I mentioned this Expos-Padres discrepancy to Dorothy on Friday night. “Yeah,” she replied, “but the Padres lasted longer than the Expos, so there you go!”



Information that you need to know. . . . According to Forbes magazine, Terry Pegula, who owns among other things the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, has improved his net worth from US$5 billion to $5.4 billion over the past year. The rich people, of course, keep score by dollar bills. On Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, $5.4 billion puts you in 520th place. . . . Who’s No. 1? Jeff Bezos, Mr. Amazon, tops the list for the fourth straight year, this time at $177 billion. . . . Forbes’ numbers show the world contains 2,775 billionaires, up 660 from a year ago.


On the subject of dollars, here’s a note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A baseball bat — a 34-inch, 36-ounce Bill Dickey model Louisville Slugger used by Lou Gehrig in 1938, his final full MLB season — drew 26 bids at SCP Auctions and sold this month for $715,120. Or 23 times the $31,000 the Yankees paid Gehrig to play that year.”

——

“A fan in Anaheim threw an inflatable trash can onto the field during an Astros-Angels game,” reports Perry. “Three players on the Houston bench immediately yelled, ‘Pitch-out!’ ”



With MLB having yanked its All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of Georgia’s new restrictive voting legislation, there were mutterings that the Masters should follow suit and move. To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote: “If you’re waiting in line for golfers to boycott, bring some bottled water.”



Ferguson Jenkins is 78 now, but it’s never too late for a statue. Yes, the Chicago Cubs are going to honour Jenkins with a statue outside Wrigley Field. . . . Here’s Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Of course, times have changed and the way in which starting pitchers are utilized has changed but in his day, and for 19 seasons, Jenkins stood alone among Canadian ballplayers and Canadian athletes — and sometimes we seem to forget all that.” . . . As Simmons points out, Jenkins once had six straight seasons with at least 20 victories. He once started 42 games in a season. He threw more than 300 innings in four different seasons. He threw 30 complete games in 1971 when he won the Cy Young Award. In one seven-season stretch, Jenkins threw 272 complete games. . . . And, no, his arm never fell off.


Here’s a memo from Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Dear Media. It’s called ‘The Masters.’ Not ‘The Masters Without Tiger Woods.’ Thank you.”


Castle


There were four games in the WHL on Sunday. Some highlights and tidbits . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last two goals to beat the host Tri-SeattleCity Americans, 3-2. . . . The Americans (5-6-0) held a 2-1 lead after getting two late first-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (4), at 18:04, and D Mitchell Brown (2), at 18:54. . . . F Henri Rybinski’s second goal of the season, on a PP, tied it at 4:21 of the second period. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (4) scored the game’s final goal, on another PP, at 5:33. . . . Seattle (6-5-0) was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-for-4. . . . The Thunderbirds won’t have F Conner Roulette again this WHL season. He now joins Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship that opens in Texas on April 26. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders scored three times in the third period to beat the RaidersSwift Current Broncos, 4-2, in Regina. . . . F Cole Nagy (3) scored on a PP at 6:58 of the third period to get the Broncos into a 1-1 tie. . . . D Landon Kosior (2), on a PP, put the Raiders back out front and F Evan Herman (5) stretched the lead at 12:03. . . . F Mathew Ward (4) got the Broncos back to within a goal at 14:11, but F Eric Pearce (6) put it away with the empty-netter. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 35 shots for the Raiders, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by F Michael Farren. . . . The Broncos got 33 saves from G Reid Dyck, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by Herman. . . . The Raiders (5-8-3) had lost their previous three games (0-2-1). . . . The Broncos (3-12-1) have lost five straight. . . . Raiders D Nolan Allan played his final WHL game of this season. He is going into isolation and then will join Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas. It opens on April 26. . . .

G Nolan Maier turned aside 42 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 3-2 Bladesvictory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Regina. . . . The victory lifted the Blades (12-2-2) into first place in the Regina hub, two points ahead of the Wheat Kings (12-3-2). The Wheat Kings had points in each of their previous nine games (8-0-1). . . . Saskatoon now has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Blades took a 2-0 lead on PP goals from F Chase Wouters (6) at 18:56 of the first period and F Kyle Crnkovic (7) at 4:50 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (8) pulled Brandon to within a goal on a PP at 10:16. . . . Saskatoon F Brandon Lisowsky (6) stretched the lead to two at 16:44 of the third. . . . Brandon got back to within a goal when F Ridly Greig (6) counted at 19:54. . . . Saskatoon was 2-for-5 on the PP; Brandon was 1-for-6. . . . G Ethan Kruger stopped 19 shots for Brandon. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers unleashed a 60-shot attack and got four assists from F KamloopsConnor Zary in beating the Victoria Royals, 4-3, in Kelowna. . . . At one point in the third period, the Royals led 3-2 as they were being outshot, 51-12. . . . The Royals erased a 2-1 deficit on goals from F Alex Bolshakov (3), his second of the game, at 6:33 of the third period and F Ty Yoder (2), at 9:16. . . . F Josh Pillar (3) pulled Kamloops into a tie at 13:16 and D Inaki Baragano (1) got the winner at 16:04. . . . Zary has 14 points, including 11 assists, in seven games. . . . Victoria G Adam Evanoff finished with 56 saves, 40 more than Dylan Garand of the Blazers. . . . The Blazers now are 6-1-0. . . . The Royals are 1-6-1 and have lost three in a row. . . . Victoria was without F Keanu Derungs, F Tarun Fizer, F Riley Gannon, F Matthew Hodson and D Noah Lamb, and was able to dress only 10 forwards. . . . The Royals are adding F Ryan Spizawka, a seventh-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, to their roster. His twin brother, Jason, the 19th overall pick in 2019, already is on the roster. They are from Victoria. . . . The WHL season is over for Kamloops F Logan Stankoven, who will play for Canada at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas later this month. He put up 10 points, including seven goals, in six games this season.


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Random

Robison: WHL committee reviewing diversity, inclusion policies . . . Oil Kings run streak to nine . . . Royals’ pick ends marathon NCAA game


Ron Robison, the commissioner of the WHL, says the league has established a diversity and inclusion committee that has been tasked with reviewing policies. WHL2Robison told Sammy Hudes of Postmedia that the committee was struck recently, presumably before the hockey world was rocked on Thursday by the news that the Seattle Thunderbirds had dropped two players — one 17, the other 18 — from their roster because of racist incidents involving a teammate. Hudes wrote that Robison “said the WHL is working to build ‘additional programming in this area,’ but didn’t specify what that might look like.” Robison also didn’t indicate who is on the committee. . . . Robison told Hudes: “We’re dealing with players who are of young age. They need further education, more training. They need to understand the sensitivities to all this and how it resonates with not only their teammates, but their opponents.” . . . One of the key issues involving incidents like these is that a victim often doesn’t have anywhere to turn outside of his team or the league. Hudes spoke with Courtney Szto, who is assistant professor at Queen’s University’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. She co-authored a 2020 policy paper, Hudes wrote, “advocating for anti-racism policies in hockey. Among its calls to action, the paper identified ways for governing bodies like Hockey Canada to proactively work to eliminate racism in the sport. . . . The policy paper also called on the federal government to create an external oversight body to receive and investigate incidents of discrimination. Szto said victims have nowhere to report such incidents, other than through their own teams and leagues.” . . . Hudes’ complete story is right here.


Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, moved into a tie for sixth spot on the WHL’s list of all-time winningest regular-season coaches with a 5-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina on Saturday. . . . Habscheid now has 548 victories, tying him with Ernie (Punch) McLean. . . . The Raiders (3-3-2) broke a 2-2 tie with the game’s last three goals, starting with one from F Eric Pearce, who is from Regina, at 1:53 of the third period. . . . F Justin Nachbaur, playing his 200th regular-season game with the Raiders, gave his guys a 2-1 lead with a shorthanded goal at 12:46 of the first period. . . . D Logan Linklater picked up his first two points, both assists, for the Raiders in his seventh game. . . .  Prince Albert scored its last two goals, from F Ozzy Wiesblatt and F Reece Vitelli, into empty nets. . . . The Warriors now are 4-4-0. . . . The game took 2 hours 8 minutes to play, the quickest game in the WHL this season. . . . Moose Jaw lost D Daemon Hunt to an elbowing major at 13:20 of the third period for a hit on Vitelli, who later scored an empty-netter. . . . The Raiders were without F Spencer Moe with an undisclosed injury, while D Kaiden Guhle missed his sixth straight game. . . . The Raiders dressed just one goaltender — Carter Serhyenko — with starter Max Paddock sidelined with an undisclosed injury. Serhyenko stopped 16 shots. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings won again on Saturday afternoon, running their record Edmontonto 9-0-0 with a 5-2 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton got two goals and an assist from F Jake Neighbours and a goal and two assists from F Dylan Guenther. He’s got nine goals and nine assists in eight games. . . . Neighbours has 16 points, 12 of them assists, in a nine-game point streak. . . . G Sebastian Cossa, who is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft, stopped 29 shots. He’s 8-0-0, 1.50, .945 this season. . . . The Hitmen slipped to 4-5-1. . . . Edmonton D Matthew Robertson didn’t play in Friday’s 4-3 victory over visiting Calgary, but was back on the ice Saturday. . . . The Hitmen were without D Tyson Galloway, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Friday, then lost D Luke Prokop in the second period on Saturday. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds erased a 2-1 deficit with two goals in the last two minutes of the second period as they defeated the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 3-2. . . . F Simon Knak gave Portland (2-1-2) a 2-1 lead with his third goal in as many games at 11:34 of the second. . . . F Payton Mount pulled Seattle (3-1-) even at 18:18 and F Jordan Gustafson snapped the tie at 19:07 with his first WHL goal. . . . The first period featured one goal, by Portland F Seth Jarvis, and 31 shots on goal, 16 by Seattle. . . . G Jackson Berry stopped 28 shots to record his first WHL victory in his first appearance with Seattle. He got into five games with the Moose Jaw Warriors last season, going 0-2-0 before being released. . . .

G Talyn Boyko put up his first WHL shutout as the host Tri-City Americans beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-0. . . . The 6-foot-8 Boyko stopped 26 shots as the Americans improved to 2-2-0. . . . The Chiefs fell to 0-4-1; they have been blanked three times including twice in two nights. They lost 5-0 to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. . . . Boyko’s first career clean sheet came in his 38th appearance over three seasons. . . . F Samuel Huo scored twice, but it was F Connor Bouchard’s goal, at 6:47 of the second period, that stood up as the winner. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers broke open a 2-2 game with three second-period goals Tigersen route to a 6-3 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Corson Hopwo snapped the tie with his sixth goal at 4:40, with F Lukas Svejkovsky scoring his sixth at 14:16, and F Brett Kemp getting No. 4 at 19:17. . . . Kemp’s drew an assist on Hopwo’s goal, giving him 200 career regular-season points. He now has 201 points, 88 of them goals, in 241 career games. . . . While the Tigers improved to 6-3-0, the Hurricanes now are 3-6-1. . . . Lethbridge scored all three of its goals on the PP. . . . G Beckett Langkow stopped 38 shots for the Tigers to record his second WHL victory in his second start. . . . Langkow’s father, Scott, played three seasons (1992-95) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 20 NHL games and 11 seasons in Europe. . . .

F Logan Stankoven’s second goal of the game, at 10:09 of the third period, Kamloopsbroke a 4-4 tie and gave the Kamloops Blazers a 5-4 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers were designated as the visitors even with the game being played in Kamloops. . . . The Cougars, the last of the WHL’s 22 teams to get into game action in this truncated developmental season, struck for three first-period goals to take a 3-1 lead into the second. . . . The Blazers (2-0-0) tied it on second-period goals by F Caedan Banker and F Josh PIllar. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer put the Cougars back out front at 15:03. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary tied it shorthanded at 5:25 of the third. . . . F Peyton McKenzie had two assists in his second game with Kamloops. He went into the game with two assists in 24 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . One of the referees was Matthew Hicketts of Kamloops, whose brother, Joe, spent five seasons playing defence for the Victoria Royals. . . . Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV tweeted that there were “over 20 scouts” in attendance. . . .



F Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins was added to the COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday and sat out the team’s 3-2 victory over the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Marchand, 32, has 34 points, including 12 goals, in 29 games this season. . . . The Bruins, who had two games postponed last week due to protocols, are scheduled to play host to the New Jersey Devils today (Sunday) and Tuesday night. . . . The Sabres now have lost 17 straight games.

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In the Swiss National League, EHC Biel-Bienne is in quarantine after two positive tests so a Saturday game with Lausanne HC was cancelled. With the playoffs approaching, the final standing are to be decided by points percentage, a decision that had been made at a Jan. 4 meeting.


F Luke Mylymok’s goal at 2:33 of the fifth OT period gave the Minnesota-BulldogsDuluth Bulldogs a 3-2 victory over the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the NCAA men’s hockey Midwest Region final in Fargo, N.D., on Saturday night. . . . Mylymok, 19, is from Wilcox, Sask. This is his first season with the Bulldogs; he split last season between the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers and the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Victoria Royals selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The goal sent the Bulldogs, the two-time defending national champions, back to the Frozen Four. There wasn’t a champion in 2020 due to the pandemic. . . . At 142:33, it was the longest game in the history of the NCAA men’s or women’s hockey tournaments, surpassing a women’s game between Wisconsin and Harvard in 2007. . . . The men’s tournament is in its 74th year. . . . Zach Stejskal, the Bulldogs’ starting goaltender, left at 4:37 of the fourth OT when he began cramping up. He had stopped 57 shots when he was relieved by Ryan Fanti. . . . Leah Hextall — yes, of the hockey Hextalls — handled the play-by-play for ESPN.


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.


Dust

Mooseheads celebrate loss, advance to Memorial Cup final. . . . Huskies, Storm in semifinal. . . . Thunderbirds sign first pick

MacBeth

F David Hruška (Red Deer, 1995-96) has signed a one-year contract extension with Sokolov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). This season, he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 35 games. . . . Sokolov played in 2. Liga this season and won promotion to 1. Liga. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with SC Csíkszereda Miercurea-Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). This season with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games. He also had six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . . Láday is spending this summer playing for the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). He has two assists in two games. The NIHL regular season started on May 18, ends on July 28, and playoffs end no later than Aug. 18. . . .

F Max Brandl (Prince Albert, Portland, 2007-09) has signed a two-year contract with Landshut (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2), he had five goals and 17 assists in 52 games. He was the team captain. . . .

F Colin Long (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract with Lustenau (Austria, Alps HL). This season, with Gherdëina Selva Val Gardena (Italy, Alps HL), he had 12 goals and 24 assists in 39 games. He was second on the team in goals, assists and points.


ThisThat

The Prince Albert Raiders arrived back home on Wednesday afternoon, where they were greeted by appreciative supporters.

In Halifax, the host Mooseheads lost the last game of the round-robin portion of the 2019MCMemorial Cup and they celebrated.

Seriously!

As one WHL observer wrote in a note to Taking Note: “The fact that Halifax celebrates like that after losing against a huge rival is another example of why the Memorial Cup is stupid.

“I’m sorry. I have all the respect in the world for that trophy and its history, but that tournament is just completely pointless and dumb.”

It’s hard to disagree with that kind of logic, especially after last night’s circus in Halifax.

The QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored with 54 seconds left in the third period to beat the Mooseheads, 4-3, last night.

The Huskies beat the Mooseheads in six games in the QMJHL’s championship final, meaning that Rouyn-Noranda has beaten Halifax in five of their past seven meetings.

But it’s the Mooseheads who have advanced to Sunday’s Memorial Cup final. The Huskies and the OHL-champion Guelph Storm will meet in Friday’s semifinal game. The Raiders went 0-3 and were eliminated on Tuesday.

Here is how Kyle Cicerella of The Canadian Press described the silliness:

“Any one of Halifax, Rouyn-Noranda or Guelph could have earned a berth in Sunday’s tournament final based on Wednesday’s outcome. All three clubs finished with 2-1 records, but the Mooseheads got the tiebreaker through a drawn-out mathematical formula.

“All Halifax needed to do to advance was win outright or lose by one goal up to 4-3. Rouyn-Noranda had to win 4-0, or by five or more goals to move on, while the Storm still had a chance if the game finished by any other score.”

Here’s Halifax head coach Eric Veilleux: “Knowing what everybody knows, obviously I hope I never have to go through that again. It’s really not easy.”

Perhaps Halifax defenceman Patrick Kyte summed it all up with this: “Even though we didn’t win, we got the job done.”

(Cicerella’s game story is right here.)

Of course, this is the risk you run with any kind of round-robin situation, and the CHL’s four-team format, including a host team, isn’t going away anytime soon.

As the afore-quoted WHL observer put it: “(It’s a) cash grab in the second-ugliest form in junior hockey . . . the highest-ugliest form being World Juniors.”

Meanwhile, in Prince Albert, they will celebrate the Raiders’ season with a party at the Art Hauser Centre tonight. A good time will be had by all.


Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was in Prince Albert when the Raiders arrived on Wednesday. His blog post is right here.


By now you will be well aware that the last four WHL champions to play in the Memorial Cup tournament are a combined 0-12. The Brandon Wheat Kings (2016), Seattle whlThunderbirds (2017), Swift Current Broncos (2018) and the Raiders all failed to win even one game at the CHL’s championship tournament.

So, you’re wondering, what’s going on?

Here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News: “Different years, different teams, different situations. Logically, this is just a screwy numbers thing, like the fact a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 (Montreal), or that a franchise with a predominantly blue jersey hasn’t won the Cup since 1994 (New York Rangers).”

In the overall scheme of things, there likely isn’t any rhyme or reason to it.

But the one thing I don’t feel can be discounted is the travel factor. Because of the WHL’s geography, the championship final is almost always going to feature some killer travel.

In 2016, it was Brandon and Seattle in the final. The next year, Seattle and the Regina Pats met in the final. A year ago, it was Swift Current and the Everett Silvertips. This season, it was the Raiders and the Vancouver Giants, and they went seven games. They played on a Friday in Langley, B.C., then finished the series in Prince Albert with games on Sunday and Monday. The Raiders travelled to Halifax — three time zones to the east — on the Wednesday and played their first game on Friday.

The travel almost invariably leads to injuries, and by the time a team leaves for the Memorial Cup it is banged up and emotionally drained. And, in a four-team round-robin, you are up against it if you lose that first game.

One WHL fan suggested to Taking Note that the WHL needs to “eliminate the killer travel schedule, which is possibly going to get worse for many Eastern Conference teams. And, of course, save $$$ for smaller Eastern Conference franchises.”

The only way the “killer travel schedule” is eliminated is for the WHL to revamp its regular-season schedule and keep teams playing only in their own conferences. That isn’t likely to happen.

One solution — and it’s only a pipe dream — would be to split the WHL into two leagues, with the B.C. and U.S. teams in one league, and the East and Central division teams in another. There wouldn’t be any interlocking play; these would be two separate leagues.

Each league would hold its playoffs, with the two winners meeting in a western final. Meanwhile, the OHL and QMJHL winners also would go into a best-of-seven final.

The Memorial Cup final, then, would go back to being a true East vs. West best-of-seven series.

Of course, that won’t ever happen because the present format — with a host team as part of a four-team round-robin — is great for the host city and it helps fill the coffers for the host league and its teams.

The present tournament format allows for a celebration of major junior hockey for 10 days every May. It’s time to accept it for what it is, and if the WHL champion never wins another game, so be it.

It could be that Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) hit the nail on the head earlier in the week when he tweeted: “It’s more impressive to me to outplay and outlast 15 other teams to win your own league. The Memorial Cup is like dessert after a great meal — not for everyone and it never replaces the meal.”


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Jordan Gustafson to a WHL contract. The SeattleThunderbirds selected him with the eighth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Ardrossan, Alta., Gustafson had 31 goals and 39 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers this season. . . .

Gustafson is the third of the WHL’s 22 first-round selections from the May 2 bantam draft to sign contracts. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Caleb Reimer, the 18th selection, while the Prince Albert Raiders signed F Niall Crocker, who was taken with the 22nd pick.