Paying tribute to ex-Wheat Kings d-man Dietrich . . . WHL planning B.C. bubbles . . . QMJHL has positive test in “protected environment”


NoGuaranteesDon Dietrich, who played three seasons (1978-81) with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He and his wife, Nadine, have three sons, and the family has set up a Facebook page that is titled Don Dietrich — Tribute Page. The page includes this note:

“For those that don’t know, Don has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We have had so many people reach out to us to share stories of Don and the impact that he has had on their lives. He has thoroughly enjoyed hearing from everyone, so we wanted to give people the opportunity to share some of their own stories and experiences that they have shared with him. Please feel free to share your stories, photos, videos, memories and kind words with us on this page so he can see them all!”

The tributes that are pouring in include this one, from Norm Harris:

“Back in the ’80s the hockey fans in southern Maine had an AHL team, the Maine Mariners. We considered the players royalty.

“Our local high school team wasn’t very good. In 10 years they never had a winning season. It was just a bunch of country kids who grew up on the ponds who could now play in an arena. The winter of 1992-93, Don started to show up to our hockey board meetings as he had decided to settle in the area after his career was winding down. He convinced us to start a learn-to-skate program for the elementary kids so we would have a feeder system.

“The following year we needed a head coach for our high school team. Don stepped up to the plate. The players were so used to coaches who did more yelling and boasting about their own achievements than actually coaching. Don came in and started to teach not only the players but us other coaches from the learn-to-skate program, middle school and the high school assistant. Don would break down why you do certain things that past coaches never brought up.

“Each year that he coached the team’s record improved. Then he got sick and moved back home. The year after he left, the team made the playoffs for the first time and had won three-quarters of its games. It was all a because of Don’s vision.

“He showed us why we treated those pro players as royalty. He knew what it took to get the best not only out of a single player but an organization as well.

“We hold a school alumni game every year. Don graciously came to one a few years back which was a long trip for him. He came down and spent time in the locker room with his old players and worked a few games back on the bench. Before he left he gave back once again to the Bonny Eagle hockey program by donating a few of his books (No Guarantees)

“That year we not only had the most alumni come out to play but we packed the stands with fans as well. Many just to see Don.

“Thank you, sir, for all you have done.”

If you’re on Facebook, take a few minutes and check out this page. You will be blown away by the number of lives that have been touched by Don. If you have a memory or two or even a photo please feel free to post before leaving.


Drumsticks


The GoFundMe page that was set up to benefit the Sopotyk family remains open and has gone past $190,000. Tyrell Sopotyk, who played the past two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, was injured in a snowboarding accident in January and remains in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . The page was set up by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, who has been friends with Sopotyk since childhood. . . . If you haven’t yet contributed to the fund and would like to, the page is right here.


The WHL hasn’t yet released a schedule for games to be played by its five Alberta-based teams starting later this month or early in March. And it appears that it is gearing up to approach health officials in B.C. and Washington state in the hopes of getting the OK to get more teams back on the ice. . . . The B.C. plan is to include bubble-type situations in Kamloops and Kelowna. It will be interesting to see how a plan for games in Kamloops might be welcomed by provincial health officials because the virus has found us in a big way in 2021. . . . There have been 81 cases reported in Royal Inland Hospital, with 51 of those being staff. On top of that, one of the high schools — Sa-Hali secondary — has experienced exposures with at least 12 positives — nine staff and three staff. The school has at least 200 students and 18 staff now in self-isolation. . . . Kamloops This Week has more right here. . . . Marty Hastings of KTW has more on the WHL’s B.C. Division plan right here.

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Meanwhile, in the QMJHL, the Victoriaville Tigers, who have been playing in what the league calls a “protected environment” in Chicoutimi, have had a player test positive. All players and staff will isolate for 14 days and the team has left the protected environment. . . . The league is awaiting more results before releasing an updated schedule.


A report on harassment and bullying in major junior hockey is now in the hands of the president of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL),” report Nicolas Steinbach and Francois Le Blanc of Radio-Canada. “Dan MacKenzie confirmed to Radio-Canada that he had received the document, which has not yet been made public. The independent committee led by former Premier of New Brunswick, Camille Thériault, submitted its report at the end of December.” . . . McKenzie, in an email, told Radio-Canada: “We are in the process of reviewing and determining the next steps. This is an important issue, but we also need to manage the impacts of the pandemic and we are focused on getting our players, CHL staff and community back to safe play. It’s hard to put an exact date, but we’re hopeful that we can answer questions this spring.” . . . Three independent commissioners, including former WHLer Sheldon Kennedy, were appointed to looking into the situation after a class-action lawsuit was filed on June 19. Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Taylor Garrett, who played in the WHL, filed the suit. . . . The Radio-Canada story is right here.


Curve

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: As of 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 786,419 cases of COVID-19 — with 49,562 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,215.

CNN, Tuesday, 2 p.m. PT — 26.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:59 p.m. PT — 446,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

The New Jersey Devils had 14 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday — F Jesper Bratt, D Connor Carrick, G Aaron Dell, F Jack Hughes, F Andreas Johnsson, F Janne Kuokkanen, F Michael McLeod, F Kyle Palmieri, D Damon Severson, D Ty Smith, D Matt Tennyson, D Sami Vatanen, G Pavel Zacha and F Travis Zajac. . . . G Mackenzie Blackwood came off the list earlier in the day. . . . The NHL has said that the Devils won’t play again until at least Saturday. . . . The Buffalo Sabres, who played the Devils on Saturday and Sunday, put F Taylor Hall and D Rasmus Ristolainen in the protocol list on Tuesday. The Sabres, who won’t play again until Monday at the earliest, are reported to be unhappy with the NHL, which allowed Sunday’s game to go ahead despite Palmieri having gone on the list after playing in Saturday’s contest.

The Detroit Pistons were back in action on Tuesday, after having a Monday game against the host Denver Nuggets postponed. Last night, the Pistons went into Salt Lake City and played the Utah Jazz. . . . The Monday game was scratched because of contact tracing in the Detroit organization. . . .

Hockey Alberta announced on Tuesday that it has ended its 2020-21 season, meaning its all over for tiered, AAA and AA hockey in that province. However, the association hasn’t given up on having some kind of spring development season should government clearance come at some point. . . .

The Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association has cancelled all provincial basketball championships for this school year.


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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.


Disk

Thomas’s ‘pilot project’ sounds great from here . . . Hockey gang coming through again; Sopotyk fund tops 100 grand

It seems so simple in theory . . . make semi-truck driving a trade, just like plumbing and electrical work and heavy-duty mechanic. If someone wants to be a truck driver, they would have to attend a trade school, one like Saskatchewan Polytechnic, aka SIAST, or the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT). . . . Candidates would be eligible for student loans.

Why not? Are there any politicians out there who are paying attention?

As Scott Thomas puts it: “The trucking industry needs to have its drivers treated with more respect.”

You will recall that Thomas’s son, Evan, died in the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus almost three years ago. In the aftermath, Scott has been advocating for changes to driver training, including turning it into a trade, something that he refers to at the moment as a “pilot project.”

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who was driving the truck that pulled into the path of the Broncos’ bus at a highway intersection, is serving an eight-year sentence and is eligible to apply for parole in September. Thomas has been in email contact with Sidhu and his family, and, in fact, has written in support of Sidhu not being deported.

“Jaskirat Sidhu took his semi drivers job as a second job to put his wife through dental hygiene school,” Thomas says. “No one should have a second job as a semi-driver operating in a part of the world he has never been before. His second job should have been selling 50/50 tickets at a Flames game, not in charge of a lethal weapon rolling down a highway!”

As Thomas has pointed out time and again, the trucking industry “needs federal regulation just as our rail lines and skies are federally regulated . . . our highways should be as well for commercial trucking purposes.”

The point, of course, is to increase accountability in the trucking industry and to make our highways safer.

I happen to agree wholeheartedly with Thomas. I live on a plateau a couple of km north of the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Kamloops. I can see the highway from our back deck and the eye test tells me that truck traffic has really, really increased over the past few years.

So all Thomas needs now is for a courageous politician or two or three to throw their support behind this “pilot project” and get things rolling.

Surely there are some of those out there, aren’t there?


Sopotyk
Kyrell Sopotyk: Zamboni driver.

The GoFundMe page that was started on Sunday afternoon in support of Kyrell Sopotyk and his family has surpassed $100,000. Sopotyk, 19, played two seasons (2018-20) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. From Aberdeen, Sask., he was left paralyzed following a snowboarding accident on Friday at Table Mountain, which is near North Battleford. . . . The GoFundMe page was started by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, who has been friends with Sopotyk since they were youngsters. . . .

On Nov. 25, Jon Keen, the Blazers’ play-by-play voice, tweeted that he had asked Sopotyk what he was up to during the pandemic. The response: “I’m working at the rink in Aberdeen. You get ice whenever you want and I get to drive the Zamboni.” Sopotyk even supplied Keen with photographic evidence that he, indeed, got to drive the Zamboni. . . .

As of Monday, 10 p.m. PT, 1,268 people had donated $129,274. The GoFundMe page is right here.


Opinion


As the AHL gets ready to begin play next week, it has become obvious that the Calder Cup that goes to the winner of its playoff champion won’t be awarded for a second straight season. . . . Instead, the league reportedly will feature the top four teams in each division meeting in best-of-three series to decide division champions. Those ‘playoffs’ will last a week. . . . What this means, of course, is that the AHL season is being held for developmental reasons only. . . . That is exactly the purpose of the WHL’s decision to “commit” to a 24-game schedule. It isn’t at all concerned with declaring a champion; it is all about playing games for developmental purposes.


Judy Battista of nfl.com posted an interesting story on Monday. It starts with this . . .

“A paper published Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that during the season, the NFL found that transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 occurred in less than 15 minutes of cumulative contact between individuals — the timeframe the CDC initially used in its definition of close contact. That led the NFL to redefine what made a close contact high risk — factors like masking and ventilation — findings that the CDC and the NFL hope will be broadly applicable to the public to limit the spread of the virus, especially in schools, long-term care facilities and high-density essential workplaces, like manufacturing centers.” . . . The complete piece is right here.


Clint


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Manitoba reports 113 new COVID-19 cases, 5 more deaths.

CBC News — Sask. reports 239 new COVID-19 cases and 1 more death. Province aims to vaccinate all nursing home workers and residents by end of March.

CBC News — 2,000 students from two Edmonton high schools are being sent home due to COVID-19. More than 700 students and staff already in quarantine.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 1,344 new cases of COVID in BC over 3 days. That is from Fri to Sat 527 new cases, Sat to Sun 471 new cases, Sun to Mon 346 cases, There has been a total of 64,828 cases in BC. . . . There are 328 people in hospital with COVID, up 13. There 68 in ICU, down 6. . . . There have been 26 additional COVID deaths over the past 3 days. There have been 1,154 deaths in BC due to COVID-19.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — The sense I am getting from this briefing is there is nothing more many people can give in the fight against COVID. And that is what makes this so terrible. The majority of people in BC are fighting the battle for those unwilling (or unable) to change their behaviour.

CBC News — Ontario is reporting 1,958 new cases of COVID-19, including 727 cases in Toronto, 365 in Peel and 157 in York Region.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,203 new cases of COVID-19. The province is also reporting 43 additional deaths, 12 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

CBC News — N.B. reports 27 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death.

CBC News — No new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nova Scotia. The number of known active cases in the province is down to 15, the lowest number since early November. No one is in hospital because of the virus.

CBC News — N.L., with no new COVID-19 cases for 3rd straight day, eyes St-Pierre-Miquelon outbreak.

CBC News — Nunavut is reporting 2 new cases of COVID-19, both in Arviat, for a total of 17 known active cases in the territory. A news release from the Nunavut government says: ‘All individuals are asymptomatic, doing well and are isolating.’

Public Health Agency of Canada, Monday, 4 p.m. PT — Total cases: 753,011 . . . Active cases: 62,447 . . . Deaths: 19,338.

CNN, Monday, 2 p.m. PT — 25.2 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 2 p.m. PT — 420,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

The U of Alabama-Huntsville hockey team has postponed games scheduled for Thursday and Friday at Minnesota State. AUH next is scheduled to play on Feb. 5 and 6. . . .

The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, with six players on the COVID-19 protocol list, now have had four games postponed. The latest game to be scrubbed was scheduled for tonight (Tuesday) against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . You will recall that the Dallas Stars, who played their first game on Friday, lost their first four games to postponements after having 17 players test positive during training camp. . . .

The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks have placed F Alex DeBrincat and D Adam Boqvist to the COVID-19 protocol list. . . .

The U of Michigan shut down all athletics programs for at least two weeks over the weekend. On Monday, the U of Maine announced that it was pausing all of its athletic teams at least through Feb. 4. . . .

The NBA postponed Monday’s game that was to have the San Antonio Spurs playing the Pelicans in New Orleans. Neither team would have had eight players available for the game. . . . The NBA now has had to postpone 22 games. . . . Kawhi Leonard and Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers won’t play tonight (Tuesday) against the Atlanta Hawks due to protocols. ESPN reported that the two didn’t travel to Atlanta with the team on Monday. Interestingly, both played in a 108-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Heat on Sunday.

The Colorado College Tigers men’s hockey team has had a player test positive so its weekend series against the Denver Pioneers has been scratched. . . .

The Interlake Minor Hockey Association, which is based in the Interlake region of Manitoba, has cancelled its 2020-21 season. “Unfortunately,” the association said in making the announcement, “this is not at all what any of us were hoping for, but it is what it is and we can only move forward from here and start looking towards next season.”


——

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.


Snapchat

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while knowing the hockey world will answer the call to help out a family . . .

Scattershooting2

F Kyrell Sopotyk of the Kamloops Blazers suffered what The Sports Corporation, the agency that represents him, described in a Sunday tweet as “an injury . . . that will be life-changing” in a snowboarding accident. . . . Sopotyk, 19, is from Aberdeen, Sask., which is located 42 km northeast of Saskatoon. He was injured on Friday and is in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . He played two seasons (2018-20) with the Blazers, totalling 22 goals and 23 assists in 107 regular-season games. . . . As a 15-year-old, Sopotyk played for the Prince Albert Mintos and led the Saskatchewan U18 AAA league in goals, with 42 in 42 games. . . . The Blazers selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The Sports Corporation, which is based in Edmonton, is headed up by by Gerry Johannson, its president and CEO. . . .

Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, who is from Saskatoon, started a GoFundMe page on behalf of the Sopotyk family on Sunday afternoon. Kathleen wrote that Sopotyk has been “paralyzed,” adding: “We’re raising this money to help support any possible renovations, healthcare costs, and any additional supports they may require.” . . . Shortly after it opened, the fund blew past its initial goal of $10,000. That resulted in the goal being changed to $50,000; as of Sunday night, the fund had surpassed $60,000. . . . If you wish to donate, click right here.


If you were watching Sunday’s NFL conference finals, you will have noticed fans in the stands. . . . There were about 9,000 present as the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers dumped the Green Bay Packers, 31-26, and about 17,000 fans in Kanas City as the Chiefs dropped the Buffalo Bills, 38-24.

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

Well . . . let’s look at some numbers, all as of Sunday . . .

According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wisconsin has had 580,003 confirmed cases and 6,184 deaths, with Missouri at 459,748 confirmed cases and 6,774 deaths. . . . The U.S. has had 25,124,064 confirmed cases and 419,204 deaths.

Now how about some Canadian comparisons, with numbers from government sites as of Sunday morning . . .

Saskatchewan has had 22,177 cases and 253 deaths. In Ontario, those numbers were 255,002 and 5,803, and in Quebec they were 253,633 and 9,478. . . . Canada has had 747,000 cases and 19,094 deaths.

BTW, some populations — Wisconsin, 5,8 million; Missouri, 6.15 million; Saskatchewan, 1.18 million; Ontario, 14.7 million; Quebec, 8.57 million. . . . The U.S. population is 331 million; Canada’s is 37.7 million.


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a Hank Aaron story — Among Aaron’s chilling memories: When he played for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues in ’51, his team had breakfast at a restaurant near the ballpark in Washington D.C. As the players were finishing, they heard the kitchen staff shattering the dishes the players had eaten off. “What a horrible sound,” Aaron recalled years later.

——

“Yogi Berra, the late New York Yankees legend, is about to get his own commemorative postage stamp,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “New U.S. Postal Service motto: It ain’t delivered til it’s delivered.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, isn’t a fan of documentaries, so doesn’t plan on watching HBO’s two-parter about the life and times of Tiger Woods. But the curmudgeonly one did notice HBO plugging the shows with the tagline: “The raw truth about Tiger Woods is about to be revealed.” . . . That got the curmudgeonly one to write: “The reason there might even be ‘raw truth’ to reveal about Tiger Woods is because he has had nothing but fawning coverage — bordering on idolatry — for about 20 years. A major component of the existence of such ‘raw truth’ is the complicity of the toadies who covered golf and Tiger Woods.”

——

Earlier this week, Finarelli began his daily post with what he referred to as a “personal note.” It went like this . . .

There is a benefit to being an old fart; yesterday afternoon, my number came up and I received my first dose of the Moderna Vaccine. The selection process is the mirror image of ageism; rather than experiencing an adverse action as a result of my advanced age, I received a benefit based on nothing more than my date of birth.

And . . . regarding any worries I might have that I was just ‘microchipped’ such that the chip can be interrogated to locate me and track me, I have two simple responses:

  1. Why would anyone give a damn — hat tip to Rhett Butler — regarding my whereabouts?
  2. My cell phone already does that.”


Jon Rosen spent four seasons (2007-11) as the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. So when he writes about what it was like riding a bus through the WHL, he knows of what he remembers. . . . He has written about it of late, and it’s entertaining, and it’s right here. . . . Somehow Rosen managed to write this piece without gloating about his Los Angeles Dodgers and for that he is to be commended!


You may recall that Urban Meyer, the new head coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, walked away from NCAA head-coaching jobs with Florida and Ohio State for health reasons. As blogger Chad Picasner points out: “Of course, the best treatment for that is money. . . . I’m sure he feels better already.”


If you’re a fan of the Baltimore Orioles or Washington Nationals, you may be interested in knowing that MASN, the TV station shared by the two teams, has made some cuts. Gone are Gary Thorne, the play-by-play voice of the Orioles, along with the likes of Mike Bordick, Tom Davis, Rick Dempsey, Jim Hunter and Dave Johnson. . . . Also gone are pre- and post-game shows. . . . There are reports that MASN is having cash-flow issues.


A tweet from Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt following the retirement of Indy Colts QB Philip Rivers: “I’ll never forget lining up for a play and Phil pointing to one of our linebackers and telling him he was lined up wrong based off the blitz we were about to run and being 100% correct about it haha.”


Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel writes about the legacy of former RHP Don Sutton, who died on Monday at 75: “Just a friendly reminder to all of the baseball pitchers of today who skip starts because they might have a strained cuticle on their pinkie and for all the NBA players who sit out games because of load management, Sutton was never on the injured list and never missed a turn in the rotation in 756 big-league starts over 23 seasons.”


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Ryan Struyk, CNN, Sunday, 7:38 a.m. PT — The US death toll will reach 569,000 by May 1, according to new coronavirus projections from a University of Washington model.

The New York Times — Mexico’s president, a coronavirus skeptic, is the latest world leader to become infected. Hospitals are overrun as the country’s death toll nears 150,000.

The U of Michigan has suspended all athletics for at least two weeks after cases of the B.1.1.7. variant of COVID-19 were found within the department. There have been five confirmed cases, with another 15 presumed positive cases in the athletic department. . . . The men’s basketball teams is 13-1 and ranked No. 7, with the women’s team (10-1) ranked No. 11.

It is expected that the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., the home of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, will be used as a vaccination site. The city and King County expect to have all the paperwork done within days. The plan is to have the site open six days a week and to provide 500 vaccinations per day.

The NHL’s San Jose Sharks opened the NHL regular-season with an eight-game road trip. Under normal circumstances, they play in Santa Clara County, which has a ban in place on contact sports. That means the Sharks are going to play home games at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., the home of the Arizona Coyotes. The Sharks’ ‘home’ schedule opens with games against the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 1 and 3.


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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