WHL teams getting clearance to return . . . Three games on tap tonight . . . Giants’ owner admits to seven-figure loss last season

Sheep011022
This guy, apparently having gotten over Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, was looking for salt on Shuswap Road near Kamloops on Tuesday afternoon.


The WHL, which postponed 22 of 23 games it had scheduled for last weekend, had three games on its schedule for last night (Tuesday). However, they also were postponed.

But now, with teams starting to return to the ice after being put on pause by WHLCOVID-19 protocols, there are three games scheduled to be played tonight (Wednesday), with the Swift Current Broncos to visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Tri-City Americans in Everett for a game with the Silvertips. Two other games — Kelowna Rockets at Prince George Cougars, Spokane Chiefs at Victoria Royals — were postponed.

On Monday, the Edmonton Oil Kings, Everett, Medicine Hat, Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Saskatoon Blades, Spokane and Winnipeg Ice all were cleared to resume team activities. Earlier, Lethbridge, the Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks, Regina Pats, Swift Current and Tri-City also were cleared.

The WHL has begun rescheduling the games that have been postponed, so check your favourite team’s website for that information.

With the Manitoba government continuing to restrict attendance in some facilities, including arenas in Brandon and Winnipeg, two doubleheaders, both involving Regina as the visiting team, have been postponed. The Pats were to have played at Winnipeg, Jan. 15 and 16, and Brandon, Jan. 21 and 22. Those games will be rescheduled.


In a pre-Christmas appearance on Donnie and Dhali — The Team, Ron Toigo, Vancouverthe majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, said his WHL team’s losses reached seven figures for 2020-21.

The show, featuring Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal as hosts, is on Victoria TV station CHEK. Toigo was a guest on Dec. 22, five days before COVID-19 became a real issue with this WHL season.

Asked about the economics involved in operating a team in these trying times, Toigo replied:

“There is no economics to it. Last year, we lost north of a million dollars. We’re probably going to be maybe not that bad this year but we’re certainly going to be in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands. Just our team . . . when you spread it across the league it is significant and material.”

Based on attendance figures compiled by the WHL, the Giants, who play out of the 5,276-seat Langley Events Centre, have an average attendance this season of 2,937 after 15 home games. At present, their crowds are restricted to 50 per cent of capacity by provincial government restrictions.

The Giants played 11 home games last season when fans weren’t allowed.

In 2019-20, the Giants got in 30 home games, averaging 3,920 fans, before the season was halted by the pandemic.

In 2018-19, the last season prior to the pandemic, their 34-game average was 3,826.

The league-wide average in 2018-19, for 748 games, was 4,361. That number was 4,154 for 694 games in 2019-20. This season, after 348 games, the number is 3,051. However, 13 of the 22 teams are averaging fewer than 3,002 fans per game.

“Our goal all along,” Toigo continued, “is to make sure the players can play to get through this cycle of their development and by all accounts I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it.

“But there is no economics . . . to this sports business or probably any level of sports business while this is going on. . . . Sports business is not a good business to be in these days.”

As for the pandemic and all that comes with it, Toigo said: “It is what it is. We’re certainly a lot better off than we were a year ago with all the vaccines. . . . but we still have a long way to go.

“A lot of this we’re doing is because of all the unvaccinated issues we’ve got. If everybody was vaccinated I think we’d be a lot further ahead than we are now.”

At present, the Giants are on hold because of COVID-19 protocols. They hope to be cleared in time to face the visiting Prince George Cougars on Friday in a game that is scheduled to be televised by TSN.


Warranty


As of Tuesday, the KHL had 97 players and 29 staff members out after having tested positive for COVID-19. All told, 14 games involving Avtomobilist, Salavat Ulaev, CSKA, Dinamo Riga and Torpedo have been postponed. All this came out of an emergency meeting involving the KHL and team executives that was held on Tuesday. . . . Later in the day, it was revealed that Moscow Spartak had gone into quarantine after 10 positive tests, while Metallurg Magnitogorsk had nine players and two staffers test positive. . . . Following the meeting, the KHL confirmed its desire to complete the regular season by playing all games. That may result in playing games during the approaching Olympic break or extending the season, thus delaying the start of playoffs. A final decision is to be made after Jan. 23, which is when the KHL’s Olympic break is to begin.


Tyler Moore is the new general manager of the junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, with Nick Deschenes signing on as head coach. They take over from Ron Sleeman and Gerald Bouchard, who no longer are with the organization. In December, Sleeman was suspended by the KIJHL for 45 days and Bouchard for eight games after the Eagles were sanctioned for violations of the the league’s COVID-19 policy. . . . Deschenes began this season as the GM and head coach of the KIJHL’s Summerland Steam, but left five games into the season in one of those mutual partings. . . . Moore had been the director of scouting with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors.


Plan


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.


Drummer

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if London will be OK in the morning . . .

Scattershooting2

Smoke
The South Thompson River valley from our deck on Sunday, 6:45 p.m. Somewhere behind the smoke in mid-photo is Mount Martin. And over on the right, somewhere beyond the river, is the Trans-Canada Highway.

Virus


Cole Beasley, a receiver with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, has said that he won’t get vaccinated, adding: “I may die of Covid, but I’d rather die actually living.” To which Ron Borges of si.com wrote: “How many times has this guy been hit on the head again?”

——

Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Buffalo Bills anti-vaxxer, anti-masker Cole Beasley tweeted, ‘I may die of COVID, but I’d rather die actually living.’ What a drama queen. One who sings in the key of me. The comic irony of NFL players avoiding vaccine needles is that in their line of work, they get shot up more often than race horses.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, drops the hammer on the nail with this one: “Joey Chestnut set a new world’s record in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4. Chestnut ate 76 hotdogs — and buns, of course — in the 10-minute event. Here is a task for historians and observers of societal/cultural trends: At exactly what point did gluttony cease to be one of the seven deadly sins and become a sport?”



Headline at The Onion on July 18, 2011: “U.S. Quietly Slips Out Of Afghanistan In Dead Of Night.”
Headline at the BBC on July 6, 2021: “US left Bagram Airbase at night with no notice, Afghan commander says.”



Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is going to pitch and DH in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game. If you haven’t been paying attention to him, you should. Here’s Angels manager Joe Maddon explaining why: “We all romanticize what it would have been like to watch Babe Ruth play — he pitched, really? I mean, you hear this stuff and it’s a larger-than-life concept. Now we’re living it. So don’t underestimate what we’re seeing.”


If you aren’t familiar with Kaye Kaminishi, please allow Google to be your friend. Kaminishi is 99 years of age now. He is the last surviving member of the Asahi baseball team — he played third base. Again, let Google be your friend. . . . The Asahi team was huge in Vancouver in the years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After the bombing, Kaminishi was one of those rounded up and taken to an internment camp in the Interior of B.C. . . . One day in June 2013, I visited his Kamloops home. The plan was to write a short story about Kaminishi’s exploits on the badminton court. I ended up writing a pair of lengthy stories on a man who didn’t have a bitter bone in his body despite the wrongs that had been forced upon him. He really and truly is a remarkable human being.


I spent some time over the past few days watching the visiting Detroit Tigers play the Minnesota Twins. And what a treat it was to listen to Jim Kaat, who was riding shotgun with play-by-play man Dick Bremer. The ex-southpaw known as Kitty is 82 now but he hasn’t lost a step. It was just so great to listen to someone whose analysis wasn’t full of launch angles, exit velocities, spin rates and barrel rates.


Canada Soccer has cancelled a bunch of 2021 national championships due to the pandemic. From a news release: “Canada Soccer’s Toyota National Championships, which include the U-15 Cup, U-17 Cup, Jubilee and Challenge Trophy, as well as the Eastern and Western Masters competitions, have been cancelled for 2021 in respect of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic related to participant health and safety.”

So . . . England scored in the second minute to take a 1-0 lead over Italy in Sunday’s UEFA Euro Cup final at London’s Wembley Stadium. Italy, of course, went on to win on penalties, after which the fun started in the city streets. Gee, instead of blaming the three young fellows who came up empty in penalties, perhaps England fans should be wondering why their favourites didn’t push harder for a second goal during regulation time.


Headline at theonion.com: Bob Baffert Once Again Denies Doping Allegations After Medina Spirit Wins Coca-Cola 600.


Drunk


At least 13 players have withdrawn from the British Open that is scheduled to start Thursday at Royal St. George’s. That includes Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, and Bubba Watson, a two-time Master champ who came in contact with someone who was positive.


Right-hander Aaron Nola was to have started Sunday for the Philadelphia Phillies against the host Boston Red Sox. But he had to be scratched after being placed on the COVID-19 injured list, along with RHP Connor Brogdon, LHP Bailey Falter and 3B Alec Bohm. . . . Bohm was taken out of Saturday’s game against the Red Sox after testing positive. . . . Nola, Brogdon and Falter went on the list as close contacts. Brogdon and Falter both played in Saturday’s game; in fact, Falter got the victory in an 11-2 triumph. . . . I was watching the Phillies and Red Sox on Sunday and Boston’s TV crew mentioned that neither team has reached the 85 per cent vaccination threshold needed for some restrictions to be loosened. . . .

Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners placed RHP Yusei Kikuchi on the COVID-19 list on Sunday. He tested positive after showing symptoms, but is fully vaccinated. He since has tested negative, and needs just one more such result in order to be cleared to play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. . . . The Mariners went over the 85 per cent threshold late in May.



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.


JUST NOTES: Chadd Cassidy is the new general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Cassidy spent the previous five years coaching at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y. In Omaha, he replaces former WHL player David Wilkie, 47, who, according to a news release, “stepped down earlier to pursue other opportunities.” Wilkie played four seasons (1990-94) in the WHL, playing with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Kamloops Blazers and Regina Pats. . . . The Val-d’Or Foreurs have signed Maxime Desruisseaux, 37, as their new head coach. He had been an associate coach with the Victoriaville Tigres. In Val-d’Or, Desruisseaux takes over from Daniel Renaud. Shortly after Val-d’Or lost to Victoriaville in the QMJHL final, the Foreurs announced that they and Renaud had gone their separate ways by mutual agreement.


Wishbone

Lajoie fine with Blazers’ coaching addition . . . Loschiavo sparks Oil Kings’ victory . . . Alexeyev helps Rebels end skid

MacBeth

F Justin Kelly (Spokane, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 1997-2002) has announced his retirement. This season, he had two goals and five assists in 12 games with Deggendorf (Germany, DEL2), but he hasn’t played since Oct. 21 due to a concussion suffered in a game that night against Kaufbeuren. . . .

F Rudolf Červený (Regina, 2007-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL) after obtaining his release from Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). In 57 games, he had 11 goals and 12 assists, and was second on the team in scoring. Slovan has four regular-season games left and cannot make the playoffs.


ThisThat

When the Kamloops Blazers officially added Darryl Sydor to their coaching staff on Tuesday, it wasn’t seen in some corners of the team’s fandom as just another move. Kamloops1That’s because Sydor is one of the team’s five owners. . . . After the Blazers dropped the visiting Victoria Royals, 6-1, on Wednesday night, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week spoke with Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie about job security and a whole lot more. . . .

“I’m not worried,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I don’t see Darryl Sydor as a threat. For me, I’ve always invested my full energy in whatever I’ve taken on. But I value family. I also value education. I’ve got an education degree, a master’s degree. I have good roots back in Edmonton.

“The reason I tell you that is that sometimes things aren’t meant to be. In my heart of hearts, I know I’m supposed to be here. If there is an ulterior motive, to have him in to oversee things, I don’t see it. If that’s the case, again, I’ll reiterate, I’ve put a lot of work in this year. I’ve seen a lot of growth in these players.

“I could leave with my head up high.”

As for Sydor, who has spent eight years as an assistant coach in the professional ranks, he told Hastings that he’s not a threat.

“I’m here to give guidance and if there’s feedback that I can give on how he can become a better coach, that’s what I’m here for,” Sydor said.

Hastings’ complete story is right here.


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Ghostridershave signed general manager and head coach Jeff Wagner to a contract extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. . . . Wagner is in his first season with Fernie. . . . The Ghostriders are 25-13, with three ties and four OTLs, and will finish second in the Eddie Mountain Division, behind the Kimberley Dynamiters, who are 39-4 with one tie and one OTL. . . . Wagner, from Calgary, joined the Ghostriders after working as the assistant GM with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thundercats.


The Young Stars Classic, a September fixture in Penticton, B.C., since 2010, won’t be held in 2019. . . . The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks confirmed that on Thursday, one day after the Winnipeg Jets revealed that will take part in a prospects’ tournament in Belleville, Ont., in September. . . . The Canucks, Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had teams of prospects play in Penticton prior to 2018. However the Flames and Oilers didn’t take part in 2018, choosing instead to play games in Red Deer. That left the Canucks and Jets to face each other twice, with the UBC Thunderbirds and Alberta Golden Bears also playing each other twice. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more right here.


In all my time writing sports, Kaye Kaminishi may be the most unforgettable character I have met. Now 97, the Kamloops resident played baseball in Vancouver for the legendary Asahi, a Japanese-Canadian team that shone in the years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After that, Kaminishi ended up in an internment camp near Lillooet, B.C., and never did return to Vancouver. He was there recently, though, filming a Heritage Minute that is soon to be seen on your TV set. . . . John Mackie of Postmedia has more on this remarkable man right here


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THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored three third-period goals, two of them by F Vince EdmontonOilKingsLoschiavo, to beat the Warriors, 3-2, in Moose Jaw. . . . Edmonton (31-17-8) is atop the Central Division, three points clear of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Moose Jaw (30-15-8) has lost two in a row. It appears headed for a third-place finish in the East Division. . . . The Warriors played 12 of their previous 13 games on the road. In those 13 games, they were 9-3-1. . . . The Oil Kings had been 0-7-4 in their previous 11 games with Moose Jaw, not having beaten the Warriors since Feb. 20, 2016. On that night, the Oil Kings won, 3-2, in Moose Jaw with F Dario Meyer getting the winner. . . . F Carson Denomie (3) gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at 12:55 of the second period. . . . Edmonton went ahead 2-1 on third-period goals from Loschiavo, at 2:11, and F Andrew Fyten (14), at 10:54. . . . D Josh Brook (14) pulled the Warriors even, on a PP, at 12:59. . . . Loschiavo snapped the tie with his 26th goal at 13:38. He has eight game-winners this season; only F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Tristin Langan of the Warriors have more, with nine. . . . Loschiavo would have had a hat trick had he scored on a second-period penalty shot, but he was unable to beat G Adam Evanoff. . . . Loschiavo played the first 215 regular-season games of his WHL career with the Kootenay Ice, then was dealt to Moose Jaw and played 40 games there. On May 3, Edmonton sent F Nick Bowman and a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft to the Warriors for Loschiavo. . . . G Todd Scott stopped 31 shots for Edmonton. . . . The Warriors got 36 saves from Evanoff. . . . With G Dylan Myskiw (ill) sidelined, the Oil Kings had G Matthew Pesenti, 17, backing up Scott. Pesenti, who plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, was with Edmonton on an emergency basis, because his WHL rights belong to the Regina Pats. He has spent time with the Pats this season and got into two games last month. . . . The Oil Kings also scratched F Scott Atkinson and F Zach Russell, both of whom also were ill. . . . Edmonton D Jake Neighbours served the last game of a four-game suspension. . . . Moose Jaw had F Tate Popple in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 31.


D Alex Alexeyev scored in the fifth round of a shootout to give the Red Deer Rebels a 2-1 Red Deervictory over the Silvertips in Everett. . . . This game was to have been played on Wednesday night but was postponed 24 hours when poor driving conditions kept the Rebels from making it to Everett in time. . . . Red Deer (29-19-5) had lost its previous six games (0-5-1). It is in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett (38-13-3) leads the U.S. Division by seven points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Robbie Holmes (10) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 1:40 of the second period. That was his first goal since being acquired by Everett from the Regina Pats at the Jan. 10 trade deadline. He had nine goals and seven assists in 24 games with the Pats. He’s got a goal and two assists in 12 games with Everett. . . . F Brandon Hagel (32) pulled Red Deer even at 11:26 of the third period. . . . D Jake Christiansen scored for Everett in the fourth round of the shootout, only to have F Jeff de Wit equalize. . . . Alexeyev then won it in the next round. . . . Each of the goaltenders — Red Deer’s Ethan Anders and Everett’s Dustin Wolf — stopped 37 shots through OT. . . . Red Deer was 0-5 on the PP; Everett was 0-4. . . . Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ head coach, now has 496 regular-season victories as he strives to become the ninth coach in WHL history to get to 500.


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