Lynn Lake legend takes on the ‘Hammer’ . . . Remembering a fax from Rocky . . . The virus finds the QMJHL

When I was a hockey-playing teenager in Lynn Lake, Man., Steve Andrascik was THE MAN.

Two years older than me, he played two seasons (1967-69) with the Flin Flon Andrascik.Bombers, totalling 62 goals and 62 assists in 110 games. He also earned 230 penalty minutes as he sometimes rode shotgun with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. Steve was selected 11th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 12-team NHL’s 1968 draft — 24 players were selected over three rounds.

Steve would come home in the offseason and work in the mine. Competitive? Sometimes he would stop off at the fastball diamond on his way to work and pitch for one of the men’s teams . . . while wearing work boots.

Yes, he was a Lynn Lake legend.

As a pro, he played 77 games in the WHA and had stints in the CHL, SHL and AHL, finishing up with the Hershey Bears with whom, as I understand it, he was quite popular.

His NHL career consisted of one game, a playoff game in Madison Square Garden. After spending the 1971-72 season with the AHL’s Providence Reds — he had 14 goals, 10 assists and 104 penalty minutes in 74 games — the New York Rangers added him for their playoff run. On April 20, he was in their lineup for a 3-2 victory over Chicago in Game 3 of what would be a sweep of the Blackhawks.

The Rangers would lose the Stanley Cup final in six games to Bobby Orr’s Boston Bruins. Steve didn’t get in the New York lineup but he was along for the ride.

That brings us to the following tweet . . .

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The tweet referencing the bout between Steve Andrascik and Dave Schultz reminded me of a WHL-related story from a few seasons back.

This is one of those stories that really is too good to try and confirm just in case it didn’t happen. It just may be one of those stories best prefaced with “Legend has it . . .”

But, hey, here it is . . .

It was early in December of 1996 and Rocky Thompson and the Medicine Hat Tigers were preparing to head out on a three-game swing into B.C. They were scheduled to visit the Kelowna Rockets (Dec. 10), Kamloops Blazers (Dec. 11) and Prince George Cougars (Dec. 13).

Defenceman Scott Parker was the man with the Rockets, while the Blazers had forward Rob Skrlac. In Prince George, Zdeno Chara, a young 6-foot-8 defenceman from Trencin, Slovakia, was making people sit up and take notice.

Thompson, of course, knew the challenges he would face on this road trip. He was in his fourth season with the Tigers, although he would be traded to the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 24, which was the trade deadline. Todd McLellan, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, acquired Thompson, 19, and sniper Josh Green, 19, for F Tyler Perry, 19; F Andrew Milne, 18; D Kevin Mackie, 15; F Brett Scheffelmaier, 15; and a 1997 second-round bantam draft pick.

But that trade was yet to happen.

Preparing to head into the rugged B.C. Division, Thompson was well aware of just who would be his dance partners.

He knew all about Parker and Skrlac, both of whom were WHL veterans. But, hey, what about the new guy in Prince George?

Well, Thompson thought it would be a good idea to really test the new guy, so before heading out on the road he sent a fax to Chara via the Cougars’ office. “I’m coming for you” is all it read.

The Tigers opened the trip in Kelowna and, true to form, Thompson and Parker scrapped right off the opening faceoff. Moments before the puck was dropped, Parker skated up from the Kelowna blue line and traded shots with the Rockets’ starting right winger, which put him nose-to-nose with Thompson, who was lined up at left wing. The epic bout that followed is available on YouTube.

One night later, Thompson was back in the Tigers’ lineup in Kamloops, but as hard as Skrlac tried in the early going he wasn’t able to engage the Medicine Hat tough guy. Eventually, the referee approached Thompson and  asked if he had plans to accommodate Skrlac. Thompson told him that he had damaged a hand in the bout with Parker so wasn’t about to scrap with Skrlac.

Two nights later, Thompson picked up a roughing minor in Prince George, but there wasn’t a bout with Chara.

The best laid plans — and sent faxes — and all that . . .

BTW, the Tigers made out just fine on the trip, beating the Rockets 5-4 in OT on a goal by F Jason Chimera at 4:48 of extra time, winning 3-1 in Kamloops and earning a 2-2 OT tie (remember ties?) in Prince George.

Of course, we are referencing the same Rocky Thompson who, at the age of 43, is preparing for his first season as an associate coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He spent the previous three seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He also was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires for two seasons, helping them to the 2017 Memorial Cup title.



These are interesting times in major junior hockey, where the OHL and WHL are qmjhlnewhoping to get their regular seasons started in December. The QMJHL, meanwhile, has one weekend under its belt and has lost three teams. . . . The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have suspended all in-person activities. That comes after an Armada player tested positive following a weekend doubleheader between the teams. . . . At the same time, the Armada and Quebec Remparts have been shut down at least for the rest of this month as they are in a red zone as defined by the provincial government. . . . Armada staff and players are in isolation as they await further testing and results, and the outcome of contact tracing. . . . The Armada and Remparts each has eight games on their October schedules.

From a QMJHL news release:

“Following the Quebec government’s announcement to prohibit the practice of sports in the designated red zones, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is very disappointed in this decision.

“The conduct of our activities has been above reproach since the start of training camps at the end of August. The return to play protocol was approved and applauded by public health officials in Quebec and by the three Maritime-based provinces in which the league operates. It has been hailed as thorough and effective. The league would like to congratulate the players and team staffs for its flawless execution.

“Over the course of the next few days, we will share with Quebec public health officials additional measures which will render the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s and Quebec Remparts’ bubbles even more secure. We hope that these new directives will be well-received by Quebec’s health agency. The QMJHL is convinced that these additional measures will go above and beyond what is required to protect our players, staffs and officials and enable all of our teams to continue playing.”


That’s Kelly Olynyk at the left of the photo in the following tweet. He and his Miami Heat are scheduled to play Game 4 of the NBA final tonight in Orlando. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers tested positive on Monday. According to the Oilers, he is “in voluntary self-quarantine at his home. He will continue to be monitored and will follow all associated health protocols. He is feeling well and is experiencing mild symptoms.” . . .

Kevin Sumlin, the head coach of the Arizona football team, has tested positive. He is in self-isolation while contact tracing is conducted. His team is scheduled to begin practising on Friday, with its first game scheduled for Nov. 7 against host Utah. . . . “My family and I have been aggressive in our efforts to remain safe and healthy throughout the past seven months,” Sumlin said in a statement. “My positive test result, while a shock, is a stark reminder of how we must all remain vigilant in our focus on hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings.” . . . At least four FBS coaches have tested positive since July, the others being Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Jason Candle of Toledo and Blake Anderson of Arkansas State. . . .

Bobby Bowden, who spent 34 years as the head coach of the Florida State football team, has tested positive. Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Bowden, who will turn 91 next month, “tested positive following his release from (a Tallahassee) hospital last weekend while being treated for an unrelated leg infection.” . . . He had been released from hospital on Thursday and was informed on Saturday that he had tested positive. . . . Bowden retired in 2009 after 44 seasons as a football coach.


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.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if J.B. Books was John Wayne’s best role . . .

Scattershooting

Darcy Haugan was the head coach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos when he was killed in the accident involving their bus. Before coaching the Broncos, he was with the junior B North Peace Navigators. . . . On Oct. 10, the people of Peace River will gather at the Baytex Centre for the unveiling of the Darcy Haugan Memorial Statue. . . . It all starts at 2 p.m. . . . Albert Cooper, the Navigators’ president, told Gordon Anderson of Peace River Record Gazette that Darcy “was a man who was motivated be three things: his faith, his family and his friends. Included in those friends were all the kids that he coached. He wasn’t an extraordinary man, he was an ordinary man who did exceptional things and that’s what we want to honour. He touched the lives of so many kids in a very positive way, and not just in terms of hockey, but in life and how to live life. We think that’s worth honouring.” . . . Anderson complete story is right here.


Zeuss


You should know that there’s another Manning in football’s pipeline. Arch Manning threw five TD passes and ran for another in his sophomore season debut with Isidore Newman, a New Orleans high school, on Thursday. He would have had six TD passes but for a couple of end zone drops. Arch is Cooper Manning’s son, so is a nephew to Peyton and Eli, and Archie’s grandson. In his playing days, Cooper was an outstanding wide receiver at Newman but had his career ended by a spinal condition. . . . There’s more on this story right here.



By now, you likely have seen footage of whatever that was the Tampa Bay Lightning were doing to celebrate upon their return to Florida the other day. Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun saw it, too, and, as he points out right here, that party was “a perfect example of how not to mark the moment during a pandemic.”


Headline at TheOnion.com: Coronavirus Assumed White House Would Be Bigger in Person


Would you pay $25 to watch a junior A exhibition hockey game? The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys will be at home on Oct. 10. Attendance will be limited to 100 spectators, each of whom will be charged $25. Parents and billets get first crack at tickets, then sponsors, and then the general public. . . . Doors will open 15 minutes before game time. No concession stands will be open. Facemasks must be worn at all times and social distancing will be enforced. . . . Welcome to the new normal.



The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders, who are scheduled to play their first home game on Oct, 23, averaged 2,700 fans per game last season. They have the OK to allow fans in games this season, but don’t yet know how many the social-distancing configuration will allow. Team president Craig Foster told CBC that “the number’s going to less than half of” last season’s average. Foster also said that the financial cost is going to be large. . . . Kevin Yarr of CBC has more right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .


Positive tests on both teams meant the NFL had to postpone Sunday’s game that was to have featured the host Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. QB Cam Newton of the Patriots is reported to have tested positive, as did QB Jordan Ta’amu of the Chiefs. Ta’amu spent the week’s practices playing Newton against the Chiefs’ defence. . . . The game has been rescheduled for tonight (Monday). . . .

The Tennessee Titans had two more positives tests on Saturday and two more on Sunday, meaning they have had 10 players and 10 staff members come up positive. Their scheduled Sunday game with the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed and now there are reports that their Week 5 game against the visiting Buffalo Bills may need to be moved, too. . . .

The Greater Toronto Hockey League announced Saturday “that all sanctioned activities within its jurisdiction are postponed until at least Jan. 2, 2021, pending further advice from health authorities.” . . . The GTHL is the largest minor hockey league in the world, with more than 40,000 players in Makham, Mississauga, Toronto and Vaughan. . . .

The German DEL announced on Friday that it has postponed the start of its 2020-21 season. It had hoped to open the regular season on Nov. 13, but now is aiming for the second week in December. . . . At the moment, teams would be allowed to operate with attendance at 20 per cent of capacity, and the league says that’s not financially viable. . . .

Jay Johnstone, a former major league outfielder who won two World Series titles, died on Sept. 26 in Los Angeles. He was 74. Johnstone, who won titles with the New York Yankees (1978) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1981), died of complications from COVID-19. . . . Having lived with dementia for the past few years, he had been in a nursing home. . . . For more on one of MLB’s great pranksters, click right here.


Bank


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.


Let us take a moment and wish Steve Nash well as he prepares for his first NBA head-coaching gig with the Brooklyn Nets. If you missed it, here is Kyrie Irving of the Nets during an appearance on teammate Kevin Durant’s podcast: “I don’t really see us having a head coach. KD could be a head coach, I could be a head coach. . . . Steve is great, and I have a relationship with him that’s going to build over time, (but) Steve don’t know me from anything he heard. . . . We don’t need someone to come in with their coaching philosophy and change everything we’re doing.”


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “One word of advice for Steve Nash: Rent. Three-word evaluation of the situation: Tick. Tick. Tick.”


JUST NOTES: If you aren’t aware, Kelly Olynyk, the pride of Kamloops, has become a factor in the NBA final. In Games 2 and 3, he totalled 41 points and 16 rebounds in 68 minutes 20 seconds of playing time. His Miami Heat trail the Los Angeles Lakers, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 on Tuesday. . . . ESPN has two baseball analysts — Jessica Mendosa and Rick Sutcliffe — who talk and talk and talk and talk as they repeatedly tell the viewer what he/she just saw and constantly restate the obvious. So, yes, why not put both of them on the same playoff crew covering the first-round series between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres? . . . What does it say about where the U.S. is as a nation when the President tweets that he and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19 and people don’t know whether to believe him or any of his spokespeople?


FireDept

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the Canucks can find that much game . . .

Scattershooting


On the evening of Aug. 10, I ordered two Pik Pockets — they are for a WaterPik — from walmart.ca. No, I wasn’t shopping local, but we hadn’t been able to find any . . . until we checked walmart.ca.

Early on the morning of Aug. 13, I got an email informing me that “items in your order are on the move.” The first hint that this was going to be a difficult delivery came when I noticed that the carrier was shown as “USPS.” Yes, that USPS; you know, the one with which Trump and Co. are tinkering.

No matter. The package was on the move. Right?

There is one of those Track Your Shipment buttons in that same email. So . . .

On Aug. 13, at 3:53 p.m., the package arrived in a “shipping partner facility” in Hauppauge, N.Y.

On Aug. 14, at 10 a.m., “shipping label created, usps awaiting item.”

On Aug. 18, at 3:34 p.m., the item “departed shipping partner facility, usps awaiting item.”

On Aug. 18, at 7:19 p.m., “Item arrived at regional facility.” Uhh, it seems that “regional facility” is in Jamaica, N.Y. Apparently, it is an international distribution center.

As of early Monday ET, the item still was in Jamaica. I’m thinking it might turn into a Christmas gift. If the USPS survives Trumpism, that is.



In her latest musings, this one on the CFL’s inability to get a 2020 season off the ground, Patti Dawn Swansson points out that “Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez just forked out $40 million for new digs. Maybe Commish Randy (Ambrosie) should have hit up JLo and ARod instead of Trudeau the Younger for the $30 million.”

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One more note from Swansson, who blogs right here as The River City Renegade: “Interesting how sports sheets across the land played the big CFL story. It was front page news in every rag on the Prairies. It was inside filler in the Toronto Sun (pages 8-9), the Montreal Gazette (page 2) and the Vancouver Sun (pages 6-7). The National Post, meanwhile, ran Scott Stinson’s column on a news page, beside a piece on Peter Nygard and rape. Little wonder that those are Rouge Football’s three worst markets.”


Burger


Headline at TheOnion.com: Manchester United calls up top-rated hooligan from development league.


Headline at fark.com: After sweeping the Marlins and Cardinals, COVID moves on to face the Reds.


Barry Beck, one of the greatest players in WHL history, never will be able to come to grips with the murder of his son Brock, 20, who died on July 26 in Binbrook, Ont., near Hamilton. . . . The Beck family now has started a GoFundMe in the hopes of raising $100,000 as reward money as the search for a killer or killers continues. . . . Postmedia’s Brad Hunter has more right here.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “I’m not really a movie star. I’m still married to the same woman for 28 years.”


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The football team at Vanderbilt U has had to dial it down after the school announced an unknown number of positive tests. The announcement was made Friday, after SEC teams began practising on Monday. The school revealed what it said were a “small number” of positives within the football program. . . . The Commodores had at least five players opt out of the season.  . . .

Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Twenty big-league teams — two-thirds of them, that is — have amassed more strikeouts than hits at the plate this season. Belated 2020 MLB motto: ‘Get a whiff of this!’ ” . . .

Perry, again: “Taking no chances with flying or bussing after the pandemic sidelined them for 17 days, the St. Louis Cardinals took 41 rental cars to get to a doubleheader in Chicago. In baseball parlance, that’s what you call a long line drive.” . . .

Bob Molinaro, in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, on the folly of trying to play college sports amid a pandemic: “Schools that initially invited students back to campus are quickly discovering what they should have known. When dealing with easily transmissible viruses, dorms are cruise ships without the water.” . . .

Mark Divver later added that “the Alaska teams — Fairbanks and Kenai River — are likely to play in Minnesota until at least Jan. 1. . . . The NAHL plans on opening its regular season on Oct. 9.


——

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.


Forget about WHL players skating for junior A teams prior to the WHL’s regular season starting. The WHL is aiming for a Dec. 4 start, with the MJHL hoping to get going on Oct. 9. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports right here that according to sources, “the WHL has decided it will not be releasing roster players to play in the MJHL, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Alberta Junior Hockey League or B.C. Hockey League to start 2020-21.”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “The NBA informed teams this week they are no longer allowed to report injuries in any kind of general terms. They must use specific reasons and body parts. In other words, none of that ‘unfit to play’ NHL nonsense for the NBA, which has at least one gambling website as an advertiser on its playoff broadcasts.”

That, of course, won’t ever fly with the NHL or a lot of other hockey leagues, what with transparency being Public Enemy No. 1 with shinny people. Watching the Covid Cup playoffs unfold on TV, I wonder if the independent media and the fans are starting to realize just how unimportant, perhaps even meaningless, they are in the NHL’s scheme of things? Does ticket revenue mean much so long as the fans watch on TV and dig deep for the merch?


JUST NOTES: I’m dying here. I stumbled on a Facebook group — Shit Parkers of Kamloops!!! — that would have made me spit out my coffee had I been having breakfast. A quick scan of the pics showed that I’m in the clear, at least for now. . . . Kelly Olynyk, who is from Kamloops, and the Miami Heat get their first chance to eliminate the Indiana Pacers from the NBA playoffs today, 3:30 p.m. PT (TSN), in the NBA bubble in Orlando. On Saturday, Olynyk had nine rebounds, all at the defensive end, in a 124-115 victory that gave the Heat a 3-0 edge in the best-of-seven series. Whenever I watch Olynyk, I have to remind myself that, yes, he’s from Kamloops. . . . Obviously, the Vancouver Canucks are going to have to raise their game if they are to compete with the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL bubble in Edmonton. But can the Canucks get to a level that high? . . . After Sunday night’s 5-0 Vegas victory, the only question left to be answered might be this: Will we ever see G Marc-Andre Fleury get another start for the Golden Knights?


Glitter